A.I.M.-ing for Illumination: Reed's "Ms. Marvel" & "New Avengers: Illuminati"

The action in the Marvel Universe is coming fast and furious and writer Brian Reed is in the thick of it. In the ongoing Ms. Marvel series Reed has his title character caught in the crossfire of a three way civil war taking place within the ranks of A.I.M. In New Avengers: Illuminati, which Reed co-writers with Brian Bendis, readers are learning some of the secret history of the Marvel U. CBR News spoke with Reed about both books.

In Ms. Marvel #13 Carol Danvers launched Operation: Lightning Storm, a pro-active initiative targeting villains and criminal organizations like A.I.M. in an effort to take them out before they become threats the Mighty Avengers, which she also leads, would have to tackle. Lightning Storm is also a way to unite the soldier and superhero aspects of Ms. Marvel's character. It's been really entertaining. With the first year on the book the plan was to have her make this declaration that, 'I'm going to be the best of the best.' And then have her slowly screw up at it, Reed told CBR News. It's no fun if she just goes out and trips and falls but it's interesting to watch her stumble. And it's really interesting to watch fan reaction. They started going, 'Why the hell did she hire a publicist?' Exactly. And then to give her that moment in issue #12 where she goes, 'What the hell am I doing?' Let her say the thing that we've all been thinking, 'You said you were going to do this thing and your answer was to hire a publicist and go around aimlessly?'

So we knew for awhile that she was going to have this moment but we hadn't talked about what she's going to do, Reed continued. That's where Lightning Storm came from. It was us going, 'This is what we would do if we were her.'

In Ms. Marvel #15 the storyline Ready, A.I.M. Fire began and Carol Danvers launched Operation: Lightning Storm with her first target being Advanced Idea Mechanics. In doing so, she unwittingly thrust herself into a middle of a three way civil war for the control of the organization between M.O.D.O.K., Scientist Supreme Monica Rappaccini, and an enigmatic A.I.M. agent named Madigan. There's going to be some stuff revealed about Madigan in the next issue or so as to why he started all this trouble, Reed explained. He's basically said, 'I'm just going take apart A.I.M.' and when we learn his reasons why we'll understand. He certainly seems more focused on A.I.M. as an organization than what A.I.M. can do to the world doesn't he? And that's going to be a big revelation with him.

A.I.M. must contend with the treacherous plans of Madigan and Ms. Marvel will have to deal with a traitor within the ranks of the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who compose her own Operation Lightning Storm support staff. We will find out about that more in the next issue or two as well, Reed revealed.

The next issue of Ms. Marvel, part two of Ready, A.I.M., Fire, hits stores on June 6 th and in it that issue the A.I.M civil war heats up to a boiling point. It's an all out brawl, Reed stated. It's what this past issue was a set up for; bringing all the players into one place and issue #16 is the fall out from putting everybody in that tiny room. You've got three factions of A.I.M. that all want to kill each other and you've got Ms. Marvel coming into the middle of it. So it's 'Civil War' in the space of one room.

As readers of Ms. Marvel #15 saw, Carol has to deal with one other threat in that small room; a hypnotized Wonder Man. That's a big part of what next issue is about Reed explained. We've seen that even though Ms. Marvel has her relationship with William Wagner that apparently there's some feelings for Simon Williams lurking there. So we get to see that all come to a head next issue as well.

Readers might incorrectly think that the romantic dilemma Carol Danvers finds herself in is an easy one. She definitely really likes William and there are plans shortly after the M.O.D.O.K arc for a lot of this relationship stuff to come to a head, Reed said. There's going to be a moment where she thinks, 'I've got this guy who knows me as Carol and I've got this guy who knows me as Ms. Marvel. Which one do I want to be with?' Having a guy who knows her as Carol is really important to her but at the same time she needs someone who can understand that periodically she's got to fight stuff like giant-headed bad guys.

Simon Williams will continue to be a presence in Carol's life in upcoming issues and so will Anya Corazon AKA Arana. With Arana I needed a hero who can go into training. I looked at a list of characters and said, 'Here are ten people that I want.' I was told that five of them were available. Arana was the one I just happened to know a little bit about so I said all right I'll take her, Reed explained. The initial plan was that I was going to use her for an issue and then she was going to go away but as soon as I started writing her, her and Carol clicked. It was like I wasn't in charge of their relationship (laughs). I got these two characters together on the page and they started doing things I didn't expect, which was cool.

What was really entertaining was as I wrote the issue where she appeared I was telling Andy Schmidt, who was editor at that time, that I think people are going to click with Arana, Reed continued. That's my goal. If they get to click with this character that they know nothing about or think they hate then yay for me. The morning that issue #7 came out, where Carol made the decision to register and reveal her identity to her dad, I got an e-mail from Ed Brubaker saying, 'God Damn you. You made me care about Arana.' So she's coming back. The Doomsday Man issue was kind of a turning point for her.

Fans don't have to wait long for Arana's return. She'll play a key role in the next major storyline of Ms. Marvel There will be a discovery that someone is kidnapping women with super powers, Reed said. They're just disappearing from the Initiative and Anya is going to be one of them. There's going to be a big quest to find out who is behind this and why. That's the next arc which carries up to the arc that will take us to issue #25 and our two year anniversary.

Readers can also expect some upcoming revelations and surprises about another Ms. Marvel, supporting character, Carol Danvers's publicist, Sarah Day What was with that weird book? [Day was seen reading a book filled with mysterious symbols in Ms. Marvel #12] A lot of the Sarah Day stuff is going to come to a head very soon, Reed explained. Next issue especially is going to surprise some people. The first two pages are her and there are going to be things that will have people going, 'What is she doing? Who is this woman?' And a lot of that stuff is going to come to a head probably around issue #25, which we're kind of plotting out right now. We know that Carol and Sarah are going to have a 'discussion' let's call it that.

Very soon readers are going to be discussing some of the big events from Reed's other book the New Avengers: Illuminati mini-series; these events that will directly affect Carol Danvers. When Bendis and I first started talking about the 'Illuminati' it wasn't going to be that big, Reed stated. Now it's become the thing for next year. This is going to be the thing that everybody talks next year and Ms. Marvel is going to be in the thick of it.

Fans of Secret Wars I and II will be talking about the events of Illuminati #3, which hits stored on May 23rd. The issue takes place right in between 'Secret Wars I and II. It's right in the period where Tony Stark was not in the Iron Man armor, Reed said. We see a little of what was going on with the Beyonder and maybe there's things we saw in the past, which we saw one way but were really something else? Everybody comes a long every few years and goes, 'You know what the Beyonder really was?' This is us finally nailing that down and making him a viable and useable character that other writers can play with because he's been such a jumbled mess for so long. It's almost our Beyonder origin issue (laughs).

After encountering the Beyonder in issue #3, the solicits and cover for Illuminati #4 seem to indicate that the group encounters two threats in that issue: their girlfriends and Marvel Boy. The issue is great because if you've ever worked somewhere long enough so that everybody has kind of gotten to know each others' personal lives you'll have meetings where you come to talk about company thing x and before the meeting gets rolling and everybody is in the room you start talking about the fight you had with your wife or what your kid did. This is that kind of moment, Reed explained. These guys have known each other for years and they're having these meetings and they're not all in the room yet, so they're chatting before hand. We show that; then kind of segue way into the Marvel Boy stuff. It's really funny because the first half of the issue we were just laughing and making up jokes and sending them back and forth to each other. The second half is this deadly serious threat, 'Here's a guy who just declared war on Earth. What do we do?'

The discussion in the first half of issue #4 might not involve Namor because observant readers may have noticed that there is no female counterpart for Namor on the cover to Illuminati #4. When asked about this Reed cryptically answered with another question, Interesting, huh?

The second half of Illuminati #4 takes place before Marvel Boy's appearance in the pages of Civil War: Young Avengers/Runaways, We learn that some of what happened during Young Avengers/Runaways actually screwed up what the Illuminati had set in motion, Reed said. In issue #4 they kind of win for once. That's been the problem that we've seen through out the series. It's like these guys keep getting their asses kicked don't they? They win a fight and go, 'All right! We did good! But you'll know if you read 'Young Avengers/ Runaways' that didn't really work out well.

The Illuminati have faced some big challenges throughout their mini-series but nothing like the challenges they face in issue #5, which takes place in present day and has the group dealing with the rest of the heroes in the Marvel Universe, and they're all pretty angry. Issue #5 is where the bomb drops, Reed stated. Everybody finds out what these guys have been doing and it's a big set up for next year's kind of Universe wide story.

There's not a lot I can say about the impact of issue #5 without giving away a lot of plans for next year, Reed continued. But let's just say it sets up a lot of stuff; a lot of threads that people don't even realize are in the series get tugged at even harder and things get exposed. It kind of ties in with 'New Avengers' #31. So this is part of that and there's stuff coming up in 'Ms. Marvel,' where I've already put in hints that people don't know are there yet. There are things all over the various Marvel books that people are doing, which readers aren't picking up on yet.

Illuminati is only a five issue mini-series but Reed would love to tell more tales of Marvel's secret society of heroes. It's funny because this is one of those ideas that once you start rolling you go, 'Oh we can do that! And that! And that! And then we can do that!' Reed stated. There are no official plans for anything yet but if Tom Brevoort calls me tomorrow and says do you guys want to do this again?' I'm saying yes.

Penning New Avengers: Illuminati has been an enjoyable experience for Reed for a number of reasons. We're playing with the best toys in the toy box right now and on top of that we're playing with Marvel history, Reed explained, The real fun has been with people who don't know the parts of history that we're playing with coming to us and telling us how great it was and how they went and they tracked down 'The Kree-Skrull War' and read it and had this blast with a thirty year old story they didn't know about. That's been fun we're introducing a lot of people to the Marvel heritage

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