Written by Brian Bendis
Art by Stefano Caselli
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this issue, especially with how shaky Bendis' writing has been throughout the Secret Invasion event. While I was expecting another issue of generic and interview quote laddened "Bendis speak" (where everyone speaks the exact same way, typically repeating things Bendis has said in interviews), I was shocked to find a story where Bendis put out some of his strongest dialogue in a long time.
Another surprise was Khoi Pham not doing the artwork. He was replaced with Stefan Caselli for some reason and, as a fan of Caselli's work, I'm more than happy with the switch. The story of this issue also relates a lot to Caselli's other gig, Avengers: The Initiative, where he draws various young heroes in training exercises as this issue deals with Fury training his Secret Warriors or Howling Commandos or whatever they're calling the group this week.
One of my favourite parts of the issue was the training between Fury and the super strong guy, Stonewall. This is a combat exercise and Fury takes him to school, despite Stonewall having super strength. It's just one of those cool moments that is kind of cliched for "training sessions", but never gets old.
The rest of the issue dealt with Fury sending the team on a mission to kidnap Maria Hill, whom he has lied to them about being a Skrull. The purpose of the mission, as we find out in the end, was to test Maria Hill, whom Fury wants to be a better head of SHIELD, and to test his own Secret Warrior team's abilities to see if they could pull off such a high risk op. The team succeeds, but it seems Fury's advice to Hill to start using Life Model Decoys was taken under consideration as the team only managed to grab an LMD of Hill, not the real deal.
Oddly enough, Druid, the magic user of the team, seemed to be having a lot of problems with his powers during the issue. He was visibly shaking and sweating and looked to be in a lot of pain, even post-op when they were interrogating the LMD. Combined with the tension between Fury and Hellfire, the resident hothead of the group, and it looks like a good setup for a mini-series or ongoing coming out of Secret Invasion and this issue alone has given me the confidence to pick up such a book.
Verdict - Must Read. Great action that did a lot to endear these new heroes to me and I actually look forward to reading more about them in the future.