In the 1970s, Marvel Comics launched one of its first cosmic epics in the pages of “Avengers” pitting earth’s mightiest heroes against a futuristic man-god with an eye on recreating the world as the Guaridans of the Galaxy, the Eternals and the Collector watched on. Though if that 12-part opus seems a little inaccessible now, writer Ben McCool will have modern audiences young and old covered when he reimagines the story as “Captain America & The Korvac Saga” with artist Craig Rousseau this December.
“What Marvel’s been doing recently is picking up stories from their livelier past and the publishing serials and then contemporizing it for a modern audience,” the writer explained to CBR News. “They did it with ‘Secret Wars’ a while back, which focused on Spider-Man, and I think they’ll be doing it with a bunch of other older stories as well.”
With the Ben Templesmith-drawn cyberpunk noir mashup “Choker” at Image already to his credit, McCool came to his first gig at Marvel with an eye on delivering a different kind of thrill, and the all-ages “Korvac” miniseries presented the right opportunity for him to scratch his old school Marvel creative itch. “I’ve always wanted to do something for Marvel. Those were the comics I used to absolutely love as a kid, so the proposition of working for Marvel was immediately enticing. We started talking about what kind of stuff I liked to write, if there were any particular characters I’m more inclined to work on, and shortly after that [editor Nate Cosby] came up with the idea of doing this project that’s ‘The Korvac Saga.’
“Bear in mind, the original Korvac Saga took place over 12 issues. It was one of Marvel’s very first big events/maxi series. What I decided to do was condense down the elements of it, and it got to the point where I was cherry picking what I really liked from the original. The actual story I’ll be telling won’t have much to do with the original. It’s almost an ode to it,” McCool went on, explaining how Steve Rogers landed at teh center of this new version.
“I’ve focused on Captain America being this befuddled soldier who’s only been recently awoken from his icy slumber, and he feels that he doesn’t belong in the current age. ‘Everyone I’ve known or loved is either 80 years old or dead. I’m trying to adapt. Everything’s messed up.’ And then all of the sudden this strange, kooky guy named Michael Korvac shows up, and he seems to share this hidden bond with Captain America, and Cap’s not quite sure why. It turns out to be a whole time displacement thing: Captain America’s from the past, and Michael Korvac’s from the future. I won’t give too much away from there, but this crazy-ass adventure kicks in which does involve some of the elements of the original Korvac Saga but pretty much focuses on the relationship between Cap and Korvac himself.”
Of course, the new book won’t be a one man show as the Avengers will play a significant role in the story the writer hopes will connect with old school Marvel readers as well as younger fans just getting introduced to the shield-slinging hero and his upcoming movie run with the superteam. “Like I said, the Avengers books were some of my favorites as a kid, so the chance to pick my ‘dream team’ of Avengers was superb. Funny enough, the original lineup in the original Korvac Saga had some of my favorites. I was always a big Iron Man fan, like most kids are. I was a big fan of Vision, and one of my favorite female characters was The Scarlet Witch. So I was quite lucky in that the Korvac Saga already featured these guys. But then, I could include other people like Amazing Spider-Man who’s part of the Avengers in this book. That might raise a few eyebrows elsewhere, but as far as this book is concerned, it’s great.
“And with Captain America, I used to love reading the old school book where Cap just kicked ass. He was one of those characters who just reminded you how much fun it was to see the good guys kick the bad guys’ behinds. He was always one of those guys, and to be able to use that Cap – the feisty, confused, ass-kicking Captain America – with my dream amalgamation of Avengers was so much fun. And even though it is technically an all ages book, I’ve been allowed to go wild and do whatever I want. It’s worked out well for me.”
McCool did his research on the original epic, but was given leeway to veer far off that Jim Shooter/David Michelinie-driven epic. “There’s very little similarities between this and the original story, I’ll be honest, but people who have read them both will certainly see some cross references. I did go back and read the whole original. That’s how I work. I like to feel as comfortable and knowledgeable as I can be in regards to what I’m working on, but at the same time I cherry picked the past of the Avengers books I loved as a kid. So it’s almost a marriage of those two ideas. I wrote this story with an understanding of the original Korvac Saga, but at the same time, most of my storytelling techniques are from my memories of old school Avengers books. Nate said, ‘Don’t feel tied down by the original’ and it’s been a pretty easy going project, which is wonderful.”
Working with Rousseau has provided the artist a chance to swtich things up for both himself and the Marvel all-ages material. “He’s fantastic and his storytelling is top notch,” said the writer of his partner. “He’s provided some amazing samples, and different/more mature-looking than his usual work.”
And riding that balance between his own more mature pursuits and broader mainstream superhero work is a place McCool is comfortable with as he hopes “The Korvac Saga” will continue to put his name in the minds of comic fans. “I’m fine with that. I like to think of myself as a pretty versatile writer. ‘Choker’ was obviously my little baby where I amalgamated two of my favorite genres which were noir crime and crazy, idea-infused cyberpunk. ‘Choker’ pushed those two together and was something I was very passionate about, but at the same time, I didn’t want to get typecast as the guy who just writes that kind of stuff. So I really wanted to follow that up with some completely contrasting story. Like you say, ‘Captain America & The Korvac Saga’ is pretty much as different as you can get. I’ve got no problems switching between the two, and if anything this keeps me fresh and motivated. It works fine as far as I’m concerned.”