Writer: Nick Spencer
Artists: Andrea Sorrentino & Rode Reis
Letters: VC’s Travis Lanham
By this point I think it is fair to say that Secret Empire is an acquired taste. Some readers are 100% in and believe it is one of the finest events Marvel has created over the past few years. Others find it vile and unreadable, not so much for the creative team but rather over the content and the reach of the storyline. I have yet to run into many fence sitters, readers in the middle who are willing to let it play out AKA my kindred spirits. To be honest I hate the concept. Not so much Hydra Cap, or as Rocket refers to him Stevil, which was one of the funniest lines in Secret Empire #3 but rather how everyone in America apparently threw up their hands and became fascists (Nazi’s) over night and completely dismissed the reality of WWII and all the ugly ramifications that means, including the Holocaust being justified. That being said as I swallow my distaste over the concept I actually enjoyed most of Secret Empire #3.
Our story begins with Starlord, Rocket, and Baby Groot discussing their predicament with the leaders of Marvel’s main leaders from Marvel Cosmic (the Kree, The Skrulls, The Shi’ar, the Brood, & Spartax) and reaching out for hope. Like many things in Starlord’s life it does not go as planned but it does give us one of the funniest moments of the issue as Rocket and Starlord explain what happened on Earth and Rocket runs through the nicknames Captain America has acquired outside the Earth shield. My one complaint was that the comic Groot has become the MCU Baby Groot. I looked through the back issues and Groot is fully-grown until this moment, a moment in a comic released post Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 and trying to tie this book to that movie, which is not needed since I doubt many fans of the movie who don’t read comics are flocking to their LCS to pick up Secret Empire. Other then that the space stranded heroes are in bad shape and it’s not looking good for them.
The remainder of the book is building and setting the stage for the first half climax. We get a wonderful moment between Black Widow and Maria Hill. The contempt between the women is written perfectly and to see what Maria has been up to is interesting and very true to the character, who should feel somewhat responsible for the entire predicament the world is in due to her Pleasant Hill prison. The meeting was fostered by Boomerang, and it was awesome to have Spencer writing the hopeless villain he used as his focal point in the Superior Foes of Spider-Man. Black Widow is still training the Champions and trying to get their head in the game and what they may have to do. There is an assault on Atlantis by Baron Zemo, who is apparently Stevil’s best friend (I’m assuming that is Cosmic Cube related) and I find myself anticipating a Namor appearance with him screaming “Imperious Rex!” We catch up with Sam Wilson and feel for him since he is taking what has happened very hard, especially since he was carrying the Shield when this all went down. The issues cliffhanger isn’t as surprising as some on the internet have stated. It actually makes sense once you analyze the history of the character.
I’ve always enjoyed Nick Spencer’s writing and he’s pulling me in. I’m still not sold and I don’t know how he is going to get out of the situation he has written himself into, but that’s the fun of the story. I’m intrigued by the ‘alternate’ Steve Rogers side story being drawn beautifully by Rod Reis. I don’t know where it’s heading or how it fits into the grand scheme. Andrea Sorrentino’s art is what drew me to this event to begin with and he does not let me down. He is becoming my favorite artist in the industry. His layouts are masterful and the details draw me in. I will follow him to any book and he is the true strength of this Event so far.
Verdict: If you’re into the event then this is an obvious Buy. It’s not for everyone but if you’ve enjoyed Spencer’s Captain America books then this event is for you. If you loath the concept then save your money or buy some other books.