The long hard road to betrayal for Steve Rogers’ closest confidante!

Each week, we use our super sleuth skills to dig into the histories of the characters fighting on both sides of Secret Empire!

To say that Sharon Carter and Steve Rogers have had a complicated relationship is tantamount to the Marvel Universe being miffed that Captain America now serves Hydra. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1966’s TALES OF SUSPENSE #75, Sharon gobsmacked Cap because of how much she looked like her great-aunt Peggy Carter, his World War II-era love.

The two had their ups and downs over the years until Carter, an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., seemingly died in CAPTAIN AMERICA #233 from 1979 in a battle between white supremacists, Harlem gangs, and the National Guard. She returned many years later in CAPTAIN AMERICA #444, helping The Red Skull save the Star-Spangled Avenger so they could team up to take out a Hitler-powered Cosmic Cube. Sharon revealed in issue #446 that S.H.I.E.L.D. used her apparent death as cover to send her into increasingly dangerous situations. The woman known as Agent 13 eventually lost contact with her handler and did whatever mercenary or wetwork jobs came her way to survive.

Sharon became a huge part of writer Ed Brubaker’s run on CAPTAIN AMERICA which launched in 2004. In addition to her relationship with Steve, Sharon also exhibited the spy skills that made her such an asset to S.H.I.E.L.D. Along the way, she found herself brainwashed by Dr. Faustus—who also controlled her just before her apparent death years before—into shooting Captain America after the events of Civil War.

With Cap out of the picture and Bucky taking over the shield, Sharon left S.H.I.E.L.D., but continued to fight the good fight alongside the new Captain America, Falcon, and Black Widow. The trauma did not end there, though, as Sharon also lost her baby while fighting with Sin for her very life. After helping bring Steve back from being displaced in time as seen in CAPTAIN AMERICA REBORN, the pair continued to work together.

By the time writer Rick Remender launched his CAPTAIN AMERICA volume in 2012, Sharon and Steve still continued both their professional and romantic relationships, though both hit a snag when she sacrificed herself to keep Arnim Zola’s massive warship in Dimension Z as seen in issue #10. She reappeared in #23 as an older warrior, having spent years fighting Zola and raising her and Cap’s adopted son. Just before that, Steve had been transformed to his actual physical age, so the two took on more administrative roles in the super hero community.

That’s where they stood when Kobik de-aged Steve during the Standoff! event which lead directly into CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS and Secret Empire. The former series even saw Sharon work as a liaison between S.H.I.E.L.D. and the U.S. Security council to help push for new laws that would make it easier for the former organization to wage war on Hydra. Steve even suggested her for the job as head of S.H.I.E.L.D. when Maria Hill got ousted, but everyone agreed that he should get the gig. In other words, everyone played directly into his plans.

Sharon’s even one of the first people to realize that Steve now leads Hydra as seen in the pages of SECRET EMPIRE #0. She’s understandably bewildered when the green-suited minions stop and listen to the man they called Supreme Leader. The last we saw of Sharon in the issue, Steve ordered her to be placed on a transport and demanded her safety. He repeatedly said that he loved her, but that probably won’t stop one of the world’s most accomplished secret agents from trying to stop the man she loved and one of history’s greatest heroes.

The Empire Strikes Back

Secret Empire might be the latest story pitting Agent Carter against a huge secret organization like Hydra, but it’s far from the first. She’s encountered the evil group many times, including as part of Steve’s Secret Avengers squad. Set during the time after REBORN when Rogers returned, but Bucky Barnes still ran around as Captain America, the series found Carter and the former Cap working with the likes of Black Widow, Valkyrie, War Machine, Moon Knight, Beast, and Ant-Man. During that period, the team came into direct conflict with the Shadow Council, a subversive set-up that also had ties to Secret Empire as revealed in SECRET AVENGERS #21!

Sharon Carter might be stuck on a Hydra-controlled ship at this moment, but don’t expect her to stay there for long!

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Steve Rogers hasn’t always been a paragon of virtue—take a look back!

With CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #17 cutting just a little deeper into our hearts on May 24, we’re taking a trip down memory lane with some of the Star-Spangled Avenger’s less heroic moments. It will be hard to compare to the sheer cringeworthy-ness of Secret Empire, what with the general taking over the world because you’re a Hydra sleeper agent vibes, but we’ll try.

Civil War (2006) #1

Civil War (2006) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?
Let’s just say it first because you were all thinking it anyway: Civil War. Some of you may have been Team Cap and others Team Iron Man, but whatever your allegiance I think we can all admit that Cap maybe should have just swallowed his pride, sat down with Tony and worked that baggage out—or as the Internet likes to call it, #adulting—instead of passive aggressively forming a secret alliance to try and overthrow everyone at the expense of fellow heroes, civilians and a lot of what I can only imagine to be really expensive buildings and machinery. I’m sure construction companies made a killing afterward but that’s beside the point.

Captain America (1968) #165

Captain America (1968) #165

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On the opposite end of the spectrum we have CAPTAIN AMERICA #165 where we find out our handsome hero dating two women at the same time. Oh, and they’re related! The horror, the scandal, the indecency! It’s actually not as bad as it sounds; Peggy Carter gets amnesia and forgets that she and Cap broke up but he’s already dating her young great-niece Sharon. He doesn’t want to hurt Peggy, so when faced with having to break her heart he decided to date them both.

Captain America (1968) #372

Captain America (1968) #372

  • Published: July 10, 1990
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: July 29, 2013
  • Cover Artist: Ron Lim
What is Marvel Unlimited?
Somewhere in the middle of mass destruction and a sitcom plot, we have a 1990s arc, “Streets of Poison, running through CAPTAIN AMERICA #372378, where Captain America has a brief existential crisis regarding his use of the Super Soldier Serum, ending in him aiding the war on drugs. As his first strike, Steve blows up a facility making “ICE.” But the drugs fuse with his super soldier blood thus beginning the seven-issue bender of Steve Rogers where he beats up Daredevil, kisses Diamondback, calls a guy at a club a chicken—clucking sounds and all—and even—gasp!—eats Kingpin’s spaghetti! A truly masterful play that I’m sure is really a long con we just haven’t seen pay off yet.

How much worse can things get? Find out May 24 in CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #17 written by Nick Spencer with art by Andres Guinaldo.

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How did the most beloved hero in the Marvel Universe become its most dangerous enemy?

Each week, we use our super sleuth skills to dig into the histories of the characters fighting on both sides of Secret Empire!

Over a year ago, Captain America uttered two words that sent the comic-reading world into an uproar: “Hail Hydra.” Since then, this new version of an old hero has worked to secretly aid his beloved organization, especially in the pages of CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS by Nick Spencer and regular artist Jesus Saiz.

This week, however, the Marvel Universe finally started understanding the truth with the publication of SECRET EMPIRE #0 by Spencer along with artists Daniel Acuna and Rod Reis. Captain America hasn’t just been working for Hydra this whole time, he’s been orchestrating a three-pronged attack on the entire planet in his efforts to tear down the existing framework of society and rebuild it from the ground up.

In addition to drawing an immense Chitauri army by capturing and holding a queen on Earth, Rogers also orchestrated the creation of an army of super villains to attack Manhattan and even got the U.S. government to completely sign over power to him. In other words, he has the world in his grasp and simply needs to squeeze.

But how did it all come to this? How did one of the greatest heroes ever created, a man who’s patriotism and leadership have inspired others since his creation in 1941, go so bad? Not to deflect blame from the perpetrator, but The Red Skull pulled all the strings.

As explained in CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #2 by the Skull himself, Kobik actually came from the Cosmic Cube destroyed in a battle between the villain and Captain America, as seen way back in CAPTAIN AMERICA #448. After re-forming as a child, she sought out the man she had spent so much time with previously. With the entity in his grasp, the Skull indoctrinated her with stories about the greatness of Hydra.

So, what does all this have to do with Captain America? Well, when Maria Hill decided to use Kobik to create Pleasant Hill—a prison for super villains changed by the Cosmic Cube into supposedly peaceful individuals—she actually played into the Skull’s plans. After Sam Wilson, Bucky Barnes, Steve Rogers—then transformed to his actual physical age—and other heroes found out about the prison, they demanded it be shut down. Following an attack by Crossbones in Pleasant Hill, Cap got his youth and power restored by Kobik who didn’t want anything bad to happen.

Captain America: Steve Rogers (2016) #1

Captain America: Steve Rogers (2016) #1

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Now, here’s where things get tricky. According to Red Skull, at this moment he had Kobik rewrite all of Steve’s memories, which explains the mostly black and white flashbacks seen throughout his solo book. Instead of dedicating himself to the individual-praising doctrines of the United States, Steve learned the true power of working together from Hydra. Instead of growing up in New York City until he entered into Project Rebirth, a woman named Elisa took him to a Hydra camp where he and other children trained to become agents. There he met Helmut Zemo and the two became lifelong friends.

In his mind, Steve took on the assignment to kill Dr. Erskine, the man who created the Super Soldier Serum. Instead, Helmut pulled the trigger, but Hydra arranged for Arnim Zola to take over and still give Steve the serum which produced Captain America. Rogers served during World War II for the Allies, but secretly still worked for Hydra. In that version of history, the Axis powers won, but the Allies developed a Cosmic Cube that would supposedly allow them to rewrite history. In the pages of SECRET EMPIRE #0, Kraken explained to Steve that he would enter into this new world and be something very different, but would eventually wake up when Kobik touched him.

Restored to his Hydra-loving ways, Steve started working with Red Skull, though also against him. It turned out that, to Captain America, Hydra represented a more pure idea and that the Skull had tarnished it by recruiting racists and making it all about himself. After much subterfuge, Cap killed Skull in CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #15 and continued with his plans to move the proper Hydra to the forefront of humanity.

Now the question becomes, who can stop the world’s most experienced tactician? Well, hopefully the combined might of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes…

The Empire Strikes Back

Unfortunately, Secret Empire does not mark the first time that Captain America wound up working for The Red Skull. Co-creator Jack Kirby had the villain recount his own origin to a bound Sentinel of Liberty way back in TALES OF SUSPENSE #66. The tale gave a chemical enough time to work its way into Cap’s system and allow the bad guys to seemingly order him to attack the Supreme Commander of the Allied Armies in the following issue. Before the mission itself in issue #67, the Skull introduced Cap to Hitler and then sent him after his target. Bucky infiltrated the accompanying Nazi squad, but couldn’t fully shake Steve out of his stupor. Finally, in #68, it’s explained that Cap snapped out of the Skull’s control when he had the gun pointed at the General, causing him to return to his heroic state of mind.

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Thousands took to Disneyland for the third annual event!

Thousand of runners descended on Disneyland Resort this past weekend of the Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend, November 10-13. Races included the Captain America 5K, Doctor Strange 10K, Avengers Half Marathon and kids races. Plus, runners tackled the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge by finishing the 10K and the Half Marathon!

Runners had the opportunity to pose with Super Heroes—including Black Widow, Captain America, Hawkeye, and Thor, Doctor Strange and Spider-Man—along the courses as Earth’s Mightiest Heroes urged them on. Additionally, cosplayers, military representatives, World War II re-enactor, local high school cheerleaders, bands, and more lined the path for encouragement.

Congratulations to all the participants in the Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend. Check out the gallery above for some of our favorite moments!

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In CAPTAIN AMERICA: SAM WILSON #15 on November 16, the moment fans have waited for finally arrives: Demolition Man returns to the squared circle!

Before he became Captain America’s sidekick, Dennis Dunphy wrestled for UCWF—the Unlimited Class Wrestling Federation. And after many ups and downs as a super hero—ok, mostly downs—D-Man will lace up the boots once again.

To celebrate this monumental moment, we decided to play “fantasy wrestling” and pick out a few worthy allies to join Dennis in the ring as a tag team!

Bucky Character Detail Master

Bucky Character Detail Master

American Sidekicks

Picture it: D-Man faces off with an old foe, The Red Skull, for maybe the third time, but like every other match, the villain’s cronies interfere. As Crossbones brings a chair—or maybe a bazooka—to the ring to finish D-Man off, the music hits, the crowd goes wild and The Winter Solder hits the ring, clearing out the heels and forming a tag team with his fellow former sidekick!

Scourges of the Underworld

Scourges of the Underworld

Scourges of the Underworld

Speaking of former sidekicks, many characters have donned the mask of the “Scourge of the Underworld,” including D-Man and Jack Monroe, a.k.a. Nomad. But why should just one man wear the mask, when two men could and form a “bookend” tag team? The crowd, of course, would not know their identities, just that the two masked men always show up when least expected to unleash carnage on the villains.

The S.H.I.E.L.D.

The S.H.I.E.L.D.

The S.H.I.E.L.D.

In the tradition of great three-man teams, like the Fabulous Freebirds, Worldwide Underground, and the New Day, D-Man joins up with two other babyfaces: Phil Coulson and Nick Fury! Together they dominate the tag team ranks, as their triple threat proves too much for other teams. Fury serves as leader, Coulson works the mic, and D-Man pulls his weight as the “big man” of the group.

Revenge of the Revengers

Revenge of the Revengers

Revenge of the Revengers

For a brief time, Demolition Man joined up with Wonder Man’s Revengers, who wanted to hold the Avengers accountable for their actions and thus became antiheroes. Sounds like a great heel faction! In a classic “big guy/little guy” dynamic, Demolition Man could tag with Captain Ultra, one of his fellow members, to claim tag team gold—with lots of nWostyle outside interference.

Uneasy Allies

Uneasy Allies

Uneasy Allies

After several battles with his hated foe, Flag-Smasher, D-Man suddenly begins teaming with him. Maybe they found they have a common foe. Maybe management decided to make them team together after a classic “best of seven” series, so fans could watch them unravel. Whatever the case, they’d prove successful for a short time until they eventually turned on each other.

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Captain America encounters T'Challa's predecessor for the first time!

Read through some of T’Challa’s most thrilling adventures on Marvel Unlimited to mark Black Panther’s 50th anniversary!

CAPTAIN AMERICA/BLACK PANTHER: FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS by Reginald Hudlin and Denys Cowan featured the very first trip to Wakanda for Steve Rogers.

Set in the earliest days of Captain America’s existence—he’s still rocking the pendant shield which he only used in his very first appearance in CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #1—the story also exhibited Sgt. Fury and the Howling Commandos’ first encounters with both the Star-Spangled Avenger and Azzari, the Black Panther.

Uncle Sam teamed Cap up with Fury and his boys to head into Wakanda so they could find out about Vibranium and also stop Red Skull and Baron von Strucker from doing the same. This, as you might imagine, leads to a skirmish between the American hero and the Wakandan champion, but they soon came to an armistice after recognizing the good in one another.

Captain America/Black Panther: Flags of Our Fathers (2010) #1

Captain America/Black Panther: Flags of Our Fathers (2010) #1

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Rogers, Fury, and the Howlers, especially Gabe Jones, enjoyed their time in Wakanda until the Skull sent Master Man, Warrior Woman and Tiger Man to wreak havoc while he hopped into a battle suit to do his part. With forces split on multiple fronts—including attacks on the Great Vibranium mound and Azzari’s wife and children, including T’Challa’s father T’Chaka—Wakanda took some hits, but ultimately banded together with their international allies to route the attack.

After witnessing his great bravery, the King of Wakanda offered Jones Wakandan citizenship. Gabe wanted to accept almost more than anything, except stopping the Nazis and then heading back to the U.S. and trying to make things better for African Americans at home.

During the battle with Red Skull, the armored villain destroyed Captain America’s first shield. He then used Azzari’s circular one for the rest of the adventure. Upon returning home, he asked the government to issue him a similar one, but with the familiar red and white color scheme!

Secrets of Wakanda 

Though FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS dives a lot deeper into the meeting between Captain America and the Black Panther during WWII, it’s not the first instance in which long-time readers have seen it. Christopher Priest and Norm Breyfogle showed something similar in BLACK PANTHER #30 from 2001, though instead of Azzari, that story featured T’Chaka in the role. Still, the basics remain the same: Cap headed to Wakanda to see about Vibranium and to see if the nation wanted to help with World War II. Hudlin also hinted at this larger story way back in BLACK PANTHER #1 in a two-page spread.

Next time, Black Panther takes on the Sons of the Serpent in AVENGERS #73-74 by Roy Thomas, Frank Giacoia and John Buscema.

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The Avengers and Excalibur team-up for Wakandan adventure!

Read through some of T’Challa’s most thrilling adventures on Marvel Unlimited to mark Black Panther’s 50th anniversary!

Plenty of comics over the years have featured trips to Wakanda, like EXCALIBUR #5960 for instance. Written by Scott Lobdell with art by Scott Kolins, the 1992 story featured Captain Britain agreeing to a meeting with the Black Panther, but only in his guise as Brian Braddock. He brought Meggan along with him, and Kitty Pryde hitched a ride to enjoy a few days in the Wakandan sun.

T’Challa surprised Brian by introducing him to the rest of the attendees which included Captain America and War Machine. Before long, the host revealed the purpose of the meeting: to see if Vibranium could be used to eradicate toxic waste. Instead of actually getting into any of that though, the heroes found themselves distracted by an entity calling himself Icon who turned himself and his fellow Wakandans into wooden-headed zombies.

Excalibur (1988) #59

Excalibur (1988) #59

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To keep Braddock and his aide safe, Black Panther tossed an instant Vibranium containment cell around them, but Shadowcat phased in to get them out. Not wanting to screw up their secret identities, Braddock decided to take the wild man of the jungle route while Meggan shape shifted to look more Wakandan. Even with the assembled extra power, Black Panther surrendered to Icon as a way to keep his mind-controlled people safe. That didn’t quite work out as planned and a small brawl ensued.

Eventually Icon’s time ran out, quite literally. Before everyone’s eyes he transferred back into his actual identity: Dr. A’Kurru. T’Challa even took pity on the criminal because he could not save his daughter from the toxic waste poisoning that killed her. T’Challa then explained that that’s the exact reason he called the meeting that A’Kurru interrupted in the first place. 

Secrets of Wakanda 

The wedding of Black Panther and Storm offered another occasion for Kitty Pryde to visit Wakanda. She traveled there with her fellow X-Men, but also served as Ororo’s maid of honor during the ceremony. Kitty helped push away some of the bride’s worries before helping her into the wedding dress.

Next, T’Challa takes on Kraven and the Fear Itself crossover in BLACK PANTHER: MAN WITHOUT FEAR #519-523 by David Liss, Jefte Palo and Francesco Francavilla!

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The hateful history of HYDRA stretches back centuries in a legacy of evil, one that culminates in CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #7, out November 9.

The terror organization’s seen its share of ups and downs over the years, but it always bounces back to challenge the world. How? Why? A look back through its victories and defeats may tell the tale…

Ancient History

HYDRA’s origins lie obscured in the mists of time, but as it swallowed other secret sects such as the Brotherhood of the Spear and the Thule Society, it positioned itself as a major source of evil at the dawn of World War II. Fortunately, soldiers like Sgt. Nick Fury stood ready to stem its tide.

The Serpent Splinters

HYDRA leader Baron von Strucker entered the modern age with dreams of the group’s continued rise as it opposed S.H.I.E.L.D., but when it shattered into smaller yet still powerful pieces after his seeming death, HYDRA’s future wavered in the resulting power struggles.

Whose Shield?

Strucker returned to attempt to rebuild HYDRA, despite the civil war it labored under, but perhaps the worst of its evils existed in the information discovered by Nick Fury indicating S.H.I.E.L.D.’s alleged status as a HYDRA-controlled organization all along.

Bringing the Hammer Down

A violent coup by HYDRA agent Hardball set him up to become Supreme Leader, but when it all crumbled beneath him, the group moved on to ally itself with Norman Osborn’s HAMMER, until that too crashed and burned, leaving HYDRA as a weakened version of its old prominence.

All-New, All-Different HYDRA

Recently, the Red Skull crafted a new incarnation of the organization from the ashes of the former. To this end, he utilized a sentient Cosmic Cube to introduce memories of HYDRA history and allegiance into his eternal foe Steve Rogers’ memories.

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Like any idea, ridding the world of borders and nationalism might appeal to some, but then others come along and blow the whole concept out of proportion. Karl Morgenthau, otherwise known as Flag-Smasher, took his father’s Swiss-born neutrality and upgraded it to an intense level that continues to clash with Captain America’s ideology.

With Flag-Smasher’s upcoming return in the pages of CAPTAIN AMERICA: SAM WILSON #14 thanks to Nick Spencer and Paul Renaud, now seems like the perfect time to look back at the villain’s history!

Give Peace A Chance

Karl’s ambassador father tried to bring peace to the world, but perished in a riot outside of the Latverian embassy. Instead of following his father’s peaceful path, Karl used the money previous generations earning in banking and turned himself into Flag-Smasher. 

The Anti-Patriotism Manifesto

Flag-Smasher laid out his intentions pretty clearly in his very first appearance: “If we were to erase national boundaries and accept the essential unity of all mankind, the world would be a better place! Earth should not be divided into nations! We are the world – not a bunch of different species!”

Smashing Flags

Mark Gruenwald and Paul Neary introduced the world to Flag-Smasher in very appropriate fashion. He flies over the United Nations building in NYC, swoops down and starts bashing flags with a mace! Later in that same issue he attacks the Acme Flag Company. Eventually he made a move on Cap, but failed to destroy the American icon, thus creating a longstanding enmity between the two. 

Giving An ULTIMATUM

In Flag-Smasher’s second appearance he debuted a group called Underground Liberated Totally Integrated Mobile Army To Unite Mankind. The villain built the anti-patriotic terrorist organization to further his vision, using his team to hijack a plane and call out Cap. Eventually, leader and group split, but ULTIMATUM will back Flag-Smasher in SAM WILSON! 

The Enemy Of My Enemy

After realizing Red Skull backed ULTIMATUM, Flag-Smasher quit the group. To help make up for aiding a nationalist, he called Captain America for help. When John Walker showed up, F-S beat him into submission and waited for the real deal, then called The Captain. Soon they teamed-up to destroy the Ultimatum Device which could send out a crippling EMP blast. 

Heavy Is The Head…

Flag-Smasher and ULTIMATUM launch a series of attacks to destabilize nations. Eventually, they came up against Citizen V who convince the villain to instill himself as a leader of Rumekistan and spread his ideology that way. That lasted for a short time until Domino assassinated him as a way to allow Cable to swoop in and take over the former Soviet country himself. 

The Fill-In Flag-Smasher

In his brief time as Flag-Smasher, Guy Thierrault fought and was defeated by the likes of the Young Avengers, Runaways, and Deadpool. Eventually, an ULTIMATUM agent killed him, took the identity and wound up on the wrong side of Deadpool’s rage himself.

Flag-Smasher and ULTIMATUM return to trouble our patriotic hero in CAPTAIN AMERICA: SAM WILSON #14 by Nick Spencer and Paul Renaud.

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Mark Waid and Barry Kitson discuss an Avengers story of epic proportions!

As we see the present-day Avengers – complete with a refreshed line-up – battle Kang once more, the story of a long-past Avengers team also unfolds before us. Captain America leads a trio of reformed criminals – Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver – to take on continued threats to Earth while his fellow founding members break from the team.

Writer Mark Waid teams with penciller Barry Kitson to tell an Avengers story of old that will intertwine with the adventures of the current team. We grabbed the two of them for a chat to see what we could learn about this new and unique series.

Marvel.com: How did the idea come about to run these parallel stories of an early Avengers team alongside the current team battling Kang?

Mark Waid: I’ve been itching to tell this story for a long time. I love, as I did with Captain America: Man Out of Time, to be able to tell flashback stories within continuity, and I’ve forever been fascinated by whatever untold story lay behind how the world came to accept Cap’s Kookie Quartet as a viable replacement for Iron Man, Giant Man, Wasp and Thor. 

Marvel.com: A still-recently-thawed Captain America is joined by three heroes who have their origins as villains. What prompts this particular group to come together? What threats are they teaming up to face?

Mark Waid: The original Avengers, as per established continuity, were all facing personal issues that demanded a break from the team, so Iron Man put out the call for new members–and these are the ones who showed up…at first. But not the ONLY ones, as we’ll soon see.  As for menaces, the Frightful Four and the Stranger are two–and that’s only the beginning of the list!

Marvel.com: What about working with the Marvel universe of the past has been most exciting for you? Has working in this time period something you’ve wanted to do for a while, or a wholly new opportunity?

Barry Kitson: For me this encapsulates a childhood dream becoming fully realized. This was the era of Marvel that I first began reading and lead me to fall in love with US comics rather than the very cartoonish British fare I had been used to. I was reading these stories when I was five or six years old and already dreaming of drawing these characters for a living – so for me it is the perfect realization of that dream – despite all the time that has passed I feel like that little kid again getting to work with the characters I most loved in the incarnations that first drew me to them. I’m sure Mark will bear witness that when he approached me about doing this series – I had agreed before he had managed to get beyond saying it would focus on Cap’s cookie quartet… I may also have threatened terrible retribution on him if he let any other artist get anywhere near this particular series!

Not only does the series feature the Avengers line-up that I feel most personally connected to, but also a whole cast of characters from the era that I have always longed to draw – I’m not sure how much I can give away but there are guest stars and villains aplenty that I think anyone who loves this era in Marvel history will thoroughly enjoy! (As you have probably gathered I could ramble on about how excited I am for some time!)

Marvel.com: You two have worked together on other comics, but this is your first time combining your talents in the Marvel universe. What’s the process like?

Mark Waid: Seamless. We’ve been working together for so long that we bring out the best in one another. Barry gets a plot and as much freedom as he needs to tell the story visually, and then I’ll go back and add dialogue to match his storytelling. We trust one another!

Barry Kitson: It’s pretty much our standard operating procedure, I think. Mark and I have developed a process over the years where we trust each other to bounce ideas back and forth perhaps more than many writer/artist teams – possibly purely because we have done so much work together. We work pretty close to the classic ‘Marvel method’ whereby Mark will provide the plot (although sometimes much more than a plot for certain scenes when it can be almost full script) and I will break the pages down into panels – after that will bounce things back and forth to make sure we’re both happy – then I’ll draw up the pages and Mark will dialogue from the finished pencils – usually added great touches that I sometimes don’t even know about until the comic sees print – which is always one of the most fun parts of working with him for me!

Marvel.com: Barry, you’ve been away from Marvel for a few years, how has returning to these characters and this world been for you?

Barry Kitson: I guess most of my long and rambling response to the earlier question applies here also. I really can’t overstate what a joy it is for me to be working on these particular characters especially in this setting and with Mark as writer – I might quite possibly be the happiest penciller in the business right now!

Marvel.com: The .1 numbering implies that the adventures of this team will be connected in some way to the present-day Avengers. Can you let us in on anything about that? Kang is known for his time-traveling ways, after all.

Mark Waid: And yet, it’s not really Kang-related. What we’ll be seeing is the origin of a menace that will come back to threaten the modern-day Avengers.

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