This week, writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Frank Cho launch a new era for Earth's Mightiest Heroes with the debut of the new ongoing series "Mighty Avengers" from Marvel Comics. Next week, the writer and artist Alex Maleev bring to a close a chapter in Marvel history that fractured the bonds between the Avengers and many other Marvel heroes with the release of the one-shot "Civil War: The Confession." CBR News spoke with Bendis about both projects and what readers can expect.
As readers of "New Avengers" #27 saw, there's already one team running around referring to themselves as Avengers, but this team is operating underground. In "Mighty Avengers" #1, Iron Man decides the public needs its own team of Avengers out there working for them in full view. "They represent something bigger," Bendis told CBR News. "It's a good healing process. It's good for the civilians and it's probably really good for Tony."
Tony Stark's team of Avengers is assembled differently than previous incarnations of the team. "This is one of the very few times and maybe the only time that the team is handpicked and not thrown together by fate or voted on by a charter," Bendis explained. "It's Tony and Ms. Marvel looking at who's available and trying to pick the best team ever. We lay out why these characters are the best and what purpose they serve. A lot of questions people have about what makes a team and what's the magic of a team will be brought forth in the first issue."
Some of the questions answered in "Mighty Avengers" #1 will include why the Olympian God of War is fighting alongside his former enemies and what role he plays in the team. "Ares is the God of War and now he's earthbound, as has been depicted in the 'Ares' mini-series which I highly recommend," Bendis said. "He's the God of War which means he's the ultimate war time tactician. He's the deity of this. He can put together a plan like nobody's business. He's more than Wolverine, he's more than Thor and he's all kinds of obnoxious. He's a lot of fun to write and he's got a long history with the Avengers. He was in 'Avengers' #99 for Christ's sake. He's been gliding in and out for quite awhile. For him to commit to this and them to commit to him, it's kind of an interesting dynamic that we haven't really seen before.
"As depicted in the mini-series, Ares has left his father and his father's kingdom," Bendis continued. "He rejected it and the other thing is Ares has a mortal son. So, who's the mother? Could it be someone in the Marvel Universe that we know? Someone that was out of the loop for awhile? Could she have had time to pop out a baby?"
Ares may be a master tactician, but while he's in the field he's taking orders from the leader of the "Mighty Avengers" team, Ms. Marvel. "She's a military woman and it's an aspect of her character that makes for an interesting dichotomy," Bendis stated. "Because she's military, she's the best choice to lead this team, which is a military sanctioned pro-registration superhero team."
When readers meet Ms. Marvel's team for the first time in "Mighty Avengers," they aren't all used to working together and haven't gelled yet as team. "They are thrown into the fire literally fourteen minutes after they meet," Bendis explained. "So, it's a trial by fire and they kind of have to slip into each other's groove. But as we've seen in the past, some of the best moments in Marvel history are when teams are thrown together into the fire."
As the series progresses, readers will see team mates strengthen old bonds and form new ones. "Some of them are really old friends and some of them don't know each other at all," Bendis said. "Some have been there since day one of the Avengers and are here again for the newest team. It's an interesting dynamic on many levels; to me it's the interactions between the team members that you haven't seen together before, even if they're older characters. Relationships will blossom, change or dissolve. That's really where the magic is."
Much of the interaction between team members in "Mighty Avengers" will be out in the field or in team's headquarters. "They're going to be in Avengers Tower," Bendis stated. "Stark spent a lot of money on that building. Also, the Sentry is staying there. I knew it was a touchy thing to go switching from Avengers Mansion to Avengers Tower because the Mansion wasn't broken as an image, but after 'Disassembled' it's haunted by ghosts. So I thought they would move to the Tower and once you put the Sentry's Tower right there on it, it becomes a real beacon. That seemed to stick with people. They seemed to enjoy look of it. It is its own unique landmark."
It won't be just the team members inhabiting Avengers Tower. The building will be a busy place, populated by a host of individuals, including one man whose is sort of an unofficial team member. "Jarvis is kind of the conscience of the team," Bendis explained. "He's more than just a servant. He's really kind of the heart. His being there kind of relaxes some of them. They come home and he's there and it's such a release. It's like the world is normal.
"Jarvis is there and with Tony being director of S.H.I.E.L.D., that means Maria Hill and other members of the S.H.I.E.L.D. cast will be there," Bendis continued. "Also each one of the characters has their own supporting casts."
In future issues of "Mighty Avengers" Bendis plans to focus on each member of the team and their back stories. He also plans to highlight the specialties of each team member. "You're first reaction may be 'Ultron versus Black Widow? What the fuck could she possibly do?' But immediately you get to see what she can do," Bendis stated. "These characters all have surprising elements. Some of them are going to have different power sets post- 'Civil War.'
Some members of the team may have different powers, but the way the team operates and the missions they carry out haven't changed really one iota. "The Avengers work for the Initiative, which will be detailed in Dan Slott's book, but they are an entity unto themselves," Bendis explained. "They will function not too differently than they were pre-'Civil War.' It's just a different team with a different dynamic and they're a fully sanctioned team.
"The one interesting note I get from lots of people is that they sort of empathize more with the 'New Avengers' because they're the underdogs, while the other team, they're the man.," Bendis continued. "When you see this team functioning and the heavy burden they're living with post 'Civil War,' I think they'll be just as interesting to read about."
In the opening story of "Mighty Avengers," the cast will deal with the burden of coming together as a team and the reemergence of an old Avengers foe. "The opening story cuts back and forth between Tony and Ms. Marvel choosing and debating on the group," Bendis said. "At the same time the threat of the newly designed Ultron comes fast and furious and is a direct result of Tony's new abilities and things that have happened in the Marvel Universe over the last couple of weeks."
After they tackle Ultron, things won't get any easier for Iron Man and Ms. Marvel's Avengers. "Some of the people that escaped from the Raft, they've got huge power sets. They just haven't been around. What have they been doing since Civil War? A lot of villains have been very, very quiet. So both in 'New Avengers' and 'Mighty Avengers' you're going to see a lot of classic, I hate to call them 'B-List' villains. I mean 'B-List' only in relation to villains like Dr. Doom, but you'll see some really powerful and interesting villains that haven't been in the spotlight coming back with clear agendas
"Also, Angel Medina is drawing the second arc and it's got symbiotes galore," Bendis continued. "It's not an invasion, but there's a lot of symbioteness coming. Plus Dr. Doom is coming. I've got permission to do some Dr. Doom stuff that hasn't been done before."
Doing things that haven't been done before is one Bendis's goals with "Mighty Avengers." "I want to tell stories firmly rooted in the team's rich past, but I also want to move them forward," he explained. "In 'Mighty Avengers' there will be stuff where you'll go, 'He's read Avengers comics before.' But at the same time I don't want to repeat those stories. If we bring Ultron back, it should be a different story than the ones that have been told. So, they should move forward in a very organic way and I think that's what you're going to see here. I also want to see these superheroes proactively change the world for the better and take down some people who have not been taken down."
The cast of "Mighty Avengers" will also be tasked with taking down another group of super powered people; the underground operating cast of "New Avengers," which could lead to shake ups in the line ups of both titles. "They're all Avengers and they all have an agenda," Bendis stated. "Those agendas will sometimes criss-cross and players may have to switch or abandon one team for another because of what they believe in.
"The cool thing is and the reason why I'm writing both Avengers titles is that what you're going to get is an interaction between the books that is so unique and after a few issues you're going to see that maybe the same story is being told from two different areas and the teams are heading towards each other and bouncing around each other," Bendis continued. "I'm very excited about it. Years of preparation have gone into it. People who have stuck with 'New Avengers' #1 and want to know who the shadowy figures and what the overlying story is that pushed the Avengers into this situation, all will be revealed this year and I'm just happy to show it to people."
Another reason why the Avengers have split into two teams was the events of "Civil War." In next week's "Civil War: The Confession," Bendis examines some of the underlying reasons for the conflict that arose between the Marvel Heroes. "It's 'The Confession'; it's why the war happened," Bendis said. "It's missed opportunities. It's someone carrying a heavy burden. It's about a lot of stuff."
Bendis didn't originally intend for "Civil War: The Confession" to bookend "Civil War." "There were just a couple of emotional elements to the characters that we all as creators knew, but I kind of wondered if they were being expressed," Bendis said. "The problem with what the ideas were was that they kind of had to be held in. There wasn't any place in the story for someone to confess the things they had to confess. So, I brought it up at one of the retreats.
'Someone had mentioned it and then it was mentioned again and then I said, 'You realize that has never been spoken to the readership like that,'" Bendis continued. "It was an important idea that follows some other emotional ideas about the characters and Mark was absolutely right not to bring it up in 'Civil War.' Now that it's over though, there should be a place where the unspoken is spoken and it relates a lot to some questions people have about motivation. Then I looked around the room and realized that I had just signed onto something that I originally had no intention of writing."
When it came to finding an illustrator to bring to life "Civil War: The Confession," Bendis looked to his frequent collaborator Alex Maleev (who illustrated Bendis's "Illuminati" one-shot that served as a prelude to "Civil War"). "Alex and I were prepping something else, but we had a few weeks before we had to start this other thing and I thought Alex is perfect for this," Bendis stated. "Also because we did the prelude there's kind of a nice symmetry. It was an unplanned symmetry. But you look back at it and go, 'That's prefect. Alex is exactly the right person.' This book is the best thing Alex has done in his whole life. He colored the first half and it's staggering. The images he created based on this script are just haunting."
Bendis couldn't give too many specific details about the plot of "The Confession." "It's the major players from 'Civil War' and all about character and motivation and where they were and where they are now," Bendis said. "As you can see from the cover, it's Cap's bloody shield. Cap is in the book. I don't mean to be so vague. I love this bookm but at the same time I don't want to ruin it for people; for people that have invested a lot of time and effort into 'Civil War,' I think the 'Confession' is going to be a satisfying read."
Mighty Avengers #1 ships Wednesday, March 7th, with Civil War: The Confession hitting Wednesday, March 14th.
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