We’ve been a week removed from Marvel’s latest Summer Event, Secret Empire. While the event drew both raves and criticisms for making a beloved hero, Captain America/Steve Rogers, into the Supreme Leader of Hydra, one cannot deny the fact that the event was a just a joy to read, ultimately making it one of the more memorable events in Marvel Comics since Civil War.
Of course, this list not only includes those that took place in the main Secret Empire storyline, but also the lead-up to it, and may include some of the tie-in books as well.
THE BIRTH OF HYDRA CAP
To be fair with Marvel, the lead-up to this event was planted as early as 2014(?), when Steve Rogers lost his healing capabilities which resulted to old man Steve/Cap, with succeeding storylines of Assault on Pleasantville and Civil War II, before diving into the Secret Empire story arc.
Unknown to readers by that time, the return of Steve Rogers to his old youthful self came at a price when Kobik game him his abilities back. Just when we thought that we got Captain America back, he does one of the most surprising things by throwing Jack Flag off the quinjet and uttering the words “Hail Hydra”. What an intro for things to come.
This revelation came not only as a shock to some fans, but was also ridiculed as a cash cow for Marvel Comics. Later on, though, it was revealed that this is indeed the true reality of Captain America and something that we will have to deal with going forward.
This moment stands as one of the most definitive ones in the story arc as this was a culmination of a very carefully and expertly made story which took years of story-telling, and perfect execution thereof. This was a Captain America story that we’ve not seen before, one where he is made the thing that he hates the most, a fascist leader bent on recreating the world in his own image.
CAPTAIN AMERICA, THE WORTHY
Speaking of controversial moments, the Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) issue of Secret Empire is one of the most controversial comic book in this storyline.
The FCBD issue followed the events of Secret Empire #0, where Hydra Cap started to take control of the United States, starting by leaving the Alpha Flight crew trapped in space, and then taking care of the heroes in New York by encasing them in a black dome, and thereafter making easy work of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the White House. All of this, of course, was not as easy as it sounds, there was indeed resistance from all the Marvel heroes, which was instantly thwarted by Hydra Cap by raising Mjolnir, making him worthy to wield the power of Thor.
This moment instantly became a classic. We all know that Captain America was only able to lift Mjolnir a handful of times, and only in the most desperate moments where all hope was in Cap’s hands. Couple this with the fact that our concept of being “worthy” is something related to goodness; whereas in this issue, Hydra Cap was able to lift Mjolnir to propagate evil and his desire to rule as Hydra’s Supreme Leader, which pretty much means it’s something evil, thereby shattering our concept of worthiness. Also, the fact that Hydra Cap was worthy made not only the heroes but also mankind, think twice and believe in Hydra Cap’s cause. This truly was a sign of grim times in the Marvel Universe.
BLACK WIDOW’S DEATH
For more than half of the story, Hydra was in the driver’s seat and effectively winning every battle that existed. Hydra continued gathering the pieces of the Cosmic Cube, except for one, and even appeared to have decimated and eliminated the remaining resistance composed of Tony Stark, Ant-Man, Hawkeye, and a few other heroes. Aside from the Resistance, Black Widow assembled a small team consisting of Miles Morales, Amadeus Cho, The Wasp, and a few other young heroes.
When news broke that the Resistance was finally defeated, Black Widow had no other choice but to take matters into her own hands and plot the assassination of Hydra Cap at the Capital Building. This plot, however, had some few snags in it, especially the one where Miles Morales was prophesized by Ulysses to kill Captain America.
For those of you who do not know about this prophecy, spoilers follow:
The prophecy of Miles Morales killing Captain America on the steps of the Capital Building took place in Civil War II, when Ulysses, an Inhuman who can see the future, prophesized exactly that. This then resulted to greater rift between Captain Marvel and Tony Stark, which resulted to Civil War II along with casualties in the war.
Going back to the events that caused Black Widow’s death, Natasha had to devise a plan that would result with the successful assassination of Hydra Cap, without resulting to Miles Morales killing Hydra Cap. But since Ulysses’ visions always come true, the events leading to his vision of Miles killing Hydra Cap was all but certain, even with Natasha’s expert planning.
Miles, knowing that whatever he wishes to do would come to fruition, pushed his luck to make sure that the Supreme Leader will never see the light of day, thereby putting Natasha’s plan at risk. This leads to Natasha calling an audible, saving Miles from making his first kill in the process, charges head-on towards Cap and Miles. Just before Cap can land the killing blow on Miles, Natasha jumps in and meets the pointy end of Cap’s new shield, thereby killing her in the process.
This series of events leads to Miles beating-up Cap, and nearly making true the prophecy of Ulysses.
The death of Natasha became a rallying point for our then-believed to be dead members of the Resistance, and thus causing a chain of events that would ultimately lead to the downfall of Hydra.
SAM WILSON RISES
The moment that Steve Rogers and Hydra took control of the United States, Sam Wilson went underground and gave up his mantle as Captain America. It was only when the Resistance asked for his help that he reluctantly threw his hat back in the ring. During that time, though, Sam Wilson only operated as himself, and not as Captain America.
The moment of truth came, however, for Sam after Black Widow’s death, which ultimately led him to rally the Avengers by his side as Captain America.
In this moment, the stench of defeat was lingering throughout America. The heroes knew they were defeated, the people knew that a Hydra nation was all but sure. Even the littlest speck of hope was all but erased and dashed. This all changed when Sam donned the mantle of Captain America once again.
By the time the Resistance started to push-back, together with Alpha Flight and the trapped heroes in New York, Sam was taking to the sky and leading the fight back to Hydra. This time, hope was on the horizon, and the Resistance might just pull this revolution off, with luck and the tiny splinter of the cosmic cube at hand. This leads, of course, to the next monumental moment…
Ever since the first Civil War, Marvel’s heroes have somewhat been on each other’s throats, going up against one another on and off. Even before the events of Secret Empire, the heroes were once again torn between Captain Marvel’s side and Tony Stark’s side in Civil War II.
This recent rift between heroes essentially resulted in Steve Rogers’ Hydra revolution, what with Captain Marvel focused on protecting Earth from Chitauri invasion, and the focus of the Avengers elsewhere. There’s just really no harmony in the Marvel Universe at this point in time.
Fast-forward to Secret Empire, where Steve Rogers’ successfully conquered America, and with the heroes finally coming together to destroy Rogers’ reign of tyranny.
It was a sight to behold to see the heroes act as heroes. Fighting against evil, fighting for the good of mankind, the oppressed, and for what is right. This brought about a sense of joy seeing our heroes fight the good fight, and not fighting each other. Something that is sorely missed in our society with the constant bickering and in-fighting between countrymen, friends, and family; something that our world truly needs, a beacon of hope, a symbol of unity, a rallying cry to make this world whole again; because, after all, this Hydra ruled world mirrors that of our current world’s state. Our reality is basically driven by hate and oppression similar to Hydra, and what this world needs is for our people, our heroes, to bond together and unite to fight against the evil.
STEVE VS. STEVE
In the climactic battle, the real Steve Rogers finally escapes the Cosmic Cube with Kobik to fight Hydra Cap/Steve depicting the proverbial good vs. evil battle. Here, every move was expertly parried or countered by the other. Both of equal training, speed, and technique, after all being the same person, the result was likely a draw.
The great thing about this iconic moment was the call-back to the FCBD issue of Hydra Cap wielding Mjolinir. In this instance, however, with the help of Kobik undoing Hydra Cap’s work, Steve Rogers wielded the hammer and used it to triumph over the forces of evil, thereby defeating Hydra Cap.
In addition, Steve immediately gave up the hammer and returned it to its rightful owner, in contrast to Hydra Cap’s actions.
For this instance, peace and unity is restored in the Marvel Universe.
That rounds up our list of the most iconic moments in the Secret Empire storyline. Do you think we missed some moments, or have one of your own list? Let us know in the comments section below or jump over to our Facebook, Twitter , Youtube, and Instagram. or Email us at email@example.com
Also please check out our other Marvel related content like When we last left the MCU or the All The Things you missed in Spider-Man Homecoming! or the The Worst 10 Villains In The Marvel Cinematic Universe.
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Gino is the Gladiators’ resident TV and comicbook aficionado. He is Matt Murdock by profession in the day, without the vigilante crime fighting at night. He believes that the lightsaber is the best weapon during a zombie apocalypse.