No matter how dire the odds, the Marvel universe always seems to bounce back from every cataclysmic event thrown their way and the heroes always save the day. Right? In the wake of Secret Empire, that probably isn’t true anymore.
Spoilers for Secret Empire #2 follow.
Picking up the pieces after Captain America’s high profile betrayal, hope is in short supply. The Defenders, Doctor Strange and numerous other heroes are trapped in New York City in the Dark Dimension. Using her powers of light, Dagger is holding off the darkness and with it, it’s demons. The Underground in Las Vegas is picking up the wreckage left by the Hydra bombing Cap ordered as a result of Rick Jones’ leak of encrypted information. With that information, the Underground may have found a light at the end of the tunnel.
In Rick Jones’ final act before death firing squad, he explains to the remaining heroes just what happened that turned Steve Rogers into a Hydra operative. Though most everyone is on board with trying to piece back together that Cosmic Cube and turn back to normal, Black Widow doesn’t share their optimism. With the countless deaths in Las Vegas weighing on her conscience, she believes the only option is to kill Captain America. The Underground is now split in two, both with the goal of relieving Steve from his position as world leader.
The most interesting take from this issue isn’t the road ahead of our heroes but the final hook at the end. Deep in the woods, a blonde woman (presumably Sharon Carter) is being chased through the woods by the Serpent Society. Her would-be attackers are thwarted by a shadowy figure who reveals himself as a grizzled Steve Rogers who says is trying to find his way home.
At first read, this may lead one to think this is due to the existence of two Captain Americas. However, a theory has begun that this scene takes place within Cap’s subconscious as he fights his way back out.
This would explain how Captain America is able to wield Mjolnir in Secret Empire #0, as Steve has been considered Worthy by the hammer before.
It’s worth noting that only this epilogue is penciled by Rod Reis, the artist who drew Civil War 2: The Oath, the issue where Captain America rose to power as the new head of SHIELD. In that issue, Steve confesses to Tony Stark’s comatose body his true intentions and that he is able to hear the “good” Steve’s thoughts and relive his memories.
Secret Empire #3 hits stands May 31st.