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Secret Avengers Declassified: The Assets

Nick Spencer explains how the Hulk, Winter Soldier, Taskmaster and a new Iron Patriot fit his new team dynamic!

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Secret Avengers #1 preview art by Luke Ross

By TJ Dietsch

Don’t look for your average heroes among the Secret Avengers.

This covert, S.H.I.E.L.D.-run squad does things differently than traditional in-the-spotlight groups. While other teams might hang out during their off time, the stars of this Marvel NOW! series won't even know who they went on a mission with thanks to memory erasers.

Maybe that's why the team—debuting in February 13's SECRET AVENGERS #1 by Nick Spencer and Luke Ross—can function given the fact that the group consists of disparate personalities like Hawkeye, Taskmaster, Black Widow, Hulk and the mysterious new Iron Patriot: they don't have to remember one another. It also helps that not every team member will interact with the others or even make their presence known until S.H.I.E.L.D. leaders Maria Hill and Daisy Johnson deem it necessary.

After running down the Management and Operatives involved in this new team, Spencer explains how characters like Iron Patriot, Hulk and Winter Soldier come into play as the series progresses, how they will interact with one another and how the team as a whole will be viewed by the greater Marvel Universe...if at all.

Marvel.com: Would you say it's accurate that characters like Hulk, Taskmaster and Iron Patriot get used on a more case-by-case basis?

Nick Spencer: Yes, definitely. The Hulk is obviously not the guy you call in when you want to stealthily infiltrate some baddies’ hideout, right? But he is the guy—as we see established over in Mark Waid’s INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK—that you call in when you need a bomb. All the assets have their strengths and unique qualifications, so you use them accordingly. It’s not a thing where these seven characters or whoever have to be together, in the field, all the time.

Taskmaster

Marvel.com: Well-known heroes are being assigned missions with longtime bad guys like Taskmaster, how does that play into the missions?

Nick Spencer: In Taskmaster’s case, there’s a history of playing both sides and taking the paycheck that’s available, but sure, there’s going to be some tension there. Taskmaster has gone toe to toe against some of our operatives in the past, and that’s not going to be forgotten. But the role we’ve put him in initially here—he’s so vital to the mission everyone else on the team will have to learn to work past it.

Marvel.com: How did Taskmaster get brought into this group in the first place?

Nick Spencer: That’s a big part of issue #2. It’s a fun story. One of the fun things for me was, he and Nick already have a past: Taskmaster was hired to kill him back in BATTLE SCARS, they tussled a bit. So they know each other, there’s a relationship there. We have a good time with that.

Marvel.com: You've said before that Winter Soldier is involved, but not a part of the team; can you elaborate on that at all? He doesn't seem like the type that would want his memory tampered with any more than it has been.

Nick Spencer: Still under wraps! I’m excited about the way he comes into the book though, it will definitely give us a new perspective and lead to some big things down the road. 

Hulk

Marvel.com: When it comes to the Hulk where you're dealing with two different personas, does that offer particular problems when it comes to erasing memories?

Nick Spencer: That’s a good question, for sure. The thing I’d add is we really haven’t seen who S.H.I.E.L.D. is most interested in bringing into this initiative, Banner, or the Hulk.

Marvel.com: The identity of the new Iron Patriot is still a mystery, but what went into the new pilot's decision to take on an identity previously held by a known villain?

Nick Spencer: The new Iron Patriot is a central part of our first arc, and I think folks will be surprised by how it all falls into place. Who ends up in the suit is an interesting part of the story, but how they get there is the really good part.

Marvel.com: With Hulk, Iron Patriot and Winter Soldier you've got analogs for or actual former Avengers—how does the main Avengers group react to this? Is there any animosity between the teams?

Secret Avengers #1 cover by Tomm Coker

Nick Spencer: I bet there would be if the core Avengers knew! But as is, they have no knowledge of this team; and even better, neither do the core Avengers who are, themselves, actually a part of it. So they’re keeping this from their teammates without actually knowing that they’re doing so. Sets up all sorts of interesting possibilities, and questions about who’s responsible.

Marvel.com: Does the greater Marvel Universe and hero community know about this new version of the Secret Avengers?

Nick Spencer: As above, nope! This team is completely off-the-radar. No one outside of S.H.I.E.L.D. knows about their existence—and great steps are going to be taken to keep it that way.

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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