As Marvel rolls into Secret Empire, the frontlines against Hydra are already forming. But behind the scenes, a team of superhero spies is ready to take on Captain America’s evil organization with subterfuge - the Secret Warriors.
Picking up a now-classic Marvel franchise title - and giving it an Inhuman twist - are writer Matthew Rosenberg and artist Javier Garron, rising stars at Marvel just like the members of their Secret Warriors squad. Rosenberg and Garron are bringing together two generations of Marvel heroes in the new title to combat the Hydra threat, and true to form, there are multiple mysteries involved.
Newsarama spoke to Rosenberg ahead of the May 10 release of Secret Warriors #1, and while Rosenberg was tight-lipped about the future of Secret Warriors and its ties to Secret Empire (“secret” is right there in both titles!), he did set the stage for the return of a major Marvel villain, and go in depth about what sets these Secret Warriors apart from the rest of the Marvel Universe – and what brings them together as a team.
Newsarama: Matthew, Secret Warriors is a recent Marvel franchise that already has a lot of history - tying directly into Secret Empire. How does this new Inhuman focused team connect to what’s come before?
Matthew Rosenberg: Well the original Secret Warriors, which is a brilliant series and everyone should pick it up, was the story of Nick Fury's clandestine superhero/spy team who are caught in a war between the evil organizations Hydra and Leviathan. Our story launches out of Secret Empire, where Hydra is once again up to no good. But we don't have Nick Fury - Quake, from Fury's original team, is calling the shots in our series.
Beyond the obvious "Quake leading a team of underestimated heroes against Hydra," there are a couple of major themes that carry over. Our Secret Warriors are also struggling to find the balance between being heroes and being spies, and their tactics and motives don't always sit well with everyone involved. This is also a story about revenge and where public and private agendas meet. As the series goes on there are quite a few secrets that will be uncovered that threaten to tear the team apart. For fans of the original series there should be a lot of subtle and not so subtle stuff to pick up on, but if you've never read it before our book definitely stands on it's own two feet.
Nrama: Walk us through the line-up of the new Secret Warriors. Is there a character you’ve most connected with so far?
Rosenberg: The Secret Warriors are a six-person team... Well, five and a dinosaur. I describe it as a good mix of the history of Marvel and the future. There are a bunch of characters from the last few years at Marvel who I think are brilliant, and then some characters created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. It's a really eclectic group and I think everyone will have their own favorites, but for me it's either Quake or Ms. Marvel. They are both such amazing characters from the start and the way they interact and think about things differently offers us a real chance to challenge the team and ourselves.
Our team is:
Quake - Our resident spy and earthquake bringer. She was Fury's protege who tried her hands at being a superhero but came back to being a spy. She is the de facto leader of our team.
Ms Marvel - Our powerhouse. In many ways she is the only real "superhero" on the team. She's been an Avenger, a member of the Champions, and she is just generally awesome. She is as smart and passionate about her beliefs as Quake is about her own, but those don't always totally line up.
Moon Girl - Our brains. Moon Girl is smart enough to solve most of the problems that come our team’s way herself, but she isn't used to this kind of thing. She lives in her own world a bit, and getting dragged along on these missions may be more than she bargained for.
Inferno - Our firepower. Inferno is new to being an Inhuman. He wants to be a good Inhuman and just sort of fit in and help people when he can. But with the Inhuman Royal Family gone and the Inhumans in a dire situation, he is called upon to step up and go to war. His self-doubt and lack of control of his powers will be his biggest challenge.
Karnak - Our mystery. Karnak is recruited to the team because he is supposed to help Quake with her plan. But Karnak moves in his own way and nobody can control or predict him.
Devil Dinosaur - Our dinosaur. He's a dinosaur.
Nrama: One of your first Marvel stories was a S.H.I.E.L.D. one-shot focusing on Quake. Are you excited to return to that character?
Rosenberg: Yes! I love Quake. From her intro in Secret War through the first Secret Warriors, the Avengers, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., I think she is such an under appreciated character. She's powerful, smart, self reliant, mysterious, and a little unsure of herself. There is so much great Quake material out there, but there is still room for so much more.
I do a lot of conventions and signings and people always bring me that Quake one-shot and ask me when there will be more Quake books. She has a great fanbase, and a lot of them are fans from the show who just want to see more of her wherever they can. And personally I love seeing people who aren't your average weekly comic reader picking up a comic for any reason. And if that reason is Quake, that's even better. So I'm hoping fans of the show check out the book but I also hope by the end of this series Quake is a character more weekly comic fans learn to love.
Nrama: The original Secret Warriors had ties to the “secret history” of the Marvel Universe - something the Inhumans are also deeply tied to. How far will you delve into that level of Marvel lore for this series? Is there an aspect of that you want to explore?
Rosenberg: I love that stuff and I'd love to explore it at some point, but for now our characters are still learning a lot about themselves and their own past. This is our chance to showcase Quake, Ms. Marvel, Moon Girl, and Inferno a little more and really put the focus on them. There will be some talk about the history of the Inhumans and how it relates to our cast in the series, but for now they are firmly focused on their future and making sure it happens.
Nrama: How does Secret Warriors connect to Secret Empire?
Rosenberg: Secret Empire is all about Hydra. Hydra doesn't like the Inhumans and our team doesn't like Hydra. So they head out to do something about it.
Nrama: There has been a lot of talk of Marvel’s approach to events lately. Is it daunting being part of the machinery to bring such a huge story to life?
Rosenberg: Daunting? Yes, completely. But it's also exhilarating. I am a huge fan of stories like Civil War, “Mutant Massacre,” Secret Invasion, House of M, etc. So getting to be a part of that is terrifying in that I keep thinking everyone is going to notice I'm involved and ask what I'm doing there. It's hard to distance myself from being a fan in a lot of ways, or feeling like I earned my spot in the event.
But everyone involved has been awesome to us with our book. It's a challenge because there are so many moving parts, but really that stress falls to Wil Moss, Charles Beachum, and Sarah Brunstad, my brave editors. For me it's just a lot of being able to roll with changes, which is a fun writing challenge.
Nrama: After the Secret Empire tie-in, what’s next? What villains or threats will we see in Secret Warriors?
Rosenberg: I can't say too much, but we're going to have a smaller story that is about tying up some loose ends left over from Secret Empire and then we are going to launch into a proper second arc that will see the team face down a big classic Marvel baddie who is a personal favorite of mine. I can't say who yet, but if you read the first arc there will be some clues in there. Our roster might also be shifting a bit going forward, and in ways that people might not expect. Or they might. I don't know.
Nrama: You’re working with artist Javier Garron on Secret Warriors. Has anything he’s done with your scripts really surprised you so far? What’s your favorite thing he’s drawn for Secret Warriors?
Rosenberg: Javier is amazing. He can cram so much action onto a page and still have it read perfectly, be full of great character moments, and still be gorgeous. He's really incredible. It doesn't really surprise me, because I've read his other stuff and it's all amazing, but I am constantly a little caught off guard by how well he puts a page together. The first issue of Secret Warriors is pretty wild and he made every page work 100%. It's a pretty great feeling, because if he had fallen flat on any of them it would really have been my fault as the writer. So it's awesome that he killed it.
My favorite thing he has drawn is the fight sequence the first time you see the Warriors in action. It's pretty visceral and intimidating and I think it's not what people will expect.
Nrama: Will Secret Warriors tie into any of the Inhumans books launching with “ResurrXion"?
Rosenberg: We don't tie directly in, at least not in this first arc. But yeah, there are definitely connections. Where the Royals are, where Black Bolt is - all of that plays a big part in why our team is needed and what they are doing. One way of looking at it is the Royals and Black Bolt are about the old guard of the Inhumans, the past. Secret Warriors is about the new Inhumans. Neither of those can exist without the other, and they are forever tied together. But the decisions of the old guard will always affect the new. The Secret Warriors are dealing with those decisions now.
Nrama: What do you think will surprise readers the most about Secret Warriors?
Rosenberg: Oh, I don't know. I think the tone of the book isn't what some people will expect. I think we take them some places where people might not think we will, but these are tough times in the Marvel Universe. I think that will probably be the thing that catches people off guard the most but my hope is it's the characters. Obviously each character has their own fans but I hope we can build more crossover. I want Karnak fans to fall in love with Ms. Marvel, and Moon Girl fans to become Quake fans too. I think these characters are some of the best that Marvel has and I want people to be surprised when they end up thinking the same.