In May of 2010, Secret Avengers #1 debuted to a flurry of wild acclaim, all but assuring readers that the Ed Brubaker-penned series to come would be chock full of high level intrigue and a pitch perfect team dynamic. Less than a year later, Brubaker’s final issue on the title is essentially a Steve Rogers solo adventure, serving up “revelations” about the series’ mysteries that nearly everyone with half a brain would have assumed anyway. From those lofty hopes at the outset, the trajectory on this book has been pointed nowhere but down.
Remember all the hoopla last year surrounding the unveiling of the team’s roster? Those characters may as well have remained silhouettes for as much as they’ve been utilized down the stretch. The latter half of Bru’s run has been largely focused upon the aforementioned Rogers and a small group of guest stars as they chase down a shadowy conspiracy that leaves no cliché unturned. Good guys presumed dead who later turn up alive and evil? Check. Nazis and the occult? Secret Avengers has ‘em.
Credit Brubaker’s stellar reputation and the fantastic work he did on the first couple issues if you’ve suffered through the subsequent mediocrity all the way up to this point. An absolute bang-up, series-saving conclusion would have been great, but it could hardly have been expected. Month after month, Secret Avengers has been nothing more than an adequately told tale, never quite managing to surprise or enthrall the way a four-dollar comic should. Even last issue’s moderately exciting cliffhanger is quickly defused here, making way for another round of run-of-the-mill.
Without a doubt, Secret Avengers’ first year belongs in the disappointment column. Why then, do I write this review with an unparalleled anticipation for this book’s future? It certainly isn’t due to Brubaker’s closing scene, though the intention there is clearly to titillate. It is, instead, all thanks to the fact that Nick Spencer takes over as writer with the next issue, and he has yet to turn in a comics script that was anything short of awesome. (Okay, Shuddertown, but still.)
Even better, his first issue, the promotionally numbered 12.1, also hit stands this week. I think I’m gonna go read that now.