Saturday, November 21, 2015
The Secret Empire!
There's no doubt that for this recovering "Marvel Zombie" one of the most potent events was when Captain America dropped out for a time when confronted with government corruption of the highest order. The "Secret Empire" storyline by Steve Englehart with sturdy Sal Buscema and Vince Colletta on the art chores was a barnstorming storyline that grabbed yours truly by the throat and rarely let go.
It begins when Cap becomes aware that the "Committee to Regain America's Principles" was running an ad campaign targeting him specifically and calling his loyalty to the nation into question. At the same time The Falcon is undergoing a crisis of competence and makes plans with The Black Panther to get more power so he will be a more worthy partner for Cap. The Tumbler, an old foe appears and then is murdered with Cap the prime suspect.
Cap's been set up by the Committee, its chairman a slimy ad type named Quentin Hardeman, and Moonstone a brand new "faux" superhero set up by the Committee to fill Cap's shoes when he's been smeared and eliminated from the scene.
Cap fights back and becomes a fugitive pretty much falling into the hands of the Committee. Meanwhile Falcon gets his wings.
Cap battles the minions of the Committee, specifically a bunch of losers dubbed "The Sanitation Crew". Falcon and Panther fight a threat in the Panther's homeland before Sam Wilson returns to NYC with his best gal Leila along for the ride.
Cap and Falcon team up and go on the run heading to Nashville (since Moonstone appeared to like country music according to some of his dialogue -clearly a weak moment in the storytelling) and run smack dab into the Banshee from the pages of the X-Men. They find other X-Men too, specifically Professor X, Cyclops and Marvel Girl. It seems the others have been nabbed by the same group looking to smear Cap.
That group is the revived "Secret Empire" from the early days of Marvel. Following up on clues given by Professor X, Cap and the Falcon infiltrate the Empire's secret desert base.
There they battle several high-tech threats and discover that mutants have been kidnapped by the Secret Empire in order to use their might to power the Empire's equipment, equipment they plan to use to conquer the United States.
Cap, Falcon and the X-Men battle the threat as it heads to Washington, DC in a "flying saucer" powered by mutants, device designed to maximize the psychological threat to the populace. There the Empire issues its demands and tells the nation that its minions are planting bombs in cities across the country. But Cap is able to finally defeat Moonstone and confronts the Secret Empire's leader Number One who himself commits suicide. Number One's actual identity, though never really shown, rocks Cap to his core and he walks away from the battle a beaten man.
In the finale Cap reflects on his career and takes advice from friends and allies as he ponders what to do in the face of what he considers a fundamental betrayal to the entire country by the leader of the Secret Empire. The notion of such profound corruption at the highest levels of the United States government rocks Cap who by the story's end has decided he can no longer fulfill his role as a agent of the U.S. and calls it quits as the "Sentinel of Liberty". Cap quits!
But that's just the beginning as next time we meet the enigmatic Nomad.