MAJOR SPOILER warning. We're discussing Secret Empire #10 and this week's other Secret Empire releases AT LENGTH here. Go read those first, then come back!
Arguably the most controversial comics event this decade, Secret Empire has come to a close this week, with the release of Secret Empire #10. The story of Captain America falling into Hydra hands thanks to the manipulation of the cosmic cube (now a sentient little girl named Kobik -- it's a whole thing) wrapped up, but it's hardly ended in a tidy bow.
SPOILERS ON. Final warning!
While Kobik, thanks to the work of Sam Wilson, Bucky Barnes, and Scott Lang, was able to come back together, bring back the real Steve Rogers, and set Hydra-Steve's final use of the Cosmic Cube fragments back, the Marvel Universe is irreparably changed and damaged. Characters are dead, cities destroyed, relationships changed, and trust breached. Here, SYFY WIRE will try to make sense of it all and where we stand in the world of Marvel Comics after the latest summer event tore it all down.
Two Steve Rogers
While the “real” Steve Rogers emerged from the cosmic cube prison and defeated Hydra-Steve, it wasn’t like they merged together or Hydra-Steve dissipated in a burst of anti-reality. Instead, he was simply arrested. Yes, according to Deadpool #35, after their fight, “his doppelganger has been imprisoned.” So yeah, there’s literally a zero percent chance we don’t see Hydra-Steve again at some point in the future.
Las Vegas is Still Destroyed
While Kobrik made changes to restore reality, “she left the scars and the wreckage” of the battle with Hydra as “a reminder of our promise: never again.” The text is over a panel showing Las Vegas, with its famous sign destroyed and the city in ruins, as well as two characters (we’ll get to them in a moment). The fact that even someone who looks exactly like Steve Rogers literally destroyed an entire American city has to continue to play on into the future of the Marvel Universe here. Plus, where will the new Golden Knights and the Raiders play in the Marvel Universe? Won’t someone think of professional sports?
Black Widow, Rick Jones, Bruce Banner, Quasar all Dead (Coulson, Preston too?)
There were a lot of deaths in Secret Empire, and some major ones have definitely stuck, while others are up in the air a bit. Black Widow and Rick Jones were in the aforementioned panel with the ruins of Vegas, indicated they were two more of the “scars” of Hydra-Steve’s range (they even showed Natasha’s funeral). Pretty harsh there, Kobik. Bruce Banner (who was even temporarily brought back to life) has also returned to the land of the dead. Quasar, meanwhile, in Mighty Captain Marvel #8, gave her life to bring the shield around the world down. “She did it, the shield is down, but Avril… Quasar… She’s gone” seems pretty definitive – though it does say gone and not dead, an important distinction, especially with cosmic characters. Up in the air are Coulson and Preston, the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that Deadpool killed under Hydra-Cap’s orders, though as of the ends of these issues, they appear to still be goners.
But the dead resistance members are back
It’s not all bad news, as the core group of Avengers that led the final push of the resistance, who Hydra-Cap wiped out of existence with his Cube fragments, were restored immediately by Kobik. So don’t worry about characters like Amadeus Cho, Ms. Marvel, Captain Marvel, and others. They’re all good again.
Marvel Legacy Generations one-shots explained
In fact, several of those characters went on a bit of a journey on their way back to reality, and that explains the “Marvel Legacy: Generations” one-shots, where we’ve seen characters time-travel into pivotal moments of their predecessors’ lives to learn something about their mentors and themselves. It’s explained that the “journey of discovery through the vanishing point” was a gift from Kobik – which also confirms that those issues could have profound impact on the characters that did the traveling going forward.
Hydra-Cap’s Mjolnir Moment explained, too
One of the most distressing parts of Secret Empire for many fans was when Hydra-Cap, having pretty handily defeated an assembled team of Avengers, picked up Thor’s hammer Mjolnir with ease. Wait, we all thought, how could he be Worthy? He’s literally the leader of a group that, depending on which history of the Marvel Universe you follow, either stemmed from or at least teamed with and supported the Nazis in WWII. Basically the least Worthy we could think of, right? Well, it turns out that the Cosmic Cube manipulation into Hydra-Cap and his version of reality also changed the inscription on Mjolnir to read, “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be STRONGEST, shall possess the power of HYDRA.” That makes way more sense. When Real-Cap returned, the inscription turned back, and he lifted it triumphantly right into the chin of the pretender. Phew.
Sam Wilson is Still Captain America
After Steve Rogers’ epic battle with his Hydra duplicate, he declared that the shield of Captain America still belonged to Sam Wilson, handing it back to the former Falcon. Even a kid playing with a Captain America toy at the very end was playing with a toy based on Wilson and his look. So while Steve is back and will be in a Captain America comic again this fall, it does look like Sam will continue to hold the title, at least for awhile longer.
The Cosmic Cube is still Kobik
“I’m sorry I got it wrong. I know what to do now, thank you.” Those were the last words we saw from Kobik, the sentient Cosmic Cube, and the last panel she appeared in. Then she was just gone for the final 8 pages of the story. So what happened to her? Is she still sentient? Did she destroy herself, or restore herself to Cube form? Will someone try to control or manipulate her again? That’s a lot of open questions for one character, and that’s a good thing. While this particular story of the Cosmic Cube stands resolved, there is plenty of room for more to come.