Spoiler free -
Secret Avengers #1 feels like an attempt at two things: A Hawkeye-esque slice of life narrative, and a complex spy epic trying to introduce a number of plots while humanizing things. Some of it feels artificial and stilted, and some of it comes off as very natural and organic, like you’re actually getting a look into the life of these characters. Ales Kot and Michael Walsh’s first issue of Secret Avengers goes off with a bang, a whimper, and an “it might be cool.”
Michael Walsh’s Aja/Mazzuchelli mixture and Matthew Wilson’s flat, muted colors set the tone of the book, giving the comic a bright, muddy look with extra layers of grit for good measure. Kot follows suit by writing in his trademark style of clever, economical dialogue, only this time with heaping helps of humor. Kot keeps laying down the jokes with this one, and the very casual atmosphere of the art keeps the jokey, aforementioned Hawkeye-tone going.
What doesn’t work is that it doesn’t feel very representative of the series’ direction, if I know anything about Ales Kot’s work. Usually his first issues tend to set the tone for whatever he’s writing and you can expect more of that, but I think the issue here is that people (such as myself) were expecting the major beginnings of carefully crafted spy story and what was presented was essentially a 20-page, fast-moving comedy. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it also tends to give off the impression that this isn’t what the book is really going to be about and that can really throw a person for a loop.
Secret Avengers #1 is a fun read, and I think that’s the most that can be said about it. It’s fun, enjoyable and very misleading, plus it’s bolstered by fantastic artwork. I would give this a six issue try if I were a new reader, if only to get a fuller grasp on things.
This is for you if you’re looking for a comedy with spy movie undertones, and some of the funniest banter to date (who knew Maria Hill and M.O.D.O.K. could have so much chemistry as a working duo?) this side of Keith Giffen. Kot has a strong, if misleading debut issues propelled by its Hawkeye-esque tone and Michael Walsh’s amazing, flat, dynamic art. Secret Avengers #1 is a highly recommended read for fans of Ales Kot, the Secret Avengers (super-secret trust me), Michael Walsh, and/or comedic spies doing comedic spy things.
My Score: 3/5