As Secret Empire #7 moves the crossover event into its final act, numerous long-running threads begin to pay off - setting the stage for the final confrontation... whatever it winds up looking like.
This issue, from writer Nick Spencer and artists Andrea Sorrentino and Rod Reis, brings answers to several outstanding questions and finally delivers some moments readers been waiting for since Civil War II - though true to form, nothing goes according to plan.
Spoilers ahead for Secret Empire #7.
Secret Empire #7 unites many of our disparate heroes and villains in Washington, D.C. in the wake of #6’s devastating attack on the resistance. As Hydra tightens its fascist grip on America, Black Widow and Miles Morales prepare their plan to kill Steve Rogers - though they’ll each have to overcome an obstacle first.
Locking Miles in their transport to save him from confronting Steve (and revisiiting that Civil War II vision), Black Widow sets out to kill him on her own. Putting her plan into motion, she awakens the unknown old man she saved a few issues ago – revealing it to be Mosaic, who escapes his body and possess Hydra’s troops, giving her a clear shot to Steve.
Before she can get to him, however, Black Widow has to fight the Punisher, who tells her he’s sided with Hydra because they’ve offered him an army to truly wipe out all crime, and because Steve has promised him to bring back Frank Castle's amily and everyone else they've lost once he has the Cosmic Cube. Nataha defeats the Punisher just as Miles escapes the truck, rushing to confront Steve.
As Steve, Miles, and Natasha all converge, Natasha jumps in the middle, taking a strong hit from Steve that puts her down for the count. Miles retaliates, shattering Steve’s shield and nearly killing him. He stops short as the rest of the Champions arrive and talk him down – but the whole team is arrested.
Steve takes refuge in his base, trying to get Sharon Carter to console him and offer him guidance. He implies that Black Widow is dead, but this is never fully confirmed. Sharon instead tries to kill him, prompting Steve to lock her further in his prison.
In the dream world, Second Steve is being beaten to death by Red Skull when he sees a vision of the woman he met when first arriving there. He summons the strength to escape Red Skull, who calls him a “fool,” and dives into a river to flee.
At the same time in the real world, a new hope has arrived at the wreckage of the old base – Sam Wilson in his Captain America uniform, with the iconic Captain America shield aloft as a seeming rallying cry.
Secret Empire #8 is due out on shelves August 9.