To close their first "Secret Avengers" arc, Ales Kot and Michael Walsh launch into space with Nick Fury Jr., Phil Coulson, Black Widow, Spider-Woman and a very hapless Hawkeye. Using a handful of heroes, "Secret Avengers" #2 feels more disassembled than assembled, touting a team that still doesn't quite feel like a team by the end of the issue.
Between the art and the attempts at quirky humor, "Secret Avengers" is trying very hard to be the new "Hawkeye" and it shows, right down to Clint's now-trademark face bandages. However, most of the delivery is off-target; where Fraction's writing is easy and natural, Kot's feels forced and only serves to push the characters apart.
Using only two issues for his debut arc, he lets the story slip away from him with tragically missed opportunities. For instance, he cuts right to the chase with Maria Hill and her unnamed assailant, never revealing the motivations for his actions; what could have been a tense, dramatic scene gets shortchanged in favor of more bickering between Black Widow, Spider-Woman, and Hawkeye. Additionally, several of the characters never even share page time, as Hill and MODOK remain on earth and Coulson and Fury Jr. drift aimlessly into space. And, without seeing the effects of SHIELD's crashed satellites as it affects SHIELD and its casualties, the story feels inconsequential and rushed. There is a whole lot going on in this book, but Kot doesn't have nearly enough time to cover it all within two issues, leaving some storylines with real potential to languish in obscurity.
Although Kot's writing is clumsy, the story isn't a total bust. Phil Coulson and Nick Fury Jr.'s bromance in space easily becomes the most enjoyable aspect of this issue, with their conversational dialogue and fantastic chemistry. Coulson also manages to drop some of the issue's most effective lines, both humorous and profound. Under Kot's direction, I could have read an entire issue about the two of them floating to their death; in fact, Black Widow, Spider-Woman, Hawkeye, and Hill's storylines feel extraneous and unmemorable in comparison.
Michael Walsh's style comes very close to David Aja's at times but fails to capture the same dexterity and charm. His inking looks choppy for an overall messy effect, which works against him as the focus pulls back and defining features become obscured. At times, his character work becomes downright hokey, as in Clint's parting shot that leaves him sticking his tongue out like an emoticon. What's more, his backgrounds have little detail to speak of. There simply isn't a lot going on in the page outside of obvious plot points and clues. Colorist Matthew Wilson manages to wow despite this, working in some gorgeous color, at times overtaking Walsh's inking for a lovely, monochromatic effect.
At its close, "Secret Avengers" #2 comes across as disjointed and hokey. Kot and Walsh do little to hide the fact that the book is trying to mine "Hawkeye's" creative success and the book suffers for it, failing to establish its own voice at the end of its first arc. With only two issues under its belt, "Secret Avengers" is forgettable at best.