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Bennett Probes the Mysteries of “Angela’s” Allies and Culture

by  in Comic News Comment
Bennett Probes the Mysteries of “Angela’s” Allies and Culture

When Angela, who started her comic book journey in the pages of Todd McFarlane’s “Spawn,” was introduced into the Marvel Universe she was a woman in search of her past. Recently she found the answers she was looking for, much to her chagrin. Angela discovered that Heven, the secret 10th realm of Asgard where she was raised was not her home after all, and she was actually the daughter of Heven’s arch-enemy Odin, King of Asgard. Not all of the knowledge Angela gained was unfortunate, however. She also discovered that her old ally and traveling companion Sera was still alive.

Gillen & Bennett Cut a Swath Through the Marvel U with “Angela”

Sera debuted in “Angela: Asgard’s Assassin” #1, written by Kieron Gillen and Marguerite Bennett and drawn by Phil Jimenez and Stephanie Hans, shrouded in mystery. That same mystery was both pulled back and deepened in issue #3 as readers learned more about her background, including the fact that she did indeed perish, but had also somehow returned.

CBR News spoke with series co-writer Marguerite Bennett about these revelations, the inspiration for Sera, and the larger mysteries she and Gillen are seeding in the book’s initial arc.

CBR News: Readers learned quite a bit more about Sera’s background in issue #3, including her relationship with Angela. Now that we know more about her past, let’s talk about her creation. How did you and Kieron come up with the idea for the character?

Marguerite Bennett: We knew from the beginning we wanted Angela to have a companion, someone who wasn’t a sidekick but an opposite and equal. We wanted their friendship, their relationship, to anchor the story and to anchor each other. If Sera is levity, Angela is gravity. They balance one another — nothing for nothing. We’d been chatting about their relationship for a few weeks when Kieron proposed this element of Sera’s journey, and I was very enthusiastic about the idea. We all were. It was organic and true to character.

Your short story in “Angela” #3 revealed how tight the bond between Sera and Angela was, and it also left some questions about how they define their relationship. Can you comment on that at all? Do Angela and Sera view each other differently?

Angela is so, so bad at emotion. She’s been brought up as a hunter, as a killer, as someone impersonal, calm, focused, just terribly serene, almost. She doesn’t let herself feel the way we do, doesn’t let herself even acknowledge that she wants to. Kieron and I both love her psychic ribbons for that reason, actually — Angela’s putting up this hard front and her ribbons are wiggle-waggling like a dog’s tail. She has feelings that she doesn’t express and doesn’t know how to express.

I definitely got a sense of some unspoken romantic feelings from Sera, especially with the way the short story sort of faded back from the past and into the present day narrative of issue #3.

Again, I’ve got my own timeline that I kind of want to address and kind of want to play close to the chest for a future story… There’s definitely an intimacy that was part of their past, I believe. In the present, with Angela still struggling with Sera being close again — and jeez, with Sera still dealing with, you know, coming back to life — the emotional aspect was the most important thing to me. They can take it slow, learn to be friends again, learn to be good to each other again, and I really believe they have. There is trust between them that they wouldn’t extend to any other living person. I truly hope it’s something we get to explore more in the future.

Gillen & Bennett Balance Bloody Debts in “Angela: Asgard’s Assassin”

Since Angela and Sera are immortal beings there’s a question of exactly how long have they known each other. Can you comment on how long ago the events of the short story in issue #3 happened?

That’s actually kind of a spoiler for our timeline — a trick of the 10th Realm and how time flows in each. Angela has been alone for a while, and being alone has not done her any favors. I would like to say more, but we’ve got an upcoming arc that will answer a lot of these questions. Hope y’all enjoy it.

Issue #3 also revealed that Sera is a skilled magician. What can you tell us about her magical aptitude? How skilled a sorceress is Sera?

She’s full of tricks. She’s very bright, very centered — she had to be, to survive what she has, and to come back when she didn’t actually survive it. I love her, and one of the things that works to Sera’s advantage is that she never shows the full extent of her magic or her skills. We want to keep things small for the time being, but a big part of her character is how often she’s underestimated or overlooked. She turns it to her advantage. She knows how people work far, far better than Angela could ever hope to. So I hope we’ll finally get to see Sera lose her temper and show the full range of her abilities — I’d love to see that on a page. [Laughs]

Magic is just one of Sera’s areas of knowledge. In “Angela” #3 she showed she knew much about a number of different realms of Asgard including Midgard. How does Sera view the realm of humans? Her knowledge of Earth pop culture suggests that she has some affinity for its inhabitants.

She does! Sera is much more calm than the other Angels, and by that I mean less obviously warlike. She’s a fighter and warrior like Angela, but she’s much more curious. She wasn’t happy with how she was imprisoned in the society of the Angels. That gave her a vastly different perspective than the rest of her civilization. She wants to try everything and wants to see everything. She’s not so obsessed with this constant idea of bartering and payment, the balancing of scales. She cares about her own happiness and she care about the happiness of the people that she loves beyond just that survivalist mode, the endless payment of the Angels. She believes in the enrichment of her life and the lives of her loved ones. So she’s done some traveling. [Laughs]

We also know that at one some point one of the realms she might have traveled to was the land of the dead. Is the secret behind Sera’s death and resurrection one of the ongoing mysteries of “Angela: Asgard’s Assassin?”

Oh yes! [Laughs]

That mystery deepened in your short story in “Angela” #3 when you revealed that the culture of Heven has no afterlife. Is that part of the reason why the Angels appear to be so mercenary?

That is definitely a big influence on their civilization, but there was once an afterlife for the Angels. Then something happened that will be revealed that changed that status quo. Their society, which was already deeply mercenary, became even more refocused on the payment of debts before death. There’s no punishment or reward, they believe. You are what you did and that’s all you’ll ever be.

Ewing Leads Thor, Loki and Angela into Marvel’s “Tenth Realm”

It seems like you and Kieron have been having a lot of fun with the foundation Jason Aaron and Al Ewing laid for Heven and the Angels in their “Thor & Loki: The 10th Realm” miniseries.

Absolutely. Jason and Al are such dolls and they gave us so much to work with. Al also sings karaoke very well.

While we’re on the topic of Angel culture, it seems like Sera and Angela’s relationship would cause some ripples especially among the Anchorite culture that Sera was originally part of. Will we get a chance to see how Sera’s journey affected that culture? Seems like she would be a sort of legendary figure.

Absolutely. I really hope we get to examine that — world-building with this new and largely unexplored fresh world in the Marvel Universe. Angela and Sera have been focused on a task at hand, but I hope we get to show how that task — whether a success or failure — affects Heven. That we can see their world as it was when Angela and Sera were growing up and after they have returned to it in their present states. It’s something I want to get a chance to explore.

Let’s start to wrap up with a couple looks ahead. What can you tell us about the short story that you, Kieron and artist Stephanie Hans have planned for “Angela” #4?

I don’t want to spoil it! [Laughs] Everything that Stephanie puts on paper is just exquisite. And I really wanted to be able to have a short story structure that if you were to scoop them out of the larger narratives you’d be able to get a story in and of itself. I think readers will be really excited.

I was doing a lettering pass recently and I can’t believe I forget just how gorgeous Stephanie’s stuff is. I think you all will love it.

Finally, from our last conversation about “Angela: Asgard’s Assassin” we know that you and Kieron will be switching spots shortly which means you’ll be working with the series main artist Phil Jimenez. How does it feel to get a chance to work with Phil?

It’s terrifying. [Laughs] I love the artists that we’ve gotten to work with. I’m so grateful for that, but I’m also kind of astonished and unnerved by it. You have icons that you grow up with and now you’re working with them and it’s like, “Oh god! This has to be really good! I can not be the person who squandered their talent or gave them something ridiculous to draw!” [Laughs]

So not only am I trying to write something that’s worthy of Angela and our readers, but it’s also, “Oh man! I need to really come up with something that’s worthy of our artists!”

“Angela: Asgard’s Assassin” #4 is on sale now.

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