There is a good chance that a lot of Secret Empire-related comics show up in Clearing the Backlog in the immediate future. I have some catching up to do.
And it starts with Captain America: Sam Wilson.
This is the story of how Steve Rogers got his groove back and his “Hail Hydra” on. Bucky Barnes and the Whisperer each learn of a secret S.H.I.E.L.D. facility tied to a cosmic cube research program. They tip off Steve and Sam, and each of them (and Bucky!*) decides to pay the facility a visit. They find a small, quiet town, populated with supervillains whose realities S.H.I.E.L.D. has altered. Using a sentient cosmic cube in the form of a little girl.
No one is happy about this, least of all the villains who rise up** upon Steve’s arrival.
If you’ve read the first collection of Captain America: Steve Rogers, you’ve gotten an effective recap of Standoff. This sets up that series, so it might feel a little redundant to double back. But there are interesting, worthwhile moments in this trade, especially between Sam & Bucky and Steve & Maria Hill. And Kraven’s method for drawing out the cosmic cube is not to be missed.
This book has a huge, revolving art team—it is, after all, two one-shots, a regular issue of Captain America: Sam Wilson and an over-sized anniversary issue of the same. The art is consistent enough to not be too distracting, though. And across the board, it’s high-quality work.
Going back and reading “Standoff” after having read Captain America: Steve Rogers was not the best way for me to do it for narrative reasons, but there’s still solid character work here from Nick Spencer to justify it. I read some tie-ins as “Standoff” originally happened, and these pages feel tighter and more relevant than most of those did. If you’re looking for a Sam Wilson story, this isn’t that; it might have been more accurate to call it Captains America: Standoff. But it’s an important chapter for Sam and Steve and the future of Marvel, so if you’re interested in any of those things, it’s absolutely worth checking out.
*Bonus points if you read this in the style of, "And Peggy!"
**Double bonus points if you also went to Hamilton here, too.
- Captain America: Sam Wilson, Vol. 2: Standoff (#7-8, Assault on Pleasant Hill Alpha & Omega)
Writer: Nick Spencer | Artists: Jesús Saiz, Angel Unzueta, Daniel Acuña, Paul Renaud | Colorists: Matt Yackey, Dono Sánchez-Almara, Daniel Acuña, Matt Wilson | Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles | Covers: Jesús Saiz, Alex Ross, Paul Renaud, Daniel Acuña | Assistant Editor: Alanna Smith | Editors: Tom Brevoort with Katie Kubert