When Marvel announced that the entire Avengers line would be coming to an end, it was pretty clear that they were just heading for a retool.
It didn’t take a genius to expect the announcement of “Avengers” to replace “New Avengers” on the slate, and Avengers: The Initiative already had its rumoured replacement in “Avengers Academy” – but “Dark” and “Mighty” Avengers were lacking a counterpart.
This week, it became clear that one (or both) of those books would be replaced by the forthcoming Secret Avengers, written by Ed Brubaker and drawn by Mike Deodato. To announce this, Marvel released a clutch of silhouetted teaser images, designed to hint at prospective team members. I dunno about you, but I can’t resist a bit of speculation, so without further ado, here are my guesses:
This isn’t much of a leap. There’s already a consensus, partly based on the character’s appearance in the recent Heroic Age promo by Jim Cheung. This wouldn’t be the first time Brubaker has tackled the character, having already had an extensive run on X-Men a couple of years ago, and the quote – “I focus on the solution” – certainly suggests a scientific, intellectual mind. The pose is also substantially acrobatic, the figure bulky enough, and to cap it off, a disillusioned Beast recently quit the X-Men, leaving him wide open for a position on an Avengers team. However, there are suggestions that this might not be Hank McCoy. Beast’s current mutation means he (sometimes) has 3-fingered “paws”, not hands – but it’s clear that the figure in the picture has five fingers. It’s possible Deodato is making a stylistic choice not to use the ‘paw’ hands, or that Beast will revert from his ‘cat’ mutation back to the ‘monkeyman’ form – but it throws enough doubt on things that it could be someone else. If you take the hands as a sign that it’s definitely not Beast, then the only obvious alternative is Gorilla Man, who also appeared in the original Heroic Age teaser.
Teaser 2: Moon Knight
Again, not a hard conclusion to reach. The cape, suggestion of a hood and the quote are all pure Moon Knight, and the character’s profile could do with a little boost following a recent relaunch of his solo title. The reference to “redemption” seems like a direct nod to Moon Knight’s attempt to become more “‘heroic’ in his new series, after recently killing a man, but it could also suggest a villain reforming. In which case, The Hood could be a fit, and membership of the Secret Avengers could easily spin out of a need to evade Loki, should their deal go sour in the current ‘Siege’ storyline. An even longer shot would be Cloak, currently sort of in the X-Men, but he doesn’t have any redemption to strive for, as yet, so it’s unlikely.
Teaser 3: Valkyrie
This is where it gets a little difficult. There are very few caped female characters in Marvel’s canon. The Scarlet Witch could fit the profile, and the quote makes sense in that context, but there’s no suggestion of her headgear, and besides which, she’s currently depowered and off the board. That leaves Thor Girl, a very obscure character, and not one who’s especially ‘secret’, and Valkyrie. Unfortunately, Valkyrie hasn’t been around much recently, so it’s hard to suggest how the quote relates to her, but a connection to Thor/Asgard (and therefore Marvel’s next big movie and current big crossover) mean she’s the safest bet right now. On an outside chance, some people have suggested the, er, chest protrusions, are actually a folded pair of arms, rather than breasts, in which case this is definitely the Sentry (albeit a rather feminine version of him, from the appearance of the legs/waist).
And if that was where it got difficult, this is where it gets really tough. An armoured(ish) character, and a quote that fits the current incarnation of War Machine to a tee, but another teaser fits him even closer, so who else could this be? If you assume that Iron Man won’t be applying for dual-membership of the ‘real’ and Secret Avengers, well, the new Captain Marvel is currently looking for a home, and recently received some new wristbands with his new costume that look a little like this image does. It could be him, but it would be out of step with the slender, boyish version of the character that Deodato has previously drawn.
Teaser 5: War Machine
The character appears to be armoured, so it could be a new version of War Machine. After all, Stark’s getting a new armour, so why not Rhodey? Every Avengers team needs an Iron Man, and now that Iron Man 2 is about to repopularise the character, it’s also a good time to put the ‘other’ armoured avenger back to the fore. War Machine is currently a very angry man, so the quote fits perfectly, but there’s one problem: where’s the weaponry so characteristic of the War Machine armour? Has it been cropped off? If not, the obvious alternatives are thin on the ground. The silhouette does look a little like the Crimson Dynamo, but he’d be a very strange choice.
Teaser 6: STEVE ROGERS
Finally, another easy one. We already know that Bucky-Cap is in the ‘main’ Avengers team, so Steve Rogers also needs a home. It’s a safe bet he’ll be the one assembling the Secret team. There is a slight chance it could be Luke Cage.; he’d fit the silhouette, and as the newly announced leader of the Thunderbolts reform program, leading by example is his new job. But by the same token, he’ll likely have his hands full. Rogers, by comparison, is a shoo-in.
Feel free to add your own speculation below, but let’s see some proper reasoning rather than wild guesswork if you do!
James previous Alternate Cover can be found here.