Captain America, Steve Rogers, is given the mission to rebuild the Avengers, But alongside the regular team, he also has the idea to build a covert team, one that isn't as much about flashy power, but about doing a job in a covert fashion and getting out afterwards, like the Shadow Ops of his World War II Invaders.
To this end, he recruits War Machine, Black Widow, Beast, Valkyrie, Moon Knight, Ant-Man and Nova to form that covert mission force. Not all of them exactly want to do this full-time, but Steve Rogers can be very persuasive. But when they receive Intel that Roxxon has found the Serpent Crown, it's up to the new Covert team to get it away to where it can be secured, but after getting into a firefight with Roxxon's men, they retrieve the package, only to find out what's inside isn't the Serpent Crown... not exactly.
But hacking into Roxxon reveals that the Crown wasn't found on Earth, but on Mars. Not only did Roxxon get mineral rights to dig on Mars, but shortly before the rumors of Roxxon having the crown surfaced, their entire group of workers employed on Mars went off their employment rolls with no reason given as to why.
When Nova goes to Mars, though, he enters the facility where Roxxon had been mining, and discovers a strange, thorny crown that makes him take off his helmet and replace the helmet with itself. But what is the crown, and why was it in that strange facility on Mars? Who and what are these strange figures that seem to be boiling up out of Mars? And what is Nick Fury doing there, and who are those strange, non-SHIELD people with him?
At the end of the book, we get to see exactly who that man who looked like Nick Fury was, and how he came to be running around away from SHIELD and Fury himself. Because like Fury, this person has all of Fury's memories, and his skills as well. And now, it seems that those skills and that sharp mind will be focussing on the Secret Avengers strike team... and he doesn't like what he sees...
I liked the idea of a Secret Avengers, as it's not necessarily new to the Avengers to need a more covert team to take out threats and to deal with things that need "plausible deniability", to use government weasel words. Here, the former Captain America has made a team of characters who need redemption, or who would have a hard time working with a group, and floated his team as a vehicle for redemption, one in which they need not take part full-time.
We've never seen some of these characters as Avengers before, and many of them aren't as suited to straight-up battling roles, but work better as infiltrators or whose powers and abilities lend themselves to sneaky uses. It's hard to see Thor, for example, battling at anything less than high volume and sneaking isn't really in his purview. But they still need power characters for backup when things go south. So it's a strange mix of sneaky and brutal.
I enjoyed the story, though taking place on Mars made it seem rather... otherworldly. But problems on Mars are just one short jump away from Earth, and that's where the bad stuff goes down. This was an interesting tale and whetted my appetite for more Secret Avengers. I just hope that further graphic novels live up to the standard in this one. Recommended.