Not unlike Hydra, the Secret Empire arc has infiltrated the current Marvel Universe almost in its entirety. However, when you have writers like Matthew Rosenberg working on tie-in issues there is little to complain about. Most of us are familiar with Rosenberg’s earlier work over at Black Mask where he penned the critic and fan favorites; We Can Never Go Home and 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank. Although Secret Warriors is not Rosenberg’s first work at Marvel it certainly is his most important in much the same way that the title was for Jonathan Hickman back in 2009. It is a title that defines the battle between S.H.I.E.L.D and Hydra in a way that no other Marvel series does and just as it opened the door to the larger Marvel Universe for Hickman, this time around the series serves as a similar doorway for Rosenberg but, at a much more tumultuous time in Marvel history. In fact the Secret Empire arc is indicative of the upheaval even more so than the most recent round of Secret Wars, which was supposed to calm the raging seas of the Marvel U and unite the various alternate universes. Needless to say the resolution to Secret Wars was not the unifying event we were promised, thus paving the way for Secret Empire.
Rosenberg’s Secret Warriors has very little in common with Hickman’s complex and engrossing version the series other than the name and the fact they both feature Daisy Johnson aka Quake prominently. Where Hickman’s take on the title is full of spy novel tropes and tightly woven espionage heavy plots, Rosenberg gives us a straight forward super hero team book, again there is little to complain about.
This issue picks up after the Secret Warriors are very nearly defeated by the X-Men, but before they can tend to their wounds the team must face Daisy’s diabolical father, Mister Hyde. Hyde confronts Daisy about her team’s search for a mysterious Inhuman called Leer, who Karnak says holds the key to Hydra’s ultimate defeat. This leads to a scene that would make any domestic violence councilor cringe, Hyde belts his estranged daughter across the face as though he were hitting Thor. Daisy’s response is priceless and shows just how well Rosenberg really gets these characters. His ability to humanize larger than life characters and make them so relatable is what makes this book stand out among Marvel’s other team books. Unfortunately, Mister Hyde is not the only obstacle they must face; the team is facing internal conflicts that threaten to tear them apart.
Rosenberg is a comic book writer for comic book fans, he loves this stuff as much as we do and that comes through in his writing. His villains are evil incarnate while his heroes are not always as obvious. They are very often flawed and conflicted, the way I like my heroes personally. He is the kind of writer that swings for the fences every time he’s at the plate, to use an extremely out-of-place sports metaphor. This series, perhaps more than any other currently at Marvel, is perfect for that style of writing. It’s certainly far less cerebral than its predecessor of the same name and decidedly more young reader friendly than the X-Men and Avengers books on the racks today without being silly and feeling like an all ages title. It’s a fun read and that’s all you are looking for sometimes.
Visually this book is a stunner. From Tradd Moore’s graphically kinetic cover right through every single panel of Javier Garron’s interior art your eyes feast upon one gorgeous image after another. The artwork really steals the show on this one and that is no slight to Rosenberg’s narrative. Garron is no stranger to Marvel readers; his indelible touch can be found on almost every A list Marvel book in publication; Amazing Spider-Man, Cyclops, Starlord, but Marvel seems to have a soft spot for the artist on their event books, like IVX, Death of X and Inferno. He captures all the energy needed to fuel big splash page fight scenes while never shying away from more emotionally charged smaller moments. Javier Garron is one of the industry’s brightest stars and when Israel Silva adds the colors, as is the case here, that star is even brighter. The visual team on this book is stellar, in fact in places where the pace could have lagged it is the fantastic images and colors that step on the accelerator and speed things up.
Secret Warriors is one of those books that is bursting with potential but, needs to dial it in just a bit more. Matthew Rosenberg’s story and dialogue are solid while Javier Garron’s artwork is the stuff of a fan boy’s sequential art dreams. 3/5
- Written by Matthew Rosenberg
Art by Javier Garron
Cover by Tradd Moore, Matthew Wilson