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

The Story: Marcus Johnson* and Daisy Johnson visit a weapon exposition, while Coulson and his team investigate an A.I.M base that has been blown up.

The Review: Nick Spencer has fooled me. I freely admit it. I had expectations on how certain elements in this issue were going to play out, which were easily explained by the older work he did for Marvel. I thought I knew what he could throw at me and he easily manipulated said expectations to provide for something far more interesting, which I do believe he actually did twice in a row, the first time being with Taskmaster and now with Iron Patriot.

This issue begins with a scene with Marcus and Daisy Johnson (which makes another appearance from the cast of Secret Warriors, much to my delight) at AS3, a defense exposition to look at the future in armaments. In this scene, we may actually get some more characterization for Marcus Johnson, explaining some of his earlier decisions and deepening the character a bit, which is kind of necessary at this point. The character is close to being a stereotype in this series so far, playing the tough and determined agent who does all the nasty stuff because he has to. Showing him in an environment where he is not just an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D goes a long way toward developing him into someone that can be likable.

Speaking of likable, is it just me or is Andrew Forson a very well-written villain so far? So far, he has been shown as a top scientist, a charismatic man and one with a huge plan, making him rather like a villain you might see in a James Bond Movie, which is perfect for this kind of book. Most of his scenes and his dialogue make you wonder just what kind of thing he will soon be doing, which adds a good level of anticipation and excitement with every scene he is in. However, if there is one character so far that is in dire need of some development or at least some kind of focus, it would be Phil Coulson, who manages to just be there in most issue he was featured in so far. I do get that the character proved to be massively popular in the movie universe that Marvel has created through Iron Man to The Avengers, however, we’re going to need more than his name and likeness here to make him as likable as the movie version. As for the rest of the cast, they do the job quite well, bringing him fun and action, while adding some tension in key scenes. Still, the key characters in this issue were not the team with Coulson, so we may get better use of them in the future of this title.

What we do get a good use of, though, would be the general feeling of espionage this title emits, which is exactly what it should be about. Veiled threats, politics, secret missions, gadgets and all the sort of stuff that makes fans of series like James Bond, Mission Impossible and others want to read this series. There are a lot of developments here that are ripe with potential, stuff that played with my expectations, making this title unpredictable, which is a huge bonus for a series that deals in secrets and organizations.

Another huge bonus would be Luke Ross and his very ample skill. Here, he is doing some amazing work, thanks to his good repertoire of human emotions and with his emphasis on character without neglecting the background. Sure, some of his poses are a little bit stiff, but I cannot fault the man for his attention to a good chunk of details, be it in the background or on some of the more bizarre character. However, one of the true star of the book is Matthew Wilson who really capture the spy effect thanks to his subtle light and shadow touches on his choice of colors, enhancing the more somber part of the espionage genre. The last few pages with Andrew Forson and Mentallo are a good example of this as while there may be light on them, the choice of a certain tone of shadow clearly adds to the darker intents behind both characters. It’s strong stuff, to say the least.

The Conclusion: While there may be still a lot of work left to be done on some of the characters, Secret Avengers continue to show a good hold on espionage in the Marvel universe thanks to its concepts, its villains and the plot in general. With the help of Matthew Wilson and Luke Ross, it looks quite the part as well.

Grade: B

Hugo Robberts Larivière

*No, I will not refer to him as Nick Fury or Nick Fury Jr. He may look like Samuel L. Jackson, but to me, there’s only one Nick Fury and it’s not that guy.