By Kevin Mahadeo
Tom Brevoort knows a secret.
Actually, as Executive Editor – Vice President at Marvel, he knows quite a few secrets, especially when it comes to the current and upcoming events of two of Marvel's biggest titles: SECRET AVENGERS and CAPTAIN AMERICA. And although Brevoort knows how to keep his secrets, thankfully for fans, he also knows how to effectively tease them.
Launched earlier this year, SECRET AVENGERS by writer Ed Brubaker and artist Mike Deodato centers on a covert team of Earth's Mightiest formed by former Captain America Steve Rogers. The crew consists of such members as the Black Widow, Valkyrie, Ant-Man, Moon Knight and Beast. With the title's opening arc, Rogers' team uncovered a brand new threat to the Marvel Universe: a powerful but mysterious organization known as the Shadow Council, whose influence reaches far into the past and all across the present.
Meanwhile, in the pages of CAPTAIN AMERICA, shield-wielding hero Bucky Barnes finds himself on trial for the crimes he once committed as the Russian assassin the Winter Soldier. The revelation of the current Cap's past actions caused a major schism not only across the American public but also amongst many of his friends and colleagues. As the trial continues, Bucky's future as a free man—much less as Captain America—remains uncertain.
Brevoort spoke with Marvel.com about upcoming plans for the two titles, the ever-fluctuating roster of the Avengers and the Sin-filled future of the Marvel Universe.
Marvel.com: Tom, I wanted to start things off here with SECRET AVENGERS, and more specifically with the Shadow Council. Is it a coincidence that the Secret Avengers are battling a Shadow Council?
Tom Brevoort: It's not much of a coincidence since we put them together to fight one another and Ed came up with them knowing what the SECRET AVENGERS was going to be. That having been said, they did exist slightly before this. They do come off of stuff that Ed was doing in MARVELS PROJECT. We knew they were there and that we'd be using them in some capacity. That's why they were also in STEVE ROGERS: SUPER-SOLDIER. So, it's a little bit of a coincidence, but not too much.
Marvel.com: As you mentioned, we’ve seen this group involved in a lot of things from Marvel's past and we've slowly been seeing the big guns behind the Council coming into light. For example, John Steele recently revealed himself and is actually set to battle Steve Rogers coming up. What can you say about that and this organization’s motivations?
Tom Brevoort: I think the thing that's important for people to understand about the Shadow Council is that for all that they think they're doing the right thing. And who knows, maybe they are. Maybe our guys are in the wrong. They've got a long history. They've been around for a while. They've been flying around a number of different events. We'll begin to learn a little more about how John Steele is involved with them and where Max Fury fits in and begin to get a sense of what their perspective is and what their goal is. But really, they operate thinking that they're the good guys and the Secret Avengers are just an obstacle or a problem to be dealt with this week on the way to their larger, beneficial goals.
Marvel.com: In the original arc of SECRET AVENGERS, Nova was a member of the team, but he left to participate in THE THANOS IMPERATIVE. With Shang-Chi appearing in the current story, does this signify a fluctuation in the team roster or is this really just a temporary guest spot?
Tom Brevoort: It's an Avengers title, so there's always going to be a certain amount of flux in the membership. That having been said, I don't look at Shang-Chi right now as a member of the group. I would more look at the Prince of Orphans as a member—as a guy who was called in by Steve to help out and work on this particular assignment. But from the beginning, while we started with a particular line-up of characters, those are the characters for the most part that you'll see on a regular basis. I think we've been relatively open that we would pull characters in as particular missions or situations require them. In his current role as top cop and head of national security, Steve is pretty much in a position to tap anybody he might need if there is specific assignment where he requires a specialist. That having been said, the core team he's got is already pretty flexible, covers a lot of different disciplines and allows him a lot of different options. Whether Shang will be sticking around after this arc sort of depends on how this all checks out. I think the notion that the SECRET AVENGERS line-up is cast in stone is wrongheaded, in the same sort of way that with the AVENGERS line-up we've added at least two characters since those [initial] promos. And even in NEW AVENGERS we've had Doctor Strange come in, we've lost Brother Voodoo and we've now grown with Squirrel Girl and Wong. Like the other Avengers titles, the line-up in SECRET AVENGERS will change and shift depending on the needs of any particular day or assignment.
Marvel.com: I cannot wait for the day when Steve Rogers needs to call in Squirrel Girl to the Secret Avengers.
Tom Brevoort: [Laughs] One day, all books will feature Squirrel Girl.
Marvel.com: Moving onto CAPTAIN AMERICA, we currently have going on "The Trial of Captain America." This story makes so much sense in that if Bucky's actions were ever revealed, he'd absolutely be called into court for it. What's the importance of telling this story?
Tom Brevoort: I think it's a natural outgrowth of the character and his situation. Certainly while Bucky feels [badly] about all of the stuff he did as the Winter Soldier and he's been struggling to find his place in the world and find some measure of atonement, the plain fact of the matter is that all that stuff up until now has been a secret that most people in the world had no idea about. The Winter Soldier was a whispering myth. He was barely known by anyone in the intelligence community or anybody in power, let alone the public. So now the fact is that the new Captain America has been revealed to have been this KGB assassin. It basically means that Bucky's past has come home to roost and he has to directly face up to the things that he did, whether or not he was not in control of himself, and pay the piper to whatever extent there is a piper to be paid. It's a pretty bad day for Bucky. It's a pretty bad day for Steve. Despite his new position and the influence that comes with it, his old friend is in a tough, tough spot, of the sort that he really can't unilaterally get him out of without clearly skirting justice—even though he feels strongly that Bucky was not responsible for his actions in this case and should be exonerated. In the meantime, taking advantage of all this chaos, Baron Zemo is still around the edges stirring up the pot and now Sin and her new lackey/boy toy Master Man are out in the world. The tension will build up again and again and again, as it has tended to with CAPTAIN AMERICA in the past, and we'll see if Bucky can continue to wear the uniform; if he'll be incarcerated or even face the death penalty for the things that he's done. What this will mean to all the other characters, not just Steve, but [Black Widow] and [Falcon] and everybody. This is the storyline that takes us through the summer and up to the anniversary issue and from there into the future.
Marvel.com: You brought up a lot of points there and as we close out there's one I wanted to bring up and that's Sin. I love that character. She's back in the book. Not looking as attractive as she used to...
Tom Brevoort: Or looking more attractive than she used to depending on your perspective.
Marvel.com: [Laughs] Valid point. As we said, she's back in the title and she obviously has some things in motion. Is it fair to assume then we're going to be seeing more of her in the coming months?
Tom Brevoort: You're going to be seeing more of Sin not only in the short term of the "Trial of Captain America," but this is Sin's year in a big way. This is the year she truly becomes the Red Skull for real. We're going to be seeing her growth and her expansion as a super villainous power not just in CAPTAIN AMERICA but in other places in the line in a big, big way. This is the Year of Sin. You heard it here first: 2011 is the Year of Sin.