premier edition hardback graphic novel
Collects Secret Avengers #6-12
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Art: Mike Deodato and Will Conrad
Published by Marvel Worldwide
Review by Stewart Loud
With Steve Rogers proudly packing what appears to be a colonial marines pulse rifle on the front cover, you know you’re gonna be in for an exciting ride in volume 2 of Marvel’s comic following the covert Avengers world police style strike team. Things certainly do heat up in these issues as Steve’s team travel to Hong Kong and China in their mission to uncover more about the secret but powerful organisation known as the Shadow Council, led by the Enigmatic Thorndrake and Nick Fury’s doppelganger, Max Fury. Time for some people to get kicked in the mouth!
Enlisting the help of The Prince Of Orphans and Shang-Chi, master of kung fu, the Avengers journey to the far east where they uncover a plot by the Shadow Council to resurrect Shang-Chi’s father. What starts as a fairly straight forward case of them having to beat their way through dozens of heavily armed but useless ninjas, soon turns into a great story full of edge of your seat “Hurry you guys!” moments and interesting twists and turns in the plot.
Steve’s old world war 2 comrade in arms and all round nut case, John Steele the first super soldier, shows up and more is discovered about him and the Shadow Council’s history and their links to Nazis, aliens and weird demonic rituals in a brilliant and in places a little unsettling flashback to one of Steve and John’s WW2 missions which as per usual with Marvel raises as many questions as it answers.
The story is all brilliantly supported by the impressive artwork. Wonderful shadows, lighting and scenery, detailed, dynamic characters, and plenty of crunchy looking action scenes of people getting kicked in the face by muscular legs with enormous, chunky combat booted feet on the end of them.
It does suffer a little bit early on from scenes where the Avengers manage to charge across open ground at groups of supposedly well trained men with guns and beat them all up without getting shot or the same groups of men running towards Steve, Black Widow and co’ without attempting to fire their guns until they’re in face punching range but the way the action scenes are detailed and directed does improve massively as the story progresses.
I enjoyed the first 5 issues of this series and these issues are even better. No Nova any more but still plenty of other great characters on the team (Steve, Beast, Antman, War Machine, Moon Knight, Black Widow and Valkyrie). Issue 12 is the final issue before the beginning of Marvel’s latest big event, Fear Itself.