Those teams aren't led by Steve Rogers.
Yes, the original Captain America is alive and well, though he has traded in his red, white and blue outfit to fill an arguably greater need - for the people to have faith in their heroes and government again after Norman Osborn corrupted the images of both to an unprecedented degree during his "Dark Reign."
In "Secret Avengers," Marvel has pretty much made Rogers Tony Stark and Nick Fury rolled into one - he is not only in charge of the various Avengers teams but American intelligence agencies too.
What makes "Secret Avengers" so interesting is how Rogers' conflicts reflect contemporary quandaries in the real world (see President Obama's delayed promise to close Gitmo). The question at the heart of "Secret Avengers" is how can the most noble man in the Marvel Universe - and likely all of comics except possibly Superman - lead a group that is obviously necessary, but will inevitably get its hands dirty? How does he make sure his team does what it needs to do to accomplish its missions and save countless lives while still making sure the heroes act like heroes and uphold his ideals? At what point - if any - will it be necessary to compromise those ideals in order to serve the greater good? And if they do that, are they still worthy of being called heroes?
The concept is brilliant and impeccably executed here. "Secret Avengers" is lucky to have Ed Brubaker writing it - since in a book like this characterization is all-important and few do characters as well as Brubaker. He gives each team member - Rogers, War Machine, Black Widow, Moon Knight, Ant-Man, Beast, Valkyrie and Nova - their own purpose and, more importantly, their own voice. Artist Mike Deodato is perfect for this book as well, giving readers kinetic action scenes while also bathing every panel with a shadowy tone that fits the book's vibe.
The first story arc already has the team on a mysterious mission to Mars and having to battle one of their own. It also has Rogers wielding a makeshift shield - which alone is worth the price of a copy. Seeing him wield any shield after all this time is likely to send a thrill up the leg of most fanboys.
Add it all up and "Secret Avengers" is a book that definitely deserves to no longer be a secret.
Stan Lee's big reveal
With a loud BOOM!, Stan Lee's latest secret project has finally been revealed.
After months of speculation, Lee and BOOM! officially announced at San Diego Comic-Con that he will be creating new concepts for the still relatively new comic company to use in a variety of media.
BOOM! worked hard to keep the rumors under wraps for months, even going so far as to get a Post Office box in Vancouver, Wash., for those inquiring about a "Stan's Back" campaign that was launched months ago in print and across the web. Since the only comic company based in Vancouver is Bluewater Productions, many concluded he would be working for them - leading Bluewater Publisher Darren Davis to deny the rumor which many saw as part of the campaign. The web site promoting "Stan's Back" was registered to the Vancouver P.O. Box as well, meaning BOOM! went the extra mile to cover their tracks and spur interest while keeping the announcement a surprise. Very well played.
The 87-year-old Lee had so many other projects to announce and promote at SDCC, the schedule and eventual work on them would likely intimidate most 27-year-olds.
Lee will be working on characters for Archie Comics, writing Super Seven, which will also feature Lee as a character, as well as Japanese manga publisher Shueisha, for which he is already writing books titled "Ultimo" and "Heroman." He's also keeping track of the projects from his POW! Entertainment company - which was bought by Disney - doing voice work on Marvel's animated "Super Hero Squad" looking forward to a documentary on his life and career and even teaming with comics legend Neal Adams for a series of educational motion comics dealing with the Holocaust, "They Spoke Out: American Voices Against the Holocaust."
Oh, and he is voicing his unwavering support of the cinematic reboot of his most famous creation, Spider-Man, to whoever asks.
Which is why, during a recent Newsarama interview, Lee bristled at the very idea of retirement.
"First of all, you just said a dirty word. Never use the 'R' word with me," he said.
From the looks of things, that is the furthest thought from Lee's mind - and likely always will be.
Joss assembles 'Avengers'
In an announcement that surprised no one, Joss Whedon and Marvel Studios officially announced at SDCC that he will be directing the highly anticipated "Avengers" film, due out in 2012.
This was about as predictable as a vampire appearing in Sunnydale or Fox prematurely canceling one of his TV shows.