Secret Empire has been a bit of a rollercoaster so far, but this issue might be the trippiest issue yet.
Spoilers incoming for Secret Empire #4, so if you haven't read the issue yet you've been warned.
Mind you, trippiest, in this case, is a compliment, not a detriment.
Nick Spencer puts the last several years of Marvel history on the menu in Secret Empire #4, while also building a few of the other subplots (Black Widow, the other Steve Rogers) out as well. The crux of the book though centers around this new Ultron/Hank Pym hybrid and Spencer creates a delightful mystery as to who is truly in control.
The character shines as an impromptu host of Captain America's side and the rebellion, and Spencer mines some character gold from past events, including things like Civil War and House of M. It gives the characters some room to breathe without removing the tension of what's at stake, a commendable feat.
Art wise the team of Rod Reis and Leinil Francis Yu turn in a fantastic issue, with a deliberate heaviness to all the characters involved. A few action heavy sequences keep things interesting, but it's the expressions that deserve the most kudos, as most of the book is built on conversations and interrogations, not action.
If there is a soft spot here, it's just how much ground there is to cover. You don't feel like you're getting the entire story if you just read this series, but rather tiny snippets. It gives you a good overview, but the tie-ins are starting to become required reading at this point, and that will turn some folks off.
Also, can someone just get rid of Namor already? That doesn't really have anything to do with the review really, just a personal aside.
Secret Empire continues to defy expectations, and this issue is no different, presenting one of the most memorable sequences and conversations in some time. You won't want to miss it.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars.
Secret Empire #4 is written by Nick Spencer with art by Rod Reis and Leinil Francis Yu and a cover by Mark Brooks. The official description is listed below.
There is a power that can either save the world or doom it! Both Steve Rogers and the heroes arrayed against him need this power! But unfortunately for all of them, the key to possessing this power lies in the hands of the unstoppable Ultron! LIVE IN X-CITING TIMES! SECRET EMPIRE!
Secret Empire #4 is in stores today.