It’s horrifying that actual Nazis are making a comeback in 2017, but on Wednesday, at least one fascist plot-line will come to an end. On Monday, Marvel revealed that the final issue of its extremely controversial Secret Empire event series, which saw an evil Captain America pledge loyalty to the Nazi-like Hydra organization and take over the country, will make Steve Rogers good again. We know this because Marvel went to the New York Times to give away the ending ahead of the 10th issue.
It’s not quite fair to say Marvel “spoiled” the comic book’s ending; the company is attempting to save face by assuring readers that things will return to normal once Secret Empire, of the most derided comics arcs in recent memory, finally ends.
Through its run, Secret Empire has included quite a few ongoing, not-fully-explained scenes featuring a ghostly remnant of the Good Steve Rogers. Good Steve explores some sort of purgatory while the evil, Hydra-aligned Captain America does evil in the real world.
Preview pages included in the NYT story show the blue and red, good Captain America somehow materializing again and defeating the green and yellow, evil Captain America. Exactly how this happens hasn’t been revealed — presumably, it involves the sentient Cosmic Cube (a universe-altering MacGuffin) that the Good Captain America met at the end of Issue #9. The reveal essentially means, despite Marvel’s earlier claims that there wouldn’t be an easy way to undo this story and magically bring back the good side of Steve Rogers, that’s the quick solve is exactly what’s going to happen.
In the preview panels, GoodCap is also shown wielding Thor’s hammer, which is a somewhat comforting return to normalcy. In an earlier issue, HydraCap lifted the weapon up, which indicated that the Nazi-adjacent ubermensch was worthy of Mjölnir in the eyes of the Norse gods. Mjölnir actually has a real historical association with Nazi propaganda, which makes its inclusion in Secret Empire feel especially thoughtless.
“We understood the story would challenge readers, but we also know how it ended,” Marvel editor in chief Axel Alonso tells the NYT, inadvertently raising more concerns rather than reassuring readers. “We also thought the story had something important to say about democracy, freedom and the core American values that Captain America embodies,” he continued.
Maybe the full, final issue will explain exactly what those values are. Alonso also told the Times that it’s pure coincidence that the series will close right in the midst of an American neo-Nazi resurgence, and a public rise in fascist sympathizers.
Despite all the uproar, Secret Empire hasn’t done enough with its controversial premise to actually explore the contentious issues Alonso references, beyond publishing an exploitative fantasy and giving readers an unhelpful deus ex machina-style conclusion.
Secret Empire #10 hits shelves on August 30.