Secret Avengers #6 (Marvel)

Rating: 4/5 – S.H.I.E.L.D & a grittier Avengers team

Secret Avengers is a smartly written book with elements of action, espionage and superheroes all mixed in.  It does this with a cast obviously influenced by the Avengers movie; Hawkeye, Black Widow, Fury and even Agent Coulson.  Because of the cast involved, you can see why it would take on the more espionage feel.  The tone and cast work together to create an entertaining book that dives into the more black ops and secret side of Shield, and presents a darker and grittier version of the Avengers.

Issue 6 keeps the storyline of previous issues going as the Secret Avengers team infiltrates A.I.M. Island to assassinate the A.I.M. Scientist Supreme, who along with villain Mentallo have hijacked a fleet of Iron Patriots to attack and kill U.S. civilians.  What adds to the black ops tone and feel mentioned above is that this mission is “off-record” since A.I.M. Island has now become part of the United Nations.  Because of the off-record nature, you can’t use Avengers like Iron Man or Captain America.  This allows us to see characters that you think wouldn’t be able to carry a book on their own, be able do so when portrayed in the right enviroment.  Maria Hill stands out as one of these characters.  Although she’s always been a supporting character in previous Avengers titles, she can take center stage in a book like this.  She’s smartly depicted by writer Nick Spencer, who’s name is all over the current slate of Avengers books.

Throw in characters such as War Machine, Mockingbird and personal favorite Taskmaster, you get a team that’s new and different than typical Avenger lineups.  Spencer takes the time to focus less on characters in action and more on these character’s motivation.  Seeing Director Hill trying to unseat the current head of Shield, Daisy Johnson, is just as exciting as the fight between double agent Taskmaster and Mockingbird.  This book balances both types of conflicts with the same level of thrill.

This is not a book though that’s easy to follow for readers either not familiar with this book, or for readers who have not been following the past couple years of Avengers and Shield continuity.  Although all readers need to start somewhere, because of the lack of action and more of the character pieces involved, without knowing their history it could be a tough issue to follow.  For those that do though, like Avengers A.I., this is not your typical Avengers book.  It’s a book about the Avengers filtered though the black ops and bureaucratic side of Shield which is all the more reason to give it a try.

Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas – Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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