SECRET EMPIRE #4
Hydra and whats left of the Avengers face off against Ultron in SECRET EMPIRE #4 from Marvel Comics. Nick Spencer is rolling right along with the best Marvel event book since the original Civil War. The race is on to find the fragments of the cosmic cube as both sides travel to Alaska to steal one of those fragments from the horrifying amalgamation of Ultron and Hank Pym. What begins as a typical superhero fight turns into a rather heart wrenching dissection of why it is that the Avengers have been at each others throats lately. From House of M, to Civil War, to Secret Invasion, and up to now the constant pressure to fix everything is what puts the world in peril and rips the Avengers apart. An appeal to whats left of Hank Pym’s humanity ends the conflict but for the Avengers the victory is short lived.
Nick Spencer slows things down a bit in issue #4 of the series and allows for a somber look at the recent history of the Avengers. Hank Pym is one of the more tragic stories in comics with his failures always being highlighted instead of his heroic deeds. All he is ever remembered for is hitting his wife and creating Ultron. Now merged with the killer robot Pym lays out some harsh truths for both Steve Rogers and Tony Stark and it was amazing to read. Spencer captured real raw emotion in this book and used Pym as the cipher and I think it worked amazingly well. So many years of hero vs hero strife and conflict that often gets overlooked but when it is laid out as it is in this issue it really hits home. The real meat of this comic takes place over a dinner table, not some crazy fight scene, and that is why it works so well. Not only are Cap and Iron Man facing reality but Black Widow as well. Her unyielding quest to stop Hydra is pushing her into a dark place that the Champions cannot follow and all of them are having to face how hard it is to hold onto your values when faced with such overwhelming odds.
SECRET EMPIRE #4 was another fantastic comic but I do think the art took a step back from the amazing working Andrea Sorrentino did in the previous issue. Leinil Francis Yu is an amazing artist but some of work in this comic felt rushed and did not display his usual polish. The schedules on these event books are brutal and I hope that the art does not continue to take a hit in the race to get the books out on time. I have said it four issues in a row and I will probably say it again, Secret Empire is a great read and this is THE event book Marvel fans have been clamoring for. The stakes are high, the emotional impact is real, and the action is outstanding.