Who is excited for “Secret Empire” and has two thumbs? Probably a lot of people, but probably not enough people. Nick Spencer has been writing his butt off with two double shipped books, an incredibly complex web of stories, and a version of Captain America that works for Hydra.
There are so many balls in the air and so many new elements I can’t imagine how you couldn’t be excited for this one; the story is still being set up though, and we review the latest issue of Captain America to answer the question, is it good?
Captain America: Steve Rogers #15 (Marvel Comics)
So what’s it about? Read our preview.
Why does this book matter?
One of the coolest elements about this series has been how Cap is still a good person deep down. Sure he’s killed, but even working for Hydra, he can’t forget about making the world a better place. It’s just that he thinks Hydra is the way to do it. Spencer is crafting a heroic tale with a hero who has never been this bad and it’s great.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Red Skull fans: you need to buy this book. This issue is focused very much on the character with longstanding developments taking place for him. Spencer sets it up well too, recapping what Red Skull did to Cap, Xavier, and where he’s at now. He’s weakened and without Xavier’s brain due to events that happened in Uncanny Avengers. He’s also still the power hungry jerk he’s always been. The first few pages are devoted to catching the reader up, so if you’re new to the game but love Red Skull you’ll be fine.
Spencer continues to use the flashback conceit (I wonder if he’ll continue to use it in “Secret Empire”?) as we intercut between a key meeting between Cap and Red Skull in the 40’s and now. It’s a nice way of juxtaposing the scenes and showing how things have changed over time. As these scenes cut back and forth, the tension rises as far as what Cap is capable of especially since its all been leading to this.
Readers looking forward to “Secret Empire” should note Commander Carter makes a decision that’ll probably lead to ramifications in the main event. It’s nice to see her character is a strong one who will undoubtedly play a big part in the main event.
The art by Javier Pina and Andres Guinaldo is strong throughout. Pina’s flashbacks always slay me and do a great job of showing a dark past we only now are finding out about (due to Kobik!). Guinaldo does a great job making Red Skull look freakish and deserving of a punch to the face. In a key two panel moment, the art sells the viciousness of Cap, but also the absolute goodness he thinks he’s doing. Bravo there.
Hiding in the rafters I see!
It can’t be perfect can it?
The opening pages have some sketchy art to say the least. It’s rather rough and unfinished looking not matching the quality of the later portions of the book. A lot is drawn and shown, but it starts the book off on shaky ground. I imagine readers who have been following this series will also be disapointed to find out the first three pages (four if you count the summary page) are devoted to recapping where we’re at with Red Skull. It’s a nice touch if you’re not reading Uncanny Avengers I suppose, but it does make one think it’s padding out the issue a tad.
Is It Good?
It’s all been leading to this as Cap and the Red Skull finally meet face to face as their true feelings come through. They hate each other, they’ve always hated each other regardless of Cap’s allegiance, and fans of their battles throughout the years should check it out.