For quite some time Hydra has been lying in wait to make their move, and with Marvels Secret Empire that time is finally here. Captain America has been working from the inside, putting the pieces in place to undermine the American government and the superhero community, leaving them vulnerable in the process. In Marvel's Secret Empire: Underground one-shot, there is a small group of heroes who just might have the key to saving everyone.
Writers Jeremy Whitley and Editor Charles Beacham spoke to ComicBook.com about the upcoming one-shot, which will include art from the talented Eric Koda, and will debut at a critical point in the Secret Empire storyline. Characters like Mockingbird, Quicksilver, Hercules, and the Wasp will venture to the Savage Land to recover a teammate vital to the mission in addition to something that can turn the tide in their war against Hydra.
It's a unique group of characters, and when asked how they arrived at this particular group Beacham said it's a testimony to what the stakes are in this war with Hydra. "With Secret Empire, the big thing that's happening is that Steve Rogers has revealed himself as the leader of Hydra and basically all of the Euros who choose to stand up against him, they have to come together. It doesn't matter if they're ex-men, ex-criminals, or shield agents, or demi-gods. They've got to come together to take him down and that was kind of the idea with this team. Jeremy and I work closely with Nick Spencer to kind of pick this cap from the guys in the resistance movement who are standing against Steve. That's kind of how we landed on this group of characters."
Whitley adds that some of these characters see this as an opportunity of sorts. "Yeah, I mean I like this group because they're kind of a motley crew, they're all characters that have, sort of, done their own thing and most of them were on teams at some point, as well. They're sort of guided, not so much on being thrown together, but so much as seeing this as an opportunity that they can actually take on Hydra and Steve and save things. They sort of seize this, so it's people who are up to the task and it's sort of a wide variety of characters that are excited to get out there and take this thing by the horns cause it's in a kind of dire state at this point."
Underground will take place right in the heart of Secret Empire, and will tell a crucial part of the story. "It's right in the middle," said Beacham. "This is an integral it falls right between issues 3 and 4, and like I said, this shows, kind of, what the resistance, what the heroes who know that this isn't Steve's true self. This story shows what it is they're doing and shows their plan being put into action and how they're going to try and take him down."
While they wouldn't reveal everything the group is hunting for, they did reveal that Sam Wilson will be joining the team, and will provide one of the more personal aspects to the story. "I think it really reflects on who Sam is, both as a character and a person, I guess both as a hero and a person," said Whitley. "He's a person that has the most invested in Steve, who has the most of himself wrapped up in Steve as much as any of these other people and the one who has lost the most in this. He's the character who has every reason to just quit it out, to just go ahead and quit because he's lost as much as anybody. But I think it speaks to who Sam is, he knows this isn't Steve and the first thing he wants to do is set out setting up things right, he can't shake the idea that he's had some small part in this, he can't stop being, even if he can stop being Captain America and the descent of Steve, taking that idea and he can't stop being Sam Wilson and he jumps right back in there to try and fix things, try and get things back where they should be."
While all of these characters are used to team dynamics, there was one hero in particular who had the ability to lead them on this mission. Whitley explained why Mockingbird was the right choice. "Yeah, Mockingbird was absolutely the leader and when I was looking at this group of characters she's the one who stands out to me as a practitioner, as the person who can actually arrange a mission. Everybody in this group obviously has their strengths. Between Sam and Antman and Hercules and Quicksilver, everybody has their own story and their own strength, but Mockingbird has that experience of being a shield agent and being the person in charge when it gets really serious, and she has, sort of, that unity of vision that at this point a lot of the other characters don't. I think Sam would be a person who would automatically-the idea would come off of, you know, having him in the lead but in this case he's been through a lot in a short time. And has gotten pulled back into this particular story, and I think Mockingbird is the only one with, I guess the best word is the where-with-al, to lead everybody and do what has to be done. She's no stranger to making hard decisions and doing the not easy but necessary things."
She'll be leading this team into the thick of the Savage Land, a place that is rather dangerous regardless of what you're looking for. Whitley sees that as part of its appeal, saying "It's definitely a question of, you know, they have to get something that isn't that the savage land to sort of, fix the issue and, you know, the team has a really tricky path to navigate here. I think the savage land has always been, for me, because there are so many potential obstacles to it and, you know, even in this case going in, Mockingbird thinks she has a good handle on what they're going to face. And as grim as her idea is of what they're going to say and what they have to go through to accomplish their mission, it proves to be nowhere close to what they actually have to go through to come out of this event alive."
Beacham added that this book also shows the scope of Secret Empire, something not relegated to just the United States. "As with any Marvel comic event, we want to showcase what's happening in every corner of the universe. Captain America showing that he's the action agent of Hydra isn't something that's just going to affect the United States, the thing that's going to have repercussions everywhere in the Marvel universe, even in the savage land. And that's what we're going to get to see here and with some of these other one shots that we have coming out is, how does this effect these characters and these different pockets that are kind of on the fringes? So we get to see that in a real way and in a way that has implications in Secret Empire."
You might think that the presence of the Savage Land means you might run into a few X-Men along the way. That doesn't seem to be the case, but Beacham did add that there will be a few characters X-Men fans can appreciate. "We may not see anybody that's sporting a uniform with a giant "X" on it, but we'll certainly see some guys who made their first appearance in the books and have proved to be habitual citizens and forces in the savage land, so we're definitely going to mix it up and have some fun with both the heroes and villains that live there and some of the creatures as well."
Whitley loves writing characters who are in unfamiliar surroundings, and Underground will have plenty of that as well. "I think it's been a lot of fun for me, especially diving into the savage land are, you know, seeing characters in this atmosphere that aren't usually here and some who are right at home here, " said Whitley. "You know, Hercules for instance, is still assertive and he runs around in the savage land thumping dinosaurs with a club. That's like a weekend vacation for him, you know, that's his sort of thing. So I think it was really fun to throw all of these guys at the savage land and see how everybody reacts. Obviously, Bobby with her history has very different expectations than Hercules and guys like Scott Lang, for you know, for all he knows anyone who's coming in, he's trying to determine whether these are actual or metaphorical dinosaurs. He's not really sure that there really are actual prehistoric dinosaurs running around. Everything he's seen, that still seems crazy to him."
With so many moving parts to Secret Empire, Whitley and Beachem worked closely with Nick Spencer on getting the pieces to all fit. Underground might be a one-shot, but it is direcly tied to how the main story plays out according to Whitley. "Nick and I had to sit down and have, sort of, a long conversation about logistics, like this is all tied in so tightly that, you know, it's spinning directly out of the pages of Secret Empire and feeding directly right back into the pages of it. It'll be a big thing for people to pick up, because if they don't pick it up they're not going to have the whole story. I think the biggest thing for me is the story we've gotten to tell inside of this much larger story, a story which is in itself, like, really big and fun and exciting, and you know, you can't help but do some amount of that when you're running around on a world full of dinosaurs. But you know, the fact that I've gotten to play with the savage land in addition to it having a huge part in the larger story of Secret Empire. It's going to be a pretty big chapter for what's going on in the Savage Land going forward as well, I believe."
Secret Empire: Underground hits this June and you can find the official description for the book below. Make sure to check out the debut cover for the one-shot in the gallery.
A vital chapter to the heroes of the Marvel Universe confronting Steve Rogers and the oncoming hordes of Hydra in the Secret Empire saga, SECRET EMPIRE: UNDERGROUND also enlists Hercules, Ant-Man, Iron Man, and Quicksilver for a covert mission that strikes at the very foundation of Hydra’s grasp around the world. Can Mockingbird and her team find the cracks in Hydra’s hold to bring it all crumbling down? Or will their plan cause Hydra to grow back even stronger than before? Be here this June as the resistance fights back SECRET EMPIRE: UNDERGROUND from Jeremy Whitley, Eric Koda, and Marvel Comics.