Secret Empire Prelude (Paperback, 2017, Marvel Comics, Marvel) 4 stars

Fascism Beneath the Flag

4 stars

I'm already aware of the general plot points throughout this story, from this prologue through the main story and afterward.

The hazards of being a nerd on the internet.

So nothing much was a surprise for me. Still, knowing is different than reading. I don't believe that good writing often suffers from spoilers. Good writing stands on its own.

In that, I feel this prologue mostly succeeds. I don't think it does any master-strokes of character work, and the plot was a touch uneven, but the themes were strong and thought provoking.

What IS the right way to deal with the violent and murderous once you have them in hand? Is changing a person's entire being less terrible than a death sentence? Is there a difference?

And of course there is a lot of groundwork being laid for the question of what is Captain America? What does/should he represent? What does that mean about the U.S. as a whole?

The themes explored and set up are of course classic for the character, but it's good to see them being done well.

The most intriguing, for me, was how much it pulled from current-day political issues and rhetoric on the far right and put them seamlessly in the mouths of their fascist Hydra villains.

It very much felt like I was seeing particularly volatile YouTubers and Fox News pundits speaking through them, and it further highlights the perniciousness of their worldviews when it doesn't feel out of place coming from behind a Red Skull.

More than that, though, it shows how regular people who have lost their way in life can so easily be brought into the fold by fascist rhetoric, and how the symbolism and perspective of how the American incarceration system, and American patriotism is either just another face for fascism, or easily interfaced with it

That's good stuff, though I hope to get a little more character work in the series proper - feel like I'm seeing inside people's heads.

I also hope that the threads I'm seeing from other interwoven stories that don't directly deal with the main story thins out a bit. I want to get all I need from these books, and not too much superfluous stuff, if possible (a common complaint of big events, I know.)

The art was also solid - very good on some panels in particular - but mostly it focused on getting the job done.

Overall, It was a good intro.