Secret Avengers #21.1 – ‘Red Light Nation’ – Remender, Zircher and Troy
Story – The story of Secret Avengers so far has been one of missed opportunity. Ed Brubaker launched the book with the promise of an epic conflict with the brand new villains, The Shadow Council. But just as he was seemingly getting started, Bru left with #12. Then came Nick Spencer, riding the crest of a wave as comics’ new golden boy. He proceeded to deliver what are probably the 4 worst scripts of his career. And then it was Warren Ellis’ turn. Now his 6-issue run was a lot of fun, but it was never going to be a lasting concern and kept the book in a holding pattern, albeit a very stylish one.
And now it’s Rick Remender’s turn at the Secret wheel, and at last it looks like the book is back on track. Remender has given the cast an injection of fresh blood, and also turned the attention of the story back onto the Shadow Council and their nefarious Lovecraftian plans.
This issue really serves as a teaser for Remender’s run as a whole, with former leader Captain America handing over the baton to Hawkeye, who thanks the upcoming Avengers movie has a funky new costume, but is also suddenly EVERYWHERE.
Basically a classy team-up between the two, Remender re-examines the often-rocky relationship between the two Avengers stalwarts and shows how each character’s approach to fighting crime is different. I’ve always been a big fan of Hawkeye and some of my earliest comics memories are of reading reprints of Lee/Kirby/Heck stuff with Hawkeye constantly getting in Captain America’s face, and it was great to see elements of that carried on into the modern day Marvel Universe, but also see how they have both matured and become friends.
As I said, this issue not only brings Hawkeye into the mix, but also re-introduces the Shadow Council as major threats. Yes we saw a lot of their goons in Ellis’ run, but here Remender brings back Max Fury, the LMD who leads them. The Shadow Council had the potential to be great new villains before Brubaker left his run prematurely, so hopefully Remender will continue the good work Bru started.
Overall this was a highly enjoyable issue and a great start to Remender’s run, he nailed a perfect high-class espionage James Bond tone here, but mixed in some fantastic Marvel Universe elements and minor villains, but still managed to make the focus here the relationships of the characters. I’m excited for his run to properly start, and to see how the likes of Giant-Man and Captain Britain work as Secret Avengers. Could this book finally be seizing the opportunity for greatness? I think so.
Art – Patrick Zircher has really upped his game lately and become one of my favourite comics artists. Ever since he illustrated Matt Fraction’s heavy-metal-as-fuck Thor one-shots he’s fantastic, from Mystery Men to Hulk and now here. His art is clean and expressive, but he can also bring the shadows when he needs to. It seemed to me that he kind of took some cues from Mike Deodato here. Gabriel Hardman is set to be the ongoing artist for Remender’s run, but I think it would be fantastic if he and Zircher were to alternate arcs.
Best Line – ‘When you seen your Yankee Doodle Deity in his Chicken-fried heaven – Tell him you died molesting the world!’