Springing out of “Secret Invasion” as part of the “Dark Reign” story, “Secret Warriors” has been one of the best series Marvel’s published. A brief epic at only 28 issues (plus two event tie-in one-shots), Jonathan Hickman wrote a broad story revolving around Nick Fury and all of the ‘secret warriors’ at play, whether former S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, members of his caterpillar groups, Hydra, or Leviathan. For the past two-and-a-half years, a secret war has been going on in the Marvel universe and, now, at its end, Nick Fury stands triumphant.
Originally intended to end at issue 27, this issue is more of a wrap-up of some of the characters than a strict end to the larger plot of the series. Issue 27 was the climactic finale and this is the happy ending sequence. There’s some satisfaction in this sort of end – and some disappointment. In attempting this sort of ending, Hickman is basically setting himself up to fail to an extent, because this approach to ending a story almost never completely satisfies. The way he draws together various threads and makes callbacks to earlier moments is nice, and his setting up the characters for a future in the Marvel Universe is an encouraging move, though one that already brings to mind cringe-inducing uses of these characters, or their complete disappearance.
The final scene is the book’s best, calling back to the prelude sequence for the series where Nick Fury stands over Steve Rogers’s grave and makes plans. Here, he’s joined by Rogers in the cemetery and Hickman delivers a great moment between Fury and Rogers regarding Fury’s role and the respect he commands. In many ways, this issue acts as more a finale to Fury’s story than to the series as a whole. Most of the other characters don’t get the attention or sense of closure that he does.
These final issues have been made all the better by Alessandro Vitti handling the art chores backed by Imaginary Friends Studios. Together with Stefano Caselli, Vitti defined the look of the comic, especially once Sunny Gho and IFS came aboard to handle the colors. It wouldn’t feel right for the book to end without Vitti or Caselli on art and there’s an appropriateness to Vitti doing visual callbacks to scenes Caselli originally drawn; a symmetry that speaks to the book’s entire run.
“Secret Warriors” only lasted for two-and-a-half years and, in that time, it became a steady assurance of quality every month. It was a book that demanded patience and thought, active readers who were willing to follow Hickman where he wanted to go, and not expect immediate explanations. It was a slow burn that ultimately paid off. It will be missed.