Bennett Assembles Battleworld's Mightiest Heroes in "A-Force"

Since their debut over fifty years ago, the Avengers -- a group of individual heroes that come together on a day unlike any other to battle greater threats -- have become a mainstay of the Marvel Universe. While reality as we know it may be irrevocably changed starting with this spring's "Secret Wars" event, that doesn't mean the Avengers or the heroism that drive them are through. The line-wide event will launch with the formation of Battleworld, a patchwork planet made of up domains left over from the multiverse. In one of Battleworld's domains, a new day unlike any other will dawn and an all-female unit of Avengers will assemble to battle evil.

The adventures of this team will be chronicled in the new ongoing "A-Force" series by co-writers G. Willow Wilson and Marguerite Bennett and artist Jorge Molina, which kicks off in May. CBR News spoke with Bennett, the writer helming the book's initial "Secret Wars" arc set in the domain of Arcadia, about A-Force's membership and the five characters that form the core of the team.

CBR News: As co-writer of "A-Force," you're chronicling the tale of an all-female unit of Avengers. How does it feel to be part of the project? How far along was it when you came on board?

Marguerite Bennett: It was really thrilling. I'm not Marvel exclusive but I was hanging out in the evening at the Marvel retreat last December, so whenever everyone got done with their meetings we'd meet up at the bar and have fun. I wound up having a long conversation with editor Daniel Ketchum, who I had worked with on "Nightcrawler" #7, which I did with Chris Claremont. Daniel and I really liked each other's work, so he said, "I'm going to be putting together this project with Willow and I'd love for you to be involved. Is that something that appeals to you?" I was totally sold. I didn't entirely know what the project was yet, but I adore Willow and really love working with Daniel and I am down for whatever they wanted to assemble -- get it?

So about a week to week and a half later, we wound up catching up again and he told me about the project. It was just to die for. It was so exciting. Then from there whenever I've gone up to the Marvel offices or we've gone out and gotten dinner we built upon this world. The response to the project has just been phenomenal and mind-boggling. I'm so grateful for this. It's been really overwhelming. [Laughs]

We've talked in the past about how much you enjoy co-writing. What's it like working with Willow? What kind of division of labor do you guys have going with "A-Force"? Is it clear-cut with one of you scripting and the other plotting?

We're sort of just starting out right now. Willow entirely came up with the character of Singularity and Daniel Ketchum was the one who got the two of us together and we started to hatch out the details of the civilization that's going to be where the Marvel heroines live and collaborate on the "Secret Wars" Battleworld.

I'm really skittish because I'm not sure what I'm allowed to say at this point or even if I've said too much. [Laughs] But working with Willow is a dream. We've done a couple interviews and she's so eloquent, elegant and compassionate. And I get so fired up and feisty and mouthy about everything. [Laughs] It seems like a very good combo for enthusiasm.

In the past you've done mini-events for Marvel, but "A-Force" is your first major Marvel event story. How does it feel to be part of such a huge event story line?

Like I'm in the big leagues. [Laughs] It's very exciting, but it's also very intimidating. The reaction just on Twitter alone was huge. I had thousands and thousands of notifications. It got to the point where the platform physically wouldn't load them all. I wanted to respond to everyone who had something kind to say and it just got the point where I was clicking the notifications and it reached this max limit of what it would load. So there are some people out there in the aether that I will never know what they said -- good or ill -- and I'll never have a chance to respond to them.

It's so exciting and I don't want to sound like I'm scared that I'm going to screw it up, but I'm scared that I'm going to screw it up. [Laughs] I have such faith in the people that I'm working with though that I feel like their judgment will not allow me to sabotage the story with my own self-doubt.

Kicking off "A-Force" with a "Secret Wars" story means you have a pretty interesting playground to launch the title with in the form of Battleworld. What can you tell us about Arcadia, the Battleworld domain you'll be exploring in the initial issues of "A-Force"? What I've read describes the realm as a "feminist paradise."

[Laughs] That works. It's this world where the Marvel heroines are leaders in their own civilization. I really didn't want to have some kind of validating reason. I remember watching one of the DCU animated cartoons a couple years ago where they put together a team of female heroines to go fight a villainess. I think it was Dick Grayson who was talking to them on screen and he was saying something like they couldn't send any male heroes to fight this villainess because she can control the minds of men. I believe it was Batgirl who sassed him back and essentially said, "Why are you trying to justify having a team of only women? No one would ever try to validate sending a team of only men."

So I didn't want to do anything like, "all the men disappeared years ago" or "ever since all the menfolk were killed in that war" or something like that. There are men -- there are heroes there. You'll see familiar faces and favorites, but the heroines are in charge, by majority. It's just this is how their world evolved. They were competent. They were clever and they were the ones in charge because of their skills and they were the best fit for these roles and demands of their world. I don't know if I can tell you much more beyond that. [Laughs] I'm more cagey than usual about this.

I understand. It does sound like you had a lot of fun designing this new world, though.

I really did! I've got like a whole map of districts, architecture and power sources. [Laughs] So it's been a ton of fun.

Let's talk a little bit about your team members, starting with former X-Man Dazzler. What do you find most interesting about Alison Blaire? Judging by the Jim Cheung cover, it looks like "A-Force" will be kicking things off with the classic incarnation of the character in her original costume.

Yes. In the opening story we've actually got a much broader cast than what will become the core team -- we're just writing different eras, is all. So with this story, actually, we could not fit all of our cast members on that beautiful cover by Jim Cheung that serves as our promo piece. [Laughs] That said, Dazzler's optimism is my favorite of her traits. It's really hard to write a dark and dire book if you've got Dazzler there beside you.

Whittling down from a large cast to a core team sounds like what Kurt Busiek and George Perez did when they launched their volume of "Avengers." Is that a fair description?

That's a very fair comparison, I'd reckon.

Let's move from Dazzler to two other members of the future core team, Medusa and She-Hulk. These two characters have been teammates and clashed in the past. How would describe their initial dynamic and roles on this team?

They're both leaders and there's a lot of conflict between them. They are very supportive of one another when operating against a third party, but they also disagree with how things should be handled when it comes to crises. Medusa is monarchy; She-Hulk is democracy. Medusa is the right of queens and She-Hulk is the rule of law. She-Hulk is much more balanced than Medusa. It's the two of them playing off of their strengths and sometime playing off of each other for both necessary good and necessary evil.

With the Runaways' Nico Minoru, you're taking on a character that's seen a lot of darkness in recent years with her experiences in "Avengers Arena" and "Avengers Undercover." How would you describe her emotional status when "A-Force" begins?

She's one of the first people we have encounter Singularity, the new character that Willow designed, who we're laying the groundwork for in "Secret Wars." So Nico is put in charge of acclimating this character and showing her their civilization and world while trying to save it. Nico is sort of like the grounding human force and the anchor that begins to show Singularity the capacity of human beings, both for good and for evil, so Nico becomes even more invested when she starts to see her homeland through the eyes of this stranger.

What's it like writing a character like Singularity? I understand she's a pocket universe who becomes sentient, so she sounds like she'll be very powerful and very new to the human experience when your story begins.

It's really thrilling. Just the number of things that you take for granted that you don't really understand until you're really trying to remove yourself from all those perspectives. Not just cultural customs, but the very nature of language. Not just human nature, but the nature of being -- needing to eat, needing to breathe, having emotions for the first time, so it's really interesting. I'm trying to take it slow and make sure that I hit everything realistically, but also with the maximum amount of emotion. I'm really enjoying it.

We've talked about the characters who will go on to be core members of "A-Force," but you've intimated that the team is huge in the first story. What sort of hints and teases can you offer up about the other team members that will play roles in your initial story?

Oh goodness! You can look over the cover! And if you don't see your favorite there, don't worry! I've got myself a list! As many characters as Marvel will let me appear in this book will appear. [Laughs] Might be no more than a panel, but they'll be there, I hope. I can't promise everyone -- there simply isn't enough paper -- but I can promise that the spirit is willing. The page count is the only constraint.

How do the members of "A-Force" initially come together? Are you dealing with a traditional "day unlike any other" Avengers situation where a bunch of individual heroes come together to combat a greater menace?

Yeah, that's a very fair description. The story is about the scope of the team and everyone rising up to do their part to defend their entire culture and way of life. So it becomes less about the elite, less about champions, and more about the capacity that everyone has for heroism.

Helping you bring to life "A-Force" is Jorge Molina, an artist who recently drew another one of Marvel's high profile female characters, the new Thor.

His work is fantastic. It has this real sense of beauty and power and grace and motion. I could not be happier with the team we have.

Finally, speaking of the team assembled for this book, you mentioned you're writing the initial "Secret Wars" arc of "A-Force." Do you hope to stick around and continue to co-write the book with G. Willow Wilson after this initial story?

After the first arc, this is Willow's book and Willow's baby, and it's an honor to get to roll out the red carpet for her. I am so grateful to be involved. This is an amazing time for comics so get excited! "A-Force" assemble!

"A-Force" #1 arrives in May

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