#SecretEmpire is Great Because It’s Real
Cover Price: $3.99
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Various Artist
Synopsis: After Kobik re-wrote history and made Captain America Steve Rogers a secret Hydra agent, Steve takes over Shield and attempts to remake the country in Hydra’s image.
This review is going to be more of a commentary on the parallels between real life fascism with Trump and Steve Rogers fascism in Secret Wars. This book has had many hot takes surrounding it an most of them seem to either not had read the book or don’t understand the symbolism of Captain America specifically Sam Wilson being Captain America
How Did We Get Here
After Captain America had his super serum sucked out his body, he passed the mantle of Captain America to his long time friend and Partner Sam Wilson. Sam, who initially did not want to be Captain America, decided if he would take over that moniker that he would do it his way. Sam became the Captain America for the marginalized. Just like in real life, there were people who rejected him, who hated what he stood for and flat out thought he was disgracing Steve Rogers legacy by just being black. Sam and Steve had a couple clashes because Steve stayed out of “politics” while Sam felt a responsibility to stand up for what he thought was right.
During the events of Pleasant Hill Steve interacted with Kobik, a sentient manifestation of the cosmic cube that the Red Skull created and she not only made Steve young again but also changed reality so that Steve had always been a secret Hydra agent. After that Steve plotted to take over SHIELD, which he did and eventually took over the country.
Why Secret Empire is a Great Captain America Story
There is two reason why people don’t like Secret Empire. First you didn’t actually read the books. There was so much speculation and distain for this story even before it happened or ended. People hated what they did to Steve (but did not read the Captain America books), they thought Spencer made Magneto a Nazi (based on a variant cover) and they complained that none of this mattered, when in fact everything matters. The second reason people did like this is because it hit to close to home for a lot of people. Some people it hit close to home because of Trump and they hate what is happening in real life and don’t want to read about it comics, or, it hit to close to home because they saw some of the things they believe being portrayed in a negative light. This story was mapped out before the election, which is incredible foreshadowing by Spencer, but nonetheless was initially meant to be a contained Captain America story. This still ended up being a Captain America story, but engulfed the entire Marvel Universe and essentially wrote the story of America in a book.
Captain America Steve Rogers was the symbol of American grit, determination and patriotism, but at the same time he did not involve himself in issues like immigration, racism, and bigotry that is also a big party of American culture. Steve wanted to be a beacon of light for the country and its people while also ignoring the plight of many Americans. Meanwhile Sam who looked up to Steve, felt that he had an obligation to be a voice for the voiceless. When Sam took over the shield many Americans resented the fact that he brought these issues into the light. Similarly in real life we always here that talking about racism and bigotry is often viewed more negatively than the actual racism and bigotry. President Obama was viewed as “divisive” when it came to race even though he talked about race less than any President in recent history. However, when he spoke about race he spoke about it from the perspective of a Black person and in a way that made so many people in this country uncomfortable because of their own beliefs or those of loved ones. Similarly Obama tried to navigate these conversations in a way to not offend anyone or to be judgmental and even still people hated him for that. While Sam was Captain America he did the same thing, thinking that would help heel but it furthered the divide because people did not want to here that from Captain America.
This story sowed how a blonde haired blue eyed white man could con his way to power and then abuse that power once he got there. Even though there were signs nobody wanted to see them because Steve Rogers was Captain America. Even during Civil War 2, when they had the vision of Miles Morales killing Steve, nobody thought that it may have been for good reason. Steve’s rise to power, although not the same as Trump’s had similar traits. So many POC and others told people how bad Trump was, what a Trump presidency would look like and the damage he could do to the most vulnerable in this country. But so many ignored it and we got that person elected. Not to go into the details of the Trump presidency or of Secret Wars, the most important part to come out of this is that in order to defeat Trump or in order to defeat evil Steve Rogers, we all need to be Captain America and also we need to do some self reflection. The ending of Secret Empire was Hydra Steve fighting good Steve. It was basically the good part of America fighting its demons that we tried to ignore throughout our history. It represented people with privilege not standing back and doing nothing but confronting your privilege and doing what it takes to dismantle the social constructs. Sam and the rest of the resistance fought tooth and nail to reshape America and during the process they had some losses, they had some setbacks, some rights were violated, lives were lost but throughout they kept fighting. The resistance was led by POC, young people and Women, similar to the resistance of the Trump administration and platform. Sam had almost given up on multiple times but Misty Knight (black women) and Patriot (young person) on multiple occasions brought him back to lead the fight. This book showed how important Captain America is to the survival of the Marvel Universe and how Captain America is in all of us. Although real life is different than a comic book, the parallels still stand. Captain America is in all of us and we all must do our part to make sure our country keeps progressing and does not regress or worse become a facist society.
I say all this to say, this story is essential reading if you think of yourself as a good person and someone who enjoys an unbelievable comic book story but also believes in true American ideals and values and wants to see an allegory of the good and bad of America. There are points in this book along with its crossover books that a chilling because of the realism. There are panels that will make you sad, make you smile, make you cry and make you laugh. Nick Spencer wrote the shit out of this story and I believe the Marvel Universe will forever be affected by what happened in Secret Empire.