Wednesday Comics Review: Secret Avengers 16

Once upon a time, there was a pub in London. And it, a bunch of people on the Warren Ellis Forum went for a drink after a Warren Ellis signing. And then kept going for drinks, most weeks.

One of those people was Jamie McKelvie. Others were Kieron Gillen and Antony Johnston.

Today, Secret Avengers #16 by Warren Ellis and Jamie McKelvie is published. And it’s insanely joyous.

Warren Ellis thinks superheroes are silly. And, yes, obviously he’s right, but he thinks they’re very very silly. And he likes to prove it. So he creates a very silly scenario here, using the flotsam and jetsam of Marvel continuity over the decades. With four disparate semi-Avengers finding a secret city buried a mile below the surface on Cincinatti, giving Jamie plenty of perspective points and lines of sight to throw down some mean architecture and car chases throughout it, culminating in a very nasty use of Doctor Doom’s time machine, which has been emitting Von Doom energy.

“Von Doom energy” is said about twenty-five times in this comic and it keeps sounding more and more ridiculous.

We have special guns that shoot themed bullets. We have an over talkative Beast who is clearly getting on his team mates nerves without thm saying a word. We know this more than anything because he’s getting on the readers nerves.

We have an insane but very useful Moon Knight. Insanity can be useful, especially in superheroes. Especially when they get shot a lot.

We have a stroppy Black Widow who Steve Rogers seems to be needling into doing just the right thing at the right time with the right weapon.

And we have Steve Rogers, who were are told so very early on in this comic, can master any weapon in seconds. What we are not told is that is fellow Secret Avengers are as much a weapon as anything he can shoot or throw. And he uses them with just as much skill, even though they may not be aware of it.

I mean, Moon Knight probably is.

So we get a variety of Marvel ephemera thrown together to create a very silly comic indeed. But then the threat, the danger and the solution are played straight, deadly straight, with the consequences that comes with it. We start with the playfulness that may have been expected in Nextwave, but then the book takes a swerve and goes in a very different direction.

And then it ends. Done in one. Reminiscent of Global Frequency, we’re thrown into the emergency and we have hardly any time to like with what comes after and we’re out of it. Job done. Move on. And it looks like we’ll be seeing a lot of that kind of thing in subsequent issues. Quite a refreshing change really…

Secret Avengers #16 is published this week from Marvel. $3.99, 22 pages.

Comics courtesy of Orbital Comics, London.

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.