The penultimate issue is here as Secret Empire gears up for its final issue next week. The heroes have turned the tide, but you just know that Steve Rogers and his Hydra goons have something up their sleeve. After reading that last page all I gotta say is, “Gulp.”
So what’s it about?
Check out the preview to read the summary.
Why does this matter?
Nick Spencer has been writing a strong series that’s akin to “House of M” in my mind. It’s got an elseworlds feel because it is captivating as hell in its own right, but we know it’ll all be reversed eventually. Add in Leinil Francis Yu (with Joe Bennett) on pencils and you have yourself a fight comic worth looking at.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Curiouser and curiouser.
And a fight comic this is, for the most part, because the heroes have turned the tide and are punching Hydra bastards left and right! Yu seriously drops the hammer on montaging fight scenes with tons of heroes in every panel (and in an excellent double page spread I might add) so as to showcase the chaos and all out battling taking place. Rod Reis continues to draw the Steve Rogers scenes very well with a dreamlike feel. There’s also an excellent panel of a destroyed suburban town that looks hyper-realistic and should give you some shivers. I’d say the dialogue heavy moments are tackled by Joe Bennett as the style certainly looks different from Yu’s, but it’s very clean and well rendered for these types of scenes. Overall the art looks great and should satisfy action fans.
Customary of events like this the story has plenty of twists and turns that are interesting. There’s certainly a big surprise by the end and things are coming to a head as far as the heroes amassing power. One could argue it’s coming a bit too fast given how long Hydra reigned in this event series, but it’s a victorious sort of issue with lots of action that should satisfy most. Having not read every tie-in there’s certainly a brevity to things turning the tide, but with all the fists flying and double crossing going on it does make sense. Essentially Spencer is juggling a ton of characters and plots at once and you’ll never feel confused. As far as events go that’s a big win.
Character wise the X-Men end up being a fun wrinkle in the scheme of things, but Thor fans will be hooting the loudest. Many characters get a moment to shine, including Taskmaster and Black Ant, who try to absolve themselves in a funny scene. Spencer spreads out the love quite well and there are many smaller moments of heroics throughout the issue that helps make this big event feel personal.
These dudes love to hug.
It can’t be perfect can it?
As I alluded to above, the turning of the tide is fast and furious. The last issue does go into how the heroes begin to gain freedom to fight, but this issue pulls even more heroes into the fight that we didn’t see join in. This might be a case where reading all the tie-ins would make this issue more satisfying, but if you’re reading only this series it does seem a tad unearned given how many issues Hydra reigned supreme.
On the visuals front, the action looks great, but there’s little context as far as where the characters are fighting and what the stakes are if they win. It seems like they’re simply punching through Hydra forces in an effort to punch them all. There isn’t a clear goal for them, though one could presume they’re rushing to get to the White House. This reduces the overall purpose of the fighting.
Is It Good?
This is an action packed penultimate issue that looks great as it fills every panel with a wide assortment of heroes. The biggest win is how Spencer manages to make this big event feel intimate, focused on every big hero moment.
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can browse AIPT ad-free, gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!