Luke Cage is attacked by an unknown enemy and put into a coma. Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. is notified and he rushes to his bedside. Captain America bursts on to the scene verbally blasting Fury since he knows exactly what took place. Later on various heroes are being attacked and Fury seems to know what's going on while many people are completely in the dark. -summary
Marvel's attempt to shake up the Marvel U has more than one origin, while Avengers Disassembled is recognized as the premier story to get the machine going, House of M and Secret War are every bit as responsible. Secret War was written in 2004 - 2005 by Brian Michael Bendis and it's the beginning of the reconfiguration taking place with the American peace keeping organization S.H.I.E.L.D. ran by Nick Fury. To eliminate confusion in the story's placement, it takes place in between and after Avengers: Disassembled, Captain America: Winter Soldier, and Wolverine: Enemy of the State, but it takes place before New Avengers. The story is indeed essential to understand the shake up that later on takes place within S.H.I.E.L.D., plus helps set the gears in motion towards Marvel Civil War.
Brian Michael Bendis, the man who penned Disassembled turns in a solid work, consisting of government espionage, characterization, and thought provoking content. Although I enjoy the story I have to admit it does feel rushed and doesn't exactly deliver the Earth-shattering bang I hoped for coming in. The premise is indeed very interesting, yet it's lacking in execution.
The plot follows Nick Fury as he attempts to alert the American government of a pending danger from the nation of Latveria now ran by a new leader, since Dr. Doom ended up being trapped in hell after his last great battle with the Fantasic Four. Completely disgusted by the way he's brushed off, Fury fears that America is inviting danger by not taking military action. Therefore, he assembles his own secret group in an attempt to overthrow the Latverian government, but he has an ulterior motive that may come back to haunt not only him, but the country he loves so much.
Bendis is pretty deep here in the way he references real life events such as 9/11 to make a point. It makes one think what our government may have known to prevent the tragedy, and just how lightly they may have taken it. I also especially like his point in regards to America sending money to other countries, who really are enemies in disguise. The story is very strong and Bendis does rely on it to mask the flaws in its execution. Unfortunately, Bendis happens to ignore quite a bit of the comic action that took place in Latveria, but instead focuses on the action in the aftermath of everything. After so much build up, such as recruiting superheroes like Daredevil, Wolverine, Spider-Man, and Captain America, along with their own covert-op costumes, the portion of the story that counts is mainly referenced. It pretty much renders his choice of heroes useless, because it doesn't provide the reader any physical reasons on why he chose this particular group. He could've reached out and added Jubilee, Falcon, and Agent 13 to the mix and the results wouldn't have been different. The ending was very strong, but it doesn't quite make up for the events that triggered a retaliation from the enemy.
Despite the flaws here Bendis attempted to do a lot in five issues and hits a lot more than he misses; I must give him credit for his thought provoking content, and how he takes a linear narrative and complicates it to where the suspense is very strong through out. You will also learn a lot about Nick Fury. I enjoy this book more than I should.
Gabriele Dell'Otto's artwork is very good being made up of painted character designs and backgrounds. There are some magnificent color schemes, and panels draped with dark blue and purple to convey the message of the heroes possible darkest hour. The action panels deliver the goods during the second half, and comic fans will have some fun picking out the who's who.
Secret War is an overall good book and there are consequences due to its conclusion. It plays a role moving forward and Marvel fans need it in their collection to help round out the modern Marvel run. Recommended mainly to serious fans; casual fans, I only recommend to them if they have a high interest in the book. This definitely isn't a good place to start, and I really don't think there's enough mainstream appeal to hold their interest. I could be wrong though.
Pros: -Thought provoking content, artwork, ending
Cons: -Minor gripes on execution that mainly depends on the reader