This week’s Secret Empire #5 marks the series’ halfway point, and to celebrate the milestone, writer Nick Spencer and artists Andrea Sorrentino and Rod Reis have thrown a pair of monkeywrenches in the works.
Spoilers ahead for Secret Empire #5.
The bulk of Secret Empire this week follows Tony Stark’s team as they unsuccessfully track shards of the Cosmic Cube all over the globe. However, they are only able to recover two pieces – with Black Panther refusing to hand over his piece, and telling the ragtag Avengers to bring him the rest of the shards.
But Captain America’s team isn’t having any luck either. A confrontation in China, which leaves Shang Chi bloody and beaten, proves fruitless after Emma Frost secretly purloins the shard at the location.
Returning to their mountain base to lick their wounds, Tony’s team argues over the future of their mission – and their hope of defeating Steve. Tony reveals that his tracker was a fake – the locations of the shards they did find came from Rick Jones’ leaked information. At the same time, Steve Rogers confronts Hank McCoy, demanding he give him the shard in New Tian and threatening to use Mjolnir to attack the sovereign nation.
Meanwhile, Black Widow has allowed herself to be captured so the Champions can sneak into a Hydra base – with the help of Viper, who Black Widow coerces into helping them – and rescue an old, bed-ridden man.
In the dream world where Second Steve, Sam, and Bucky wander through the wilderness, tragedy strikes as all three are subdued by the Red Skull, who appears seemingly out of nowhere.
As things come to a head at Tony’s base, the traitor teased at the end of Secret Empire #4 is revealed as Mockingbird betrays the team, calling in Captain America to attack. Though Hydra’s weapons can’t penetrate the heroes’ underground base, Steve has one last secret weapon that might do the trick.
Steve leaves the battle to enter a lab where Arnim Zola takes Steve to his secret weapon – a somehow fully alive Bruce Banner, who Steve plans to Hulk-out and send after Tony’s team.
Secret Empire #6 is due out on shelves July 12.