Assembled by Steve Rogers during the Heroic Age, the Secret Avengers are a covert ops group of Avengers. This team share a name with the anti-registration group assembled by Captain America during Civil War.
Ed Brubaker created the team for use as Steve Rogers' covert unit of Avengers that he began using after becoming the new top cop of the Marvel Universe although the name was coined 3 years earlier by Mark Millar in Civil War. They first appeared in Secret Avengers #1 by Brubaker and Mike Deodato Jr..
The original team consisted of Commander Steve Rogers, Black Widow, War Machine, Beast, Moon Knight, Valkyrie, Nova and Ant-Man with Sharon Carter supervising. Shang-Chi and Prince of Orphans later allied with the team, although they never received actual membership.
Following Fear Itself, the team had a major reshuffle as Steve Rogers, War Machine and Moon Knight left the team, as well as Sharon Carter and Nova (who was believed dead), and were replaced with Captain Britain, the new Venom, the original Human Torch and new leader Hawkeye with Giant-Man supervising. Not long after, the roster was shaken up again when the Avengers went to war with the X-Men. Black Widow, Ant-Man, Human Torch, Venom, Hawkeye and Hank Pym were replaced with Thor, Vision, Ms. Marvel, Noh-Varr and former Secret Avenger War Machine.
Major Story Arcs
For further details: Heroic Age
In the aftermath of the Siege of Asgard, Norman Osborn's Dark Reign fell and a returned Steve Rogers took over the job of top cop. He formed the Secret Avengers as a covert unit to investigate and clean up the messes that were allowed to get out of control during Osborn's regime. He recruited a scientific genius in Beast, a one man army in War Machine, a hardened warrior in Valkyrie, the universe's top cop in Nova and experienced operators in Black Widow, Moon Knight and Ant-Man. Sharon Carter came in to oversee the tactical operations of the team.
Commander Rogers turned his eye toward a mining facility that Roxxon Oil had been allowed to establish on Mars. The facility had gone quiet around the same time some intelligence reports suggested the company had acquired the Serpent Crown. Rogers personally led a covert operation with Valkyrie and Black Widow to steal the artifact, only to then have Beast confirm that it was similar to but not the Serpent Crown. Rogers hoped more information could be found on Mars and had already dispatched Nova to investigate. However, communication with Nova was lost.
The rest of the Secret Avengers headed for Mars to recover their missing man and determine what exactly was going on. Upon arrival, they found what appeared to be a massive mind control phenomenon involving people in unfamiliar uniforms. Nova was found to have also been overtaken by this phenomenon, but rather than be a mindless drone, he was wearing yet another Serpent Crown and being possessed by it.
The Secret Avengers were also attacked by Archon, a being who claimed to have been created by the Watchers to prevent the entity controlling Nova from ever gaining a true foothold in this universe. Once Archon and the team got on the same page about the threat, Rogers was granted the Nova Force temporarily by the Worldmind and defeated Nova.
Archon took the Serpent Crown and left to find a place to better safeguard it and Nova was returned to himself again.
For further details: Dark Son
The sentient planet known as K'ai (aka " Jarella's World") entered the edge of the solar system and was set on a collision course with Earth. In response, Steve Rogers and the Secret Avengers sought out the Hulk to join and lead them in a mission to intercept the planet as he was the only person on Earth who had experience with the planet and it's culture. Hulk considered it but after Skaar warned him against it, he smashed Steve's shuttle and refused to help the Avengers. Declined by Hulk, Steve asked Rick Jones if he would join the team who also turned him down. After Steve and the Avengers left, the Hulk learnt soon after from Skaar that he has another son, Hiro-Kala, who is in fact the king of K'ai leading this "attack" on Earth.
Soon afterwards, Hulk began a rampage in Cape Canaveral, trashing the spacecraft and equipment that was being prepped to intercept K'ai. The Secret Avengers were quick on the scene to battle the Hulk, as War Machine, Nova and Valkyrie fought the behemoth, Ant-Man shrank down and entered his ear canal and began attacking the Hulk from the inside. After the team managed to subdue the behemoth, things only got worse when She-Hulk, Red She-Hulk, Skaar, A-Bomb and Korg arrived to back up the Hulk in battle with the Avengers.
As a last ditch resort, Steve threatened to have Black Widow and Moon Knight blast Hulk and his allies blasted by a weapon, that Tony Stark had made as a last-ditch effort to counter future Hulk problems after World War Hulk, that would transport them all to the Negative Zone. The Hulk reverted to Bruce Banner and again declined Steve's offer to join the Avengers in this mission, and instead he and his fellow Hulks took control of the mission and left to deal with K'ai and Hiro-Kala by themselves.
Shortly afterwards, Nova was called away to deal what would become the events of the Thanos Imperative, leaving him unavailable for further duty with the Secret Avengers. Nova would not return from this crisis to rejoin the covert team.
Ant-Man felt he didn't really fit in with the rest of the team, particularly during down-time when he had no friends within the Avengers ranks so instead spent his time sneaking around Avengers Mansion spying on his fellow Avengers. Although it was made abundantly clear that the majority of fellow Avengers knew of O'Grady's snooping, it wasn't until Quicksilver called him out for it and had a sincere talk with him about how, much like O'Grady, he was an outsider and former miscreant before Steve Rogers inducted him onto the Avengers. Following his talk with Quicksilver, Ant-Man began acting more social with his team-mates.
Likewise, Moon Knight, largely uneasy playing with others, began doubting his place on the team. Constantly having to repress an inner-desire for brutality and feelings that his colleagues look down on him, Moon Knight didn't seem to aspire to much of a lengthy relationship with the team. Particularly when Ant-Man continued to joke about his schizophrenia and when he was later requested by Sharon Carter to wear a new all-black costume to better fit the stealth operations of the team.
While Moon Knight agreed to this he kept reminding himself that he was part of this team because he was promised action. The team undertook a mission to regain control of an Oil Tanker from Captain Barracuda who had taken the entire crew hostage. Armed with the Glove of Asteria, an armament capable of firing directed columns of air that could "blow an elephant to the moon", Captain Barracuda was confronted by the Secret Avengers as Moon Knight freed the hostages and constantly tried to calm his bloodlust. Ant-Man shrunk down in size and flew into Barracuda's mouth and managed to momentarily subdue him from inside. However, it was Moon Knight who came to the rescue and proved himself to the team by saving them and the Tanker crew when Captain Barracuda, in a fit of desperation, used the Horn of Proteus to summon sea monsters - destroying the Oil Tanker and devouring him in the process.
After stopping for a well-earned burrito and killing an arms-dealing terrorist, Deadpool found himself the newest member of the Secret Avengers. Deadpool's penchant for blowing up large explosives and numerous Top Gun references only affected the team's chemistry for the worse, especially between him and Steve. However, unbeknownst to Deadpool the team was not actually the Secret Avengers, but imperfect genetic clones created by the evil genius Doctor Bong, who was using them to steal weapons of mass destruction that he was selling on the black market.
When the actual Secret Avengers found out, they invaded Bong's base and the real Steve Rogers, thinking Deadpool is in on Bong's plan, starts beating the hell out of him. Deadpool, mistaking the real Steve for the fake Steve and thinking that he and Steve are friends, doesn't retaliate at first and instead takes the punishment. But once he realizes that Steve is ignoring his pleas, Deadpool feels betrayed by his "friend" and slashes the real Steve across the chest with his sword. The two engage in a brutal battle, neither one able to gain the upper hand. Before Steve and Deadpool can sort it all out, Moon Knight intervenes and slices Deadpool countless times with his crescent darts as Bong sets off an explosion, destroying the entire building and giving Deadpool the advantage against the Secret Avengers.
Subduing the team, and the fake Rogers, Deadpool manages to deduce who the real Steve is due to the fact that the wound he inflicted on Steve with his sword didn't regenerate while the clone's wounds did. Deadpool joins forces with the real team to stop Bong and bring him in alive. After a chaotic battle with Bong's clones, now all dressed as Deadpool, the real Deadpool actually manages to capture Bong, alive, and hand him over to the Secret Avengers. A mission accomplished.
The Shadow Council
Meanwhile, Sharon Carter was attacked in the team's roaming base by agents of the Shadow Council, the organization with the unfamiliar uniforms. They took the other Serpent Crown and left, but not before surveillance footage caught the image of one of them looking exactly like Nick Fury. An explanation came from Nick Fury himself, who informed Rogers of the existence of a rogue LMD of himself. He thought it had been destroyed, but this android, now calling itself Max Fury, obviously was still in operation and a member of this mysterious organization. In fact, it was John Steele, the former US super soldier working for the Shadow Council, who broke Max out of SHIELD custody just before he was set to be killed and incinerated.
After the death of the Inhuman Black Bolt, the petty criminal known as The Hood had managed to obtain the Reality Gem - one of six of the Infinity Gems - from it's hiding place in Attilan. On a mad quest for power, the Hood continued to try and locate the other five gems that had been hidden by the other five members of the Illuminati, a secret organization assembled by Iron Man. After also locating the Power Gem in the Baxter Building and beating the new Hulk within an inch of his life with the power he wields, all three Avengers teams became aware of the Hood's quest.
The Secret Avengers manage to track down and expose Iron Man's covert Illuminati, a reveal that infuriates Steve Rogers. Dealing with the more pressing matter at hand, the Secret Avengers assist in tracking down the remaining Gems to use against the Hood. Members of the Secret Avengers go to the former grounds of Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters and Area 51 to retrieve Professor X and Iron Man's gems respectively. Encountering the Hood already at Area 51, using the Gems he has, the Secret Avengers are violently removed from the vicinity and hurled across the New Mexico. Likewise, the Hood arrives at Xavier's School just in time to also claim his Gem and uses the Gems to subdue all Avengers present. What follows is a enormous showdown between all three Avengers teams and an Infinity Gem weilding Hood. Due to his lack of comprehension of the power he has, the Hood loses and receives a massive beatdown from the new Hulk.
Eyes of the Dragon
Following up on a lead that the Shadow Council were trying to resurrect Shang-Chi's father Zheng Zu, Steve Rogers sends the Prince of Orphans to rescue Shang Chi in Shanghai. The Shadow Council are seeking to use Zu's influence in China to help them control future events they have planned out. The Secret Avengers go to find one of the Eyes of the Dragon - jewels needed to resurrect Zheng Zu - at the International Finance Center in Hong Kong but are caught in a trap and Shang Chi is captured by Hai Dai assassins working for the Shadow Council. Ant Man is able to rescue Shang Chi as he is flown away in a Council aircraft. Back aboard their own ship, the Avengers discover that Zheng Zu is planning to sacrifice Shang Chi in order to fully return to life. The Council already have both Eyes of the Dragon. John Steele and Max Fury, working for the Council lure out the Avengers again, this time by sending in a fake Zheng Zu to attack downtown Hong Kong. In the cover of the chaos on the ground, Fury and Steele board the Avengers' ship and kidnap Sharon Carter after a quick struggle with her and Beast. The next night, Steve Rogers brings Shang Chi to be traded in exchange for Sharon - things turn sour when Steele shoots Shang with a shock rifle and Steve Rogers fights him. The Secret Avengers show up, causing the Council forces to retreat and flee in their ship with Shang Chi, but Moon Knight sneaks on board with them in disguise. During the ritual to restore Zheng Zu the Avengers attack once again. Thanks to the Prince of Orphans' intervention, the ritual is stopped and Zheng Zu is apparently killed. John Steele is beaten in a fight by Valkyrie, discovering the hard way that he was not invulnerable against her sword. The main Shadow Council members escape unscathed, but Steele is captured and interrogated by Steve Rogers at the Raft prison facility.
For further details: Onslaught Unleashed
While investigating a Roxxon operation, the Secret Avengers discovered the conglomerate was secretly developing a project simply called "Project Power" in a South American rainforest. Ant-Man and Beast investigated further, travelling to Colombia and discovering the source for this project came straight from the Negative Zone. Joined by the rest of the team and also the Young Allies, the heroes were confronted by Onslaught who escaped the Negative Zone.
Possessing the Young Ally known as Nomad, Onslaught battled against both teams revealing until Gravity was forced to kill his team-mate so that Onslaught could not properly return to Earth and destroy the planet. Although, the battle was over, Steve Rogers began having visions similar to those Nomad described having had prior to Onslaught's return, suggesting Onslaught could still be a threat and is just biding his team waiting for a chance to once again escape from the Negative Zone.
For further details: Fear Itself
In the midst of a full blown assault on Washington DC by marauding Nazi robots, the Secret Avengers were on the scene to help defend the nation during Fear Itself. While Ant-Man, Beast, War Machine and the Prince of Orphans battled against Sin and her robots, Steve Rogers, Moon Knight, Black Widow and Valkyrie rushed to attempt to silence a malcontent leaking government secrets under the guise of The Captain. Steve locates The Captain in time to stop him from uploading a video confession but too late to save several undercover assets and informants that were murdered by the organizations and syndicates they were infiltrating. As The Captain declares Steve a hypocrite for now doing the government's bidding, something you previously rebelled against, as well as forming the Secret Avengers who only answer to him Steve gives him an almighty beat-down. The Captain is arrested as Steve states that despite what The Captain thinks and what it might look like, Steve is only interested in protecting people.
Beast is shortly called away to meet with army personnel because he has been asked for specifically by a member of the United States Congress who has locked himself in the House of Representatives and refuses to evacuate the building despite the increasing likelihood that the building won't stand much longer. The man, Leonard Gary, is a civil rights champion and old friend of Beast's who was apparently responsible for making sure Senator Kelly's anti-mutant bills never made it to the floor there. Beast meets with Gary to try to talk sense into him and get him to flee to safety. Gary refuses; showing Beast that when the evacuation came up, the House was still in session and he had the floor pushing a bill he'd been working on for 8 years. The session was never officially called, so Gary's health care bill was still officially on the table, so for that, and to inspire hope in any Americans who might still be watching, Gary insisted upon staying. In the end, Beast leaves Gary behind to make his speech while he hacks into local news cameras to make sure the speech is given broad media coverage. Late in the speech, the building is badly damaged and Gary is presumably killed.
While the remaining Secret Avengers continued to try and defend Washington from Sin's blitzkrieg, one of the mystical war hammers crashed down in China ripping open an inter-dimensional portal with its blazing trail of godly power. Prince of Orphans senses it immediately (as he is one of the Immortal Weapons) and that hordes of demons flee out from the gate now opened by the hammer. Prince of Orphans and War Machine leave the battlefield to investigate the matter in China, where they discover the villain Absorbing Man has arrived there to claim the weapon for himself. Prince of Orphans and War Machine, joined with the rest of the Immortal Weapons, fought against Absorbing Man and his partner Titania, both powered by two of the hammers. Elsewhere the Black Widow began a personal quest to track down a group of journalists working for a muckraking tabloid who are wanting to post online about the death of an Avenger, namely the Widow's boyfriend Bucky. Black Widow breaks into the offices, resulting is a lengthy meditation on the different meanings of the death of a superhero and the death of a normal person. The reporters agree not to publish the story as the public need to look up to the heroes instead of facing even superhuman's mortality.
The Secret Avengers continued to battle and investigate the greatest terror threats to the world - including a misplaced time machine located under New York, a bio-threat in Yugoslavia, stopping the new Hulk from causing an international crisis with Arabia and battling the constant output of terrorism from the Shadow Council. Resuming the mantle of Captain America, Steve Rogers and Hawkeye undertook a mission to Bagalia, (a.k.a. "the Red Light Nation") a country run by criminals, to capture a corrupt senator. It turned out the senator was Life Model Decoy and a trap set to explode when the two confronted him. Rogers knew this and was actually testing Hawkeye to see if he was ready to take up the reigns as leader of the Secret Avengers.
After Hawkeye failed Steve's initial test, he stormed off leaving Steve alone where he was attacked and captured by Vengeance, Whiplash and Princess Python who were a new Masters of Evil assembled by none other than Max Fury and the Shadow Council.
Max Fury wished to destroy Captain America's image and America's spirit by exposing Captain America as having illegally trespassed on in an autonomous nation and having "assassinated" a political dissident. Intending to broadcast the hero's capture, Max Fury was stopped by Hawkeye who had managed to infiltrate the Shadow Council hideout disguised as a henchman and free Captain America. Leaving with the intel that the Shadow Council is forming a new Masters of Evil, Captain America watched on as he now saw the leader potential in Hawkeye. Meanwhile, Valkyrie, disagreeing with Steve Rogers' belief that humans could protect the Serpent's eight mystical war hammers, went rogue from the Secret Avengers and begun a quest around the world to recover the hammers while Sin and Crossbones likewise raced to get them for themselves. Betraying her team and travelling to Transylvania by herself to retrieve one of the hammers from the Forgiven, Valkyrie was intercepted by her former Avengers team-mates ready to fight with her for the hammer. While ultimately managing to recover the hammer, amidst a battle with a vampire horde, Valkyrie was forced to sacrifice her immortality-granting Apple of Idunn in order to save Sharon Carter.
While Valkyrie continued on her quest, the Avengers teams found themselves facing a greater threat in Sin and her followers known as DOA. As members of all Avengers team battled Sin, Crossbones and their lackeys at Project PEGASUS, possession of the hammers became evenly split between Valkyrie and Sin, due in part to Daimon Hellstrom betraying the Avengers and siding with Sin. The Avengers tracked Valkyrie to her hidden mystic sanctuary. Unbeknownst to them, Crossbones had also tracked their location and Valkyrie's alliance with the Avengers resumed when they teamed up to battle against Sin, Crossbones, turncoat Daimon Hellstrom and DOA.
After helping to save the day during the Spider-Island epidemic and then going AWOL from Project Rebirth, the new Venom found himself the object of a pursuit by Steve Rogers and the Secret Avengers. After failing to subdue Venom himself, Steve then tasked the new Hulk with apprehending the symbiote as well as the host; Flash Thompson.
The simple mission escalated into the Circle of Four debacle in Las Vegas, also involving X-23 and the new Ghost Rider. After again helping saving the day, and at the insistence of the Hulk, Steve began to realize that, despite the symbiote's history, this new Venom was sincere and genuine in his mission to be a hero. Rogers offered Venom a place with the Secret Avengers and promised that Beast and Hank Pym would try to find some way to help keep the symbiote dormant.
The Secret Avengers team underwent a major roster change with Captain America relinquishing his leadership to Hawkeye. War Machine, Moon Knight and allies Sharon Carter, Shang-Chi and Prince of Orphans all resigned from the team and in their place Giant-Man, Captain Britain, The Torch and the new Venom filled out their vacant spots in the roster.
The team's first mission was to investigate a robot movement known as The Descendents. Things didn't go too well for them, after constant bickering amongst themselves (particularly between Hawkeye and Captain Britain), the new team were thoroughly beat by a group of Descendent robots. Luckily Ant-Man had managed to shrink down and stow away on one of the robots' legs as they left to return to their masters.
As Ant-Man investigated and spied on their enemies, the new Secret Avengers continued to fight amongst themselves, this time as Hawkeye was reluctant to work alongside the new Venom because of the symbiote's past. As a result, Flash and the symbiote were left behind as the team embarked on their mission to retrieve Ant-Man from behind enemy lines.
Exposing his cover, Ant-Man leapt to the rescue of a child who the Descendents were going to kill. After an intense chase, Ant-Man told the child to run as he distracted the pursuing Descendents by fighting them. Not standing a chance, Ant-Man was pummelled to death by his attackers, dying a hero.
The Avengers arrived soon after, and things didn't go much better for them. Beast was gravely injured and he and Hawkeye were quickly captured by Deathloks who were part of the Descendents movement. As the two were imprisoned, they were rescued by Ant-Man who appeared to be fine after his beating. In actual fact, Ant-Man had been reborn as a Descendent robot and was being used to serve as a spy for the Descendents from within the Avengers. Elsewhere, the Torch and Captain Britain fought a sentinel and the Torch was damaged and destroyed in a sacrificial action. Just in time, the new Venom arrived - having disobeyed orders to stay behind - and helped the rest of the team escape (with Torch's body in tow).
Avengers vs. X-Men
For further details: Avengers vs. X-Men
The Secret Avengers were reshuffled again, albeit only temporarily for the purposes of a mission, to combat the cosmic Phoenix Force which was heading for Earth. War Machine returned to the team but Hawkeye, Black Widow, Ant-Man and Venom were substituted with heavy hitters Thor, Ms. Marvel, Noh-Varr and the newly revived Vision.
After a failed attempt to subdue the Phoenix Force, War Machine was badly injured and their equipment damaged, the Secret Avengers were forced to set down on Hala, home of the Kree Empire. Unbeknownst to them, a Kree known as Minister Marvel has managed to channel the Phoenix's power into resurrecting Mar-Vell, the original Captain Marvel and plans to summon the Phoenix Force to Hala to "evolve their race". Minister Marvel appears to have some degree of heightened influence as he has not only most the Kree population but even the Kree Supreme Intelligence under his thrall. Ms. Marvel and Noh-Varr both fell under the thrall of Minister Marvel and Dark Marvel who recruited them to help him kill the remaining Avengers. After subduing the remaining team and capturing Captain Britain, Valkyrie and War Machine with the notion of executing them, Dark Marvel with Mar-Vell's memories, began an intense physical relationship with Ms. Marvel.
Thor, Vision and Beast, the only remaining Secret Avengers mounted an attempt to rescue their friends and defeat Dark Marvel. The Vision combated Minister Marvel's mind control and freed a small amount of Kree from his influence while Thor brutally battled Dark Marvel. Dark Marvel was able to stop Vision from freeing more minds during their fight, as Ms. Marvel and Noh-Varr made short work of Beast. Kree military were ordered by Minister Marvel to execute the liberated Kree citizens and upon seeing the carnage, Dark Marvel snapped and Mar-Vell's conscience overshadowed the Phoenix's dominance.
Teaming up with the Secret Avengers, Mar-Vell and the team had to deal with the immediate problem of the looming approach of the Phoenix. Ms. Marvel once again became Binary and she and Captain Britain put up an incredibly valiant fight against the Phoenix but simply weren't enough. Mar-Vell, realising that the Phoenix energies within him are what is driving the Phoenix to Hala, Mar-Vell sacrificed himself to the Phoenix declaring he didn't miss life. After sucking it's energy from Mar-Vell and leaving a lifeless corpse a float in space, the Phoenix abandoned Hala and began heading back to Earth.
The team followed and attempted another attack on the Phoenix that quickly became another spectacular failure until Noh-Varr's technological expertise managed to help clip and contain one of the Phoenix's wings. Trapping the energy within a specially created container, the team were going to use it to hopefully find some way to stop the Phoenix once and for all. Before they could deliver it back to Earth, they were betrayed by Noh-Varr who had swore an oath to the Kree Supreme Intelligence to deliver it to Hala instead.
Subduing the team with relative ease, Noh-Varr set their Quinjet to automatic with the intention of piloting them into the sun. Awakening in time, the team were unable to pilot away as they were within the sun's gravitational pull. Realising the only chance of survival is to get out and push the ship up and out of the Sun's gravity, Thor nominated himself to do so and a still injured War Machine offered him a hand in doing so but was rejected. Freeing the ship and it's crew, Thor and the Secret Avengers set out to Hala to catch Noh-Varr and reclaim the Phoenix's wing. On Hala, Noh-Varr discovered the Supreme Intelligence and the Kree Empire had decided that Earth should be sacrificed to the Phoenix to temporarily satiate it's hunger so that the Empire can find a way to have completely control over the Phoenix. Noh-Varr attempted to convince the Supreme Intelligence to help save Earth and that the Kree Empire could help improve Earth with their advanced culture and technology. The Supreme Intelligence's mind was made up and Earth was to be "put out of it's suffering" to which Noh-Varr struck out and attacked the Supreme Intelligence in defence of Earth.
Fighting his way through Kree soldiers, Noh-Varr reclaimed the contained Phoenix wing and was instantly confronted by the Secret Avengers. Begging for forgiveness and surrendering to the Avengers didn't do him much good as the betrayed team-mates were simply to ashamed and disgusted by Noh-Varr's actions. The took the Phoenix wing from Noh-Varr and left him on Hala stating that if he ever set foot on Earth again they will kill him. Left behind, Noh-Varr was then chased off Hala by Kree soldiers for his acts of treason in defending Earth and attacking the Supreme Intelligence. Delivering the Phoenix energy they had contained to Tony Stark and Hank Pym who began work on a machine to combat the Phoenix, the Secret Avengers arrived on the moon soon after, reuniting with other Avengers who were currently in battle with X-Men. The Secret Avengers were present to see it all go disasterously wrong as instead of stopping the Phoenix, Stark and Pym's machine split it's energy and it took on 5 hosts in the shape of Cyclops, Emma Frost, Namor, Colossus and Magik.
Council of Masters
Returning from the war with the X-Men, the Secret Avengers returned to the formation that they held before that conflict. John Steele, who had been working undercover in Bagalia on behalf of the team, had learnt that the Shadow Council now had the Serpent Crown as well as the Crown of Thorns meaning they nearly had the complete set. Risking his cover in trying to warn the Secret Avengers, Steele was caught by Max Fury and a large group (said to be "over a hundred") of Masters of Evil. Steele is thoroughly beat and then tortured by Princess Python and The Clown. The Secret Avengers arrive just in time to witness Steele dying warning them about the Council and the Crowns.
After Venom tortures Clown, much to Hawkeye's chagrin, they learn that Taskmaster has the third and final crown of the set and is currently in a bar in Bagalia. Venom goes into the bar, pretending to be a villain sent on behalf of Max Fury, but Taskmaster quickly exposes his secret and a large fight between Venom, Taskmaster and the assortment of Masters currently in the bar erupts.
As part of the event of Marvel NOW! the Secret Avengers became a team under the jurisdiction of S.H.I.E.L.D.Maria Hill set up a team of agents to be part of the Secret Avengers organization to stop a time traveler from the future that attacked S.H.I.E.L.D agents.Part of the team became Hawkeye,Black Widow,Nick Fury Jr. and agent Phil Coulson.When they agreed to become part of the team they agreed to having planted nanotech into their brains which make them forget about being part of the team in front of other people that aren't part of it.Even though they have to have free will,Phil Coulson implanted the chips into Hawkeye and Black Widow against their will right after he hand shaked with them.Their first mission was to stop an assassination attempt from Al-Qaeda to the U.S President. They followed the terrorist from Budapest where Hawkeye was shot and was left to be saved by Black Widow. Nick Fury Jr. continued the mission and was waiting for the killer in the President's office where he killed the terrorist.