Do you wish the Avengers was more like Mission Impossible? Do you wish super hero comics were less colorful and more sneaky? Do you wish you had a little foot-tall man who plays piano? Well, some of your wishes have come true. Find out which ones after the jump.
The quiet points build the story
I am left with the impression that these people are all idiots
Previously in Secret Avengers: Steve Rogers, playing against type, created a secret team of Avengers (Whatever will we name them?) to be sneaky and proactive and provide deniability. So… Force Works, but undercover. Or, for you young’uns, like X-Force without the killing. So far they’ve fought the Shadow Council, a secret cabal bent on gathering magic snake crowns to unleash a Cthulhu-style apocalyptic god on the universe and the Descendants, a group of robots from all corners of the Marvel U that have come together to take over the world or something (Doombots and Super-Adaptoids—living together…mass hysteria).
RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE
Secret Avengers is practically a What If? based on the premise of the Avengers being in a spy/action movie. So, there’s a lot more sneaking than punching, although there’s still an awful lot of punching. In this issue they snuck into the unlikely country of Bagalia. (Seriously, a country of super-criminals? Who cleans the streets or sells hot dogs? Paste Pot Pete can’t do all those jobs.) They find the Shadow Council with one of the Serpent Crowns that lets the God of the Null to start possessing people, who then possess more people, who possess more people, who are the unluuuuuckiest people… in the world. Anyway, the Secret Avengers, at least the ones who haven’t been possessed, have to stop the Council’s plan, mostly with punching.
Most of the power of a spy thriller comes from the quiet points that build up the tension leading up to the action. Here the action is impressive but non-stop. There’s no chance to catch your breath, much less build any anticipation. Maybe I’m looking for something that wasn’t promised, but I expected more intrigue in a “Secret” Avengers.
The characters are for the most part unpleasant, although many of them get something of a pass because they were mind-controlled or are really impostors. However, that doesn’t stop Hawkeye from being the worst team leader I’ve read in a long, long time. He seems to work hard to antagonize everyone he interacts with and aggressively makes the worst possible decision at every opportunity. I think we’re supposed to admire his tough-as-nails integrity but he makes a much better heel here than a face. It’s gotten so I can’t root for the character to grow and overcome but instead look forward to his deserved comeuppance, which I fear may never come.
The worst part for me was when the Black Widow accuses Ant-Man off being a Life Model Decoy impersonating the hero. She presents the entire team with logical reasoning why this would be the case. Hawkeye just blows her off because he wants to take a nap. This is right in front of Hank Pym who a) is a super genius specifically with regard to robots, b) must have a robot-detector in his miniaturized tool belt and c) was himself replaced by a shape-shifting Skrull for several years. Instead of drawing me in to each character’s arguments and points of view, I am left with the impression that these people are all idiots. And I read comic books to try get my mind off of political debates.
RAGE AGAINST THE DYING OF THE LIGHT
The art is, well, a matter of taste and, for me, a mixed bag. The characters are well-drawn with faces that convey a lot of emotion. This includes the Taskmaster, which may be going a bit too far but I guess having masks that change shape is by now an accepted comic conceit. Scenes of action are depicted with appropriate thrill and bone-crunching force. The tone of the story is all about sneaking around in the shadows, so the art is generally dark with lots of shading, even when depicting a fight on the wing of a passenger aircraft in flight. Where the art goes wrong for me is in the backgrounds that consist almost entirely of an interesting although unexplainable color and an ink-cartridge-worth of speed/explosion lines. Scalera is a good artist and draws a couple nice scenes with backgrounds—I just wish he did so more often. Blank backgrounds can focus the reader on the foreground, but the repetition ended up swinging back the other way and distracting me.
BOTTOM LINE: Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned
I started reading this title because it promised some big, new ideas and had the Irredeemable Ant-Man. The big ideas have been fun to explore but the explorers themselves have been getting on my nerves and the tragic human frailties of Ant-Man have been replaced by a robot. It’s been at the precarious bottom of my pull list for months and may have just fallen off. I give Secret Avengers #32 two stars—not a terrible book, but there are better stories on the shelves I could spend my money on. Some of them also by Rick Remender.