If you haven’t done so yet, I strongly encourage you to take a look at the latest reviews for this series, in which I take a look at every issue of the Abyss story arc. I gave it an overall rating of 4 out of 5 symbiotes. I bring that up because Secret Avengers by Rick Remender Volume 2 is available now, which collects that arc as well as the equally great AvX tie-in (which is referenced in this issue). If that is not enough incentive for you, fellow Crawlspace reviewer Kevin Cushing calls this series “the better Venom book since Venom joined the team.”
Secret Avengers #33
“Rise of the Descendants”
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Andy Kuhn
Color Art: Matthew Wilson
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover Art: Arthur Adams & Peter Steigerwald
The Secret Avengers: Hawkeye (Clint Barton), Giant-Man (Dr. Henry Pym), Valkyrie (Brunnhilde), Captain Britain (Brian Braddock), Venom (Corporal Flash Thompson)
***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD***
PLOT: Eric O’Grady, now the Black Ant, visits Max Fury at his cell at the Lighthouse space station. He convinces him to sign over control of Bagalia to Father in exchange for his freedom. Immediately after, however, O’Grady destroys the rogue LMD.
Captain Britain and Hawkeye make a journey to Earth-666, where Brian had left the Orb of Necromancy for sakekeeping. Unfortunately, the orb has fallen into the possession of the god of that dimension, and the Avengers of the Undead plan to use it to “spread undeath.”
Black Ant removes Jim Hammond from stasis and teleports him away. He then uses the same teleporter to bring in the Descendants to Lighthouse. The Deathlok Janet van Dyne knocks out Hank Pym and takes him prisoner. The rest of the Descendants fight and defeat Valkyrie and Flash Thompson in their bedroom.
The Descendants retrieve Parvez (the Descendant child prince in the care of the Secret Avengers) and teleport out, leaving behind miniaturized Human Torches who begin destroying the space station.
THOUGHTS: We have yet again another strong issue by Rick Remender. As he proceeds to wrap up his tenure on the title, he’s definitely packing these issues with all kinds of action and twists. We have a lot to cover here.
Eric O’Grady has donned his new Black Ant look. The first thing he does is to pay Max Fury a visit. He narrates the first part of the issue, commenting on what it’s like to have someone else’s memories and what Eric was really thinking as he died. He claims that “being an immortal fake suits Eric O’Grady just fine” and that the original would have done anything to stay alive. Because he makes it a point to sully the original O’Grady’s sacrifice, coupled with the fact that this LMD is a traitor to being with, I’d like to think that Eric is an unreliable narrator (one that lies to the reader). Lending more credence to this theory is his concern when asking Lady Deathstrike what happened to Venom and Valkyrie.
At any rate, after Max signs over Bagalia to Father, he finally bites the dust. Before that, he was going crazy in his cell because his memories were Nick Fury’s and not his own. Even if he’s not the real deal, watching him shed tears almost makes you feel sorry for the sentient robot.
This issue introduces to the series the Captain Britain Corps and the Starlight Citadel, as well as Earth-666 and the “Avengers of the Undead.” Yikes. Prior to Secret Avengers, I had never read anything with Captain Britain in it, so I thought it was a bit much to take. At first glance, this journey doesn’t appear to have anything to do with the Descendant storyline and seems to just provide a nice distraction while Lighthouse gets blasted, but Hawkeye and Captain Britain are actually looking for the Orb of Necromancy, the artifact that gave life to the Descendants, which is guarded by the Captain Britain Corps in the Otherworld. Unfortunately, this is not made very clear in the issue itself and required me to do a little bit of research. I thought the Orb of Necromancy came out of nowhere until I remember it was mentioned in Secret Avengers #25.
I did get a chuckle at the “Avengers of the Undead”, especially when the two Hawkeyes meet. This team is led by Brother Voodoo (who I’m pretty sure is still dead, unless something happened in New Avengers) and is made up of satanic versions of Captain America, Wolverine, Hawkeye, Thor, Daredevil, Spider-Man, Black Widow, and the Punisher (as Frankencastle, a nice nod to Remender’s previous work). At first, this team seems willing to cooperate with Brian and Clint in retrieving the orb, but then they double-cross them later on. Gee, a satanic group of Avengers betraying the heroes? That’s a shocker right there (although, to be honest, I was surprised a little bit by this development)!
More importantly, though, we get a nice scene where Hawkeye lets Brian know he respects him, especially after learning he pushed back the Phoenix Force on his own (back in Secret Avengers #28). Brian is trying to be humble and not talk about it. I thought it was a nice interaction between the two.
We finally get the confrontation between Hank Pym and the robotic version of Janet van Dyne (who, had Bendis not ruined the mystery, was still thought to be dead). The most interesting part about this is that Pym is scared out of his wits and never once tries to attack Janet, probably due to his long emotional baggage. Janet even backhands him in the same manner as that infamous scene in Avengers #213.
Lastly, Flash and Valkyrie get hot and heavy, with Valkyrie claiming that what she feels for Flash is just lust. They are interrupted by the Descendants, and a fully naked Valkyrie does battle with Lady Deathstrike, but Flash, because he doesn’t have his symbiote, is unable to do anything, and they are both overwhelmed. Valkyrie, at this point, admits it was more than lust, before Yalda (the boy’s mom and now a Descendant) blows a hole on the wall, leaving Flash hanging on for dear life and Valkyrie flying in space. Artist Andy Kuhn deserves the credit here for making this scene extremely intense.
In case you’re wondering, that’s Emperor Doombot on the cover with Black Ant, but he only appears for one panel and then is kinda forgotten.
Occasionally, I get asked what’s a good “jumping on point” for Remender’s Secret Avengers. While I thought this issue was excellent, this is definitely not intended for new readers, as Remender is starting the final story arc that will wrap up his run and relies heavily on events that he’s set up throughout it. Personally, I think it’s essential to read Secret Avengers by Rick Remender Volume 1 (#21.1-25) to get the most out of this story.
VERDICT: Secret Avengers #33 gets the final story arc of the series off to a fantastic start. There’s a lot of build-up going on, but also lots of intense moments. Andy Kuhn’s art is very nice. It’s not as easily accessible as previous issues, as some required reading is definitely necessary. 4 Symbiotes out of 5.
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~My Two Cents