Secret Empire #6
Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Leinil Francis Yu
Inks by Gerry Alanguilan & Leinil Francis Yu
Colors by Sunny Gho with Java Tartaglia
So this issue begins with Bearded Steve being tortured by Red School because he doesn’t remember anything about his previous life. Unfortunately, the torture doesn’t end there. On a serious note, there is a fine line between something being dark and being depressing and this issue has taken a hard swipe into the depression territory. Once again, Spencer gives us a story that is bleak, depressing and fatalistic. It is overly negative in tone and it almost seems like he’s daring us to keep reading.
Elsewhere, in the Darkforce surrounding New York, Claire Temple tries to treat an injured Dagger as Stephen Strange turns to an old ally to find an answer to the Darkforce. At the same time, Daredevil confronts Kingpin about his actions during the crisis and gets a lesson in the criminals endgame and the only sense of hope out of anyone in this book.
Wasp has decided to quit after she finds out about Black Widow’s plans to kill Steve Rogers and the rest of the team tries to convince her to stay. Unfortunately, Nadia has the more compelling argument to leave because there is nothing heroic about what they are doing and she sees no value in continuing (that sentiment seems familiar to me for some reason). Her points about the compromise Widow is willing to make in order to fulfill her mission is another hold over from the last issue which showed how easily these so-called heroes will buckle to tyranny for the sake of peace.
Spider-Man (Miles) goes to Widow to tries to get her to convince Wasp to stay. Instead, Widow gives Miles a speech detailing the failings of her generation and the mess that they’ve left. As Miles attempts to appeal to Widow on a personal level, we get to see just how hopeless she’s become.
As Hydra’s forces continue to bombard The Mount that is hiding Iron Man and his forces, Hydra Steve sends in his next wave which includes Thor Odinson, Scarlet Witch and Vision. As Tony assures everyone that they can’t break through, Hawkeye and the rest of the team try to find out who sold them out to Hydra in the first place. The reveal of the traitor is depressingly simple. I actually felt nothing when I found out. I just shook my head and sighed (a pattern that has been repeated since I started this story.).
As the heroes continue to argue amongst themselves, Steve unleashes his secret weapon, a newly resurrected Bruce Banner Hulk to level The Mount and, I assume, kill everyone in it. Clint is apparently shocked into impotent silence as everyone tries to escape and Tony and Steve have another brawl that ends for a character that I’m not sure whether I’m supposed to care about or not and everything just gets more depressing.
I keep asking myself what the brain trust over at Marvel wants readers to take away from this storyline. What are they trying to say about heroism, sacrifice, idealism? I don’t know and frankly, I don’t think they do either. Pacing wise, the story is fine. the art is really good and the composition of shots are very dramatic. Unfortunately, like everything else in this story, there is no heart. There’s nothing to hold onto that would make me turn to someone and say “You should read this.” I continue to read this arc because I am trying to keep my mind open to something that the writer sees that I don’t but I don’t see anything in this issue especially that would make me want to keep going.