Marvel’s summer event Secret Empire reaches its long-awaited conclusion with this week’s #10 from writer Nick Spencer and artists Steve McNiven, Rod Reis, David Marquez, Paco Diaz, and Ron Lim. With the entire Marvel Universe at stake, there’s a lot riding on Secret Empire #10, which finally brings back a Marvel icon.
Spoilers ahead for Secret Empire #10.
Secret Empire #10 kicks off with the newly Cosmic Cube-empowered Steve Rogers attempting to lecture and persuade the assembled Marvel heroes who are there to fight him - only to be cut off when Old Man Logan steps in to silence him, prompting Hawkeye to rally the heroes with a cry of “Avengers assemble!”
As the Avengers - and everyone else - pile on, Steve activates the power of the Cosmic Cube to rewrite reality and erase Hydra’s devastation. With most of the heroes now banished, only Sam Wilson (still in his Captain America costume) remains. Sam confronts Steve with the last shard of the Cosmic Cube, which he’s had since Secret Empire #9. But as it looks like he’s about to stand up to Steve, there’s a twist - Sam kneels, offering the shard to Steve and uttering “Hail Hydra.”
But just as Steve seizes the last shard of the Cosmic Cube and joins it with the others, now housed in his armor, suddenly his grasp on reality begins to slip. Ant-Man has stowed Winter Soldier on the Cube shard at the subatomic level, entering the cube’s reality to find Kobik and Second Steve.
Bucky pulls himself, Kobik, and Second Steve back through the Cube, with Second Steve - now revealed as Kobik's memory of the real Steve Rogers from prior to Kobik’s meddling, complete with classic Cap uniform - challenging Hydra Steve for the fate of the world.
As Captain America and Hydra Steve clash (complete with Civil War homage) the other heroes attempt to join the fray, but Sam tells them it’s Steve’s fight. Captain America finally defeats Hydra Steve, striking the final blow with Mjolnir, proving that the real Steve Rogers - the one worthy of an uncorrupted Mjolnir - is back.
With the fight won, Kobik fixes all of the reality altering changes made by Red Skull and Hydra Steve, but leaves behind the destruction they’ve caused. She also uses her Cosmic Cube powers to send a group of heroes to the “Vanishing Point,” a bit of unexplained exposition that sets up the current Generations one-shots where current Marvel heroes interact with their past counterparts.
Captain America’s victory has restored the world to its pre-Hydra status quo, and with the fight between the real Captain America and Hydra Steve having been broadcast around the world, inspired both civilians and heroes to fight back against what remains of Hydra’s regime.
The final fate of Hydra Steve, his lieutenants, and his mentor Elisa remains unrevealed. Secret Empire Omega will provide an epilogue to the series on September 13.