Well, would you look at that... an interesting story where A.I.M. doesn't feel campy and actually comes off as formidable! Nick Spencer is doing an awesome job setting up the book's first big plot. The first issue put the spotlight on Hawkeye and Black Widow (well, more so Hawkeye). Now, we get a key focus on the organization of evil scientists and what they have in store for our heroes (was that Gorgon?!). The result definitely has my interest piqued and there's a very strong cliffhanger on the final page. Spencer also does a fine job with the dialogue. A few out of character moments aside, it's widely amusing and the pace never really falters.
I'm really digging the dynamic visuals by Luke Ross and Matthew Wilson. I particularly love the use of blurring as a specific character wakes up from being knocked out. There's a seriously intense use of colors here, too. High tech A.I.M facilities are lit up by glowing equipment, and there's some rich use of red when Fury visits Taskmaster and Crossfire. It's impressive how many villains eventually fill the panels, but the overabundant number of characters takes a toll on the coloring, too. Many mesh together with similar colors, but I suppose that's to be expected when there's so many bodies filling the space.
Unfortunately, Taskmaster feels out-of-character. He's incredibly lighthearted and reads like a less zany version of Deadpool. This of course isn't a terribly bad thing, but it is jarring if you've been following the villain. Additionally, Constrictor said he couldn't wait to hurt him, yet -- if my memory serves me right -- they were very close friends when they parted ways back in AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE. It was odd seeing Frank have such a strong desire to harm him, especially after they were buddies. If it's because of the events in the last SECRET AVENGERS title, then I'm not sure why he'd hold a grudge seeing as it was ultimately Max Fury who duped him.
I love obscure villains, but there's a massive action sequence that was a bit too silly for my taste. We're talking about a huge variety of villains (some lame, some rather powerful) being held off by Fury using a basic firearm. They had him completely surrounded, so I find it a little difficult to suspend my disbelief in moments like that. Not to mention he was using his arm just fine after having a bullet rip into his shoulder, but hey, Punisher has pulled off more ridiculous things, right?
Nick Spencer's SECRET AVENGERS is off to a very solid start. While I'm not the biggest fan of seeing a very different take on Taskmater, I'm just happy to see the character is getting some focus. He's bringing a more lighthearted tone to the table, and with the seemingly bleak things to come in this title, that can absolutely be a good thing. Also, with the way Spencer writers Clint Barton, I really, really, reaaaally hope there's some strong interactions between these two down the road. Give this book an honest shot and I think it'll definitely clench your attention.