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Into the Abyss

August 5, 2010

The third part of Ed Brubaker’s brand new Avengers series, Secret Avengers #3, reveals the scope of the threat with which the team is faced.  We start out with a flashback to the Civil War, when a mysterious Confederate soldier, Aloysius Thorndrake (or as some people jokingly said, Jonah Hex) was pursuing a traitor who just suddenly… disappeared.  In the present day, Ant-Man floats through some mysterious, kind of in-between space, and Steve Rogers and Beast face off against their giant friend, who wants to know where the third crown is.  The guy realizes that they don’t know where it is, and the Nova Corps Worldmind tries to tell them where it is.  Then, Valkyrie calls in, letting them know that she’s fighting Nova and the Shadow Council, and that Black Widow and Moon Knight are down.  However, Nova takes her out fairly quickly as well, then gives the planet an oxygen atmosphere so the Shadow Council goons he has controlled can breath.  Steve tells War Machine to rendezvous with them, but he informs them that Ant-Man is missing.  We see Ant-Man in a Shadow Council fortress, where he’s trying to hide as the alarm goes off.  Thorndrake, somehow alive and very old, talks with evil Nick Fury about the second crown.  Seems they were the ones who let Roxxon dig on Mars, but when they found the second crown, Roxxon turned against them.  Then, Thorndrake tells Fury to send troops up to Mars to deal with what’s going on.  On Mars, Archon, the giant guy, explains that he and his brethren, now all dead, were created seemingly by the Watchers to guard against the Abyss, some unknown great evil from the beginnings of time.  But the children of the Abyss are controlling Nova through the crown, and he will soon awaken the Abyss.  Seems the crowns were created by those affected by the Abyss, and the rest of the Archons were killed at that time trying to stop the users.  As this conversation continues, War Machine arrives with the injured Valkyrie, and Beast discovers that there is breathable air.  When Archon sees Nova, he attacks him, but Nova’s own power, combined with that of the crown, is too great.  Archon is damaged, and he tells Steve that he is unable to win this fight.

Well, I sadly think we have officially seen the limits of the great Ed Brubaker.  I never thought I’d live to see the day.  Secret Avengers started out as a really cool premise, but already Brubaker has tripped up.  For one, we have yet another evil organization with a long past (just like HYDRA and Leviathan).  Plus, we have yet another great undefinable/generic cosmic evil.  Seems to me that Brubaker should have done what he does best and stuck to street superheroes.  Worst of all, there’s a serious possibility that this will just ruin the history of the Serpent Crown.  The Serpent Crown is supposed to be connected to the ancient evil god, Set, but if that original Serpent Crown is connected to these two new ones, it’s actually connected to the Abyss.  And there’s no way those can be the same things, because Set was created back when life first started on Earth, while the Abyss has apparently existed since even before Galactus.  Again, I just see that as a way to one-up pre-existing, more storied cosmic characters, and I can’t say I like it.  I mean, this is Ed Brubaker, so this, possibly the worst of his stories I’ve read, is still pretty dang good.  His characterization is great, and the story is constructed decently.  I’m even still interested to see who this other Nick Fury is.  But even though Brubaker’s best with street superheroes, I expected more from him.  Fortunately, Mike Deodato Jr.’s pencils make up for a lot of the weaknesses of the script.  Although the pastelly colors and relatively few shadows in the prologue aren’t terribly pretty, and the Watcher’s head is even bigger than usual, the rest of the issue is just classic Deodato.  The Valkyrie/Nova/Shadow Council fight is particularly dynamic.  So yes, it would be accurate to say I’m disappointed.  I expected much more out of this series.  I thought it was going to be some black ops, street level Avengery stuff.  Instead, it’s Brubaker awkwardly trying out a cosmic story.  It reminds me a tad too much of the Unspoken arc.  Only, since it’s Brubaker, it’s still better.

Plot: 7.4      Art: 9.3      Dialogue: 8.8      Overall: 7.9

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