Warning: SPOILERS for Avengers #11
Agent Coulson is back, but with a dark twist. Avengers #11 reveals that the fan-favorite S.H.I.E.LD. agent is now one of the bad guys after murdering a man working for Black Panther. It appears that Captain America's biggest fan is about to become a major threat to the Avengers, and possibly to the entire Marvel Universe.
Agent Coulson was famously killed off in the controversial 2017 event, Secret Empire, which saw Captain America go from hero to villain. Captain America succeeded in fooling the world, but Coulson wasn't fooled by HydraCap, and attempted to stop him. On Captain America's orders, Deadpool murdered Coulson and is still paying the price. Though his death was an important part of the story, Coulson's death was undone with Avengers #700 when he was shown speaking in secret with General Thunderbolt Ross. How he was brought back hasn't been explained, but his mission now is clear.
In Avengers #11, Coulson is shown to be speaking to a mysterious character whose identity is never revealed. Apparently, Coulson captured him and is now explaining his plan (the true sign of any good villain) and how his outlook on superheroes changed after returning from the dead. According to Coulson, having his death ordered by Captain America was an eye-opener. He even makes a reference to his MCU counterpart's hobby of collecting Captain America trading cards. He claims he "grew up" shortly before his death, and realizes that he had made a mistake in idolizing superheroes - adopting a hateful stance that puts J. Jonah Jameson to shame.
After accusing his prisoner of being a spy for Black Panther, the current leader of the Avengers, Coulson takes his hatred a step further by executing the man in cold blood. In doing so, Coulson has given up his status as a hero to become the Avengers' next biggest villain. While Coulson is just one man, he certainly has the resources to pose a threat to Earth's Mightiest Heroes, even though their ranks include Thor, Hulk, Iron Man, Captain Marvel, and Captain America. Coulson isn't acting alone. He's being backed up by the Squadron Supreme, a team of heroes who were originally based on members of DC's Justice League. Coulson's Squadron Supreme are operating under the Avengers' radar, and could strike when they least expect it.
Coulson's turn to the dark side is a huge leap for the character. Being a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent with a child-like adoration for Captain America and the Avengers was a major part of his appeal in the movies, and at least in the comics, Marvel appears to be moving away from that image.
Avengers #11 is available now from Marvel Comics.