Part of the "Secret Empire" event

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Did you tell them the truth?
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Rayshaun Lucas (Earth-616) from Secret Empire Vol 1 1 001.png
Shaun Lucas
Wait -- what truth?
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That he never figured out how to track the Cube fragments.
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Shaun Lucas
So -- how did you know where some of them were?
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Anthony Stark (Third A.I.) (Earth-616) from Invincible Iron Man Vol 4 4 002.jpg
Iron Man
Rick sent us Hydra intel, their best leads. Most were dead ends, though.
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Shaun Lucas
But the detector you built --
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Iron Man
They needed hope. So that's what I built.
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Appearing in 1st story

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Synopsis for 1st story

Inside a Hydra base in Washington, D.C., Viper is doing business with a group of men who are being given briefcases brimming with money. A henchman calls her attention, prompting her to apologize and leave the room. Viper soon comes face to face with Black Widow, who is chained to a chair after being captured while trying to steal a Hydra transport ship, as the henchman reports.

While Black Widow is being interrogated by Viper and her henchman, the Champions infiltrate a Hydra facility as part of a rescue mission. Viper soon realizes something is off as soon as Natasha discloses that she's planning to murder Captain America. Natasha turns Viper's attention to her unsanctioned narcotics operation, pondering what Rogers would do if he learned of it. Natasha then offers Viper the chance to join her enterprise in exchange of keeping her dealings under wraps. She additionally pointing out that Rogers' death could provide Viper the opportunity to take the reins of Hydra once more. Viper gives in, kills her two escorts, and agrees to help Natasha. Meanwhile, the Champions break into a secure room using an access code and a hand scan taken from Viper. Ironheart comments how Natasha stated they'd find a person that would win them the war, who turns out to be a fragile old man in a hospital bed. Falcon doubts that they've found the person they're looking for, but Natasha assures him that they have.

In the mysterious forest, Steve Rogers has continued his journey accompanied by the two strangers he met previously, whom he has now befriended.

Aboard the Underground's transport, Ant-Man is sending his daughter Cassie updates on their quest for the Cosmic Cube fragments, recounting their visit to the Savage Land. Their next stop is Wakanda, where he expects they'll get the shard with ease. However, when the Tony Stark A.I. has a hearing with Black Panther, T'Challa denies him the fragment, arguing that because the shard came to Wakanda, it's rightfully theirs. When Black Panther rejects Tony's claims that he'll fix the situation, Stark remarks that unlike them, Hydra will not stop raiding Wakanda until they get the fragment. Black Panther makes a counteroffer, proposing Tony to surrender all of the shards when they finish collecting them. Stark refuses and walks away.

Scott's recount continues, revealing the later days of their quest saw the heroes come out empty handed, following adventures which involved fighting the High Evolutionary and breaking into vaults. Now in Madripoor, the Underground makes their way through an army of Hand ninja being controlled by Hive. The enemies are taken down as soon as Iron Man knocks out Hive, leaving only Gorgon standing. While severely hurt, Hercules lunges him, and manages to knock him down before being turned into stone. Iron Man prepares to free Shang-Chi, the prisoner of Hydra and supposed owner of a fragment. However, he reveals he doesn't possess it anymore, and he can't even remember who stole it. Cue a flashback showing Emma Frost taking the fragment from an unconscious Shang-Chi. In light of another failure, Sam Wilson holds a vote to decide whether to continue or return to The Mount, making emphasis on the previous six dead ends they encountered over the past weeks. Iron Man concedes when most of his teammates agree to desist, but remarks that they're not only giving up on a mission, but also on Steve Rogers.

In Washington, D.C., Captain America meets up with New Tian ambassador Beast in the site where Mjolnir lays still. When Beast wonders why did he leave the hammer there, Steve answers the weapon's inscription states "whosoever," so anybody is welcome to try to pick it up. Rogers gets to the point of their meeting, revealing that Kraken has reported New Tian is in possession of something that belongs to them, implying the Cube fragment. When Beast asks for a clarification, Steve turns to Mjolnir, hinting at the destruction he could bring to New Tian with it. Hank questions if Steve is threatening him, and Rogers denies the accusation, simply explaining that he wants Hank to remember his compassion and spare his people of destruction. A helicopter lands on the scene, and as Captain America proceeds to leave, Beast wonders how difficult must it be for him to resist the urge to pick up Mjolnir and play god. Steve replies that's hardly the case, as he doesn't need the hammer for that.

Aboard the helicopter, Madame Hydra gives Steve an update on Hydra's Avengers. Scarlet Witch remains in Chthon's control, though slightly unhinged; the virus designed by Arnim Zola continues keeping Vision under Hydra's control, with occasional attempts to break free. As for Odinson, he's praying to Odin, sharing his troubles. While aware of the evil posed by Hydra's regime, they have promised him the chance to save Jane Foster from the alternate dimension where she has been left stranded, as well as the restoration of Midgard's connection to Asgard. Furthermore, he's confused by Rogers' ablity to wield Mjolnir, even when he couldn't. Now aboard a Hydra Helicarrier, Madame Hydra comments she and Doctor Faustus has tried to subvert Odinson to no avail, as he's still a god. Steve prepares to leave, but not before Elisa shows her support for him once again, commenting that even if she could never replace his mother, Elisa has always regarded him as a son.

Iron Man's team eventually returns to The Mount. After reuniting with the rest of the Underground, they give Hawkeye the news that their mission was unsuccessful, much to his dismay. Iron Man returns to his lab, and encounters Giant-Man trying to build a time capsule, which he indends to bury, so in the far future when Hydra's regime eventually falls, it can send a warning to the past. When Shaun Lucas turns the conversation to the result of the mission, Giant-Man and Iron Man reveal that in reality they never had a Cosmic Cube-tracking device, and were simply following Rick Jones' best leads. He had pretended the search was going to be precise so to foster hope. Tony is interrupted when he detects hostiles and rushes to get the base's shields up, all while Mockingbird sneakily contacts somebody through a communicator. In the horizon, thee Hydra Helicarriers appear and open fire on the base. Zola notes that according to their intel, the blasts won't be enough to bring down their defenses, so Captain America prepares to unleash their secret weapon.

Back in the mysterious forest, Steve Rogers and his allies are walking throgh a path when he notices a set of wires. He can't warn one of his companions in time, who steps on it, causing a net to swoop him away. The other man is taken out by a poisoned dart. Before he can properly react, Steve is knocked down from behind with a club. The attacker reveals himself to be the Red Skull, though he claims he's Rogers' salvation, and that he'll free Steve from this place.

Back inside the Hydra Helicarrier, Zola walks Captain America to the door of a vault, commenting that their subject is awake but disoriented, and that whichever procedure they've done is only temporary, which will cause his condition to degrade quickly. Rogers brushes off Zola's concerns, guaranteeing they only need their subject for a short time to bring down the Underground. As the doors of the vault open, the person revealed to be on the other side is none other than Bruce Banner.

Solicit Synopsis

They thought they were safe! They thought they could handle anything that was thrown against them! But the united heroes of the Marvel Universe never reckoned on the dread power that Steve Rogers would unleash! THE SECRET EMPIRE WILL AMAZE YOU!


  • The way the Hive took control of the Hand ninja by attaching creatures to their faces may have been inspired by Starro, the alien starfish-shaped parasite from DC Comics that also took control of his victims by attaching miniature replicas of himself to their faces.

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