Thursday, January 26, 2012

Comic of the Week - Shhhhh Don't Tell Anyone

About a year ago, I started reading Uncanny X-Force because I'd read good reviews about it. Those reviews quickly turned into my reviews as I was totally sucked in by what Rick Remender was doing. The series managed to bring me back into the world of the X-Men. Now, Remender is going to be on Secret Avengers, and this week brought us #21.1, as a sort of set up/jumping on point for the series. I had to see if this would do for Avengers what X-Force did for X-Men, so I picked it up. The similarities in concept between X-Force and Secret Avengers are a good sign that this will work for me. Like Wolverine's hit squad, the Secret Avengers (as the name bluntly states) are a covert team. Their mission is simply stated on the first page: "Run the mission. Don't get seen. Save the world." Unlike X-Force, though, this team does not kill targets. Instead, it's heavy on the covert spy action.

For all intents and purposes, I am a new reader when it comes to the Avengers side of Marvel. I've read some issues and minis here and there, back during Civil War, Secret Invasion and Dark Reign, but after a while it just seemed like there were too many Avengers teams and everyone was an Avenger. It just never clicked with me. So, coming in to this issue, the question is whether or not the .1 did what it was supposed to do and make it new reader friendly. My answer is yes and no. I never felt lost as to what was going on. Then again, I'm not coming in completely fresh. I know who Hawkeye and Captain America are and have a basic grasp of their relationships, so when Cap pushes Hawkeye by challenging his motivations, I understood where it was coming from. But, as someone who hasn't necessarily been invested in these characters, I'm not sure the surrogate father and son dynamic between them had as much impact on me. And maybe that's OK, since this is just an introduction to the series, but I wonder if someone coming in with no knowledge of the characters at all, would find anything to grab onto.

Where I think the series grabs me, for at least the next issue, is in the promise of more covert action. It's a little ridiculous to watch Captain America and Hawkeye swinging over (incredibly high) rooftops of a country run by criminals, in costume, then dive onto a balcony, unseen, while activating holographic tuxedos, and just get handed drinks as if they had been there all along, but that's also pretty awesome. A huge part of what made that work is Patrick Zircher's art. I am not familiar with his work, but I like what I saw in this issue. Every sequence made sense, no matter how insane. His use of perspective really gave me a sense of altitude in the opening scenes, leaving me with a real feeling of these character's skill and lack of fear as they deftly jump around on skyscrapers. There was a small moment, when they change into the tuxes that I wasn't sure who was who, but I quickly realized it was my own lack of familiarity with the characters and was able to figure it out right away.

All in all, I want to see what Remender does with the next issue. In X-Force, he has so far given us one epic story that built from the very first issue. Will he go for a long form arc here as well? Or will it be more episodic? With the Avengers v. X-Men event coming, I wonder if the two teams will face off. And who would win that face off? My money's on X-Force, but at this point, I don't even who else is on the Secret Avengers, so I'll just have to wait and see.

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