WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Marvel's Secret Empire #10 and Deadpool #35, both on sale this week.
Marvel Comics' divisive Secret Empire concluded this week with a finale that brings the return of the true Steve Rogers, the defeat of Hydra Cap (or are we calling him Stevil now?), and a restoration of the timeline. However, left behind are the scars (both physical and emotional) of Hydra's fascist rule, and at least two major questions: How the general populace reconciles a "good" and "evil" Captain America, and, more pressing, what the heck happened to Hydra Cap.
While we might presume those answers arrive in Secret Empire: Omega #1, on sale Sept. 13, they can actually be found in (of all places) Deadpool #35, out this week. Seriously.
In the climax of Secret Empire, Kobik brings back the true Steve Rogers, who promptly defeats Hydra Cap, with a little assistance from Mjolnir. Stevil lies on the ground, apparently unconscious, as Kobik smooths out the corrupted timeline, and provides a passing explanation for those Generations one-shots, all followed by the return of "a surprising sense of normalcy." We don't see the fallen Hydra Cap again, leaving fans to wonder whether he simply faded away through Kobik's machinations, or if there's now two Steve Rogers in the Marvel Universe. It turns out it's the latter.
Set in the days before, and after, the events of the Secret Empire finale, Deadpool #35, by Gerry Duggan, Mike Hawthorne and Terry Pallot, finds Wade Wilson grappling with his guilt over working for Hydra Cap ("That's what you get for trusting Captain America") and fighting Maria Hill, who's determined to kill Steve Rogers. Deadpool spends much of the issue enduring Maria's escalating assaults (gunshots, grenade, van, explosives and so on) while attempting to explain his own "super-wily plan" to take down Stevil. For his trouble, Wade is left buried beneath the rubble of a parking garage.
When he emerges from the debris, three days after the return of the true Steve, a battered Deadpool trudges down the street as the sound of a television news report bleeds out of a bar, informing us that Captain America's "doppelganger" -- "the dark version of our First Avenger" -- has been imprisoned. And that's that. We can likely expect Secret Empire: Omega to devote more real estate to the development, but that's one mystery solved.
The other, how the general populace of the Marvel Universe reconciles two Captain Americas, is swiftly dealt with as well, injecting a dose of (perhaps-unintended) humor into a moment of sorrow for Deadpool. But of course the residents of Marvel's New York would be able to process corrupted histories and evil duplicates. After all, this is a city in which a school for mutants suddenly materializes in Central Park, superheroes and supervillains do battle in Times Square, and an alien invasion simply adds to the morning commute. An evil duplicate of the Sentinel of Liberty is just another Thursday.
We're still a little worried about Wade Wilson, though.