Published April 12, 2017

Secret Empire: Brave New World Order

The Invaders and the new Giant Man join the fight against Hydra!

Image for Secret Empire: Brave New World Order

The revelation of Steve Rogers as a Hydra agent shocked the world over. How could Captain America, that pure symbol of freedom and democracy, be working for the bad guys all along, we asked ourselves? Well, if you feel as if you had the rug pulled out from under you, can you just imagine what Steve’s closest friends must feel like?

The answer lies in the Secret Empire companion series, BRAVE NEW WORLD, out beginning May 17, which will explore the members of Cap’s former Nazi-fighting team from World War II, the Invaders, coping with the terrible truth coming to light. Namor, Toro, and Jim Hammond feel betrayed and devastated, but will they give up?

In the words of Winston Churchill—who christened them with the “Invaders” title after they saved his life—“If you’re going through Hell, keep going.”

Meanwhile, the new Giant Man, Raz Maholtra, remains on the fence as the events of Secret Empire come crashing down around him. He’s a newbie do-gooder with limited training, a destructive history, and a fractured life, courtesy of his mentor, Scott Lang. Not to mention that Raz’s super power makes him a bit of an ill fit for the clandestine resistance against Hydra.

We rendezvoused with the writers of these parallel stories within BRAVE NEW WORLD, Paul Allor and Jeremy Whitley, to decode the Invaders’ next move and how Raz will find his overly large footing in the fight against Hydra as the tentacles of evil tighten their grip on the Marvel Universe. Part of BRAVE NEW WORLD will be focusing on some of Steve’s oldest allies, the Invaders, coming to grips with the realization that their once good friend actually stands against them and their ideals. How did you want to capture such a crushing betrayal in the writing?

Paul Allor: The story [artist] Brian Level and I are doing picks up a while after Steve’s new alliance comes to light. So we don’t see the initial reaction, but instead see our three main characters—Namor, Toro, and Jim Hammond—dealing with the very real, very personal ramifications of Captain America’s new regime. As you said, it is an absolutely crushing betrayal, and nearly everything our characters say and do in this story is directly influenced by it. That’s a big part of the fun of an event like this; every comment becomes loaded, every decision takes on another meaning. Even when Cap’s not on the page, Cap is always on the page, you know? What does the emergence of Cap’s actual allegiance do for the Invaders’ memories and reminiscences of opposing Nazism with him during WWII?

Paul Allor: I think there’s a certain level of disbelief involved, and a feeling that this can’t possibly be the real Captain America. These guys share the type of bond that most of us will never understand, and recent events bring all of their past experiences into question. But at the same time, their primary focus is the present, and on dealing with the world as it is. Jeremy, what can you tell us about where Raz was last time we saw him in ASTONISHING ANT-MAN and how it will lead him to get involved in Secret Empire?

Jeremy Whitley: Last time we saw Raz he was double featuring in ASTONISHING ANT-MAN; he had been working with Ant-Man as part of Ant-Man Security Solutions. His situation was pretty interesting, as he’d moved from his home in San Francisco to Florida to train with Scott to better learn to use his powers. He got pulled away to do some work with the Ultimates in outer space and by the time he got back, Scott had closed down Ant-Man Security Solutions and moved on. When we pick up his story here, his life is in shambles, largely thanks to Scott, but also due to some of his own issues. As things start to change in the world leading into Secret Empire, Raz has to decide what part he’s going to take and how he’s going to get there. In many senses, he’s still very much a rookie. How will that factor into the role he plays in this series?

Jeremy Whitley: Well, I think his rookie status is very much realized in the fact that Raz not only isn’t in the heart of the storm when things go down, but he’s only peripherally aware of what’s going on. His story in the series is about finding his place in the conflict and getting to where he needs to be. How keen is Raz to avoid causing damage like the kind he inflicted on the Golden Gate Bridge?

Jeremy Whitley: Incredibly. Not only is it embarrassing, it’s bound to get him caught by Hydra.

Secret Empire: Brave New World #1 cover by Paulo Siqueira Paul, you’ll be exploring Namor and his leadership of Atlantis during these troubling times. Can you tell us how the lost city will find itself affected by the new Hydra regime, despite its location at the bottom of the sea? And on that frightening note, what does Hydra have planned for the metropolis beneath the ocean?

Paul Allor: Captain America has a plan for everything and everyone, and Atlantis is certainly no exception. But as you can imagine, Namor will fight that agenda however he can—even in some fairly unexpected ways. This tale really focuses in on Namor’s role not just as a soldier and a fighter, but as a monarch. His number one priorities are the safety and prosperity of his people, and his reaction to this new regime is a direct reflection of those priorities. Our story begins as Toro and Hammond show up in Atlantis, seeking help from their old friend. But they find that the situation in Atlantis is incredibly complicated, and that Namor himself faces some wrenchingly difficult choices. I would also note that the City of Atlantis itself serves as a character in our story—and Brian Level is doing such an extraordinary job bringing it to life, and making it feel like a real and complex and layered place, through art that is, itself, incredibly complex and layered. So, Jeremy, we’ve got Giant Man, like the rest of the Marvel Universe, in the middle of a giant problem, mainly a world overrun by Hydra with Captain America at the forefront. What’s Raz’s plan of attack here not only as a super hero, but as an intelligent programmer?

Jeremy Whitley: Raz is in the awkward position of not having a plan. First, he’s on the opposite side of the country of a lot of the resistance, but also his super power revolves around being able to grow to gigantic size. So, he can’t really be a super hero and still hide. So Raz needs to get somewhere where he can support the resistance and be part of the team. Will he be utilizing any particular lessons or advice he learned from Scott and joining up with any heroes in particular?

Jeremy Whitley: Well, sadly, Scott’s advice is worth about as much to Raz as the “heroes” he’s left him with for friends. We’ll get a quick peek into the current lives of his former coworkers Grizzly and Machinesmith. What was it like creating a smaller and more personalized story while not getting lost in the wider events of a Marvel Universe overrun by Hydra?

Paul Allor: That is, again, a big part of the fun of these events: narrowing in on personal tales, set against an epic backdrop. It’s very exciting, to tell a story that’s both its own unique and exciting thread, but also, when you take a step back, part of this vast tapestry. And the way to do it is just by focusing very intently on your characters, and how they are influenced by the larger machinations that are playing out in other titles and other stories.

Jeremy Whitley: It kinda works out great for me, as our story is kind of about Raz getting lost in the world of Secret Empire. He’s not connected like a lot of other super heroes so when things go down, he doesn’t get the call. He’s got to find his way back [into] the fight. This series will also harken back to the beginnings of the Marvel Universe. How far back does that imply and what answers from the past can be applied to the present situation?

Paul Allor: I don’t want to speak too much to this, but these characters have a history that stretches back nearly 80 years, and it’s only natural that that history will resonate throughout our story. But in those 80 years, things have changed a lot for them—new powers, new jobs, new titles. And as with any old friends, there’s sometimes a tendency to assume things haven’t changed as much as they have—an assumption that could have serious consequences to our heroes. Despite the dark events going on in Secret Empire, was there any room for humor or levity in BRAVE NEW WORLD?

Paul Allor: Oh, yeah. Humor and levity are a natural part of the human condition. Plus, most people don’t know this, but Namor makes a lot of fish puns. Like…a lot of fish puns.

Jeremy Whitley: Absolutely. I think when it comes to Giant Man—or really anyone in the Ant-Man family—that there is always room for laughs. Beyond that, people who know my work know that I always find room for a little levity.

Explore SECRET EMPIRE: BRAVE NEW WORLD beginning on May 17!