The Secret Avengers are bedeviled by an unholy secret society whose appearance may herald the resurrection of Shang-Chi's villainous father.
I've been following Deodato since the mid 90s and it's been a treat to see how his art's evolved into such a lush, norish direction that gives even the most fantastical subjects a cold-as-steel reality. It's that sense of reality that I should harp on, as Brubaker gives all the dialog a terseness that gives this book a "darker Avengers" feel; even if the plotting doesn't necessarily deliver on that (more on that below.)
I'm still not sure if this title's living up to its premise of this team being the Avengers' covert ops branch. So far, they've been largely dealing with outlandish threats. Now, it's Shang-Chi's mystic foes instead of the outerspace menace they just dealt with. That's not strictly a problem, but the lack of clear focus for the team's mission is getting a little in the way of my enjoyment.
The Verdict - 3.5/5
We're experiencing the era of the Avengers, now - - a reign as powerful as the X-Men's was in the 90s. While I have some issues with how this differs from all the other titles under the "A" banner, it's still a sharp book, and I suppose my criticism doesn't hold as much ground when I consider how good X-Factor was when it started (even though it was basically "X-Men with other characters" then.)