The Failings of Friendship in Desperate Times in Secret Empire 5

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

“The power of friendship” is a popular trope in most media. The idea that most situations can be overcome through the bonds we share with our friends is powerful in a lot of ways, but it’s one that never really seems applicable to war or espionage stories like Secret Empire. Make no mistake, Hydra is not going to be defeated by friendship or optimism alone, but in Secret Empire 5, Nick Spencer, Rod Reis, Andrea Sorrentino, Joshua Cassara, and Rachelle Rosenberg do explore the effect pre-existing relationships have on their conflict. It’s not always a good one. Continue reading

Secret Empire 4: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers and Ryan Mogge

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

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Patrick: The Secret Empire epic drives on an engine powered by dramatic irony. From the second Steve’s first “Hail Hydra” was uttered, the audience knew more about the threat the Marvel Universe faced better than any of its inhabitants. It is serendipitous (in the worst possible way) that the current political climate in the United States has made readers hyper-aware of this irony, as we’re able to draw obvious parallels between the rise of Hydra and the rise of white nationalism. We don’t need to parse out the rhetorical devices Steve uses to justify his abuses of power — we see them demonstrated by our president every day. Issue 4 doubles down on the practice of illustrating dramatic irony, giving the audience far more information than any of the characters are ever afforded. The result is an unsettling exercise in moral relativism. Continue reading

Selling Out (and Feeling Guilty About It) in Deadpool 32

by Michael DeLaney

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Writer Gerry Duggan has made me recognize Deadpool as a (misguided) hero with heart. So when Hydra’s new America debuted in Secret Empire, I was shocked that Deadpool was working for the bad guys. Deadpool 31 showed us that Wade’s idolization of Captain America put him down this path. In Deadpool 32 he’s struggling with the guilt of that choice. Continue reading

Serve the Community, or Save the World? The Dilemma of Captain America: Sam Wilson 23

by Ryan Mogge

Captain America Sam Wilson 23

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

The central conflict of Captain America: Sam Wilson 23 is not between the Avengers and the Mole Man. Instead, it’s a reverberation of the themes that Nick Spencer has been exploring throughout the series’ run. Sam Wilson is a hero because he believes in helping people. His work begins at a human level, functioning as part of a community. By contrast, the Avengers present a plan to save the world. Their goal to rescue Steve Rogers using the cosmic cube could alter the course of human history. Continue reading

Captain America: Sam Wilson 22

Today, Patrick and Michael are discussing Captain America: Sam Wilson 22, originally released May 31st, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Patrick: Thinking about the problems the United States faces on global and federal levels is daunting as hell. We’re inundated with concerns about the stability of our global leadership, about the viability of of our political system, the longevity of healthcare and other programs put in place to protect individuals. And what can you do? Call your representatives? Donate to the ACLU? Volunteer? Run for office? They’re all drops in a bucket — important drops, but drops nonetheless. In the face of a country that rejected him, Sam Wilson is forced to come up with his own answer to this question, and in so doing, brings Cap back to the vulnerable citizens that need him. Continue reading

Secret Empire 3

Alternating Currents: Secret Empire 3, Drew and Patrick

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Secret Empire 3, originally released May 31st, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Drew: That Secret Empire is about big ideas goes without saying. As with any tentpole summer event, it promises to change the Marvel universe as we know it (at least temporarily), but the bigger story is the way the event (and the stories leading to it) have reflected the real-world political climate, often in uncanny — and uncomfortable — ways. But issue 3 reveals that, underneath it all, writer Nick Spencer may have been building to an even bigger (albeit, perhaps less controversial) question about the very nature of the superhero genre in the present day: does it still have room for moral absolutes? Continue reading

Secret Empire 1

Today, Patrick and Michael are discussing Secret Empire 1, originally released May 3rd, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Patrick: Skipping ahead into the radically altered future has become one of the hallmarks of modern Marvel event stories. Both Secret Wars and Age of Ultron rushed ahead to the moment after the unthinkable had already occurred, resting in a status quo that practically begged to be undone. Secret Empire, in its #1 issue, adopts this same tactic, catapulting over an untold stretch of time and insisting on a terrifying new normal. The difference between this story and events like Secret Wars and Age of Ultron, is that Secret Empire is based in the entirely credible rise of fascism in the United States. There is real world precedent for the world over which Captain Hydra rules, and even if it is exaggerated for the medium, and the long road to this moment is paved with recognizable warning signs. But writer Nick Spencer is no longer concerned with establishing the mechanical reality of Steve Roger’s brave new world, instead turning to the emotional reality of its occupants, dialing in on how it feels to be truly helpless and hopeless. And how it feels to resist.  Continue reading

Secret Empire 0

Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Secret Empire 0, originally released April 19th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: It can be incredibly dangerous to put too much faith in one person, especially if it means neglecting other connections and relationships. While this can be true on a personal level, it’s far more important to remember on a political level, where not even the most well-meaning politician can be trusted with too much power — not even Captain America himself. Continue reading

Captain America: Sam Wilson 21

Today, Ryan M. and Drew are discussing Steve Rogers: Captain America 12, originally released February 22nd, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Ryan M: Empathy and understanding can only be built by listening. That’s why representation is so important. Reinforcing norms of exclusion only bolster the narrative of inequality. An outsider telling your story, however well-meaning, influences the message. The speed and breadth of modern media only add more veils between the truth and the version people hear. In Captain America: Sam Wilson 21, Sam wrests back control of his own story.

Continue reading

Captain America: Steve Rogers 14

Today, Ryan and Patrick are discussing Captain America: Steve Rogers 14, originally released March 22th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Ryan: Sometimes, if a character is too interesting or too dynamic, they can take over a narrative. I call it the Dawson’s Creek conundrum, since that was a show that was hypothetically built around (and named after) the least engaging character.  It’s not always a problem. It can be fun to have a character enter the story, take over for a bit and then step out, as long as the story knows that it’s happening. In Captain America: Steve Rogers 14, writer Nick Spencer and artist Jesus Saiz have a character taking over, but don’t cede the entire book to her. Continue reading