The Avengers, Champions, X-Men and Ultimates stand alongside double-Hydra agent Captain America in artist Adi Granov’s variant cover for “Secret Empire” #1.
The cover has Steve Rogers front and center, flanked by Thor, Ironheart, America Chavez, Jean Grey, Captain Marvel, Spider-Man, Nova and Vision. While many variant covers don’t necessarily portray story elements inside the comics, it’s difficult not to speculate on why these heroes were chosen to stand beside Rogers considering the underlying “Cap as an agent of Hydra” plotline fueling this event. Captain Marvel plays a role in the planetary shield that’s in development to stop the invading Chitauri fleet heading to Earth, Peter Parker’s Spider-Man has a “Secret Empire” tie-in planned for June’s “Amazing Spider-Man” #29, and there are various miniseries and one-shots planned around the event where the remaining heroes will all play a role — but will it be as Cap’s allies, or enemies? Cap is wearing his traditional red, white and blue garb here, so we’re going to go with allies — until they discover his duplicitous nature, that is.
“Secret Empire” will follow up on the conclusion of “Civil War II,” which saw Steve Rogers – now a double agent working for Hydra after having his reality manipulated by a sentient Cosmic Cube – assume command of S.H.I.E.L.D. Likewise, we know Cap will no longer be working in the shadows, and the series will serve as a culmination of the events from titles such as “Captain America: Sam Wilson” and “Captain America: Steve Rogers.”
Written by Nick Spencer, with art by Steve McNiven, “Secret Empire” #0 arrives in stores in April, and issue #1 will debut in May. The series will run through the summer before coming to a close in August.