Welcome back to The Man in the HYDRA Castle, Multiversity Comics’s ongoing recap of Marvel’s “Secret Empire” storyline. As always, spoilers abound.
Last time on “Secret Empire”…
Having undone all the operations that Steve Rogers’s HYDRA set up to divide Earth’s heroes, Sam Wilson led an army of Avengers onto DC where the rest of HYDRA’s forces were taken out. With HYDRA as a global organization all but finished, all that remains is Steve Rogers in his HYDRA Iron Man outfit that’s powered by whatever he has left of the Cosmic Cube. Thankfully he’s surrounded by pretty much every Marvel hero, at least one of whom is a Hulk, so this should wrap up pretty cleanly, right?
Right. Steve’s Cosmic Cube armor allows him to break free from all of Marvel’s heroes and twist history to his own fantasies. The X-Men are executed by Baron Zemo before they could form as a team, Peter Parker was given his powers when Arnim Zola experimented on him with the spider, and the Fantastic Four exactly the same but with Doctor Doom replacing Mister Fantastic. That last part is fine, actually. Not pictured are the hundreds of death camps that were opened across the world as the Axis won World War II but that’s not as cool as DC’s memorials getting replaced with HYDRA ones.
Before Steve can pat himself on the back, he turns around to find that Sam is still alive in his new reality, having held onto his own piece of the Cosmic Cube. It’s been kind of dissapointing for “Secret Empire” to keep Sam on the sidelines for as much of the story as he was, considering he was always prime to be the main force standing against Steve. But now that we’re in the last leg of the race, it’s good to see Steve and Sam finally go one-on-one.
Sam giving over the Cosmic Cube shard to Steve ends up being a ploy as Ant-Man and Bucky have snuck onto it. When Steve combines that shard with the rest of his Cosmic Cube, a shrunken down Bucky is able to reach out to Kobik who comes back to our reality, undoes Steve’s damage, and brings the one thing that could actually stop Steve Rogers once and for all.
Not the Captain America who’s been picking up Steve’s slack since he went evil. Not any of the actual resistance fighters who have been trying to keep things together since HYDRA took over the world. Just this weird clone of Captain America made by a little girl who is also the living personification of one of the universe’s most powerful artifacts.
My biggest gripe with “Secret Empire”, as a title, has definitely been with how small it feels. Yeah, Steve took over the world, but who’s going to stop him? All of the heroes we followed get trapped in space or Manhattan got out so they could stand around in crowdshots with everyone else. Hawkeye led the underground for a while but all he did here was yell out “Avengers Assemble!” before everyone lost. Sharon Carter escaped from Doctor Faustus last issue and doesn’t show up again. Sam Wilson spent roughly twenty issues before deciding to become Captain America again and his only purpose here was to deliver a MacGuffin that brought back the only thing that could beat Steve: another Steve. Not any of the heroes who spent months fighting against the darkest time in Marvel’s history. Just one Aryan dude beating another Aryan dude with Thor’s hammer, which for some reason has been given a HYDRA inscription.
It’s fourteen words but at least it’s not those fourteen words.
After grabbing the hammer, Good Steve bashes Evil Steve in one hit and… that’s it. Evil Steve is defeated bringing an end to HYDRA and this new version of Captain America has to come to terms with a world that may not entirely trust hi-
Wow, Iron Man forgave himself for that faster than he forgave himself for Civil Wars I and II. And with that we have one issue of this whole thing left with “Secret Empire: Omega.” Yes there’s an epilogue about Americans patting themselves on the back and forgetting they joined HYDRA. No I’m not covering it because it’s mostly about that Inhuman who throws up Cosmic Cubes. We can all be doing something better with ourselves instead of thinking about 2017’s character find, Barf.