Newser Ethan Sacks talks about his ‘Secret Empire’ tie-in story

This News man isn’t afraid of crossing Hydra.

Longtime Daily News writer Ethan Sacks has branched out into the world of comic book writing, with an eight-page story in the third issue of “Secret Empire: Brave New World.”

The series tells the tales of characters trying to survive in an altered Marvel Universe in which a Captain America-led Hydra rules America.

For his story, Sacks drew on his years of newsroom experience to show the struggles of Daily Bugle staffers in a dangerous world and chatted to the News about his inspiration and lifelong love for Marvel.

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1) Where does the story of your comic fit into the wider “Secret Empire” event?

The story is about the mortal men and women at the Daily Bugle just doing the everyday heroic job of putting out the paper. Because of the events in the big event series, “Secret Empire,” New York City is shrouded in a dark dimension.

And among all the giant monsters and super villains plaguing the place, there’s no internet or television, so the journalists at the Bugle have a more important job than ever getting the news out.

I just wanted to be a part of a story that shows reporters in a good light-even that curmudgeon, J. Jonah Jameson.

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The story is part of Marvel's "Secret Empire" event, which sees the heroes battling an altered Captain America after he takes over the U.S.

The story is part of Marvel’s “Secret Empire” event, which sees the heroes battling an altered Captain America after he takes over the U.S.


2) What made you choose this subject matter?

Well, I was approached. Editor in chief Axel Alonso knew I had 20 years at the real life counterpart to the Daily Bugle, so at least I’d get the detail of a day in the life of a newspaper right.

3) This is the first comic you’ve written after a long tenure with the Daily News, how did it come about?

I had submitted a spec script for a “Star Wars” story that went over well internally-or at least the Marvel editors are polite enough to pretend that it was halfway decent.

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Ultimately, I think, it didn’t fit the Lucasfilm continuity plans, but it proved a passable calling card. Honestly, I wasn’t thinking about anything beyond that.

I have read countless comic book scripts over the years, but I have to admit it was harder than I thought to do my first one. The first version of the script was truly horrible, though in fairness, I didn’t completely have a feel for what was going to be happening in “Secret Empire” because of the secrecy surrounding the project at the time. Thank God, no one is reading that initial draft!

Thankfully, my editor, Charles Beacham, has a mutant power of inhuman amounts of patience to have put up with all the handholding and questions.


Many readers will know the Daily Bugle from the “Spider-Man” movies. J. Jonah Jameson (l.) and Robbie Robertson (c.) take center stage in the comic, but Peter Parker (r.) is occupied elsewhere.


4) Which Marvel character would you most like to work with?

Without divulging too much about my story, there’s a character, Jenny, whose entire Marvel history consists of a few panels in a previous mini-series.

But she’s grown up now and as a dad myself, I love the idea of watching her grow into her own person as a journalist. She doesn’t have any superpowers, but I became so emotionally invested in her potential that I would kill to write her again if there’s more Daily Bugle stories to be told.

On the super-powered front, I’d love to have a chance to write a story in which Loki has to fight alongside Dr. Strange … think a magical “Midnight Run.” I love Luke Cage.

To be clear, this is just my daydreaming, not something in the works!

5) Which artist would you most like to team up with?

I can’t complain about working with Marco Lorenzana, who drew this 8-page story. I still get goosebumps thinking about receiving the first email I got from him, with sketches of Jenny. The guy is amazing.

Sacks notes that the iconic "Daredevil" #181 had a big impact on him as teenager.

Sacks notes that the iconic “Daredevil” #181 had a big impact on him as teenager.


Can you imagine what it’s like as a comics nerd to open an email and see this gorgeous art that depicts the story that was just in your head a few weeks earlier?

Don’t get up, I’ll wedgie myself.

6) What was the very first Marvel comic you read?

I learned how to read with my dad buying me “Captain America” and “X-Men” comic books, so I’ve been emotionally invested for a long time. A really a long time, because at 44, that’s a lot of comics.

I vaguely remember buying cheap back issues from Steve Englehart’s run on Captain America a few years before my time, but obviously a lot of his political nuance was lost on me as a five-year-old.

Also, if only my mom had kept my original Claremont/Byrne X-Men comics from a few years later.

It was a few years later, but I vividly remember some issues from my adolescence: “Captain America” #285 (vs. the Porcupine), “Daredevil” #181 (Bullseye vs. Elektra), The X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills graphic novel, “Micronauts” #20 (With Ant-Man), among others. Don’t get up, I’ll wedgie myself.

7) What past Marvel event or crossover is your favorite?

If I had to pick one, I think I’d go with the original “Civil War,” just because it landed at the perfect time in the zeitgeist, with its theme of security vs. personal liberties. That Mark Millar kid can really write.

A close second would be “The Siege,” because I bow down to the patience it took to develop The Sentry for that payoff.

8) What would you say to readers who don’t like the controversial direction “Secret Empire” has taken Captain America’s character?

I don’t have any great insight other than being a huge fan of Nick Spencer’s work. I’m buying all the issues in real time just like every other fan (I am not part of the Hydra inner circle.)

But I will say all the great arcs and events have had some sort of controversy in their wake. Remember how controversial it was to kill off Captain America in 2007?

Fortunately, he made a full recovery. It’s great, though, that readers care so much about a character dreamed up in 1941.

“Secret Empire: Brave New World” #3 hits shelves on Wednesday and is available digitally here.

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