Before I get to this comic, a quick confession... I've never been that high on Warren Ellis' work... If you were to ask me, going from Ed Brubaker to Nick Spencer to Warren Ellis is a major step down the writing ladder. BUT, I'm always willing to give a writer the chance to prove me wrong and bust out a great story(unless the writer's last name is Yost or Johns, in which case they've run out of chances), so as Ellis takes over this series, this is his chance to show me that I was wrong about him and that he is actually in the same league as Brubaker and Spencer.
Secret Avengers #16:
Summary: The Secret Avengers(Roll call! Steve Rogers! Beast! Black Widow! Moon Knight!) come across an old Secret Empire hidden city located a few miles below Cincinnati. The heroes learned of the existence of this secret city when Steve received reports that Von Doom time machine particles were coming from under Cincinnati. Basically, whenever a time machine based on Dr. Doom's designs is used, it gives off very distinctive radiation, thus Steve's investigation. Upon entering the secret city, the heroes discover an atomic Cadillac, which Steve figures could be used to get a better idea of what was in the city. Beast, BW and Steve hop in the car, and Moon Knight takes to the rooftops to do some surveillance from up above. While Moon Knight is gliding across the rooftops, he is spotted by a Shadow Council guard car and fired upon. Moon Knight takes out the guards and radios back to Steve that they weren't alone in the city. From there, a guard patrol spots the Cadillac and fires at it. The patrol misses, but Black Widow doesn't, hitting the driver of the patrol jeep with her Widow's sting, taking care of that threat. Unfortunately for the team, another threat appears in the form of a Shadow Council helicopter, which fires down at the heroes. Steve manages to deflect the helicopter's gunfire away before shooting the helicopter down. By this point, Moon Knight has returned and tells the team he found something they'd want to look at... Moon Knight leads the rest of the Secret Avengers to a rooftop and points out a massive time platform structure standing near the corner of the city. Beast rapidly realizes that the Shadow Council probably had three more of these massive structures around the hidden city, which would allow the Council to create a massive time platform which could teleport the entire city of Cincinnati somewhere in time. And it should go without saying that teleporting an entire CITY to another point in time would completely devastate not just Cincinnati, but whatever the Council teleported Cincinnati on top of. Steve decides to try to destroy one of the four time platform structures, since the time machine wouldn't operate without all four structures in place. Unfortunately, the Shadow Council has dozens of armed men guarding the structure, as well as a tank(!). The tank fires at the Avengers Cadillac, but misses thanks to Black Widow's fancy driving. While that's happening, Beast realizes that the Council had begun powering up the massive time machine, meaning within minutes, Cincinnati would be history. While Steve is trying to figure out what the hell to do, Beast chimes in and says that he could create a small neutron bomb out of the atomic Cadillac that would send out an electromagnetic pulse that would fry the time machine, as well as release a cloud of toxic radiation that would kill everybody in the hidden city. With no real choice, Steve tells Beast to do what he had to in order to create the bomb, while Steve and Moon Knight manage to bring down one of the Council's helicopters. Once Beast is done arming the bomb, the team jumps into the helicopter and flies towards the exit to the city. The Avengers reach the exit, which is an elevator back to the surface, but run by chains and pulleys, so it wouldn't be destroyed by the bomb's electromagnetic pulse. Just as the team reaches the top of the hidden city, Beast's bomb goes of, shutting down the time platform and killing all of the Council members down below. Beast is naturally disturbed by the amount of villains he sentenced to death with his bomb, but Steve tells him to think about how many lives he saved in Cincinnati as this issue ends.
Thoughts: Guess what? I was wrong! Big-time! Warren Ellis brought it with this issue. I pretty much loved everything about this comic, from the team line-up, to the story, to the ending. Don't get me wrong, I like War Machine a lot, but if these four characters remained as the Secret Avengers team, I'd have no problem with that whatsoever. I can read about Rhodey in Iron Man 2.0. As for Ant-Man, I don't particularly care for this version of Ant-Man anyway, so I can't say I'm sad to see him go. So even though a four member team is a rarity, it works extremely well here, as Warren Ellis demonstrated. You have Steve as the leader, Black Widow as the espionage expert, Beast as the brains, and Moon Knight as the resident crazy guy. The banter between Beast and Moon Knight worked great here as well. Seriously, this comic impressed the hell out of me! I can't believe I was dreading this one... Now I can't wait for the next issue! If Ellis can keep up this sort of storytelling, he can count me as a new fan!
Score: 9 1/2 out of 10.Beast is one of those characters that can be so awesome when written properly...