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Secret Empire Casualty List: Who Lived… and Who Died

by  in CBR Exclusives, Comic News Comment
Secret Empire Casualty List: Who Lived… and Who Died

SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Secret Empire #10, by Nick Spencer, Steve McNiven, Rod Reis and more, on sale now.

After ten tumultuous issues, Marvel Comics’ Secret Empire has finally come to a close. Captain America has been defeated by Captain America (Really!), the mystery of the Vanishing Point and the Generations one-shots has been explained, and the future looks pretty bright for Marvel and the legacy of its heroes.

RELATED: Secret Empire #10 – How the Heroic Steve Rogers Returns

But as the dust clears and the rubble settles, it’s time to take up the unpleasant task of calculating just who made their triumphant return during the catastrophe… and who didn’t fare quite as well.

Rick Jones

One of Secret Empire’s first and most shocking deaths was Rick Jones, Silver Age Avengers mascot-turned-sidekick, brief Bucky Barnes stand-in, and former Hulk-powered superhero. Rick may not have been an A-List hero, but you’d be hard pressed to find a character with more deeply rooted connections to the original Avengers line-up.


Rick was revealed to be the hacktivist called “Whisperer” who brought S.H.I.E.L.D’s experimental “Pleasant Hill” initiative and “Project: Kobik” to light during Avengers: Standoff!, which played a direct role in the lead up to Secret Empire’s tangled web. And while this was a truly noble effort and a genuinely heroic cause to take up, it very quickly came back to bite him.

Unsurprisingly, Rick was immediately captured and imprisoned by Hydra after Steve’s plot came to light and the government collapsed. When he refused to play ball with the country’s new overlords, Steve was forced to do something about it — brutally and publicly. Rick was executed by firing squad at the hands of Hydra in Secret Empire #1, but it looks like Kobik’s reconstruction of the world may have brought Rick back into the fold…but with some pretty nasty memories completely intact. However, Rick’s presence is notably absent in Marvel’s post Secret Empire solicitations, so his future is anything but certain.

Bucky Barnes

After spending the last year (and a full 12 issue run) as leader of the Thunderbolts where he and the team made it their mission to protect Kobik from the looming threat of the outside world, Bucky was killed off in…well, the exact same way he was killed off back at the end of World War 2. He was strapped to a rocket and fired off into the horizon — Or, well, that’s sort of how it worked. After falling victim to cosmic temper tantrum care of Kobik, Bucky found himself transported back to the 40s, with all his knowledge and memory from the present day still intact. This, in Kobik’s mind, was the key to making Bucky see things her way — if he could just align himself with Hydra in the past, everything would be okay.

Naturally, that isn’t quite how it went down. Rather than submitting to Kobik’s naive logic, Bucky resisted and was unable to change his own fate. Baron Zemo captured him, strapped him into his death trap, and fired him off into the sky. But Kobik couldn’t stand to see her friend and playmate killed and intervened yet again, resulting in a giant shattering of reality around Bucky just moments before his death as the rocket exploded.

For about five months (or seven issues of the main event series,) it was assumed that Bucky had died, but issue #8 presented a shocking revelation: not only had Bucky survived the explosion — he’d done so with the help of Namor. Bucky’s rocket had landed him, injured but alive, in the ocean where his former Invaders comrade had found him and spirited him away back to Atlantis, where Bucky has worked as his personal guard in secret for “years.” It’s still unclear, thanks to Kobik’s manipulation, exactly how many years Bucky has been lying in wait for the right moment to reveal himself, but the Thunderbolts insignia on his metal arm seems to indicate that his own personal history is still intact.

Bucky survived and played a major role in taking down the Hydra corrupted Steve, but his presence is decidedly missing from Marvel’s upcoming slate of solicits, so where he’s going to end up now is anyone’s guess.

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