Last year, the jaws of Marvel Comics fans everywhere dropped down to the floor when it was revealed that Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America, one of the pillars of the Avengers and the entire Marvel Universe, was in fact a secret HYDRA agent, and seemingly always had been. Writer Nick Spencer's new Captain America series had everyone's tongues wagging. How could the beacon of hope of the Marvel Universe, the representation of all that is just and good, have been an agent of the world's most evil organization? Well, the answer had something to do with the Red Skull and Cosmic Cubes, but now all of HYDRA Cap's sinister machinations are about to come to fruition in this summer's upcoming event series Secret Empire.
Now Marvel is announcing Secret Empire: Brave New World, a companion series to Secret Empire which tells the story of how the Marvel Universe at large deals with the truth about Steve Rogers. The new series, which is set to debut in June, is written by Paul Allor (Uncanny Inhumans) with art by Brian Level (Deadpool) and an army of Marvel’s top creators following suit and detailing how every corner of the Marvel Universe lives in a world overrun by the hordes of Hydra. Brave New World calls out to the larger Marvel Universe as it encounters its darkest days and gathers an army of creative talent to tell the tales of how some of Marvel’s heroes – The Invaders, Blade, Gwenpool, and the All- New Patriot stand united against Captain America and Hydra.
Due to the manipulations of the Red Skull, Captain America now leads the Hydra charge against the entire Marvel Universe; under this new regime, Earth’s protectors are forced to come to grips with the revelation that one of their very own is now their greatest enemy. An essential companion series, Secret Empire: Brave New World expands on a world under the boot of Hydra and how Marvel heroes, from every corner of the globe, must band together against Captain America—including his oldest allies from World War II, The Invaders. Issue #1 is written by Paul Allor, Jeremy Whitley, and Nick Kocher, with art by art by Brian Level, Diego Olortegui, Will Robson. Issue #2 features art by Brian Level, Tana Ford, and Juan M. Frigeri. Both issues go on sale this June, and you can preview the first two covers down below.
We got the chance to chat with Brave New World writer Paul Allor and editor Charles Beacham, and we started by asking them just how integral Brave New World is to the overall Secret Empire event."Brave New World is going to be a vital chapter during the events of Secret Empire,” said main story writer, Paul Allor. “I am so excited to tell the story of how Cap's first allies: the Invaders--the original Human Torch, Toro, and Namor--are dealing with Steve epitomizing everything they always stood against and now how they need to defend the Kingdom of Atlantis from the tightening grip of Hydra."
It appears that Cap's original Invaders teammates are to play a very big part this this, namely Namor and the OG Human Torch. Namor specifically has done a lot of shady and even downright villainous things in his past. Should we expect a different kind of reaction from Namor to Cap's HYDRA status than the rest of the Marvel Universe?
"I'd say that's a pretty safe bet!" says writer Paul Allor. "To me, Namor is less of a villain, and more someone who has a different agenda, priorities, and values than most of his surface-world counterparts. And any time someone's priorities and values compete with our own, we tend to see them as villainous, or at the very least antagonistic. So, Namor's reaction will be rooted in his concern for the Atlantean people, which has always been his driving force. While he is conflicted, and the decisions are difficult, at the end of the day he's going to do what he thinks is best for his people. And if that makes him villainous in the eyes of the human world, I frankly don't think Namor could care less. He's willing to take on that mantle, if it means keeping his people safe."
Of course, it's been a long time since Cap fought with Namor and the Torch against the Nazis. How have the Invaders changed from their original introduction to the current iteration? According to Allor, "Things have changed quite a bit for them. Namor is now a seasoned monarch rather than the fresh prince of Atlantis, and is charged first and foremost with the protection of his people; Hammond is an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., who no longer has his old flame powers; Toro recently discovered he's an Inhuman. All of those changes of status affect how they interact with the world, and will come into play in our story."
Allor continued, "Beyond those surface details, I think in many ways, Namor, Hammond and Toro are the same people they were back in the 1940s -- it's the world around them that has changed dramatically. In World War II they had a certain purity of mission, and a clear view of what victory looked like. But the intervening decades have wiped all of that away, as a result their goals, their motives and their tactics are now all drastically different."
A lot of these event comics have side stories, comics that take a different approach to dealing with the events of the main series. So just how integral to Secret Empire is the Brave New World companion book? According to Allor, he says that "speaking just for our story, I'd say it will give you a deeper understanding of how Captain America's oldest allies are dealing with the strange new world order. It definitely weaves into the events of the main book in some interesting ways. Basically, Brian, Charles and I are cooking up a story that will deepen your understanding of this brave new world, while also hopefully serving as a tense and fantastic story of its own."
Series editor Charles Beacham added, "This series shows how many different characters—heroes, villains, and everyone in between—from all across the Marvel Universe are effected by the Hydra take over and it’s VERY integral to Secret Empire.
With the HYDRA Cap reveal, I couldn't help but imagine there are going to be some longtime Marvel characters who won't believe it to be true, no matter the evidence to the contrary that they are shown. "I think, for me, the interesting thing about Secret Empire is the way Steve manages to convince longtime allies to side with him," says Beacham. "He’s not just an all-out villain. He’s still Steve he still wants to save the world. His process for doing it is just different. And some of his allies see this new resolve as the best road to a better future. As for who’s going to fall in with Cap… You’ll have to pick it up!"
Allor adds, "One of the very interesting things about the event is the way Cap uses several different levers of power and influence to get his way; and in our Invaders story, we see the human (or rather, the Atlantean... and Inhuman... and android...) impact of several of those tactics and techniques."
With so many classic Marvel Universe stories from the past, I had to wonder if this series was going to be drawing from any of them, giving them an alternate view in light of the changes to Cap's history. Beacham implies that the series won't shy away from Marvel's long history, saying, "The Marvel Universe has a rich history. These characters have very long-running and deep relationships. Secret Empire and Secret Empire: Brave New World definitely draw on those relationships and history. That’s what makes these stories meaningful."
"For the Invaders story, we're not recasting any particular tales from the Marvel Universe, but we are drawing on the deep history that exists between these characters," says Allor. "These guys were all there at the very beginning of the Marvel Universe. They fought together, they sacrificed, they formed friendships that have lasted several lifetimes. And now one of them has taken over the world. Our story will be dealing with how the others react to that, in sometimes very different ways, and how their long history together plays a part in their actions of today."
And finally, I had to ask, what about the rest of the non-HYDRA villains think of Cap's hostile takeover? According to Beacham, "Steve’s takeover is so holistic that the villains are kind of in the same boat as the heroes—they can either fall in line or stand and fight!"
The first two issues of Secret Empire: Brave New World are set to hit comics shops this June.
Are you excited for the upcoming Marvel event? Let us know your thoughts down below.
Images: Marvel Comics
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