Secret Warriors was a Marvel comic that ran from 2009 to 2011 for 28 issues. It was created by Jonathan Hickman, Brian Michael Bendis, and Stefano Caselli and was about Nick Fury and his team of super-powered spies in their secret fight against Hydra...and it’s one of the heaviest influences of Agents of SHIELD, to the point where they actually share a main character.
Warning: this post contains spoilers for already aired episodes of Agents of SHIELD Season 3 and the comic Secret Warriors.
It wasn’t always like this: in Season One, Agents of SHIELD seemed like it was stuck as a spy-fi procedural, until Captain America: The Winter Soldier dismantled it by having SHIELD be completely and utterly infested with Hydra. This, then, was our first glimpse of Secret Warriors — the comic starts with Nick Fury finding out that SHIELD basically is Hydra and has been from the beginning. The first arc of the comic is even called “Nick Fury: Agent of Nothing,” an appellate that Agent Coulson rejects in the episode Season One episode “Providence.”
Just like in that episode, in the comic, Nick Fury has tons and tons of secret bases hidden all over the world. In fact, every time they mention a hidden SHIELD base on the show, it comes directly from Secret Warriors: The Sandbox, Providence, the Playground, the Cocoon. And nearly all of the villains of the show come straight from Secret Warriors, although they all have a slight twist to them: John Garrett was still a loyal SHIELD agent in the comic, Daniel Whitehall turned out to have died many years ago, and Hive was a creature genetically engineered by Hydra. Although, if next week’s promo is anything to go by, Hive will have head tentacles like the comic:
As the show’s third season has gone on, the two sides have even developed into something similar, if distinct, from the comic book’s two sides:
The Secret Warriors in the comics included Daisy, Yo-Yo Rodriguez (who is a backup member in the show), J. T. James (Daisy’s love interest, like Lincoln, but also a Hydra traitor, like Ward was), Jerry Sledge (the Absorbing Man’s son — and, well, we’ve already have the Absorbing Man in the show as a semi-good guy, so perhaps he’ll join the team?), Alexander Aaron (the son of Ares), Sebastian Druid (magic user), and Eden Fesi (teleporting mutant — and we’ve seen his name in the show, but he hasn’t appeared yet).
On the other side, we have Team Hydra: Baron von Strucker (already dead in the MCU, he’s been replaced by Gideon Malick, another “old school” Hydra man), Madame Hydra (Viper, a character they can’t use in the MCU, but people are already speculating that Stephanie Malick, Gideon’s daughter, will become Madame Hydra), Gorgon (a member of the Hand who can turn people into stone — since the show probably wants to leave the Hand for Daredevil, they’ve instead used an Inhuman who can petrify people for short periods), and, of course, Hive.
So what is all this leading up to? Well, as you might recall, Agents of SHIELD has recently shown a flashforward to an event probably from the season finale. It’s of a spaceship drifting off in space, a person in a SHIELD uniform inside, and then an explosion.
Well, then, would it interest you to know that in the comics, Nick Fury actually had an orbital space base? Yes, it was called Heaven’s Hell (not to be confused with Hell’s Heaven, which was the Hydra base used to grow Hive) and the Secret Warriors used the space station as a base of operations when they went to raid Hydra’s main base called Gehenna...a raid that became disastrous and ended with one team member’s death. I’ll speculate something like this happens in the season finale and the team is forced to evacuate from the space station in a spaceship, leading to the events of the flashforward. I just don’t know what will come next. (The event in the comic, “Night,” was pretty much the darkest hour before the final chapter, called “Wheels Within Wheels.”)
I highly recommend reading Secret Warriors, especially now that it’s collected into two giant omnibus editions. It’s a fantastic series, exploring not just Daisy Johnson and her teammates, but also Nick Fury and the consequences of the life that he’s lived, as well as tons of ancient conspiracies and evil organizations and superhero spy stuff. As well, you can definitely see the outline of Agents of SHIELD within it.