Hot on the heels of issue #12 comes the next installment of Bendis’ latest “Mighty Avengers” arc starring Nick Fury, although I’m still convinced that it reads more like a “New Avengers” story, or even a Nick Fury miniseries. It’s fair to say that giving Bendis two Avengers books has widened the scope massively for what he can do with the characters, and the readers are the ones reaping the benefits.
This issue answers a question I’ve actually had for a while â€” what happened to Daisy “Quake” Johnson, Nick Fury’s personally-recruited secret agent who appeared in “Secret War” — one of the events that make up the wider tapestry of “Secret Invasion”. Well, as of now she’s back with Fury, and helping to assemble that new Howling Commandos team we’ve been promised for a while.
As an issue, it’s a bit of an off-the-shelf plot. We’ve seen this sort of “gathering the new team” issue a hundred times before. I last read it in “Young X-Men” #1. Still, in this case it’s interesting to see Bendis, a writer notorious for using (and killing) other people’s characters come up with a few of his own ideas. A new generation of potential heroes. His expert characterization and dialogue improves on what is indisputably mundane framework for a comic.
Gathering up young, otherwise unknown youths with emerging powers, the logic is that Fury can trust these kids, because no-one besides him even knew about them, so there’s no way they would’ve been replaced by Skrulls. Solid reasoning, I have to admit. The only pre-existing character, to my knowledge, is (Avengers member) Ares’ son – who in keeping with myth, turns out to be Phobos, the god of fear. Already, I’m interested in the stories behind these new guys, so let’s hope that they’re not just going to end up as cannon fodder. Most of them have peripheral connections to existing heroes, or more frequently, villains, and the implication is that all these characters running around with powers and low ethics, there are going to be a few illegitimate kids around somewhere. Again, decent reasoning.
What’s not so good reasoning is just whether Fury can take these kids and make them into a team that’ll have a chance against the Skrulls. They’re nothing like what I expected a new Howling Commandos team to look like, but all the better for it. The only thing that bothers me is that the mystery of who Daisy’s father is doesn’t seem to be generating any actual tension, only frustration for the readers. The characters already know, so I’m not really sure what story can be so good that the readers aren’t being allowed that information yet. I hesitate to call it “unrealistic” given the genre we’re dealing with, but at the very least it seems like Bendis is having to skirt around the matter a little too carefully to avoid stating the truth, which of course, makes it stick out like a sore thumb.
Maleev’s art is as fantastic as ever — if and when the Bendis/Maleev Spider-Woman book gets started up, it’s almost assured to be a must-buy. Until then, I’ll take what I can get. Fury’s new team could, if played correctly, prove to be a rare thing — a set of entirely new characters that I already feel invested in. This arc increasingly promises to be an essential read for anyone following “Secret Invasion”, and should deliver on several year’s worth of build up.
My only gripe? Don’t let the cover fool you into thinking there’s anything remotely Cap-related in this entire issue.