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Secret Warriors #25: Review

Mar 2011
Jonathan Hickman, Alessandro Vitti

Story Name:

(no title given)

Review & Comments

4.5 stars

Secret Warriors #25 Review by (March 10, 2020)
At the time of publication Hickman's SHIELD series was between v1 and v2. But the end of the whole lot is in 1961, the same year as these Pieta events. I figure they occur after the end of the SHIELD series, when the dust has settled.

At the end of SHIELD v2 Isaac Newton is finally defeated as leader of the Brotherhood Of The Shield, and replaced by his son Leonid. So it is possible that it is he who ushers Jake Fury into the meeting.

In Dark Reign: The List: SW the Zodiac members were divided into SHIELD, Hydra, Leviathan and Independent, but at this time they weren't divided this way.

At this time SHIELD did exist (Howard Stark wrote a document on SHIELD stationary during the SHIELD series), but none of these folks was yet part of it. I believe Nick Fury, Dum Dum Dugan and John Garrett were all in the CIA. Fury will be brought into SHIELD in the Strange Tales stories, bringing Dugan with him. Garrett to will join before his 1st published app in Elektra: Assassin, where he will become a cyborg.

Hydra did exist, represented here by Wolfgang von Strucker. Shoji Soma was Grandmaster of the Hand which was often allied with Hydra. It is possible that Soma provided him with the Spear Of Imhotep.
Imhotep defeated a Brood invasion of Ancient Egypt and founded a secret Brotherhood to defend Earth. this split into 2 groups, the Brotherhood Of The Shield in the West and the Brotherhood Of The Spear in the East. But the Eastern Brotherhood dissolved and the Spear was lost (but may have passed down to the Hand). (All this from the SHIELD series.)
The original Kraken wasn't part of Hydra. This issue is where we learn his name was Daniel Whitehall. After this he obviously joins Strucker in Hydra. And #16 showed someone secretly replacing him. We'll learn the identity of the current Kraken next issue.

Leviathan was invented for this series but supposedly it did exist as a secret Russian spy organisation back in 1961. Vasili Dassiev and Viktor Uvarov were its leaders, and the events of this issue show how Uvarov was turned into Orion, but only after being in the Orion chamber for decades. It explains why he seems to be indestructible.

That leaves us with the 'independents'.
Aries is Leonardo da Vinci, with his own agenda.
Cornelius van Lunt will go on to found a criminal Zodiac cartel with himself as Taurus (debuting in Avengers #72).
Thomas Davidson has appeared before in this series as the Professor, and is obviously now allied with Nick Fury.
Jake Fury is Nick's brother. Long-time readers may be confused by the fact that he supposedly hated his brother and used the Scorpio identity (in van Lunt's Zodiac) to attack him (in Jim Steranko's Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD series). But next issue will turn all that on its head.

In the SHIELD series when Leonardo da Vinci left 1503 to 'fly' to 1956 he left behind a replacement robot. This robot was presumably buried in Leonardo's tomb and so that's what the Fury's and Davidson uncover. It didn't seem to have tentacles in 1503. But more on this next issue when we learn what really happened in the tomb in 1961.

Nick Fury gets shot in the eye here. But he was already wearing a tinted lens over that eye. Supposedly the eye was damaged by a grenade during WWII, and then it gradually got worse. Possibly the dark lens was to protect it from bright lights. But here he loses the eye completely, and in the final scene with Aries he's wearing his trademark eyepatch.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Secret Warriors #25 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Last issue Nick Fury surrendered to Kraken of Hydra after losing/retiring the members of the White team of his Secret Warriors and losing the whole of the Grey team including his son Mikel.

But this issue heads in a whole new direction and takes us back to 1961 as Nick's brother Jake Fury removes his blindfold in an underground room and is ushered onwards to a lift which takes him and his guide down into an underground city, where he is led to a room where others await him. (Readers of Hickman's SHIELD series will recognise the costume of the usher and that the place is the Immortal City of the Brotherhood Of The Shield below Rome.) (Readers of this series will recognise Jake's password "Fury, Zodiac, Scorpio" as indicating that we're finally going to find out what the Great Wheel was all about.)

Inside Jake/Scorpio finds all the others already there:- Vasili Dassiev/Capricorn, John Garrett/Aquarius, Shoji Soma/Pisces, Cornelius Van Lunt/Taurus, Nick Fury/Gemini, Baron Strucker/Sagittarius, Dum Dum Dugan/Libra, Thomas Davidson/Virgo, Daniel Whitehall/Leo and Viktor Uvarov/Cancer. Their host Aries welcomes them to Pieta. (And SHIELD readers will recognise *him* as Leonardo da Vinci who travelled to the 20th Century to fight immortal Isaac Newton for control of the Brotherhood.) They are seated around a large round table (the Great Wheel) with their Zodiac signs etched in. (And *we* have seen that same table in Fury's base Pieta which is here confirmed to be in the Brotherhood's Immortal City.)

Aries addresses them all as major players, some of whom know each other. Dassiev wants to know where they are (it seems they've all been brought here from different places without being allowed to see where they're going). Soma deduces correctly from the travel time and the architecture that they are in some ancient underground ruins in Italy. Garrett wants to know how 'prominent spymasters' like them were identified. Whitehall guesses Aries' group have been watching them for a long time. Nick Fury just wants to know why he shouldn't just shoot some of the others. Before he will answer that last question Aries says that anyone who wishes to remain anonymous can do so. They will all uses their Zodiac titles here. Sagittarius/Strucker isn't impressed.

Aries says they have been chosen as representatives of governments or other groups that have the greatest potential for world domination. He doesn't care who succeeds because in his long life he has seen many powers rise and fall. (But in SHIELD I was led to believe Leonardo had come to the future directly from his own age.) He chose them because they know how to keep secrets. At this point he notices Leo/Whitehall taking notes and angrily says there must be no record of what transpires here. Scorpio/Jake Fury brings Aries back to the topic of why they're here, and he says he wants something from them. In return he will give them the means to attain their goal. Taurus/Van Lunt wants that made clearer and Aries says they should treat it as a contest for his favours.

Capricorn/Dassiev refuses to play such games - he needs nothing from anyone. Pisces/Soma says they are all players in the Great Game (of political manoeuvring) who can't afford to lose out - but possibly the 'Great Beast' could wait for a 'Long Winter'. Capricorn sits down, possibly because that sentence indicates Pisces knows something of Leviathan's plans. Libra/Dugan bridles at them all being treated equally - he can just about stand working with Communists but not Nazis. Gemini/Nick Fury echoes him. Aries replies that he doesn't care about their moral stances. Whoever gets him what he wants will be rewarded.

And it seems they all agree to play.

We see Soma/Pisces, Whitehall/Leo, Garrett/Aquarius and Dassiev/Capricorn on a mission beneath the Pyramids of Giza. After some bickering they detect a powerful object and Dassiev retrieves it. But then they sense the approach of guardians. Whitehall pulls a helmet out of his bag and puts it on, and it immediately generates armour for him (and we now realise he's the original Kraken). They are attacked by aliens that we also recognise as the Brood. (We saw in SHIELD v1 #1 that an invasion by Brood in Ancient Egypt was what started the Brotherhood Of The Shield.)

The next group (Nick Fury/Gemini, Davidson/Virgo and Jake Fury/Scorpio) are in the Chapel at Chateau d'Amboise in France. (It is of course no coincidence that this is the supposed burial place of da Vinci.) Jake forces the nuns at gunpoint to let them in and they open an old tomb. Inside there is a mechanical skeleton which sends out tentacles towards Jake.

The 3rd mission is to the Zargos Mountains in Iran. Dugan/Libra, Strucker/Sagittarius, Uvarov/Cancer and Van Lunt/Taurus are fighting their way through scimitar-wielding robots (without tentacles). Inside a cavern they find thousands of containment tubes all wired up together. (These tubes have not yet shown up in SHIELD #Infinity which will be published in the following month. And Zodiac don't find the lower chamber with 3 other tubes that were previously occupied.)

The teams reconvene at Pieta. Cancer/Uvarov reports that they've arranged for 1 of Leviathan's remote Russian bases to house the containment vessels, if the others agree. Sagittarius/Strucker isn't happy about that, but Aquarius/Garrett points out that the ex-Nazi has no country to house *anything* and the US won't touch it - it will work with the right security protocols. Capricorn/Dassiev reports that they exterminated the Brood and have the alien power source. But Gemini/Nick Fury claims that they found nothing at the Chateau. Aries obviously doubts this but doesn't push it.

2 weeks later they meet again at Pieta for a demonstration of a small number of the chambers. Virgo/Davidson has worked out that the tubes are augmentation/rejuvenation devices built to keep people alive in stasis for centuries. (SHIELD v2 #4 will reveal that the 3 in the undiscovered lower chamber were used to keep 3 particular Arabic gentlemen alive.) On the original site they were powered by geothermal energy but now they will run off the Brood power source which would make people in the tubes superhuman. But Virgo has rigged it so that instead the 'extra' energy is all siphoned to 1 particular tube, producing someone superior to Captain America.

This demo system only funnels 6 tubes into 1. But it could be reused as often as you like. Cancer/Uvarov asks him how it works. Virgo starts a long technical explanation but Cancer cuts him off - he just wants to know how to operate it. Virgo says the security system is the same as Pieta's, and he demonstrates the simple controls. The he asks who wants to try it 1st. Cancer says "Certainly not you" and shoots him in the leg.

Leviathan troops have taken the place over and report that the other chambers are being taken to their base. Uvarov tells them to take the control system and the main 'Orion' chamber. Dassiev has apparently persuade Uvarov to be merciful and he tells the others that they will leave them alive, in thanks for their part in securing the artefacts. Strucker starts to protest but Dassiev warns him not to try their patience. Garrett promises to kill them 1 day. Uvarov tells Dassiev he told him so - mercy wouldn't work. And he orders his men to shoot everyone. Everyone dives for cover and shoots back, with Dugan saving Davidson. Strucker, Whitehall (in his Kraken armour) and Soma run for it. Nick Fury gets shot in the eye, but the Russians leave them all alive.

A month later Baron Strucker and Shoji Soma are watching the Leviathan base. Strucker has the Spear Of Imhotep. Soma is Grandmaster of the Hand, and a horde of white-clad Hand ninjas emerge from the surrounding snow to attack the place. Inside 100,000 loyal men and women are occupying the standard containment tubes, and Viktor Uvarov prepares to enter the Orion tube to receive the transmitted power. But then the ninjas breach the chamber and Strucker stabs Uvarov through the chest with the Spear. Vasili Dassiev, in what we recognise as his Magadan armour, punches the Baron in the face, removes the spear, thrusts Uvarov into the chamber and activates the system. But meanwhile Soma has liberated the alien power source and the attackers flee with it. The process starts to go wrong, and we see a man in a tube turning into 1 of the Leviathan 'demon' warriors we 1st met in #11.

Nick Fury meets with Aries in Pieta and berates him for the power he's allowed Leviathan and now Hydra to gain. Now *he*'s going to have to clean up the mess. Aries replies with cryptic comments about the game which isn't a game and isn't over.

And finally we get back to the present where Kraken takes a hood off Nick who's tied to a chair and finds himself facing Strucker in the same situation. He says he's going to help them both become what they're supposed to be (which is what Kraken does).

Alessandro Vitti
Alessandro Vitti
Imaginary Friends
Paul Renaud (Cover Penciler)
Paul Renaud (Cover Inker)
Paul Renaud (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Dave Lanphear.
Editor: Lauren Sankovitch. Editor-in-chief: Axel Alonso.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Plus: Baron Strucker, John Garrett, Leonardo da Vinci, Magadan (Vasili Dassiev), Orion (Viktor Uvarov), Professor (Thomas Davidson), Scorpio (Jake Fury LMD), Taurus (Cornelius Van Lunt).

> Secret Warriors: Book info and issue index

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