When sentient cosmic cubes reflect on their influence, they get depressed. At least that is the general idea of Secret Empire #9. Steve Rogers, the all American good guy has gone way over to the dark side and is nothing like his sterling past. What looked like a certain victory for Hydra at the start of the series has resulted in the tables being turned and the forces of good fighting back. They are on the doorstep of victory.
To win a battle of this magnitude, you need an army of superheroes, from the Defenders, Spiderman, Black Panther, and even Magneto. Led by Sam Wilson, who has shed his Falcon image for Captain America, the story is the battle of two sides of the world, good vs. evil, and two sides of Captain America.
For the Marvel fan, this collaborative all encompassing story brings every character in. We see a nice bit with Dr. Strange as he fights with Scarlett Witch. Spider Man is his usually quippy self. Captain Marvel is free from her isolation in outer space and fighting along side Sam Wilson, and the god of thunder himself Thor cannot handle it anymore and joins the fight. We even get a second Thor with Jane Foster making an appearance to help Dr. Strange.
When I first heard that Captain America was going to be a Hydra sleeper agent, I was concerned. Why did Marvel have to change their shining example of good, to bad? As I started following the series, I really enjoyed how Steve Rogers descended into this supreme leader of Hydra from the red, white, and blue model of America.
The Secret Empire series was just another reminder of the fact that no one is perfect. Any one can lose their grip. Power and influence have a way of affecting people, and in the case of Steve Rogers, a sentient cosmic cube named Kobik has affected Rogers and influenced him to change.
Secret Empire #9 opens with a human form of Kobik showing Rogers what has happened, and explains that she was sent to make things better. The opposite has happened. The world she shows the bearded Steve Rogers is one of devastation. I like this interaction because it’s a moment that we get to hear from the one being that has caused so much of this story.
The series has had its ups and downs, and yes some of the themes and storyline ideas have been explored in other comics, but for the most part, I have enjoyed this series because, the one evil force, Hydra, is something that everyone can get behind and fight. From Magento to Luke Cage, we are all united in a common good. It harkens to that alliance the western world had with the Soviet Union during World War II. We all knew Joseph Stalin was a bad man, but Hitler was worse, so we worked together.
Writer Nick Spencer crafts a brilliant line when he talks about how “the ultimate enemy is the evil we become.” Two years ago, no one would have dreamed Steve Rogers could be the worst villain in Marvel comics, but alas here we are.
I think Spencer goes a long way in justifying the plot of this series with this line alone. There is no greater evil then what we do ourselves. Sure, Vision is impacted by a virus, as well as Scarlett Witch, but what I am left wondering is, how much of an effect on Steve Rogers has Kobik been.
Throughout the series, Rogers has consistently told Peggy Carter that this is the real Steve. I wonder if Steve Rogers used the influence of Kobik as a reason to act the way that he does. I guess we will have to keep reading to find out what happens. Naturally, this comic ends on a cliff hanger.