When the Secret Empire storyline was revealed and the tie-ins started being listed I was shocked a Frontline series wasn’t in the cards. Usually for these events we get the journalists’ take from the street, which helps bring the lofty storytelling down to a human level. Then I opened up this issue and discovered it was basically a Frontline story and all was well in the world of Marvel events!
Warning, if you haven’t read Secret Empire #2 do not read this review!
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Andres Guinaldo, Ramon Bachs
Publisher: Marvel Comics
So what’s it about?
Why does this book matter?
You’d think the Captain America series is the most important tie-in one when it comes to an event centered all around the character. On top of that, this issue takes place after Secret Empire #2, which means it progresses things and adds more color to the event.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
If you crave well-written dialogue that speaks volumes about the events of the main series and has a touch of a too-close-for-comfort vibe this is your jam. Opening with a journalist named Sally Floyd, Nick Spencer introduces a character who has interviewed Cap more than once and this time it could be the weirdest. Dressed in all green Hydra gear, Cap is dictator-like and completely without emotion. It’s one of the few live interviews he’s given and Sally aims to point out all the evil things Hydra has done in the name of being the good guys. Along the way, Spencer explores what it means to have freedom of the press, how governments use fear to take power, and how the true sign of a good society is one that protects those who need protecting. Of course Hydra is everything bad when it comes to that list.
Isn’t he supposed to make it impossible to go against what he says?
In a way this issue serves as a recap after the fallout of Secret Empire #2. Hydra attacked an entire city to prove a point to any who stand in their way. Of course they think it was necessary. Inhuman camps are necessary too, which Spencer explores a bit here, as well as removing mutants off the board to avoid conflict. If you’re an X-Men fan you should probably pick this one up as a flashback reveals a major deal struck that explains what’s going on with them.
The art by Andres Guinaldo and Ramon Bachs keeps the story moving and without interruptions. It’s clean and great at capturing the more subtle emotions as Cap speaks to Sally. There aren’t any epic splash pages or wildly outlandish layouts, but that’s because the story requires a more realistic and calm resolve.
This was totally necessary and what good governments do!
It can’t be perfect can it?
The segue into Inhumans makes sense from the interview perspective, but it’s jarring narratively as Spencer cuts to an Inhuman camp for three pages, losing the interview perspective a bit. Clearly we need to see the atrocities–maybe it’s supposed to even instill a sense of outrage from the reader, but it feels forced and it doesn’t instill a strong sense of disgust. Its purpose seems to inform the reader of a detail separate from the main narrative and that makes it stick out.
If you’re not up for a journalistic look at the event stay away!
Is It Good?
Spencer effectively captures the scary nature of a government in full control of their messaging and propaganda. It’s a comic that is relatable given the current climate in politics and it houses a message that’s not only strong, but important to hear.