Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Leinil Francis Yu
Inker: Gerry Alanguilan
Additional Art: Rode Reis, Joshua Cassara, & Rachel Rosenberg
Colors: Sunny Gho and Java Tartaglia
Letters: VC’s Travis Lanham
Unfortunately Secret Empire #6 ground to a halt my growing enjoyment of Marvel’s latest event. When I began reading Nick Spencer’s opus I was less then enthused. I disliked the fascist Cap storyline as well as how easily Hydra became the accepted norm for American society. But over the past few issues Spencer had won me over and I found myself getting past my qualms and feeling invested in Secret Empire. Yet whatever investment I had has been severely neutered with Secret Empire #6.
The main problem that I found with Secret Empire #6 was that it was all over the place, both in story and art. Marvel continues to add issues to this event so I don’t know if that means that they are adding pages or storyline but that felt like the case here. There were quite a few check in’s as Spencer begins the story with the Alternate Cap and then spends time in New York that is still under the Darkhold spell. We catch up with the Red Room AKA Black Widow and the Champions who are still conflicted and divided over Black Widow’s plan of action. There is a nicely written conversation between Captain America and the revived Bruce Banner. Then the bulk of the issue is the Hydra Avengers laying siege to the Underground Avengers safe haven as well as the Underground figuring out who the traitor in their midst is. This is where Secret Empire #6 ran into one of its problems, to little time was spent on each of these situations and it felt rushed to its conclusion. I found this sad since I wanted to be invested in Bruce and Steve’s conversation over the Hulk and how the hero community has always treated him but it felt out of place with everything else going on. The Underground mole was a major cliffhanger a few issues ago but it is handled to quickly and way to quietly here. New York is all but ignored in the main series and since I am not reading any ancillary titles I do not know how it is playing out elsewhere, nor should I have to depend on those books to know. If Marvel is adding issues then this event should not feel as rushed as this issue felt.
Unfortunately the artwork here is as jumbled as the story. Secret Empire was solicited with three artists (Steve McNiven, Andrea Sorrentino, and Leinil Francis Yu) the Rod Reis was added for the alternate Cap storyline but now Marvel has added two additional artists (Joshua Cassar and Rachelle Rosenberg) to this issue and unfortunately none of the artwork flows together. For an issue that could have had some wonderful moments the switch in art takes the reader out of these scenes. I like consistency and I was already annoyed with three artists being needed when if planned and executed properly there only needed to be one (preferably Sorrentino in my opinion) but now they are just jamming new pages in and it disrupts the flow of the book, which is an annoyance as a reader. I’m in until the end and I hope this issue was nothing but an anomaly and not the new norm.
Verdict: As a single issue Secret Empire #6 is a pass. As an event I still feel there are enough interesting ideas and Spencer is writing a strong story but the pacing and art of this issue felt rushed and I hope that is not the new norm going forward.