Secret Avengers 21.1 is an important .1 issue for several reasons. Its the first issue with writer Rick Remender at the helm, an event I’ve personally been looking forward to since the announcement was made at NYCC at Marvel’s Avengers Panel. Rick Remender has always,  in my mind, seemed like the natural choice to write about Captain America‘s Black Ops Team. Those of you not familiar with Remender’s previous or other current projects may ask why I would pick Remender for this particular book. Remender started his time with Marvel writing The Punisher, the original violent, black ops character. After his stint on the Punisher, Remender then went on to pen Marvel’s Uncanny X-Force, a black ops book whose first arc revolved around executing a child (of course that child would have grown into Apocalypse but the ethics of shooting a child for something they will do in the future are always questionable at best). Lastly, about a year ago, Remender picked up writing duties on yet another black ops Marvel title: Venom.

The Punisher? X-Force? Venom? Until now, Secret Avengers was the only Black Ops title Remender didn’t have his name on! The only issue I had with the idea of Remender writing about Captain America’s black ops squad was the fact that Captain America didn’t fit Remender’s style. Captain America couldn’t fit into his typical, exceedingly violent style which brings me to reason number 2 21.1 is an important issue….

Captain America gets written out! That’s right, Remender hasn’t even written a full numbered issue and he has already begun to make HUGE changes to accommodate his style. The issue follows Captain America and Hawkeye as they travel through Bagalia, a horrendous red light nation, in an effort to save a U.S. senator from an assassination attempt. As the issue progresses it becomes clear that there was not an assassination planned on a senator and it was instead a test to see if Hawkeye was ready to take over the Secret Avengers, a test he seemingly fails until the third notable thing of the issue happens…..

The Masters of Evil return! OK, so its an all new Masters of Evil, but its still a significant group of villains. The new Masters of Evil, assembled by the Shadow Council (see early Secret Avengers for more detail on Max Fury and The Shadow Council), consists of Whiplash, Princess Python and Vengeance. While it is likely there are other members of the newly reformed team of super villains, they haven’t been revealed yet. The Masters of Evil show up just after an argument between Cap and Clint, take Cap off guard and capture him. While the Masters attempt to start a smear campaign on Captain America, Hawkeye shows up and saves the day. Needless to say saving Captain America did nothing if not prove his ability to handle black ops work.

Hawkeye as a character seems to fit Remender’s style far better then Captain America ever could have. As a former criminal, it is far easier to see Hawkeye involved in violent illegal black ops work then the irreproachable Captain America. Along with the
mentally unstable Moon Knight, super spy Black Widow, military man War Machine, warrior woman Valkerie and Ant Man who stole his power set, Hawkeye seems to fit in far better then Cap could have. I personally look forward to seeing what Remender has in store for such a diverse and morally flexible group of people.