It’s been a while since I put pen to paper to talk about Secret Avengers, partly because I’ve been fairly ambivalent on my feelings for the title. I knew it was coming to an end, which is why I stuck with it, but my feelings on the title have been somewhat lackluster of late. So why am I even reviewing it? Because it’s the final issue of what has been an on-again-off-again love affair with me. The team has changed a lot since its first issue (as well it should), and although I like Rick Remender’s work on other titles, I really think he went into this with great ideas but then was told “Hey, we’re gonna cancel this title in a few months so wrap it up!” and he was left scrambling. At least, I hope that’s what happened, otherwise this story just had so much going on that it was easy to get lost.
OK, so let’s take a look at who makes up this team in this issue and this most recent story arc:
- Hawkeye – Team leader. Makes perfect sense. His leadership and his Avengers experience make him a perfect fit. Plus, with his choice of weapon and his morals against not killing, he makes the perfect replacement for Captain America as team leader. Now, Hawkeye has no real super powers so when he’s up against some Sentinels, he’s not the most powerful guy you need on your team. Plus, he is slowly being turned into a cybernetic creature (along with the rest of humanity) by a mist containing nanobots so that the electronic species can inherit the Earth. Even while losing that level of control, though, Clint pulls out the moral route – he has a choice to commit mass murder of the electronic species or allow the rest of humanity to suffer. He fights with the concept of genocide until the decision is taken away from him by another.
- Giant-Man – Now, I am trying to remember if this is the Hank Pym we know or not. There were several adventures to parallel worlds in this arc, and I don’t know if it’s the 616 Pym or someone else. If it’s the 616, Remender must hate him. I mean, Hank was given some new life after Secret Invasion and got a clean slate (somewhat), and so he went on to Avengers Academy. But after this arc… Having the Wasp who is part Deathlok tear off his limbs and replace them with machinery? Come on… And then Hank doesn’t even come to the debriefing with Captain America, so maybe it wasn’t this universe’s Hank. Let’s hope not.
- Black Widow – Didn’t do much in this issue. But, apart from Hawk, is the obvious Avenger to be part of a covert ops team.
- Valkyrie – I’ve liked Val since the original Defenders days, and I don’t mind her hookup with another team member in this series at all (I’ll get to him shortly), but her only role in this particular issue was to take out the traitor to the team, Ant-Man. No, not Scott Lang’s Ant-Man, now in FF, but Eric O’Grady. Yeah, I didn’t know who he was either. But evidently he is now “Black Ant”, if he survived Val’s sword being pushed through his chest (which he probably did as a robotic creation and then teleporting away). I only hope this budding romance will continue within the pages of Val’s new Fearless Defenders title as well as in that of her paramour…
- Venom – Yes, Flash Thompson and Valkyrie. He is a warrior who had fallen on the battlefield only to return, and she is a member of the Valkyrior, the Asgardian women who would assist slain warriors to Valhalla (the Asgardian heaven). Venom made sense here – a true warrior who fights for what’s right. Plus, Remender writes his book. Hopefully that connection will bring Flash’s love interest over to that book and we’ll see some crossover action there.
- Beast – The Avengers’ OTHER Hank is also in this arc, albeit not in this issue. As a scientist-slash-mutant-slash-brainy-dude he makes sense in here as well to help solve the problem, but to have one of Marvel’s first mutants in the book and NOT have him up against Sentinels? Yeah. Right.
- Captain Britain – Who says that Avengers have to be based in the US? Remember Lionheart, another Captain Britain, who was a member of the team? CapB does a good job here in being the powerhouse of the team, which the team desperately needed. His power and his experience in universe hopping (thanks to the Captain Britain Corps) made his inclusion necessary.
OK, this is already quite long. But, simply put, I don’t think this story was a great final hurrah for what was a great book, then went through some creative shifts, and although having some decent arcs before this last one Remender wasn’t able to pull off a great win. But the title was being cancelled – it almost seems like it should have a great hurrah…. Except it’s not cancelled, it’s getting another Marvel Now! reboot. Because #1 issues sell better than established titles because new readers want to know when to get on board and a #1 makes sense. (See my thoughts on this elsewhere…) So, although he wrote a very poignant afterward to his run and the fact that he has been doing great things with Uncanny Avengers, it doesn’t help that this book should have ended after the previous arc. Why?
- Beast is still in his “lion” form, not the “monkey” form that he took in All-New X-Men, which had that story arc begin in December.
- Venom is part of this team, which seems (timewise) to overlap with the Minimum Carnage crossover (as well as interfere with his move to Philly in his own book), and he is also a member of Red Hulk’s Thunderbolts. Pretty sure neither Cap nor Hawk would sanction that.
- Black Widow has had her fair sure of rough times over in Winter Soldier, especially with the end of the Brubaker run on that title.
No, for an Avengers-related book, Marvel dropped the ball in terms of coordinating a number of things here. I don’t blame the writer, I don’t blame the artists (who were actually fantastic here including cover artist Art Adams who always blows me away)… No, I blame Marvel who seems to have no clue at times as to what they’re doing and how to handle character continuity. Suffice to say. this was a disappointing ending to what used to be my favorite Avengers title.