Most super powered conflicts in the Marvel Universe occur out in the open and take the form of confrontations between heroes and villains who have broken the law. Things become infinitely more complicated when the heroes involved are acting as agents of larger organizations like intelligence services. When that occurs, factors including a nation’s sovereignty become involved in the conflict and if the slightest detail goes awry an all-out war could break out.
That’s something the cast of writer Nick Spencer’s “Secret Avengers” series is learning the hard way. In the introductory issues of the new Marvel NOW! volume of the series the international peace keeping and espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D. assembled their own team of super powered operatives. In issue #5 readers saw the consequences of that team’s disastrous assault upon A.I.M. Island, the sovereign nation headquarters of their enemies Advanced Idea Mechanics, where they attempted to assassinate the organization’s leader Andrew Forson, the Scientist Supreme. Comic Book Resources caught up with Spencer about the fallout from the assault and his current plans for the series, which will examine precisely why the operation failed.
CBR News: Nick, let’s open up by talking about the implications of the final pages of “Secret Avengers” #5. We see that one of theconsequences of the Secret Avengers’ unsanctioned attack on A.I.M. Island is that A.I.M. is now a member of the U.N. Security Council. So just how powerful is A.I.M. now? Do they have any authority over S.H.I.E.L.D., which is a U.N. Based organization?
Nick Spencer: Yes. They are very powerful, and technically S.H.I.E.L.D. now answers to them. So this is a huge fundamental shift in the paradigm. It’s a low point for the organization and for our team. A lot has gone wrong here. Some of which is not entirely apparent yet.
As we explore what actually happened on the island over the next couple of issues I think it will really come into focus just how much trouble they’re in now.
The assault on A.I.M. Island also lead to a change in S.H.I.E.L.D. command structure. Maria Hill is no longer acting director of S.H.I.E.L.D. She is the director now. What does this mean for director in waiting Daisy Johnson? What’s her current status?
As we explain at the end of issue #5, she’s in a bit of legal limbo. We’ll get more into detail about that in issue #7. Daisy is definitely out at S.H.I.E.L.D. though as a result of her sanctioning an illegal assassination attempt on the leader of a sovereign state.
At the same time, she has enough political support within the U.N. Security Council that they haven’t arrested her. She’s under investigation and has been removed from duty. So she’s in a state of limbo currently, but some big things are going to happen to her moving forward.
With Daisy out of the picture it feels like Maria Hill is in a “be careful what you wish for situation” because she no longer has Daisy questioning her orders, but her job fighting A.I.M. has gotten a lot more difficult.
Yeah. It sees to me the story of Maria Hill’s life is that she really wants to run S.H.I.E.L.D. She feels that she’s the most qualified person to do that. However she only seems to get the opportunity to do that for the wrong reasons and in bad situations where she’s set up to fail. So for Maria there’s a bit of history repeating here. There are a lot of questions about how she might handle things differently this time. Maria is back in the big chair, but once again it’s not in the way that she wanted.
Let’s move from the events of issue #5 to what you’re tackling in “Iliad,” the current arc of “Secret Avengers.” With this arc you’re turning back the clock and showing us how and why everything went wrong during the Secret Avengers’ assault on A.I.M. Island, correct?
Yes, issue #5 was a flash forward where we saw a lot of the fallout of what happened. Now in issues #6-7 we’re going back before that and showing you everything that happened that led to that. So it was a lot of fun structurally to do it this way, and I think it will be really rewarding when issues 5-7 are out there and people can see the connective tissue. There are a lot of details missing and when you see them all it should hit pretty hard.
I imagine one of the things you’ll get into in this story is the how and why Scientist Supreme, Andrew Forson, is still alive. I’m assuming that’s in part due to the events of “Secret Avengers” #2, where he saw what appeared to be some cryptic visions of the future. Is that a faulty assumption?
It might not be. [Laughs] That’s a good question to ask. Is Forson a step ahead as a result of issue #2? Or is there another factor involved?
â€¨So clearly A.I.M. anticipated this and they weren’t caught off guard, but by the same token we did see the Scientist Supreme shot and killed. What that means is something we will explore moving forward.
While we’re on the topic of Forson, I’m curious about the visual appearance of the character. Have we ever seen him without his helmet?
Yes. Ryan Stegman drew him without it in a panel back in “FF.” Then we’ll see him again with the helmet off in issue #8. So it’s not quite a Cobra Commander situation. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing interesting about what’s under there.
I think the Cobra Commander comparison is an apt one. G.I. Joe creator Larry Hama made him a menacing and cunning figure and I think the Scientist Supreme is turning out to be just as fearsome and insidious.
I think I’ve said on Twitter that G.I. Joe is a big influence on “Secret Avengers.” So thank you for that. That’s a nice thing to say.
We’ve talked about Forson, let’s talk about the man bringing him and your other characters to life in “Iliad,” artist Butch Guice. What do you feel he brings to this story as an artist?
Oh my god! If you didn’t already know he’s amazing. I’ve been wanting to work with him for years. The work that he’s doing here is just fantastic and we’re having a lot of fun.
Butch is a master at spy-action as we’ve seen from his work in “Winter Soldier” and elsewhere. I pretty much just try to stay out of his way and give him some pages to go nuts with; where he can invent things and do his own layouts. So I think people are going to be really pleased by the work he’s doing.
Let’s conclude by teasing and talking about what’s coming up in “Secret Avengers” after “Iliad.” Looking at the solicits it appears you have a two-part story that sheds more light on the A.I.M. Island assault aftermath and addresses what’s going on with Daisy Johnson. Then “Secret Avengers” ties into “Infinity.” Is that correct?
Yeah. Ed Brisson is going to write the two-issue “Infinity” tie-in, while I take a moment to catch my breath and get caught up on things. He’ll do a fantastic job. I’ve read his first script and it’s great.
In issues #8-9 we’ll spend some time on some in-depth character stories. They’ll both have some real profound impact on the characters involved. Issue #8 is just like issues #6-7 in that it explores the fallout from what happened on A.I.M. Island and some of it’s pretty tragic.
“Secret Avengers” #7 goes on sale August 14.