Steve Rogers has another familiar soldier on his side in Secret Empire #3

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Say what you like about the direction that Secret Empire has taken with Captain America, but Marvel’s latest event at least feels massive in scope. It’s something that has been strangely absent from previous Marvel sagas, like the lacklustre Civil War II or the easily forgettable Monsters Unleashed. Steve Rogers is in charge, his rule absolute and dissent being more dangerous for the average than a stealing the last pair of purple pants from Bruce Banner.

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Secret Empire #3 further solidifies the reach of Captain America and HYDRA, but a resistance is growing. While Star Lord’s attempt to recruit some help from the Skrull, Kree and Shi-Ar goes disastrously wrong (hey at least we know that Rocket Raccoon is a Wu Tang fan now), the likes of the Black Widow and Hawkeye are busy cooking up a plot all of their own.

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While a second Captain America roams around, supposedly torn from the second world war and embodying none of the Hail-HYDRA attitude that the current star-spangled traitor oozes. Jeez, talk about a get out of jail card, am I right. There’s a lot of dialogue happening here as writer Nick Spencer and the art team of Rod Reis and Andrea Sorrentino begin moving more pieces into place for the inevitable final showdown with HYDRA and Rogers.

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The biggest reveal is saved for the end however, when a new “hero” makes his presence known as the latest HYDRA enforcer: Frank Castle, the Punisher.

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Out of all the characters to ever interact with each other in the Marvel Universe, Captain America and the Punisher have always had a strangely rocky relationship, albeit one where the two mutually respect one another not as heroes but as soldiers. As a symbol of World War 2, Rogers was an icon to Castle and the far dirtier war that gave birth to the vigilante in the jungles of Vietnam.

Castle in the past has had so much respect for the good Captain, that he refused to lay a hand on him during the original Civil War when Rogers lashed out at Castle and his more extreme methods.

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Coaxing Castle to his side, feels like a natural development then, as the Punisher now has free reign to hunt the guilty thanks to Rogers and the HYDRA philosophy of weeding out the weak and corrupt. While I’m still not sold on Secret Empire as a whole, the third issue is pretty much like a solid kick to the ass: It’s an attention-getter.

Last Updated: June 1, 2017

Darryn Bonthuys

Word-slinger at Critical Hit. Inventor of the macho Swiss gym chocolate known as Testoblerone. That's...that's about it really.

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