Though it gained national recognition in "The Avengers," S.H.I.E.L.D. has been drifting into irrelevance in Marvel’s monthly publications, even with Jonathan Hickman’s attempt to revitalize the flagging series. Yet with the launch of Marvel Now, and numerous new fans hopping aboard, S.H.I.E.L.D. is once again getting another starring role in “Secret Avengers #1.”
Written by Nick Spencer (Morning Glories, Ultimate X-Men) and penciled by Luke Ross, “Secret Avengers” picks up after the disbanding of the team with the same name; though now, S.H.I.E.L.D. is leading the charge with a batch of new, highly-sensitive missions for their collection of notable volunteers, including participants like the Hulk and Iron Patriot.
Known for his rich stories, brimming with mystery and intrigue, Spencer jumps into the first issue of “Secret Avengers” with all cylinders running, spinning a tale of spies, espionage and roundabouts that will leave even the most astute reader chuckling or saying “oh” by the end of this premier issue. Spencer’s skill can be seen on display in Morning Glories, and it is most certainly transferred to Secret Avengers.
Opening on a panel depicting a bloodied Hawkeye, being integrated by a Andras Bertesy (a demonic arms dealer), this book starts the story arc on a quick pace, introducing all of the main players – Agent Coulson, Maria Hill and the new Nick Fury – as they introduce Hawkeye and Black Widow to the new “Secret Avengers” initiative which will involve heroes launching headlong into missions, with their mind wiped thereafter.
Of course, since this is S.H.I.E.L.D. their dealing with, Hawkeye and Black Widow are skeptical about joining, though they decide to sign on for reasons redacted from the reader. And, as one can assume what would happen if a spy agency is wiping the minds of powerful individuals, there are plenty of bread crumbs scattered throughout this first issue of larger events to come in the future.
For the most part, Nick Spencer and Luke Ross do an excellent job at creating an opening issue, with all of the necessary introductory devices all rolled into twenty-three pages, which is impressive feat for a first issue, especially when one considers that many opening arcs span across at least two to four comics.
The artwork, though, is a hit-and-miss. From one page to the next, Luke Ross goes from images depicting emotion-filled heroes trying to save their own, to panels that appear like something a college art student could scribble in a single lecture. Though, for the majority of the book, the art is passable enough to keep Spencer’s story fun and quick paced.
As an opening book, “Secret Avengers #1” is actually quite good, it not the best Marvel Now release of February. Fans of espionage, and anyone seeking to take in a few moments of Agent Coulson, would enjoy this comic.