"Secret Avengers" #25 is a very packed finale, of sorts, to this initial arc from Rick Remender and Gabriel Hardman. There are no hard conclusions here but there is a pause for some respite and a seed is left to be used further along. The break up for the "Avengers Vs. X-Men" tie-in issues will give the breathing room necessary for these developments to have weight down the road.
This team is very large. There are seven credited members on the title page, as well as a return from another. That's a lot of character to juggle, but Remender works hard to ensure each person get a moment, at least, to shine. Beast is hardest done by but it is nice to see major moments for Valkyrie and Jim Hammond, the original Human Torch. He has been the break out addition to the team and a great partner in scenes with Captain Britain. It is nice to read a team book that 100% feels like a team book. Every character is here for a reason.
It is astounding in all the right ways how dense Remender is able to make this book. It almost feels like reading an older comic in that the pages are stacked and the narrative delivered for one month is bountiful. Remender isn't interested in dropping a few splash pages worth of pithy moments; he's here to tell a story and make us care about both the characters and their actions. Reading "Secret Avengers" #25 feels like an afternoon's worth of story. It's nice to get what feels like an appropriate amount of time out of the investment of this book.
There are twists and turns for these Avengers and the reader needs to keep up. The new villains have been introduced and hit the ground running. By not pandering to the lowest denominator, the story is then given room to breathe and here it pants along like a marathon runner in the final stage. Remender is writing a long haul story with great rewards for initial investment. He certainly proved himself on "Uncanny X-Force" and this title is right behind it in scope of ideas and density of narrative.
Gabriel Hardman's art makes this book feel like a '50s science fiction comic. This is apt as the Secret Avengers are dealing with a robotic alliance of villains. The storytelling is very modern in places but the style and tone are almost retro. When you see Hardman's Human Torch you understand this android is old machinery. Bettie Breitweiser's colors are the right match of old school feel with a modern sensibility. This is not a superhero style and that actually matches the fact this isn't a superhero story, this is science fiction pulp at its best.
The only way "Secret Avengers" could be delivered more aptly would be if it was in dime store paperbacks next to Doc Savage. Your favorite B-list Marvel superheroes are all gathered for a strange tale with gorgeous art. This is a niche title and also one of the best in what it delivers. If you want a rich slathering of ideas across character moments then this is the cape title for you.