There have been Captain America one-shots for the First Thirteen, Crossbones, and Batroc. Now we have the Secret Avengers, which is misleading because this issue only stars Black Widow and Sharon Carter and that means there are many Secret Avengers not present. Not to say that makes the issue sub-par, I just would have liked a bit more honesty in the title.
This tale centers around a Russian girl, Tatiana, first introduced by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Jamie McKelvie in an "Enter The Heroic Age" one-shot. Tatiana has fallen into bad ways and it's up to Black Widow, with a touch of Sharon Carter, to help her out. You don't need to have read the prior tale to understand this one, but without it there is a pretty cold start.
DeConnick writes Black Widow and Sharon Carter well as characters and a duo. Their chemistry provides the most highlights of the issue as they bounce off each other with whimsical jokes that land nearly every time. This is a chick buddy cop flick with powers, and that sort of logline doesn't get used enough. DeConnick makes the most of it for the interaction but, sadly, the narrative comes nowhere near capitalizing on this set up.
There is a villainess of the piece and she is decidedly plain. She spouts rhetoric and postures plenty with her fembot-esque minions, but in the end she doesn't stand for much and she falls for even less. The low level of danger and threat causes problems in this issue. In the end, the resolution feels too easy and that's a shame. A little bit more could have been done but when there's only one issue to work with you have to make every page count.
Greg Tocchini is an artist I like, but I could not stand his work on this issue. His page layouts, and action moments, are quite good. It's his facial features that destroy the suspension of story for me in nearly every panel. Tocchini draws these sexy ladies like someone took a swab of acid and liberally applied it to their faces. It's a shame, because his other work is so much better.
This one-shot is not on the level of the Crossbones or Batroc issues. Those issues delved into character, redefined what we were presented with and carved a new path for all involved. This issue gives us a thin tale with some snappy dialogue and a fun pairing but nothing more.