Slow burner (mild spoilers)
Looking for action? Then better give this one a miss. Try Hulk or Hercules instead. But if intrigue and mystery are your thing, then this comic delivers in spades. It's also a vital part of a larger canvas being painted by Bendis. If you want to know what Nick Fury did following Secret War and how his temporary disppearance ties into the current Skrull invasion, then this book tells that story. There's a lovely Jason Bourne/James Bond vibe going on here, helped by Alex Maleev's dark moody art and the wonderful muted colours of Matt Hollingsworth (I particularly love his use of sunburnt orange here). A perfect match with Bendis' spy-novel tone. For a long-time reader like myself, this is a very welcome touch. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby revamped WWII-veteran Nick Fury as a secret agent in Strange Tales #135 on the back of James Bond's popularity in the 60s, and Jim Steranko cranked up the Bond element to an all-time high with his subsequent stellar run. Thus Bendis nods reverently to Nick Fury's secret agent legacy while putting his own inimitable stamp on the proceedings. The stand-out moment for me is a wonderful and witty exchange between Nick Fury and Maria Hill. Fantastic dialogue bringing out the full and distinct flavours of each character. There's also a wonderful double-page splash at the end with photographs of Marvel heroes' faces, some ringed in blue and some in red. What that means is unclear. What it does is stoke the reader's desire to witness the storm ahead. I loved this issue, but it's clear that it's going to polarise the readership. Reviews across various comic sites confirm this. It's a love it or loathe it thing. Me? I'm lovin' it.