Sunday, October 31, 2010

Review: Secret Avengers #5

(This review was originally posted on September 27 at Population GO.)

SECRET AVENGERS #5 "Secret Histories Epilogue: The Secret Life of Max Fury"
Written by Ed Brubaker; art by David Aja, Michael Lark, Stefano Gaudiano.

Secret Avengers is a comic book that should’ve been awesome from the start. Writer Ed Brubaker has been doing a fantastic job with Captain America for a long time, and to have him write about a new covert ops Avengers team headed by former Captain America Steve Rogers sounds like a perfect fit. While the first issue was promising, the next three were very underwhelming, to the point where I was considering dropping the title after the completion of the first arc. But now, issue #5 comes out and I’m perplexed. This issue was great, definitely the best in the series thus far, but it was also very atypical. Not only did it have a different artist, but the story also focused on a couple of characters who are not even members of the team. The question is, will the quality hold up when it’s back to business as usual next month?

Mike Deodato’s art so far on the series has been decent, so I was initially a little weary when I saw that issue #5 featured a different artist – or rather a team of artists, namely, David Aja, Michael Lark and Stefano Gaudiano. (Deodato will be back next month.) But the strikingly different style in this issue, which is an epilogue to the first arc, ends up working in favour of it. The art is a bit grittier or sketchier, which fits nicely with the story of our antagonist’s origins, told mostly in flashbacks. 

Being fairly new to the Marvel universe myself, I’m not exactly sure how much of the information we are given in this issue was previously established. It’s all new to me, but easy enough to follow. Though presented as an epilogue to the first arc, the story could work as well as a stand-alone, and as such it would be a good jumping-on point for readers who want to get some background before the next arc begins. All you really need to know is that the Secret Avengers have been attacked by a group called the Shadow Council, led by someone who looks suspiciously like Nick Fury.

Ed Brubaker’s writing is excellent in this issue and I’m finally getting a sense of what makes him such a unique voice in comics. It’s clear he has a good handle on the characters of Nick Fury and Steve Rogers and the way they interact with each other. If the writing stays this good once the focus returns to the rest of the team next month, Secret Avengers could become the best current ongoing Avengers title – which it really ought to be.


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