Book the guest-star. Nail the marketing. Save your sales. With “Secret Avengers” #7, Ales Kot and Mihcael Walsh introduce the Merc with a Mouth to their island of misfit spies.
Written by Ales Kot
Illustrated by Michael Walsh
• “EXECUTIVE DECISION”
• DEADPOOL DEADPOOL DEADPOOL DEADPOOL DEADPOOL! WE HEARD THAT DEADPOOL RAISES SALES SO WE’RE DOING THIS EARLY ON.
• JUST KIDDING. ALL ABOUT THE ART. YOU’RE GOING TO PAY FOR THIS, RIGHT?
• THE NOOSE: TIGHTENS! SECRET AVENGERS: HUNTED! MARIA HILL: INVESTIGATING! ALSO DEADPOOL!
“Secret Avengers” has been one of Marvel’s funnest titles as of late. Why wouldn’t it be? Hawkguy’s on the team, MODOK’s a secret secret Avengers, Jacques Derrida is a recurring villain. It’s a grand time for all. Much like the early issues of “Hawkguy” (a series that Kot even namedrops as an inspiration here), “Secret Avengers” has long seemed like an opportunity for wacky characters to namedrop obscure writers and pull off stylish stunts without having to worry about the concerns of the rest of the Marvel Universe. Like many team books it’s a comfortable padded cell where characters escape the constraints of their solo series’. Black Widow hardly has to worry about her ledger during bullet train chases with Lady Bullseye, Spider-Woman’s Skrull-ridden angst is replaced by an almost unforeseen naivety while Hawkeye’s concerns over apartment buildings overrun by track-suit mobsters mean nothing compared to battles with The Fury or MODOK’s craziest new invention.
Yet, even though we’ve been having a barrel of laughs with “Secret Avengers”, there’s been an unmistakable dark side present as Maria Hill has ordered drone strikes on the parents of her would-be assassin and Nick Fury’s been scarred by the acid container hidden in a colleague’s locker. The truth in “Secret Avengers” is not a prize won easily, as it’s guarded by a seemingly unknowable force, one that scarred Nick Fury. There’ve been ways of coping with it from Maria Hill actively fighting against gaining any answers in favor of vengeance or Phil Coulson hiding to find the truth on his own, but overall the dangerous force in “Secret Avengers” has been unknowable, an unspeakable name that no one could possibly discover.
That’s why, for issue #7, Ales Kot and Michael Walsh called in the one person with experience in breaking through slapstick sugar-coated worlds to find the awful horror hidden in plain sight: Deadpool. He also boosts sales but whatever. The breaking through the wall of lies is arguably as important.
Walsh’s Deadpool is quite possibly the most adorable version of Wade Wilson ever, with a nearly always invisible smile jutting out from a sock mask that doesn’t fit quite just right. He’s an immediately likable guide to Hawkeye, whom he tries to help through the “big story” they’re both trapped in, even with interference both subtle and direct from the Kot and Walsh themselves. Deadpool’s cuteness even extends to some of his montages with Barton, and definitely a couple of the dairy-based gags. These scenes serve as a bright contrast to some of the more noir-infleunced moments on the Helicarrier in a way that’s very similar to the tone of the current Deadpool series, where his zany adventures are offset by those around him trying to solve the deadlier mysteries at hand. While Deadpool is trying to metasplain what’s going on to Hawkeye before having to give up and just drop clues (his minions’ names are ridiculously important), more somber scenes with Maria Hill or Coulson strike us in the face with the reminder that something is dangerously wrong with the new Secret Avengers team.
That’s not to say the non-Deadpool/Hawkeye scenes are entirely grim affairs. Kot brings his trademark sense of quirky dialogue as deadly serious moments for undercover agents are often broken up by some of Walsh’s more drastic disguises. I wouldn’t say “Secret Avengers” #7 has grown up in any way that suggests it’s shed everything that’s made it work. Instead, the level of discourse has been escalated in a way that subtly discusses the nature of both team comic books and the medium as a whole; the curtain has been pulled up but only slightly. Still, on this stage it’s possible to make out the words of the threat’s name. It may not be a full answer, but it may be the spark of inspiration it takes for several characters to descend the spiral staircase (nicely designed by Walsh) and face the consequences of the truth they’re meant to find.Continued below
A while ago, in our review of the first issue, we compared “Secret Avengers” to a “Hawkeye Team-Up” book, one that followed the recent tradition of experimentally designed superhero titles that differed greatly from their mainstream counterparts. In many ways, the series has succeeded admirably with some fantastic art and clever writing in a similar vein, but unlike “Hawkeye” or “the Superior Foes of Spider-Man”, the Secret Avengers aren’t exactly the sort of team that lends themselves to being goofy underdogs. Here, the Secret Avengers are soldiers; they’re assassins, they’re politicians. There’s a fundamental difference between Hawkguy the bro and Hawkeye the secret agent and “Secret Avengers” seems like its beginning to walk the line between quirky and serious to take an in-depth look at the way perception from title-to-title can affect our idea of superheroes from one title to the next instead of viewing each title as a separate planet for multiple versions of the same character with different personalities to work out of.
Of course, the fun in this issue could always be just that: fun. And if so, great on Kot and Walsh. The two of them craft a thrilling comic book which is worth the price of admission alone. And with Deadpool on the team, that zaniness has only been increased tenfold, as has the potential for analysis now that our biggest hints are starting to flow in.
Final Verdict: 8.6 – An exhilarating and often hilarious comic that doesn’t fail to disappoint. Best of all, it’s one of those blockbusters that leaves plenty of room open for conversations.