Writing a done-in-one issue is not an easy feat. When it’s done well, it can be an amazing thing. The last issue of “Secret Avengers” — Warren Ellis’ fantastic debut on the title — felt like an episode of an old espionage television show. In every way it went right, this follow up issue goes wrong. This feels more like a very short film, or a very long trailer. There is little meat on this bone and the let down is hard.
There’s no doubt Ellis has ideas. The man most likely has more than he’ll ever be able to completely service. In this issue alone, Ellis drops more ideas than many writers put into a whole arc. The problem is these ideas are not fleshed out; they are not given room to breathe. The set up is there but the payoff is thin or non-existent. Hinting at more is not the way to create a brilliant standalone issue.
This issue is mostly one big battle between a select group of Secret Avengers and an unknown truck cruising through the unwatched parts of Europe and abducting people. 17 pages are given over to explosions, different vehicles looking cool, tactical maneuvers, more explosions, and some crazy organic-robot villains. It’s not to say an issue that’s all only one battle cannot be good, it’s just that this battle doesn’t give us anything but the one layer of action. It’s all surface bombast.
Kev Walker has some excellent moments in this issue. His action tears through each page, there is a sense of dangerous movement to all his players and their tools. However, when Walker doesn’t nail it he certainly jars the reader into pausing for a moment. His habit of rendering human faces like they’ve been carved from wood works well on The Raft in “Thunderbolts” but here only makes Steve Rogers look like he needs more sleep and to rehydrate.
It’s a shame to have this title crest so high last month and now fall so low. This issue held so much possibility and capitalized on none of it. A conclusion wrapped up in one page, the pacing and the whole promise of this issue is not enough to please the audience. The mission statement of these Ellis issues felt like it was all about packing as much into one month as possible. This issue turns its back on that ethos and suffers for it.