Monday, March 28, 2016

CBR:Quickies Ales Kot's Secret Avengers

The perfect blend of superheroics and spy stories.

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Following the original 2010 iteration Ed Brubaker's Secret Avengers, the series completely changed direction from a book about a team of Avengers doing things the main Avengers couldn't to basically a book about S.H.I.E.L.D.

This incarnation of Secret Avengers, like it's predecessor, was also a spiritual success to Secret Warriors. Revolving around the adventures of a special team of Avengers working in hand with S.H.I.E.L.D., doing things the superheroes can't always do, requiring a specific set of skills from this team who all must be accounted for plausible deniability to run on these missions all over the world without getting caught.

This third volume published as part of the All-New Marvel NOW lineup was heavily inspired by the live-action films of the MCU - and specifially the show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - while taking a page from Matt Fraction's phenomenal run on the Hawkeye series.

In the hands of the new creative team of Ales Kot and Michael Walsh, the series took a more light-hearted direction, with a lot more humor.

It takes place after the Avengers vs. X-Men storyline. S.H.I.E.L.D. took over control of the Secret Avengers.

Comic title: Secret Avengers Vol. 1: Let's Have a Problem
Written by Ales Kot
Illustrated by Michael Walsh & Ryan Kelly
Format: Trade paperback collecting Secret Avengers Vol. 3 issues #1-5 and Original Sin: Secret Avengers Infinite Comic #1-2.

The All-New Secret Avengers team consist now of Maria Hill, Nick Fury Jr., Phil Coulson aka Cheese, Jessica Drew aka Spider-Woman, Clint Barton aka Hawkeye, Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow and... M.O.D.O.K.!? Their objective? Run dangerous black-ops-type missions. Never get seen. And save the world!

The book opens up kicking off the entire storyline, it all begins when the unstoppable superhero-killing machine The Fury is seen attacking some secret SHIELD space station only Phil Coulson and Nick Fury can stop.

Maria Hill is seen now not only running SHIELD but also this new iteration of the Secret Avengers.

Spider-Woman and Black Widow are taking some time off, taking this occasion to better be acquainted with one another, blowing off some steam in secret place in New York. Suddenly Hawkeye crashes in, again in another bad situation, as usual.

Maria Hill secretly recruits the "Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing" also known as M.O.D.O.K. who has ditched A.I.M. to work for SHIELD, building new gagdets for our heroes. Maria Hill is suddenly attacked by a lone gunman.

Coulson and Nick Fury find themselves lost in space, but they're finally saved all thanks to MODOK (if only they knew..).

Issue 3 then brilliantly opens foreshadowing the end of this entire series. Some supervillain mad scientist is selling a bomb in the Middle East unlike any other, a post-nuclear warhead that can swallow reality! Black Widow fights Lady Bullseye while Spider-Woman befriends the bomb - yeah you read that right. And it has a name, Vladimir.

Meanwhile Nick Fury and Clint Barton get their own mission leading a team of SHIELD agents in China, where they are attacked by The Fury again! It's back!

What is M.O.D.O.K. really after?

In the final, half of Nick Fury's face is burnt off during a surprise attack!

This first volume also collects the Secret Avengers tie-in Original Sin. It'a fun short side-story about Hydra trying to get their hands on a virus that can completely rewrite reality!!

Overall: Ales Kot's Secret Avengers begins on such a strong and unique note.

The story and the characters are really compelling.

Michael Walsh's art is absolutely gorgeous. Giving the book a lot of flair. All the characters feel really unique.

This relaunch takes a pretty fun direction, making it a book a lot more about S.H.I.E.L.D. than your regular superhero books. And we haven't had a proper SHIELD ongoing series in a really long time. Part of the fun is also to have this Nick Fury Jr. and Coulson a lot more directly involved in the missions compared to previous series. Giving it a feel a lot closer to Agents of SHIELD. These two recent additions often pretty tackled on the few books they've appeared in the last few years, but here I found them pretty fun. Coulson also gets to play the normal regular field agent guy that is forced into these crazy situations.

It's a great series, with a really tight well chosen cast of characters.

Let's also mention Tradd Moore & Matthew Wilson's great funny cartoony covers for the series. They were able to stick around for the entire run of the series and get pretty creative, even though I admit it doesn't look anything like the interiors.

I give this one a: 2.5 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Secret Avengers Vol. 2: The Labyrinth
Written by Ales Kot
Illustrated by Michael Walsh
Format: Trade paperback collecting Secret Avengers Vol. 3 issues #6-10.

Lady Bullseye is back! And she just hijacked a Japanese bullet train packed with explosives! Black Widow, Spider-Woman and Vladimir the sentient bomb have to take care of her.

M.O.D.O.K.just finished analyzing the remains of The Fury. It's... pregnant?

After suffering from the previous adventures, Phil Coulson got a PTSD of some sort and he goes to Venezuela to find some solace.

Deadpool joins in the fun! The Merc' with the Mouth surprises his best bud Hawkeye at an AIM location. And he wants Clint to join him!!

It is revealed M.O.D.O.K.'s plan all along was to set SHIELD against each other, then kick Maria Hill and her minions out to replace her as the head. But along the way, M.O.D.O.K. had a change of heart... You see... He's in love with Maria Hill!?

Using The Fury's babies, this mad poet villain has been powering a gigantic "belief machines" to resurrect the city of Kowloon in China.

M.O.D.O.K.'s right hand man, Snapper betrays everyone, M.O.D.O.K. included!

And Lady Bullseye and Black Widow end up somewhere completely different... What is Tlön?

Overall: Volume 2 is just as fun! This 2nd book doesn't see as much happening, but the overall plot keeps pushing forward.

It's still as great and funny. There's some hilarious pages we get with Deadpool and Hawkeye. Beautifully drawn.

As well as some great scenes how Hawkeye loves playing dumb, making others always underestimate him.

I give this one a: 2 / 3 Score!

Comic title: Secret Avengers Vol. 3: God Level
Written by Ales Kot
Illustrated by Michael WalshFormat: Trade paperback collecting Secret Avengers Vol. 3 issues #11-15.

It was revealed Snapper is now in charge of everything. They capture Maria Hill aboard the helicarrier.

M.O.D.O.K. is able to locate Hawkeye and Coulson who have both been missing for a while. He and Snapped had worked to get these two as far out as possible.

Turns out Snapper was actually jealous of what M.O.D.O.K. had for Maria Hill, so he took over the operation.

Reality starts ripping out over various cities across the world. It's all coming from "the nursery", a place packed with telepaths and The Fury's babies able to make belief into reality.

Our team of unlikely heroes form a rescue team to free Maria Hill and the others, to put a stop to Snapper's plans to "get rid of all the bullies".

There's even a wild card that gets loose during the final confrontation, in the form of Deadpool randomly deciding to come back for the action.

It all ends on a huge epic action scene filled with explosions (and even featuring an explosion-o-meter!).

In a final epilogue we get some debrief scenes from all the characters and also one of the very rare flashbacks we ever saw of Maria Hill during her childhood.

As for M.O.D.O.K., he was able to escape and he's now living off in the middle of nowhere, in Ohio.

Overall: This third and last volume offers us a nice sendoff for what was a very fun if short series.

Secret Avengers remained to the end a very fun series, unlike any other out there.

It was such a fun little book for the very short time it ran. Sadly it was canceled last year, after only 15 issues.

This last book gives us a pretty crazy and logical conclusion, satisfying every single plot thread while concluding this chapter of SHIELD. We had a lot of great character moments and a ton of humor- And even some fun meta commentaries.

I give this one a: 2.5 / 3 Score!

I'll always be a fan of this very short but memorable iteration of Secret Avengers.

They had a lot of fun making it. They even redeemed a character like M.O.D.O.K. and turned him into one of my favorite Marvel characters.

The series came to an end way too soon. Thankfully if would be succeeded by a very similar series by Mark Waid, simply titled  S.H.I.E.L.D., adding up even more elements from the television series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (such as bringing Quake back from Secret Warriors and adding original new characters from the TV show).


That's all for this time's Quickies!

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