By Jonathan Hickman (Writer), Alessandro Vitti (Artist), and Sunny Gho of IFS (Colors)

Some Thoughts Before The Review: While it’s slightly sidetracked the main Secret Warriors plot, I’ve been enjoying “God of Fear, God of War” quite a bit. The dynamic between Ares and Phobos has been so well written that both characters have climbed up a few spots on my list of favorite Marvel characters.

The Story: H.A.M.M.E.R. and the Dark Avengers launch a strike on one of Fury’s bases. The kids fight back with all they’ve got as the base’s self-destruction sequence counts down. Meanwhile, Nick Fury and John Garrett continue the investigation that leads to the events that take place in Dark Reign: The List – Secret Warriors.

What’s Good: For as much as I like Nick Fury and the way Jonathan Hickman writes the character, I’ve been waiting for kids to finally take front and center in Secret Warriors. In Secret Warriors #9, the kids finally get another chance to shine and that’s really the issue’s greatest strength. Fury wouldn’t have picked the team members if they weren’t capable to taking the fight to the bad guys, but until now, few issues of Secret Warriors have shown exactly why Fury chose the kids that he did. Seeing the Warriors stand tall against the Dark Avengers is a real treat that goes a long way towards establishing and legitimizing Hickman’s team in the Marvel Universe. From Yo-Yo’s epic return to Edin Fesi’s explanation of the logic behind his powers, it’s clear that, as far as bringing the pain is concerned, the Warriors have serious legs as a team for the future.

I continue to find myself impressed by Jonathan Hickman’s character work. He never allows the reader to forget that the Warriors are, for the most part, just kids helping to fight the good fight. From the way the team members interact with each other to the individual personalities that are starting to form, Hickman does a fine job of keeping the series grounded and defined by the characters.

Artist Alessandro Vitti handles all the action in Secret Warriors #9 really well. It’s chaotic and crazy, yet executed in a way that’s easy to follow and a blast to look at. On nearly every page of action something really cool happens. My favorite thing, Yo-Yo going all “Ed Norton in Fight Club” on Hawkeye/Bullseye.

What’s Not So Good: Since I already knew how Nick Fury’s part of the story ended thanks to Marvel’s odd releasing schedule for The List, his entire segment felt painfully tacked on. I suppose it was a necessary part of the story, but knowing how it ended left the scene completely devoid of surprise or tension. More Hickman-written Nick Fury is always a good thing, but I wish I had yet to read The List – Secret Warriors.

Conclusion: Secret Warriors #9 is loaded with action and makes the team really look like a force to be reckoned with. Be sure to pick it up.

Grade: B+

-Kyle Posluszny