Nick Spencer keeps things low-key in this issue of Secret Avengers, showing us Daisy Johnson and Maria Hill in happier times a month ago lamenting the bureaucracy and paper-pushing nature of S.H.I.E.L.D., as well as discussing the controversial (even by Marvel U standards) mind-wiping program to be installed in their agents. Flash forward to the present where Daisy has managed to convince Eden into teleporting her to a machine that will, at least, help equalize things in her estimation. Along the way, she tracks down not one but TWO amazingly unlikely allies.
Butch Guice returns to pencils and inks and, along with finally giving Daisy a truly unique look to separate her from Hill (Daisy’s the one with the extremely asymmetrical haircut!) his style is absolutely perfect for this very staid, mellow issue. There’s next to no action here, it’s almost all dialog and secrecy, which is pretty amazing for a book that has the name Avengers on the cover to accomplish. Matthew Wilson is on colors, and his palette ranges from muddy to dark to subtly murky. All of which, of course, work perfectly for the title. This isn’t a monochromatic book by any stretch, but all of the colors have a quality of having been washed out and, while they are absolutely never dull, they strike the tone of things being very desperate and exhausted. Colors are contrasted beautifully, though, and each panel is a sight to behold, telling its own mini-story in the context of the larger tale.
I would be hard-pressed to tell you exactly what happens in this issue. I’ve been a huge fan of this book since the start, and much like the first issue, this is redeemed by an absolutely stellar reveal at the end. That’s not to say the rest of the book is BAD, far from it, but it’s very muddled and confused, with some pacing issues that make it hard to figure out exactly when everything is happening. In a book that leans THIS hard on plot and story, as well as character interactions, this could be extremely problematic, but it’s also a book with a reputation of explaining a lot of things after the fact, and the issue is still extremely entertaining on its own merits. That didn’t stop my head from occasionally tilting to one side in abject confusion.
Secret Avengers remains an entertaining book with a very different story to tell, and for that reason alone (well that and the 8 great previous issues), I’m willing to go along on this journey, at least for a little while. Not everything in this issue makes sense, but there are a couple of amazing, totally earned reveals that get me very, very hyped for what this series does next, and sometimes a filler issue is just a filler issue, even if it IS an entertaining one. This would also be a pretty great jumping on point as it explains a lot of the bigger concepts this book deals with as well as recapping some of its history, so if you’ve been meaning to check it out, by all means do so!