For many teenagers the process of growing up and learning to do the right thing can be quite a struggle. It can often lead to feelings like you’re an alien, but imagine if you actually were an alien? And to make matters worse what if you were an alien trying to do the right thing in the morally murky world of the Marvel Universe, now that it’s in the grip of Norman Osborn’s “Dark Reign?” This is the situation the Kree youth Noh-Varr, AKA Captain Marvel, currently finds himself in. In “Dark Avengers Annual” #1 by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Chris Bachalo, Noh-Varr finally puts a plan in motion to do what he feels is right for the Marvel U. It’s a plan that will put him into conflict with his colleagues on Osborn’s Dark Avengers team. CBR News spoke with Bendis about the book.
Noh-Varr first debuted in the 2000 “Marvel Boy” mini-series by Grant Morrison and J.G. Jones. The character laid dormant for a number of years but recently Bendis began using the character in a number of projects like the “New Avengers: Illuminati” and “Secret Invasion” mini-series, which lead to the character’s inclusion in the cast of “Dark Avengers. “Grant did a great take on him,” Bendis told CBR News. “He came to Earth very bratty with cool new toys and gadgets and a surprisingly anti original Captain Marvel stance. All of that was very interesting to me and I also like the idea of somebody having to grow the fuck up. Their attitude is cute for minute and then they better get their shit together. I like writing and examining that.”
“It’s not unlike the first few pages of ‘Amazing Fantasy’ #15,” Bendis continued. “Peter Parker was a brat in his first shot out as Spider-Man. Then he got it together. Noh-Varr is the alien version of that. I liked writing the chapter of the ‘Illuminati’ mini-series where the title characters came to him and said, ‘What you’re doing may be cute now, but you better grow out of it because something will happen.”
This year’s “Dark Avengers Annual” spins out of Noh-Varr’s discovery in “Dark Avengers” #6 that his membership on the team put him on the wrong side of current events in the Marvel U. “This was a fun story to do because he’s an alien so human behavior and good, acceptable, human behavior is all alien to him,” Bendis stated. “And I liked the idea that he’s a young military man figuring he was on the right team because of the people in charge, and low and behold he’s on the wrong team. Then to have him make that discovery in bed was really fun.
“So now he can’t just go, ‘Check please!’ and run away. It’s like the mob. You’re in this till your dead,” Bendis continued. “So this story is about his decision and the chase to find him. The end of it will have a resolution to the Captain Marvel/Marvel Boy story that will affect his appearances in future titles.”
Ever since he made the discovery that Norman Osborn and his team mates on the Dark Avengers are actually evil, Captain Marvel has been laying low. In “Dark Avengers” #6, he seemed to have disappeared and did not show up to accompany the rest of the Dark Avengers to San Francisco where they are currently confronting the X-Men as part of the “Utopia” storyline. “Dark Avengers Annual” #1 will clue readers in to what Noh-Varr has been doing during the events of “Utopia.” “That’s exactly what this story is about,” Bendis said. “Where did he go? How did he get there? And What has he been doing?”
The characters most concerned with those questions are Noh-Varr’s former team mates in the Dark Avengers. The annual will find all of the Dark Avengers in hot pursuit of Captain Marvel, but since “Utopia” hasn’t wrapped yet Bendis couldn’t say much about the Dark Avengers roles in the book. “It’s hard not to talk about that but so much hasn’t shipped yet,” the writer said. “We’re in the second act of Dark Reign and things are getting dark even for the ‘Dark Avengers’ cast. A lot of those characters are very disturbed. Some of them are going completely off the rails and others are finding their second wind.”
It’s not just “Utopia” that will affect Noh-Varr’s coming confrontation with his former allies. Another upcoming story may result in some of his former team mates actually agreeing with what he’s doing. “The ‘Dark Reign: The List’ specials are coming and there will be those who question Norman’s list,” Bendis explained. “‘The List’ is wide and varied and not everyone is going to agree with everything that’s happening, and the Dark Avengers aren’t the most cooperative group to begin with. So when someone has a problem they’re going to have a big problem.”
It was their recent collaboration on the new Sorcerer Supreme arc in “New Avengers” that lead to Bendis recruiting Chris Bachalo for the art duties on this year’s “Dark Avengers Annual.” “I was thrilled with the response to him and I thought our work looked good together,” Bendis said. “So I grabbed him as soon as possible for this and I think he’s perfect because we’re telling a story with an alien’s point of view on the world. I think the way Chris renders that world will be a great match.”
“Dark Avengers Annual” #1 publishes the same month as “New Avengers Annual” #3, also written by Bendis, but readers shouldn’t expect to see much overlap between the two stories. They’re both self contained issues. “The only connection between the two is that they’re both big chapter in Dark Reign,” Bendis said. “And something happens at the end of each annual that is very meaningful to the series they’re married to.”