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'Secret Avengers by Ed Brubaker: The Complete Collection' review: Well told spy style superhero stories

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‘Secret Avengers by Ed Brubaker: The Complete Collection’ review: Well told spy style superhero stories

A strong collection for an iconic time in the Marvel universe.

Ed Brubaker is getting the complete collection treatment with his Secret Avengers series from 2010 which sparked a covert ops version of our favorite Marvel superhero team. Aided by the talents of Mike Deodato Jr., Will Conrad and David Aja, this series travels to Mars, Shanghai, and World War II in epic fashion.

So what’s it about?

The official summary reads:

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Steve Rogers has a big secret! The former Captain America has assembled a special-ops squad to counter the world’s deadliest threats. But who are the Secret Avengers? Spy intrigue meets super-hero action as the Super-Soldier, Black Widow, War Machine, Ant-Man, Valkyrie, Moon Knight and more take on a case that crosses dimensions and lands on Martian soil – and somehow involves Nick Fury! Then, the Celestial Order of the Hai-Dai launches a brazen attack on Shang-Chi. Its mission? To return him to his father, a man of consummate evil who has perpetuated his brand of wickedness and corruption for more than 3,000 years! Can Steve’s stealth team – and an old friend from his World War II days – save the Master of Kung Fu? Ed Brubaker’s blockbuster Secret Avengers run is collected in full!

Why does this matter?

This series was the first Secret Avengers and it took on an espionage flavor that suits Brubaker’s style. Like his excellent series Sleeper, the series was dark with nearly constant plot twists at the ready. It also had an interesting Avengers lineup with Beast, Ant-Man, Valkyrie, Black Widow, War Machine, and Moon Knight on the team. That spells interesting dynamics between the team members.

Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?

'Secret Avengers by Ed Brubaker: The Complete Collection' review: Well told spy style superhero stories

It’s a MacGuffin, but it holds some interesting surprises.

This collection contains three stories with a quick one-shot backup about Nick Fury, all of which bring a whole lot of sneaking, stealing, and semi-illegal activity to the superhero storyline. The first story has the team head to Mars as they uncover a plot to release a Celestial who’s older than the universe and very much wants to kill everything. The story weaves in Nova and gets every team member involved. Deodato Jr. shows off his anatomy skills which some muscular fight scenes and a butt or two in every shot.

The next story involves a mysterious organization not dissimilar from Hydra that dates back to the Revolutionary War. This story weaves in a long lost compatriot of Captain America’s from World War II named Steele as well as an interesting Nick Fury backup. The backup, drawn by David Aja, is a great one-shot that reveals the trouble of Nick Fury having life model decoys. It fits into a sci-fi feel as the story probes whether or not a robot is alive and fits into the bigger story since this robot (calling himself Max) is closely involved with the bigger plot. It’s a trippy tale that’s a nice done in one. The bigger picture story involves bringing the Master of Kung Fu’s father back to life. Again, Deodato Jr. does a great job with the fight scenes and there’s even some artistic layout designs that fans of Old Man Logan will find familiar.

This collection wraps up with a full fleshing out of John Steele, Captain America’s one time friend who fought with him during World War II, and is drawn by Will Conrad. The story has huge implications in the Super Soldier Serum and utilizes and interesting mind tapping devices that Beast concocts. I’m not sure how I feel about another America soldier with the strength of Superman going on adventures with Captain America, but it fleshes out the character who was introduced in the previous stories here.

'Secret Avengers by Ed Brubaker: The Complete Collection' review: Well told spy style superhero stories

Deodato dazzles with the fight moves.

It can’t be perfect can it?

The second story involving Kung Fu runs on a bit long and seems to wander with its plot twists seemingly to fill out the story rather than deliver. The first story set on Mars has plenty of interesting reveals and does a good job with the team dynamics, but this second one abandons the team for stretches focusing exclusively on duos and trios of the team instead. That reduces the team feel of the book.

Is it good?

This was one of the more dynamic times for the Avengers with a Captain America who was no longer working in the light for the good of the nation. No, instead he was working in the shadows to do the dirty work. Brubaker infused the story with a cool espionage feel and Deodato Jr. added intense action with dark moody tones. Overall this is an entertaining collection well worth a look if you dig spy stories.

'Secret Avengers by Ed Brubaker: The Complete Collection' review: Well told spy style superhero stories
Secret Avengers by Ed Brubaker: The Complete Collection
Is it good?
A strong collection about the early days of the darker and more spy-like Secret Avengers.
Mike Deodato Jr. does fantastic work bringing in a dark moody tone with some awesome fight scenes
The team lineup is strong and Brubaker gives them plenty of twists and turns to navigate
Will Conrad's art in the two part story about John Steele is interesting and fleshes out Cap's backstory
David Aja does fantastic things with his Nick Fury one-shot tale
The story involving Kung Fu runs on a bit long and doesn't utilize the team quite as well as the first story arc
8.5
Great

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