At the conclusion of Secret Empire #10, Kobik partially reset the Marvel Universe, reversing the changes she made to reality that led to the Hydra takeover of the United States. Most things went back to the way that they were before. The Great Deception -- the very core of Hydra Cap’s reality -- never happened. The Allies did indeed win World War II; they did not invent the first Cosmic Cube two decades early to reverse Hydra’s victory.
Kobik also reversed the new fascist reality that Hydra Cap created after he fused the partially reconstituted Cosmic Cube with Stark armor. But she did not reverse Hydra Cap himself, his reign of terror, or its consequences. Las Vegas is still a massive bomb crater. Millions are dead or missing, including some very familiar faces.
While the bulk of Secret Empire Omega #1 focuses on a verbal sparring match between the real Steve Rogers and Hydra Cap, the issue also shed some life on the aftermath of the Hydra takeover as experienced by some of the other players in the saga. However, writer Nick Spencer doesn’t address many of the lingering questions that remain after Kobik restored reality and Hydra fell. In fact, he adds some new ones.
Nick Fury Jr. is back, tracking the Punisher, who is atoning for siding with the corrupted Rogers by killing low level Hydra operatives. But no explanation is given about Fury’s whereabouts during the events of Secret Empire. Although we see him in a S.H.I.E.L.D. uniform, we are told elsewhere that the organization has been dissolved in the wake of the Hydra takeover.
This tidbit is provided by Hank McCoy, who observes the dismantling of New Tian alongside its true leader Emma Frost. The pair is sanguine about the “negotiated surrender” of the mutant homeland. As they watch the destruction of a mutant facility by Sentinels, the pair muses about fighting back. “The world is celebrating they’ve defeated and overthrown fascist rule, begins McCoy. “They don’t seem to understand --"
“That mutants always live under it,” Frost says, completing his thought as she contemplates her legacy. Hank assures her that the all-too-brief existence of New Tian will inspire young mutants to dream of a future homeland. Frost having worked behind the scenes while Shen Xorn was the public face of the mutant republic, is resigned to being forgotten by history.
“They’ll never know who their queen was,” she concludes.
As Beast watches the Sentinels fly out of the rubble and the smoke, in what is perhaps his last act as the U.S. ambassador to the now defunct nation, we get a sense that the state of mutant-human relations is at an all-time low, and that the repercussions of the Hydra takeover will be felt for years to come.
Meanwhile, as Hawkeye and the superhero community mourn the death of Natasha, Bucky Barnes is unconvinced. He watches the funeral from a bar in Madripoor. He sees the archer throw himself at the Widow’s coffin, but he doesn’t buy it. The Winter Soldier is in the island nation following up on some rumors. He shakes up a fellow bar patron for details of an impending assassination attempt against a crooked General who made a deal with Hydra. Witnessing the work of the sniper he concludes it’s Natasha.
“I recognize everything,” he thinks. “The shot, the placement, the time. Nobody knows the Black Widow like I do.” A final panel in this sequence shows Bucky in the sights of a sniper’s rifle. But is it really Natasha? Could it be one of her Red Room trainees? Or is the traumatized Bucky subconsciously fooling himself, hanging on to a hope that his former lover is still alive?
As Secret Empire dovetails into Legacy, it'll be interesting to see how these, and all the other questions raised by Marvel's summer event, play out as the publisher (softly) reboots its entire line.