Writer: Nick Spencer
Pencils: Leinil Francis Yu with Joe Bennett
Inks: Gerry Alanguilan with Leinil Francis Yu & Joe Pimentel
Colors: Sunny Gho with Dono Sanchez-Almara
Additional Art: Rod Reis
Letters: VC’s Travis Lanham
Secret Empire #9, the penultimate issue of the event, thankfully rights the ship from the previous issue and begins to answer questions but, just like earlier issues, suffers from constant artist switches and rushed artwork. Nick Spencer does a nice job of tying a bow on Secret Empire as he has forced all of his players and plot threads into one last ditch battle on the ground and in the air of Washington D.C. The heroes are finally combined but Hydra still has the advantage, at least at the beginning of the issue. It took a long time to get here, at least it felt like a long time, but we finally have the the Space locked and Darkhold trapped heroes freed and they have joined with the Underground who have rallied behind Sam Wilson Captain America in what can only be described as a last ditch attempt to right the wrongs of Hydra and restore reality.
There are some great moments in Secret Empire #9. Nick Spencer delivers an excellent scene with the Black Panther’s regal defiance of Hydra Cap and a promise to end Baron Zemo. The mutants finally get some love as they have an epic scene led by Emma Frost but scene is stolen by Magneto. Taskmaster and the Black Ant have a classic Spencer moment, reminiscent of the Superior Foes of Spider-Man brought about by an epic scene of Thor (Unworthy Thor AKA Odinson… he’s Thor People) finally tiring of the states quo. Yet for all these good moments the book suffers, especially on the art. Leinil Francis Yu is an excellent artist and a Marvel staple but his artwork here appears hurried, as it is sketchy and clunky. Joe Bennett has been brought on to the book and he draws many of the Zemo-Panther scenes. Bennett is a veteran artist and his pages are nice but his style does not mesh at all with Yu’s so the reader is jarred when the artwork switches, which it does often as Rod Reis ‘alternate reality’ is very present in this issue as well as it becomes clear what this has actually been but it is another change in artwork. This has been one of my major gripes with Secret Empire as a whole, the constant art changes. Bennett is the tenth artist for this event and once completed and collected I think it is going to suffer do to this shift in style and look. I understand Marvel’s desire to release the book in the short window they provided themselves but could have planned accordingly. Another issue I have is that I have read every issue of Secret Empire but I am still lost at points since so many major moments are happening elsewhere. I miss the days where the ancillary titles augmented the story but weren’t crucial to what was actually happening in the main book. Honestly I have a mortgage to pay and just can’t afford every Secret Empire title on the market nor should I have to in order to enjoy the main event.
Verdict: Secret Empire has been an up and down event and Secret Empire #9 is more up then down but Event fatigue has set in and I am having a hard time recommending the title to anyone. With one more issue left, which thankfully is set to be released next week, I’m in until the end but it’s been a rough ride the past few issues but I am hopeful it ends on a high note.