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July 13, 2010

Secret Warriors #17 starts the latest arc of the series, focusing on the legacy of the Howling Commandos and their current-day activities as a mercenary group working for Nick Fury.  As Fury drinks by himself, some unknown ambassadors talk to each other.  Ambassadors from each of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council meet with Dum Dum Dugan and Jasper Sitwell to have some discussion about the Howling Commandos.  Dugan’s arm is broken mysteriously.  Sitwell plays coy for a while, and Dugan talks about the last time he saw Fury, at a Commandos get together two weeks ago.  There, he, Sitwell, John Garrett, Eric Koenig (not Koening), Rebel Ralston, Ralston’s son, Fury, Izzy Cohen, and Gabe Jones had a reunion to talk about old times.  In the present day, the Chinese ambassador continues to drill them, since some unknown incident happened on his soil.  Apparently, there was a HYDRA base there, and the Commandos, as well as Alexander Pierce’s caterpillar team, attacked it.  That’s the international incident that sparked this meeting.  And the ambassadors have satellite footage showing their helicarriers there.  When the ambassadors demand answers and want to know if they think that certain men are more important than sovereign nations (thinking about Fury), Dugan remembers the reunion again.  He remembers Cohen telling that story from the first issue of Secret Warriors, when Captain America said that inspiring speech about one man with great conviction being able to win a war, and one man with soldiers of similar conviction being able to change the world.  And Dugan says that he does believe that there are some men that important.  Although the ambassadors acknowledge the danger of HYDRA, they wonder if the Howling Commandos will be continuing their current course of action, ignoring borders and whatnot.  Dugan replies that’ll be hard, since most of the Commandos are dead.  And cut to a flashback of flaming helicarriers, presumably at the HYDRA base.

Well.  I certainly wasn’t expecting a massacre at the very end.  Not at all.  Well, this is another installment of Jonathan Hickman’s Secret Warriors epic, so of course, it’s great.  It’s nice to see all of these former Howling Commandos and S.H.I.E.L.D. folks meeting together at the reunion, and it’s so appropriate for Steve Rogers and Sharon Carter to show up to the reunion.  Of course, for Sharon, it’s both because she’s Steve’s girlfriend and because of her lineage.  Okay, so this wasn’t the most exciting issue.  The only real action was the one page or so of Pierce’s caterpillar team making those HYDRA folks bleed out the ears.  I’ll admit, I’m interested to see just who all of the members of that team are.  Especially the parasitic brain, shadow machine, and Amulet of Abbadon ones.  But the backwards look was a good choice for the narrative.  I especially liked the U.N. involvement, since it both reminds us that the Marvel Universe has a U.N. and that they actually do involve themselves in true international matters like the incident that this issue hints at and shows the beginning of.  Again, it may not be Hickman’s most exciting issue, but it’s solid.  Alessandro Vitti, unfortunately, is a poor substitute for Stefano Caselli.  I mean, his work is rather good, from what I’ve seen of it.  But the Imaginary Friends Studio colorists don’t really mesh with his work.  The colors and shadows are trying to make Vitti’s work look like Caselli’s, rather than let it be its own animal.  The result is that it pales in comparison.  I think that’s not really fair to Vitti.  I get the desire to maintain artistic continuity, but I don’t think it worked here.  Still, I’m excited to see where this issue goes.  And I wonder if almost all of those characters really die…

Plot: 8.8      Art: 8.4      Dialogue: 9.0      Overall: 8.7

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