Much has been made of the fact that Marvel star Rick Remender will be taking over Secret Avengers in short order, and we're all looking forward to what'll happen whe he brings Venom and his brutally bleak touch to another covert ops team for a highly public supergroup – along the lines of his Uncanny X-Force efforts. That's all well and good, but oh, by the way, one of the best comic book writers out there has been handling the interim, busting out some cool, fun stand-alone adventures for Steve Rogers and his squad of down-low do-gooders.
Warren Ellis' issues of Secret Avengers have centered around his snappy summation of the core concept of the book: "Run The Mission, Don't Get Seen, Save The World." There's been a through-line about the team trying to unravel the mysteries of the Shadow Council, but for the most part, each chapter has been one mission, and #19 is no exception. If anyone can excel at making comics snappy, it's Ellis. See Nextwave.
This time out, it's just Steve Rogers, Black Widow, Sharon Carter and Moon Knight on the ground in Symkaria (just south of Latveria and north of Serbia, thanks to the handy map) trying to infiltrate the stronghold of Voydanoi, who is thought to be peddling some kind of home-grown super soldier serum. Sharon and Natasha are in house disguised as party girls, while Moon Knight is utilizing his Millionaire Steven Grant identity to infiltrate higher levels. Turns out the drug isn't what they thought it was – people are smoking old Elder God souls from ancient giant bones, thus getting possessed and amped up.
Yeah, this is the kind of thing Ellis brings to the table, and that's why we love him.
The art credit is split – Michael Lark on breakdowns, Stefano Gaudiano and Brian Theis on finishes, and the result is quite enjoyable in its dark and shadowy style, as you can see by the image above of Steve Rogers literally beating the soul out of a guy. Also to their credit is just how awesome Moon Knight looks when wearing the white mask sans cowl and toting guns in a white suit and tie. It's little designs and moments like this that raise a story from decent to awesome.
I'm certainly a fan of Remender and I look forward to his run, but I'm also really enjoying the compact and decidedly badass stories Ellis is giving us with his quick run. Great for new readers to hop on, too.
CRAVE ONLINE RATING: 8.9/10