Monday, February 18, 2013

Secret Avengers #1

So this was my random, impulse buy of the week. It was either this or Uncanny X-Men, and I'm afraid I've got all the slow pacing I can handle over in All-New, so I decided to stick with my beloved Avengers franchise. I haven't exactly loved anything I've read from Nick Spencer so far, but I have to admit, I'm impressed with this first issue.

I'm not sure if the plan is to keep the cast at this level or not, but I really enjoyed seeing the ground-level focus of this team. Hawkeye, Black Widow, Nick Fury Jr. Agent Coulson, and Maria Hill are the protagonists, and I really don't think the cast needs to expand any further. (Incidentally, why the heck is Quake listed as the head of SHIELD? Surely Hill is way more qualified now?)

The book opens with a bang, with Hawkeye bleeding out on a rooftop with no memory how he got there. An interesting Eurotrash villain spends a few pages trying to get Hawk to talk, but it's no use. This sequence was notable for two things; 1. Hawkeye acknowledges that a lot of people prefer his old costume. 2. I love that the increasing levels of interrogation send the book further and further into super-hero standards. First you've got beatings, then drugs, then psychics, then darkforce monsters. Of course, what else would you do?

There is a large element of mystery in the book, because Hawkeye and Black Widow's motivation for joining the team is redacted. I like that, because just like their experiences are being tampered with, so are the readers'. We know more than the leads, but not everything. I'm a little worried about Fury, Hill, and Coulson coming off like bad guys, but that might be worth the risk. The drama wouldn't be as effective if Spencer didn't do such a good job making both Avengers very likable. Black Widow really does work best in this type of story.

Luke Ross does a great job. He's been around a long time, but his style has developed and evolved a lot over the years. This is a lot smoother and bubblier than his older work, and it works well with the story. Widow looks fabulous, and the design on the Euro-sorcerer is strong too. I wish I could get behind the Super Soldier costume on Nick Fury Jr., but I'm not sure it looks quite right. Maybe I just need more time to  get used to it!


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