REVIEW: Secret Avengers #30

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Or – “Who Would Ever Have Thought Venom Would Make The Avengers Cut?”

As one of the first reformed bad guys in the Marvel Universe, it’s easy to understand why Hawkeye is willing to give another villain a chance at redemption.  Of course, when the villain in question is Venom, unpredictable no matter WHO wears the suit, things may be a little different.  And then, there are some missions where that unpredictability is a good thing.  Your Major Spoilers review awaits!

SECRET AVENGERS #30
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Matteo Scalera
Cover Artist(s): Arthur Adams & Peter Steigerwald
Colorist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously, in Secret Avengers:  After the Shadow Council resurfaced under the command of Max Fury (a rogue LMD duplicate of S.H.I.E.L.D. commander Nick), field commander Hawkeye was able to infiltrate their latest mission with the use of his newest recruit:  Flash Thompson, the current host of the Venom symbiote.  Venom was able to make his way into Max’s new Masters of Evil, but they didn’t count on the man known as Taskmaster picking a fight with the monochrome alien beastie.  Things look bad for the Secret Avengers…

THE MASTERS OF EVIL!

Max Fury’s latest gambit is actually pretty brilliant, gathering literally hundreds of super-villains together in the city of Bagalia as a new version of the Masters of Evil, which does two things, both of them bad.  First, it forces our heroes to sneak through streets crammed to the gills with bad-guys, any one of whom would certainly want the street cred that comes from taking out an Avengers cell.  Secondly, and more damaging, it continues the downward slide of villains in the Marvel Universe over the last 10 years or so.  The Hood’s army was bad enough, but this issue shows the likes of Diablo (who fought the Fantastic Four to a standstill), The Wrecker (who went mano-a-mano with Thor) and Vengeannce (who, okay, is lame) into anonymous suits wandering around doing not-very-much at all.  The first half of our issue is a battle between Venom and Taskmaster, during which T-Master reinforces his status as serious bad-@$$ and smart alec, even calling into question why Spider-Man’s enemy would want the power of his Crown of Wolves.

HAWKEYE: PURE, CONCENTRATED AWESOME.

Remender’s run with Secret Avengers has been pretty cool, with Hawkeye calling on all his resources and associates for assistance, as when he suddenly pulls a Pym-particle shrunken motorcycle out of his belt, or smirks that no one understood why he wanted a “Bunker Buster” arrow.  Unfortunately, his makeshift team is unable to stop Max Fury from combining the crowns of power (brethren of the Serpent Crown, a long-sought-after relic of the Marvel U) into a massive power source known as the Abyss, which Fury puts on his head, channeling the awesome powers of…

Nothin’.  Turns out that Max, being an artificial life form, can’t activate the crown, and the Avengers swoop in to take him down and save the day!  Sadly, the focus on Fury allows Taskmaster to channel the power of the Abyss, taking over the minds of all the villains in the city, and creating his own mystical army of superhuman zombie followers.  So, that’s bad.

THE BOTTOM LINE: THE GHOSTBUSTERS QUOTE WON THEM A WHOLE STAR.

Matteo Scalera’s art in this issue reminds me of Matt Wagner’s work in the mid-80s, when he was in Grendel mode, and it works to great effect here.  There are a few moments where the background scenes full of villains distracted me with a character that I couldn’t identify, but the motorcycle chase between Hawkeye and Vengeance was action-movie goodness, and the anguish on Max Fury’s face as he realizes that he’s not human enough to trigger the weapon are first-rate work.  Remender delivers a script that’s fun, with just enough super-heroey stuff to keep it an Avengers title, but a big helping of spycraft and James Bond movie fun.  Secret Avengers #30 has an interesting cast, some nice continuity stuff and decent fight sequences, overcoming the continuing degradation of Marvel’s B-list-and-below villains, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall.  Where’s the love for guys like Constrictor, Crossfire and Firebrand?

Rating: ★★★★☆