I have really been enjoying Secret Avengers since it started a few months back and it has, within that time, managed to work its way to the top of my read pile every time it comes out. This is a truly entertaining book and, for once, the awesome scene that graces the cover actually happens in the issue itself, and it is glorious. If you’ve ever wondered what it would look like if someone other hero from Earth possessed the energy manipulation powers of Nova, then this definitely the book for you.
At the beginning of the issue, the Secret Avengers aren’t exactly faring well. Ant-Man has been mysteriously transported back to Earth, Nova has been possessed by a hugely powerful Serpent Crown and all the others are fighting a losing battle with some mysterious tentacles coming out of the surface of Mars and possessing everyone in sight. With little other hope, Steve “Captain America” Rogers must don Nova’s helmet to use its power to help turn the tides. The whole issue is basically one large fight scene on multiple fronts and, to Ed Brubaker’s credit, never becomes confusing despite how many things are happening at once. Sometimes in an all action issues, I feel like I got cheated from lack of anything substantial happening, but that never happened here. It’s especially fun once “Commander Nova” gets involved. I also really liked that Ant-Man got a little bit of time to shine here too; that was something he sorely needed.
My biggest gripe is the under-utilization of some of the members of the team, not just in this issue, but all four issues so far. For all the hype he got for joining, Moon Knight has barely appeared in any of these issues and when he has, he’s been acting rather odd. He comes off more as adoring child than a skilled member of the Avengers and gets all of one line in the entire issue. More than anyone, I was interested to see how he would play off the others, but that just hasn’t happened yet. Others, like Valkyrie and War Machine, are just here for the fighting and do little else. As much as I love Secret Avengers, I want every character to play significant role and I’m not seeing that yet. Maybe as they return to Earth next issue, the more down-to-earth characters will have more of a chance to shine. They are certainly appropriate for the battle that is setup for the next issue, so I’m excited to see what Brubaker does with them next month. If you came this month looking for answers as to why Nick Fury is working for the bad guys, that is also a story for next month.
Meanwhile, Mike Deodato Jr. really brings his A-game for the art this issue. It honestly looked pretty, for lack of a better word, epic when Steve Rogers took on the Nova powers and the Nova/Captain America mixed costume that is created looks really cool. When Rogers and Nova are fighting, you really get the sense that these are two extremely powerful people fighting and it looks great. I still think his use of shadows is a bit too heavy and it takes some of the strength out of some panels, but that is just a personal preference and others might feel differently. Colorist Rain Beredo deserves praise again here as well as he makes the huge battles really pop and never feel dull. This is especially impressive given how barren the background he has to work with are. I do wish he had picked a different color for the tentacles in this issue as they look very similar to the Sentry’s tentacles in Siege, but that is a pretty minor nitpick.
Secret Avengers has quickly become one of the better mainstream superhero books being published today. I was hesitant to see Ed Brubaker on a team book since he mainly excels with smaller casts, but he has won me over. Ironically, I want to see him increase his focus on the individual characters and give them all fair screen time, but he handles them all well and writes one damn fun book. There is no reason not to pick this series up, so if you haven’t I’m telling you to go get it now.