The (Secret) Empire Gets Stricken!
I’ve avoided much discussion about Marvel’s summer crossover event, “Secret Empire,” for a while now. The problem that I have with it is that ultimately it just isn’t very good, and there isn’t that much happening of any real creative value there. I’ll give it a nod or two in the next couple of days, because that’s a Big Deal in comics…but it really isn’t all that interesting to me.
Let me break down why it isn’t all that interesting. It’s no ONE thing:
- Superheroes are fighting superheroes. Again. No new antagonists, and continued “family squabbles with super powers” as the primary beef. We have seen that a great deal lately…House of M, Civil War, Avengers vs. X-Men, Secret Wars, Civil War II, and Inhumans vs. X-men, to name a few in just the last ten years. It’s a kind of worn out trope right now.
- Captain America and Tony Stark on opposite sides of an ideological argument. We have seen that a whole lot recently, and it’s tired.
- Good guys turning into bad guys. Also a bit tired these days…what with Superior Spider-Man (which was good), Superior Iron Man, Axis…this is another trope that has seen a whole lot of use lately. In addition, the good guys turning into bad guys here has an icky feel to it…since the pop culture media has really equated the bad guy group to a bunch of Nazis. No one likes the idea of good guys turning into Nazis voluntarily, even if it’s temporary.
- Cosmic Scavenger Hunt. “Oh no…we need to collect all the parts of (fill in the blank) before the other side does, or else (fill in very bad thing here), and then (boss fight happens). The Cosmic Scavenger Hunt is a tried and true plot…and we would be filling in the blank here with “Cosmic Cube Fragments.” Not inherently bad…but nothing new.
- Politics thinly veiled as comic book plots. Obviously…not a bad thing, but it has been a tough year for that in comics, and it seems like I’d rather have more escapism in my superhero books than political commentary. More than a few fans have echoed that sentiment.
So…there’s the checklist of why I’m not that interested in, or impressed with, “Secret Empire.” It’s a hodge podge of things that “events” have done before, after too many “events.” I definitely have “event fatigue”…meaning that I would sincerely like just a little while where comic books come out, and I read them…and there is no guiding Editorial Vision behind them. Just decent comics.
In terms of the sides here, in “Secret Empire”…there’s Hydra, now led by Captain America, who have always been Serious Fascist Bad Guys. Not exactly Nazis, and Disney has done a whole lot to walk that back…but Fascist Bad Guys. Clearly, I don’t like THAT side too much, and neither would our hero, Cap…putting her clearly on the Other Side, called the Resistance. Because Hydra, in Marvel Comics, has successfully and very suddenly taken over America…trapped most of the super heroes in New York or Outer Space, and erected a Cosmic Trump Wall around the Earth. I’m thinking that our Cap would have a beef with ALL of that, and get out the huge tuning fork, as we see above.
Thor, by the way, is not longer “worthy” of his sledge, Mjolnir, as a result of another crossover. Hence, Worthless Thor now rolls around with a big ol’ axe and magic prosthetic arm, because of Reasons. He is still one of the strongest beings in the Universe, despite being a grubby space hobo now, and would possibly beat Cap in a fight, even with her Generic Silver Age Alien American Powers. Somehow, Captain America IS worthy, despite running a ruthless fascist organization, because at the beginning of Secret Empire, he picks up the sledge after Lady Thor is badly defeated.
Obviously, I might not have the same definition of “worthy” as Nick Spencer. Still…it Worthless Thor is siding with Fascist Bad Guys just to get his sledge back, he DEFINITELY deserves to be smacked around with a huge tuning fork.