The Guardians of the Galaxy exist to preserve the fragile cosmic balance of the Marvel Universe. So when galactic empires go to war or cosmic-powered beings threaten creation, the heroes intervene. However, when the cosmos is torn apart by civil war, the machinations of empires hostile to humanity and the rages of reborn divine beings, new methods but be implemented for guarding the galaxy.
Readers will see those new methods in action in January, when writer Al Ewing and artist Juan Cabal kick off a new spy-fi goes sci-fi volume of Guardians of the Galaxy in which the team will battle scheming Skrulls, warring Kree and the divine might of the now spacefaring Olympian gods. CBR spoke with Ewing about those threats, his cast of characters (which includes such fan favorites as Nova and Marvel Boy), and the role played by the Olympian god and former Avenger Hercules.
CBR: At the end of Avengers No Road Home, the Olympian gods were reborn out in the cosmos. What kind of impact has that had on the galactic landscape when you pick things up in Issue 1? And how similar and different is this reborn pantheon to the Olympian gods of Earth?
Al Ewing: Essentially, when the gods were murdered en masse by Nyx, they passed into a kind of cosmic death/rebirth cycle, and have now been reborn for a new age. And the current age is not pretty, so neither are they. They're not so much having an impact on the galactic landscape, as the galactic landscape has had an impact on them -- they're reflecting it, prophesying it. That the gods return in this form -- as planet-crushing threats -- isn't just a major problem in itself, it's a harbinger of worse problems to come.
Right now-- and I mean right now, not when the book starts, things will have gotten worse by then -- there's a massive civil war raging in Kree space. The Skrulls are making moves on Earth. The Nova Corps has been massacred, essentially ending the rule of galactic law. We're not resetting any of this stuff, not just shrugging our shoulders and saying, "Oh, well, that's space for you!" It's a political landscape, and that landscape is coming to pieces, and the Olympians are just a symptom of that. Unfortunately, they're a symptom that can destroy civilizations, so... yeah. Somebody's going to need to step up.
When we talked the end of No Road Home you mentioned Hercules was involved in some big plans you were working on. Does that mean he'll have a role in Guardians of the Galaxy? Is Herc joining the team?
Maybe he is, maybe he ain't! I have a lot of moving parts for the coming year, a lot of twists and turns, and some of those you're not going to know until the they're on the page in front of your eyeballs. Where is Herc in all this? You'll see.
Star-Lord and Rocket Raccoon are probably the most familiar faces in your book. What's it like returning to Rocket with this series? What's your sense of Star-Lord?
I've got big plans for both of these guys -- in some ways, these two, and their friendship, is the core of the entire book. If you go all the way back to the first appearance of the modern Rocket, when he was re-introduced to the main Marvel Universe in Annihilation: Conquest, it was him and Pete. Before Groot, before anyone. So we're going to be seeing these two reconnect a little bit -- not to say that Groot is going to be out of the picture entirely, but I feel like there's a dynamic between Rocket and Peter Quill that I'd like to explore more. Individually - well, anyone who followed the Rocket mini knows how I handle him, but as for Star-Lord... there's a direction for that character I'd like to follow, and I'm getting to do it. So that'll be fun.
Phyla-Vell and Moondragon are also on the cover of Issue 1. What kind of role do they play in the book? What do you find most interesting about them as individuals and as a couple?
Phyla and Moondragon are fascinating to me because they're not from around here. They were brought in from another dimension, and a dimension where things are a little more... heroic. As I recall, Loki is an out-and-out good guy in their world, so there's clearly a lot less nuance to things. So I think of them as Big Darn Superheroes from the Big Darn Superhero Dimension, kind of marooned in a messier world of more flawed and human beings. And to make matters more complicated, there's another Heather Douglas running around, from our own world. And how does she feel, knowing that there's a version of Phyla alive in this universe, coupled up with a less-flawed version of her? That's got to be a hard thing to get your head and heart around at all levels.
What kind of plans do you have for Nova? How has the massacre of the Nova Corps and the cosmic rebirth of the Olympian gods impacted him?
Nova's one of my favorite characters, because he's changed so drastically since his origins. He started off as this Spidey-esque figure, this version of the high school kid learning their powers, but over the years he's grown into someone with a lot more depth and range. What fascinates me about him in this context is that he doesn't really have a home on Earth any more -- he can't function there -- but he doesn't really have a home in space either, especially since the latest incarnation of the Nova Corps ended. Also, he's the only person on the team who fully understands how bad things have gotten in terms of the big picture of galactic politics -- how close to total war the universe is drifting. So that's having an effect on him as well.
Your cast also includes Noh-Varr. What can you tell us about the things that motivate his actions in Guardians? What do you feel he adds to the book?
We're calling him "Marvel Boy" to avoid confusion - in-world as well as behind the scenes. He's motivated because it's his people, the Utopian Kree, who are under the greatest threat from the Olympians - but he might also have some secrets of his own. In terms of what he adds - it's almost more what this adds to him. He's been an Earth-based hero for a very long time, and when we've seen him in a space context it's always been related to Earth in some way - but he's Kree, albeit other-dimensional Kree, and space is his home, so I feel like it's about time he got involved, especially since one side of the Kree Civil War is working off a blueprint he provided. The new Supreme Intelligence is essentially his buddy from back in the day - he's got connections.
You've described your run on Guardians as a “high-octane spy-fi action-adventure set against an evolving backdrop of interstellar politics, intrigue and suspense.” That suggests that the elevator pitch for your run would be the Mission: Impossible films meet the science fiction of the Marvel Universe. Is that an accurate description of your plans for the series?
Pretty accurate! I've been trying not to lean on the Mission: Impossible thing too much when talking about this series -- I don't want it to come across as a "meets,” like the only thing about it is that it's a mash-up of other things -- but there is going to be that super-spy flavor to it. This will be a team that does missions, and those missions won't always pan out so well, and the stakes are going to be high, both in terms of the big, galactic fate-of-the-world stuff, and the more personal stuff to do with the individual team members -- who lives, who dies, who gets their heart broken. And people are going to live, die and get their heart broken. We're not going easy on anyone here.
Juann Cabal is coming to Guardians from a run on Friendly, Neighborhood Spider-Man where he drew a large, diverse cast of characters and locales. Is this a book that calls for a similar large, but more fantastic cast of people and places?
Juann is amazing. He really brings the characters alive, and his locations are always these breathtaking landscapes. I love what he does with everybody -- everyone looks gorgeous, but also alive and full of character. It's a wonderfully clear-line style that's also incredibly expressive - it really is the best of both worlds, and it's the perfect style for a fast-paced, character-heavy book like this one.
Is there anything else you can tell us about the antagonists of Guardians of the Galaxy? Will we see some more familiar faces?
We will! I've got some big plans regarding the Super Skrull, we'll be bringing back some characters from my Rocket book, there's going to be a lot of connective tissue with some of the other events blowing up Marvel Space, and it's all leading towards... well, that would be telling. But there are a few landmarks along this road, and a few returning faces in connection with it, that will really surprise readers.
I appreciate that this is a book with a strong and varied fanbase waiting to see what I do with it -- both in terms of those who were following Donny's [Cates] run, and those fans of Marvel Space who've been with us since the days of the original Annihilation, and further back still. I want to do a book that appeals to all the Guardians fans -- to fans of big action, big emotion and the big dirty politics you only get from interstellar empires rattling the sabres. I hope you'll all come along for the ride.