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If there’s one man at Marvel that you want crafting a secret history for the Universe its Ed Brubaker (Captain America, Daredevil). The Secret Avengers are Marvel’s newest covert ops team with a most unusual ensemble. The team includes: Steve Rogers (former Captain America), War Machine, Beast of the X-Men, Valkyrie, Black Widow, Sharon Carter, Moon Knight, Nova and Ant-Man.
The issue begins with Black Widow and Valkyrie undercover as call girls. They’ve infiltrated Roxxon’s headquarters in the Middle East. They’re there to capture a dangerous item known as the Serpent Crown. Valkyrie lets her warriors nobility get in the way of the mission and blows their cover. It doesn’t really matter when you have Steve Rogers on the team. He breaks through a window and the three of them dispose of the Roxxon guards, attaining the Serpent Crown.
The team makes a quick exit on their quin-jet and head back to base. Beast plays his role as the science advisor for the team by quickly analyzing the Crown, only to find out that it’s not the original. That doesn’t mean there isn’t something strange and dangerous about this fake. Beast describes it as moving between the moments, which is an awesome description for it. Phase two of Steve’s plan goes into play as Moon Knight and Ant-Man invade another Roxxon faculty to access the company’s mainframe.
Beast discovers that Roxxon has been working on Mars… guess where the teams going? Mars! Right after Steve has someone swing by and check on it, that someone being Nova. Nova makes it to Mars only to be constantly attacked by space humvees. He’s lead into the side of a mountain to a hallow section. Inside he finds… the Serpent Crown!
This book feels how an Avengers Black Ops book should be. Hell, it just plain feels like an Avengers book. Each member plays their role and the characters are never forced into the action or made to do something uncharacteristic of themselves. The rest of the Avengers line should take note on how to do a team book properly. In fact, DC should also take note and apply this formula to the Justice League. Brubaker not only shows why he’s the right man to write Steve Rogers, but why he’s the only choice to write his team.
The group assembled is chosen with precision. There are no duplicates of abilities or even of backgrounds to be found on the team. There aren’t two strong guys or three scientists; everyone makes up a unique aspect of the team. Steve is the leader, Black Widow is the spy, and Beast is the scientist making it all carefully crafted. Brubaker not only captures each character within their dialog but also their unique abilities and it makes for a wonderful read.
This issue is beautifully drawn. They’re a Black Ops team and as such the book should have a dark look and feel. Mike Deodato (Tigra, Dark Avengers) uses the same precision in his penciling as Brubaker does with the story. Nay Sayers of Steve Rogers new look can rest assured that with Deodato drawing him he will always look like the strong fierce leader that he is. What’s truly amazing about this book is that Deodato’s style doesn’t deteriorate with so many characters. Usually with large team splash pages, there tends to be a focal point on the page and those characters are more detailed than the others. With Deodato each character looks photo-realistic regardless of the amount of characters on the page.
Marvel as a whole seems to be moving the Universe towards espionage and spies. This book fits right in with the likes of Secret Warriors, Fantastic Four and S.h.i.e.l.d. Hopefully there’s a huge pay off between all four titles. For right now there’s a great amount of intrigue as to what will happen to this team next. Brubaker and Deodato make a typical team origin story interesting and different showing that there’s more than one right way. With Marvel launching several first issue titles within the coming months, lets hope that they take their cues from here and break from the norm.
Story – 8.5
Plot – 9.0
Characters – 9.0
Art – 9.0
Overall – 8.9