Nick Spencer (Writer), Luke Ross (Artist), Matthew Wilson (Colorist)

The Story: Hawkeye and Black Widow gets recruited to a new covert team for S.H.I.E.L.D. Their first mission: Budapest.

The Review: Marvel Now! keeps on rolling… This week saw the beginning of two new number ones, one of those being the relaunched Secret Avengers by Nick Spencer and Luke Ross. Does Nick Spencer have the same energy as the previous authors of the previous volume and can he succeed with this title?

First of all, this issue shows clearly it is a different beast than Rick Remender’s take on the team, as it is more S.H.I.E.L.D based, getting the whole espionage theme up to eleven during the whole issue. Bureaucracy, double-crossing, advanced technology, brainwashing, the book has it all and seems to have fun with it, which makes for a pleasant experience.

What’s also pleasant is how the characters are handled by Nick Spencer, who seems to get how to write them. I liked how Nick Fury Jr. was all about business in one scene, yet has no qualm talking about James Bond with Hawkeye right in the middle of a mission. Talking about Hawkeye, I do believe that Spencer is using Matt Fraction version here as the basis for the character, something I commend him for. The fun-loving, wise-cracking archer that is shown here is still as entertaining here, yet not exactly on the same level as in his own title. Another thing that deserves some praise would be his use of some of the cast from Secret Warriors by Jonathan Hickman. Seeing Sebastian Druid here was a joy.

The dialogue here is also a joy, as spy-talk is easily mixed with every day conversations with ease. The scene with Agent Coulson is a good example of that, as the much more polite and official agent has a talk with the much more easy-going Hawkeye and the stoic Black Widow, whereas he is talking in much more bureaucratic terms, using some wooden language to ease the both of them toward the subject he has in mind. There are several other moments such as these, yet this one is a shining example of what Nick Spencer can do with dialogue.

Even though Nick Spencer has done a lot of good things here, a lot of the merits also fall down on Luke Ross and his great art. Here, he is energetic, capable of brining action and quiet moments together much like Spencer does with his script. The expressions and mannerisms are pretty good, being very effective at showing how the various characters reacts to news, yet they aren’t exaggerated in any way. The action poses are also really nice, even if some of them are a bit clichéd, like Black Widow shooting both of her guns in reverse, being acrobatic and badass all the while. Still Luke Ross delivers the good with some atmospheric art, adding to the whole spy experience. In this, he is massively helped by Matthew Wilson whose somber palette and computer light effects in many scenes greatly add to the shadow effects and the somber lines of Luke Ross.

The Conclusion: Secret Avengers starts quite well with an issue that mixes espionage, action and bureaucracy quite well, thanks to the good work of Luke Ross and Matthew Wilson on the art department and Nick Spencer’s smart dialogue.

Grade: B+

-Hugo Robberts Larivière

Some Musing: Considering how S.H.I.E.L.D is presented all along the issue, I would not be surprised in the least if the major theme of the series will be ‘’huge organisations are assholes’’.