A Clash of Heroes

Superheroes, philosophy, ethics, and politics


Notes from the Secret Empire

Notes From The Secret Empire, Final Thoughts: What We Shouldn’t Overlook

***Spoilers for Secret Empire.***

Yesterday’s Secret Empire #10 finally brought Nick Spencer’s sprawling Captain America epic to its close (mostly; there are still some loose ends to tie up in Generations and in Secret Empire: Omega). Continue reading “Notes From The Secret Empire, Final Thoughts: What We Shouldn’t Overlook”


Notes from the Secret Empire Part 9

***Major spoilers for Captain America #25 and Secret Empire #8***

This has been a big week for the Secret Empire. Major characters have returned, wars have been fought and lost, alliances have formed, and fragments of the Cosmic Cube have been found.


At the end of #8, several things happen almost simultaneously in what will probably strike a lot of readers as an enormous coincidence, and those events finally deliver the hope that the heroes need: after spending several issues searching in vain for the Cosmic Cube fragments, Tony and company discover an Inhuman whose power can help them recover one of the fragments; Quasar awakens from the coma that has put her out of commission since the beginning of the series, and she brings down the planetary defense shield that has kept Captain Marvel and the other heavy-hitters off of Earth; Maria Hill finds and kills Blackout, whose power is keeping New York in the Darkhold dimension; Namor arrives in New York with the promise of a plan to defeat Hydra; and the Steve Rogers who seems to be trapped in a dream-like world (what some people suspect is the Vanishing Point) discovers Kobik in the forest with him. In other words, suddenly everything starts to go right for the good guys. Continue reading “Notes from the Secret Empire Part 9”

Notes from the Secret Empire Part 8: Fate, Freedom, and a Payoff (Sort Of) for Civil War II

***Major spoilers for Secret Empire #7 ahead.***

In some ways Secret Empire is the final part of a three-act story that began last year with Standoff. The second act of that story, Civil War II, set up one of the biggest moments in Secret Empire when Ulysses showed the Avengers and Inhumans a vision of Miles Morales killing Steve Rogers on the steps of the U.S. capitol:

Though the gathered heroes didn’t understand at the time, readers knew that the vision had everything to do with Steve being transformed into a Hydra agent. What we didn’t know was whether or not the vision would come true, and if so, what events would lead Miles and Steve to that particular moment in time. Secret Empire #7 finally answers those questions. Continue reading “Notes from the Secret Empire Part 8: Fate, Freedom, and a Payoff (Sort Of) for Civil War II”

Notes from The Secret Empire Part 7: A Little Moral Clarity

The moral world of the Hydra Cap story has been murky from the beginning. Since CA:SR #1, I’ve found myself in the uncomfortable position of rooting for the “bad guy.” In part this is because Steve Rogers has always been my favorite Marvel hero, and I want to believe that he can be restored to his true self soon. And in part it’s been because whatever evil he’s done, his intentions have seemed (for the most part) to be good. He wants to restore order and security to the Marvel world after a decade or more of its heroes acting like something less than heroes. That’s not too far from the Cap we’ve all known and loved. What changed was that he’s gone from being the guy who refuses to compromise his principles (even when it means he has to suffer for it) to being an ends-justify-the-means kind of guy. Continue reading “Notes from The Secret Empire Part 7: A Little Moral Clarity”

Notes from the Secret Empire Part 6.5: Moral Relativism?

Over at Retcon Punch there’s a thoughtful discussion of Secret Empire #4 where Patrick Ehlers makes interesting connections between Secret Empire with real-world politics.

In his analysis of the ethical disagreement between Black Widow and the Defenders over torturing the Hydra goon, Ehlers uses the term “moral relativism,” but I wonder if that’s quite the right term for what’s happening in SE #4. Continue reading “Notes from the Secret Empire Part 6.5: Moral Relativism?”

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 . . .”

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