In the same week that Ed Brubaker departed “Secret Avengers” with issue 12, Nick Spencer comes aboard with artist Scot Eaton on this ‘point one’ issue. Brubaker’s time on the title was so centered around the Shadow Council that it was hard to picture what this group was about, besides standing against the Shadow Council. That difficulty shows as Spencer places the group in the middle of a weak ‘torn from the headlines’ sort of story that would remind many of the ‘inspired by real events’ episodes of “Law & Order.” The Secret Avengers don’t get much of a chance to define themselves or show what their purpose is, necessarily.
After a list revealing all confidential informants working with the United States government in criminal and terrorism cases is stolen from ‘Wikileaks’ and leaked, the team is tasked with saving… one person? The logic behind this is that their resources are best used together and there isn’t enough time to save more than one person. Because all of the hundreds (or thousands) of informants will be dead before they can intervene? That alone seems suspect. Additionally, it’s never explained why only this group is rescuing these informants.
Looking beyond that one peculiar plot point, the story doesn’t give the characters much chance to shine. Spencer has shown in the past that he’s very good at giving you a snapshot of a character using only a few pieces of dialogue, and that’s missing here. There’s no succinct point made about the team or its members. The closest we get is some decent banter between War Machine and Ant-Man for three or four panels. And yet another speech about freedom and America from Steve Rogers.
Together with Spencer’s mediocre writing is Scot Eaton’s mediocre art. It’s a suitable superhero art style that colorist Frank D’Armata is remarkably restrained on. Eaton’s figures are solid and get the job done, but the style he uses doesn’t leap off the page or really take the reader aback with wonder. It’s somewhat telling when the best panel of the issue is a retro callback shot parodying the cover of “Avengers” #4, but with the Captain, D-Man, Falcon, and Nomad in place of Captain America and the Avengers.
“Secret Avengers” was a book without a strong purpose or direction aside from ‘fighting the Shadow Council’ and this issue doesn’t inspire confidence in the concept working without that large enemy standing opposite the group. As debuts, and ‘point one’ issues, go, this is a disappointment.