Strap yourselves in, folks. Civil War II may have barely just ended, Inhumans vs X-Men may have only just begun, and Monsters Unleashed might be on the way, but Marvel is already teasing a major new arc — and it seems like it's going to be focusing around a certain evil Captain America.
Marvel has sent out a teaser image to members of the press, featuring little more than a title — Secret Empire — a very vague release window of "2017" and the current shield used by Steve Rogers as the shockingly evil agent of Hydra, Captain America. Attached was a quote from Abraham Lincoln: "A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand."
There's no details about the event just yet — whether it's a smaller affair in the vein of something like last year's Standoff or a line-wide blockbuster like Civil War II or Secret Wars — but clearly it's going to end up involving Steve's heel turn as a secret Hydra operative thanks to some cosmic cube meddling. It may even involve his current, outlandishly villainous plan to try and get the Chitauri to invade Earth and cull its population.
After all, "Secret Empire" itself is actually a name of one of the old subfactions of Hydra, introduced as a branch designed to engage with SHIELD to distract from wider operations by Hydra, before it gained its own independence. And one of the final visions Ulysses had in the last issue of Civil War II was the implication that the possible future with Steve's death at the hands of Miles Morales might not have been avoided:
What if it was a tease for Secret Empire rather than Civil War II? Could Steve's dark secret about to become known to the wider Marvel universe? We'll have to wait a while to find out, unfortunately.