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

The Story: Nick Fury Jr. gets to Bagalia and has to rescue Taskmaster from there. Meanwhile, the scientist supreme of A.I.M sets some of his machinations in motion.

The Review: After a debut issue that, despite its share of problems, managed to be particularly enjoyable, Nick Spencer’s version of Secret Avengers continues, bringing us the espionage of the previous issue, while adding some considerable elements and surprises along the way.

Indeed, the way the first issue was structured, we could have easily foreseen that a series of one-shot issues would probably have been the norm for the series, but it seems that the actual plot of the series begins here. From what we can see here, Nick Spencer does give the Secret Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D a particular challenge, rising the A.I.M agency from low-grades scientific criminals to downright menaces, akin to what Jonathan Hickman had done with Hydra in Secret Warriors. As a matter of fact, a lot of things here do look a bit like that series, which should be seen as some high praise indeed.

Here, Andrew Forson, the scientist supreme of A.I.M manages to steal the show, as he is part grand marvel villain, mad scientist and Bond villain, gathering the right sorts of individuals to accomplish his master plan. This is the sort of grandiloquent thing that works quite well with a concept like a secret team of Avengers and huge spies agency fighting evil, which makes this looks really promising for the future of this series.

What’s a little bit less promising, however, would be some of the characters used in the series, most notably Nick Fury Jr. (No, I will never let the Jr. part out of his name) who, in the span of two issues is not exactly shown as a sympathetic man at all, manipulating people left and right. It is part of his character and a particularly important trait of a spy-like character, but there seems to be something missing for him to be an actually compelling character in his own right. The real Nick Fury had a complete control of the situation and still managed to appear like a compelling and sympathetic character, something that Marcus Johnson (Nick Fury Jr.’s real name) does not have yet.

Another character that I’m not quite sure Nick Spencer will really get is Taskmaster, one of the spotlight characters of this issue. Sure, he does manage to make him a funny and endearing character, giving him some great lines here and there, yet there seems to be something missing here as well. As a fan of the character, I cannot fail to see that Nick Spencer treats the character a little bit too much on the humorous side, which feels a little bit off with his characterization in Avengers: The Initiative and the Taskmaster miniseries from Fred Van Lente, which treated him as an absolutely competent and badass fighter capable of getting the advantage when he could. Even Rick Remender had shown him taking on Venom with ease in the latest volume of this title, so seeing him absolutely helpless, even intimidated near the end of the issue by Agent Coulson does not seem right for the character. This is the guy that had taken on every single criminal organisation by his lonesome in the aforementioned miniseries here. Still, considering the ending of the issue, it seems that Nick Spencer does have a plan for Taskmaster here, one that is absolutely promising even, so this may be just small missteps for the character as Spencer gets around knowing what kind of character he is.

What is also promising is the fact that Spencer also use various elements from previous series and volume in this run, showing that it is indeed both a continuation of the previous volume, but also its own thing. The country of Bagalia and what happened to Taskmaster there is referenced, as well as some of the characters and some of the elements of Secret Warriors (like the silhouette of Gorgon) are shown in the issue. With this, Spencer does present us with a sign that he can play well with others as well, a rare thing these days.

Nick Spencer, though, is not the only person who shows he can work well with others, as Luke Ross truly add his signature while he shows the script Spencer has given him. The characters, the shadows, the scope, the buildings and the environment all looks rather nice and detailed, giving a sense of professionalism to the whole thing. In this he is greatly helped by Matthew Wilson who manages to add his wonderful colors to the A.I.M scenes to create a. eerie effect of mad and futuristic sciences that works wonderfully.

The Conclusion: While there may be some work to be done on the characterization of some of the characters here, Nick Spencer still manages to give us a great issue thanks to some great concept, a sense of scope and some lovely art from Luke Ross. Recommended.

Grade: B+

Hugo Robberts Larivière