Or – “Wouldn’t Somebody Have Noticed That SHIELD Was HYDRA Before This?”

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And does anybody else think that New Warriors was axed to avoid confusion with this title?

SW2.jpgPreviously, on Secret Warriors:  Nick Fury’s discovery that SHIELD was nothing but a front created by Hydra opens a lot of really hard-to-answer questions…  I mean, seriously, this was a government agency back in the day, which was actually brought down once before (during which time there was discovered to be a conspiracy behind the entire agency that led to them being infiltrated by aliens who theoretically might have noticed such things) and then restructured under the aegis of the United Nations…  In all the years of the Marvel Universe, nobody ever thought to peek behind the curtain and see Madame Hydra hiding out in the wings?  This single storytelling problem underlines a  lot of the issues that I have with this particular story hook and the story being told in general.  But, in any case, last issue a teenage girl was maimed in the name of something that may be justice, and now there’s repercussions galore for all the Secret Warriors…

We begin with Quake and Druid in the deserts of Australia, and she’s very angry with Druid for some reason.  “Things are bad,” he says, “I get it.  I don’t know why you’re so upset with me.”  She points to a pile of wreckage and storms “YOU CRASHED THE PLANE!”  Heh.  Before they can kill one another or starve to death, the mutant Gateway arrives with a strange young lad wearing aboriginal paint and a loincloth.  “Hello, white people.  Thirsty?”  The look on his face is pricless, and Stefano Caselli does a really good job with the entire sequence.  Elsewhere in the world, Nick Furey arrives at a remote barr where he meets Jasper Sitwell, former agent of SHIELD, as well as Gabe Jones and Dum Dum Dugan of the original Howling Commandos.  Apparently, when Stormin’ Norman Osborn took over the reigns of SHIELD, apparently over 1000 agents quite on the spot, and went with Gabe and Dum Dum to private contracting.  Dugan greets him warmly, but Gabe gives him the cold shoulder.

Back in Fury’s office, JT Slade (the Warrior called Hellfire) is ransacking Fury’s office, looking for something, when he’s discovered by the son of Ares, who immediately opens a secret hidden door, behind which are half a dozen Nick Fury, Life Model Decoys, android doubles of Nick, each one with a little door in it’s chest.  This worries me, actually.  No one has yet considered whether this Fury is actually Fury, have they?  What if it’s actually the Gremlin from the Soviet Super Soldiers or something?  Eeeerie…  Briefly, we see Stonewall reading to the recent dismemebered Yo-yo, and then we cut back to the Howling Commandos secret headquarters.  Dugan and Fury reminisce about women they’ve known who give a great massage (old soldiers, y’see) when suddenly Gabe Jones addresses the elephant in the room.  “YOU, Nick.  You’re the problem…”  says Gabe, “You left us and we crashed hard.  And now you just walk back in like it’s old times.  Well, #$&@ you, Colonel.”  Nick remarks that he’s still the same, the world has changed…  It’s a nicely done scene, actually, with good dialogue from Bendis here.  Back in the outback, Druid and Quake manage to recruit the young man (after a meal of slow-roasted Kangaroo) who apparently has the power to bend space and time or something, while the heads of Hydra decide to do something mysterious and eeeevil, and Fury prepares to lead the Howlers into action against his own former agents.  “What are you going to feel when you have to put a bullet into one of your own men, Nick?” asks Gabe Jones.  Fury responds, “Recoil.”

That sequence bothered me greatly, actually, in that Nick Fury (while always a soldier) seemed to be a soldier with a conscience, the kind of man who wouldn’t kill agents of SHIELD just because they made a bad work decision, but this is the new tougher-than-a-two-dollar-steak Nick for the brave new Dark Reign world.  This book is really difficult for me to like, simply because of the greytones of the morality involved.  I do tend to like the big heroic icon guys with the clear-cut sense of right and wrong, but this isn’t the book for that.  Still and all, it’s an intriguing premise, well executed with terribly effective art from Caselli, and some nice touches by Bendis, only undermined by what feels like a lack of depth in Nick’s tough-guy facade.  Secret Warriors #4 earns a more-good-than-bad 2 out of 5 stars, and has at least made itself welcome on my pull list for more than the requisite 6 issue tryout stint.  Depending on where it goes, this could become the flagship title of Marvel’s (you should excuse the expression) brand new day.

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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8 Comments

  1. May 27, 2009 at 5:21 pm — Reply

    Good review. I actually loved the issue and didn’t take issue with that last page, mostly because I know that Fury would never actually murder ex-SHIELD agents who went to work for HAMMER. He’s pissed, as he has every right to be, but he’s just posturing and/or blowing off steam there.

    And while I thought the art was fantastic, why were Gateway and his protege green??

  2. Salieri
    May 27, 2009 at 5:35 pm — Reply

    The message behind this is all too clear. Warren Ellis already did this idea to death in NEXTwave, but cowardly Marvel, afraid of what he’d do with it, had him change the names, wait a few years, and give it to two Jokers like Bendis and Hickman. Unlike Ellis, they took itcompletely seriously, which is why it doesn’t work. You can have the Fury and Wolverine crowd grimacing or howling about how they’ve been brain- and/or purpose-violated allthese years and how can they trust anyone and blah blah blah, but at it’s core it just means a bunch of people in ridiculous bodysuits will fight and/or join another bunch of people in ridiculous bodysuits. And you can either write it as an intelligent satire for it’s sheer ridiculousness and get Nextwave, or you can act as if any of it could really happen and get this.

    The same goes for any of Dark Reign. The entire thing, even up to the artist of the ‘core title’, is ripped off another story of Ellis’ that was gloriously pisstaking the serious approach of Marvel (Norman Osborn’s ‘Blondes and Victory’ speech in Caged Angels), and tried to take it seriously. Dark Avengers is cobbled from Ellis’ Thunderbolts, Jenkins’ Sentry, Moreison’s Marvel Boy, Whatsisname’s Ares and, Lord have mercy, Way’s Wolverine: Origins.

    Out of the entire event, we see three miniseries with genuinely new characters, one uncannily similar to a DC character (Dark Reign: Zodiac, DC’s Black Mask), several in a miniseries built off the backs of a popular team (Dark Reign: Young Avengers), and a bit part in an online comic (new Jack O’ Lantern). There are no new concepts. Even the core message of evil winning was done and dusted by DC, barely six months ago.

    In summation: I’m done with any Marvel title that can’t be read without an event at hand. I’ll be collecting the remaining trades of Captain Britain and Aaron’s Ghost Rider, and hold out for Millar’s Old Man Logan (another deliciously satirical pisstake on Marvel in general). Anything else, Marvel-wise – especially Spider-Man – well, I can take it or leave it.

    Wait, scratch that. I think I’ll just leave it.

  3. Ricco
    May 27, 2009 at 5:48 pm — Reply

    Seeing how S.H.I.E.L.D. was always an international agency dealing in espionage, I can buy that no one could find exactly who founded it.
    Why would you be surprised no records exists? It’s started as a SECRET organisation, so I can see how Hydra could have been secretly running the show.

    I loved the last page, simply because it shows how far gone Fury is. If he couldn’t see Hydra pulling the strings what else has he been blind too? As he lost his edge? Is he too old for this crap? So he chose to go to the old white and black way of thinking of soldiers in the battlefield, people are either allies or enemies, no such thing as innocent bystanders or non combatants.

  4. May 27, 2009 at 10:37 pm — Reply

    This book is so New Warriors under an assumed name. Characters all speak in the same voice? Check. Supporting cast is a bunch of ciphers you couldn’t quickly identify if you’re life depended on it? Check. One bizarre through plot line evident? Check. I wanted to love this book. I like everything I’ve ever read by Bendis (except Powers) and Hickman is knocking it out of the park in Dark Reign: Fantastic 4. This? If it *improves* it will be crap. End of this initial arc I’m out of here. I already this in New Warriors post Civil War and I don’t need to waste my money sticking around here as I did back then…

  5. Jim
    May 28, 2009 at 6:15 am — Reply

    SHIELD was set up by HYDRA? Yeah that won’t be retconned out of existence in a few years.
    The whole “SHIELD is secretly run by and evil organization. Nick has been a dupe all these years”, sounds a little too much like the “Nick Fury Vs. SHIELD” mini-series of the late 80’s

  6. crood
    May 28, 2009 at 10:31 am — Reply

    Exactly. That was my response when I first heard the whole SHIELD was Hydra all along thing. It was done already in “Nick Fury Vs. SHIELD” and then it was undone in the SHIELD series that followed when Nick confirmed it was BS and the infiltration from the mini was more recent.

    Does it even address that for about two decades Hydra was a fairly weak, splintered group until Strucker was resurrected? How were they running SHIELD then?

    • May 28, 2009 at 2:04 pm — Reply

      It has not been addressed, and it’s one of the issues that never will be. We’re in the age where the writers have adopted the “Personal Continuity” rule, where a story you don’t want to address simply didn’t happen. Honestly, I’d rather see that than a tortured continuity full of patches and Frankensteining, ala the Vision’s ridiculously complicated backstory.

      But, yeah, if the SHIELD mini and it’s followup series really happened, then this series is a huge example of those who don’t learn from history having history tank their sales.

  7. ~wyntermute~
    May 28, 2009 at 2:57 pm — Reply

    Heh. This is one title where my lack of contiknowledge (portmanteau word for continuity-knowledge that I just made up right now) is a plus. I got into reading this because I was rather intrigued by the “caterpillar list” concept, and the heroes it would bring. I’m a sucker for “the Next Big Thing”, so I figured I’d keep an eye on these kids. All in all, it’s bee fun so far and I have to do two more things before I end this: 1) Yah, I thought the color of the aboriginals was kinda off, as well!! and 2) Ahhhhhhhhhh…. NEXTWave: The BEST thing I think I have _EVER_ read. It might not be “art” but it sure as hell is “entertainment”! (But it _is_ art too! Sequential art, and very nicely done!)

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