Monday, July 3, 2017

Secret Empire #5 Review - Marvel Monday

Secret Empire #5

Writer: Nick Spencer
Art Team: Andrea Sorrentino, Rod Reis, Joshua Cassara, & Rachelle Rosenberg
Marvel Comics
Release Date: June 28, 2017
Cover Price: $4.99

Secret Empire's Dirty Secret: The Main Event Book is Pointless

Here we go, yet again, with another issue of Secret Empire, as the fifth one dropped this week. While I started off this story being somewhat of a sucker for the hype to yet another Marvel event, I’ve quickly grown disillusioned with this entire story concept rather quickly.  I have never been the biggest Captain America fan , so I don’t come into this with anger and hate because the internet told me to, instead the release schedule and pacing of this series has beat me down to the point I don’t know I’ll ever recover. With that precursor established, let’s see if issue five gives me a reason to keep reading this tire fire, or if Ill skip the next couple going forward, review wise, and just come back for the ending to let you know how this all wraps up.

Things start off with Black Widow in the custody of Hydra, specifically Viper and some goons, as they attempt to extract some information as to the reasoning for Black Widow snooping around. After a tiny exchange between the two parties Black Widow reveals a secret, and a deal, to Viper forcing an uneasy alliance as they mutually agree to pursue Captain America’s death.

Meanwhile the Champions appear to be attempting to recuse Black Widow, in possibly the same or a different facility, it’s hard to tell. They sneak around and eventually stumble upon our first mini cliffhanger this issue an old man in a hospital bed. Everyone can now start guessing and placing bets on which ‘person’ this is because the way characters jump in and out of this title it could literally be anybody.

Next we check on our heroes still trying to hunt down ‘cube shards’, this time in Wakanda and Madripoor.  Black Panther isn’t so willing to just hand over what he has however, Madripoor also turns out to be another dead end, leading this heroes’ coalition to reconsider their methods of doing business of late. Great so we just spent three issues reading about this team hunting down ‘cube shards’ to have our heroes’ just give up on this thread now? Am I surprised, no not at all, plot threads have been added and dropped in this series willy nilly since the start, possibly to be picked up in tie-ins I have zero interest in purchasing, or reading.  

Later a bald looking Beast meets up with Captain America to discuss the mutant agenda before Cap is whisked off and we get a short recap of the ‘Avengers’ that are working for him, that submitted to Hydra.  Cap is filled in by Madam Hydra and told all is fine, but it does appear there are cracks in this Hydra foundation, with things not as rose colored as they first appear to be.  The Hydra Avengers: Vision, Scarlet Witch, and Thor all display, at points, possible signs of breaking their control but not quite yet as of now. This maybe the most interesting aspect of the issue and each scene is only a few panels long.

We do get more scenes this issue of Rod Reis style art showcasing a different Captain America (Cap with a sexy beard) and friends, almost in a dream like state, but so little has been revealed about these snippets, six issues into this series, that I care so little for them it means little to nothing at this point, other than to serve a purpose to up a page count, and charge more money for a single issue, and later the trade.  This may all very well have a large purpose for our story being told but it’s been handled so poorly its only detracting from what’s going on in the ‘real world’ at this moment in time.  

Finally the issue concludes with the Underground’s attempts to discuss and pursue their next course of action, which may possibly be time travel …. Yeah (can you sense my sarcasm)! Very suddenly however the heroes find themselves again under attack by Hydra war ships. Once again to conclude an issue it appears we have another good guy traitor, which turns out to be Mockingbird, who has alerted Cap to the location of the remaining ‘good guys’.  As the Underground scatters, and the attack rages on below, up in the skies we see Captain America and Zola discussing their latest pet project and if it’s ready or not.  Our final reveal cliffhanger is a back from the dead Bruce Banner sitting in an empty room and greeted by Steve as he says “good to see you old friend” … and scene.

In all honesty I’m done with this book, I can’t do it anymore, I think the whole idea six issues in has turned in complete and utter crap storytelling.  Every other week I return to this series hoping for the issue that pulls all these random scenes together but it never happens.  Nothing interesting is explored in depth, characters act out of the ordinary, swear loyalty to Hydra because it the cool thing to do, with nobody acting like a hero in sight, it’s difficult to be invested in this story at all.  Nick Spencer chooses to do things like bring the Hulk back, almost one year to the day of his death, and just like other resurrected characters, or people who’ve changed allegiances, I don’t expect the WHY of all this of to be explored much at all.  It’s just comes off as another empty toy for Spencer to play with on the game board at this point because each issues cliffhanger has been barely touched upon going forward in the main series.  

The art changes on three separate occasions this issue, with nobody even trying to mimic the others style, so it’s just a clash of artistic choices going on in the book that doesn’t allow the story to flow well at all.  I can’t recommend anybody try this series at this point, it feels like Nick Spencer is writing from an outline for this event, and not going in depth on any one sub bullet to explain any of his thoughts well at all.  It may all come together in the end, if you read the tie-ins as well, but that doesn’t change the fact this story is clearly dragged out far beyond the length it needed to be, plus with two additional issues added to this hot mess and one delayed so far after it was already started, I get the sense despite Spencer’s pleas for over a year to let the story develop, even he doesn’t really know where it’s going.

Bits and Pieces

Ill sum up Secret Empire #5 in one sentence, I feel asleep three times reading this book, its just flat out boring. It continues the trend of revealing very little, progressing the story even less, just about turning into the over bloated mess we all feared it would be at the start.  Tie-in’s appear to be telling too much of the story, while the main event book feels like a series of uninteresting random scenes that just aren’t keeping my attention anymore. To many questions, too few answers, and a poorly thought out, and now expanded idea, make this a low point for Marvel event comics since Fear Itself. Honestly I think I liked Civil War II more and Im saying that with a completely straight face.



  1. I'm a little confused. Isn't the Jordan Stryke version of Viper still alive?

    1. What happened to that version? The last time I remember seeing him was in "Sam Wilson #4", where he reinvented the Serpent Society as "Serpent Solutions".

    2. Any chance of a response to this?

    3. Viper died, but somehow came back fine after All-New, All-Different Marvel started.