SECRET AVENGERS #1
Without inciting a war, I have to say that the one thing Marvel comics are really doing much better than their Distinguished Competition is in their quirkier, light-hearted comics. From Hawkeye to The Superior Foes of Spider-Man to She-Hulk, there are top notch stories being told with these characters in such unconventional ways that it makes the typical brand of heroic tales feel tired. It appears that with this latest re-launched title, Secret Avengers, Marvel is trying to get another fun series up on the stands, and it just might work.
Secret Avengers #1 is a re-launch of a much more serious title by the same name, which itself just ended a few weeks ago. Originally embedded in deep espionage and politics, writer Ales Kot has traded in the dreary world of the previous series for a more fun and humerous approach to the material, and it's a breath of fresh air. The previous installment of Secret Avengers, while mostly good and interesting, was continuously bogged down with its own plot and often over complicated.
Moments in the new series, though a direct continuation, feel fresh because it takes a carefree tone and reflects iterations of the characters that fans already love in other ongoing comics. Kot's strength is when he's having fun with the material. Instances with MODOK and Maria Hill, while not terrible, do feel more serious and thus out of place from the rest of the story. Those sequences do feed directly into the plot of the comic though and act as a check back into the grounded aspect of the work, in essence it makes sure you're paying attention to the seriousness of the tale while you're having fun with Hawkeye and the rest.
At first I was apprehensive about reading Secret Avengers #1, because the cover by Tradd Moore and Matthew Wilson shows the characters in a very cartoonish caricature, but after reading and sitting on the material for sometime I think it's very appropriate. The series artist, Michael Walsh, has a style that is very, very similar to David Aja and Francesco Francavilla, two of the best working artists in the business. Walsh's sequential narrative works so well throughout the piece that sometimes the words simply aren't needed, he can tell the story solely through the images. No corners are cut in this comic either. While some comics have no qualms for copying other images with slight alterations and calling it a new panel, that is not the case here. The genuineness of the art, coupled with Kot's writing style is a delightful combo.
Secret Avengers is aiming to be the next big fun title at Marvel, and rightfully so. Writer Ales Kot is penning a story that aims for a different market from the espionage thrillers of the world and is more in line with more cheerful and hilarious titles. Though it might look like a cartoon on the outside, and it kind of is on the inside, don't let that dissuade you from trying something that feels unique and natural compared to other bleak comics on the stand.