On the surface, the concept is quite simple: S.H.I.E.L.D. allegedly wants to create their own special operations team and they're reaching out to various characters to fill the roster -- it's just a total coincidence many are from the movies, too. But, like any good spy book, there's always ulterior motives -- and thankfully, this series has a few decent ones.
For the most part, I enjoyed Nick Spencer's script. Matt Fraction is winning our hearts over in HAWKEYE, but Spencer manages to craft a likable and highly cheerful version of Clint. His lighthearted nature and enthusiasm was the highlight for me, especially when he manages to turn a conversation about Nick Fury Jr. into one about James Bond. Bringing movie Nick Fury into the 616 universe definitely felt like a ham-fisted decision so it's nice to see Clint crack a joke or two about how silly it is. The remark shutting him down absolutely feels like Marvel's official response on the subject, too ("get over it"). Natasha's role felt very limited compared to Clint's, but hopefully she'll get more focus down the road.
As for the overall narrative, it's an amusing tale but really impresses with the final moments. The villain isn't inspired at all, but for what it's worth, he ultimately provided what was needed for this "first mission" and gave the art team (Luke Ross / Matthew Wilson) a chance to shine. From the bright symbols on the bad guy's forehead to the dark creature slithering into Clint's nose, the moments with dark magic looked solid and stood out from the rest of the panels.
The negative reaction from Hawkeye is very awkward. He's clearly just standing there shaking his fists at Coulson, but the art makes it appear as though he's lunging at him. And why didn't we receive any kind of outrage from Natasha -- the character who moments ago blatantly expressed how much she was against this specific method they've now used?
The shady and untrustworthy government organization is something we've seen a gazillion times before, so hopefully this series manages to avoid several of those tropes. Additionally, there were a few segments which felt as though they lingered on a bit too long and hindered the issue's pacing.While I do love me some Agent Phil Coulson, he unfortunately doesn't have the same level of charisma without Clark Gregg. I hope this is something that'll improve as the story progresses.
Odds are you won't fall in love with Marvel's latest secret tale, but there's likely enough here to get hold of your curiosity. There's certainly a fair amount of potential -- the basics for this mystery have been set up and Spencer crafts some very enjoyable dialogue from Clint. The ongoing twist with their memory has a lot of promise, too. It goes without saying that I recommend giving this an honest chance if you happen to be a fan of the spy genre, S.H.I.E.L.D, Hawkeye or Black Widow. Plus, Taskmaster's in the next issue and that alone assures I'll pick it up.