twofacedjoker's Secret Avengers: Mission to Mars #1 - Secret Avengers: Mission to Mars review

Avengers in Space Before It Was a Thing

While suffering from some pretty basic flaws, this series does keep my attention and does some interesting things with the situations and characters at hand. The setting was newish for the time in came out, specifically for these characters, and this story arch helps to build to what seems to be a much more interesting one.

Captain America, but in his SHIELD spy outfit, secretly pulls together a team of covert operatives to deal with world-threatening issues before they become world-threatening in lieu of SHIELD no longer existing, thanks to Norman Osbourne. A pretty basic plot right out of the park, but the real draw of the book is the interesting cast. However, this is also the series' greatest weakness; of the 9 characters that make up this group, only four of them feel like they are necessary for the plot, the rest coming off as rather tacked on. Moon Knight in particular has absolutely nothing to contribute, which is a huge shame, considering what a generally unknown and underutilized character he is. Black Widow and Agent Carter seem to be here simply as eye candy, and Valkyrie and War Machine are excuses to have bigger fight scenes. And Ant-Man, while seemingly an important character in the overall scheme of things, and perhaps the only one experiencing any form of character development, is overly obnoxious. Also, there was a bit of confusion for me at first as to which Ant-Man this is, as it obviously isn't Hank Pym. And, on top of there being an overabundance of characters, mostly unnecessary, that results in none of them having any development as a team or individuals, it still baffles me as to why they are all here. Ant-Man and Moon Knight are the only two characters who are shown being recruited for this team, but, to be honest, Moon Knight is handled really poorly here. For someone with multiple personality disorder and who doesn't work well with others, his personality has been stripped away, leaving him feeling dull and barren. I don't buy into him joining this team, and I don't feel like any of his dialogue or actions match his persona. Ant-Man at least has a reason to be here. But, with them being the only people shown to join the team, why is everyone else here? We can probably excuse at least Cap, Carter, and Black Widow, as they are all frequent operatives of SHIELD generally, this being more or less the replacement team for that group, but I think Valkyrie's and Nova's involvement could have definitely been expanded upon. Even Beast and War Machine, who have worked with these people before, deserve some form of background or understanding as to why they joined.

The plot, as I said, is nothing great, and boils down to one character being abnormally and overly stupid and the rest having to deal with it. This again taps into some characters not really acting like themselves, in my opinion, leaving me wanting more from such a character driven series. Beast and Cap are probably the best here, as they are very stand-out people who are clearly acting the way they should, and feel more complex than the others. Everyone else feels like they're one trick ponies, if that, making me wish the author hadn't gone buck-wild with the casting.

Towards the end of the book, however, we have a really interesting and introspective issue about another character (no one from this team), which is surprisingly philosophical and fascinating, leaving me wanting more from that. Sadly, this was clearly a one-shot, although it helps to build up to something that could be very fun to read.

The art is fairly mixed, generally residing in what you would expect. It's good, but nothing special. The colors are generally darker here, and, besides some cool-ish paneling choices, there's nothing incredible about it, getting the job done. The best part would probably be the covers, which are very striking, and often pay homage to almost all of the characters, which is a tough thing to do, considering all of them.

This is an average adventure story that relies on its cast to sell the book; think of it more as the comic book equivalent to Tropic Thunder than Expendables, though, as there is some good fun to be had here. Just don't expect anything novel or great.

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