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Fourthman Reviews Secret Avengers #1

Written by Lee Newman on Tuesday, May 25 2010 and posted in Reviews

Two weeks, two Avengers #1 issues.  So how is Brubaker's Shadow Ops Team book?

Comic Review Cover

Credits & Solicit Info:

Secret Avengers #1
WRITER: Ed Brubaker
PENCILS: Mike Deodato
THE HEROIC AGE IS HERE! Who are the Secret Avengers? Are they a covert team of heroes working the darkest corners of the globe to stop disaster? Are they part-spy, part-superhero? Are they XXXXXXX’s newest idea to save the world...or all they all of the above? A new era begins as Marvel's hottest team takes a 21st century twist!


It’s an exciting time for Avengers fans. Whether they enjoyed the first issue of Bendis’s flag ship title or not, there is certainly a different tone and the sheer number of titles coming down the pipeline is impressive.

Two weeks, two number ones and this is just the beginning.

Here, we have Ed Brubaker writing what has really become his marquee character – Captain America. Well, Steve Rogers anyhow. Bucky still wields the shield for the time being. In Bendis’s book, we saw Steve approach many people. Not all of them made the team that operates out of Stark Tower. The assumption was that the rest would be in the various books.

This book is about a shadow ops team that will work in “prevention intervention.” The scribe relates that the 21st century is a time full of new dangers and it is important to recognize these new villains before they become a problem. That is what this team is all about.

Functioning like a spy movie or a modern superhero cartoon, the book opens with the ending of a mission. Fortunately for the reader, Brubaker realizes that making that mission part of what is going forward is more important than just showing cool gadgets and stuff explode. In fact, most of this issue involves a little globe hopping and the intent is to give nice expository shots of this new team… the one you have seen on posters in shops and in ads online and in print.

That’s right, this team is Valkyrie, Black Widow, Rogers, Moon Knight, Ant-Man, Beast, and Nova. Like the Avengers book last week, there is a bit of a surprise member as well… I’ll save that one for those who pick up the book.

The book works as a superhero clandestine book. That is, after all, what it is. What is interesting is the title of the story. It is entitled “Secret Histories” and there is certainly some concern with all that and another fan favorite Marvel title when the reader turns to the last page of this book.

But, the title at hand talks an awful lot about not only experiments and known weapons being used to cause terror, but artifacts as well. It certainly feels like a modern take on the old Indiana Jones model, the bad guys are after supremely powerful objects of a supernatural history. Lucas and Spielberg made their artifacts ones that fill the cultural Zeitgeist, here there is a sense that one should know what the artifact is, but my continuity knowledge is not broad enough to know what the item is. It’s not really a problem though, at one brief moment in the introduction, I was hoping the object would be pure McGuffin, and there is even a Pulp Fiction like scene when it is retrieved.

Deodato’s art has certainly continued to progress over the last few years. Here the colors of Bereto give it the feel of the artist’s work on Thunderbolts, but it is not as dark as that work. It retains the griminess of that street level book, but has more clarity in its action as a result. His takes on the characters may cause recognition problems when they are undercover, but this worked to his advantage here. The opening scene turns out a bit differently than the cliché as a result. That trick won’t work forever, but it certainly is effective here.

This is a book of intrigue and it certainly fills its quota in this issue with an interesting team that will no doubt cause problems down the line; and top notch spy type writing from one of the medium’s current masters. This is not as exciting as that debut Avengers book last week, but it seems to be a better crafted book.


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