The sales figures are in and while it has gotten much grief from the online community, Secret Invasion has topped the charts as a best-selling comic. But topping the charts is not the only goal of this kind of comic as any seasoned comic collector can tell you. At its conclusion, the entire status quot of the comic book universe the event series takes place in is meant to change. Usually it doesn’t, leaving many readers feeling like they’ve been robbed, but in the case of Secret Invasion, it’s a whole new ball game. The last page of the 8th issue proved that everything is different and now the villains are in control.
Marvel Comics darling and writer of everything from Ultimate Spider-Man to the New Avengers and Powers Brian Michael Bendis and Jonathan Hickman (of the critically acclaimed series The Nightly News) have teamed up to make good on that promise to change the face of the Marvel Universe with their new series Secret Warriors.
A team of super powered neophytes assembled by Nick Fury during his long hiatus from the world, the Secret Warriors are his hidden weapon against a world that has grown unworthy of his trust.
A man of action and relic of WWII (kept young thanks to the ‘infinity formula’), Nick Fury was a kind of super hero version of James Bond if Bond were the head of MI6 instead of its loose cannon. After being stripped of his role as Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., Fury vanished from the comic book world, only appearing in the pages of monthly comics as a voice heard via a radio headset or through the lips of a Life Model Decoy. Since he disappeared, the reason behind Fury’s drop out has been on the tip of my mind and this series finally answers that question. Not only has he been assembling his team of Secret Warriors, but he has also been monitoring a secret plot that will have major repercussions in the MU. Many Marvel readers are already familiar with this secret team as they had all but taken over the New Avengers and Mighty Avengers series during Secret Invasion. But the depth and level of danger of the mysterious threat Fury has unearthed has altered the character who once chomped cigars and wise-cracked with everyone from Captain Americas to Wolverine.
“Nick is basically an agent of nothing and nobody taking it upon himself to do what he knows is the right thing to do,” Bendis [stated in a recent Marvel interview] “Anyone reading this will go, ‘He kind of sounds like a terrorist!’ That’s the question of the series. What’s the difference between vigilantism and terrorism? I take very seriously a book having a unique point of view, and I think this one has a legitimately fascinating and unique stamp on the Marvel Universe.”
The team is an odd one, including seismic-powered Daisy Johnson (called Quake); the 10 year old godling of fear Phobos; Yo Yo Rodriguez, the super-fast mutant daughter of The Griffin; Hellfire (J.T. Slade), the mystical mercenary grandson of the Phantom Rider (Carter Slade); the son of Dr Druid; and the muscle-bound Stonewall (Jerry Sledge). To be honest, the team hasn’t made much of an impact yet and this first issue has made no progress in that department. However, the big reveal of the comic is enough for the price of admission (admittedly a dollar over the already steep price of your average monthly comic). In the premier issue, the team is involved in an intelligence-gathering mission of a S.H.I.E.L.D. base that goes wrong. The team encounters a nest of Hydra agents who are none too happy to be interrupted in… whatever it is they are doing in a S.H.I.E.L.D. base. The arrival of the Sentry and a squadron of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents doesn’t make things any quieter.
After a de-briefing and shaming session Fury takes Daisy aside to discuss his recent acquisition of key information. The final step in an operation that Fury has apparently been up to since he disappeared, the theft of S.H.I.E.L.D. data proves that Hydra has somehow infiltrated every level of power all the way up the White House. For those not in the know, Hydra was introduced ages ago as the direct antithesis to S.H.I.E.L.D., a kind of evil super secret spy organization. They’ve appeared in almost every Marvel Comic at one point or another and even on TV in certain Marvel Cartoons. However, Hydra has always been more or less a producer of ranting maniacs leading an army of cannon fodder. It appears this is no longer the case.
Many reviewers have spoken of the fantastic writing combination Bendis and Hickman make and I have to admit that I disagree. All too familiar with the writing voice of Bendis, I can see the strain that he must have endured in working with Hickman, who contributes a suspenseful and intelligent tone to the series. Through the cracks in Hickman’s script creep pop culture references and ironically unfunny jokes that do not exactly endear me to the series. It’s an odd thing, but I still don’t care about this team yet find the comic interesting if only for the possible directions it can head in. Once the protector of the free world, Fury is now a kind of terrorist determined to root out the secret evil force that has embedded itself in that world’s power structure. It’s a very unusual decision and an inspired one that makes Fury a whole new character.
Those of you looking for more info can visit these agentofnothing.com sites where you will find an exclusive podcast, read script pages and the series bible and much ,much more: