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”…
Captain America destroyed #TheResistance when he sent The Hulk to destroy their headquarters. No, they did not explain how Bruce Banner came back from the dead. The AI copy of Tony Stark we’re-all-just-treating-like-he’s-the-real-Tony set off a bomb to destroy the headquarters, seemingly killing everyone. Black Widow then rounded up the Champions to kill Steve Rogers for that.
Before we can get to that, however, here’s Captain Marvel moping in space.
Carol Danvers spent all of “Civil War II” trying to use a precog to prevent events like Celestials destroying New York or the Hulk from going on another rampage. It’s not her fault Hawkeye indiscriminately fired arrows at his best friends or Iron Man started kidnapping teenagers. Let “Civil War II” go, Carol. Everyone else has.
Speaking of “Civil War II,” the only part of it that I, someone who wrote a bunch of columns recapping “Civil War II,” can remember is Miles Morales was prophesied to kill Captain America. Everyone collectively thought, “Well I guess this Inhuman giving all these premonitions is a dud since Miles would never do that,” while Cap just whistled really conspicuously. Despite the fact that Widow has been training Miles and the rest of his teenage teammates to become deadly assassins, Natasha goes soft on Miles.
Miles’s uncle begs to differ.
Anyway, Widow locks Miles in her car and waltzes off to activate the old man the Champions previously rescued. This geriatric that’s been one of the few intriguing mysteries the series has had ends up being…
I actually read the first issue of “Mosaic” and it took me a minute to remember who this is. Although that has arguably less to do with me and more to do with Marvel not advertising that they turned the 2005 Gamecube game geist into an Inhuman. Anyway, Black Widow somehow knew that Mosaic accidentally possessed a comatose guy which caused him to get trapped in that body. Mosaic flies off to take out Cap’s reinforcements by jumping from one body to the next until they’re all gone and then he… leaves? Black Widow’s secret plan was to revive a niche Inhuman so he could take out maybe four guards and buzz off? Buy “Mosaic” now from Marvel Comics?
With Mosaic providing distraction, Natasha sets up a sniper’s nest to take out Steve. Unfortunately, she’s attacked by the worst Marvel character of all time, Nick Spencer’s characterization of Frank Castle.
“An army of fascist goons that I would also slaughter in a heartbeat. What the fuck am I talking about.”
Even though Punisher’s skull logo is the #1 decal for cops not even trying to hide their power fantasies, Frank Castle is one of the least authoritarian characters Marvel has. At least if you read the Garth Ennis version AKA the only version of Frank. Sure, Punisher might (might) side with Steve to resurrect his family but never bring back Nazi Germany. Out of everything in this series that I’m superficially mad at because I come up with a couple hundred words about this series every couple weeks, Frank Castle being rewritten as a bootlicker has me genuinely upset. I can’t imagine anything else in “Secret Empire” being this blatantly dumb.
For fuck’s sake.
After stabbing Punisher through both knees in an amazing fight sequence (thank you Sorrentino) Widow rushes in to stop the fight between Miles and Steve only to eat a shield to the neck like she’s getting one of those x-ray fatalities in Mortal Kombat. The rage over seeing Widow get fridged bolsters Miles up to legit beat the crap out of Steve and has him beat, ready to fulfill his destiny.
Again. Your uncle.
Miles ends up sparing Cap after seeing Widow, uh, die over all this. Steve then proceeds to casually walk off the fight everyone was really looking forward to, get almost stabbed by Sharon Carter, and then walk that off into the next issue. Before we talk about the next issue, here’s some loose ends we’re cleaning up.Continued below
I still have no fucking clue what any of these shirtless Red Skull/Steve scenes are. I know they’re Steve locked inside his own mind trying to retake his body but I don’t know why it has to get tugged out over 9 issues of pure fever dream. Every page of these dream sequences or whatever could comfortably be placed with black text over white space that said “Cool Steve’s coming back, ayy fuggedaboutit.”
Oh, also, the Avengers didn’t die last issue. They’re all fine because you could get a nuke dropped on your home but so long as your charred corpse isn’t displayed on-panel you can come back a day later with just a sprained ankle. #TheResistance stands around wondering what move to make next now that Widow’s dead and Cap still has control over everything. Only one man can save us.
I don’t know what Sam going back to Captain America really has to offer in the whole beating HYDRA thing save for the symbolism. Wait, no, I can tell you. Sam’s going to go on Periscope in his Captain America uniform and give a stirring speech about how fascism, actually, is not good. This will then cause an entire army of inspired millennials to march one by one, neck first, into Steve’s shield until he gets tired and gives up. Great. Now none of us have to continue reading or publishing “Secret Empire.” You are all welcome.