At the end of “Secret Avengers” #1, it would be a fair assumption if you were going to guess that this would be a series of one-off stories, where Nick Spencer and Luke Ross take Hawkeye and Black Widow into dark territory where their minds are repeatedly wiped so they won’t remember how dirty their hands had gotten. With “Secret Avengers” #2, though, Spencer starts to build a larger story, and it’s the overall structure of what’s still to come that holds the greatest interest.
A lot of “Secret Avengers” #2 focuses on Bagalia, a relatively-recent island nation built by super-criminals, and its sole prisoner in the form of the Taskmaster. The surface plot, with Nick Fury Jr. trying to recruit the Taskmaster while being shoulder-deep in super-villains, is in many ways slightly tepid. There’s not much punch or zing to this story, with a very familiar sequence of attack, escape and pursuit elements shuffled together. The new Nick Fury’s most distinguishable feature up until now is that he’s modeled after actor Samuel L. Jackson, and “Secret Avengers” #2 doesn’t do anything to fix that problem. He comes across as a generic manipulative agent sort of character, and letting him hold the bulk of the issue (until a late arrival of several other team members) feels like a slight miscalculation.
What does work in the writing, though, is the framework for the big picture within “Secret Avengers.” Spencer is fleshing out the country of Bagalia (created in the earlier “Secret Avengers” series), creating a political cabinet and a larger goal. That’s quite frankly the best part of “Secret Avengers” #2; Spencer comes up with all these great little ideas on who’s doing what that they’ll grab your attention and make you think, “I want to see more about this.” The implied promise is that it’s going to be a major part of “Secret Avengers” in the months to come, and that’s where I think that Spencer unequivocally succeeds this issue.
Ross’s art in “Secret Avengers” #2 is fine. There’s nothing out of the ordinary here, for better or for worse. He’s got a talent for likenesses, with Fury and Agent Coulson looking like their movie counterparts in a way that isn’t stiff or posed. Nothing jumps out at me as being special, otherwise. Some of the panels are a little cramped in spots, but on the whole it’s a good enough progression from one panel to the next, and Ross tells the story that he’s been assigned to with a certain level of skill.
“Secret Avengers” #2 is the sort of issue that I feel will work better in a collected format. This is a chapter of a larger story, and while on its own it’s just all right, when taken in as part of a greater whole it will almost certainly feel much smoother and more interesting. Still, it gets the comic from point A to point B, and the seeds that are planted here look like a lot of fun. Not the most thrilling of installments, but it works for now.