Finally was in the right mood to do this:
Secret Warriors #25
I'm expecting this book to catch its fair share of heat in the Review Group for not being very new reader friendly. As someone who has followed both S.H.I.E.L.D. and Secret Warriors however, my opinion of this book couldn't be more different.
This is finally the issue that ties together the back story of the Zodiac group that Fury, Baron Strucker, Scorpio Fury, Dugan and a ton of others were part of. It also explains exactly how it ties into the S.H.I.E.L.D. series which had an immensely different tone and setting than Secret Warriors did.
To be honest though, I didn't really care about this that much. Hickman had established such a complex mythology, character range and setting that I never really thought much about it other than "It's S.H.I.E.L.D. vs Hydra vs the resurfaced Russian spy network known as Leviathan". The way everything flowed together in a crazy ride made me totally forget about the past that was being constantly hinted.
And at issue 25, just a few issues short of the series conclusion we get this: an issue that not only addressed the Zodiac wheel, but starts hinting at the ties between both these Hickman titles. Watching everything be explained on how it had fallen into place was satisfying, though at the same time infuriating as even in this oversized issue the pacing was very hurried, highlighting a big concern of mine that Marvel cutting down the planned issues will result in rushed storytelling in order to give an explanation for everything. We got quick scene transitions to never fully appreciate everything that happened. Even if this was broken down into 2-3 issues I think the story would have been a lot more solid.
But overall as a fan of this series and Hickman's big S.H.I.E.L.D. plan, I still liked it despite that flaw. We see everyone that was named in the Zodiac when in The List: Secret Warriors along with what their role was in this, we see the rise of Hydra and Leviathan as spy networks and what motivated Nick Fury deciding to clean this mess up. All in one issue.
But like I said, that's this books biggest problem, trying to cram so much stuff in so little room. It's a welcome change in the era where decompression of comics reigns supreme, but now that we're getting everything in one hotshot every issue with no time for anything to settle down so we can savor some moments it just feels flat at times. This was a big issue with the last issue that introduced Mikel Fury's team only to kill them all off in one issue...that could have been one entire story arc.
Everything is just been crammed into the deadline this series has which is honestly a shame in my eyes. Totally disappointing, but I can hardly fault Hickman for wanting to tell his complete story. The blame on this goes solely to the editors that cut down this series from its initial vision.
On the art front,I miss Stafano Caselli on this book. But Allessandro Vitti makes for an adequate replacement. But good lord, some of the faces of the characters totally confuse me at times...particularly with the Kraken and Jake Fury who had similar features.
Bottom line, the issue was a very mixed bag with some average, good and great moments. Can't say anything was terrible in the book...but I can understand if someone who isn't clued in to the back story might be lost or confused and be frustrated with this book enough to knock it.