Secret Avengers #1
When the titles for Marvel NOW! Were initially announced easily in my top three most anticipated was Secret Avengers. The premise just sounded so damn good. A team of Hawkeye, Black Widow, Agent Coulson, Nick Fury Jr., Maria Hill, Iron Patriot, and sometimes the Hulk acting as sleeper agents for S.H.I.E.L.D.? Count me in. Now that the title is here, we can see if it was everything I was hoping it would be, and for the most part it was.
Nick Spencer, responsible for the utterly fantastic Morning Glories, Bedlam and Iron Man 2.0, pens this new take on the ‘Secret Avengers’ name and he doesn’t disappoint. One key component of Spencer’s writing is the importance of mystery. Everything is clearly plotted out beforehand, he knows five moves in advance of where he’s going and unless you’re a mind-reader, you’ll have no idea where he’s going. Furthermore what separates this comic from other titles being published by Marvel is how non-superheroey it is. Sure, superheroes are on the team, but this is way more of an action thriller kind of comic with lots of guns and lots of dead bodies. Not exactly the kind of thing we think of when we imagine “Marvel comics.”
The best thing about Spencer’s writing for the team is his respect for the characters. Some authors, when writing team books, just kind of meld them all into one voice with a few one liners for each character to make them seem authentic, but not here. Spencer knows these characters inside and out and is writing them with a lot of knowledge of how they’re being portrayed elsewhere in the Marvel universe. As someone reading multiple comics beforehand with these characters, it was really comforting to see this much effort put into them.
When you’re dealing with a comic like this, that has equal parts gun-play and exposition, it’s easy for the art to get boring, stale, and frankly confusing. It’s safe to say that none of these adjectives apply to Secret Avengers. Artist Luke Ross draws a really impressive debut issue here that includes well done splash pages and very clear, linear action sequences. It might be the really engrossing story, but even the pages of endless talking are fun to look at.
It’s quite obvious from the cover art, the title design, and the team’s roster that this comic is catering toward the film audience, but that doesn’t mean it’s trying to pander to an unfamiliar crowd. Secret Avengers is a wild ride that will keep you guessing from start to finish. Spencer has a clear grasp on his team and how they react to almost anything, and it sticks out from everything else Marvel is doing because it’s no generic superhero comic. If you like your Marvel characters well written and drawn with a piping cup of espionage thriller, this is the comic for you.
Rating: 9 / 10
Go to page 2 for the review of Uncanny X-Men!