The Secret Avengers is an Avengers spinoff featuring a black-ops oriented team of Avengers in the Marvel Universe which started in the "Heroic Age". Originally led by Commander Steve Rogers, who was placed in charge of America's superheroes after the deposition of a drunk-with-power Norman Osborn, the comic deals with the Secret Avengers' "off-the-grid" operations as they seek to protect the world from threats before they reach public attention.
The team's original line-up included Captain Steve Rogers, Beast, Moon Knight, Nova, Valkyrie, Ant-Man, War Machine and Black Widow. Later, Hawkeye took over the team, adding Captain Britain, the original Human Torch and even Venom note to the roster. Steve Rogers had returned to his role as Captain America after the events of Fear Itself. The series lasted for 37 issues (July, 2010-March, 2013)
As part of Marvel NOW, the title was relaunched in April 2013, with Nick Spencer (Morning Glories) writing and Luke Ross on art. The new volume focuses on S.H.I.E.L.D. creating its own team of Avengers, starring Nick Fury Jr, Phil Coulson, Daisy Johnson / Quake (director) and Maria Hill (acting director) with a team of Avengers consisting of Hawkeye, Black Widow, Mockingbird, and Hulk who are sent on missions so secret that even they can't know what they've done, requiring them to submit to a mindwipe afterward. The series lasted for 16 issues (April, 2013-April, 2014)
The title was relaunched again in May 2014 as part of All New Marvel NOW! with the creative team of Ales Kot and Michael Walsh. Similar to the previous volume, S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Maria Hill has assembled a black ops team with the cooperation of the Avengers for missions too murky for the Avengers to publicly be involved with. The team consists of Agents Nick Fury Jr, Phil Coulson, and Avengers Hawkeye, Black Widow, and Spider-Woman. However, Maria has also hired M.O.D.O.K., which the rest of the team is unaware of.
"Secret Avengers" was also Captain America's resistance team during Civil War, who fought against Iron Man's initiative for Superhuman Registration Act. But that's excluded in this page. Go to Civil War page and see if you can find anything about them.
Volume 1 features these tropes:
- Backstory Invader: Inverted with Leonard Gary in the Fear Itself crossover event issue. Leonard Gary is supposedly a friend of Beast's with Omega-level Reality Warper abilities. Leonard is shown to be so powerful that he literally brings Washington D.C. to life to repel Red Skull's Neo-Nazi invasion, and yet we've never heard of him before. Beast implies that Leonard has previously deliberately used his powers to hide himself from people like the X-Men.
- Battle Couple:
- Steve and Sharon, being that they're a long established couple before forming the team.
- Venom and Valkyrie, after his girlfriend broke up with him as an aftermath of the savage six arc in his own book
- Big Damn Heroes:
- Nova Force-enhanced Steve Rogers saving the rest of the Secret Avengers from a Serpent Crown-possessed Nova. Yep. You read that correctly.
- Venom manages to save Valkyrie from a pair of adaptoids.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: Nova under the influence of the Serpent Crown. Fortunately, Worldmind stayed intact.
- Costume Copycat: One "Point Onenote " issue features the team having to stop a man dressed up in the U.S. Agent/"The Captain" outfit.
- Evil Twin:
- Max Fury, an Life Model Decoy made in Nick Fury's image, and is made to serve the mysterious Shadow Council.
- Later an adaptoid is introduce that has the ability to grow evil miniature versions of its Avenger opponents from her back that act as such with all originals powers and skills.
- Knife-Throwing Act: In #29, John Steele is subjected to one after being captured by the Circus of Crime.
- New Meat: Venom gets treated like this early on, due to being relatively new to superhero work.
- Pin-Pulling Teeth: Black Widow does this in #31 as she tosses a grenade into the engine of a plane, her other arm being occupied in clinging to the outside of the plane.
- Sacrificial Lion: At the end of the first Descendants arc we have Jim Hammond, the original Human Torch, critically wounded and placed in stasis after engineering the team's escape, along with Eric O'Grady, killed saving a child and either replaced or converted into a potential Deathlok without anyone knowing.
- Working with the Ex: Hawkeye and Black Widow used to be an item, though that was so long ago that the two barely talk about it.
Volume 2 features these tropes:
- Action Girl: Bobbi Morse/Mockingbird, Daisy Johnson/Quake, Natasha Romanov/Black Widow.
- Advertised Extra: Winter Soldier was advertised a lot as an important supporting character, but he doesn't appear until half way through the run, and only appears twice, and does absolutely nothing during these times. Conversely, Mockingbird got the least advertisement out of the main characters, despite having the most plot importance concerning the superhero side of things.
- Author Appeal:
- Nick Spencer, writer of the Marvel NOW version of the team, admits in interviews that Mockingbird is one of his favourite characters, and wanted to use her specifically because he always tries to use her in his work wherever he can.
- He also really likes the Caterpillars from Secret Warriors. So far Sebastian Druid and Ellis Love have appeared.
- Batman Gambit: Forson executed one years before with the memory alteration technology, banking on Fury and later people being unable to resist using it until people were in a position where they would be useful to him, particularly Mockingbird, who appears to have been both a partner and a pawn. Forson is also the victim of one by Barbara, who suspects that he will try to take her out if it looks like she's leaving. She plants the camotech on Yelena, replying on him being too busy to notice the moment when they switch, which causes Forson to have one of the most dangerous members of AIM killed instead of Barbara.
- Battle Couple: Hawkeye and Mockingbird are a variation; They're broken up now, and Clint's currently sorta-but-not-quite in the middle of a thing with Spider-Woman, but they're still close and can go straight into the thick of things without any issue.
- Black-and-Gray Morality: AIM and SHIELD. AIM is obviously evil as they are planning to keep information that could save the world from being destroyed out of the reach of anyone who could save them and used the Iron Patriots to attack targets the government was watching, killing innocent civilians in the process. SHIELD employs memory tech so that the people working for them can't remember the missions or the team when they're not working - YMMV on how gray this part is as it is with their consent - but they also went through with testing the tech by shooting Clint and allowing him to be tortured to see if it would hold, despite at least one member feeling very uncomfortable with it.
- Break the Haughty: While Mockingbird was already broken, after she gets left behind enemy lines by Maria Hill, she goes through this. At first it has her start to question who she really is, thinking she might be a Skrull, but then Forson reveals he knows who she is and locks her up. Cue above mentioned Brainwashed and Crazy trope. The current storyline is called How To Maim a Mockingbird, which should give you an idea of what's going down; assuming she survives this, she's going to be even more broken then she is already.
- Call-Back: Natasha mentions her involvement in Secret War, where she stood by and let Nick Fury mess with the memories of her fellow heroes without their consent. She also tells Clint that SHIELD isn't the Red Room and that this is their choice, and that they get to walk away (unlike similar work in her past where memories were removed and implanted without her consent and without her being allowed to leave). #7 has Maria tell Daisy that what they're doing was supposed to be about Kobik, which is from the Marvel Now Point One issue.
- Continuity Porn: For a lot of Mockingbird's past. Her ability to become anyone, learned by both being a spy and being trapped with Skrulls for a long time become literal with camotech. There's even a call back to her very first appearance when flashbacks show that a psychic Barbara Morse apparently started working for Forson after having visions of the future.
- Dark Action Girl: Yelena, who serves as a contrast to Natasha.
- Double-Meaning Title: Secret Avengers. They're a black ops team, made up of people who are connected in some way to spies, but the team is also a secret from some of the team members.
- Fighting from the Inside: Bobbi in #14 as she manages to tell Forson that she's going to kill him before Barbara regains control and says that she wants Bobbi out of her head.
- Foreshadowing: In #1 Hill assures Fury Jr that Clint was never in any real danger because they had people in the room; in #2 Bobbi is revealed to be using camotech to impersonate Thorndrake among the villains who are after Taskmaster. Bobbi later has to use it to stay hidden among the member of AIM, more villains, when she is left behind on AIM Island.
- Bobbi hits Taskmaster from behind so she can extract him back to SHIELD in issue 2 with her being revealed for the first time after this. In issue 13 Taskmaster is shot from behind and killed, with it being revealed to be a Brainwashed and Crazy Mockingbird who did so.
- Good Is Not Nice: SHIELD. Even the SHIELD agents admit this, and sometimes regret what they do in the line of duty.
- HeelFace Turn: Barbara appears to have had one, wanting to willingly go with the Secret Avengers, and then killing Forson and remarking that she and Bobbi agree that Forson needs to stop mansplaining to her.
- Hidden Depths: Taskmaster who, despite MODOK's beliefs, seems to be genuinely siding with SHIELD. He's also very concerned when Mockingbird isn't very responsive after being rescued, wondering what happened to her while AIM had her.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Maria Hill is genuinely sorry about activating Bruce's memory implant after the Hulk takes out the rogue Iron Patriots that AIM has been controlled. She also hangs her head after having to leave Bobbi on the island with no memory of how she got there.
- As noted above, Taskmaster, despite usually being entertainingly sociopathic, seems to genuinely sympathize with Mockingbird after their ordeal when they appear completely catatonic and unresponsive while he's trying to rescue them. When he's told that they're dead later, he honestly seems upset by the news.
- Natasha initially jokes that Bobbi is glad that she doesn't remember Clint before Clint tells her it isn't funny, and she then asks, genuinely concerned, if Bobbi is okay, calling her darling.
- Kick the Dog and Pet the Dog: Both to Mockingbird. Taskmaster's crowning moment of humanity is him genuinely trying to help her get off the island, and his sympathy when he starts to realize how broken she may be from this. Maria Hill leaving her on the island is one of the two main examples of her being forced to do something horrible to avoid political backfire from AIM's shenanigans. And Forson allowing Mockingbird to run around, trying to avoid detection when he knew all along she was there, before brainwashing her and making her kill Taskmaster is arguably one of the worst things he's done to anyone in the story so far. Lets just hope that she'll get the chance to fulfil another 'dog' trope on Forsen.
- Killed Off for Real: Taskmaster in #13, although he turns out to be Not Quite Dead in #16.
- Yelena seems to play it straight, with no sign that she survived after being shot in #15.
- The Mole: Solicitations teased that one of the team was secretly working for AIM, and when MODOK tries to make peace with Hill, he suggests that its Taskmaster. Its not; its Mockingbird via brainwashing. Who may have actually originally worked for the Cult of Entropy, and been intended as a mole within SHIELD..
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Daisy's assassination of Forson only leads to Daisy herself being unseated as the Director of SHIELD, SHIELD no longer being trusted by the World Security Council, the team being overwhelmed by people working for AIM and barely managing to hold them off, Bobbi being stuck in the middle of AIM and surrounded by people and eventually having to be left behind with no memory of how she got there when she won't back down from trying to shoot him. Oh, and Forson isn't even dead, with the bonus of AIM now being a permanent member of the World Security Council. Well done, Daisy.
- SHIELD's use of the memory tech, despite all their efforts to be humane and fair about it, all ends up blowing up in their faces when it turns out Forson was the one who provided it to them. By extension, Hill cancelling the previously mentioned assassination at the last minute allowed Forson to worm his way into the World Security Council, plant various traps to capture Hawkeye, Widow, and Fury Jr, as well as leave Rhodey seriously injured, and kill Taskmaster and brainwash Mockingbird. In short, Hill's attempt to clean up Daisy's fuck-up lead to her own massive fuck-up.
- Nick Fury Sr gets a retroactive one. He was the first director to use the memory tech, paving the way for the Secret Avengers team. The memory tech seems to have come from Forsen. He might have won against Strucker but Forson's plan seemed to have worked perfectly.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Forson has a big one when he not only leaves Mockingbird alone before she is rescued by Hawkeye, but then tries to kill her — it's enough for Bobbi and Barbara to align their thoughts and opinions in order to agree on one thing; Forson must die. And he does. Before that, there was the serious risk of the team taking Barbara right to SHIELD to do who knew what while pretending to be Bobbi.
- Not Quite Dead: Taskmaster in #16. Mentallo theorises that whoever shot him shot him that way specifically so that he wouldn't die.
- Put on a Bus: Mockingbird at the end of #16, along with Mentallo and Taskmaster. Daisy also disappeared earlier after being fired for her illegal assassination attempt on the Scientist Supreme, but is officially last seen along with Mockingbird and Bucky. Ales Kot has confirmed that he's not going to be using them, though Spencer has continued some of the plot threads relating to Bobbi in Avengers World.
- The Reveal:
- At least two in #2. Mockingbird was disguised as the criminal who said he'd deal with Taskmaster, and Taskmaster is not being used on the team itself, he's being put in with AIM as an inside man.
- Another one in #4 when it's revealed that the team is being sent to assassinate the Scientist Supreme, who is running AIM.
- A big one in #5 where it's revealed that Forsen isn't dead, and Fury Jr shot someone else.
- #13 revealing that Mockingbird's been compromised and brainwashed by Forsen, and kills Taskmaster after he tried to save her.
- It wasn't Bobbi who was shot in 15 but Yelena wearing camotech that made her look like Bobbi.
- Circumstances force War Machine to become Iron Patriot, mirroring Rhodey's new identity in Iron Man 3.
- Hawkeye and Black Widow working in SHIELD alongside Canon Immigrant Agent Coulson and the Samuel L Jackson-looking Fury, pretty much fits with how the two are characterized in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Only difference being that Fury is a field agent rather than the boss.
- Hawkeye had previously worked as a spy, but with the WCA, a team set up by Mockingbird while SHIELD didn't officially exist.
- The Dog Bites Back: Two in #16 as Bobbi and Barbara both agree on one thing, that Forson isn't going to get away with trying to kill them. They both them proceed to beat him bloody before cutting his throat with the same knife he stabbed them with.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: Hawkeye, to a fault (but it is one of his most longest-lasting characteristics). In #5, Clint refuses point blank to take a shot at the scientist supreme, even after Natasha is incapacitated, leading Fury Jr to carry out a dangerous one-man frontal assault. Notably, his other teammates do not share this view, with Natasha even saying during the debriefing that she would have taken the shot because it didn't matter to her.
- Wham Episode:
- #13 has MODOK absolutely hating Forson to the extent that he'll work with Maria Hill, and Taskmaster's genuinely on SHIELD's side — only for him to get shot in the head by a Brainwashed and Crazy Mockingbird.
- #14 has the reveal that Bobbi Morse started out as Barbara Morse, who had psychic visions like Bobbi was said to have in her very first appearance, who worked for Forson and was planted within SHIELD, brainwashed so that she wouldn't even know. Now Barbara is in charge again, but Bobbi is Fighting from the Inside and swears to take Forson down.
- Wham Line:'Forsen': I never thought I'd live to see the day.
Forsen: Sure, Bobbi.
- Oh, and this happens shortly after Nick Fury Jr apparently shot him in the face.
Forsen: Mockingbird's already dead. And so are you.
- Said while Bobbi is trapped on AIM Island, disguised by camotech. He knew all along.
- Said just before a Brainwashed and Crazy Mockingbird shoots Taskmaster in the head.
- Camotech disengaged.
- Wham Shot: Thorndrake is revealed to actually be Mockingbird in a panel in #2.
- #13 gives a Call-Back to this, only instead of saving Taskmaster's sorry ass, Bobbi, brainwashed by Forsen, shoots him in the head.
- 15 has Mentallo beating another AIM member over the head after the latter says that they're going to kill Fury Jr and Black Widow.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Maria gives Daisy several after she sends the team to assassinate Forson. The first one is cut off when Daisy corrects the number, and the second one ends with Maria telling her that the Secret Avengers were supposed to be about Kobik.Maria: You stupid little girl. Do you not get what you've done here? Killing Forson—who the hell cares about Forson? You have any idea how many Scientist Supremes A.I.M.'s been through? All you've managed to do is damage this organization severely and get three of our operatives captured or killed—
- Working with the Ex: Hawkeye and Mockingbird, who used to be married, something Clint lampshades in the third issue. He and Black Widow also dated shortly after he was introduced.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Forson tries this with Barbara, but she anticipated it in advance. She lets him know exactly how she feels when she confronts him shortly afterwards.
Volume 3 features these tropes:
- Action Girl: Natasha Romanov/Black-Widow, and Jessica Drew/Spider-Woman
- Denser and Wackier: Especially when compared to the previous volumes.
- Hive City: A psychic replica of the Kowloon Walled City figures into the plot.
- Large Ham: MODOK.
- Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius : Also a major part of the story, somehow.
- Wham Shot: In issue 5, Fury opens Coulson's locker, which was booby-trapped. He gets sprayed with acid and is put in a coma as a result.
- Working with the Ex: Hawkeye and Black Widow, and Hawkeye and Spider-Woman.