“Secret Avengers” has been an entertaining enough book, if at the same time not earth-shattering, top-of-the-list required-reading. But with each issue, I’ve enjoyed the book enough to look forward to the idea of reading the next chapter. Now that we’ve hit the conclusion of “Secret Histories,” though, I find myself less enthused about future issues.
Part of the problem is a slightly limp ending to this initial storyline. I don’t think that the conclusion of every story needs to be a thoroughly intricate, Rube Goldberg-esque series of actions that pull every character into a master series of events that comes together perfectly. But I do think it’s a safe assessment to say that when half of the team doesn’t contribute anything to the final part of the story, and the others do little more than punch and shoot, it’s not satisfying. When you actually forget that some of the characters are even in the issue, they do so little, that’s a bad sign.
Ed Brubaker had whetted the reader’s appetite with previous issues talking about ancient beings and multiple crowns to try and unlock them into the universe. That’s barely touched upon here; this could have just as easily been the conclusion to a story about corporate raiders with a mind-scrambling helmet. Maybe we’ll see more of this story down the line, but for what was billed as “Part 4 of 4” it feels like a lot of potential out the window.
Mike Deodato Jr. is also partially to blame for the weak ending of “Secret Avengers” #4. Almost everyone here is drawn the same, save for hair color (and occasionally style). There’s a panel towards the end where both Steve Rogers and Richard Ryder are looking at each other, and aside from one being blond they’re drawn like identical twins. In other panels, I had to squint to figure out if it was Valkyrie or Black Widow. And in the opening scenes with Steve Rogers talking to the Worldmind, it’s excusable if based on the art for a moment you think it’s Nova.
I’m not giving up on “Secret Avengers” just yet, but I’m feeling a lot more hesitant than I did in the past. This should be a much better book, but after such an uninspired conclusion to the first storyline, I’m wondering if hopes were a little too high.