Comics / Comic Reviews / Marvel Comics

Secret Avengers #12.1

By Dan Horn
April 28, 2011 - 13:01

Ironically, national security often relies on intel from informants who are threats themselves. In the Marvel U, those threats take the forms of secret organizations, super-villains, and alien invaders. All of these things seem a genteelism for the real-world terrorists, murderers, and monsters they represent. In the newest installment of Secret Avengers, comic book writer extraordinaire Nick Spencer takes the helm of the series to bring these comic book evils some much needed twenty-first century clarity.

How would you react to knowing whom the United States government was really striking deals with? What if the government payroll included names like Osama Bin Laden, Timothy McVeigh, or Charles Manson? Would that knowledge push you over the edge? In Secret Avengers #12.1, the names of every government informant on the wrong side of law are leaked to the public, sending the Avengers scrambling in an impossible endeavor to save at least one--just one--of the thousands of snitches that are now in grave danger. Behind the devious scheme is an anti-government vigilante who has taken on the mantle of US Agent.

This story reads like an underdeveloped allegory, scarcely skimming the surface of current events and newspaper headlines. It's an intriguing look at the clear and present dangers of classified information leaks and partisan zealotry, but it's not given ample room to cultivate a compelling parallel.

All things must be considered in appraising this issue, though, and as a standalone lead-in to Nick Spencer's stint Secret Avengers #12.1 addresses just about every deficiency the series previously had. Spencer's Secret Avengers is thus far a vast improvement over Brubaker's. It's contemporary, vaguely relevant, and, perhaps most importantly, steeped in the espionage it has spuriously posited itself to be guided by since the title's resurrection by Brubaker and Deodato.

The big-picture cohesion between the new "Captain" and Mr. Negative sequences was played off very smoothly and gave us a savory morsel of coming events. The dialogue is noticeably more organic than Ed Brubaker's, and Spencer's sense of humor is much keener than his predecessor's. I feel like this is a big step forward for this series, almost as if it went from catering to adolescent readers to gratifying readers with slightly maturer tastes.

Scott Eaton's artwork, accompanied by the matte finishes of Mendoza and D'Armata, is also a welcome change. If you follow Deodato's work for any length of time, you begin to notice that much of his action sequences consists of nothing but posing and menacing postures. I need only reference his work on this title and on Dark Avengers as proof enough of that fact. Eaton's simple three-panel Valkyrie sequence shocked my Deodato-dulled senses out of their paralytic boredom. Eaton brings viscerally engaging dynamics to Secret Avengers that this team has not yet seen in its current incarnation.

I'm ambivalent towards Rogers' closing rhetoric in this chapter. It's a speech that adequately sums up what the modern Steve Rogers stands for, but, without the issue backing up this statement with a broader coming of age narrative, it feels a bit soulless and blunt. It left an irritating ambiguity lingering as to what Spencer's mission statement will be concerning Rogers or the Avengers for that matter. Will this simply be another book justifying the fist-pumping, flag-waving, yet now politically modish patriot, or has this issue planted some subversive seeds of misgiving? It's very difficult to say from what we're given here, because what we're given has little discernible depth.

Still, this is the best direction I've seen this book going in, and it's incredibly promising.

Rating: 7 /10

Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12

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