And we kick off the first of FOUR reviews this lovely, COLD Tuesday night with Secret Avengers. I've made no secret of the fact that I haven't enjoyed Warren Ellis's run on Secret Avengers, but I know he's a good enough writer that he may still be able to bust out an above average story if need be. Let's hope this is one of those aforementioned above average stories!
Secret Avengers #20:
What Happened: This issue begins with the Shadow Council literally killing the Secret Avengers. Black Widow is still alive so War Machine hands her an escape device that sends Black Widow back in time five years where she can plan her next move. Unfortunately, all of BW's favorite moves(ie: return to battle before her teammates were killed and shoot the bad guys) could have dire effects on the timestream as a whole. Being confused by all of this timestream mumbo-jumbo, BW heads back in time a month before the Secret Avengers were wiped out to ask Beast about time travel and the paradoxes therein. Beast basically tells her what she already knew(you CAN'T mess with the timestream openly!)and BW is ready to leave, until Beast points out that the best way to alter the timestream would be to do something that doesn't appear to alter the timestream... To that end, BW heads back 44 years and kidnaps a genius in the field of time(Khronus) who had vanished without a trace right around the time BW abducted him. Since Khronus was destined to vanish into time anyway, he was the perfect candidate to assist BW with her plans. With Khronus secured and living in her base, BW then travels back six years in time and has a weaponmaker she knew who could design the casing for the time travel device she needed, since Khronus was building his time devices WAY too large. Several weeks pass and BW moves back and forth between her home 5 years away from the present, the hideout for Khronus, 24 years back from the present, and the weaponmaker, who was 4 years away from the present, passing equipment and ideas back and forth between the two men. Eventually the project is finished, but the weaponmaker hadn't been straight with BW and had sold the time-guns BW had him working on to the Shadow Council. BW takes the gun the weaponmaker created for him before leaving his area and blowing up his house... With him inside. From there she heads back to Khronus, only to learn from Khronus's manservant that Khronus had died, but not before finishing up the device he had been working on for BW for the past 40 years. Widow collects all of her time-made toys and heads back to the battle, prior to the deaths of her teammates. Since she was using items that had been created practically outside the timestream, her actions(which consist of short-circuiting all of the Shadow Council's weapons, destroying said weapons and then destroying her own time travel devices) kill the enemy agents, save her teammates and adds just some more mystique to the Black Widow character.
The Good: I am a sucker for a good alternate reality or time travel story, and this issue fit the bill with it's repeated time traveling. Black Widow came out of this issue looking even more awesome than usual. While the story was kind of hard to follow at first, once I figured out who was who and what their motivations were, I enjoyed it.
The Bad: There did seem to be some holes in the story and some random appearances(like Dr. Druid), but for the most part I was able to easily overlook them. The art had that more dark/grainy look to it, which fits certain types of stories, but didn't really do this issue any favors.
The Verdict: Overall? I liked this issue. But that should come as no surprise seeing as that Black Widow is amongst my favorite female comic book characters. It was nice seeing her get the lead, save the team and then tell them nothing about her actions. That fit her character to a T. So while there was some confusion and a few holes, this was a better issue of this series than we've been getting, so for that I have to say that I'm pleased.
Score: 7 out of 10.When people ask me about comic books I respond the same way Beast does here!