Spencer and S.H.I.E.L.D. Gather the Most Secret AVENGERS Yet

Remember that Marvel NOW! Point One teaser from a few weeks ago with what appears to be Agent Phil Coulson, from the creative team of writer Nick Spencer and artist Luke Ross?

Well, hey: As revealed Saturday at New York Comic Con during Marvel’s “Marvel NOW! The Avengers” panel, it’s indeed Coulson, and the image is promoting a new volume of Secret Avengers, debuting in February as part of the ongoing Marvel NOW! revamp.

Though this is a new Secret Avengers, it’s not Spencer’s first time in the franchise, as he had the task of writing four issues between initial series writer Ed Brubaker and Warren Ellis' six-issue stint.

“It’s a totally different assignment for me,” Spencer said. “I never quite had the feeling of ownership on the book [previously]. I was very aware that I was just visiting. This time around, it was Tom [Brevoort] asking me if I wanted the book, with very few parameters of what the book should look like, and the understanding that this is going to be my book for a long time.”


Though the basic premise of the book remains the same along with some of the cast, Spencer promises some new twists along the way — including the fact that it’s now a S.H.I.E.L.D. run organization, which is what brings potential future TV star Coulson, the “new” Nick Fury, Daisy Johnson and Maria Hill (who initiates the team) all into the mix. 

“This is still a team undertaking missions that the world at large can’t know about,” Spencer said. “But how it all looks, how it all plays out, how closely we stick to that as the core premise, all that stuff is pretty new.”

S.H.I.E.L.D. brings the biggest twist in their approach to the team — using similar technology to what the original Nick Fury employed in 2004-2005’s Secret War, the team’s memories of their adventures will be erased following each mission. Thus the existence of this Secret Avengers a secret to even the Avengers that are a part of it.

“Avengers make for terrible S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. They’re used to calling their own shots, you can’t really trust them with high intel because one of them goes bad every week, or turns out to be a Skrull,” Spencer said. “At the same time, they have mindwipe and memory implant technology. The trick is, the last time they did it, it blew up in their faces and basically set off a chain of events that brought down S.H.I.E.L.D. Of course, they’re going to try it again — the temptation to get their hands on weapons like the Hulk is just too great.”


The book will also look different, thanks to new series artist Luke Ross, fresh off illustrating the newly presidential Captain America in Ultimate Comics Ultimates.

“All of his books look a little different from his last one, that’s one of the things I like about him,” said Spencer, launching his first Marvel work since his Ultimate Comics X-Men run ended earlier this year. “If you’ve seen what he’s been doing on Ultimate Comics Ultimates lately, it’s been really fantastic work.”

The team, brought together by Fury and Coulson, will include Hawkeye and Black Widow (both holdovers from the previous volume of Secret Avengers, though Hawkeye is no longer team leader), former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Mockingbird, unconventional picks Hulk and Taskmaster plus an as-yet-unrevealed “all-new Iron Patriot” — best guess at this point would likely be James Rhodes given Iron Man 3 rumors, Spencer’s history with the character and War Machine’s membership in the original incarnation of Secret Avengers. Plus, Winter Soldier — whose very existence is a secret to most of the Marvel Universe at this point — will play an important role in the series, though Spencer makes it clear that Bucky isn’t a team member.

We talked to Spencer for more on the major players of the new Secret Avengers.


Nick Fury: “It’s different from the classic Nick Fury role in a lot of ways. There’s been a lot of assumption out there that our new Nick Fury is going to rise up the ranks of S.H.I.E.L.D. very quickly. There’s no intention of doing that. We really like where Nick is. Nick is a field agent, and he’s performing very well in these early days on the job. We didn’t want Nick to be walking exposition, we wanted to get back to the idea of a Nick Fury who’s along for the ride.”


Agent Coulson: “He’s got a fun role. He’s our guy who makes the pitch. He’s also the advance guy on a lot of missions, so he’s usually the first guy on the scenes checking things out. It’s not too different from the role that people are familiar with him having in the films. It’s such a fun voice to write. He adds a little bit of levity to the book, and gives it a little charm. I watched those amazing Clark Gregg scenes on loop and really practiced the voice and tried to get a handle for it.”


Hawkeye & Mockingbird
: “Who doesn’t like to work with their ex-wife? [Laughs.] It’s an Avengers book, still — it’s very S.H.I.E.L.D.-centric, but it’s still an Avengers book, and one of the things I worked hard on was finding that balance between what a S.H.I.E.L.D. book would look like and what an Avengers book looks like. One of the things that’s a staple of any good Avengers run are those romantic angles. Throwing Clint and Bobbi back together on a team, at this point in their lives, jumped out at me straightaway.”


Black Widow
: “You can’t really do this book without Black Widow. Her involvement with this team is going to majorly impact the other aspects of her life.” 


: “While this team is covert ops, one of the big reasons why S.H.I.E.L.D. wants this team is that they want to get their hands on these big heavy-hitters. They are looking at a world that’s very rapidly spinning out of control, because of the emergence of all of these new kinds of threats. They’re going to use him very sparingly and very judiciously, but he’s there to be their weapon of mass destruction when they need it. He’s there when they need to press the big red button.”


Winter Soldier
: “He has a key role to play in the book, he’s in the book a lot, but he is not a member of this team. He is not one of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s operative. S.H.I.E.L.D. knows about his existence, as we’ve seen in his own book, but he was not selected for this team. That’s going to set up a lot of interesting stories — why he wasn’t selected, and the fact that Black Widow was.”


Iron Patriot
: “I’m not going to say who’s in the suit yet, and I know people are going to think that I’m being deliberately obtuse there. The fun of that particular story is going to be how it happens. That is an armor that has a lot of history in the Marvel Universe, and basically none of it good. To see somebody even deciding to wear it, there’s got to be some interesting reasons.”


: “Taskmaster’s kind of the wildcard of the book. There’s really nothing more fun in writing Marvel comics than picking your roster on these teams — it is everything you thought it was in fourth grade. I kept looking at my team and thinking, ‘Something’s missing.’ Then it hit me, and it was so perfect. He’s got some great background with Nick Fury, as established in Battle Scars. He was really Nick’s first interaction in this world. I thought it would be a lot of fun to build on that relationship.”

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