For a while there, I'd convinced myself I would ask Jack not to send the AvX tie-ins for Secret Avengers. Just ditch the book for a few months, come back after. Then I figured it was only three issues, how bad could it be? Silly Calvin.
Secret Avengers #26 & 27 by, Rick Remender (writer), Renato Guedes (artist), Bettie Breitweiser & Matthew Wilson (color art), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer) - AT least we have Alan Davis on the covers. That's pretty much the high point here, by my reckoning.
So we have a group of Avengers out in space, trying to stop the Phoenix with some cage Beast devised, based off his past experience with the Phoenix. This plan fails, as first Thor can't keep it distracted long enough, then it severely injures War Machine (whose armor was powering the cage), then when Captain Britain tries to run it off his armor, there's not enough power and the whole thing blows up. The Avengers are spared only because some Kree use a piece of the M'Kraan Crystal to summon the Phoenix to their location, where it destroys them but in the process resurrects, sigh, Captain Mar-Vell.
Brief digression. I've never cared about Mar-Vell. At all. I think it's because he'd been well and truly dead for quite some time when I started reading comics, so like Gwen Stacy, I don't see him as an integral active part of the Marvel Universe. I was going to lump Adam Warlock into that, but I think my distaste for him stems from other factors. Digression over.
The Avengers' ship was damaged so they land on Hala, Kree homeworld. Turns out there's some Kree guy with a huge brain making everyone believe the Phoenix will cause their rebirth and make them more powerful. So nobody evacuates when they hear Phoenix is on the way. Mar-Vell's under this control, and oh goody, so are Ms. Marvel and Noh-Varr, since they're part Kree, I guess. The three of them beat the crap out of the rest of the Avengers, take the wounded prisoner to be executed. Oh, and Carol's sucking face with Mar-Vell. I'm going to assume all this stuff about here loving him is a result of the Kree mind control, and not some '70s comic stuff absolutely nobody has bothered to bring up in any books featuring Carol Danvers I've ever read. I hope that's the case, even if it means Carol's being mind-controlled into another romance. At least this one can't possibly end as badly as the one with Marcus, right? Right?
By the end of the issue, the Phoenix has almost arrived, but Mar-Vell is starting to figure out something isn't right here. Of course, it took seeing some Kree civilians the Vision had freed from the mind control gunned down to do it, and most of the Avengers are unconscious, so good luck fixing this one.
Renato Guedes drew both issues, and the art's too busy for my tastes. Too many very fine little lines, everything feels stiff and awkward. It's probably realistic, but I tend to prefer a more simplified style. It can accomplish just as much, without looking so busy. Guedes does draw a very nice giant fire bird. I'm curious, though, whether I was supposed to have the impression Thor and Valkyrie are hammered drunk in issue 26. Yes, they're drinking, but the way Thor's drawn as he comes through the door, and with how Val's leaning against him, they remind me of Alex on some of the New Year's Eve parties where he let himself go. I can see Asgardians drinking before a big fight, sure, but getting that drunk? I'd expect they'd have moderated themselves slightly in deference to the times, or so as to not overly concern their teammates at least. But maybe Remender wanted them that sloshed, I don't know.
One other thing. Thor and Val get Captain Britain to drink with them, over his initial objections that he's a mean drunk. Then, when the Avengers head into space to confront the Phoenix, Braddock isn't amongst them during any of the panels leading up to the fight. He shows up after Thor's engaged it and War Machine is in the process of capturing it. Was it done that way intentionally, like Braddock was sleeping it off and got a late start, or wasn't supposed to be out there at all? Or did he just get omitted from the earlier panels because there wasn't room? I think it was a deliberate choice, but I'm not clear how it plays in with his actions that followed, or the Beast's subsequent dressing down of Brian.
Oh well, just one more issue and then the book can get back to what I'm actually interested in. Hopefully. For tomorrow, I saved the best book for last.