When you’re the Marvel Universe‘s premier global rescue team, you have to be prepared for all kinds of threats, anywhere and any time. In the first four issues of writer Al Ewing and artist Gerardo Sandoval‘s “New Avengers,” Sunspot (AKA Roberto da Costa), his controversial new heroic A.I.M and the titular team have done just that. Their initial adventure sent them to Europe, while their most recent exploits sent them to space in order to rescue their kidnapped members Hulkling and Demiurge (formerly known as Wiccan).
The months ahead will see the return of characters like the futuristic Avengers of 20XX and former White Tiger Angela del Toro, as well as a tie-in to this spring’s Avengers crossover “Standoff.” We spoke with Ewing about the fallout from his team’s recent space adventure, returning to the Avengers 20XX — who he co-created with legendary artist Alan Davis — Angela del Toro’s role in “New Avengers,” and what fans should expect from the series’ “Standoff” storyline.
CBR News: You’ve just furthered the destiny of Hulkling by having him encounter the “Knights of the Infinite” and accept his role as their king. Will we see this group again in “New Avengers,” or perhaps other cosmic Marvel books?
Al Ewing: I was wanting to throw something into the big melting pot of Marvel Space, and also riff on some classic space opera — I forget the technical term, but there’s a point where sword and sorcery meets sci-fi that I’ve got a vague soft spot for. When I was thinking about the New Avengers, and what I wanted to do with them, it occurred to me that Teddy hadn’t really had a big epic in a while — and it also occurred to me that in his classic blond hunkiness, he reminded me quite a bit of Flash Gordon. A lot of it came from there — mixing up Flash Gordon with some classic Arthurian tropes, to give Teddy a second job as a sword-wielding space fantasy prince.
Now that we’ve created the Knights, it’d be a shame to leave them be, so you can expect them to pop back up in the future, perhaps when you least expect it. And maybe we’ll do more in the future with Teddy’s space adventures — I’d certainly enjoy that.
Wiccan also made a big decision when he chose to adopt the new super heroic moniker of “Demiurge,” a title that readers of Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s “Young Avengers” run know is of big importance. I’m not sure how much of that is his decision and how much of it is influenced by the villainous new character you introduced, Moridun, the Dark Wizard of the Fifth Cosmos, who is now possessing him. What can you tell us about Moridun’s motivations and goals? The star insignia on the character’s forehead and the way he ranted about “life” has me wondering if he has any connection to the Cancerverse reality.
Moridun’s got some very Cthulhu-y touches to him — being a ghost from before the universe before the universe before the universe before this one, he’s the definition of a “great old one,” and, having been woken from his spectral slumber, he’s keen to be alive again. Unfortunately, in order to live, he has to possess the living, either by draining their power or implanting his essence in their minds. (And then making a big show of “dying.”)
I haven’t considered a connection to the Cancerverse, but you never know. After all, we know very little about the Fifth Cosmos, apart from that it was a time of dark magic — maybe an entire magical multiverse — and Moridun was a big deal back then. He may have created the Cancerverse for all we know — it seems to fit in with his worldview. If someone came along and said that’s what happened, I’d have no objection.
“New Avengers” #4 also touched upon the ongoing problems mutants face in the Marvel Universe, showing that even on his private island, Sunspot is not immune to the effects of the Terrigen cloud. Has that motivated his recent activities with the New Avengers at all? Is Roberto perhaps confronting some issues about mortality and legacy?
Well, something’s definitely wrong with him — it looks like he’s lost his powers, and he’s got a hacking cough that keeps getting worse. Whether he’s dying any faster than any other mutants, I don’t know, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility that he’s thinking bigger and working harder in order to build something that will outlive him. Or maybe that’s just what he wants us to think.
There will come a time — soon — when we get a much clearer idea of what’s been going through his head and exactly what he’s been planning. Right now, it’s all ominous comments and mysterious coughing fits, but there are dominoes being put in place — some right under the reader’s nose — and eventually, they’re going to topple.
In “New Avengers” #5, you kick off a new arc that brings back the Avengers of 20XX, who we briefly saw in full at the end of your “Ultron Forever” storyline. How does it feel to return to these characters? What do you want readers who may have missed that story to know about the team?
The Avengers of 20XX are fantastic fun to write about, and I owe most of that to Alan Davis, who — when asked to draw some future Avengers for the last page of the “Ultron Forever” mini — did things like a half-fish Iron Man and a foot-high Nova. Obviously, I couldn’t leave that be. I was already planning to go back and write Danielle Cage as Cap 20XX again, but coming up with personalities and backstories for a wonderful crew like that was way too fun to resist.
Probably the most visually fun is Iron Mariner — why is he never in the same room as Jako Krangsen, Stark Enterprises’ new Atlantean chief scientist? Then there’s Collapsar, size-changing space cop, whose mastery of Pym Particles makes him a credit to the Nova Corps, and Marlene Brashear, aka Marvel Woman, and Ted Altman, aka King Hulk. (So he decided to double down on the ‘Hulk’ thing. So sue him.)
Of course, it’s not all fun and games — we’ll also be meeting Avengers 20XX’s most diabolical enemy–a familiar face who might just end reality as we know it. Hope everyone has their crying towels ready — this one’s a tragedy XX years in the making, true believer!
W.H.I.S.P.E.R. are back — up to no good on the streets of Tokyo, with the Maker watching from the shadows. So fans of Gerardo’s take on Ultimate Reed Richards are in luck! We’ll get some hints about how he survived his treatment in “Secret Wars” #9, and some hints towards his larger plans, for those who want to put the pieces together. (That’s a hint in itself…)
What’s it like seeing Gerardo, who’s got such a great grasp on action and emotion, bringing the future Avengers to life? What can we expect from him on this upcoming arc?
He’s done a great job on some of the big action beats — there’s some great shots of Avengers 20XX fighting in their future, including one double-page spread that I did specially with him in mind. As usual, he’s contributing some incredible energy to proceedings — I was reminded of Simon Bisley in places, which is a very good thing — and he really brings out the best in both teams, past and present.
In February’s “New Avengers” #7 you bring back former White Tiger Angela del Toro, and it looks like you pit her against the current one Ava Ayala. What made you want to bring Angela back?
People have been asking what became of Angela ever since “Shadowland” — she’s got a definite fan following. Whether her fans will be my fans after this story remains to be seen, but she’s back from comic book limbo and she’ll be playing a big part in the book moving forward.
To the best of my knowledge, she’s not been seen since “Shadowland” — during which she was killed and resurrected by the Hand. That, and having her amulet taken away from her, has not left her in the best of moods.
Finally, in March, your cast becomes embroiled in the “Avengers: Standoff” crossover. If the solicits are any indication, it looks like fans not only have fun interactions with other Avengers team to look forward to, but also some big payoffs in your ongoing story as well.
Yes! We’re doing a lot of fun stuff with “Standoff” — to begin with, we have a mini-crossover with “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” #3 and #4, which we’re handling “Rashomon”-style, with the same events from different viewpoints. So “S.H.I.E.L.D.” readers don’t need to read “New Avengers,” and “New Avengers” readers don’t need to pick “S.H.I.E.L.D.” up, to get a full and complete story. But, if they do, they’ll get another side of that story. Which is my favorite type of crossover, personally. It’s all triggered by the events of “Standoff,” but, again, readers don’t have to buy anything they don’t want to. We’ll be explaining everything that needs to be explained.
That’s the trigger — and then comes the blast! When it all hits the fan! A.I.M. versus America! Cataclysm the way you like it! How can the New Avengers fight back against a thirty-story fire-breathing lizard with the mind of a fighting Marine? What’s Roberto’s plan in the face of total war with the United States? Will there be any New Avengers left when the dust settles? Plus — the traitor revealed! Twist follows twist! And the rollicking return of…
…Well, I’m getting ahead of myself. You’ll see.
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