Secret Empire #1 FCBD

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SecretEmpireFCBD-minUndeniably proving a controversial sensation upon its release on Saturday 6th May 2017, this ten-page pamphlet was extraordinarily burned by some of its owners at the time of its printing for its portrayal of Captain America as “an agent of the Nazi-stand-ins Hydra”, and being astonishingly “worthy” to triumphantly hold aloft Thor’s hammer Mjolnir over the bodies of the friends he’d betrayed to his fascist ideals. Certainly, it’s hard to imagine a more disconcerting plot-twist to a character who was actually “created by [Jack] Kirby and Joe Simon to do what they could not: Fight Nazis before the United States had entered the [Second World] war.”

Arguably this “Free Comic Book Day (FCBD)” publication’s greatest criticism however, is in its creative quality rather than its concept, with Nick Spencer’s bland summarisation of Hydra’s government takeover and war in Washington D.C. only being surpassed by Andrea Sorrentino’s indistinct scratchy-looking artwork. Indeed, despite some truly monumental moments within the narrative, such as Steve Rogers finally facing his aghast former team-mates as the terrorist organization’s Supreme Leader, and some clever checker-tiled storyboarding, it isn’t ever made clear just how the likes of Baron Zemo, Viper, Arnim Zola and the Kraken specifically defeat the combined mass of “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes”.

Admittedly, the American author’s story-line refers to Hydra having the Avengers “right where they wanted us to be” and had “found ways to turn our most powerful against us, again and again”. It also emphasises the crime-fighters conceited arrogance that they “thought we were so strong, so unbeatable.” But never does this comic actually explain precisely how Wanda was manipulated to the point where her hex powers went haywire, nor how the likes of Iron Man and Spider-Man could be bested by Armadillo and the Taskmaster…

Infinitely more fun and pleasing to the eye, is Chip Zdarsky and Paulo Siqueira’s Spider-Man tale “…Time Flies”. Featuring an all-too brief fist-fight between Web-head and the original Vulture, Adrian Toomes, which goes to some quite extraordinary lengths in order to ‘showboat’ the criminal’s much-improved “Falcon suit”, this somewhat ‘tongue-in-cheek’ tale also introduces the “new” Trapster and seemingly sets up some S.H.I.E.L.D.-related shenanigans to be further explored in the opening issue of “Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man”.

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This article is the opinion of the author and does not represent the views of the site owner.
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For the past forty or so years I have been collecting American comics… To begin with they were predominantly black and white British reprints of “Marvel Comics Group” titles such as “Spider-Man Comics Weekly”, “The Mighty World of Marvel” and “Star Wars Weekly”; all six to ten pence editions I could store away under my bed in a large cardboard box. As a result though I was introduced to the teenage angst of Peter Parker, the discovery of a frozen Captain America by Earth's Mightiest Heroes, witnessed the dreadful rage of Doctor Bruce Banner, and even travelled to a galaxy far far away... Later I would be able to afford actual America colour comic books and supplemented my collection of “Marvel” titles such as “Conan the Barbarian”, “Howard the Duck” and “Captain America” with some “DC Comics” issues of “Batman”, “Green Lantern” and “Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew”. There would even be time for Independent publications such as “Wildcats”, “Spawn” and “The Authority”. These days however I must admit to yearning back to the simpler times of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, back to when both artwork and storylines were straightforward, easy to follow and super-heroes were just starting out on their adventures. A time when no-one had yet to be resurrected from the dead for the fourth time. I've written over seven hundred comic book reviews on my blog over the past few years, with them usually following my latest purchases, all wrapped up in a large brown paper bag, as well as occasional ‘flashbacks’ to some of the classic "Golden Age" issues I already own…

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