Sunday, June 4, 2017

Secret Empire #3 Review - Marvel Monday

Secret Empire #3 

Writer: Nick Spencer
Art Team: Andrea Sorrentino, Rod Reis
Marvel Comics
Release Date: May 31, 2017
Cover Price: $3.99 

Our Secret Punishment

For the third time this month Marvel’s Secret Empire, the main title, has released an issue. For such an unusually high output, especially for a Marvel related event book, you would think the feeling one would have, from the outside looking in, is that a lot has happened so far.  Well you my friend would be wrong. Other than establishing who’s on what side, and where they are in the current universe, not much of note has happened yet.  Let’s see if issue three can turn that tide because right now I’m $18.96 into this series and ready to check out if something of note doesn’t happen soon.

Issue three resumes our cliffhanger scene from last issue with a totally different, and bearded, Steve Rodgers walking through the woods still attempting to rescue the damsel in distress from last issue.  This quickly transitions to Star Lord, Rocket, and Groot attempting to secure help in space, for those trapped behind the ‘Defense Shield’, but their attempt for assistance, and insistence on comedy in this situation, both fall flat.  It looks like our heroes behind the Shield are royally screwed so basically nothing has changed since issue #0.

From there we check in on Black Widow and her crew. Initially Black Widow meets in a location run by Boomerangs with Maria Hill who kindly provides some intel on the whereabouts of Captain America. If you remember, Black Widow along with the Champions have made it her mission to take Steve down. Speaking of the Champions, they make their appearance in a danger room scene, as we discover they’ve continued training under Black Widows tutelage but have lacked the ability to show they have what it takes to succeed … A.K.A. kill when necessary.

The second half of this title mimics the first in both style and tone, and by that I mean it’s covered in a lot of word bubbles, with characters talking and telling us about things happening, and that have happened, but rarely showing the reader in this event title, which is inexcusable. 

There is a brief glimmer of action in which a band of Hydra’s current agents attack Atlantis, in an attempt to secure a sliver of the shattered cosmic cube, however the art does it no favors. The only reason I know this scene takes place under water is the fish bowl masks Hydra is sporting, plus there is a Shark or two other than that the color and inking just make it look like every other scene. This all turns out be just be another dead end, due to poor intel on Hydra’s end, and they respond by destroying Namor’s home. This is another example of the bad guys coming off looking like morons and in response just destroying something. It doesn’t make me as a reader fear Hydra it just makes them look like run of the mill loser villains I read about in standard books.

The issue concludes in a rapid fire fashion with a series of three cliffhanger scenarios.  The first being what is Ultron Pym’s first appearance in the event. This is followed by the Rod Reis Steve Rodgers, who if I had to bet money on, think is the Ultimate Universe Steve Rodgers, with similar memory lapses Jimmy Hudson is also displaying. This Steve is shown failing to get the girl he rescued help in time as she dies from poisoning (and being stomped to death last issue couldn’t have helped) our ‘hero’ just continues wandering on. All followed by Boomerang being attacked in his hideout, for information regarding the meeting he setup earlier in the issue, between Black Widow and Maria Hill, by the newest Hydra agent of Nick Spencer’s choosing the Punisher. Some people are excited about this but we still haven’t seen a lick of Hydra’s sponsored Avengers squad with Deadpool, Thor, Scarlet Witch etc … so I'm not counting on Punisher playing a big role going forward either, other than background fodder like the other seem to be.

Well that’s it for issue three of this event and in all honesty I’m bored to tears at this point.  This book feels stuck in place, not sure where it wants to go next, and worse treading water to hit a just added tenth issue, for the sole purpose to hit fans where in counts … in the wallet.  The ending twist (or twists if you’ll account for all of them) may have more of an impact on others than it did me, but after revealing Captain America is a member of Hydra who at this point could say their Hydra that has any impact left? That’s the worst part of this event so far, the most important part of this story happened over a year ago with Steve saying ‘Hail Hydra’ in the Steve Rodgers title, and everything I’ve read since then feels like a writers attempt to stay relevant and trending on twitter and not genuinely interesting storytelling especially at this point.    

Sorrentino’s art is satisfactory but much too stylized for a mainstream event title.  The coloring especially makes it difficult to make characters out from each other or even to tell whats going on at times.  While I love his work on Old Man Logan and Green Arrow, I don’t think such a large ensemble casts are something that suits his art. Rod Reis does good in his brief appearances maybe possibly switching what artist was responsible for a large majority of the book would have been a better option.  

Bits and Pieces:

If you’re solely invested in this main Secret Empire title so far you’ve spent $18.96 (cover price) on a total of four issues that feel like they could have been shortened and cut down to two.  The pace is awful and this book is becoming less and less intriguing with each passing issue … wake me up when something actually happens.


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