In “A-Force,” by writers G. Willow Wilson & Kelly Thompson and artist Jorge Molina, the adolescent cosmic being named Singularity remembers fighting alongside her friends on “Secret Wars'” Battleworld. Now on Earth Prime, the Marvel Universe‘s primary reality, she’s doing her best to bring those heroes together once again. But as they have no memory of her or fighting side by side, which has been making Singularity’s mission a bit difficult.
This spring, however, the band will be back together and ready for their next adventure, as Thompson and artist Ben Caldwell become the new creative team of “A-Force” with issue #5.
CBR News spoke with Thompson about her take on the team and the book’s cast, and what she’s learned from the experience of co-writing Marvel books with some of the company’s top talent. We also dove into her plans for the series, which includes a story that ties into the looming “Civil War II.”
CBR News: What can you tell us about your sense of the team’s purpose and dynamic when you begin your solo run? Is A-Force an official Avengers team, or are they more of a loose knit band of friends that have adventures together?
Kelly Thompson: I think the latter? I mean, I don’t really see any of these ladies lining up to register the team name and logo or anything, but maybe in the future as they continue to establish themselves [they’ll make it official].
One of my favorite things about how Willow set this team up is that the team is re-formed by Singularity, who is quite simply trying to get her friends back together. But these are not the same women she knew, so they’re not used to one another, or to being on a team together. However, the experiences they have together in that first arc help solidify that they do make a good team, and I think they head into their next adventure in a kind of an organic way, a not quite ready to “let the band break up” thing, and, of course, ready, willing and able to do the good, heroic work that needs doing. â€¨â€¨Working with Marvel has given you a chance to work with not just big name characters, but ultra talented co-writers as well, having co-written “A-Force” with G. Willow Wilson, and “Captain Marvel & the Carol Corps” with Kelly Sue DeConnick. How does it feel to be given that chance to collaborate with Kelly Sue and Willow? And how does it feel to be writing your first solo Marvel title?
I think co-writing for a publisher is a pretty fantastic learning experience. Not just in seeing how other more seasoned writers work, but also in learning the ropes at that publisher, what their expectations are and what the time demands (and constraints) are. It also helps take some pressure off a little bitm like getting to have training wheels or those little inflatable swim things that go on your arms. [Laughs] I felt very grateful to work with both Kelly Sue and Willow, to see how they approach story, and get a chance to peek inside their brains a bit. Both experiences were very different, as one might expect, both because they are different writers and because the situations were a bit different.
All that said, it’s really great to get to try it on my own now. I hope I absorbed enough that I won’t immediately fall on my face!
Let’s talk a little bit about your cast of characters, starting with Captain Marvel. What’s it like writing Carol in the setting of the new Marvel Universe? Which aspects of her personality are you especially interested in exploring?
I love Carol, so it’s great to get to come back to her. I don’t think Carol from the “Carol Corps” miniseries and Earth Prime Carol are terribly different — they’re the same amazing and heroic women, just in slightly different circumstances — so it felt a bit like coming home to get to write Carol again.
In our book, Carol has stepped back and tried to not be the leader, as we already have a lot of those. I like that she’s mature enough to not get caught up in the ego of that. I’m enjoying just having her in a team dynamic with a lot of interesting characters that you might not expect to see her with. At the same time, Carol is a very natural leader, and I think that comes through in how definitive she is on the battlefield and when it comes to strategy.
Your cast has two other natural leaders in the form of She-Hulk and Medusa. What’s your sense of their leadership styles, and will they lead them to clash in “A-Force?”
Yeah. I mean, honestly, you can argue that four of our six characters are natural leaders. She-Hulk, Medusa, Captain Marvel and Nico are, or have been, team leaders in some capacity. And I think while that could be a problem in some books, instead, we lean into it. These are heroes with very strong personalities and points of view who are not always going to agree, which keeps things interesting. She-Hulk and Medusa definitely do clash over leadership of this group and their different approaches, which you see in the first arc for sure, but by the time we get to arc two, She-Hulk has definitely demonstrated this is her team to lead, and I think Medusa accepts that — if only grudgingly.
Your two youthful members of “A-Force” also seem to be an interesting pair. You’ve got Singularity, who is still full of hope and optimism, and you have Nico Minoru, who has every right to be cynical given all she went through in “Runaways,” “Avengers Arena,” and “Avengers Undercover.” On Battleworld they became quite close, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will on “Earth Prime.” What can you tell us about the initial dynamic between Singularity and Nico?
I think that even for cynical, sharp-tongued Nico, it’s pretty hard to resist Singularity. She’s adorable and full of the kind of hope and enthusiasm that’s contagious. You’d have to be made of stone to resist her for long. Singularity loves all these women, but there’s no doubt there’s a special place in her heart for Nico, and she works to rebuild that friendship immediately, to recapture a relationship she had thought lost forever.
Your other main cast member who’s been through a lot is Dazzler, who I don’t believe we’ve seen much of in the new Marvel Universe. Can you talk at all about her status quo when you and Willow pick up with her? How’s she handling this dark time for the Marvel Universe’s mutants?
There’s no way to deny that Alison is still in a pretty dark place when we meet up with her in “A-Force.” What she went through at Mystique’s hands has undoubtedly scarred her, and we’re not going to pretend that it didn’t happen. Going through something like that changes you forever, but that doesn’t mean you stop changing. When we meet up with Alison she’s still really stuck, but also coming to the realization that the things she’s doing to heal (running away, plotting revenge, whatever) have not been working. What she ends up going through with A-Force gives her some new purpose and focus, opens her eyes a little bit to the fact that she has to find a way to move forward, and that the way forward does not always look the way you thought it should.
Will we see characters associated with your cast members, like Angie Huang and Hei Hei from “She-Hulk?” Or some members of the Ultimates and the Inhuman Royal family? And will new characters like Tempest Bell continue to play a role?
When you’ve got an ensemble book like we do, there’s honestly not room for a lot of supporting cast. Our first arc takes place mostly in space, so Tempest Bell plays a role, and Wendy Kawasaki from “Captain Marvel” also has a very small part. When we’re “back on land” for arc two, we’re going to have a cool new villain to deal with, and what I think is a very exciting guest star that will especially have a lot of meaning for one of our heroes.
Artist Ben Caldwell, whose work has this great animated vibe to it, is your collaborator on “A-Force.” From what I’ve seen of his work on the book, he appears to have gotten even better. What’s it like working with Ben? What do you enjoy most about his style?
Working with Ben is simply a dream. I’ve been exceedingly lucky in my career to work with a lot of great artists, but it’s not every artist that can take a scene and bring it back to you way better than what you asked for. Ben has a true gift for storytelling. His instincts are just so strong — he breaks a story in a really interesting way that is so considerate of the overall goal of what you’re trying to do, but also of all the little moments that really make a comic sing. When it comes to expressions, character work and character design, he is the best of the best. No two characters ever look alike in Ben’s hands — they have different body types and faces, different hair, clothes and posture. It’s magnificent stuff, and on an ensemble book like this, it’s not only important but also exciting to see. You guys are gonna love it.
Finally, can you leave us with some hints and teases about your initial plans for “A-Force” as a solo writer? What kinds of threats and problems are you interested in having the team confront?
I think this new arc is going to be very personal for everyone, but especially for Dazzler and Nico. The team is in a good groove, they’re high off their first win, they’re enjoying working together, they’re having a good time punching dragons and eating pie. But they’re going to get pretty torn apart, emotionally, in ways that I hope will expose interesting sides to them, bringing out both their best and worst, and thus growing them as both characters and as friends/a team.
I think, going forward, given our roster, it’s no secret that A-Force is going to be involved in the “Civil War II” event, and I hope it will be cool for readers to see our ladies getting drawn into that conflict and, of course, what it might mean for our team (and roster!) going forward.