Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Hype Machine - Secret Avengers

The Avengers have been reshuffled and the chips have finally settled to show us the line up of the Secret Avengers, brought to us by Ed Brubaker. Being one of four Avengers titles, Brubaker’s Avengers promise to be a bit more espionage tinged then the other more superheroic titles. It’s an interesting premise but the cast was kept a secret from the general public. The names of the nine players have now been revealed and I think it is this moment that will finalize whether people will be picking this title up or not.

Hit the jump to have a look at who is involved and why you should add this title to your pull list now.

The Creators

The chance to see Ed Brubaker tackle a flagship title like an Avengers group is something that fanlads and fangals have been excited about ever since the announcement was first made some time ago. Brubaker has earned his stripes by making Captain America matter once more and continuing a fine tradition of Daredevil scribes being fantastic. Brubaker is currently nominated for an Eisner for Best Writer.

Brubaker seems to work best when dealing with the subversive nature of superheroics, his previous work of Sleeper and Incognito see him bending the comics form to meet his twisted noir needs. He’s also excelled at showing convoluted and dense plots in his own Criminal and even with Captain America where the overall story has taken over 50 issues to play out, which is a very impressive feat for a mainstream title.

Mike Deodato on art is also pleasing as he is hot off a streak on the Dark Avengers with Brian Michael Bendis. His style certainly matches a big event-style book and he should be well matched to Brubaker’s writing style and he’ll also get the ensemble feel of the book having just had so many diverse characters to draw. I do wonder if he will use photo reference for these characters, much like his Norman Osborn looked so much like Tommy Lee Jones.

As for the exact feel of the book, let’s meet the characters. Brubaker has stated that he wants the team to have many diverse agents and each will form little clubs within the team. Everyone was chosen to fulfill a tactical purpose on the team so let’s see what they do.

Steve Rogers

Brubaker may have killed Captain America years ago in his own title but now Bucky Barnes has taken that title so that’s left Rogers to become the new Nick Fury of the Marvel U. He’s a soldier, field trained, and he’ll be running S.H.I.E.L.D. from the frontlines. He’s not the type to stand back in the Helicarrier and twirl a moustache while the cool stuff plays out. Rogers is a man who punched Hitler and you know he wants to be the guy to draw first blood.

Having Rogers here clearly gives the team a leader. Rogers knows what he is doing and how to get it done. You couldn’t ask for a better general, in fact. He’s fought in World Wars and the Super Soldier Serum keeps him strong and he’s a loyal fighter. He won’t send you in to get you screwed just to help the mission. I’m interested to see this incarnation of Rogers as I was never a massive fan of the boy scout that Cap usually was.

Sharon Carter

The woman who kept up with Captain America is quite a description. She’s an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and that shouldn’t be forgotten. She’s a lady of action and she’s got a dense history of fighting and also loving Steve Rogers, while being one of the few ones that sees past the living legend and is willing to disagree with him. Giving Rogers a woman to stand by his side should be an interesting twist to the team. He’ll have to think of her and I can see plenty of friction as he might not be able to put her directly in the line of fire, even though she’ll probably want to be there anyway.

Carter is being pitched as a handler for this team, much as Maria Hill and Victoria Hand will be the liaisons for their Avengers teams. This seems to make Carter the second-in-charge of the team and I think that’s great. Having a strong female lead pleases me and I hope she gets a great response within this title.

War Machine

The Claytons Man of Iron; ‘The Iron Man You Have When You’re Not Having An Iron Man’. I hate to pitch War Machine as the little friend of Iron Man, but he kind of is. That’s not a bad thing, I’d kill to be even a fourth generation Iron Man, and it seems that War Machine will fill the role that Iron Man cannot. He’s got the suit and he’s got more guns. He’s a heavy hitter and a guy that gets his own title but can’t always support it so this is a good home for him.

Brubaker has stated that Jim Rhodes will be filing time in the team’s science club. He’ll work stuff out that needs the brains and I think that might be an interesting take on him. Jim Rhodes as a character is so often forgotten for piling a few extra cannons on his shoulder instead. I’d rather see the man behind the metal face.


He’s been an X-Man, he’s been an agent of S.W.O.R.D., he’s been a Defender, and he’s even been an Avenger before. This choice makes sense and is appeasing a lot of fans who love the humour and brains that Hank McCoy brings to any page that he graces. He’s always a good chunk of glue that can hold a team together and he’s also a capable field agent.

Beast’s main priority in this team will be joining with War Machine to form the science club. He’ll work things out, and I’m hoping also apply their uses in the field. Beast has a lot of brains to add to the team and he is one of the bigger sells for me. I think he just might be for a lot of other people too.


Many have been baffled by the inclusion of Nova to the mix. He’s been rocking the business in his own title, and the Cosmic Marvel titles right now have been standing on their own two feet quite well for some time. Why he needs to join the Avengers doesn’t seem immediately apparent but it might just work. Many Marvel characters pull double, and triple, duties within multiple titles so there’s no reason why Nova can’t make this all work.

I see Nova as filling the Thor type shoes of a heavy hitter within the team. This is the last man of an intergalactic corps of space cops and he holds his own against some pretty powerful characters, like Silver Surfer and Annihilus. If Rogers ever unleashes Nova against The Gibbon you can assume that little bastard rodent/monkey will die with one punch. But Nova can help these Secret Avengers tackle foes a little larger, the orbital strike of the Secret Avengers, if you will. Brubaker has stated that he won’t necessarily be in every issue: he’ll pop in here and there and this seems like a great way to handle Nova in this team.


Valkyrie hasn’t been seen so much in the Marvel big leagues of late. She used to be a Defenders mainstay but now she’ll be catapulted into the A-league by her inclusion on this team. It’s an interesting choice and one that I think might be able to work purely because Valkyrie isn’t like anyone else on the team. She’ll be different and a team dynamic usually works when no one is the same and so they need to work together more tightly.

Valkyrie will join Nova as being the heavy hitting squad within the larger team. She’s got the power of an Asgardian warrior and she’ll also help even up the female mix of the team which is nice to see it won’t just be a complete dudefest. I’m interested as she wasn’t a complete sell for me at first but I’m slowly warming to the idea of having her on the team.

Black Widow

It’s a secret ops espionage team, Black Widow was always going to have to be here. She’s been a close worker with Rogers in the past and she’d have ties in every town that they stay in. Having the Widow here is only going to make this team so much more interesting.

Black Widow seems like she’ll fill an espionage hole in the team, but she’ll be much more of a rogue soldier within the ranks. She usually works well on her own and she’ll be the agent you can send in alone. I’m not saying she isn’t a team player but she seems to be able to pretty much work wherever she needs to be. I am also hoping that by having Black Widow here her ongoing series (written by Marjorie Liu, drawn by Daniel Acuna, and reviewed by our Christine) will get more play from others.

Moon Knight

A crazy vigilante joining a team of superpowered spy big-wigs. It might not make immediate sense but having Moon Knight on the team will certainly make it all fun to watch. Moon Knight has been a hero after redemption of late, doing his best not to kill the criminals he stops. It’s a good turn for him to take and perhaps being a part of Rogers’ Avengers will help make that transition a little smoother, or at least have other heroes keeping a look out for him.

Moon Knight doesn’t seem to have a specific role to fulfill in the team just yet. He’s certainly a man with abilities and he might be able to do things other members of the team can’t or won’t, besides drive a cab that is. I also hope that his inclusion here will get his own ongoing (written by Gregg Hurwitz) a little more play. Moon Knight can be a fascinatingly interesting character to watch and I’m pleased at his inclusion here.

The Irredeemable Ant-Man

The final character and the tipping point that made this title a guaranteed buy in my list; Robert Kirkman created the Irredeemable Ant-Man in 2006 in his own title that was a little bit funky and a little bit creepy. Eric O’Grady is an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (so he has that going for him as far as inclusion to this team goes) and he’s also a bit of a douche (in the most lovable way). He gets his hands on an Ant-Man suit and through a series of unfortunate events he manages to go solo with it doing his best to parlay the powers of the Pym into women and money. He watches chicks in the shower and he generally makes with the funny pretty consistently. Sadly, his title got canceled after 12 stellar issues but many writers have done their best to keep him alive and relevant. He was traded to The Initiative for a while then the Thunderbolts owned him. Now he’s back, it would seem, to being a good guy once more.

Brubaker has stated that having an Ant-Man made sense as far as espionage goes because he can shrink to any size and infiltrate any system (and this did help O’Grady when Skrulls infiltrated Camp Hammond). So as for which Ant-Man to chose, I guess the irredeemable one would be the most fun, plus Hank Pym is already tied up with the Avengers Academy and Scott Lang is dead (not that death should really stop anyone from doing anything. Ever.). I am unashamedly in love with Eric O’Grady and cannot wait to see the fun that Brubaker has with him. I have no idea how he’ll work with such boy scouts as Steve Rogers and Nova but I guarantee he’ll love working with Valkyrie and Black Widow. Seeing him back and forth with Beast should be fun too.


That opening splash image that graces the front of your comics, you know the ones, well they’re always better when create by the magnificent Marko Djurdjevic and he’ll be doing the covers for this series which is a good thing. I don’t think I need to say anymore about this. It’s great news. I mean, just look at the massive Avengers gatefold below and tell me it's not glorious. It features all four Avengers teams (though Sharon Carter is missing from the Secret line-up so I'm not sure who else might be missing from the others, and it even features some villains that will appear. Click it to see a much larger version! Go, click it now!).


As is usual business in this business, solicitations for the first few issues have already come out but to keep the secret aspect of this title certain elements were blotted out, like what I assume is Steve Rogers’ name and the covers, but otherwise these three blurbs make the series sound pretty damn exciting.

Who are the Secret Avengers? Are they a covert team of heroes working the darkest corners of the globe to stop disaster? Are they part-spy, part-superhero? Are they XXXXXXX’s newest idea to save the world...or all they all of the above? A new era begins as Marvel's hottest team takes a 21st century twist!

This sounds pretty good but also pretty standard for an intro solicitation, it doesn’t give us much. But the second blurb really makes my brain turn and turn.

On a mission no one can know about and already betrayed by one of their own! Our Secret Avengers strike force finds a link between Roxxon's digs on Mars and a mysterious shadow group on Earth. But what evil will they face on the Red Planet itself, and will a hero fall? It's the Avengers as you've never seen them before, by Ed Brubaker and Mike Deodato!

Which one of these characters will betray them all? It could be a few of them, though good money would suggest the one character who is irredeemable, though there is also a bit of a psychotic on the team too, don’t forget. I also like the idea that the series has just opened but they’re already rocking the show on Mars. Yeah, this series is going to be awesome. And now, in breaking news, we also have the third solicitation blurb, so here we go:

What hides in the depths of the red planet? How does it link to the Shadow Empire lurking behind the scenes in America for nearly 150 years? And will our heroes be able to save one of their own? The Secret Avengers duo Ed Brubaker and Mike Deodato bring the action.

An opening arc on Mars. I'm just loving this idea and cannot wait to get my hands on a copy when issue one hits stands this coming month. I'm sure Brubaker will make with the espionage-fu like no one else. It's a superpowered S.H.I.E.L.D. book (look at how many of them are already card carrying members), need anything else be said.


I don’t normally spruik the major flagship titles, and hey I doubt they need my extra words to push a few units, but I do want readers to be aware of this title. It’s not a Bendis-Vengers title and so you know it’ll probably be the little pal Avengers book and I don’t think that’s warranted. Brubaker is a master of espionage and black hearted spies, just see Sleeper or Incognito if you don’t believe me. The man really knows how to craft a tale and it’s nice to see Marvel not just keep doing the same old thing they’ve always been doing. They’re bending one of their major titles into something else to better suit the writer. This seems like smart management to me and I’d like to see it rewarded by having people pick up the book. Scroll down through those characters, tell me there’s not at least three that you love, and probably five or six in total that you are interested in. You don’t need to love every character going into an ensemble book, sometimes you just need to give the creators faith and hope you’ll be served something you’ll enjoy.

I know I’ll be first in line to get Secret Avengers and I hope a few of you are too. It might be $3.99 but it sure looks to be worth it at this point. It you aren’t convinced just remind yourself, it’s Brubaker’s Secret Avengers on Mars. That should get you going again.

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AndreiTT said...

I agree, this is something new, and seeing Brubaker (which happens to be my favorite write) take on an Avengers book in his lovely espionage style just makes me full of happiness and excitement.
I also dig all the characters he chose for this book, especially Beast, Nova, War Machine and Valkyrie.

This is gonna be THE avengers book that we've waited for so long. I hope this book gets the attention it deserves and keeps a very long run.

Great article also, i love the way you spotlight the individual team members.

onefinemess said...

I have to say the initial Brubaker-on-Avengers thing did nothing for me BUT somehow throwing Nova & Beast into the mix makes it real tempting.

I'm still debating dropping the entire Avengers line with the relaunches, just to save money... but we'll see. The lack of returning students in Avengers Academy may make that one easier to skip too.

Also - Ultron? Already? We are in the middle of an Ultron story right now! Funny that Mighty Avengers came in on Ultron, and is going out with him.

Klep said...

You had me at 'Brubaker'.

Seriously, I can't wait to see more of the Black Widow as written by Brubaker. She's a great character for him to write, and it's a shame he's only been able to deal with her so far as a supporting character in Captain America. Hopefully he's able to do more with her here.

Bobby Weenus said...

I gotta be honest, I'm thrilled that Nova is on this team. I think he has a new galactic maturity that the major Marvel Continuity is missing (The Avengers used to have that same Cosmic level attitude, then they started waging petty civil wars with each other...) and this means that some of these New Avengers characters might eventually end up in the positively awesome Marvel Cosmic field for a storyline or two.

Spideymark said...

Great article. I was already sold on this series but you just confirmed it. Such a perfect cast.
Also, Moon Knight is an ex-marine (pre-mercenary days) so there's his military link.

Anonymous said...

Has it been confirmed that they are shield affiliated, because if not, moon knight could be on the team as the money, in a similar role to tony stark on the old avengers teams. Also it might be Amadeus Cho in the ant-man outfit

Anonymous said...

Ok, now let speculate.
Avengers, vol. 1, ended with # 503. Which Avenger title will be rebooted in the future so we can go back to vol. 1 starting with # 600. Will they tack on the 64 issues of "New ..." vol. 1, with 32 issues of "New ..." vol. 2 (assuming it lasts that long) to make 600? What do you think?

Ryan K Lindsay said...

@Anon6 - Pretty sure brubaker said they'd be S.H.I.E.L.D as he's definitely stated that Steve Rogers will be the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. He's also said that it is O'Grady in the Ant-Man suit.

@Anon7 - I've been wondering this myself. Avengers ends on #503 and then becomes New Avengers, so they'll take those issues, but now with the Avengers line relaunch I think they'll just take Avengers, not New, and give it the #600

Daryll B. said...

This does seem to be an alternate take on the Busiek/Dwyer evolution of specialized Avengers teams for certain situations...

Brubaker in control means 2 things..

1 A great conspiracy intertwined with interesting character work....

2 You know something will happen in the first 2 issues that will have longtime Assemblers up in arms....

I can't wait....

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