Published June 9, 2017

Secret Empire: Hydra’s Heroes

Assemble to learn the genesis of the latest team of Avengers!

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While many of Marvel’s heroes have gone to ground, hidden themselves away to try and marshal a plan and the strength to carry it out to oppose Hydra’s new world order, not all followed this path. Some costumed adventurers have joined with the green clad rulers and Steve Roger to extend Hydra’s grasp.

We caught up with SECRET EMPIRE series editor Tom Brevoort as he helped clear the rubble to ask him why the people we largely know as heroes might align with this effort at world dominance. Even throughout his time as Unworthy, Thor has been striving to be a hero, however reckless and erratic. Does he view aligning with Hydra as heroic in and of itself or is this borne of a dedication to Captain America?

Tom Brevoort: As is going to be the case in a number of these instances, the answers are going to unfold in upcoming issues. With the Unworthy, you get a very good understanding as to where his head is at and how he feels about what’s been going on in SECRET EMPIRE #5 in just a few weeks. Similarly, with Deadpool, is his alliance based on the fact that Cap had put faith in him in the past in the formation of the UNCANNY AVENGERS team?

Tom Brevoort: Deadpool, for all of his irreverence, has always had a lot of hero-worship for Captain America, and their relationship has only deepened through their common adventures during the time that Steve was made older—in particular “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly” arc over in DEADPOOL that Gerry Duggan wrote. So while he tried to hide it, it was a really big deal for Wade to be asked by Cap to be a part of the Avengers Unity Squad. He would follow Captain America off a bridge—and that’s exactly what he’s done here, as we shall see. We are aware from the Free Comic Book Day special that Scarlet Witch is not entirely in control of herself. How much of her actions is she at least aware of? Does she have any say at all right now?

Tom Brevoort: Again, this is a question that’s best answered by future issues, including SECRET EMPIRE #5 and also AVENGERS #10, the issue that focuses on this team. So there’s not much more I can tell you on this point at the moment, I’m afraid. Her former husband The Vision seems similarly compromised. How present is he in his decision-making?

Tom Brevoort: Same deal, I’m afraid—sorry I’m not being more helpful. But think of just how much readers will enjoy SECRET EMPIRE #5 and AVENGERS #10 when they’re released! With the exception of a brief appearance in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, this is the first time we’ve seen Otto Octavius as the Superior Octopus. What has led him to sign up with Hydra? Is he pursuing a more heroic path, a la Superior Spider-Man, or is this purely motivated by self-interest?

Tom Brevoort: There’ll be a lot of insight into this in the AMAZING SPIDER-MAN tie-in issues, and also that popular AVENGERS #10. But Otto is ultimately interested most in what benefits Otto. He’s hardly a true believer in Hydra’s cause, and would likely throw them over in a hot second if his own aims and goals conflicted with theirs. Fortunately, at the moment, the rise of Hydra and the resources they command give him the means to take back the thing that he wants most at the moment: Parker Industries, the company that he built when he was Peter Parker, and that Spider-Man has usurped from him. Given Eric O’Grady’s history of being unreliable up to the moment he was turned into a robot, what does Cap see in Black Ant?

Tom Brevoort: Eric’s got S.H.I.E.L.D. training and has shown some great resourcefulness, but more than anything he’s there because Madame Hydra brought him and Taskmaster into the fold, rather than eliminating them when they stumbled onto Steve’s secret in Bagalia. Steve has worked with Eric before, back in the Secret Avengers days, so he’s got more of an appreciation of his abilities and potential than most others do, I expect. Plus, he’s not about to double-think [Elisa] and her predictive abilities. Long motivated by the almighty dollar above all else, how does Taskmaster see his alliance with Hydra? Is he planning to stick around or is this but a quick pay day for him?

Tom Brevoort: I think it’s a situation of convenience that’s become something more long-term. Like Black Ant, Taskmaster was brought into the fold by Madame Hydra rather than being killed by her when he discovered Steve’s secret. So all of a sudden, he’s an inside player where he’d mostly been on the outside before this. And I think that holds some appeal for him, for all that he’s also likely to cut and run and look out for number one if things begin to break bad. As Cap’s best friend, how does Baron Zemo feel about being included in this team? How does he feel about watching his friend realize their lifelong dream of returning Hydra to glory?

Tom Brevoort: Zemo is not actually on the team, though he has worked alongside them on certain operations, acting as Steve Rogers’ Chief of Staff. He’s in an odd place, in that he’s been told that in the history that was erased he and Steve had this brotherly bond, but he never experienced that himself firsthand. Nevertheless, he’s chosen to believe what Cap has told him, and has thrown himself into his new role. All through his time with the Thunderbolts, particularly towards the end, Zemo was vacillating towards walking a more heroic path, betrayed only by his weaker instincts. So Steve is giving him a second chance to be the man he wants to be, the man he thinks his father was.

The intrigue continues next week in the pages of SECRET EMPIRE #4!