Though I managed to hear a little about this new Secret Warriors comic at C2E2 a few weeks ago, I otherwise didn’t really know what to expect from the series, but a major aspect of the concept behind the comic appealed to me–that in a big cosmos-spanning event like Secret Empire, with so much happening on a large scale, there were bound to be characters who fell through the cracks on the small scale and didn’t know what to do while they watched their world burn.
So, Secret Warriors is the story of the odds and ends, the loose threads that somehow come together to make a statement–kinda–even though these characters aren’t sure yet what kind of statement they are set to make. It starts with Daisy Johnson, who we meet in the wake of the Hydra reveal, and if you know Daisy from the show Agents of SHIELD, or from her earlier one-shot, you know that she’s not very good with authority figures, even less good with big betrayals.
Daisy is capable of acting both emotionally and in a considered way, which makes for a unique character. Her massive powers as Quake give her an added edge of being in control of conflicts and being able to see a way through them. In short, she’s someone who might just be able to see beyond the trauma of the takeover and think of a bigger picture instead of just capitulating or flipping to the Hydra side like everyone else.
The narrative structure of this first issue is compelling because it starts post-takeover, and then intercuts with the experiences that have left Daisy reeling, experiences that led up to this moment of decisive action for her. We get to see the memories she’s trying to process and understand her need to do something, anything that helps her get closure for a betrayal that cost her friends and colleagues.
But this is also a book about an unlikely team of heroes fighting back. These are the characters who for one reason or another fell through the cracks during the shakedown and now are at a loose end. They don’t know what to do any more than Daisy, but she needs them for a particular mission, and then they find themselves sticking together in a loose group of similarly-minded individuals who don’t particularly get along.
That includes Ms. Marvel, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Inferno, and lastly, Karnak. All have their reservations about working together. But all want to do SOMETHING and recognize they are more effective together. As written by Matthew Rosenberg, who knows Daisy well from her one-shot and has recently come off a stint on Rocket Raccoon, the series is well suited to talk about underdogs.
The artwork on the series is bright, active, and defiant in an interesting way. Javier Garron and Israel Silva, on drawing and colors, are aware that these lesser heroes are nevertheless, the big heroes on the small scale of their own struggle. They are the ones who wouldn’t pledge loyalty to Hydra, the ones with something else inside them that’s a spark of true rebellion, and the artwork captures that. It also captures the humor of their bristling personalities and discomfort at the world they find themselves in.
This is a book that mixes heavier themes with lighter overtones in a refreshing way–and if you’re looking for a way to deal with the Hydra situation yourself, as a reader, this is the book that will reassure you that there are rebels left in the Marvel Universe. In fact, they were always rebels and used to get in trouble for that. Their qualities are now ready to shine in such dark circumstances.
In Matthew Rosenberg’s essay in the back of this issue, a placeholder for the future letters column, he talks about the need for both the “big and small”, the “epic and personal” in Marvel Comics, and that is certainly how Secret Warriors feels. And those are the kind of stories that stay with you in comics, the ones that feel the most “real”.
Secret Warriors #1 arrived in comic shops last week. Issue #2 arrives on Wednesday, May 24th.
This review was written by Hannah Means-Shannon.