Right now Marvel Comics is preparing to launch its next universe-wide event, Secret Empire, which will find almost every Marvel hero tested when Captain America's secret Hydra allegiances are finally revealed. For three years now, the brainwashed Cap has been putting dominoes in place, setting up a scheme of conquest that will finally place Hydra in a place of ultimate power. Now the plan is in motion, and Marvel's heroes will have to contend not just with a massive fight, but also with the betrayal of the most trusted and honorable man in the Marvel Universe: Steve Rogers.
The Secret Empire event proper doesn't kick off until May, but next month Marvel will launch a prelude with a #0 issue for the event, as well as a trio of new comics released under the banner of "Secrete Empire: Opening Salvo." All three already share a major Captain America connection, and all three will broaden the picture of Secret Empire.
First, in U.S.Avengers #5 from writer Al Ewing and artist Paco Diaz, Captain America shows up as A.I.M. (now merged with the U.S. military, in case you haven't been following along), prepares to up its game. Then, in Thunderbolts #12 by Jim Zub and Jon Malin,the Thunderbolts will face a confrontation with longtime Cap foe Baron Zemo. Finally, there's Captain America: Steve Rogers #16, from Secret Empire writer Nick Spencer and art by Kevin Librada, Yildray Cinar, and Jon Malin. In that issue, Cap is finally prepared to reveal himself to the world, and Spencer and company are taking 30 pages to show us the build-up.
As with most Marvel events, I'm sure you'll be able to dive right into Secret Empire without anything but a basic understanding of the Marvel Universe and its characters, but these issues will deepen and broaden the picture of what's happening in the event itself, and they might just encourage you to start looking back to the beginning of these series to see how we got here.
Captain America: Steve Rogers #16, U.S.Avengers #5, and Thunderbolts #12 arrive April 19, the same day as Secret Empire #0. Check out covers for the issues in the gallery below.