The dust has settled on Civil War II and the battle between the X-Men and the Inhumans is coming to a close. The Marvel Universe has been wrecked with so many big crossover brawls that enough is enough. Now, it’s time to unite. Marvel’s Secret Empire, a new crossover storyline from Nick Spencer releasing issue #0 in April, will unite the Marvel Universe against a common enemy: Captain America.
Controversy arose last year when, in Spencer’s Steve Rogers: Captain America, Steve Rogers revealed himself to be a Hydra agent dating back to his beginnings when he punched Nazis in the face for real. Of course, Marvel was playing the long game: Secret Empire will reveal that Rogers’s “retcon” (a rewriting of canon) was a manipulation by Kobik, a living cosmic cube, in last year’s spring preclude to Civil War II titled Avengers: Standoff.
During Civil War II, Rogers kept his Hydra identity to himself, but the entire Marvel Universe will learn about it once Secret Empire starts. So here are all the important things you need to know before the (new) fight begins.
1. The Marvel Universe will learn about Rogers’s dirty secret early.
Issue #0 is — as Marvel Senior VP Tom Brevoort puts it, “the worst day of the Marvel Universe.” It’s so bad, Brevoort said issue #0 will be Marvel’s analog to Watergate. “We’ll definitely see an impact on our new, younger generation of heroes, a huge turn for them,” said Brevoort.
2. But things won’t be bleak.
After a lot of in-fighting within the superhero community, Secret Empire will ultimately be “hopeful and uplifting” than bleak and depressing. “They will have to grapple with what this means and reset their heroism,” said Brevoort. “You don’t want it to be bleak and miserable, you always want to have hope and be uplifting, and that’s the aspect of this story where the other characters in the Marvel Universe have to kind of come together for.”
3. This is a simple good guys vs. bad guys tale.
The tagline for “United We Stand” is no generic slogan. It’s a real philosophy driving Secret Empire. “This is very much more an old school story,” Brevoort said, comparing it to Civil War II and Inhumans vs. X-Men where both sides had “defensible positions.”
“You will know who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. This is not heroes fighting heroes, this is heroes fighting a bad guy,” added Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso. “We saw this moment as our chance to rally the entire Marvel Universe, which has been fragmented of late.”
4. This has been a long time coming.
Alonso said that Secret Empire has been brewing for awhile now. “When we made the decision to have Cap’s memory rewired … You would have the most trusted superhero in the Marvel Universe become a supervillain,” he said. “You don’t do something like that without considering what a huge story it is. You understand you’re teeing up a huge story and that’s what this is.”
Brevoor added: “We are always planning a year, 18 months into the future. We know exactly how this is ending, we know what’s coming after that and after the thing that’s coming after the thing.”
Secret Empire releases issue #0 in April.