By Brian Michael Bendis (Story), Jonathan Hickman (Story & Script), Stefano Caselli (Art), and Daniele Rudoni (Color Art)

Some Thoughts Before The Review: To simply say that I was looking forward to the launch of Secret Warriors would not do my anticipation for the series justice. A quick look through the “Best of ’08” feature will reveal that Secret Warriors is being worked on by what pretty much amounts to my personal creative dream team of sorts. And let’s not forget that Nick Fury is one of the main characters… Always a good thing. So since I didn’t review the first two issues, let me just say that I’m loving the series so far and can’t wait to read more.

The Story: The team’s assignment is to head to a shadow S.H.I.E.L.D. psi-agent processing and quarantine facility to make sure Hydra doesn’t get any hands on the vital assets kept there. Unfortunately for Fury’s “Caterpillar” team, the Hydra group targeting the S.H.I.E.L.D. building happens to include the recently resurrected Gorgon. Meanwhile, Nick Fury takes some time out in order to have dinner with an old flame.

What’s Good: Intensity. Only a few issues in and I can comfortably say that nearly every Secret Warriors panel is loaded with it. From the tight writing to the moody, kinetic artwork, no other series brings intensity to the reader so damn effectively. And Secret Warriors #3 may be the best issue yet.
Jonathan Hickman’s slick script is packed with sharp dialogue and great character work. It really is that good. I truly believe you are going to have a tough time finding a more gripping read this April. A particular scene worth noting is the chilling moment between Phobos and Gorgon.  The scene really drives home the type of villains the Secret Warriors are facing. In addition, the dinner scene featuring Nick Fury is prime example of what makes him such a memorable character.
As for the artwork, Stefano Caselli and Daniele Rudoni absolutely knock it out of the park for the most part. The characters are full of emotion and the action absolutely jumps off the page. I do have one complaint though…

What’s Not So Good: If Secret Warriors #3 has any flaws, they have more to do with something the creative team has to overcome as opposed to anything that’s wrong with the individual issue.  For example, since Fury’s team is made up mostly of a group of unknowns, the characters carry around a bit of baggage.
Furthermore, I have found that the battle scenes tend to be a bit confusing, as discerning powers and keeping up with the frantic pace set by Caselli’s artwork can occasionally be a bit frustrating.  In Secret Warriors #3, I definitely found myself trying to decipher an action panel or two.   Also, Phobos, Quake (Daisy), and Hellfire (J.T.) are really the only three team members I feel I know anything about. I thought by now I’d have a better grip on the team as a whole. A small complaint considering how great most of the cast is, but worth mentioning regardless. I’m sure everyone will be fleshed out soon enough, but as of now I can’t help but feel as though some of the character development is a bit lacking.

Conclusion: I highly recommend Secret Warriors #3. And while I wish a few of the growing pains would go away, they do little to detract from the quality of the issue. In this reviewer’s opinion, if you aren’t reading Secret Warriors, you’re missing out on a potential “series of the year” candidate.

Grade:  A-

-Kyle Posluszny