"Secret Avengers" #29 offers up a full buffet of potential, but falls short on substance. Valkyrie matches my thoughts on this issue during the assignment briefing, asking, "Is this our entire party?" Valkyrie, Hawkeye, Ant-Man and Venom hardly make for an impressive lineup, so it's no wonder the Art Adams cover for this issue showcases Black Widow. However, the story has less to do with Black Widow and more to do with the resurgence of the Master of Evil.
Traditionally, the Masters of Evil lineup is carefully balanced to counteract Avengers' team, but in this case, there doesn't appear to be a strong demarcation of members for the band of villains. Remender opens the issue by presenting that ambiguous clarity as a strength. The first double-page spread is filled with so many cult favorite baddies and momentum from that single scene goes a long way into "Secret Avengers" #29. Later in the issue, however, it becomes almost comical as an eye-roll-inducing number of criminals are pictured in the same location. That helps feed the piecemeal nature of this issue that delivers a lot to digest without ever really coming together as a cohesive offering.
In their costumes, Scalera's heroes look awkward and uncomfortable, but behind their masks and helmets, there's no denying the humanity of his characters, even if some of them are not truly human at all. Ant-Man is a prime example -- clunky and stiff on the battlefront, Eric O'Grady has moments of reflection and humor in the two pages where Scalera draws him without the signature helmet of Earth's mightiest little big man.
If you can get past the overt sexualization of the female characters in this book, you might agree that Scalera's scratchy, grit-filled style is a nice match for the plot this series is now chasing. With a plethora of foes on the table, Scalera and Remender are sure to find some characters worthy of fighting "Avengers," even if the heroic lineup is more worthy of staying a secret. Remender has proven his ability to impress in the past, I'm hoping he does so again in upcoming issues.