WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Avengers #11 by Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness, on sale Wednesday, Dec. 12.
S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Phil Coulson is one of the rare original characters created over the last several years to become a household name in pop culture. First portrayed by Clark Gregg in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Coulson would soon make the transition to the comics, popping up throughout many titles in the Marvel Universe.
And then he died. Of course, death is something commonly found in superhero comics, along with the deceased's resurrection. Coulson was killed in the Civil War II event series by Deadpool, someone he trusted that became a pawn in Hydra's scheme for world domination. Coulson remained dead until he made a surprising return in the oversized Avengers #10 (aka Issue #700).
Back among the living, Coulson is now working with General Thunderbolt Ross against the Avengers, recruiting the Squadron Supreme of America to be the public-facing superhero team of the United States. Coulson also returned with a new attitude towards superheroes. He once revered and looked up to the likes of Captain America and collected their trading cards, Coulson now recognizes how foolish that all was.
As the opening page of the preview for this week's Avengers #11 shows us, all it took for Coulson's change of heart was a gaping bullet wound to the chest.
Though we're not aware of who Coulson is pointing a gun at and speaking to off-camera, he goes into detail his newfound feelings towards superheroes. "I don't idolize super heroes anymore," Coulson says. " I grew up..... about five seconds before I died." Not only did Deadpool kill Coulson, but the Merc With a Mouth also murdered his beloved flying car, Lola. The act alone is enough to drive any sane person over the edge.
It is worth noting that if Coulson is now anti-superheroes, then why is he working alongside the Squadron Supreme of America? Does it boil down to picking the lesser of two evils to achieve his goals? Or could this be the first chess piece Coulson is deciding to move? Whatever the main reason turns out to be, writer Jason Aaron could be commended for taking a popular character and completely switching his dynamic in an intriguing way.
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More than likely, this is only the opening salvo in the Coulson saga. Avengers #11 should provide more clues, but someone who Earth's Mightiest Heroes once considered a friend and ally is now their newest enemy, and they don't even know it yet.