It all comes to a head here.
In an event that began in the pages of Steve Rogers: Captain America # 1 (and even earlier than that, according to Nick Spencer) Steve Rogers has slowly put his pieces into place for the ultimate move to put the Marvel Universe under the control of HYDRA. From killing the Red Skull, to orchestrating Tony Stark’s downfall in the second Civil War, Cap has been pulling everybody’s strings. Finally, with SECRET EMPIRE #0, we see Captain America put his plan into motion, and Nick Spencer writes it even better than I expected.Nick Spencer has given a certain gravitas to the character of Captain America that we have not seen before in any other previous iterations of the character. In this new version of Captain America, one whose reality was rewritten to believe HYDRA is the one true thing to believe in, we are shown a Steve Rogers without any filters, compassion, or mercy to those he believes need to be dealt with. While Captain America’s strategic prowess is something that is often talked about and given lip service, it isn’t something that is usually shown in the comics, that is until Nick Spencer came to the helm.Since his writing of Steve Rogers in May of 2016 and now in April 2017 with Secret Empire #0, we finally get to see how deadly Steve Rogers can be with his mind and manipulation of those around him, orchestrating everything to a T, and Nick Spencer really picks up the pace with this issue, showing chaos, destruction, and practically the end of the world all caused by Steve Rogers until it is put to an end after he receives emergency powers from the Government, giving full control of everything to Captain America. That would usually be a good thing, until what could be considered possibly the greatest betrayal in comics is revealed, when HYDRA troops storm in to the Helicarrier he is in and refer to Cap as the Supreme Leader while saying “Hail Hydra”.
Daniel Acuña’s artwork for this issue portrays the whole beginning of the event wonderfully, with excellent uses of shadowing and dark reds to symbolize and show that this Captain America isn’t the one everyone thought he was, and seeing the way he drew characters’ reactions and the coloring of the background changing when they do was another fantastic detail that I applaud Acuña for.
After almost a whole year of buildup and slow paced Captain America issues, seeing Captain America’s plan come together as he successfully takes out all the major heroes who could oppose him in a matter of seconds is strangely gratifying. One thing is for sure, SECRET EMPIRE #0 is not your typical prologue or zero issue, and is a fantastic start to the event with great pencils and coloring done with the artwork and phenomenal writing from Nick Spencer, with themes surrounding humanity and decisions they tend to make when they are in fear or doubtful of themselves, and one man’s betrayal and use of that fear. These are absolutely fantastic elements that I can’t wait to see continue to unfold in future issues of Secret Empire.