SECRET EMPIRE #9
Just like that Marvel Comics has course corrected from a mediocre SECRET EMPIRE #8 to the amazingly excellent SECRET EMPIRE #9. I gave Nick Spencer a hard time about the last issue that really did not move the story forward but I am ready to eat my words now because it seems it was all in service to a payoff of epic proportions. Both Hydra and the heroes have all their cards on the table now. New York is free, the shield wall is down, and the borders are open. Its the heroes of the Marvel universe versus the core villains of Hydra and their formidable army. Hydra has one last ace up its sleeve though. The the collection of the last shard of the Cosmic Cube from Emma Frost the Supreme Leader Steve Rogers now has the power of a god. The question then becomes, is the entire might of the Marvel universe enough to stand against a one man army powered by the Cosmic Cube?
This entire over sized issue is a blast to read from cover to cover. Huge shining moments for Emma Frost and Magneto as Hydra betrays the Mutants, a nice break for humor as Taskmaster and Black Ant re-evaluate their life choices, and a turning of the tide from the Son of Odin who can no longer deal with the compromises he has made. Every page, every panel, every character is pushed to the limit to drive the narrative forward that this is the last stand of all last stands. Juxtaposed to all the chaos and war is the quite truth slowing coming out about who the bearded Steve Rogers is and what is the strange world Kobik has created around him. His ability to finally see the outside world might be enough to bring Nick Spencer’s Captain America story full circle, but only if Kobik can summon the courage to make one last change. Spencer’s script just oozes with the gravity of the situation for all involved and all Marvel fans will get a kick out of seeing the smug smiles kicked off the faces of villains like Zemo and Dr. Faustus.
Interior pencils from Leinil Francis Yu were excellent. His double page battle splash pages brought back fond memories of the closing chapters of SECRET INVASION, huge scale hero on bad guy army ass kicking of the best kind. The quieter moment between Steve and Kobik featured the art of Rod Reis who has excelled throughout this entire series. The styles are so different it is like a raging thunderstorm in the real world while Reis’ art sets a tone similar to a warm fire. The contrast is perfect and it reflects the narrative very well. Only one issue to go in what I think has been the best Marvel event since the aforementioned SECRET INVASION so all hands on Deck for issue #10. Be sure to request any last minute variant covers now before they are sold out!