See all reviews of Secret Empire (12)

After last issue, I’m all in with this summer event series. It’s managed to play around with Marvel tropes, write in some interesting character twists, and been good for a bit of political commentary. With the MacGuffin of the Cosmic Cube shards continuing to push the plot forward, let’s review issue #5.

Secret Empire #5
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Andrea Sorrentino
Publisher: Marvel Comics


So what’s it about?

Check out our preview.

Why does this book matter?

Nick Spencer and Andrea Sorrentino have created some incredible pages so far in this series and I have no doubt there are more in this issue. Plus, Cap’s plan to rule the world is working, which really pisses me off and makes me want to keep reading to find out how the heroes finally win. Or if they do at all!

Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?


Are these the folks who want to get rid of the ACHA?

This issue flows nicely and isn’t as jarring as previous issues. Opening with Black Widow, Spencer shows us she’s never without a plan and that the younger heroes she’s been training aren’t bad either. This shifts towards the heroes on their continuing quest to find the Cosmic Cube shards (and Ant-Man even references a shard as a MacGuffin slice). After the fantastic writing Spencer did for Black Panther over in Captain America: Steve Rogers I wasn’t surprised at all to see how well he uses the character here. Spencer does a good job making the character feel powerful, in control, and very smart. The scene makes sense and helps detail how the the battle being waged isn’t reduced to fighting alone–rather, it’s a war of politics and talk.

This issue continues to show Cap is capable of great violence and evil to get what he wants, but also the fact that the Hydra leadership he commands isn’t necessarily out for a perfect world. There’s a reckoning coming as Cap will assuredly discover his compatriots are villains and not really after a perfect world, which is exciting. It’s also fun to see Cap do and say things that are straight up out of a villain’s playbook.

The cutaways to the good Steve Rogers are starting to feel interesting. The last few issues the reader had little to go on, but after this issue it’s clear there is something (or some place) that is going on that’ll explain things. It’s still very early to make sense of it, but there’s a twist that’ll most probably blow readers’ minds. There’s also an excellent scene with Thor and two other ex-Avengers that does a lot to explain how Hydra has brought them into the fold.

Sorrentino does another great job this issue with some interesting layouts that do well to tell the story. In one, the panels slice diagonally across the page, with a character walking closer to the reader, then away. It gives the entire page a sense of panning like in a film and also utilizes the space to tell a story visually. In another, an epic panel shows off Hercules going all out in a rage and the use of red behind him makes the page pop with violence. A double page spread of Black Panther sitting on his throne is another highlight as it captures the size and power of his empire. Along the bottom of the page runs panels that weave in a symmetrically pleasing way.


I bet it’s Nick Fury!

It can’t be perfect can it?

Having a character refer to the MacGuffin as a MacGuffin does not make it okay! Truth be told, this issue continues the trend of hinging the plot on moving parts that don’t matter much. The characters go from A to B coming up short, not learning a lot, or at least not interacting with the villains. That makes the story feel as if it’s twiddling its thumbs a bit–an inherent issue in a series that has so many moving parts and can only progress so much. So, it has an undercurrent of filler running through it. It’s good, but it’s obvious the story isn’t running at full efficiency.

Is It Good?

The tide begins to turn as the series begins to close in on its conclusion. Make no mistake, this event suffers from some typical event-like issues, but it’s also very good at capturing the voice of any character no matter the scene. This issue reminds us events are for forcing characters to do and say things you never thought imaginable, and this series is doing that and more.

Secret Empire #5
Is it good?
Another good installment that moves the needle a bit closer to the end. The biggest win though is the character writing which is always good.
Strong character writing and big moments
So fun to see Cap evil
Great layout design
It feels stretched and biding its time with filler type things like MacGuffins
8.5
Great