You know, I liked this book a lot more than I thought I would. I've only dabbled in the Secret Avengers series, never reading it regularly, but that changes now. There were a lot of minor things I disliked in this issue-- like convenient scientific explanations for suddenly being able to shoot bad guys dead with no obvious consequences-- but overall, it was an interesting setup for the series.
The Marvel NOW incarnation of Secret Avengers is made up of Hawkeye (Clint Barton), Black Widow (Natasha Romanov) and the new Nick Fury, previously known as Marcus Johnson, but whose real name is Nick Fury Jr. No, seriously. Marvel has made their regular universe's Nick Fury look pretty identical to the movie version, lest new comic readers be confused to see a gruff old white guy as Fury. As Samuel L. Jackson was the inspiration for the Ultimate Universe Fury, it does seem a little silly to change it now. They way they introduce him leads into a pretty funny running joke so it wasn't handled too badly overall.
Maria Hill has brought these folks together, with Phil Coulson's help and I'm sure many fans of the movie series will also be thrilled to see him alive and well. There are moments where Luke Ross tries to capture the actor's likenesses and though they're fleeting, everyone looks like their movie counterparts at least a few times. Decent art overall though.
Nick Spencer's story set up is solid, with a unique explanation as to why they're Secret Avengers, and enough tension within the team to make them working together an exciting concept. Tension is good, but there's an almost sleazy underlying tone regarding how this team is run. A lot of liberties are taken by SHIELD in signing up Hawkeye and Black Widow, with Nick Fury's behavior bordering on just plain evil at times. Even with those complaints, I'm still intrigued enough to keep reading.
What do you think, Russel?
I was coming in the same trepidation, Fred, no doubt.
Hawkguy may be in a middle of a renaissance, the latter-day Marvel NOW success story, but Black Widow was never quite as interesting as her character in the movie, save for Greg Rucka’s run. Then you have the most shoe-horned-in character in all of the Marvel U, in Junior, and by periphery, the comic book version of Agent Coulson.
Though it’s true, with the story told and the art on display, this book has made itself a good mid-level new book for Marvel. It's cold, hard intrigue, playing with some fast and loose “top secret”-style tricks to have fun with not only the reader but also Clint Barton as our defacto vantage-point character. I have to say I enjoyed the little touch of the REDACTED moment quite a bit. Nick Spencer is finally using the perfect hook for the (Top) Secret Avengers, which for some reason hadn't been latched onto before now, and Luke Ross's art is the right fit for this book.
It’s much dirtier, much less grand and sweeping, than the Remender, and before him Brubaker, approach to the title, sure. I like the idea of a handful of superheroes, and some Secret Warriors (yeah!), working with SHIELD in as loose an Avengers title as possible. Minus Nick Fury Jr. playing up a Punisher-lite vibe (though maybe it's that he shares the look AND temperament of his Ultimate-influence, as THAT Nick Fury was never without controversy, and honestly if that was the case why not just cross him over?), it’s very much Marvel’s movie friendliest book, which is a super smart idea to do with the third-highest grossing movie of all-time. Though a little late in the game, nonetheless.
Give it a try, definitely, if you’re interested in the intrigue, super-spy kind of thing, and you’ve been waiting for a book that gets a bit deeper into Marvel’s new SHIELD status quo. See where these (Top) Secret Avengers will go.