I'm simultaneously impressed and let down by the latest issues of "Secret Warriors." Jonathan Hickman's managed to make "Secret Warriors" into a book not quite like anything else from Marvel at the moment, and with this latest storyline he's swapped out the majority of the book's characters in favor of Dum Dum Dugan and the Howling Commandos.
Dugan and company have always been a part of "Secret Warriors," so it's not like the entire cast of the book vanished and were replaced with a bunch of strangers. The overall story of Nick Fury's forces going up against Hydra is still present, after all, and we're seeing more and more of the hidden Hydra bases that have been appearing throughout "Secret Warriors" start to crop up all over the globe.
But for someone who finds the characters of Daisy Johnson and company to also be interesting, it's tough to have another issue without any of them present. It's not fair to call Dum Dum Dugan my least favorite Marvel character, but he's one that even now I still find uninteresting. I'd rather see what Daisy, Phobos, Stonewall, Hellfire, and the rest are up to as all of this unfolds. At least at the end of the issue, we're starting to see some of the villains that Hickman's brought into "Secret Warriors" over the past year and a half, so it gives me hope that the characters we've grown to like will be back shortly. But for now, a little bit of disappointment.
Still, Alessandro Vitti provides nice, craggy art for the book, giving Stefano Caselli a bit of a break. Sure, everyone has a huge knobby chin and wrinkles, but it's an interesting textured finished art and I can't remember the last time we've seen such a bushy mustache as we do here. (I think Dugan's keeping a nuclear warhead inside his.)
At the end of the day, "Secret Warriors" is going through an interesting diversion, and one that still advances the main plot. That said, I kept looking at the cover of this issue to make sure it said "Secret Warriors" and not "S.H.I.E.L.D." this month; the irony that Hickman writes both titles isn't lost on me. I'm ready to see the characters that I've grown to love come back and take over this title again.