Secret Empire #7
Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Andrea Sorrentino
Letters by Travis Lanham
On Alpha Flight station, Carole Danvers, Spectrum and America Chavez are trying to decide whether or not to continue trying to bring down the shield keeping them away from the surface, or transport the volunteers working on the decaying space station a trip to an alternate universe Earth. As Captain Marvel contemplates her options, she seeks out the unconscious Quasar and commands the woman to wake up in another scene where she takes responsiblity for everything that has gone wrong. (Seriously, how big a plot point is having everyone lament that they are to blame for everything that is going wrong in the world? Is it supposed to illicit sympathy, anger or what? Seems to only illicit eye rolls from me because too many of these characters are doing it.)
Meanwhile, in the wherever the hell they are, Red Skull continues to torture Steve Rogers as HYDRA Steve decides to address the nation following the death of his adoptive HYDRA mother during the destruction of the Mount. As the forces of HYDRA gather in DC at the capitol building to wait for the speech from the Supreme Leader, Black Widow and Spider-Man (Miles Morales) are discussing the young hero’s role in the death of Captain America which was foreshadowed in Civil War II. Miles feels this is the moment when he is set to do it and Widow locks him in the van to prevent him from becoming a murderer.
As she tasks the rest of the heroes from the Red Room to rescue some HYDRA hostages, Natasha gets into position by activating the old man that they rescued from HYDRA, who turns out to be Mosaic. As she uses his powers to have the HYDRA soldiers turn on each other, Black Widow gets into position only to be confronted by the Punisher. The fight between the two of them is great, but too brief. One of the problems with this issue and the arc itself is that too much time is wasted on self-agrandizing, verbose exposition and not enough on the visuals.
As Miles escapes from the van, Natasha gets the upper hand in her fight with Frank only to abandon her mission to commit the dumbest act I have ever seen her commit leading to an ending that is soap opera levels of cringe-worthy. I literally swore out loud at that moment becuase I thought it was so stupidly anti-climactic. She is a world-class spy and fighter and this is how you handle the moment Nick Spencer? I would love to know what thought went into it and if it was anything deeper than the superficial act that played out.
This leads to another melodramatic moment that is frankly, devoid of emotional resonance as Steve is taken away, the kids are captured and Steve laments to Sharon that he was going to bring everybody back once he achieved order. (What??) Another heavy-handed moment follows and the remaining heroes are left trying to figure out what to do next and who to turn to, much like the reader.
I’m sincerely not trying to come off as someone who hates this story, but there continues to be nothing that I can find to like about it. It’s just boring in its execution and nothing in it seems to point to anything other than “let’s see how dark and low we can take this”. Which is an intersting experiment, but ultimately not sustainable. At this point, it’s hard to think that there is anything that the writer can do to pull this story out of the spiral and telling readers to “hang on” isn’t enough to keep them interested when you haven’t given them anything to hang onto.