Secret Avengers #1 is an interesting little title. It’s filled with action and adventure. It has SHIELD, Hawkeye and Black Widow. It starts with an interesting premise and even introduces Nick Fury’s African American son as the new Nick Fury. This way, we get a bald, black Nick Fury in the normal world and not just the Ultimates books. This will help alleviate confusion for those (none) people who didn’t read comics before (absolute zero) but will now because of the movies (nobody at all).
With all this good energy coursing through Secret Avengers #1, it’s completely unsuccessful. I’m going to assume that Marvel has some master plan behind making SHIELD suddenly a bunch of dicks (more on that later) and turning New Nick Fury into the evil seed-spouting tip of this new SHIELD dick. Not having access to Marvel’s secret inner lair, I’m left scratching my head and thinking writer Nick Spencer rolled the dice on being “edgy” and lost.
To try and maintain interest, Secret Avengers #1 is split into multiple time jumps. Our story opens in the present where Hawkeye has been shot in the stomach and captured by some long-haired bad guy with something etched into his head. He wants to know why Hawkeye is here, but Hawkeye has no idea. After much torture, Black Widow shows up. Secret Avengers jumps back ten hours where Hawkeye and Black Widow are meeting with Agent Coulson about becoming part of the Secret Avengers. Turns out if the two join, they’ll be subjected to a new type of memory implant that will erase the mission from their minds completely once the objective is achieved or they are captured.
Next we jump to six hours. We are introduced to New Nick Fury (now with more stain-fighting ability), who goes over the case file. The heroes and Fury chase down a lead and after using questionable tactics to get information, Fury shoots him in the head. This upsets Hawkeye until, get this, Fury explains that these are a new type of bullet with healing ability and the brain damage will be fixed while the guy is unconscious. Really? I know this is a comic book but, really? Suddenly, a bad guy hiding in the shadow shoots Hawkeye in the stomach. Fury leaves him to finish the mission and we’re back to where we began.
Here’s the kicker. Apparently, the main mission objective to protect the White House was only part of it. The other point was to try out the new memory drug called Reverie. We’re shown the rooftop scene again between Hawkeye and New Nick Fury (Tastes great, Less filling). It turns out Fury was actually the one who shot Hawkeye in the stomach, and the Reverie drug was so powerful Hawkeye’s brain created the other scenario. So, the New Nick Fury (You’re soaking in it) is so hellbent on testing this memory drug he’ll risk an Avenger's life?
Spencer fails here on a few levels. First, why did Black Widow wait so long to rescue Hawkeye? Second, why has SHIELD suddenly decided it’s okay to risk losing one of the Avengers on the orders of the new guy? Three, what’s the point of all this? Does this mean issue after issue we get to watch heroes take on missions they don’t remember? That might work for a mini-series, but a monthly? No thanks. Boring.
I’m also really fuzzy on why an agency like SHIELD, who saw how bad totalitarian rule can be, would fall in line for attempted murder of an Avenger because of the New Nick Fury (with a new robust morning flavor)? Hawkeye is an Avenger. An Avenger. AN AVENGER! What would Captain America have been told if Hawkeye died? Sorry, the mission went badly? I think the Avengers would have taken them to task and found out enough to screw SHIELD. Why risk it? It just doesn’t work. Unless Hawkeye really was shot with healing factor bullets… only once he healed, wouldn’t it be weird that a random bullet healed him like specialty SHIELD firepower? It’s all too convoluted to be entertaining.
Luke Ross’s art is decent. He has a solid darkly shadowed noir style and uses part hard lines and part soft detailing to get his point across. My two complaints with Ross are his faces and his inability to show movement. With the faces, every one her draws has to have either a comical look or be so stone faced as to seem dead. The entire section with Agent Coulson looks like he’s been frozen from the neck up. I also loved the splash page with Black Widow where her face makes her look like a blow up sex doll. As far as movement goes, Ross doesn’t do it effectively. Each panel looks a frozen moment in time, there’s no flow.
Secret Avengers #1 is an idea that could play out well in a mini-series. It feels like a real stretch to try and push it into a monthly.
(2.5 Story, 2.5 Art)