The intense and always dramatic Secret Empire continues this week in issue #7, with a heavy focus on Black Widow, which makes sense as the last issue had her grow tired of Captain America’s shenanigans for good. An assassination mission is in order, but with Spider-Man by her side (and the prophecy from Civil War II revealing he’d kill Cap) don’t we already know how this plays out?
So what’s it about?
Why does this matter?
It’s Marvel’s big event, which ties into their Marvel Legacy line in a few short months. It’s also got some “House of M” vibes given how the world is very different and characters’ roles have changed dramatically (and will probably shift back to normal soon too). Nick Spencer has made a series that feels very important with every choice made by characters incredibly meaningful. That makes the narrative all the more intense.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This issue is a lot easier to follow with less cross-cutting and jumping around to progress plots from multiple angles. It opens with Captain Marvel, focuses in on Black Widow for much of the book, and then closes with a dramatic finish in response to Black Widow’s mission. Spencer does a good job increasing the dilemma Captain Marvel is living through (while also putting extra purpose on a character currently in a coma), which opens the book well as it’ll make you want to see where Captain Marvel’s story goes from here. The main narrative is action packed and includes a surprise or two that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat. By the end, there’s a bit of hope thrown in, which is something the heroes in this book (and probably he readers) need a lot more of given how depressing Cap’s takeover has been.
On top of all this, it’s revealed why Cap is okay with killing so many folks. I won’t spoil it here, but it does add a tiny bit of hope that he’s not completely evil. Given how well Spencer has made Cap still feel somewhat heroic in his justifications it helps remind the reader he hasn’t gone completely into the deep end of villainy.
Andrea Sorrentino draws much of this issue (with Rod Reis drawing the scenes with alternate Cap and Joshua Cassara and Rachel Rosenberg filling in here and there when it comes to Widow) in his deadly serious but always intriguing style. There are a few layouts in this book that’ll blow you away–a favorite has a 40 panel double page layout mix small panels of blows and punches quite well–and his style continues to give the story a gritty and nihilistic look. Reis’ meanwhile keeps the dreamlike Steve Rogers scenes just so, which keeps it otherworldly and strange. Cassara and Rosenberg also add a good amount of grit with a rather well done scene with Miles escaping a car that’s on fire.
Nice bit of dialogue here.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The dramatic tension of this issue plays heavily off of Civil War II and the revelation that Miles will kill Captain America. Outside of this, the issue once again seems to be dragging its feet too much, and since it’s relying on a previous event so heavily it comes off as a one trick pony. It’s certainly not bad, but the momentum dissipates.
Is It Good?
Secret Empire continues to be the grittiest comic book event in some time. There’s a tension that feels real, which isn’t something you see too often. Still, the story seems to drag and could move forward more diligently.