The Secret Is Out

Secret Avengers is a pretty damn good comic book.

I was pretty sure it was going to be, with Brubaker writing it and all, but still, months ago, I was worried: what if it isn't any good? What if Brubaker can't write a team book? And isn't Mike Deodato's work a little stiff?

And, at the beginning, some of those fears were justified. Brubaker's writing was a little slow, at the start, and it just felt like he was being weird for the sake of being weird. Awesome weird, but still- it didn't really seem to have much of a point.

By the end of that first arc, though, Brubaker really hit his stride. By the time he hit the second arc, after an interlude drawn by David Aja and Michael Lark, he was really hitting it out of the park: now that he's playing with Shang-Chi and the Prince of Orphans, things seem really fluid and each piece fits together perfectly. Fluidity, too, is not something I was expecting from Mike Deodato Jr. and, while I guess "fluid" is probably the wrong word, there's a certain energy in his art. I can't place my finger on its source, precisely, and it doesn't help that his figures still look like, well, action figures. Action figures articulate, though, and you can look at them from all sorts of angles, which is precisely what Deodato does. The art here is good. Really good. The stiff look isn't usually my thing, but it's impossible not to appreciate the work and not only because he's clearly good (maybe even the best at this sort of style). Mostly it's because he's just so damn good at presenting it, with panels and page layout that are fluid and dynamic in a way that his pencils aren't. The way we look at it moves, even if what we're looking at doesn't and that's just utterly brilliant.

This aspect of Deodato's work is front and center in Secret Avengers #8, the third part of a five part story centering around the return of Shang-Chi's father, a character who can't be named for copyright reasons, but who I'm more than happy to tell is Victorian villain Fu Manchu. Brubaker finds plenty of clever ways around that particular obstacle, just like he does some pretty cool stuff with what is essentially a book-long fight scene. It goes maybe a mite too fast for my liking, and I'm concerned that he's used Sharon Carter as a damsel in distress two storylines in a row, but everything else seems spot on. He knows his characters, and not a word seems out of place or out of character. If he keeps writing the book like this, and Deodato keeps drawing and designing the hell out of it, I'm all in.

Also, here's to hoping Brubaker keeps Prince of Orphans around. He's a fantastic character, one of my favorite minor ones, and he's been in stasis too long. Would it be too much to ask for a mini-series or something?

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