The story of Hydra’s takeover of the United States in the Marvel universe continues in today’s Secret Empire #3 by Nick Spencer, Andrea Sorrentino, and Rod Reis. The issue shows another fan-favorite Marvel character hailing Hydra, only this time it doesn’t seem like it took a cosmic cube to do the job.
Secret Empire #3 continues to forward multiple plotlines at work in Marvel’s’ massive event, including the hunt for the cosmic cube fragment by both Baron Zemo for Hydra and the Hawkeye’s resistance. Black Widow has another plan and that’s to kill Steve Rogers. That plan takes her to Newark, New Jersey.
It is there that Black Widow meets with Boomerang, a former member of the Sinister Six(ish) from writer Nick Spencer’s own Superior Foes of Spider-Man series. While Boomerang was a bit of a B-lister then, he’s made a name for himself in the era of Secret Empire by taking advantage of the fact that most of the major organized crime bosses are trapped in the Darkforce bubble surrounding New York City. Boomerang somehow managed to obtain Steve Rogers’ social schedule and hands it over to Black Widow so that she and her Red Room kids can plan their assassination attempt around it.
It seemed then that Boomerang’s role in the story was complete until the narrative returned to him at the issue's climax. Boomerang wakes to find an explosive strapped to the wall of his bathroom. The bomb goes off and Boomerang finds himself on the ground with an armed man in a trench coat standing over him. Boomerang can’t see the man’s face, so the assailant offers a clue, saying:
The final page of the issue pulls back to reveal that it is Frank Castle, the Punisher, hailing Hydra. The Punisher even modified his iconic skull shirt to include Hydra tentacles, because branding is important.
This turn shouldn’t be hugely surprising for fans. Hydra has been efficient in bringing a sense of order to the United States and flushing out criminals. They also execute those deemed criminals, which seems to align with Frank Castle’s personal worldview.
Also, as we learned in Civil War, the Punisher secretly looks up to Steve Rogers, much the same way Deadpool does. So if Deadpool could be easily talked into serving on Hydra’s Avengers then it doesn’t seem like much of stretch to believe that Frank Castle could be talked into being Steve Rogers’ secret assassin and executioner.
Secret Empire #3 is on sale now.