by Jonathan Hickman (writer), Alessandro Vitti (art), IFS (colors), and Dave Lanphear (letters)

The Story: 27 issues have led to this, the final issue of Secret Warriors.  Who’s left standing?

What’s Good: As a final issue that came over 30 issues to soon, Hickman plays this one well.  There aren’t any other slam-bang events of climactic moments in this final outing.  Indeed, it’s important to recall that this was actually a “bonus issue,” and it certainly feels that way.  This functions as a sort of epilogue to Secret Warriors, and I’m really happy that it is, as were Secret Warriors to have ended last month, it would have been a disservice to the series.

In fact, this issue made me all the grumpier about Secret Warriors abbreviated run and consequently overly compressed story.  The series would have been a lot better served if it had more issues like this one.  You get strong character moments and time for the characters to reflect on and soak in recent events.  Instead of crazily rushing through big events, here we have characters able to outline the gravity of everything that’s happened.

The end result is that in retrospect, Secret Warriors ends up feeling less haphazard than it often was.  This epilogue manages to cast the series in better light, one that almost lured me into re-reading the entire run to see if it holds together better in such a format.  Hickman manages to retroactively inject more emotion into his story and its characters than we’ve often gotten.  It’s unfortunate, but in this epilogue, Secret Warriors is allowed to truly breathe for the first time in a while, and it’s elegant and affecting.

There’s plenty of great character dynamics here.  Fury and Rogers’ post-game dialogue in a cemetary felt quietly epic, a real meeting between two badasses, talking about matters in a slightly veiled way in a conversation laden with meaning.  Then there’s the meeting between Nick and the Contessa, which rekindles the fire between those two characters, a relationship that has flown off the page ever since the first arc of the series and one which I wish we saw more of.  Regardless, it’s a nice callback to the first arc of the series, with the two characters once again bantering, but under much different circumstances.  The Contessa/Nick relationship also leads to an utterly fantastic ending that reveals the romantic side of Nick in really awesome fashion.

We also, thankfully, do get a pay-off with respect to the Caterpillars.  Daisy gets a sort of vindication in a satisfying, “passing of the torch” sequence that’s eloquently written and well-done overall.

What’s Not So Good: It’s hard not to read this issue and reflect upon just how Hickman’s run’s being shortened affected the series as a whole, and hence, this issue’s impact.

Make no mistake, this is a good issue.  It’s a fantastic epilogue and the very best Hickman could have done under the circumstances, but it could have been so much more.

Yes, the ending and the meeting between Nick and the Contessa is fantastic, but it would’ve been absolutely, mind-blowingly tremendous had Hickman actually had the time to better build up and flesh-out their relationship.

Yes, the passing of the torch is fantastic, but there were so many issues spent away from the Caterpillars that it doesn’t pack the epic punch that it could’ve.

Don’t get me wrong, it all does work, and does hit home, but had Hickman gotten the full 60 issue run, I suspect that what works well in this issue would’ve hit so hard, that we’d be calling Secret Warriors one of the greatest Marvel comics of all time.

Conclusion:  A really excellent conclusion, but also won that makes you wistful for what could have been.

Grade: B+

-Alex Evans