Secret Empire #7 Review

comic books:
Tom Bacon

Reviewed by:
On July 26, 2017
Last modified:July 26, 2017


Secret Empire #7 is a tremendously strong issue, with remarkable character work. A reboot seems increasingly likely at the end of this journey, though.

Secret Empire #7 Review

I’ll say this for Secret Empire; it’s turning out to be a Summer Event like no other. Nick Spencer is an excellent writer, and he’s daring to write a plot that takes twists you just don’t see coming. This one has another superhero death and, while deaths are a traditional part of Marvel’s Summer Events, this one just feels different.

As the cover teases, #7 sees the climax of Black Widow‘s assassination attempt on Captain America. In the aftermath of his victory at the Mount, Steve Rogers prepares to give the speech of his life. It’s the perfect chance for Black Widow’s plans to come to fruition, and she’s got her young agents in place. This issue was set up over a year ago, during Civil War II, when we were given a vision of Miles Morales standing over Cap’s broken, bloody body. And, fittingly, we see the consequence of Ulysses’s vision; Natasha won’t let Miles turn into a killer.

I love Spencer’s character work in this issue. He shines a light on the tragedy of both Natasha and Nadia Pym, two victims of the Red Room. We get a sense of just how much being a killer costs them both, and neither are willing to let Miles go down that path. Miles, for his part, is wonderfully conflicted. On the one hand, he just wants the horror to end. On the other, does he really want to be a killer? We see his sense of responsibility coming into head-on collision with the harshness of Hydra reality, and it’s fascinating.

Of course, Cap hasn’t just ignore the threat of Black Widow; he has his best man, Frank Castle, on the job. We finally get the fight we’ve longed for all this time, a no-holds-barred clash between the Black Widow and the Punisher, up close and personal, each willing to do anything to beat the other. It’s sure to leave the forums and Facebook groups raging for months to come, and yet in my view it’s handled perfectly. Andrea Sorrentino renders the action in stunning detail, and there’s a stand-out moment in which the Widow lashes out. It’s so artistically done that it simply dazzles the eye. It’s got to go down as one of the most beautiful, creative comic book panels I’ve seen this year.

It all comes to a head in a stunning climax, one that allows Sorrentino to demonstrate all his artistic skill. I’m not going to spoil it here, but it’s one that nobody will have seen coming. It’s one that shakes Steve Rogers to the core, and sets up another moment that leaves us staggered, as Sharon Carter gets the chance to kill Captain America. Of course, she’s not able to do it, and the strange, dreamy sequences suggest her hesitation is in itself a turning point in Secret Empire.

The problem is, with a Cosmic Cube in play, this whole event increasingly feels like something that has to be wiped out of continuity at the end. Too much is happening, too many people are dying; it’s like an Elseworlds event, where writers know they can do anything at all because it’s not relevant to the ongoing continuity. That’s what Secret Empire feels like, and it’s a shame, because it undermines the whole event.

At times, Sorrentino’s art has only worsened that sense, as he tends to go a little off-model. Although this issue is chock-full of his trademark art, which is gorgeous, he’s a little more on-model this time, so at least there’s that. Still, I’m really expecting a major retcon as part of the mysterious ‘Vanishing Point’ that’s been teased for the end of Secret Empire.

This year’s Summer Event from Marvel has been possibly the most controversial the publisher has ever tried. I’m not sure where it’s going, and I’m really not confident that the journey will have been worth it, but this issue is fantastic.

Secret Empire #7 Review

Secret Empire #7 is a tremendously strong issue, with remarkable character work. A reboot seems increasingly likely at the end of this journey, though.