Secret Empire #2 Review

Review of: Secret Empire #2
comic books:
Tom Bacon

Reviewed by:
On May 17, 2017
Last modified:May 17, 2017


Secret Empire #2 is a powerful issue, featuring a shocking twist at the end. If this is handled well, we could be talking about Marvel's best event in years.

Secret Empire #2

Let’s face it, Secret Empire is easily the most controversial event comic in years. And this, I think, is the issue that really turns the story upside down.

It really does look as though writer Nick Spencer has been pulling a bait-and-switch all along. There’s a twist at the end of the issue that’s simply breathtaking. Now, I’m not going to spoil it for you, as the twist really is a moment that, I think, will come to define the entire event. In fact, I reckon Secret Empire #2 will force us to reinterpret the last year’s worth of Marvel comics. That’s how big this twist really is.

Overall, this is a fascinating issue, and again, I can see why Nick Spencer claimed to be inspired by Star Wars. The attack on Las Vegas is like the destruction of Alderaan, polarizing the world’s heroes, leaving them desperate for hope. Against that backdrop, you have a holographic message from Rick Jones that finally clues the good guys in on how Captain America turned evil. And then, suddenly, you have the issue’s close.

I’m truly impressed by Nick Spencer’s writing here. He balances a range of tones and styles with real skill. What’s more, he does it all while balancing it out with some strong character moments – including for Miles Morales. One of my most frequent complaints about Marvel in recent years is that their comics just haven’t had much sense of cohesiveness, of continuity, so it’s pleasing to see that Spencer is bucking the trend. Secret Empire #2 is pitch-perfect in terms of continuity, right down to a fantastic character-beat for Morales that sets up more of the spinoffs.

Another standout character in this issue is Black Widow. When she pronounces judgment on Captain America, she does it in a way that will twist the heart of any Marvel fan. In that second, Spencer’s script dovetails perfectly with Sorrentino’s art, and you feel Black Widow’s words like a punch to the gut.

Ultimately, though, it’s now clear that Secret Empire will stand or fail by the twist at the end of this issue. If Nick Spencer can pull this off, then he’ll rewrite the last year’s worth of comics in one fell swoop. He’ll leave his critics bewildered and confused because they thought they knew what story he was telling. He’ll leave his fans vindicated, and prove that he really does know the character of Captain America. There really is a lot riding on this twist, and the stakes have never been higher.

Andrea Sorrentino’s art is gorgeous and powerful, creating a world that’s shockingly bleak. He revels in the world-building shots, but unfortunately, occasionally he struggles with the close character moments. There’s a conversation between Black Widow and Hawkeye, in particular, that just doesn’t quite feel right. And yet, when Sorrentino gets it perfect, the pages are breathtaking. Rick Jones’ message is heart-wrenching; somehow, the emotion of his death last issue didn’t hit me, but this? I nearly cried.

For now, I’m scoring this at 4 stars. In reality, though, from this moment on, everything hangs on that climax. If the twist turns out to be satisfying, then Secret Empire will immediately become one of Marvel’s best events ever. If it doesn’t, then the last year’s worth of comics will end not with a bang, but a whimper.

Talk about high stakes.

Secret Empire #2

Secret Empire #2 is a powerful issue, featuring a shocking twist at the end. If this is handled well, we could be talking about Marvel's best event in years.