At Comic-Con International 2013, “Uncanny Avengers” writer Rick Remender to discuss the past and future of the series, the CCI 2013 announcement that “Civil War” artist Steve McNiven would join the book, his thoughts on creator-owned comics and the weirdest job he’s ever had.
On the weirdest job he’s ever had: I worked at a Christmas tree lot. That was weird. We were kids and so, in the back, when they bring the trees, they’re wrapped up. We would build them into log cabins that we could hide inside from customers. So customers would be walking around, looking for help, and we’d be in a log cabin made of Christmas trees, watching them. I guess we made it weird — woodland creatures within this little ecosystem that was the Christmas tree lot. I think delivering pizza was weird, because I started having relationships with people based on their tipping practices. You knew certain neighborhoods, you were going to get there and not get any [tip]. … We might have tampered with people’s pizzas. We might have been 18 and belligerent.
On Steve McNiven joining the “Uncanny Avengers” creative team and the stress of launching the book: I think I was lucky in that the progression of the story starts to hit in the same way that I structured “The Dark Angel Saga” in “[Uncanny] X-Force.” It’s all little stories that you recognize are all building to other things happening. Knowing the intention of the story is something that we’ve been planning for a year and a half now, and is something that I’m super excited about and it already kind of written, took away that stress. What was really stressful was the John Cassaday team-up. John and I talked a good bit and we decided to seed this Earth-shattering big thing of Red Skull getting Charles Xavier’s brain and combining it with his own, but trying to keep it ground-level where you’re dealing with real, human ramifications. We started talking about a riot in New York — classic Kirby Mad Bomb stuff, which fit with the Red Skull of it all. That was building that entire book from the ground, finding that emotional context, finding the characters’ motivations and also working with John Cassaday, who hadn’t done pages in a long time. I wouldn’t say it was terrifying, but it was pretty close. It was a lot of rewrites and going over it. Fortunately, now I’m in the book and we’re moving and everything’s building. What Acuna’s been doing is just brilliant, and we found a really nice groove with the thing, so that when McNiven is hopping on issue #14, the train’s already had a nice momentum. The ticking time bombs are all set, and everything’s all moving. That one was almost like, “I’m really excited about this script prior to knowing Steve McNiven is going to draw it.” Once I found out it was McNiven, I tweaked it and reworked it a little bit, knowing what he’ll do in terms of his page layouts. But it was actually nice having someone of his caliber come on issue #14 as opposed to launching in terms of stress.
On the future of “Uncanny Avengers”: To me, it’s a natural extension of “Civil War” and “AvX” where the heroes can’t find unity and can’t work together. Ultimately, I’m writing that as if it’s a metaphor for humanity. If the different factions of mankind can’t work together, if we can’t figure out all the solutions and how to cooperate with the problems we have as a species, then things are going to be bad for us moving forward. I always like to have something to say and some kind of metaphor where I can then extrapolate more than, “Scarlet Witch punches Wolverine!” Building on that, this is the natural consequence, this “Ragnarok Now” of these heroes behaving in a fashion that isn’t necessarily heroic. They’ve been behaving — I don’t want to say selfish — but petulant in some cases. That’s the great thing about the Marvel Universe, that the characters are so fallible and they are so human. They have been making mistakes and they have been incapable of working as a unit. Here it is with the Avengers unity squad that Cap puts together with the purpose of them working together and they can’t. It still shatters, and they still have all these disagreements and personality conflicts like humans do — put nine people in a room and force them to work together. This is a consequence of that and what’s going to happen is there’s a large body count, it’s all been seeded since the first issue. The consequences of the body count, the dominoes begin to fall. They’re either going to have to learn to do things hand in hand as brother and sister, work this shit out, or they’re all going to suffer the dire consequences.
On possibly leaving corporate comics and going back exclusively to creator-owned: Yeah, I mean, I do enjoy it and that’s why I do it. There were opportunities along the way while I was entrenched in creator-owned that were full-time jobs at Electronic Arts or full-time jobs here or there and various other opportunities that were very comfortable, very adult-living opportunities that I turned down to continue to pursue these things because I had this itch to scratch. I’m in a strange middle school, because for me, the ’80s were all Marvel Comics, the ’90s were all indy and the decade prior is me working and making my own comics, but they’re really informed by so much from each. I try to incorporate all my different loves of the medium in both, so there is a middle school. When you read a Marvel comic I do, there is a quirkiness to it or something unique or something a little toothier than you might expect. But I do think that creator-owned offers a unique opportunity in the collaboration with somebody and the building of something out of thin air. It’s you and a couple buddies going, “What about this? What about that?” There are no obstacles. The only obstacles are your basic foundation issues, but the rest of it is complete liberation. That said, Marvel’s taken the chains off and let me go nuts as well. So it’s very difficult to say that I’m one day going to walk away from that and just do creator-owned.