Freshly finished with the “Infinity” tie-ins, “Secret Avengers” kicks off a new story-arc while bringing on rising star Ales Kot and the fantastic Butch Guice. Read on for our review!
Written by Nick Spencer and Ales Kot
Illustrated by Butch Guice
HOW TO MAIM A MOCKINGBIRD, Part One
• Can Mockingbird escape before the High Council of A.I.M. discovers her true identity?
• Maria Hill gets a mind-bending offer from a rogue A.I.M. operative. And you probably know him. It’s REDACTED.
• Hawkeye, Black Widow and Fury plumb the “depths” of A.I.M.
There are roughly three ways to convince me your comic book is great. The first two involve genuine quality and the third would be a spoiler for the last page of “Secret Avengers” #12 that I’d hate to ruin for anyone, it can be safely said that the team of Nick Spencer, Ales Kot, and Butch Guice delivered the writing and art to take “Secret Avengers” from an auxiliary title to something you should definitely keep on your radar.
Following on from the AIM Island plotline that Spencer had previously been working on and expands it further. Before “Infinity” came in and turned everything into a tie-in, Mockingbird was stuck on AIM Island in deep cover with amnesia. This great premise is follow through both in execution and in title. (“To MA.I.M. A Mocking Bird.” Don’t tell me that’s not a wonderful pun.) Mockingbird’s attempts to evade detection are as funny as they are thrilling and the panel depicting her attempting to recall her memory is drawn excellently by Guice who has unjustly not been drawing this book from the start.
Really, Guice’s gritty style fits SHIELD’s Black Ops Avengers Unit perfectly. The aesthetic that worked so well in “Winter Soldier” translates beautifull here and the script gives Guice plenty of opportunities to show off his talent, especially with the last page’s surprise appearance. Plus, his close-ups are always on point and make his characters’ acting more genuine, be it Maria Hill staring down Phil Coulson or Surpise Guest #2 giving Hawkguy the stinkeye, though I’m not sure if its for the former infiltrating their secret base or Hawkguy’s terrible terrible haircut. Aside from Barton’s horrendous bowl/buzzcut, Guice still depicts a wide array of locations from the SHIELD Helicarrier, to AIM Island, to said military base with ease and truly sets this title apart from other books on the Marvel line. Thanks to Guice, “Secret Avengers” is kept from being a book about Marvel heroes who do espionage, it’s about espionage in the Marvel Universe at large.
Of course, credit can’t be held from the writers, Spencer and Kot, the latter of whom really brought his touch to the series. While the plot is still a resolution of Spencer’s ongoing plot, Kot’s influence is definitely felt here. Like I said, it’s an espionage title set in the Marvel Universe and with Kot creating what is probably going to be the greatest espionage title ever with “Zero” it’s no surprise that he’s a natural fit for this title. With Spencer, Kot crafts a plot that brings some interesting new ideas to AIM while nailing the characterization of the typical AIM Agent. Really, everyone’s characterization and dialogue is in top form here. Most characters get a great one-liner from Taskmaster to Maria Hill to Nick Fury. That’s right, this might be the book that convinces me that Marcus Johnson is worthy of the Nick Fury mantle without adding a Jr. to his name. That’s not to say the great character moments are relegated to just dialogue. I’m serious about that last page. It’s probably gonna change your life.
So even though this is by all accounts a great Marvel comic, I can’t but feel that it’s being restrained a little bit. Kot’s work on “Zero” has shown that if anyone’s going to nail a story about what happens when superheroes meet the military-industrial complex, it’ll be him. That’s not to say he’s been brought down by Spencer or anything, not only is this still Spencer’s story for the most part but the man’s a talented writer. If anything, the “Kot Spark” that’s inflamed his other works isn’t truly present here. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad comic, it’s truly one of my favorites of the week, but it’s more like Andy Kaufman on Taxi. He’s still killing it, but this isn’t where he’s showing off his true work, not yet at least. “Secret Avengers” #12 shows that the series definitely has the potential to go from really good to one of the top-tier Marvel titles and in all honesty it’s probably for the best that Kot doesn’t just make a “Zero”-lite though that can only really be determined when the series is relaunched with him. For now, “Secret Avengers” is a promising start to the end of Nick Spencer’s run on the title with the help of two other equally talented creators.Continued below
Final Verdict: 8.3 – Buy!