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Secret Avengers Declassified: The Management

Nick Spencer dissects the top dogs at the new S.H.I.E.L.D., from Maria Hill to Nick Fury Jr.!

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Secret Avengers #1 preview art by Luke Ross

By TJ Dietsch

A more dangerous world needs a more dangerous kind of Avenger.

That's part of the message behind writer Nick Spencer and artist Luke Ross' upcoming SECRET AVENGERS. The Marvel NOW! series features a mix of familiar names and faces in heroes like Hawkeye and Hulk, the oft villainous Taskmaster and longtime S.H.I.EL.D. agents such as Daisy Johnson and Maria Hill who have moved to the top of the ranks.  

Set to launch on February 13, SECRET AVENGERS takes a black-ops group of Earth's Mightiest Heroes and goes even deeper into the concept by making the team an extension of the restructured S.H.I.E.L.D. In an attempt to further ensure the organization's security, the higher ups designed a method of erasing all traces of the missions from the operatives’ minds.

In a conversation with Spencer, the writer talks about the new structure put in place by Daisy and Maria as well as the new look of S.H.I.E.L.D., how office politics come into play and his experience writing a character that became a fan favorite in the Marvel Studios films.

Marvel.com: What major changes did Daisy Johnson and Maria Hill make when taking over as heads of S.H.I.E.L.D.? How will those be reflected in the book?

Nick Spencer: Well, it’s a brand new S.H.I.E.L.D. really; all the old rules and procedures have been thrown out as they try to find new ways to deal with an always changing, ever more dangerous world. Given their own histories, they’re obviously mindful of what’s come before and the legacy of it, but this is definitely their moment, and they intend to make the most of it.

Secret Avengers #1 cover by Tomm Coker

Marvel.com: S.H.I.E.L.D. has always been a group built on levels and ranks from basic soldiers up to the director and at times a shadowy governing body; how is this version set up?

Nick Spencer: S.H.I.E.L.D. once again exists under the watchful eye of the United Nations Security Council, but there’s a renewed focus on ensuring that the organization truly represents global interests, rather than simply taking orders from Washington. The United States’ international influence is changing somewhat, new powers are ascending, and that’s reflected in the new S.H.I.E.L.D. The direct overseer of the program is Senator Robert Ralston, who is obviously an American, but he doesn’t have quite the power someone in his position would’ve had in years past. There are more competing interests at play.

Marvel.com: How do the known super heroes like Hawkeye, Hulk and Winter Soldier fit into the scheme of things?

Nick Spencer: S.H.I.E.L.D. are looking at the world as it exists today, and realizing there are limits to what their operatives can do. They need their own powers, their own heavy hitters. They need their own Avengers.

Marvel.com: Will a person's rank be reflected in the kind of uniform they wear? What will those look like?

Nick Spencer: [Laughs] Good question. The new S.H.I.E.L.D. is a lot younger, a little less military, so they’re probably allowing a little more uniform-modding than the previous incarnation, a little more individual expression. A good example of that is Agent Fury, who gets to wear the suit Steve Rogers gave him—because really, when Captain America gives you a suit, you wear it, right? Dress code be damned.

Marvel.com: Speaking of, Nick Fury Jr. is a fairly new character with strong ties to previous incarnations of S.H.I.E.L.D. Do other characters treat him differently because of that? Will his dad be popping up in the series?

Nick Spencer: To the latter, I’ll deal out a sneaky “no comment” for now; to the former, most of the interactions in this book will be between Fury and these Avengers, but obviously within S.H.I.E.L.D. itself there’s gonna be a lot of talk about this new field agent. He’s the long lost son of the guy whose name is on the building. Is he being fast-tracked? Is he a prima donna? Workplace politics are everywhere—S.H.I.E.L.D. is no exception.

Marvel.com: What is their relationship like between Fury and Phil Coulson and how does it play into your stories?

Maria Hill

Nick Spencer: The dynamic between Fury and Coulson is a lot of fun. They’re war buddies, they go back a long way. They’re on this adventure together, and they’ve always got each other’s back. Any scene with the two of them together is gonna have some good “buddy cop” moments.

Marvel.com: Will Maria Hill be taking a more in-office approach to missions?

Nick Spencer: Yes, though Maria loves being in the field, and she’ll look for any excuse to get out from behind the desk and into the action. That said, she understands her role is keeping an eye on the big board and putting the players in motion where she needs them. She takes the job very seriously.

Marvel.com: Coulson's a fan favorite from the Marvel Studios films, how has it been working with a character more known for films than comics?

Nick Spencer: It’s been a blast. I love that character, and trying to capture that awesome voice Clark Gregg established so perfectly on screen. Coulson has fast become one of my favorite characters to write. And he’s got some very cool stuff coming, story-wise.

Check out SECRET AVENGERS #1 by Nick Spencer and Luke Ross on February 13. For more talk with Spencer about the team's other members, come back tomorrow and every day this week.

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