First review of the week? As promised, Secret Avengers #21.1. This issue gives us the beginning of the Rick Remender era(hear that fans of Venom and Uncanny X-Force?? That means you should give this a shot!), and as important, for me at least, the start of Hawkeye(my favorite Avenger) as this team's leader. I am expecting SO much from this comic...
Secret Avengers #21.1:
Summary: Captain America takes Hawkeye on a covert mission to a rogue nation called Bagalia to protect an American senator from an assassination attempt. In case you're curious, Bagalia is one of those countries where anything goes if you are rich enough... Cap and Hawkeye do the stealth thing and Hawkeye pinpoints the senator's location in a private room, and does as Hawkeye always does when tasked with using stealth, kicks the door in and tells the senator they were there to protect him... Ah Hawkeye... But wait! It turns out the senator was actually a life model decoy(LMD) and attacks the two heroes, leading to a hasty retreat before the LMD explodes. The two heroes manage to make it to the ground, and in true Cap fashion, he tears into Hawkeye for not being cautious enough, and for walking the two of them into an obvious trap. With that, Cap tells Hawkeye he wasn't ready to lead the Secret Avengers, which(rightly!) pisses Hawkeye off. The two argue, and Cap throws Hawkeye's family into his face, telling him that much like his dead father, Hawkeye was weak... DAY-UM!! Needless to say, Hawkeye gets uber-pissed and leaves Cap behind. Cap stands there pondering the fact that maybe he went too far in trying to see if Hawkeye could control his temper and not take a swing at Cap for his nasty words. While Cap is pondering, he is attacked by Vengeance(!!), Whiplash, and Princess Python, and is summarily captured. While on the train out of the country, Hawkeye hears that an American assassin had been captured(obviously Cap) and broods. The trio of villains take Cap to Max Fury, who taunts Cap for a bit and tells him that he'll show the world that Captain America himself had invaded a sovereign nation to assassinate a senator. Which while not true, would definitely be picked up as true in certain parts of the world. Before Max can set up a camera filming Cap's inglorious defeat, Hawkeye arrives, having used his stealth device to sneak right into Max's inner lair and takes out Max's three goons. Instead of killing Max(because Avengers DON'T kill! I'm looking at YOU, Wolverine!), Hawkeye grabs Cap and uses a rocket arrow to escape Max's lair, which was now compromised. This issue ends with Hawkeye telling Cap that he didn't need Cap's approval to become a leader for the Avengers, as you have to find that approval in yourself, thus solidifying Cap's decision to name Hawkeye the leader of the Secret Avengers.
Thoughts: What can I say? I loved this comic. Rick Remender PERFECTLY depicted the relationship between Cap and Hawkeye here. There is massive respect between the two, but at the end of the day, they go about their business in completely opposite ways. Cap is the consummate professional who is seemingly always right(as Hawkeye points out here), while Hawkeye is the brash, in-your-face type of guy who'd rather smash down the door and rush in flinging arrows. This comic was ALMOST perfect... The ONLY thing that bugged me(and it only bugged me a little bit because I understood why Cap did it) was Cap harping on Hawkeye's dead parents and calling Hawkeye weak in an effort to get him to lose his temper. That was kind of a low blow. Although, as stated, I did understand Cap's strategy behind his harsh words. That and the fact that Hawkeye, who has led the West Coast Avengers, the Avengers and the Thunderbolts, had to be “tested” by Cap I found a bit vexing, but other than that, this was the best comic book I've read thus far in 2012. I'd say the Rick Remender Secret Avengers era is off to a HUGE success!
Score: 9 1/2 out of 10.
Even on the first page of this issue Hawkeye's dialogue got a chuckle out of me!