In this done-in-one jumping-on issue, Captain America and Hawkeye illegally infiltrate a rogue nation in the hope of preventing a political incident. But why has Captain America brought Hawkeye, and what does it mean for the future of the Secret Avengers? Incoming writer Rick Remender has the answer, and by the end of the issue, so do we.
There’s no doubting that Rick Remender has big shoes to fill, and as the writer of critically acclaimed spin-offs “Venom” and “Uncanny X-Force” (the black-ops version of Spider-Man and the X-Men), he’s a natural choice to take over the black ops Avengers book. Remender’s appearance on the title is nearly seamless, taking in the same big-action and political intrigue of Warren Ellis’ run, with the villains of Ed Brubaker’s stories in the shape of Max Fury and the Shadow Council.
As an action comic, it’s enjoyable, though maybe not as good as Remender’s other work leads us to expect. Perhaps it merely suffers from a comparison to Warren Ellis’ six issues, all of which were similarly fast-paced done-in-ones. With all respect to Remender, Ellis is hard to beat. Still, this is a jumping-on point, and it’s probable that without the shadow of Ellis, new readers will be entertained enough to keep reading. Certainly, there’s nothing here that should put old readers off.
If anything was to fall into that category, the characterization of Hawkeye and Cap’s relationship might be it. It’s a little too abrasive, and Cap and Clint are having the same argument that has defined their interactions for the past 15 or 20 years. It’s possible to argue that Hawkeye is too impetuous to lead, but harder to credibly do so in the wake of a history that includes lengthy stints running the West Coast Avengers and the Thunderbolts. The idea that Cap is intentionally rubbing Hawkeye the wrong way to test him is a good one, but there’s a little too much sincerity in his hostility, and nothing to defuse it even when the pair are reconciled at the end.
Patrick Zircher’s art is similarly impressive, and it’s a shame he’s not also drawing the ongoing series, because he clearly has the chops to handle both the character dynamics and action sequences. It’s not exactly a subtle book, but Zircher’s art remains the right side of melodrama.
It’s a shame this wasn’t knock-your-socks-off brilliant, as we’ve seen Remender capable of that in the past, but as an introduction to a new run it definitely works. It would have been nice to see some of the new “Secret Avengers” cast members turn up to solidify the start, but whether you call it an intro or a prologue, there’s plenty here to maintain readers’ interest until next issue.