Remember last spring, when Steve Rogers -- Captain America himself -- was revealed to be a secret Hydra agent not just now, but apparently forever? Well, Marvel's been dealing with the implications of that ever since, and now the whole Marvel Universe will have to contend with Cap's dark secret.
The publisher announced today that its upcoming Secret Empire event -- which has been teased through a number of cryptic promo images for weeks now -- will basically be Steve Rogers vs. the Marvel Universe, as his plans to conquer on Hydra's behalf are revealed to the other heroes.
"His plans and Hydra's plans will have begun to unfurl," Marvel Senior Vice President Tom Brevoort said. "We are done with the covert portion, the buildup portion of the program, Secret Empire is the pyrotechnics, the big Michael Bay blockbuster, huge colossal struggles and battles across the Marvel Universe, with all of our key characters and players taking on a big role."
For those of you who have't followed this whole affair, here's the basic rundown of how we got here: Back in 2014, the Super Soldier serum in Cap's body was neutralized, leaving him aged and de-powered. He later regained his powers with the help of a sentient cosmic cube know as Kobik, but with that act came implanted false memories of Hydra, courtesy of a Red Skull clone. Since then, Cap's been keeping his new allegiance secret, even scheming throughout Civil War II to make sure Ulysses couldn't find him out (something that basically got Bruce Banner killled). Now, he's ready to strike, and Captain America: Steve Rogers writer Nick Spencer is set to tell the story alongside artists Steve McNiven, Andrea Sorrentino, Daniel Acuna and Leinil Francis Yu.
If Cap turning the tables on all of his Avengers buddies sounds like kind of a bummer story to you, you're not alone, but Secret Empire actually presents an interesting opportunity for unity in Marvel Comics. Coming on the heels of Civil War II and Inhumans vs. X-Men, some Marvel fans might be relieved that the rest of the heroes will have a common enemy for once.
"We've just come off of Civil War 2 and Inhumans vs. X-Men, two big, dark events that had heroes fighting against heroes, over somewhat defensible positions. This is very much more an old school story. 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," editor-in-chief Axel Alonso said.
Marvel's embraced a more deconstructive approach to its universe in recent years, revealing secret allegiances and old sins long buried in event after event. Now, one of the biggest secrets in Marvel Comics is coming out after months of subterfuge, so it'll be interesting to see where the fallout places everyone.
Secret Empire kicks off with a #0 issue in April, followed by issue #1 in May. Check out the cover and a preview page below.