The Secret Invasion tie-in issues on New Avengers and Mighty Avengers have taken a dip in quality recently. Much of that is because Secret Invasion is lasting way too long. And the longer that this event gets stretched out the more apparent and obvious its shallow story becomes. At this point, Secret Invasion is similar to a house guest who has long overstayed their visit. Hopefully, Bendis will be able to give us an interesting tie-in issue with Mighty Avengers #18 rather than another time waster. Let’s do this review.
Writer: Brain Michael Bendis
Art: Stefano Caselli
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with a flashback scene to two days ago. We see Nick Fury staring at his wall of pictures of various super heroes in the Marvel Universe. Nick states that Maria Hill is a Skrull. Nick then barks for his new Howling Commandos, Hellfire, Yo Yo, Phobos, Stonewall, Quake and the Druid, to go bring him Maria Hill. Nick’s young heroes are in agreement that trying to kidnap the world’s top cop is a dumb idea.
Hellfire, in particular, challenges Nick for being rude and for not preparing them for a job like kidnapping Maria Hill. Nick curtly answers that Hellfire can leave if he can’t cut it. Nick then tells the team that he will not be accompanying them on this mission to get Maria Hill.
Hellfire snaps and says that first Nick placed tracers in all of them so that he could always know where they are and who they are. And that the tracers cannot be tampered with and if someone tries to tamper with the tracer it will explode. Obviously, the young heroes are less than pleased with that fact.
Hellfire then continues that Nick beat them up in training sessions. We flashback to Nick squaring off with Stonewall in a training session. Stonewall comments that his super strength will make this an unfair fight. Especially since Nick is an old guy. Nick then proceeds to open up a can of whoop-ass on Stonewall. Nick spits that today the young heroes learn that their super powers means exactly shit.
We cut back to the present with Hellfire stating that there was also that thing involving Yo Yo. We flashback to Yo Yo asleep in her bed at Nick’s compound. Suddenly, Hydra agents bust into her room, knock out Yo Yo and then kidnap her. We cut to Yo Yo being awoken by a bucket of water to her face. Yo Yo is tied to a chair and Madame Hydra is standing in front of her.
Madame Hydra asks Yo Yo to tell her where Nick Fury is hiding. Yo Yo comments that Madame Hydra is much “thicker” in person. Madame Hydra sneers for Yo Yo to tell her where Nick Fury is located or she will have Yo Yo killed. Yo Yo says “No.”
Madame Hydra then tells her agents to kill Yo Yo. A Hydra agent grabs Yo Yo’s hair and places his knife at her throat. Madame Hydra turns to leave and Yo Yo screams for Madame Hydra to wait. Madame Hydra turns back around and Yo Yo says that “You know by thick…I meant fat, right?”
Madame Hydra gets a sly smile and then turns into Nick Fury. Nick tells Yo Yo “Well done.” The Hydra agents then take off their masks and we see that they are all Yo Yo’s teammates. Nick says that this was just a test to see if Yo Yo would crack under pressure. Nick says that Yo Yo didn’t crack and that she did a good job.
Yo Yo then screams that Nick tortured her. Yo Yo then begins crying. Quake runs to comfort Yo Yo. Quake snaps at Nick that she told Nick that he did not have to take this so far. Quake then tells Yo Yo that they have all been through this before and that Yo Yo did better than any of the rest of them.
We cut back to the present with Hellfire still yelling at Nick for torturing them. Nick curtly responds that they are all much stronger, smarter, savvier and more trustworthy because of it. Nick then barks that the new Howling Commandos need to get to work. Nick says that there are those plotting to ruin the planet. Nick tells the young heroes to bring him Maria Hill.
We shift to yesterday, with the Howling Commandos staking out Maria Hill and all of them assuming their positions. We see Maria Hill leaving a meeting and walking to her SHIELD limo with several SHIELD agents with her. Phobos rides by on his bicycle and paralyses the SHIELD agents with fear.
Nick tells Hellfire that SHIELD will be on Hellfire’s ass at any moment. We see a SHIELD helicarrier and a bunch of fighter planes appear in the sky above the van. The Druid then summons all of his energy and casts a spell that creates a thick green cloud around the van that makes the van disappear.
We see Nick back at the headquarters with a smile on his face as he utters “How’ bout that?” We then cut to the new Howling Commandos all back at Nick’s secret hideout. We see Maria Hill tied to a chair. Nick asks Maria what did he tell her the last time he saw her. Maria answers that Nick told her to start using LMD’s instead of going places herself. Nick retorts that Maria should have listened to him.
Maria answers that she did. Nick is duly impressed with the new version LMD that SHIELD is now using. Nick tells his team that they are done here. That this place will be crawling with SHIELD agents in five minutes.
We cut back to the present with Nick staring at his wall of pictures and crossing off the photo of Maria Hill. Nick comments that his team pulled off a perfect execution of the training exercise. Hellfire snaps that kidnapping Maria Hill was just another training exercise. Hellfire yells that Nick said that Maria was a Skrull.
Nick answers that Maria is not a Skrull. Nick says that he is training both the young heroes and Maria Hill as well. Nick comments that Maria needs smartening up and fast. The team is stunned. They yell at Nick that he always lies to them.
Nick barks back that everything that he says is the God’s truth. That they are soldiers and if Nick tells them that red is green then red is green. Nick says that is the game that they are playing here and if any of them cannot handle it then they need to leave right now.
Before Hellfire can tell Nick to kiss off, Yo Yo interrupts them and tells them to check out the news report on the TV. Our heroes see reports of the Skrull invasion hitting New York City. Nick states that this is exactly what Nick has been training them for. Nick tells his team to “saddle up.” End of issue.
The Good: Mighty Avengers #18 was a solid read. Bendis delivers a great Nick Fury and the new Howling Commandos story. This is a well paced issue that never drags and has a nice flow as Bendis cooks up a good blend of action and drama. Might Avengers #18 was well plotted as Bendis marches the issue along with a purpose and direction. It was interesting to see how Fury was able to mold these rag tag young heroes into the efficient fighting force that we saw over on Secret Invasion.
Mighty Avengers #18 certainly had plenty of action that kept this issue an exciting read. Bendis also pulls off some quality character work in this issue. Bendis has a great feel for Nick’s personality. I am enjoying Bendis’ take on Nick Fury so much that I would not mind Bendis writing a Nick Fury title at some point in the future. Bendis’ Nick Fury has an appropriate take-no-shit personality and a gruff way of handling his trainees.
Bendis did a nice job with how Nick went about breaking and then re-assembling these young heroes in their various training exercises. I also liked that Nick proceeds to test his new commandos in order to make sure that they are loyal and trustworthy. This seems unusually harsh, but it actually makes perfect sense given that Nick is a military/super spy character. It also makes sense given the fact that Nick is trying to prepare these young heroes to fight a war in which they will not know friend from foe.
I actually did not have any problems with the torture scene in this issue. However, I can understand why many fans will dislike this dark direction that Bendis took with Nick’s character. But, the fact is that Nick Fury is a soldier and a super spy and is facing a war with a group of aliens who can take the form of anyone. And Nick is the type of person who will literally do anything, no matter how dirty, in order to win. War is ugly and this torture scene re-enforces that fact.
Given all of that, I think it is believable that Nick Fury would engage in this type of a testing session. Also, Bendis wisely has the rest of the new Howling Commandos react in a very negative fashion to Nick’s manner of testing Yo Yo. This negative reaction by the young heroes makes the reader immediately side with them and join the characters in their dislike for Nick’s dirty testing tactic. This also creates a conflicted feeling in the reader since the readers understands why Nick did what he did even though we are repulsed by it.
Stefano Caselli delivers plenty of nice artwork. Caselli’s artwork gives Mighty Avengers #18 a clean look. Caselli also does a nice job drawing the facial expressions of the various characters. Caselli is able to inject plenty of emotion into Bendis’ story.
The Bad: My major quibble with Mighty Avengers #18 is that this would be a fine story to appear in a title named “Nick Fury and the New Howling Commandos.” Instead, this story appears in Mighty Avengers. This story has nothing at all to do with the Avengers in any form or fashion.
The ending to Mighty Avengers #18 also lacked any impact or excitement. The reason of that is because this story takes place right before Secret Invasion #1 so the reader already knows that Maria Hill has to be an LMD.
In general, Might Avengers #18 is a bit of a dull and useless read since Nick and the new Howling Commandos have played nothing more than a bit part over in Secret Invasion. Mighty Avengers #18 is a tie-in issue that does absolutely nothing to advance any of the plotlines over on Secret Invasion itself. The reader does not need to read Mighty Avengers in order to enjoy the events over on Secret Invasion. In the end, Mighty Avengers #18 felt a bit like filler as Bendis simply needed to kill some more time until Secret Invasion’s conclusion.
Overall: Mighty Avengers #18 succeeds in being a neat Nick Fury and the new Howling Commandos story, but fails in being a quality Secret Invasion tie-in issue. I knew that having nothing but Secret Invasion tie-in issues on New Avengers and Mighty Avengers in store for us for all of 2008 would mean that we would get stories that paid less attention on the Avengers themselves. However, I have to admit that I am getting tired of purchasing Mighty Avengers and not getting a story that even tangentially deals with the Avengers.
If you like Nick Fury then you will probably get a kick out of seeing Marvel’s top cop back in action in Mighty Avengers #18. However, if you are interested in getting an issue dealing with the Mighty Avengers or actually developing some of the plotlines from Secret Invasion then you will probably not enjoy Mighty Avengers #18.