Hey, remember when Venom joined the Secret Avengers? Yeah, that’s still a thing. Okay, so here’s what happened: after that initial arc, the Secret Avengers title got caught up in that whole “AvX” deal, and the following three-part tie-in had the team fight in Hala as the Phoenix Force was approaching Earth. It was actually a very good story, and it gave a good reason for Ms. Marvel changing her identity to Captain Marvel, but, unfortunately, Venom did not figure into those stories. After that brief intermission, we’re finally back with a story that has been in the works since the very first issue.
Secret Avengers #29
“A Council of Masters”
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Matteo Scalera
Color Art: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover Art: Arthur Adams & Peter Steigerwald
The Secret Avengers: Hawkeye (Clint Barton), Black Widow (Natasha Romanoff), Beast (Dr. Hank McCoy, not in the story), Valkyrie (Brunnhilde), Human Torch (Jim Hammond, not in the story), Captain Britain (Brian Braddock, not in the story), Venom (Corporal Flash Thompson), Ant-Man (Eric O’Grady, unlisted)
***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD***
PLOT: Background: Since Steve Rogers put the team together, the Secret Avengers have been fighting against the Shadow Council, led by rogue LMD Max Fury, who wants possession of three mystical crowns. John Steele, the original Super Soldier, was also a member of this group, but the Secret Avengers have freed him from the Council’s mind control.
In the nation of Bagalia, John Steele attempted to defect in possession of one of these crowns, but he’s stopped by Fury and his Masters of Evil. In Moscow, Venom and Valkyrie take down Shadow Council members and are about to share a kiss when Hawkeye calls them in. At the Lighthouse, Ant-Man is contacted by Father and the Deathlok Janet van Dyne (from Secret Avengers #25). She notices that Eric sounds hesitant about his work as their double agent.
After the briefing, Hawkeye, Valkyrie, Ant-Man, and Venom (with Black Widow as missions operator) rescue Steele, who was being tortured by the Circus of Crime. Steele dies from his wounds but warns Hawkeye that Max must not gather the crowns. Venom in turn tortures one of the Circus’ members, Clown, and finds out that Taskmaster has the last crown. Venom, changing into his monstrous form, tries to blend in at The Hole, the most vile spot in Bagalia, and assaults Taskmaster.
THOUGHTS: I picked up Secret Avengers when it originally began, back when Ed Brubaker was the writer and the Shadow Council storyline was first introduced. In that first arc, Nova was possessed by the Serpent Crown, and it was up to Steve Rogers to rescue him. Since then, the book has gone through many hands, and now that the book is
coming to an end (seeing how it hasn’t been solicited for Marvel NOW) being revamped with Nick Spencer back at the helm, it’s nice to see this storyline coming to an exciting close. Even the whole Descendants story thread seems bound to play an important part soon.
After being absent for three issues, Venom features very prominently. Remender in his Venom run dropped hints of an attraction between Flash and Valkyrie, and now in Secret Avengers they are beginning to act on it. Considering it hasn’t been long since Flash’s relationship with Betty Brant ended in the Venom book, this seems like it’s happening rather quickly, and I don’t believe for a second that this is gonna be of any lasting significance, but at the very least it should provide an interesting dynamic between these two characters.
We then see Venom threatening to drop Clown from a very high building in exchange for information. When Clown gives it, Venom drops him anyway, but Hawkeye saves him. Venom and Hawkeye have words, with Venom basically calling Hawkeye a hypocrite for saying that Avengers don’t kill (and he’s right; remember, Hawkeye was the one that wanted to kill Norman Osborn because “you’d kill Hitler if you had the chance”). Upon my initial reading, I thought Remender was writing Flash out of character (which would’ve been odd, seeing how Remender was writing Venom for nearly two years), but I get now that he’s writing a Flash that has become sour after the events of the Savage Six arc.
Finally, I thought it was brilliant to have Venom just walk into the bad guy’s bar. I mean, who’d be dumb enough to deny admittance to Venom? It’s too bad his cover is blown right away, but it really was a treat to see a more classic version of the character.
I loved the art by Matteo Scalera. It reminds quite a bit of Stefano Caselli’s art: it’s animated, but not ridiculously so. Some of the action scenes are quite brutal, which I appreciated. Matthew Wilson’s colouring makes the characters stand out, even in the night scenes. The cover is nice but it’s one of those covers that hardly reflects what’s going on inside.
VERDICT: Secret Avengers #29 is a very good issue which seems to be tying up the loose ends introduced when the book first started. The art and the colouring are of excellent quality. The issue brings decent action and sets up the story arc quite nicely. Plus, Venom is finally put to good use. 3.5 Symbiotes out of 5.
FREE CODE GIVEAWAY: That’s right, kids. Secret Avengers has joined the free digital copy bandwagon (which jacked up the price to $3.99 in the process). First one to ask nicely in the comments will receive the code via e-mail.
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~My Two Cents