Secrets are never fully buried in the Marvel Universe, especially when a race of all-seeing beings known as Watchers bear witness to everything that takes place within it. Fortunately for the heroes of Earth, the planet’s water, Uatu, is largely a silent and passive observer. But when Marvel’s “Original Sin” event begins in May, Uatu will have been murdered by a mysterious assailant and the secrets known only to him and the players involved start coming to light.
With the Watcher gone, some of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes will be forced to confront secret shames or misdeeds, while other’s like Luke Cage — leader of the latest incarnation of the Mighty Avengers — will discover shocking family secrets. CBR News spoke with “Mighty Avengers” writer Al Ewing about the book’s tie-in arc, beginning in June’s #10 and illustrated by returning artist Greg Land, which reveals the existence of a secret 1970s super team lead by Cage’s father, NYPD Detective James Lucas.
CBR News: Al, how has it been writing the “Mighty Avengers” tie-in to “Original Sin?” Was the story you’re telling with Luke Cage’s father inspired by “Original Sin?” Or were you always going to tell this story and “Original Sin” was a just a good time to tell it?
Al Ewing: Usually — unless I’m house-sitting, as I was on my “Avengers Assemble” tie-ins — I just do what I was going to do anyway and fit the crossover around it. So I had this floating around in the back of my mind pretty much since the start of the book. But it wasn’t really set in stone until I got the word that “Original Sin” was happening and I needed a juicy secret to come out — still, that was very early on, so you can see I was starting to put the pieces in as early as #3 or #4. “Original Sin” definitely helped in terms of Luke’s father being a part of it.
How much of “Mighty Avengers” #10-12 takes place during the past? And how much takes place during the present? Is this a story where readers will see exactly what James Lucas and his team of heroes did back during the ’70s? Or will we primarily be seeing how that team’s actions back then have impacted them now? Bit of both?
#10 is its own thing — a one-off, almost, featuring Adam [Brashear AKA the Blue Marvel]’s reaction to the Watcher’s death. As they were friends for years, I figured we should get some insight there. I think that’ll end up a good one.
In #11 and 12, both past and present will be important. We’ll be getting a good look at the 70’s Mighty Avengers — I imagine we’ll be spending most of our time in the ’70s for those, and then for #13 and 14 we’ll be back in the present day and seeing how the modern-day characters deal with the threat forty years later. It’s the same threat, cycling around again for another pass, and every cycle gets a little more difficult and dangerous to counter, until finally, in the present day — the heroes fail to stop it.
What was it like creating James Lucas’ team for this story line? Can you hint, tease, or talk about the characters that were part of it? Is it a team primarily of new characters, established Marvel characters, or both? And were these characters all necessarily heroes before they joined Jim’s team?
There is exactly one new character! She’s not 100% new to me — she’s someone I invented for another pitch, but she was such a good character I’m bringing her back here. All the others are characters we’ve seen before in one place or another — I don’t think it’s too big a spoiler to say that Adam is on the team, and of course we have James Lucas there. Two of the other characters will seem fairly obvious too, considering conversations that’ve been had on-panel about those old times.
As for whether they were heroes — not all. And one definitely went on to become a villain.
What can you tell us about the dynamic amongst Jim’s team of “Mighty Avengers?” Are you able to reveal if this is a group brought together via chance or choice? Or would that be tipping your hand?
It might be tipping my hand a little! It’s a little of both — for example, Adam’s brought in because he’s a “fringe scientist” dealing in the strange and uncanny. Meanwhile, James Lucas enters the story when the murder case he’s working turns out to be connected. Fate brings them together, but at the same time they all have a reason to be in the room.
In terms of plot and themes what is the story that runs through “Mighty Avengers” #10-12 about? What can you tell us about the tone of the story? A story that involves ’70s-era NYPD Detective James Lucas fielding a team of heroes against the supernatural suggests to me that we’ll get some fun period flavor and see some elements of crime, horror, and urban fantasy stories. Is that correct?
That’s on the money. Since I work Marvel Method, I don’t really know what the exact, final tone of anything will be until I do it — that’s what makes it fun! — but chances are good that I’ll be breaking out the noir-esque Richard Stark-inspired voice I tend to use for my crime work. As for period flavor — it’s not really the Marvel Seventies, since the sliding timeline’s moved on, so if anything I’d like to avoid pastiching that style of writing. If we were time-traveling back to Luke Cage’s earliest days, that might be a different story, but we’re heading back to five years before he was even born. (Number of years subject to change. I put Luke at about thirty-six — my age — but obviously he’ll be aging far slower than I will, and he might even quietly age backwards if the next writer decides thirty-six is too old.)
Can you talk about the antagonists that James Lucas’ team battled in the ’70s? The way Kaluu and Ronin talked about Jim in”Mighty Avengers” #4 suggests that he and his team faced some formidable opposition.
Formidable opposition indeed — the Deathwalkers are not to be sneezed at. You’ve met one of them already, in issue #5, and you’ll be meeting the rest in #10. They’re entirely capable of ending the human world, and the only thing standing between them and that goal is the Mighty Avengers — for the second time.
Does “Mighty Avengers” #10-12 mark Greg Land’s return to the book? What do you feel he brings to this story in particular?
Actually, he’s back with #9 — and his particular skills are on full display there. Greg has a particular mastery of the cinematic — I’ve found out I can throw all kinds of cosmic-level strangeness at him and he’ll render it like the most expensive, super-big-budget movie ever made. Every time I get one of his double spreads in I feel like I should scrounge up some 3D glasses and popcorn to enjoy it fully. He’s back at the perfect time, too — #9 is where things get VERY big-budget indeed.
As for this story — well, there’s going to be some weird stuff going on. Like I say, I feel like I can just throw anything I can think of at him, and that’s exactly what I’ve done. Is it a spoiler to talk about the fire-breathing rooster people? It might be.
We’ve talked quite a bit about the past segments in this story. Let’s start to wrap up by talking a little bit more your present day cast. How big a role will Luke Cage play in this particular story? Can you hint or tease how the discovery of his father’s secret heroic past will impact Luke, his family, and his team?
Luke’s had a difficult relationship with his father over the last few years — the last time we saw them, they weren’t talking. But this is too big for Luke to not want a conversation about — and with Adam dealing with his own “Original Sin” fallout, his Dad is the only one who has the answers. (Though there might be some residual anger with Adam for not telling the story earlier as well, and with Ronin for playing it all so close to the vest. If there’s one theme here, it’s lack of communication and how badly it can screw you up.) Anyway, Luke’s quest for answers is the framing story we use to get into it all, and when we come out of #11 and #12 into the present day, he’s the one who’s leading the fight against the Deathwalkers in the here and now.
Finally, the idea of a ’70s era team batting secret supernatural threats in the Marvel Universe sounds both fascinating and a lot of fun. Are you able to reveal if “Mighty Avengers” #10-12 is the only adventure of James Lucas’ team? Or might there be room to revisit these characters past adventures again some day?
It’s the only adventure planned so far, but there’s no such thing as a story that can’t have a sequel of some kind, so if enough readers go nuts over the Original Mighty Avengers, we could always come back for more. And the ’70s wasn’t that long ago — the team could reconvene in the present day. We might even be seeing one become a new member of the present-day Mighty Avengers…
This story is where we’ve been building to this whole time! The big boom! The final surge! Pulse-pounding mystery blasting at you from the secret depths of Marvel-Time — in a senses-shattering smorgasbord of super-action that might just decide the fate of worlds! Because on “Mighty Avengers,” we don’t tie into crossovers — crossovers tie into us!
“Mighty Avengers” #10 by Al Ewing & Greg Land kicks off the book’s “Original Sin” tie-in arc and goes on sale in June from Marvel Comics.