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A Clash of Heroes

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Notes from the Secret Empire

Notes from the Secret Empire Part 6

Yesterday a man named James Hodgkinson opened fire on a congressman and four others at a baseball practice, and the apparent motive for the attack was political.

I hate to sound cynical, especially when there are real people suffering, but violence and tragedy have become so commonplace that it’s hard to work up the kind of emotional response that we ought to have about these sorts of things. Maybe it’s because these days, the Outrage Machine runs on high-output twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, three hundred and sixty five days a year. Maybe it’s because every day there’s some new cause demanding my full emotional investment flooding my social media feed and the news cycle. But whatever the reason, increasingly I find myself feeling shame more than anything else when bad things happen. Things like the Alexandria shooting ought to shock me, but I’m ashamed to say that they don’t. I don’t have the energy to be shocked anymore.

I bring this up because Secret Empire #4 landed on shelves yesterday, and I can’t help noticing how (sadly) relevant the book is to where we are right now––but not (necessarily) in the way that Spencer intends. Continue reading “Notes from the Secret Empire Part 6”

Notes from the Secret Empire Part 5.5: Beating Us Over the Head With the Trump Stick

This is getting a little ridiculous. Almost laughable, even.

That’s what I thought when I read Captain America: Steve Rogers #17.

I hate saying that, because these days the Captain America books and Secret Empire are the books that I look forward to the most. I hate saying it because I think that they’re some of the best comics being written right now. Hell, they’re some of the best superhero comics to be published in a long time.

So what’s different about CA:SR #17? Continue reading “Notes from the Secret Empire Part 5.5: Beating Us Over the Head With the Trump Stick”

Notes from the Secret Empire Part 5: The Return of Hope?

***Major spoilers for Secret Empire #2***

Secret Empire #2 knocked us all off our feet earlier this week because it has a doozy of a last page. While the issue gives us plenty to think about, it seems like most commentators have spent their time speculating about what the last page means. Is it really Steve Rogers? Which one? Is it the Cap from the Ultimate Universe? Is this more shenanigans caused by Kobik? I’ll admit that the last image in the book left me stunned, and for the next hour it’s all I could think about. Here was exactly what I’d been waiting for: the return of Steve Rogers. I just hoped that it wasn’t a gimmick or a trick. We’ve been tricked several times since Captain America: Steve Rogers was announced last year, after all. Is this another one? Continue reading “Notes from the Secret Empire Part 5: The Return of Hope?”

Notes from the Secret Empire (Part 4): On That Twist . . .

Notes from the Secret Empire (Number 4)

What actual hell?

***Major, gigantic, huge spoiler alert for the Free Comic Book Day issue of Secret Empire . . . which was already spoiled a couple of weeks ago.***

So, in the Secret Empire Free Comic Book Day special, this happened: Continue reading “Notes from the Secret Empire (Part 4): On That Twist . . .”

Notes From The Secret Empire (Part 3)

)Secret Empire #1 hit the shelves today. It’s going to be a hard road––for everybody: for the Champions, who are currently hiding in a compound in Arizona; for the American people, who are currently being reeducated in Hydra-improved schools; for Captain America, who is learning the difficulty and loneliness that come with being in power; and it’s going to be a hard road for those of us who are reading.

Division at the heart of everything

If betrayal and the triumph of Hydra were the story of Secret Empire #0, struggle and division are the story of Secret Empire #1. Continue reading “Notes From The Secret Empire (Part 3)”

Notes from the Secret Empire (Part 2): Hydra Cap and the Imperial Presidency

One of the most striking and powerful pages in Secret Empire #0 comes after the prologue in the opening scene on the Helicarrier. The unnamed narrator of the book describes the events of the issue in retrospect:

IMG_0187

I’ve said before that we shouldn’t read Captain America: Steve Rogers or Secret Empire as a direct allegory, but there’s no doubt that Spencer has American politics in mind. So while we can’t say that Hydra Captain America equals Donald Trump or any other particular president, it’s hard not to think of the idea of the imperial presidency during this monologue. Continue reading “Notes from the Secret Empire (Part 2): Hydra Cap and the Imperial Presidency”

Notes from the Secret Empire (Part 1.5)

A couple of days ago I posted about Secret Empire #0 and Captain America: Steve Rogers #16, specifically about the revised history of Captain America that those issues revealed: that he has always been a Hydra agent, and that after WWII, the Allies used a Cosmic Cube to make Steve into the hero that comics readers knew for 75 years.

When I first read the issue, I took it for granted that this history is just a part of the new reality that Kobik created when she altered Cap’s history back during Avengers: Standoff. But several news sites—notably Screen Rant—reported that Secret Empire had now revealed that Cap had Always Been Evil! At first, I thought, “Did I read the same comic? Or did I miss something?” Otherwise, Nick Spencer has given us the Mother of all Retcons, the Retcon to End All Retcons. This would be a retcon to make One More Day look like a minor change to Spider-Man’s history. Continue reading “Notes from the Secret Empire (Part 1.5)”

Notes from the Secret Empire (Part 1): A Huge Twist, But Don’t Draw Any Conclusions (Yet, At Least)

Secret Empire #0 hit the stands yesterday along with Captain America: Steve Rogers #16 (as well as a couple of other Secret Empire-related titles that I have yet to read). Both are excellent books. In fact, Secret Empire #0 is the most exciting event comic that I’ve read since Jonathan Hickman’s Infinity (which is grossly underrated).

Unlike a lot of event comics in recent memory, lots of things actually happen in SE #0 that really do matter. Where most event comics only promise to Change Everything Forever(!), Secret Empire #0 stands poised to deliver on that promise. There are times when I want to make a voodoo doll of Nick Spencer and light it on fire for what he’s done with Cap, but I have to admit: he tells a damn good, damn suspenseful story. It’s been a long time since a comic has felt so high-stakes. Continue reading “Notes from the Secret Empire (Part 1): A Huge Twist, But Don’t Draw Any Conclusions (Yet, At Least)”

Notes from the Secret Empire (Prologue)

For the duration of Marvel’s Secret Empire event (which sort-of launches this week with issue #0), I’ll be writing an ongoing series of posts about the story, which sees the Hydra Captain America succeed in leading a Hydra takeover of America.

Just as Secret Empire will be the culmination of Nick Spencer’s Hydra Cap story, these “Notes from the Secret Empire” will be the culmination of a number of posts that I’ve made about Captain America since last summer. In this series, I plan to review each issue of Secret Empire (as well as the related issues of Captain America: Steve Rogers, Captain America: Sam Wilson, and perhaps other tie-in issues as well), and I will also discuss the political and philosophical implications of the series (both for the Marvel Universe and for the real world). Continue reading “Notes from the Secret Empire (Prologue)”

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