The Avengers first formed when individual heroes banded together to face the threats no solo hero could face on his own. That idea inspired the team’s current incarnation led by Captain America, which serves as a defense force against all manner of fantastic and otherworldly threats. It also recently inspired Luke Cage to form his own team of Avengers when Cap’s team was off fighting an alien armada in outer space. While Cap’s team battles the galaxy’s biggest threats, Cage’s team provides more of a community outreach via super heroes, defending the Marvel U and its citizens from menaces that hit closer to home. Their stories are chronicled in Marvel Comics’ ongoing “Mighty Avengers” series by writer Al Ewing and artist Greg Land.
Their different approaches to heroism have allowed Captain America’s Avengers and Luke Cage’s Mighty Avengers to exist as two separate entities, but this fall the lines between both teams begin to blur when a member of Luke’s Team, Sam Wilson (AKA the Falcon), picks up the mantle of Captain America. This November, Ewing and artist Luke Ross explore what happens next in “Captain America and the Mighty Avengers,” announced yesterday by Marvel at their “Avengers NOW!” panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego. CBR News spoke with Ewing about his plans for the newly relaunched series which include an inaugural arc that ties into the “Avengers & X-Men: AXIS” event and finds Spider-Man trying to atone for the way his “Superior” counterpart treated Luke Cage and his wife Jessica Jones-Cage.
CBR News: Al, this November you and Luke Ross kick off the new “Captain America and the Mighty Avengers” ongoing series. I assume this is new reader friendly, but does it also build on story threads you’re developing in the current “Mighty Avengers” series? How do the final issues of “Mighty Avengers” and the team’s battle with the Deathwalkers set the stage for this new title?
Al Ewing: I try and make everything as new reader friendly as possible — particularly an issue #1. Anyone making that their first issue will get the full scoop on what the Mighty Avengers are all about, as well as plenty of Captain America action, the return of some old foes and the Spidey-Luke conversation readers have been waiting for!
In the meantime — “Mighty Avengers” #12-#14 winds up the whole Deathwalkers plot — with a world-threatening menace that only the Mighty Avengers could possibly defeat, and even then it may be too late! Plus it establishes a couple of extra supporting characters we might be seeing more of down the
line, gives the team’s new magic-user a little time in the spotlight and gives everyone who’s enjoyed “Season One” of “Mighty Avengers” a slam-bang finish before we go straight into our brand-new #1 issue.
One of the biggest developments you’ll be tackling in this series is the fact that Sam Wilson has become the new Captain America. I know you were already a fan of Sam as the Falcon. How does it feel to have him become Captain America? What do you find most interesting about Sam’s new identity which aspects of him are you interested in exploring in this new series?
I think Sam’s going to make a pretty excellent Cap. I already had an idea of him as a kind of James Bond figure — the world’s greatest super-agent — so giving him the Captain America codename and iconography is just the icing on that particular cake. And I think it’s good for Captain America, the concept, too — much as I love Steve Rogers, the idea of Cap has to be bigger than just one person. If Captain America is the representative of the American Dream, there have to be different people in that uniform. Otherwise what’s the point?
I kind of see Captain America as the highest superheroic office in the land, and a role that comes with incredible power and acclaim and quite a lot of responsibility. So it’ll be pretty cool seeing Sam taking that on.
Sam’s new identity also has me wondering about his relationship with the Mighty Avengers because one of the things the team initially wondered about him when he joined the group as the Falcon was whether he was there on his own or there as Captain America’s spy, and now Sam has become Cap. With that in mind what can you tell us about Sam’s initial dynamic with the team? Does his new role change the way he views the Mighty Avengers? How does it change the way they view him?
We’re going to be tackling this head on in the first arc, in ways that I don’t want to spoil — although I will say that they tie into the “Avengers & X-Men: AXIS” event that’s running through Marvel at the time. Sam’s attitude to the Mighty Avengers does change pretty spectacularly, at least for a little while — “Captain America and the Mighty Avengers” doesn’t necessarily mean Captain America Agrees With the Mighty Avengers, after all.
In the longer term — if you pick any member, they’re going to have their opinions of Sam’s new role. As I was writing this, it occurred to me that the general public probably see Sam as team leader now, in the field — he’s Captain America, right? So how does that make Monica feel? Especially since a threat is coming up from behind that only she’s had serious experience with? Can she trust the team to follow her orders in the crunch instead of the man in the stars and stripes?
As you mentioned, the team will also have a new member in the form of Spider-Man. What’s it like writing him in this book after having his “Superior” incarnation wreak so much havoc in the early issues of the previous “Mighty Avengers?” And can you talk about Peter’s reasons for trying to join up with the Mighty Avengers? Is he at all aware of what Doc Ock tried to do to the team?
Peter’s not only aware of what Ock did, he’s extremely guilty about it. Ock behaved pretty abominably to everyone, but he was especially horrible to Luke and Jess — threatening to send Danielle to child services and all — and what with one thing and another Spidey’s not had time to sit down and give those two the apology he feels they deserve. The question is, will they accept it? And what lengths will Pete go to in order to try and make things right?
Pete’s membership begs the question of what is the actual team lineup of “Captain America and the Mighty Avengers?” What can you tell us about the new roster? Will things remain essentially the same, or is there a big shake-up coming?
Over the course of the first fourteen issues, I did come to understand why the Avengers were only six people when I was a kid! At the moment, I’m thinking in terms of a hard core of seven or eight in-the -field team, with the others helping out with their specific skill sets when needed. But those will be drawn pretty much from the team as we’ve known it — aside from, arguably, Peter Parker, I’m not drafting in anyone who wasn’t in “Season One.” Not so far, anyway — who knows where my mind will take me in issues to come.
There is going to be something of a shake-up, though — one of the founding members is not going to be a member by the end of the first arc.
In terms of plot and themes what is the inaugural arc of “Captain America and the Mighty Avengers” about? You mentioned “AXIS” — is the event what sets your initial story in motion?
It does! I’m never sure exactly how much has been revealed about “AXIS” at any one time, and I want to avoid spoiling that if at all possible — but essentially, our first arc is about what it means to be an Avenger. Sam becoming Cap sets up a conversation about what it means to fight under that banner, and whether any one person has the right to define it or own it. A very physical conversation.
What can you tell us about the antagonists of this first story? How many threats are Sam and the team facing, and just how large a threat will they post?
The Plunderer is back — to plunder anew! But this time he’s plundering from the rich to give to the poor! What’s this devious plan all about? Will his hearty henchmen stand by their leader when their 401Ks are stripped from them and given to sick orphans?
Meanwhile — in a more serious mode — CORTEX are back. All the skullduggery Jason Quantrell got up to behind the scenes over the first fourteen issues is coming home to roost, and his ultimate plans might be a lot deadlier — and stranger — than anyone could imagine.
And there’s all this “AXIS” business happening too…
Artist Luke Ross will bring “Captain America and the Mighty Avengers” to life. What do you feel he brings to the book?
I really enjoyed the issues he did of “Secret Avengers” and the Iron Man/Hulk “Original Sin” crossover. He’s one of those artists who’s got a realistic style, but can turn it toward action and drama, so he’s a really great choice to take over from Greg [Land] in that respect. I’m already looking forward to seeing what he makes of the plots.
Wrapping up, the current volume of “Mighty Avengers” was born out of another event, “Infinity,” and went on to tell a pretty exciting, long form story. Will that be the case with “Captain America and the Mighty Avengers” as well or do your plans for the series call for shorter stories?
Well, there were shorter stories inside the longer story. I’m a believer in longer stories made up of shorter ones — ‘Season One’ was a lot of two- and three-episode stories put together to build a larger one. This time around, we might have slightly larger story units — three or four issues, maybe — and less time to wait before they add up to a big payoff. But we’ll see — one thing I’ve learned is to let things happen in the way they want to.
When I said on Twitter that we weren’t going anywhere, I wasn’t lying — we’ve got a new #1 and the title’s a little modified, but this is the same “Mighty Avengers” action and fun you’ve come to love, in a new, improved package and heading to greater heights. If you liked reading “Mighty Avengers,” “Captain America and the Mighty Avengers” is going to blow you away — guaranteed.
Al Ewing and Luke Ross’ “Captain America and the Mighty Avengers” debuts in November.