Review: Secret Empire #2

Enshrouded in darkness, plagued by the minions of Baron Mordo and cut off from all assistance, The Defenders and Doctor Strange struggle to save the lives of the innocent people consigned to this hell on Earth. Will Dagger prove to be the key to stopping this nightmare? Meanwhile, will the appearance of a new hero provide Iron Man with the key to Captain America’s startling change?

Secret Empire #2 attempts to do what the lead up and first issue failed, give us someone to really cheer for. With a focus on the resistance we’re given a look at those standing up against Steve Rogers/Captain America/HydraCap and Hydra. Though, not all is presented in a solid way. Writer Nick Spencer presents a resistance at odds with itself, disagreeing upon which actions to take and how extreme their end actions should be when it comes to “taking out” Steve Rogers. This cause a fracture within and who winds up on which side is interesting if not a bit head scratching. The conclusions made as a whole are a bit head scratching when an all of the above decision would in the real world be what’s decided upon. There’s little strategy it feels like, just focus on one task. It’s hard to not think Spencer is saying something about the left and current resistance through this, a problem with this entire event story, it’s impossible to disassociate itself from reality.

Spencer doesn’t help matters in a revealing scene involving Steve Rogers/Captain America. After addressing the nation about his attack on Las Vegas, we learn a startling fact which presents the character as a symbol and figurehead for Hydra (aka Marvel Nazis). When those involved don’t condemn or see issues with Captain America being used as a prop by real life Nazis/White Supremacists/Alt-Right, there’s something uneasy to see that be reflected in a story that was written months ago. In this case fantasy causes a different reflection on real life and makes responses by the creative team and its defenders a bit more ominous.

The art by Andrea Sorrentino and Rod Reis is pretty stellar. I love this style and it has worked so well in other series. Here it adds to the grizzled and rough vibe of the world, adding a dirtier tone to it all. A different art style would impact how the comic is taken when read but in this case it reflects the story. The one knock is with the coloring which makes it hard to distinguish some characters, in particular Spider-Man.

Spencer ends the issue with a “shocking surprise” and again foreshadows how it’ll all likely end, which since the narrative is being told in past tense, will end with resistance victory. This is an improvement as it actually gives us characters to cheer for in a way and some folks we should care about as a whole. The issue and event still comes off as poorly thought out and perspectives are too simplified missing the complexity of real life politics. A step in the right direction, but one that’s far too late.

Story: Nick Spencer Art: Andrea Sorrentino and Rod Reis Cover Art: Mark Brooks
Story: 6.75 Art: 7.85 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read