In my perfect world, all superhero comics are like “Secret Avengers” #16. Well, they don’t all have to have time travel, these specific Avengers or many other things this issue includes, but they should all use this book as a blueprint for smart, funny, well-constructed, beautiful, modern and fun comics.
Warren Ellis and Jamie McKelvie take over “Secret Avengers” with issue #16 for a standalone story and in a single stroke make it a book to be absolutely reckoned with. In this issue, a handful of Avengers are investigating a secret city built more than a mile under Cincinnati and the results are action-packed, hilarious, creative and smart. Too smart for me, in fact, but that’s usually the case with anything relating to time travel, so I won’t hold it against Ellis, or this book. In the end, you get faceless, nameless, minion bad guys, Von Doom time travel devices, classic cars, underground cities, bombs made of classic cars, badass hi-tech weapons, loads of jokes and massive destruction. What else could you want in a great superhero comic? Maybe dinosaurs. Yes, dinosaurs are the only thing I can think that would make this comic even better.
In typical Warren Ellis fashion, the issue is incredibly smart, frequently funny and while packed with action, it’s also full of exceptional small character moments. Ellis wisely limits his Avengers to four — Steve Rogers, Beast, Black Widow and Moon Knight — a somewhat bizarre group, but sometimes that’s also how you get the most interesting results. And the results are interesting. Though Beast and Black Widow are the only characters Ellis uses that I’ve read on a regular basis, I found myself in love with all of these Avengers and aching for more. This comic also left me wistful for Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen’s “Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E.” as the issue has that same freewheeling energy and the feeling that absolutely anything can and will happen. It’s the kind of feeling superhero comics desperately need more regularly.
Jamie McKelvie’s art continues to impress as he does these single-issue superhero stories (like “Generation Hope” #5 & #9), capturing the best of superhero comics and the best of independent comics in one beautiful package. As always, his art is gorgeously clean, clear and easy to follow. His storytelling is effortless and his characters remain blissfully consistent from panel to panel and page to page. All of his characters “act” as opposed to remaining static on the page, which is, I’m sorry to say, painfully uncommon in many modern comics I read. The fact that the face of a character you’re reading actually matches his or her corresponding dialogue tag shouldn’t be so refreshing, but it is. And I want more. I want it all the time.
“Secret Avengers” #16 is a nearly-perfect superhero comic book. I would like Marvel to clone this issue, program in slight variations (some should include dinosaurs) and begin cranking them out immediately please. Thank you.