The past several years have been turbulent for Marvel Comics’ mutant hero Sunspot. Roberto da Costa has gone from being a member of the Avengers, to the leader of both a renegade faction of the team and the former terrorist group A.I.M., to the leader of the U.S. government’s own team of Avengers. Then, in U.S.Avengers #10 he resigned as leader of both A.I.M. and the titular team. Throughout all those changes, his friend Sam Guthrie, better known as the hero Cannonball, has stood by him. So when Sunspot gets word that Sam, who was believed to have died during the chaos of Secret Empire, is still alive and in danger, he drops everything and recruits his former teammates for an intergalactic rescue operation.
That operation kicked off in U.S.Avengers #11, by writer Al Ewing and artist Paco Diaz, the first chapter of a two-part arc titled “Cannonball Run.” The story, which involves Skrulls and satirizes the iconic world and characters of Archie Comics, comes to a close in issue #12, which just happens to be the series final issue. That won’t be the end of the team or Ewing’s involvement with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, though. The writer and his cast will both be part of “No Surrender,” a weekly, 16-part event that kicks off in January and runs through Avengers #675-690.
CBR: In U.S.Avengers #11 you kicked off "Cannonball Run," an arc which is set on the planet of Kral X, also known as Glennbrook. What we saw of Glennbrook and its citizens, like monarch and "All-American" teenager Ritchie Redwood, are a satire some of Archie Comics' iconic characters and concepts, and the idea of what intergalactic races would make of the media Earth creates and consumes. What inspired this story?
Al Ewing: It's more an affectionate celebration than any kind of satire - the ultimate message of these two issues is very pro-Archie, you'll find. But we are also bringing back a concept from the older days of Marvel, in that a certain subset of the shape-changing alien race, the Skrulls, have always been deeply fascinated by Earth culture. The story's gone through various iterations - when I first thought it up, it was set in another dimension, and then the idea of the Kral system presented itself as a neater solution that didn't involve quite as much jumping through hoops.
The "Archie" thing was the last thing to come along, but it ended up tying it all together. It's a fitting last adventure for the U.S.Avengers in their own book - they're going out much the same way they came in, in one last wild, fun, hopeful ride before the crap hits the fan in “No Surrender.”
In U.S.Avengers #12, you and Paco Diaz close out the series by sending the title characters on a mission to Kral X to rescue Cannonball. I know you have experience writing these sort of closing one door while opening another type issues, but what was it like wrapping this series in particular? What sort of hints and teases can you offer up about the action in issue #12?
Well, since you've mentioned Paco, let me just say how wonderful he's been throughout the process. His clean, sure style is perfect in a lot of ways for this kind of thing, and he's got no problem following me on my wilder flights of fancy, or rolling with the various twists and turns of the story.
Wrapping this series was a little bittersweet - in some ways, it's coming to the end of a long journey for me, since I've been writing Avengers teams in one form or another almost since I started at Marvel, and there's a through-line throughout the various books. In some ways, Roberto's succeeded in what he set out to do in New Avengers - he's out-lived S.H.I.E.L.D. - but as we saw in #10, he's had to give away everything he built to avoid becoming the new S.H.I.E.L.D., just as bad as the old.
In #12, we see the U.S.Avengers finally reunited - not much of a spoiler, since it's always about the "how" not the "if" with me - but at least one member's future is in serious doubt by the end, and things are only going to get worse. Issue #12 will offer a tease of just how bad things get for the team in “No Surrender.”