Review: Secret Avengers #25

Secret Avengers

Secret Avengers #25
Rick Remender (writer), Gabriel Hardman (pencils, inks), Bettie Breitweiser (colours), Chris Eliopoulos (letters), Arthur Adams & Peter Steigerwald (cover). $3.99

Rick Remender’s current story line to Secret Avengers comes to a conclusion with some major surprises along the way, leaving us begging for the next issue.

Featuring a full-scale battle against robotic clones of Avengers – both old and new – Remender’s Secret Avengers team featuring new leader Hawkeye brings thrills and some life-changing moments.

Remender lets every Avenger get some time to shine throughout the story: from the sudden resurrection of Ant-Man getting some butt-kicking scenes, to the Human Torch leaving the story with a frightening conclusion; no one character outshines another. Everyone has a voice in the book and much like in Uncanny X-Force, Remender finds a way to give the story a perfect balance of characterization.

What can definitely be taken away from this book is how well Remender turns around our opinions of Ant-Man’s sudden return. Much like how people are beginning to feel about the recent amount of deaths in comics only-to-come-back issues later, the previous issues final page showing Eric O’Grady’s death followed by his reappearance one issue later flustered me beyond belief. How could Remender do something so ridiculous like bringing back a character one issue later? To leave spoilers out of it, the final pages of this issue make you realize that the author always has something up his sleeve.

To make the already great story even better, artist Gabriel Hardman really kicks it up with some fast-paced noir-style action in this issue. Punches are thrown, explosions are had, and beat up bodies scour each page with deep inks and colours. It took a few issues for me to realize it, but for a secret ops book, the art style matches the story perfectly. Panels are scary when necessary while lines are crisp and intense. Hardman really hits the nail on the head with this issue with very clean storytelling and even cleaner visuals.

Nothing could be done without Bettie Breitweiser’s colours, however. The balance of colours when people like The Human Torch fly across the panels, or a various city landscapes with varying blues and street lights give depth – all of it adds to the noir-style that Hardman creates. Breitweiser should stick to Hardman like how Dean White does with Opena, Brooks, and Ribic on Uncanny X-Force. (Jeez, I can’t get enough Remender, can I?)

With the arc coming to a close and Avengers versus X-Men now rearing its crossover head, I’m sure we’ll have a lot more excitement in-store for the stealthy Avengers.

Grade: 8/10

Keep on Space Truckin’!

Classic Comic Fridays: Fantastic Four #45

Like every Friday, I will review a classic comic from my personal collection. For this week, I managed to find a decent-quality copy of a comic at my local comic store. I absolutely loved the story and art, so I figured that I should review it.

Fantastic Four #45

The comic, if you haven’t read the title already, is Fantastic Four #45 from December of 1965. It’s a classic, and one which was the first appearance of the Inhumans! Yes, Black Bolt, Crystal, Lockjaw, Triton and Karnak all get their first appearance in this early issue of F4. And you better believe that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were the two on the helm for writing and penciling credits, while Joe Sinnott was on-board for inking. Needless to say, this is a classic comic done by the legendary comic artists which we all revere today, and I’m absolutely excited to have read it and to be reviewing it now.

Titled, “Among Us Hide the Inhumans,” the book opens up with the F4 minus Sue, trapped under rubble. After a battle with Dragon Man, the three were defeated, and Dragon Man kidnapped Sue. Johnny goes after her and confronts Dragon Man. Sue realizes that Dragon Man has child-like mind and tries to get Johnny to stop his attack. However, Johnny uses his Nova Flame power, and knocks out Dragon Man, saving Sue.

After defeat, Sue tames Dragon Man, working with his child-like mind and convincing him that the F4 were just scared and would not actually hurt him. Convinced, the three, Johnny, Sue and Dragon Man, return back to the Baxter Building to meet Reed and Grimm. They all decide to keep Dragon Man in the building for the time being, so they make him a room.

Johnny takes a break and calls his girlfriend, Dorrie Evans. Because of Johnny always putting her second for the Fantastic Four team, she says she already has another date that night and cannot go out. Upset, Johnny goes for a walk and finds some red-haired woman hunkered in an alley. Perturbed by her, Johnny walks in to see what she is doing when all of a sudden a huge gust of wind lifts him up in the air. By the time he drops down, she is gone.

Johnny returns to the Baxter Building to see that the rest of the team are having a tough time trying to get Dragon Man to sleep. Sue ends up sedating him, while Ben reflects hard on himself on how he is a monster, too. Poor Ben.

Air-Jet Cycle

Johnny decides to go back out and hunt for the red-haired woman – which he finds with ease (somehow). However, she tries to escape, stating he wouldn’t understand her world. Johnny then turns on his powers, prompting the woman to realize she may not be alone. Lockjaw appears behind Johnny, somewhat startling him, and takes both him, and the now revealed woman to an underground base under Manhattan.

The woman reveals herself as Crystal, and introduced Johnny to Karnak, followed by Triton and Crystal’s sister, Medusa. Johnny, scared, knowing Medusa was part of the Frightful Four (and meeting in an earlier F4 comic), and Karnak accusing Johnny of tricking Crystal, Johnny panics and escapes, creating a “4” signal in flames in the sky.

The rest of the team join up with Johnny – arriving by the F4’s Air-Jet Cycle (being its first appearance) – and they are attacked by Karnak from behind. Ready to fight, the book ends with Black Bolt literally crashing down onto the scene.

There is definitely a lot going on in this one comic, yet it does not feel rushed. Actually, by the end of the book, I was asking myself, “it’s over already?” Lee’s great dialogue and character development creates a world on its own. Tied in with Kirby’s brilliant art and Sinnott’s inks, the book to me felt ahead of its time. Of course, that was arguably put Marvel ahead of most comic companies. Rich character development mixed with brilliant art.

Black Bolt's First Appearance

The cover of the issue, also done by Kirby and Sinnott, even seems menacing looking. There’s great dread right on the cover. I love Sinnott’s ink on the F4 directly. The Thing’s body is greatly drawn with shading accenting his body. I love it.

Another great thing about this comic – which is outside of the story – is the M.M.M.S., the Merry Marvel Marching Society which Stan Lee invented for Marvel fans. Gone are the times where fans would have pages dedicated to letters, and a box-out for newer members – one even from my home province of Ontario.

Of course, Stan’s Soapbox was placed in the comic as well. In it, he made a prediction too. He said that he knew the Inhumans would take off with a life of their own. He was excited to give the readers their backstories, and was thrilled to continue writing with them.

All-in-all, the book itself was brilliant. Albeit, one moment in the dialogue, Reed snaps at Sue and says to “stop sounding like a wife,” which to me was a shock to see in comics back then. But I mean, that’s how these characters are to develop!

Grade: 10/10

Until next time, keep on Space Truckin’!