Welcome back to The Man in the HYDRA Castle, Multiversity Comics’ ongoing recap of Marvel’s “Secret Empire” storyline. As always, spoilers abound.
Last time on “Secret Empire”… wait my notes have to be messed up. Ultron sat down HYDRA and the Avengers, made them catfight a bit, and then sent them home? And that was the whole issue? The best part about this whole storyline is how there’s a non-zero chance I actually died in a car crash three years ago and “Secret Empire” is just the last surviving synapses in my brain firing off, frantically Frankensteining together pieces of pop culture I remember before I finally give in to darkness.
Anyway, comics. Viper is off colluding with her own squad of goons when she gets an urgent message from her minions.
Because this is a piece of media that came out after 2008’s The Dark Knight, it becomes quickly apparent that Black Widow got herself kidnapped on purpose. On one front, Natasha is covering for the Champions who rescue some bedridden old man who’s going to turn out to be Classic Nick Fury or something. There’s another dumb return at the end of this issue so I don’t have enough energy to wonder about who this guy is. On the other hand, Widow blackmails Viper with the knowledge that she’s using HYDRA’s takeover of the US to make a profit for herself and offers to allow Viper to lead whatever’s left of HYDRA after Captain America gets got. Viper shoots her minions and agrees to work with Natasha.
Over in Madripoor, #TheResistance are following their lead on the man who has the next Cosmic Cube Shard…
Iron Man, who at this point we’ve just stopped establishing is an AI, gets a lot of flak from everyone for consistently getting Cosmic Cube info wrong. The only real intel they have is that Black Panther’s holding onto a fragment and won’t give it up, instead of demanding that Tony’s team bring the rest of the shards to Wakanda so they can assemble Kobik there. Honestly, if I had to trust anyone with the Cube it’d be T’Challa, not the group that handed over leadership to a hologram of Robert Downey Jr. The Avengers decide to pack it in and head home, where Tony meets with Raz AKA the new Giant Man from Nick Spencer’s “Ant-Man.” There, they discuss how the Cosmic Cube detector never worked because not a single fucking person’s motivation in a Marvel crossover is allowed to make any sense. And then they get blasted by HYDRA warships. That should be the end of the series but I have 200 more words to write.
Captain America meets with Hank McCoy, ambassador of the X-Men’s New Tian, so they could vaguely threaten each other over the violent activity that’s been occurring on the New Tian border. Speaking of mutants, Emma Frost has also been collecting Cosmic Cube fragments of her own because everyone in this story as to make things as difficult as possible. Between Frost and T’Challa, this theme of all the good guys being unable to unite against HYDRA is the perfect analogy for modern politics. The Great Lakes Avengers are the Social Democrats.
Steve also brags about letting Mjolnir hang out on the ground in DC so whosoever can call themselves worthy can pick it up. So if you’re wondering how this series ends, someone (probably Miles) is going to pick up the hammer and just beat Steve to death with it. Hopefully. It’s definitely not going to be Odinson, who spends this issue praying to his father, torn over his work with HYDRA which he’s only doing so they can release Jane Foster from Purgatory. Totally forgot that happened, tee bee haitch.
Over in Real Steve Rogers’s dreamscape, the best panel of this entire series happens when Steve’s vision of Falcon and Bucky get knocked out by an unknown party.
So if this is taking place in Steve’s head, does he just picture Red Skull as a ripped hunter? Dude’s a centenarian with the physique of a Rocky and Bullwinkle villain. Not to sound basic, but are they gonna fuck? I normally hate centrist discourse, but I’d be happy to see these two sides cumming together.Continued below
Back in the real world, “Secret Empire” continues its tradition of ending issues with twists that make me so mad I go right back around to being completely apathetic.
Steve’s been holding Bruce Banner in captivity. Banner who’s been dead two months – nay, not so much, not two. Like most twists (that Punisher one for example) there’s not enough context here to really form an opinion besides a guttural “ugh.” See you next time when my synapses continue to pointlessly fire off.