For the first time since Rick Remender took over, I'm having a real blast reading this comic, which is too bad since it'll be rebooting in a few months with a creative team I steadfastly refuse to spend my money on. Remender has done fine work all along, but here at the end of his run things have become zanier, looser, and less tense. There was a lot of bickering amongst the team before, and though they still take some verbal jabs at one another, the tone is more playful now, and the action far more cooperative.
This whole Father and his Descendants storyline has never exactly enthralled me, and the introduction last issue of the Undead Avengers was good for a laugh but, again, not necessarily thrilling. Yet in Secret Avengers #34, the good guys are so enjoyable that the bad guys don't need to carry so much of the weight. Venom has been a great addition to this title from the start, and if nothing else he makes me want to go back and read all of Remender's Venom series. So score one for Marvel there. Flash Thompson has a strong and intelligent voice, thoughtful but not overly contemplative, because he needs to make decisions and act quickly. In contrast, Black Widow has felt a bit underused in Remender's hands, but this issue she has a slightly bigger role and several very sharp, funny lines. It's Hawkeye and Captain Britain, however, who win the prize this month. They crack wise at each other and even tease one another a little, all of which was genuinely funny, but throughout their entire conversation they are fighting as a fluid two-man unit. It gave their scenes a lot of energy and excitement, and though the concept of Undead Avengers may not be astounding, they made very very cool-looking opponents for Barton and Braddock.
Matteo Scalera has a lot of great art here. There's tons of chaotic shit going down, and he displays all the madness of it skillfully, but never loses any clarify for it. I noticed this most of all in the early scene with Venom trying to survive and save Valkyrie amidst the flames of the burning space station, but it's equally true in the large-scale battle of the undead world. And even though the ending was the worst part for me as far as the story was concerned, I did dig deathlok Hank Pym. Not a surprise, exactly, but a cool-looking cyborg all the same. There's a frenetic feel to Scalera's pencils, and it fits with the ever-increasing insanity faced by the Secret Avengers. Things are heating up as Father gets closer and closer to reaching his goals, and the visual style of the series matches that feeling.
I love this team, really for the first time since Remender grabbed the helm. They're fighting some of the craziest (in every sense of the word) baddies I've seen in a while, dealing with betrayal from one of their own, and currently aren't even all together to battle these threats at full force. Yet they still joke with each other, find romance, and generally keep their wits about them. It makes for a fun romp of a superhero tale, and as sad as I may be to see it end, I'm powerfully looking forward to the remaining installments.