Last week, Ed Brubaker kicked off three new stories with Incognito: Bad Influences #1, Captain America #611, and Secret Avengers #6.
Yesterday, we spoke with the writer about his new volume of Incognito, but now we turn the conversation toward Secret Avengers. (Check back tomorrow for our discussion on Cap.)
Secret Avengers is the new comic launched earlier this year by Brubaker and Deodato. The covert superhero team is led by Steve Rogers and has already gone through some changes in the last few issues, as Nova got called away.
With last week's issue, Prince of Orphans has apparently replaced Nova, as the team brushes up on its kung fu, heading toward a showdown with the Shadow Council and Shang Chi's father.
In the second part of our three-part discussion with Brubaker, we talked with him about Secret Avengers and what's coming next in the title.
Newsarama: Ed, I'm curious about your idea to create the Shadow Council. Was the motivation to give the Secret Avengers their own secret villains?
Ed Brubaker: Yeah. It's like how S.H.I.E.L.D. needs HYDRA. You want to have something on the opposite side, it seems like. That's really been some of the most fun, actually, giving these little hints about who the Shadow Council are and how long they've been around.
Nrama: And it's not clear if they're working for good or for evil. Is it meant to be left that gray?
Brubaker: Yeah. At the end of Issue #5, which was all about Max Fury and his origin, it was presented to him that they are the good guys, actually. I think it depends on what your definition of the “good guys” is. And that's something I'm building with them, what their actual agenda is, which is totally a secret right now.
Their origin moment, you saw a little bit of their pre-origin in Issue #3 where you saw the flashback to post-Civil War. That was a little bit of a nod to Edgar Rice Burroughs, like how John Carter was a Civil War soldier who got transported to Mars.I like the idea of this entire group of people who somehow got transported to another planet and found this alien technology, and they end up becoming this secret organization on Earth.
I was trying to make a different pulp nods where they think they're the good guys, but they also secretly worship some sort of strange, sleeping, Cthulu-type beast, that may or may not be the thing that the ultimate nullifier wakes up that destroys the universe.
Nrama: I noticed there's a lot of Nick Fury, particularly with Max Fury in there. Is Nick Fury being integrated into the series?
Brubaker: I'd like to have him be a bigger part of the series. But he's got his own book right now, so I tend to give leeway to people who have their own book. You can't just bring them into your book and do whatever you want with them. But yeah, I would love to have Nick Fury. I think it would be great, too, because then you'd have, basically, two Nick Furys running around in the book. But we'll see.
Nrama: In Issue #5, Captain America made a speech about the idea of "life model decoys" in light of who Max Fury is. Is that something you've thought through about all the LMDs running around the Marvel Universe?
Brubaker: Yeah. It's a very Philip K. Dick/Blade Runner argument about what is or isn't life and consciousness. You always think about that stuff. Like, if you lose your memories, are you a completely different person? Because your memories sort of make you who you are. And this is just an extension of that idea, with superhero-world rules.
You know, one of the first characters in Marvel Comics is the Human Torch, who's a synthetic human who can light on fire and fly, but he has his own independence. He's got artificial intelligence that becomes a consciousness.
So I was thinking about that. But that character is actually from a story in an old Defenders run, that I make reference to there. There was actually a five- or six-issue story with a guy who everybody thought was Nick Fury, and then at the end, it turns out he was actually a life model decoy that Nick Fury's brother had used the Zodiac Key to make have Nick Fury's memories, so it believed that it was actually Nick. So it didn't know that it was not a human.
And then, at the end of that story, that character was captured by SHIELD, but nothing else happened. And I just thought something should have happened to that guy after that. That's an interesting thing: a life model decoy that actually believes it's Nick Fury.I had this idea for a Nick Fury mini-series years ago that would have Nick Fury on the run from SHIELD, with Nick Fury turning out to be a life model decoy. And I kept thinking there's got to be a way to use that story. I ended up just using it in here, and that was my idea before I even remembered the old Defenders thing, which I may or may not have read as a kid. But I just liked that idea of life model decoys that become too realistic.
Nrama: So, now that Nova is gone, is Prince of Orphans part of the book now?
Brubaker: Yeah. Prince of Orphans from Iron Fist is in the book now. He's our Nova replacement.
Nrama: What were your thoughts behind the team's conflict with the Hai Dai? It has a different feel from what you did in the first arc. Was that the intent?
Brubaker: Yeah, the basic thrust of the first story arc was to kind of surprise people, because you hear Secret Avengers and you immediately think, "Oh, it's going to be, you know, international espionage" or something. And I wanted to show that it could actually be intergalactic espionage, since it's the Avengers. They find out there's corporate espionage on Mars and they go look into that.
But I wanted to do the complete opposite with the next story arc. I wanted to do something that's the dark, shadowed corners of the Marvel Universe. So I decided to do something with Master of Kung Fu and his father. And it gave me a good excuse to get Prince of Orphans into the book.
Nrama: But it all ties together with the Shadow Council?
Brubaker: Yeah. There's definitely a bigger story building there.
Nrama: What's coming up in the next few issues of Secret Avengers?
Brubaker: The biggest thing coming up is that, at the end of Issue #5, we revealed one of the key players in the Shadow Council is John Steele, who's an old Marvel character that was in The Marvels Project. That was a character that I sort of stumbled across and thought I saw some cool potential for him, and some easy ways to make his history link with some modern Marvel characters' histories.That was always my plan for John Steele, that he would have disappeared at some point during the war and we would bring him back today. He's a semi-immortal kind of character.
The biggest thing coming up is that he and Steve Rogers know each other from back in the war. And Steve and everybody are going to find out really soon that he's one of the bad guys. And we'll get to see what happens with that.