SECRET EMPIRE #6 by Nick Spencer and Leinil Francis Yu
Nick Spencer gives our heroes their second wind as the Avengers are forced to defend themselves from Supreme Leader Rogers' attack. While there are moments where the book ties in multiple side storylines for plot reasons, the writing and artwork in this issue remain standout features.
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Avengers Re-Assemble

What do we do when all hope appears to be lost? That is a question the Avengers have struggled with as they face a world now foreign to them. Captain America is Hydra, Hydra runs the United States, and the general public seems to have embraced Hydra’s rule. The political allegories Nick Spencer uses in SECRET EMPIRE #6 are hardly subtle; they dissect a country that has lost its way. Thus, seeing the political/cultural threat overwhelm and reject the Avengers, heroes who represent America’s capacity for good, feels inherently symbolic.

Image from SECRET EMPIRE #6, courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

SECRET EMPIRE #6 depicts our heroes at their most vulnerable before they return to their heroic roots. Supreme Leader Steve Rogers has located the Resistance’s secret base and has launched an all-out assault on his remaining opposition. The trapped Avengers must simultaneously hold their own against his forces while uncovering the mole within their ranks. All this happens as other plot threads escalate. Amongst them is the fate of Steve Rogers as well as Black Widow training the Champions to assassinate Captain America. In order to crush the resistance, Hydra Cap unleashes his secret weapon: a revived Bruce Banner.

Political Warfare

SECRET EMPIRE has always been a heavily political series, for better or for worse. While dramatic parallels to the Trump administration are inevitable, the narrative has always been about our heroes’ fall from grace. For so long, the Avengers took their heroic status for granted throughout multiple internal and external conflicts. These numerous events have built up over the years, resulting in public distrust towards that which threatens “normalness” for Marvel civilians. Now the Avengers are dealing with the fallout of their hubris: Hydra’s national takeover from under their noses.

READ: See what life under HYDRA rule is like for the United States in SECRET EMPIRE #1

And yet, despite the “bounce back from defeat” storyline feeling rather cliché, Spencer at least makes this moment feel earned. We’ve seen the Avengers fight overwhelming odds throughout this series, usually on the losing side. Yet, with their defenses down and forces cornered, it makes sense that now is the time to pick themselves back up. Here, the Avengers begin to act like their former selves, guiding the bunker refugees to safety while Iron Man holds Captain America at bay. It’s a moment that replicates the original CIVIL WAR conflict while emphasizing Tony Stark’s respect for the hero Steve Rogers used to be.

Image from SECRET EMPIRE #6, courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Fight as One

If SECRET EMPIRE #6’s writing has a primary issue, it’s that the comic feels rather padded. Alongside the main plot are multiple subplots involving heroes across the country, all of whom fight back against Hydra in their own way. These events are made to tie into the primary storyline, but it feels like Nick Spencer is trying to hastily connect loose ends. There are only two issues left in the storyline, and how it all wraps up is anyone’s guess. Let’s hope it doesn’t feel as abrupt as that of CIVIL WAR II.

READ: Check out the latest adventure of Supreme Leader Rogers in CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #18

Leinil Francis Yu heads art direction for this issue, and he does a rather incredible job. Within his character models lies a sense of posture and placement that matches the mood of each panel. Between the Avengers’ moments of discord and heroism or Rogers’ imposing figure, Yu reflects each character’s actions in their artistic portrayal. The facial artwork, however, is light rather than heavily detailed when depicting its characters up close. Overall, this is still one of the series’ best issues in terms of visual quality.

Final Thoughts on SECRET EMPIRE #6

SECRET EMPIRE #6 delivers a well-earned message of hope for our heroes, albeit while trying to juggle multiple other stories. They never hinder the main storyline, but it does make the connection between the main plot and the subplots feel less cohesive. With an ending leaving everyone’s whereabouts unconfirmed, the next issue will determine how those subplots fare taking center stage.

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