SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Secret Empire #10, on sale later this week.
This week sees the grand finale of Marvel Comics’ Secret Empire event and miniseries. And to say that the story, which saw the revelation that Captain America was actually a fascist villain rather than a true American hero, was controversial would be an understatement.
As part of a story regarding the final issue in the New York Times discussing the series’ finale, Marvel also released a few key pieces of artwork. The first of which is likely no surprise at all to those who have been reading the series, while the other might make some fans do a double-take before realizing, “Oh, right – that makes total sense,”
The art, illustrated by Steve McNiven, first shows the moment when the
Steve Rogers readers have been following in the dreamtime realm created by the living Cosmic Cube known as Kobik makes his way to the real Marvel Universe to face off with his evil counterpart. That bit appears to play out as you’d expect, but the next piece of art is a bit of a surprise, until you take into account the Schrödingers Hammer… err, Gun theory.
Despite exhibiting his ability to lift Mjolnir, the magical hammer of Thor, early on in the event, the majority of Secret Empire has seen Hydra Cap pointedly avoiding even touching the weapon. In Marvel lore, only those who are truly worthy are able to wield Mjolnir, causing fans to wonder if this was an indication that Hydra Cap was becoming more and more evil, and unworthy, the longer his plans played out.
There will be little doubt regarding the worthiness of this new/old Cap, as McNiven’s artwork clearly depicts him not only hefting the hammer, but swinging it with enough strength and authority to knock Hydra Cap clear into the air, shattering the villain’s new armor in the process.
As for how Secret Empire‘s Captain America mystery is fully resolved remains to be seen, of course. From the moment the storyline debuted, writer Nick Spencer and Marvel’s editorial staff have insisted that Hydra Cap was the real Captain America, leaving readers to debate how, then, could the publisher ever get past this red mark on his history. And while Spencer and McNiven surely have their work cur out for them in this regard, having the new/old Cap decimate his fascist doppelgänger with his fellow Avenger’s weapon is a pretty solid start.
“We understood the story would challenge readers, but we also know how it ended,” Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Axel Alonso told the Times of the event. “We also thought the story had something important to say about democracy, freedom and the core American values that Captain America embodies.” Alonso further clarified that the story was initially created “at a time when our country would be engaged in — let’s call it heated debate — about fascism.”
Secret Empire #10, by Nick Spencer and Steve McNiven, arrives in stores Wednesday, August 30.
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