The Avengers and X-Men’s Epic Battle is over. Scott went insane. Charley took the dirt nap. Hope and Wanda made everything better. So Now what?
Well, NOW is the time for Marvel to shuffle the deck and play a new hand. It’s relaunch city as The House of Ideas brings us 20-something new #1s with all-new creative teams over the next 5 months. What will the new 23 have in store for us Marvel Zombies? Well, be sure to check out this column each week as we dissect the first issue of every new title under the Marvel Now Banner. And I don’t mean Bruce Banner…..well except when the title has the Hulk in it….you get what I mean. So sit back and relax as we check out what’s new in the 616.
If there’s one thing that I am impressed with in this Marvel Now relaunch, it’s the attention to making each of the new books feel unique. None of the titles feel like they’re doing what any of the other ones are. A good example of this is the Avengers franchise. With the exception of Uncanny Avengers (which is still trying to find it’s identity) each of the A-Titles are covering different ground. The flagship title is a big, grand team that handles world threats. It’s a super team through and through. Avengers Assemble focuses on smaller missions that only involve a few Avenges at a time. New Avengers explores the world of the Illuminati (the power players of the Marvel U). That brings us to Secret Avengers. In it’s former incarnation, the Secret Avengers team was the “behind the scenes” group that Steve Rogers had handle all the dirty little secrets of the heroverse. During it’s 30+ issue run there were a great deal of regime changes and revamps. Ed Brubaker, Nick Spencer, Warren Ellis an Rick Remender all had a go at making this book work. In my opinion, none of them really made it happen. So with Marvel Now, one of them will get a second chance. Nick Spencer, the writer with the shortest run and least praise will get another crack at cracking this book. This is an interesting challenge as he’s got a lot to prove. While a major force in the creator owned world with his hit book, Morning Glories, along with an assortment of other titles to his name, Spencer has yet to see success on a Marvel title. Could Secret Avengers be his big break at the House of Ideas. Teamed with Artist Luke Ross, Nick’s Avengers book focuses on S.H.I.E.L.D. instituting its own special missions group made up of Avengers and Agents. In my opinion, it’s off to a great start.
Right on the first page we’re in the thick of it. Hawkeye’s been shot, captured and is about to be tortured…..and he has no idea how he got there. His captors are none too pleased about his short term amnesia and are going to make Clint pay when Black Widow swoops in for the rescue. We then jump ten hours into the past where Agent Coulson is briefing the two highly trained assassins. After a quick reveal that the classified Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. is Daisy Johnson (known to fans of the Avengers and the Secret Warriors as code name Quake), Phil gets down to business of offering them a job on the team. Once they refuse, he explains that due to a certain piece of intel, they will not want to say no to these positions. That intel is, of course, classified. So classified in fact it’s been redacted from the comic. There’s actually a big red panel marked REDACTED. Anyways, this piece of info is enough for both Hawk and Widow to agree to be on board with the mission….not that it matters anyway now because they’ve been doused with memory plant nanoparticles. Even if they said no, they’d have no memory they were actually new members of this top secret squad. A quick jump to six hours before the present and Maria Hill is getting the two heroes ready for the mission. She introduces them to Nick Fury Jr. who explains the mission objective: to stop criminal Andras Bertesy from selling the Dark Magic secret of Teleportation to terrorists. Now we get to thirty minutes before the incident and Hawkeye and NFJ are chasing down a powered-up middleman along the rooftops of Budapest. They get the info for the drop and Nick Jr. unloads a bullet into the perp. This bullet is laced with a healing factor that ensures survival for it’s victims. As Hawkeye admires the hardwear, he catches a grouping of bullets of his own from a surprise pursuer. Now we jump back to the present where Black Widow is completing the rescue mission and Nick is handling the last mission objective – one involving a terrorist teleporter and an attempted White House hit that misses the mark. In the final scenes of the book, we see Hawkeye sedated in hospital and Maria Hill and Nick Jr. discussing the mission and one of the side-objectives that appears to be one of the main plot points of the new series and true objectives of this new “team”.
Let me start off by saying that this title has my attention. It’s basically a book on S.H.I.E.L.D. and is designed to attract fans of the Avengers film. And I’m okay with that. Any book that’s going to focus on my favourite espionage group as well as two of my favourite Avengers while also further developing the 616 version of Agent Coulson is alright in my book. If only Nick Fury Jr. wasn’t in it but that’s a different story. He fit the issue and had some interesting plot developments. Overall, the book is a solid piece of storytelling and there’s a great deal of character work involved. Hawkeye and Black Widow are both properly represented here. Hawkeye especially gets a few moments to verbally shine. The mission objective was a little drab for my liking but hey, they needed a mission that would be a quick in and out tale, so I’m not really complaining. The story was sound and the art was a great support to it. It was also a nice touch to see Sebastian Druid (also from Secret Warriors) working intel for S.H.I.E.L.D. It’s touches like that that are going to keep my attention on this book.
Another aspect keeping my attention is the gritty, detailed artwork. Ross does a great job of capturing the feel I want my spy stories to have. Black Widow, Hawkeye, Maria Hill and company all look right at home in the atmosphere that Ross’ line work provides. Also, there is a great deal of facial expression work that stood out. Every character had a personality and that’s not always the case in a multi-character book. Matthew Wilson also added to the dark feel with some great colour work. A nice effort that really propelled the story in the right direction.
There are going to be fans who might not have liked some of the “reveals” in this story but this guy ain’t one of them. I thought the story flowed great and is compelling enough for me to pick up the second issue at least. It’s definitely a different book from all the other Avengers Books on the market. Give Secret Avengers #1 a try. Pick it up wherever you get your funny books.
So this 1st Issue is done but there’s plenty more to come. Check back here in the coming week’s to find out which books are worth your time which are a waste of it.
And if you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!
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