Sunday, November 27, 2011

Secret Avengers #19

It would be easy to think that the "done-in-one-issue" comic books were a thing of the past.

In the modern era, creative teams seem focused on the four- to eight-issue story arcs, which can then be collected into a trade paperback. This often leads to stories that are padded or otherwise dragged out to fill the alloted length.

Thankfully, writer Warren Ellis is having none of that in his work on Secret Avengers.

Each story is contained in a single issue, and takes Steve Rogers and his fellow "Secret" Avengers all over the world, tackling strange menaces that jump from the super-scientific to the supernatural without blinking.

This issue brings a quartet to the eastern European country of Symkaria (which borders Transylvania and Latveria - how cool is that?), where they're investigating an insidious drug trade which is much more than it seems.

Working with Steve are Sharon Carter, the Black Widow and Moon Knight. It's a group that is underpowered but never outmatched.

The story is fast-paced, smart and economical - there's no wasted space here.

The art by Michael Lark, Stefano Gaudiano and Brian Thies is perfectly matched to the story - cinematic, dark and often brutal, the story is clearly told and we never lose track of the characters, even though there are few costumes in view. Strong work.

I could quibble about a few points - Steve Rogers seems to turn a blind eye to some brutal tactics - but he is a soldier, and one would expect he could handle such things.

Ellis is putting together a darned impressive series of stories here - and if you missed them, I'm sure they'll be collected, too - even if each chapter stands on its own two feet.

A radical concept, to be sure.

Grade: A-


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