This past week, the trade Road to the Empire was on sale on Comixology. I received a “free” copy of Secret Empire #0 from last month’s Marvel Collector Corps, and while I read it, I thought perhaps it would be best to read this trade before buying any others. I knew the gist of how Red Skull warped Steve Rogers to Hydra, but it’s a completely different matter to read exactly how that happened.
I wanted to blame Maria Hill for most of it. After all, if it wasn’t for her, the Pleasant Hill prison would never have been made. Even before that, it’s her fault the Cosmic Cube wasn’t destroyed outright. I can still blame her for that, but not entirely for the prison. I had no idea how deep Red Skull’s mind games ran.
Reading Road to the Empire made me sick inside. However, reading Secret Empire #1 crushed my insides.
I can’t imagine reading Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 when it first released. Fans must have been so excited to read about Cap as a young man again. He has so much history, nostalgia, and so many fans across generations. He was great as the grizzled commanding veteran, but it’s thrilling to have youthful Cap back in the saddle.
And he’s doing all those wonderful things that Cap would do. He’s chasing after Zemo, who escaped from Pleasant Hill. He’s trying to rescue Erik Selvig from Zemo, so they can find Kobik and return her. He’s teamed up with former sidekicks Jack Flag and Free Spirit, and Rick Jones is helping out back at SHIELD. All seems well with the world. Steve has some flashbacks from when he was a child in 1926, although these aren’t exactly the same ones fans from remember from Cap lore. Then Nick Spencer lowers the boom. Young Steve receives an invitation to a Hydra meeting. Present day Steve kills a friend.
If I was subscribing to this back then, I don’t know how badly I would have taken it. I know I would not have taken it well, and I’m not a die hard fan.
Secret Empire itself makes it only worse. Steve has come directly out that he is with Hydra and always has been. He is convinced, thanks to Kobik, that the Allies never did win the war. Hydra was victorious, but the Allies covered it all up as part of a Great Illusion. As such, he will do whatever it takes to bring order to the world, since order is the only way to peace.
He’s locked Alpha Flight and other alien allies outside Earth’s shield, leaving them as cannon fodder for the Chitauri. Other heroes have gone underground to bide their time and help however they can. Steve has Sharon Carter under house arrest, hopeful she will come around to his way of thinking. Sam Wilson has left behind the shield and disappeared. Hydra requires all mutants and inhumans to register under the penalty of death. It’s an incredibly sad, sad world, and Steve sits at the head as Supreme Leader believing that what he is doing is right.
So many people have died at Steve’s hands or his machinations. It’s absolutely tragic. I wiped a couple of tears when he executed Rick Jones. Other than for publicity reasons, I don’t understand why Marvel is doing this to one of their most beloved and iconic characters.
I want to say I’m not falling for Marvel’s obvious publicity stunt, but right now, this is a train wreck I can’t look away from. I’ve fallen into their trap, and now I’ll probably sob every two weeks for the next four months.
I admit it; I’m the reason why we can’t have nice things. Well, me and Maria Hill. She’s the worst, though.