Review by: TheNextChampion

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Avg Rating: 4.2
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Story by Warren Ellis
Art by Alex Maleev
Cover by John Cassaday

Size: 32 pages
Price: 3.99

This is one of those titles that gives off the strange emotions of sadness and happiness at the same time. Happiness because this issue proves once again why this might be the best run on a title for 2011. But sadness because this is the penultimate issue for Warren Ellis and his cavalcade of talented artists. I just don’t see how anyone, let alone Rick Remender, can compete with just a single issue such as this.

I’m a sucker for anything involving time travel so of course Ellis decides to make me a sucker with this issue. Now Black Widow is a character I could never really get a grasp on. She’s a by product of the Cold War and to be honest I really don’t see a need for her. But this issue gives us a compelling argument on why she is integral to her teammates at least. There are several things to love about this issue on a whole:

A) Ellis makes the time travel complicated [insert overused ‘wibbly wobbly’ reference] but not too complicated for readers to get confused.

B) There are a good amount of bizarre, definitely Ellis-like characters in this. Basically if you read anything Harry Grindell saying in this issue you will see the same character trope in other Ellis books.

C) Magic is apparently not magic but special ‘radiation’.

D) The newspaper strip motif. Oh god how I loved that section in this issue! Basically the issue turns into an old, newspaper strip serial in the middle and it’s just a clever idea executed perfectly.

Now Alex Maleev is an artist I would say is not one of my favorites, to put it kindly. The first comic I ever saw of his art was in a Dark Avengers prologue-thingy and that was a bad way to get introduced to the man’s work. (Especially since Norman Osborn looked like a fucking Jackel at points) So the issue on the art side wasn’t looking so promising just on advance solicitations. But after this issue I can safely say I can see why people love the man’s work and he ALMOST won me over. Again the newspaper serial idea made me smile with glee and Maleev did an excellent job executing it. Plus he handles the time travel effects and other action sequences pretty well. But it’s the stiff characters in each panel that bugs me. There’s definitely a lot of photo referencing involved and while I’ve grown to accept that’s what artists do now a days it doesn’t mean I can look at it without a critical eye. There just doesn’t seem to be any fluidity from panel to panel and ironical the throwback panels have more of that then the rest of the issue. What’s there in the panels look good, but on a technical level it could be so much more.

I don’t know if I can say this specific issue of Secret Avengers is the best of the run but I can say it’s definitely more fucking great times as ever. Warren Ellis is really doing something magical here, which is so unlike Ellis if you think about it. I don’t usually read comics and think that it’ll define a series or become memorable for the history books. But for the first time I really think this is setting up to be one of THE BEST Avengers runs in comics history. Yes it sounds hyperbolic but damnit I can’t think of a recent Avengers arc that made me think like this. While I have nothing against Rick Remender or Gabe Hardman I do feel bad for them. Because whatever they do, no matter how hard they try, they will never top what I am reading right now all because Ellis was willing to take the puzzle and drop it into a million pieces and put it back together again.

Story: 5 - Excellent
Art: 4 - Very Good


  1. So, you really liked this? In my opinion, the art was terrible. It just didn’t work for me. I agree, though, the newspaper strip idea was clever, but I don’t get why it was there. I also didn’t think that it was that interesting of a issue. I didn’t really think the time travel storyline was well executed at all, and I hated Widow’s writing.

    • The strip was there because it fits with the time period. Serials like that were really prevalent back in the 60s-70s so it totally made sense to go for it. The writing, I admit, if your new to Ellis or not a fan of his style of writing can get a bit annoying at times. But it didn’t bother me in the slightest.

    • @TheNextChampion
      Okay, thanks for explaining the whole newspaper strip idea to me. I didn’t get that it happened that far in the past.

  2. I really dig Ellis, but I don’t see why anyone should doubt Rick Remender. As a matter of fact, they are two of my favorite writers working for Marvel right now. My top five would probably be Ellis, Remender, Brubaker, Hickman and Parker, followed closely by Bendis, Aaron and Fraction.

  3. Man, every single issue of this comic has blown me away, and this one is no exception. This was one of the few single issues that I immediately re-read after reading it the first time. While I agree that Maleev isn’t the most talented artist to team up with Ellis, he certainly doesn’t disappoint here. Remender is definitely a good writer, but I don’t think any writer could or would want to try to follow up this run.

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