The Marvel Universe is a wondrous place where the fantastic manifests itself in both scientific and magical forms. Super abilities often appear thanks to high-tech accidents or because of a fantastic device constructed by a genius character. On the other end of the spectrum spell casters manipulate supernatural forces for a variety of effects and divine beings wield powerful mystical artifacts. What happens when one of the Marvel U’s most brilliant minds decides to wield both forces in a quest to create his own god? Writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning along with artist Scot Eaton will answer that question and more starting in November when their four issue “Iron Man/Thor” miniseries begins. We spoke with Abnett and Lanning, collectively known to their fans as DnA, about the series, which was announced yesterday at the Mondo Marvel panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego.
DnA are best known for their work on Marvel’s cosmic line of books like “Nova,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and the current miniseries “The Thanos Imperative.” It was these tales of intergalactic high adventure that led editor Ralph Macchio to offer them “Iron Man/Thor.” “Ralph liked what we were doing with the cosmic characters so much that he could see a commonality there with Thor and Iron Man that was worth developing,” Dan Abnett told CBR News. “They’re characters who could easily fall into our cosmic beat plus we’ve been fans of these characters forever. It wasn’t a huge stretch to write a story about them. I think most importantly though, they are characters that demand cosmic style stories even if they are on Earth. By the very nature of their powers and the kinds of adventures they get involved in the cosmic corner is a playground they would definitely work in, even if they don’t normally venture out into the farthest reaches of the galaxy.”
“I think Ralph wanted us to come up with a huge rip-roaring old school style adventure for these characters to go on. Recently we’ve been doing a lot of stuff with Marvel’s cosmic characters but superhero comics have always had that edge of sci-fi fantasy to them and the Marvel Universe is significantly different from the real world that it’s a fantastic place,” Andy Lanning added. “In our mind there’s no gear shifts from writing space books to coming back down to Earth and writing a comic with Thor and Iron Man. You get to crank things up even louder.”
For DnA one of the intriguing facets of “Iron Man/Thor” was the chance to compare and contrast the technological and mythical aspects of their protagonists. “It’s really nice to have those two elements of the characters sort of playing off against each other. Even the threat they’re facing combines and plays up both those aspects of the characters,” Lanning remarked. “That’s something we’ve been having a great deal of fun with. It’s always nice to pick out the cool characters and use them as starting points for great drama”
Abnett added, “The series also has the feeling that magic and science are more related than people assume. Iron Man is fantastically god like thanks to technology and Thor is a high tech marvel that employs mythological technology. They’ve become who they are because of different traditions, but those traditions are very close. Technology and science is sort of intermingled with the arcane magic of mythology. I just think there is a lovely symmetry to the story and that was very appealing.”
In “Iron Man/Thor” the two title characters come together to try and foil the scheme of the hyper intelligent and ethically challenged super scientist known as the High Evolutionary. “This is a character who knows almost everything about the make up of humanity and now he’s taking a long, hard look at the 21st century and feels that it’s lacking in terms of the divine entities who once held great sway over the world. He’s stepping up to take care of that, but in order to do so he has to put various things together to accomplish this great scheme of world improvement as he sees it,” Abnett explained. “So that involves adding some other players to the mix, we won’t spoil the fun by revealing who they are now, but let’s just say there are some other important characters in this story that will make things very, very interesting and very insane.”
“I think the High Evolutionary sees himself as a very god like figure and he wants to raise humanity up whether they want it or not,” Lanning said. “It doesn’t matter to him if he breaks a few eggs along the way. He’s got these lofty high views and his attempt impose a new god for a new millennium is going to cause him to butt heads with our protagonists.
“Iron Man/Thor” isn’t the first time DnA have written the High Evolutionary. The duo previously wrote the character in the cosmic event storyline “Annihilation: Conquest” and jumped at the chance to write him again. “He’s an absolute favorite of ours. He had the correct level of potency to be a really worthy adversary. He’s fundamentally technology based, but he very much has a mystical, sort of cosmic side to him. Plus we knew there were still things we wanted to do with the character,” Abnett stated. “I have to say one of the most appealing things about the High Evolutionary is that he’s not a villain per se. Sometime he may play an adversary to some heroes but he’s more of a super scientist; an experimenter. He’s antagonistic because he’s been viewed that way by those who win. So he’s a very interesting character. He’s not just a malevolent source up to no good. There’s much greater moral ambiguity with him.”
To implement his scheme in “Iron Man/Thor” the High Evolutionary will have to employ some characters in “muscle” positions. DnA couldn’t reveal the identities of the Evolutionary’s goons, but hinted that their presence in the story might cause some other characters like the Avengers or some of Thor’s fellow Asgardians gods to play supporting roles in the series.
The action in “Iron Man/Thor” takes place on Earth but DnA plan on throwing all sorts of elements including high-tech, magical, cosmic and earthly at their protagonists. They’re happy to have an artist who can handle that variety illustrating the series in Scot Eaton. “Both Dan I know him from way back [from] his work for the Distinguished Competitor’s “Green Lantern” book and I’ve been very lucky recently to ink Scot. I inked his work on the ‘DoomWar’ miniseries, which will be finishing on August 4 with #6,” Andy Lanning said. “Scot is just a fantastic artist. He’s the sort of guy who you don’t hesitate to throw anything at because he can draw anything. He’s a superb draftsman and along with that there’s some amazing power and energy in his figures. Plus he’s a great storyteller. You don’t often get somebody who can deliver all of that. There are some great artists out there who maybe don’t have the storytelling skills. Scot has it all. You can really set him up for things because you know he’s going to pick up the ball and run with it. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what he does with our scripts.”
“Iron Man/Thor” #1 hits stores in November and DnA advise their readers to prepare themselves for a truly fun and exciting experience. The duo went all out to make sure the series had that feeling of classic Marvel style action and high adventure that’s been described as “The Mighty Marvel Manner.” “We want to do a story that evokes the kind of excitement that we loved when we were kids,” said Abnett. “That’s not to say that either of these characters are being misrepresented in current Marvel publications. This is just a great opportunity for us to do something that’s truly epic and allows us to cut loose and do away with limits and capacities. So it’s been a lot of fun to work on.”
Andy Lanning added, “As Dan said, this story is a chance for us to write characters that we have long been fans of and it’s the kind of story we both would have loved as kids. We’re huge fans of the characters and hopefully that sense of fun and excitement and the energy level will come across in the story and people will enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed writing it.”