Friday, March 23, 2012

Building the Page - Guest Starring Edward Whatley!


I have been sadly, uncontrollably, addicted to the Avengers Alliance game available through Facebook. I seriously cannot stop playing it. I take back all of the rude and disparaging things I have said about my Facebook friends and their Farmville nonsense. (Although after all these years bugging me about your stupid pumpkin patches, you guys do sort of owe me. C’mon! Join my SHIELD flight crew. We’re saving the world here!) 

The other day Jenny was tidying up the kitchen while I was sitting at the kitchen table, helping Iron Man and She-Hulk save New York from the forces of Hydra. I was having a grand old time, but then realized that Jenny was standing there staring at me.  

Jenny: “You haven’t heard a word I have been saying, have you?”
Me: “Uhm… No. I’m sorry. I was busy Assembling!”
Jenny (shaking her head and sighing): “Nobody ever listens to Jarvis.”


 Gray Haven Comics’ “Silver Age” volume of The Gathering will be coming out next month. As a special treat, and a tease for my story “Timesheet”, I got permission from the editors at Gray Haven to hijack their “Building the Page” column. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the fabulously talented artist for “Timesheet”, Mr. Edward Whatley!


Hello, denizens of Comic Book Land! Edward Whatley here. Grayhaven Art Director John Coker recently offered me the chance to illustrate a story for the Silver Age issue of Grayhaven's The Gathering anthology. He was also kind enough to offer me the chance to contribute to their Building the Page column. I of course jumped at both offers, and here we are.

The script I received was written by Travis M. Holyfield. It is intended as a tribute to/parody of the Adam West Batman show. It revolves around a poor hapless guy named Roy Murphy who applies at a temp agency and finds himself hired out as a henchman to various villains. I watched the Batman show devotedly as a kid, so the script had a built in appeal for me.  

My first step was to of course read the script, several times actually, to make sure I understood everything that was going on and to find out what image references I would need to gather.

 The script was VERY well written. Travis spelled out everything he wanted in each panel and didn't ask for more than a single panel could accommodate. But he did present some challenges in that even though the story is only four pages long, it takes place across many different settings and features not only our protagonist Roy, but also two heroes, five villains, and assorted other henchmen. So I had to gather lots of reference material and do lots of character designs before I got started on actual pages. The villains I decided to design as I went, but I figured I should at least know what Roy and the heroes (Dober-Man and Beagle) will look like since they appear throughout the story. So I came up with the designs below to which I referred while drawing the pages.


I then scribbled out small thumbnail sketches for all four pages. This is actually where most of my decisions get made in terms of storytelling and composition. I also work out the placement of dialogue and narration. After reading the script, it was obvious that the humor was coming from the repetition of the same events over the span of a week. Roy got hired out to a different villain every day, but every day came to the same violent conclusion for him. Since the plot was based on repetition, I figured the layouts should support that concept because the art's primary purpose is to support and convey the story. Each page had 4 panels, so I was therefore able to lay out each page in the same manner, with four long horizontal panels.

 Another example of decisions that get made at this early stage is in panel 3. The script simply called for the heroes to be pummeling the villains, but I got the idea to have Beagle throwing a bone at our villain in lieu of a batarang. This wasn't specifically called for in the script, but I figured it supported Travis' intent to satirize Batman and Robin.


From there I drew rough pencils on 11x17 printer paper. These will be the basis for the final artwork, but as you can see I don't concern myself with neatness.


Then the roughs go onto a lightbox. I take a clean sheet of Bristol board and place it over the roughs. I then trace off the rough pencils onto the Bristol board, cleaning it up and refining the drawing as I go. I also dug out a book of Hieroglyphs and added them to the doorway to reinforce the setting.  I drew the tight pencils onto the board using non-photo blue pencils which don't show up in normal scanning. I was able to capture the blue lines for this page in the image below by playing around with the brightness and contrast while scanning, but normally they don't scan (which is the point of using non-photo pencils). Since the blue lines don't scan, they don't have to be erased for scanning after the pages have been inked.

After the pencils are done, it's time for (ugh) inking! Ideally, I would have used a brush and nib for a classic brushy Silver Age look, but I'm excruciatingly slow with those tools. So I decided to use microns and artist pens and just try to replicate the look of classic brush and pen lines.

 John had suggested I include some zipatone in order to create a classic Silver Age look. That sounded like a good idea to me, so after scanning the inked pages I added some gray to the background in panel 2. I then used a Photoshop filter to convert the gray to black dots, thus duplicating the look of old fashioned zipatone.


Inching closer to the finish line, we come to the coloring. I use the layer approach when coloring in Photoshop. I create a separate layer for the linework and add color to layers beneath the inks. I also typed the flower names on the shirts in panel 4 and used Photoshop's warping tools to make them look as if they were actually printed on the henchmen's shirts.


Finally (whew! It's almost a completed page!) I import the page into Adobe Illustrator and do the lettering. I used an original font I made using Illustrator and a fairly inexpensive program called FontCreator. Dialogue balloons and captions are done with the shape tools. This is also the point at which I threw in file photos of the villains for each scene. I figured that would help establish a rhythm to the story: a new photo indicating a new scene.

And voila! It's an actual comic book page! There's nothing left to do now except close down Photoshop and Illustrator and then (literally) go back to the drawing board and start the roughs for the next page so the process of funny book creation can begin anew.

Thanks for reading.


 My sincere thanks to Edward, who took my silly script about super-villain temps and made it look like a real comic book. And thanks to John and Andrew at Grayhaven for letting me share this column with you! 

Edward is hard at work drawing a full-length Dober-Man and Beagle one-shot. Watch this space for more details as they develop.  

And remember to pick up The Gathering volume 11, “TheSilver Age” this April!


Hugs and kisses,


Friday, March 16, 2012

Spring Q&A. BRING IT!


“The casino should have a new ad campaign demonstrating all of the worst possible things that can happen to you there. Just the worst, most humiliating, most horrible, painful, awful things that a visit to the casino could bring. Just unflinching. And then the tagline is, “Or… Maybe Not? Come Gamble With Us.”


Q&A time!

Joey Cruz‏ (@NeverWanderer) asks: The Host, Good monster movie or BEST monster movie? (Real Q: How much detail is too much when writing a comic script?)
I didn’t like the Host when I first saw it. Everybody I know professes to really dig it, though, so maybe I need to give it another shot. There’s this whole field of South Korean cinema that everyone who isn’t me seems to be in love with, and I just can’t quite penetrate the culture barrier.

Real A: It depends, I think. A lot of it hinges on your relationship with your artist. I try to write based on what I know about the artist’s strengths, and about their ability to tell the story effectively. And I have been blessed to work with artists who can absolutely deliver. I don’t know that there IS a thing as too much detail, as long as you, the writer, understand a few things. Foremost is that you can’t always get everything you want. And comics is a collaborative medium. You’re less the director than you are the screenwriter, in movie parlance. The artist is the director and the cinematographer and the costume designer and the lighting director and everything else that makes the visual aspect of your story happen. You have to trust that they know what they’re doing. I have read the scripts for Watchmen, and have been blown away by the level of detail on each panel and each page. But I also have read that Alan Moore also tagged almost every script with “If that doesn’t work for you, do what works best.”
"If you screw with my script, I'll turn you into a newt!"

Also, remember that the page has limits. The panel has limits. You need to be aware of what can be done in a single panel, and then make sure that you’re not trying so hard to write like Alan Moore that you overwhelm the artist with a lot of stuff that can’t happen in one panel on one page. An artist friend (not naming names) called me one night to see if I had any ideas on a script he was trying to draw. In one splash page, the writer had asked for no fewer than 5 angles of focus. And my friend was pulling his hair out trying to figure out how to draw what he was being asked for. (“How do I show the POV of something on the floor AND something on the ceiling at the same time?”)

Look at a comic you love and reverse engineer it, and ask yourself, what details are absolutely necessary to make this panel happen? 

And for the record, I am by no means holding myself up as an expert here. This is stuff I try to do, and I am still learning something new every time I write a new script, every time I read a script, and every time I look at a comic.

Adam Witt‏ (@adamwitt) asks: What part of your writing process takes you the longest?
It varies based on what I am working on. I spend a lot of time thinking about what I’m going to write before I even sit down at the keyboard. In the shower, in the car, on the train, when I’m trying to get to sleep, I’m thinking about the story, and working things out in my head. So by the time I sit down to do the mechanical typing, I usually have a pretty good sense of the beats I want, and how I’m getting from point A to point B. And then, as I write, I just try to fill in the blanks and see what new and interesting directions things take.

My main hold-up to writing is research, typically. I am completely paranoid about not knowing enough about a given topic, and so I have a bad habit of over-researching to the point where I’m not actually writing. Fortunately, I have Jenny to yell at me and tell me, “Write first! Fact check later!” But still, I spent a couple hours last night researching the differences between western and English horseback riding styles. If you look at the faux Secret Avengers pitch I did in my last blog, understand that I spent several nights researching the characters involved to make sure that everything I would propose was in continuity and to ensure that I could draft the characters in question without encroaching on any other book Marvel was publishing at the time. So… I may have a problem.

Sean Francis‏ (@indeciSEAN) asks: Thoughts on The @Avengers’ trailer?
Is “nerd-boner” a thought? It looks wonderful. I am unspeakably, pants-wettingly, excited for this movie, and from what I can determine from the trailer, Joss Whedon and all involved really knocked it out of the park. The quick segment where Hulk catches Iron Man in mid-air and then slides down the building are probably the Marvel-est things I’ve ever seen in a Marvel movie.

Kt‏ (@KtIsGerman) asks: What [super]villain would out-villain them all and how? How does the existence of smart phones impact plot/story telling?
As far as comic book villains go, Bullseye is the guy who always makes me nervous. When he shows up, you know SOMETHING horrible is going to happen.

Norman Osborn is getting there for me, as well. Between Warren Ellis’ use of him in Thunderbolts, all the work Brian Bendis has done with him in the pages of Avengers, and Kelly Sue DeConnick’s brilliant Osborn miniseries, Norman’s gone beyond the Green Goblin to being a genuinely terrifying supervillain who is always one step ahead of the good guys.

As far as non super super-villians, the scariest for me will always be from Garth Ennis’ Preacher. Jesse Custer’s grandmother and her henchmen Jody and T.C. are absolutely bone-chilling. “All in the Family” (collected in Preacher volume 2, “Until the End of the World”) is arguably the best arc in a series filled with amazing arcs. And that’s largely due to how EVIL Grandma is.


I went online and asked for questions, and the amazing Terry L. Tyson (‏@terrytyson) came through!

Is there a comics collectable you've ever coveted?
Original art, mostly. If money were no object, my walls would be covered with commissions and original pages. As it stands, I own only three pieces of original art, and if my house were on fire, they’re probably the things I’d grab on my way out the door. One is an original Michael Gaydos page from Alias. The second is a Michael Oeming Powers page. And the third is the original sketch from the cover of Ethan Van Sciver’s “Manifesto” sketchbook.

Which comic from your childhood do you miss? What made it special for you? Was it the book or was it you, in that time, etc?
I have the good fortune to still have pretty much every comic I have ever purchased. But I wouldn’t mind having a better copy of New Teen Titans #1. My copy was read so much by my young self that it’s pretty much disintegrated at this point.

God, I love that comic. I walked down the street to the 7-11 one summer day when I was a very young lad, and picked it off of the rack, with no idea who anybody except Robin and Kid Flash were, and had my little brain thoroughly blown. That was probably the best half a buck I have ever spent.

What's the worst comic book based movie ever made?
Although I’ve never actually seen it, I have it on good authority that Halle Berry’s “Catwoman” takes that title. But I’m not brave enough to verify that for myself.

What comic do you wish YOU had written/drawn? (Mine will forever be Steranko's "Nick Fury" books.)

Drawn? Anything. I’d just like to be able to draw. (The nerdiest thing I have ever said to follow.) If I could “re-do my character sheet”, I would put more attribute points into “artistic talent” and “play guitar”.

Written? Probably Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing run or James Robinson’s Starman series.

Should Marvel ever consider a 52-esque reboot of their books? Which ones really need it, if any?

ABSOLUTELY NOT. There’s nothing to be gained from such a move. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Name three people from the comics world you'd invite to dinner, living or otherwise.

This is the hardest question I received! (It’s probably easier to list who I WOULDN’T want to have dinner with.) I’ll limit myself to the deceased. Mark Gruenwald, Archie Goodwin, and Jack Kirby. That would be a really awesome dinner party.
I know picking three dead legends is sort of a cop-out, but I seriously puzzled over this for hours and couldn’t settle.
I DO still want to take C.B. Cebulski to Caseus in New Haven, though. That offer is on the table.

What would be the ultimate (even if the tech doesn't yet exist) e-comic experience?
Something that could replicate the experience of spreads and double-page panels. Something that grows and shrinks to accommodate the artwork.  That’s my biggest issue with digital comics right now  - scrolling about to see the panels and the artwork.  But I would also point out that I’m not the world’s biggest advocate for digital comics. I know lots of fans who love them, and I know there is a big push in that direction, but actual physical comics just suit my reading preferences better. And I say this as someone who would pull out his own teeth before surrendering his Kindle.

And now, via Facebook: THE LIGHTNING ROUND!

Benel Germosen asks: Super Ninento or Sega Genesis?
Super Nintendo. I never had a Genesis, although I did play Sonic a few times at a friend’s house and thought it was basically Mario on crank.

Bryan Lipsitz asks: Superman or Batman?
This is Sophie’s Choice, man. I’m going Superman. 

Adina “Sailor” Gruzleski asks: Logan’s Run or Brazil?
Logan’s Run is super fun, and cheesy, but Brazil is inarguably a better film, and holds up WAY better.  

Jared Moore asks: New Mutants, Gen X, or Academy X/New X-Men?
New Mutants. Absolutely.

Walter Hall asks: Did Han shoot first?
Of course he did! Anyone who says differently is a fool and a liar. And YES, I mean George Lucas when I say that.  

James Michael asks: Will your male Shepard be gay?
Nope. Although I appreciate that Mass Effect fans will now be able to have their male Commander Shepards bump rude parts with a large black man, my personal Shepard is in a committed, monogamous relationship with a blue alien lady.

Aleina Paige asks: Comics or graphic novels?
Six of one, half dozen of the other. There’s no real difference, to my way of thinking. Some stories tell better in a single book, while some benefit from the great traditions of cliffhangers and serial storytelling.  

Kelley Gilman asks: Spring water vs. tap water?
Tap water. Although I use a Brita filter, so maybe I’m cheating. 

Christopher Bell asks: Most embarrassing thing ever caught in your beard?
I keep my face-fuzz fairly close-cropped, so I have never really had any problems in that regard. Although when I eat anything with butter or garlic, I spend the rest of the night making “duck face” while I smell my moustache. 



The Gathering Volume 8, “The Fifth Dimension” is now available through GrayHaven Comics. It features the story, “I AM (ANALOG) LEGEND”, written by me, with art by Chris Page.

I have it on good authority that Volume 9 (Fairy Tales), featuring my story “The Heartbreak Tree” (art by Leonardo Gonzalez), should be out in time for MoCCA Fest. So anyone in the NYC area should come and pick up an issue from me, personally!

Hugs and kisses,


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Pitches That Never Were: SECRET AVENGERS

WARNING: If you’re not up-to-date with Marvel Comics, there are some spoilers ahead. Tread carefully.

Someday, I will have the chance to pitch for Marvel Comics.
That's the plan, anyway. And no surprise to anyone, as my comic book ambitions and aspirations are not a well-kept secret. But what I don’t always share publically is the anxiety that this thought sometimes causes. See, I worry that I’m going to suddenly have the opportunity to sit in the big room* in front of Tom Brevoort or someone and have them say, “Okay, fatty. This is your one shot. Wow us.” And under that pressure, I’m going to choke. “Uhmmm. Are you guys doing anything with Team America?"
And that’s when the bouncers throw me out of Marvel HQ.**
So every once in a while, as a thought exercise when I’m bored, or can’t sleep, or have a three hour layover in an airport without a restaurant (the latter two of these things happen more frequently than I’m comfortable with), I write little pitches in my head. If I got to go into the big room at that second, what would I pitch?
A few months ago I found myself plagued, once again, with insomnia. I had read the third issue of Marvel’s Fear Itself series, and was writing down little scraps of inspiration in my notebook, in hopes of salvaging awesome later. And then I had my burst of inspiration for the evening – If I was invited to pitch for Marvel right that second, I knew EXACTLY what I would pitch.
Secret Avengers.
Secret Avengers was a book that I dug a lot when it first came out. Ed Brubaker can pretty much do no wrong in my eyes, and the idea of him writing a team of black ops superheroes led by Commander Steve Rogers was too awesome to pass up. And I was not disappointed. The book had great stories, lots of fun action, and a utilization of some of my best beloved third string Marvel characters (Shang-Chi, and Valkyrie, to name just two). Then Ed left the book.
Nick Spencer came onto the title for a few issues, and then, after Nick departed, Warren Ellis was announced as taking over the book for a series of “done-in-one” issues. I love Warren Ellis, and I love done-in-one books like this, but I knew this was a temporary state of affairs, and I was worried that after Ellis, the book would suddenly go into limbo, and I would be left with this Secret Avengers shaped hole in my monthly comics reading.
So I thought a little bit about Secret Avengers, and what kind of a book I’d like to read, and what kind of a book I’d like to write, and I jotted down the ideas that you’ll see in a minute.
Now this is all very moot, for a handful of reasons. The central premise under which I was working (James Barnes (aka Bucky, aka Captain America, aka Winter Soldier) being dead) was revealed to be a swerve on the parts of Brubaker and Matt Fraction. He’s alive and well, and starring in a new Brubaker-penned series, which is REALLY, REALLY great so far.
Secondly, it was announced at NYCC that Rick Remender would be taking over Secret Avengers. Remender’s Uncanny X-Force was a major influence on the pitch I worked up, so to me, it is clearly an ideal fit. (Seriously, stop reading this blog right this second and go out and pick up Uncanny X-Force. It’s that good.) As I write this, the first issue of Remender’s Secret Avengers run is sitting here in front of me. It is just unspeakably awesome. And it’s featuring Hawkeye and Captain Britain, two of my favorite Marvel characters.
So much for that, then, but I still thought I had a somewhat decent idea, and I decided to work it up as something more than just some ideas in the notebook. Every pitch I have written to date has been for an indie book or an anthology title, so I figured the experience could only help me. Plus, I thought it would make for an interesting/entertaining blog. My good and trusted friend, Pat “The Best Guy in Comics” Loika agreed to do a pin-up for me, just to help illustrate the pitch. Pat also paid me the ridiculously generous compliment of saying that this pitch made him wish I was writing a mainstream comic he could read. That’s about the highest praise I can or will ever hope to receive.
So here’s the pitch I would have made, if I was in that big room, on that particular sleepless night.

“We assemble in the shadows. We do the work nobody else can do. No one can ever know we exist.”
Proposal for an Ongoing Series
written in 6 issue arcs, 24 issues in length

Quick Concept: Putting the “Secret” back in Secret Avengers with a team of Avengers on high stakes black ops missions against the ruthless corporate shadow brokers behind the most nefarious crimes in the Marvel Universe.

Tone: Superheroic action with global scale threats, taking us to all corners of the Marvel Universe. Similar to Remender’s Uncanny X-Force, Hickman’s Secret Warriors, and Brubaker’s Captain America.

Concept: Following the events of Fear Itself, and the death of Captain America (James Buchanan Barnes), Barnes’ lover and partner, Natasha Romanoff, the Black Widow, finds herself at loose ends. Unable to reconcile the loss of Barnes and the helplessness of the world’s superhero community during the events of Fear Itself, The Black Widow decides that SOMETHING must be done. This sort of crisis cannot happen again. The type of threats that The Red Skull and her Nazi henchmen represent cannot be allowed to grow to the level where they endanger the world.
The Black Widow creates a list of potential threats, and assembles a team of Avengers to seek them out and combat them. In their first meeting she tells her team that they are Avengers, but that they are the secret weapon of the Heroic Age.  They exist to eliminate threats, proactively and permanently, in a way no other heroes can accomplish. The team will never be called to assemble in public, and Steve Rogers and Tony Stark must maintain plausible deniability to their actions.
Of course, the Black Widow is lying. Steve Rogers and Tony Stark don’t know this team exists.

The Characters:
Black Widow (Natalia "Natasha" Romanova) – If the Marvel Universe has a “Batman”, it’s the Black Widow. She’s a deadly hand-to-hand combatant, a master spy, and despite having no powers of her own, has stood alongside thunder gods and super-scientists as an equal. She is brilliant, deadly, and sexy - a master of manipulation. In this series she is acting as the leader of the Secret Avengers, a team she has assembled to carry out her own shadow mission of crushing potential threats to the globe with zero tolerance and extreme prejudice

Ronin – A recurring identity in the Marvel Universe by those who wish to act without revealing themselves. No one on the Secret Avengers team initially knows the identity of this incarnation of Ronin, except for the Black Widow herself. It is obvious that he is very strong, very fast, and seemingly difficult to kill, as he survives injuries and wounds that would cripple an ordinary man. He is fluent in Japanese, and is a skilled martial artist. Until he finally pops his claws in the second arc, the readers will be left to guess the identity of the mysterious ninja. (Ronin is Daken Akihiro, Wolverine’s son. He has been recruited by the Black Widow, and given the Ronin identity to ensure the rest of the team does not rebel at the inclusion of a known murderer and criminal.)

Red She-Hulk- Elizabeth “Betty” Ross has been twisted, tricked, manipulated, and abused in her life. Now empowered with her own gamma-born strength, she, and the chip on her shoulder, are ideal recruits into the Secret Avengers. Strong, eager to prove herself, and with a helpful body of espionage experience, she is a valuable weapon in Black Widow’s war.

Yellowjacket – Eric O’Grady, the former SHIELD agent, and criminal opportunist operating until recently in a stolen suit as Ant-Man, has already been a Secret Avenger. He remains on the team in this current incarnation because the Black Widow believes his weak moral compass and overactive libido make him easy to manipulate. His criminal past makes him unlikely to reveal the truth of the Secret Avengers to anyone who will believe him. He has received a power upgrade and now operates in the costume of Yellowjacket. 

Machine Man – Aaron Stack has joined the Secret Avengers for the only reason Aaron Stack does anything. He feels like it. His sophisticated computer brain has already detected several inconsistencies in Black Widow’s version of the Secret Avengers’ charter, and he has already deduced that she is lying. But he simply doesn’t care. She is offering him a chance to go after his old nemesis Sunset Bain, and end her once and for all. Also, all the beer he can ingest. Aaron Stack likes beer. Machine Man and Yellowjacket will serve as comic relief in the series, investing even the grimmest situations with gallows humor.

Panther – Kevin Cole once, for a brief while, bore the mantle of the Black Panther. The Black Widow invites him to step back into that role, using his experience as a police detective to help her track down the team’s prey. As with Red She-Hulk, Yellowjacket, and Pulsar, Cole feels like he has something to prove, and embraces this chance to show the superhero world what he can do.

Pulsar – Monica Rambeau is the most powerful member of the Secret Avengers team. And is also the greatest threat to Black Widow’s plans. The most traditional “super-hero” of the group, Monica has led the Avengers herself, but a series of unfortunate personal incidents and career missteps have relegated her to a cautionary tale in the superhero world. The Widow uses this to draw Monica into the team, but must then be especially careful, as Monica is the one member of the team who, if she learned the truth, would almost undoubtedly go to Captain America with her story.
Artwork by Pat Loika. Listen to Loikamania every week!

1st arc – “Out in the Cold”: The series kicks off with us right in the middle of the action. Pulsar is in space, tasked with destroying a rogue satellite, while the rest of the team is conducting a thoroughly illegal incursion of Wakandan soil, pursuing a team of agents attempting to extract liquid vibranium. The agents are revealed to be operatives of Roxxon Corporation. The team follows leads that lead them to a Kronas Corporation facility in Siberia, where scientists working for Kronas are attempting to weaponize blood extracted from Emil Blonsky, the Abomination, creating a cadre of monstrous soldiers. The team runs afoul of the Titanium Men, and a group of Russian “caterpillar” agents - a Soviet-era counter to Nick Fury’s Secret Warriors teams. In the aftermath of the fight, the team is forced to abandon Yellowjacket and Panther, leaving them behind enemy lines in order to make their escape.
Interspersed with this first arc will be flashbacks showing how Black Widow assembled the team.

2nd arc – “Pegasus”: Continuing to investigate Roxxon and Kronas brings the team into conflict with Sunset Bain, and leads them to discover a new, illegal iteration of Project Pegasus. Recruiting two new team members – Iron Patriot (Michael O’Brien, formerly the Guardsman), and a new US Agent (Josiah X) – The team breaks into the Project and finds themselves in a life or death battle against Pegasus’ test subject superhumans. By the end of the arc, Pulsar has realized the illegal nature of the Secret Avengers activities, and has left the team.
Cobbled together from illustrations by the amazing Ronnie Thunderbolt

3rd arc – “Entities of Mass Destruction”: The corporate villains of the book, led by Sunset Bain, arrange for the Hood to be broken out of prison. He is offered powers as part of their initiative to continue to monetize and mass produce superhumans. In exchange, he is given the mission of tracking down and destroying the Secret Avengers. At the same time, Pulsar assembles her own small team of Secret Avengers, and takes them back to Russia, intending to free Panther and Yellowjacket. The arc concludes with the Hood discovering that the Secret Avengers are a rogue operation, and revealing their existence to Captain America.

4th arc – “Secret Avengers: Disassemble”: Both of the Secret Avengers teams and the real Avengers descend on a secret storehouse filled with the Kronas/Roxxon/Baintronics alliance’s stockpile of technology and chemical power enhancements. In the ensuing battle, there are fatalities, and the Secret Avengers are disbanded, with Black Widow now on the run. As the arc concludes, we are shown Nick Fury, watching the proceedings from a secret location with his own, brand new team of Secret Avengers.

Possible Consequences
1. A new Black Widow ongoing. Natasha is now the most wanted person in the Marvel U, and we launch a new series following her as she is pursued by forces of both good and evil.
2. Rehabilitation of Monica Rambeau. After these arcs, we have brought Monica to enough prominence that we give her back her old identity of Captain Marvel, and integrate her into one of the other Avengers books.
3. Reintroduction of Machine Man. In the aftermath of the 4th arc, we will have destroyed Machine Man, giving us the ability to bring him back later, either in his current personality (based on Warren Ellis’ portrayal of the character in Nextwave) or in a more “classic” superheroic personality.
4. Secret Avengers v2. We can keep the series going with Nick Fury running his own team of black ops Avengers, drawing in plot threads and ideas from Bendis and Chaykin’s “Avengers: 1959” series..

So anyway, that’s the pitch. It has some wrinkles, I’m aware, but I still like it.

If anyone from Marvel is reading this, I can still pitch you my NFL Superpro idea. You just tell me where the big room is.

Hugs and Kisses,


* I have no concrete evidence that the room is big.

**I have no doubt, however, that there are bouncers. There’d HAVE to be, right?