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Let Slip the Dogs of War

June 15, 2010

Secret Warriors #16 concludes the return of Leviathan and begins the war between it and HYDRA.  The issue begins with Nick Fury meeting with Quake, Alexander Pierce, and Mikel Fury, the leaders of the three caterpillar files teams about the first meeting between Leviathan and HYDRA.  During the flashback to the meeting, we get another flashback to a young man meeting with an old man sick in bed two years ago.  Seems the old man was Commander Kraken, and the young man had found him out.  Then the young man took his helmet and killed the old man, indicating that the current Commander Kraken is not Baron Strucker’s old friend at all.  Orion, Magadan, and the Contessa arrive at the HYDRA base, the Crown, and things quickly go south when Orion tells Strucker to submit to him.  The Gorgon strikes the first blow, leading to all out war, and the burning of Kyoto.  Fury’s pretty pleased about the conflict, and he tells everyone to get ready for the next stage of their plan.  Daisy makes out with Hellfire, deciding to use their time before the mission to relax.  Fury meets with Dum Dum Dugan, Jasper Sitwell, and John Garrett, all of whom are ready for the final fight.  On the table in front of them are the twelve symbols of the Zodiac, indicating that the Zodiac cartel is involved in this story as well.  While in bed with Daisy, J.T. gets a call, so he has to run out.  Turns out he took some money from Baron Strucker, and now Strucker is going to use him to get at Fury, with the promise that Daisy will be spared.

Well, this issue had two nice twists.  First was the reveal about the current Commander Kraken not being the original; second was J.T. having been paid off by HYDRA.  Certainly adds more questions about loyalty into the mix.  I’m not too hot on the Madame Hydra/Viper redesign, since it makes her look more like a rejected design for a Namor villain than someone belonging in HYDRA.  As for Leviathan, it would be nice if we knew a bit more about who they really are, but I’m well aware that Jonathan Hickman will reveal that in due time.  I’m also really interested to see how the Zodiac will play into this, especially considering Mikel’s former position as Scorpio, a member of the Zodiac cartel.  Unfortunately, the big weak point of the issue is that Stefano Caselli is not doing the art.  He’s replaced by fellow Italian Gianluca Gugliotta, whose style is nothing more than a mockery of Caselli’s.  While is backgrounds, armor, and basic anatomy are fine, his faces are scrunched up and wrinkly.  Especially peoples’ mouths.  In one close up of Nick Fury, he makes Fury look like a really old man.  Nick is old, but he doesn’t look as old as he is.  It’s obvious that he was trying to maintain some artistic continuity by mimicking Caselli’s style, but his faces just don’t cut it.  I’m also curious as to why Kyoto looks nothing like it does in real life.  Looks more like Tokyo to me, with all those skyscrapers.  Next arc, Alessandro Vitti, who did the second Secret Warriors arc and the Siege tie-in, will be taking up penciling duties.  I wish Caselli were back, but Vitti’s arc is good enough that I can deal with it.  At least Hickman’s story is still so rock-solid that this book is enjoyable no matter who does the art.

Plot: 8.8      Art: 7.2      Dialogue: 8.9      Overall: 8.5

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