Secret Warriors #7–10 and Dark Reign: The List – Secret Warriors by Jonathan Hickman and Alessandro Vitti and Ed McGuinness
This is only four issues of the main series, plus a one-shot, and not a lot of actual stuff happens, but Hickman fills it with sufficient action, intrigue and characterisation to keep you entertained. There is an issue dedicated to the Secret Warriors themselves fighting against Norman Osborn and his Avengers while their secret base is about to self-destruct, but it’s more about plans being hatched, Fury doing his espionage thing and the judgement of Alex, the son of Ares and god of fear. I’m impressed with the different aspects Hickman brings to the book – lots of talking, but also big action (a whole bunch of LMDs defending the base); stories set in the modern world of money and spying and business, but then having Alex at the council elite of the earth’s pantheon. It’s a very interesting mix.
I liked the art from Vitti; I liked his style and storytelling, the facial expressions (I loved the look of pride on Ares’ face when he sees his son standing up to Norman Osborn) and the very different faces and anatomies of the characters (and not just the fantastic moustache on John Garrett). He does action well, although some of the larger action scenes needed a little more definition, but that could be the colouring, which is quite muted and on the earthier end of the palette. It’s quite a contrast to McGuinness’ art on the Dark Reign special. He seems to be aiming for a modern take on Steranko and Kirby, but in his muscular cartoony style; it’s not my favourite art I’ve seen from him, even though I usually enjoy the dynamism and simplicity of his work.
The one-shot is set in the middle of the ongoing series, showing that Hickman has everything planned and under control, as he works through his specific plotting. However, he still has time for a sense of humour: Nick Fury’s list in reply to Osborn’s list is short and sweet (‘Save the world. Punch Norman in the face. Have a beer.’), which made me smile. Although I’ve been up and down on Hickman’s run on Fantastic Four, he seems to be more in control and consistent with these new characters in a very specific story (I’ve read somewhere that there is a planned ending for this book, something that makes me happy), and I’m enjoying Secret Warriors very much.