[SPOILER WARNING: THIS INTERVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR “NEW AVENGERS” #10 & “INFINITY” #3, AVAILABLE NOW]
Marvel Comics’ Avengers first assembled to battle the foes no one hero could face on his own. As a group, they frequently run afoul of seemingly unstoppable adversaries and find themselves in situations where surrender is not an option. That’s certainly the case in Marvel’s “Infinity” event which finds the Avengers and their fellow heroes locked in a two front intergalactic war.
In the vastness of space, Captain America and his teammates are trying to hold the line against the onslaught of an angry, ancient race hell-bent on destroying and conquering planets. Meanwhile back on Earth, the members of the secret super hero think tank the Illuminati and several other heroes are battling to keep the forces of the intergalactic marauder Thanos from ravaging the Earth and wiping out the young members of the super powered race of beings known as the Inhumans.
In “New Avengers” #10 by writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Mike Deodato and “Infinity” #3 by Hickman and artists Jerome Opena and Dustin Weaver those conflicts heated up. The issues saw the Avengers in space rally back after a devastating loss and score their first major victory against the Builders’ armada. The issues also documented the action back on Earth where the Illuminati and the Inhumans launched schemes designed to disrupt Thanos’ plans for Earth and his young son hidden within the Inhumans’ ranks. In today’s installment of THE INFINITE WAR REPORT, Comic Book Resources examines those events and more as Marvel Executive Editor and Senior Vice President of Publishing Tom Brevoort, who also edits “Infinity,” joins us for some insight and commentary into “New Avengers” #10 and “Infinity” #3.
CBR News: Tom, last time Jonathan expressed how he didn’t like the fact that we discussed the art at the end. Let’s try something a little different this week and kick things off with the art. Today we’re talking about the work of three different guys: Mike Deodato who did “New Avengers” #10, and Jerome Opena and Dustin Weaver who drew “Infinity” #3.
Tom Brevoort: Yes, Jerome Opena has been doing the portions of “Infinity” that deal with the Builders and space, and Dustin Weaver has been doing the earthbound chapters that deal with Thanos and the Inhumans.
As usual, these issues are beautifully illustrated by our of crack team of artists. That seems like too little to say for all of the work that these guys are putting in. It’s obviously a big, complicated story with a lot to design, draw, and fit in. Dustin and Jerome in particular do an excellent job of making it look easy when in fact it was anything but easy.
In the past we talked about how Mike has been doing his “New Avengers” work under a time crunch. Was that the case with issue #10 as well?
Pretty much every issue that Mike does that’s an “Infinity” tie-in is going to be under a time crunch, I’m afraid. So yes, he certainly was operating on a time deficit here once again. He of course got done what needed to be done and he did it brilliantly.
Let’s move on and talk about some of the big story beats in these two issues starting with “New Avengers” #10 where Black Bolt provides his Illuminati brethren with a certain set of information and his brother Maximus with another. Can you talk a little bit more about what was going on there? What did he provide Maximus with?
[Laughs] Unfortunately, that’s like asking me how does the story end? I’m not going to tell you that! All I can say is you’re right. He provides the Illuminati with one set of information and gives Maximus something additional. What that all means will come out over the next couple of issues.
Can you comment on if the information Black Bolt provided his brother and the Illuminati was genuine? Or is that something that will also be revealed as the story moves forward?
What’s been revealed so far is exactly what’s on the page. When you say, “genuine,” though, it’s certainly real information. Whether or not it’s accurate information or complete information? That, too, remains to be seen.
So we can conclude then that Black Bolt was sort of compartmentalizing — setting his teammates up to do one thing and Maximus to do another. Is that correct?
Yeah I think that’s a pretty safe conclusion.
“New Avengers” #10 is also where we find out a bit more about the Black Order member known as the Ebony Maw. We didn’t know much about his powers going into this issue, but his hold over Doctor Strange suggests to me that he’s some sort of powerful telepath. Is that correct?
Not necessarily. He’s not really a telepath. For lack of a better term, he’s just a convincing dude. He’s got a golden tongue, so to speak. So there’s no telepathy involved. He’s just really good at convincing people of things.
Is what he’s doing similar to suggestion or hypnosis?
Sort of. It’s maybe more akin to Neuro-Linguistic Programming, with a little bit of possession thrown in.
“New Avengers” #10 is also where we learn what happens to members of the Black Order when they fail Thanos. By the way he treats the Black Dwarf I’m guessing Thanos’ punishment for those who disappoint him is a severe beating and not death. Is that correct?
It certainly seems that way, at least in this instance.
Can you talk about why that is? The standard super villain reaction when a subordinate fails them is to terminate that subordinate.
As we’ve seen previously, the members of the Black Order and Thanos’ crew as a whole are not intimidated by the prospect of death. It’s almost something to be sought out or earned. At Corvus Glaive’s merest order the soldiers accompanying him to his meeting with the Inhumans in “Infinity” #2 were quick to kill themselves in order to carry out Thanos’ grand plan and his agenda for Earth.
So the idea that Thanos would kill the Black Dwarf or anyone who might displease him among his own crew would be like giving them a big chocolate sundae. That’s not the way they go about things. Death is a reward not a punishment.
In this issue Namor reveals to his teammates that Atlantis has been destroyed. In that same scene he appears to set aside his grief and pain over the destruction to help tackle a larger emergency, but is Namor done settling the score for Atlantis? We know in “New Avengers” #9 he directed Thanos’ forces to Wakanda, but does that make things even in his mind?
All I can say is that Atlantis and its destruction at the hands of Wakanda are not forgotten. They are very much at the forefront of his mind, even now.
Later in the issue Doctor Strange discovers the whereabouts of Thanos’ son, which means the Ebony Maw uncovers that information as well. Does all of the Black Order know Thanos’ son is part of the reason why their master has come to Earth? Or is this something the Maw becomes privy to because of his hold over Strange?
I think the Black Order knows why Thanos is here. Certainly Corvus Glaive went to Black Bolt to demand the tribute and has gone to other worlds to demand similar tributes as we’ve seen in the past. So they definitely have a good understanding as to what this is all about.
Let’s move onto “Infinity” #3 where the Builders make the surprising move of starting to accept surrenders instead of continuing to simply destroy planets. Can you talk about why they’ve done this? Or is this something that will be revealed as the story goes on?
I don’t think blowing up planets was necessarily their goal in any of this. It was sometimes a necessity, but it was not their preferred method of getting what they wanted.
I think this is consistent with what they have been doing. I don’t think we’ve seen any indication that the worlds they’ve destroyed so far have been ready to surrender. We’ve seen them attack and destroy worlds that have gone down fighting, but we’ve not seen the Builders bombard a world that was ready to acquiesce.
So the planets we see surrender here in “Infinity #3” are not specific planets they’ve targeted for surrender? This is more of a case of the galaxy responding to their show of force?
No, those worlds themselves are not significant apart from the fact that they’ve surrendered here. The Builders don’t destroy these worlds because they’re of greater importance. It’s that these are the worlds that are able to negotiate a surrender and allow themselves to live on.
Can you talk about why the Builders didn’t accept J-Son’s negotiations in “Avengers” #19?
I don’t think they saw any advantage in doing so — especially since J-Son’s own transmission gave them the location of the Galactic Council, and the means to deal with them en masse once and for all.
The surrender of several planets means that the Builders experience some wins in “Infinity” #3, but the issue is also where they experience their first major loss to the Avengers and the remaining members of the Galactic Council. I’m curious, why do you think the Builders lost the battle we saw in this issue? Is it because they underestimated their foes?
Well, you can’t win ’em all! I think they certainly may not have been prepared for the style and even variety of the abilities, aptitudes, and powers that the Avengers were able to bring to bear. Certainly they were surprised earlier to see among their numbers a Star Brand, a Nightmask, an Abyss and Captain Universe.
So I don’t know if it’s quite underestimating so much as it is not being prepared for the particular way they went about that strike.
Do you think the Builders view themselves as superior to or have contempt for other races in the galaxy?
I think that the Builders have been around for so long and have done so much seeding in terms of the creation and spread of life throughout the universe that in a very real way all other life forms seem like children to them. So they’re not used to other life forms playing on their level or operating within their sphere.
During the battle with the Builders the captured Avengers are liberated, but we don’t see that happen. Will we see that happen in one of the tie-ins?
We will see more about that in the tie-ins; in “Captain Marvel” and “Avengers Assemble” in particular.
After the captured Avengers are liberated, Kevin, the Star Brand, basically flexes his power and wipes out an entire wing of Builders’ ships. How difficult was that for him and just how powerful is he with the Star Brand? Was destroying those ships like swatting a fly?
I’m not sure if we’re at a point where we can quantify the power of the Star Brand other than what we’ve said all along, which is that the Star Brand is a planetary defense protocol. So it certainly needs to be mighty to protect and defend a planet from all the forces within the cosmos that might do it ill.
It’s a system that the Builders created and put into place. So it certainly operates on the same magnitude that they do, but in terms of how difficult this was it doesn’t seem, at least from his performance in the issue, that it’s too terribly difficult. In some ways it may be harder to use a small application of the power. The first time the Star Brand touched Kevin he wiped out pretty much his entire college and several miles of the area surrounding it just by accident. The Star Brand is a cosmic force. It’s used to operating on a big, grand, scale. So in fact it might have been easier to do something like this than something that requires a finer touch.
The Star Brand being a Builder-designed weapon begs the question of whether or not the Builders have a failsafe against it?
I guess we’ll find out [Laughs]
[Laughs] Fair enough. Are we seeing a friendship forming between Gladiator and Captain America? They’ve got similar backgrounds and they seem to be bonding on the command ship during the battle in this issue.
At the very least what we’re seeing is a mutual respect between commanders. I don’t know if we’ll get to the point of friendship where they might consult one another on personal questions or do things like have a meal together or attend a sporting event [Laughs].
I think what we’re seeing is two guys that have the same sort of martial background and instincts coming to regard one another well on the field of battle as allies. Friendships have been made over a lot less than that though, so maybe so.
Let’s talk about the final page of “Infinity” #3. Right before the explosion in Attilan we’ve got a shot of Maximus and he’s with Lockjaw. I suppose it’s no coincidence that someone as cunning as Maximus has a teleporting dog with him right before an explosion goes off?
I think that would be a pretty sensible place to have a teleporting dog if you had one [Laughs].
We obviously won’t know the extent of what Black Bolt did with this explosion until the next major chapter of “Infinity,” but is what happens here on this final page the seed that the upcoming “Inhumanity” storyline will grow from?
Absolutely. No question. You’ll see more about that in “Infinity” #4. This is the moment right here, though, at the end of issue #3.
Finally can we conclude with some hints, and teases about “Avengers” #20, the next major chapter of “Infinity?”
We’ll see the Gardeners get together in a big way out in space. We’ll also see the turn of the wheel in terms of the battle against the Builders off in the cosmos. There’s some math that doesn’t add up terribly well for the Avengers and their allies. This issue pretty much focuses on the war in space as readers have come to kind of expect.
“Avengers” #20 by Jonathan Hickman and Leinil Yu is on sale September 25.