A cosmic cube has transformed Steve Rogers - Captain America - into the ultimate agent of the evil terrorist organisation, Hydra. After months of manipulation, Rogers finally took over SHIELD, and used a moment of international crisis to subsequently take over America and claim the country for the glory of Hydra.
America is now a place where history has been rewritten, and any mention of the old America burnt or destroyed. Neighbours are pursuaded to inform on each other, children swear allegience to Hydra in class each day, and individuality is frowned upon, whilst total belief in the glory of Hydra is mandatory. Groups who are 'different' - such as the Inhumans - are closely monitored, restricted, registered, or imprisoned in detention camps without trial, mutants have been relocated to a new homeland (read 'reservation') called New Tian, many of Earths most powerful heroes have been trapped outside of Earth atmosphere by the planetary defence shield, whilst most of the rest have been trapped within a New York City engulfed by the mustical Dark Dimension. Those few that remain plan to strike back at Rogers from a hidden base near Las Vegas - a fact that has caused Hydra to bomb the city to oblivion.
Despite all of this, Rogers rule of America has gone largely unopposed by the general population of the country at large - so the Supreme Hydra himself invites notable journalist Sally Floyd to interview him so that he can explain exactly *why* that is, with the one subject off limits being that there can be no mention of the bombing of Las Vegas...
Rogers admits to manipulation, subdefuge, misdriection, and completely bypassing the traditional democratic processes that have formed the foundations of American politics and society for hundreds of year - yet he has no shame and is in fact proud, because as far as he is concerned none of this matters, because as far as he is concerned, he was RIGHT.
Rogers points to the fact that the Chituri invasion has been repelled thanks to his planetary defence shield, the threat 'next door' that is the Inhumans has been contained in 'holding centres' that he assures the interviewer are 'models of humain and dignified treatment', the super powered war in New York City has been prevented, and indicates that the mutants occupation of the area now known as New Tian is illegal, and unrecognised by the authority of Hydra.
The truth however is that the Chituri invasion and the super powered battle of New York were conflicts entirely of Rogers own creation and would not have occurred at all without his manipulations, where as the 'threat' of the Inhumans has been greatly exagerrated in order to create an irrational public fear that has allowed Rogers to justify imprisoning them in camps which - far from being 'models of humain and dignified treatment - are in fact places where the insane super villain scientist My Hyde conducts sinister acts of vivisection on unwilling subjects, primarily for his own perverse pleasure. The mutants meanwhile, far from invading and occupying the area now known as New Tian, were in fact gifted it by Rogers as an incentive to prevent them from interferring in Hydras plans, with the only proviso being that they do not refute Rogers claim that their occupation was illegal.
And those are the real facts - facts that Sally Floyd attempts to confront Rogers with in her interview of him, only for him to round on her and blame her, and her profession of journalism, as well as other acedemics like historians and scientists, for deceiving the American public, force feeding them propaganda, isolating them, and manipulating them into believing a great lie.
The problem is that NO ONE CARES, and Rogers simply points to the reality that all that really matters is that people are more willing to believe him than Floyd, and all he sees are people willing to proudly say 'Hail Hydra'...
...except those in Las Vegas, replies Floyd...
...who by broaching the one subject she was informed was off limits, finds her interview terminated, herself instantly arrested and incarcerated without due process, and left to ruminate that Rogers was in essence right - that sometimes the truth doesnt matter when people are presented with a charismatic enough leader, and that those who insist on exposing the ugly truth are often hated and dispised more than those who tell a pretty lie.
So, the verdict?
The issue takes a step back and completely abandons all of the action of Marvels Secret Empire event in favour of a story about facts , 'alternative facts', the difference between the two, and whether in reality anyone really cares.
It could be a fairly on the nose assessment of how so many dictatorships and authoritarian regimes have operated throughout history, destroying democracy by attacking the facts and those that would expose them, and it works on many levels - but the truth of the matter is that Nick Spencer is really only referencing one particular political regime with his comentary here, and that is the regime of the current American President Donald Trump.
I dont disagree in principle with writer Nick Spencers recent comments that 'maybe we need more stories about people fighting fascists', and some of what he is saying here about the manipulation of the truth is decidedly on-point, but its ruined by the fact that it is a clearly agenda driven diatribe against the current state of American politics, and that when Spencer says 'fascist', what he really means is 'Trump', or 'Republican', or 'Conservative'.
Those words are also clearly being used by Spencer as being synonymous with the word 'Nazi' - despite continual denials by him that Rogers or Hydra are in fact Nazis at all, even though we have already seen a plethora of Nazi symbolism and references being used in his comics, that is only added to here by a Mr Hyde who in this issue is a clear Joseph Mengele-esque parody.
And thats the real 'alternative fact' here. That no matter your personal feelings about the current state of American politics, the image and message that Nick Spencer is trying to convey is a deliberately hyperbolic one that doesnt really reflect the honest reality of the current situation.
I'm sure that when Spencer wrote this issue he visualised himself as Sally Floyd, but the reality is that he is in fact Steve Rogers, and persistantly uses the same methods as Rogers does to try and convince others of how right he is - and who knows? Maybe if spencer repeats himself enough, continues to attack anyone who disagrees with him on Twitter, or is just charismatic enough, the truth wont really matter...