This review contains major spoilers.
Secret Empire #1 starts a while after the events in issue zero, after Hydra has already planted a firm grasp on the nation and after the civilians have already lived under Hydra’s rule for a while. At the begining, the issue mainly shows how much everything has changed. Even the schools are now teaching history to where Hydra won the second world war and stuff similar to that.
I mean the kids in a school are pretty much pledging Hydra… I was at a loss of words to be honest. After some more setup, the story begins. We see a young boy running for his life away from Hydra agents but then get saved by Hulk(Amadeus Cho) and the Underground, made up of some of the former Avengers as well as various heros such as Wasp, Spider-Man(Miles Morales), Ironheart, and some others. They rescue the boy named Rayshaun, nicknamed Shaun and they getaway in the classic Fantasticar.
The team makes the espace from the almost invincible dreadnoughts, robotic hydra personell that can adapt to any power or ability to take care of “fugitives”. We then see Captain America talking to a massive monster that wants to wreck Denver, Cap says a whole Bunch of Hydra mumbo jumbo that the monster then just says that he is still going to devour the city and stuff to then hear him say “Avengers Assemble” and see a team come and quickly take care of the beast. This so called Avengers team is made up of some different people than we have seen, notable ones being Deadpool, Taskmaster, Superior Octopus, and Scarlet Witch as well as some others. We then see the traitor known as Captain America in a meeting with the Hydra Command talking about new additions and things they are going to change like putting in new factories to make dreadnoughts and mind- altering substances in the waters so that people will be more passive and less likely to rise up against Hydra. The meeting continues for a while and then we see Armin Zola tell Cap about the Undergrounds escape with the boy, this worries Cap because apperently the boy has sensitive Hydra documents that could help the Underground in the coming war. The focus then shifts to the secret base that the Underground is hiding out in among civilians that have spoken out against Hydra’s regime. Here we get introduced to the leaders of the Underground, no other than Hawkeye and Black Widow. We also learn who gave the intel to the boy: Rick Jones, one of Cap’s old partners and a version of Bucky. The focus then changes again to the betrayer having a dinner date with Sharon Carter who is not at all impressed with Cap’s new regime and leadership style. She even calls that she wants the real Steve Roges back.
After the date the focus changes again and we see Cap visit Rick Jones in prison to where we see him ask him to pledge loyalty to Hydra as well as tell him what he sent the boy. Rick doesn’t give out any information but tells Cap that he misses his old friend and says as Cap is leaving that “You always come out in the end! You know how I know that- Because you’re my hero cap!” we then see Cap look like he is about to cry because he knows he has to do something drastic about Rick because he didn’t give him any information. The book then goes back to the secret base where Shaun meets the A.I. self of Tony Stark, the brain that is helping the Underground. Stark shrugs off the sensitive intel because he is already doing other stuff and knows there is no way anybody can stop Hydra and Cap. Stark tells Shaun of the past failed attempts the team has had in the past(probably between issue 0 and issue 1). Stark seems to have lost hope and it is very hard to see as he didn’t even look at the intel yet but still think they stand no chance against Hydra. Another focus change to where we see Cap and Madame Hydra talking, they small talk for a while and then we figure out that Doctor Strange is stuck in a thing called the dark force, essentially a magical prison dimension to where Strange can not help against toppling Hydra. Madame Hydra and Cap talk to where they come to a conclusion that Cap needs to do something about Rick Jones so that the Hydra leadership doesn’t think Cap has gone soft. Cap then performs a speech is said that nobody will forget the speech as it was either inspirational or something of the sort. Then something crazy happens and I am just going to let the picture speak for itself.
Then the Underground is introduced to a new danger: the shield helicariers, now commandeered under Hydra just destroying cities and the caption on the very last page says, This is where their empire began…
Holy guacamole, that was an extroardinary book to read, Nick Spencer’s writing fits this story incredibly well and featured many twists and turns, I truly can not wait to read the rest!
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Written by Jordan Humphrey