This spring, Marvel Comics’ “Secret Wars” event begins and the destructive interdimensional incursion phenomenon will transform the company’s shared universe into a singular patchwork planet known as Battleworld. Upon this planet will be a multitude of diverse domains populated by wildly different cultures and different aspects of the fantastic. One trait common to all the Battleworld domains is danger, but some are more perilous for the average Marvel denizen than others.
Anwen Bakian and her family live in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, struggling just to survive and avoid being eaten or killed by giant bug that rule the land. Writer Gerry Duggan and co-writer/artist Dustin Weaver follow the Bakian family’s struggles this May in the new “Secret Wars” series, “Infinity Gauntlet.” Trying to survive in one of Battleworld’s most treacherous domains becomes vastly more complex when they discover the Nova Force and infinitely more difficult when they find something Thanos, the Mad Titan, desperately desires.
CBR News spoke with Duggan about the Bakian family’s life on Battleworld, how Anwen differs from Sam Alexander, the other youthful Nova he writes, and the joys and challenges of writing an iconic villain like Thanos.
CBR News: Gerry, what’s it like when Marvel asks you to come up with a “Secret Wars” series that works both on its own and pays homage to Jim Starlin’s classic ’90s cosmic saga, “The Infinity Gauntlet?”
Gerry Duggan: Obviously I’m thrilled to be able to continue to tell stories in the classic Marvel Cosmic Universe. Nobody loves those Starlin stories more than I do. The fun thing about what I’m hoping to do with this story is tell a very compelling and harrowing tale for some new characters on the “Secret Wars'” Battleworld.
Before we dive deep into the story, I have to point out that you’re not penning this series alone. You’re co-writing it with Dustin Weaver, who is also your artist on the series. Dustin is a very talented artist who has recently started writing his own stories during “Edge of Spider-Verse.” What’s it like collaborating with him?
It’s been fun. He has a lot of really wonderful ideas and that makes my life a lot easier. We broke the stories together and then I sort of go off and make some outlines. So it’s not quite Marvel style exactly, but I’ve been trying to stay very loose for him and accommodate the ideas he has at every stage.
It’s been really neat. I’m no stranger to having co-writers and Dustin really is a tremendously imaginative guy, so I try and get out of the way of that. I think it’s really going to feel like this is Dustin’s book.
Totally. He’s really got a feel for these characters. I know some of his art has been shown, but the stuff that I’m seeing now that I know hasn’t been published is really tremendous.
Part of the fun of these “Secret Wars” tales is creating a whole new world for your characters to interact with in the form of the Battleworld domains. What can you tell us about the domain that will be featured in the “Infinity Gauntlet? The research I’ve done suggests it will be a post-apocalyptic…
Yes. This is a patch of Battleworld that suffered through some catastrophes. There’s not much to save other than our protagonists’ own skins. So this is a Battleworld domain that has a lot more desperation in it. This family we’re dealing with has managed to stick it out.
The tone of what’s going on there is almost reminiscent of “The Walking Dead,” albeit without the zombies. This is a day-to-day survival book and some big things change in the first issue.
The family whose survival exploits you and Dustin are chronicling in “Infinity Gauntlet” are the Bakians. I understand one thing that helps them to survive is the fact that they all have access to the Nova Force, right?
That is one of the big things that does change in the first issue. I have to be careful what I say, but yes this is a family of Novas that we’re introducing and it’s fun because that’s a dynamic I really haven’t had the opportunity to play with.
What makes the Bakians different from other super hero families like the Incredibles or the Fantastic Four is that obviously for these people time has very much run out already. So it will be interesting to see what a wearing a Nova helmet means to them. It may be different than some of the other Novas that we’ve seen in the past.
My initial impression of this series based on the preview art was almost a “Lost in Space” Robinson family meets the Nova Corps, but it sounds like this might be a story about a family sort of “raging against the dying of the light.” Is that a fair description?
It’s the Nova Corps with enlistees that are the ragtag survivors of an apocalyptic alien invasion. Beyond that, you’ll have to pick up the first issue — which you’ll want to do for Dustin Weaver’s excellent work anyway. He’s a tremendously talented guy, doing his absolute best work.
The readers point of view character in the “Infinity Gauntlet” is young Anwen Bakian. You’re no stranger to writing young Nova Force-powered heroes considering you write the monthly adventures of teenager Sam Alexander in the current “Nova” ongoing series. How does Sam role and adventures as Nova compare to Anwen’s?
Sam was drafted into this life and like it or not Sam did manage to rise to the occasion. This is a little bit different in that now there’s this world and this part of Battleworld that’s devoid of heroes. So what does that mean for Anwen? She doesn’t have great examples of heroism that she can look up to. This is a person that doesn’t have the wisdom that some of the other Marvel characters might.
So in that regard they’re very similar. Sam wasn’t trained and neither was Anwen. Anwen has got a bit of a smarter head on her shoulders though. She’s a smarter character. If they were going to take aptitude tests for this she would fail a little bit better because right out of the gate she’s facing some very, very big problems.
They also both have some abandonment issues without going into too many details, and Anwen becomes a Nova at a time when all hope is lost. So out of that the possibility of becoming a Nova means life. Whereas for Sam it was very much the after school secret job that he had. So the stakes are a bit higher for Anwen and her family.
I understand what really gets the story rolling is Anwen finding an unusual stone and coming to the attention of the Mad Titan, Thanos. How does it feel to get a chance to write such an interesting and complex villain?
Writing a Thanos story that hasn’t been done before and doesn’t tread on something that has been done before is a little intimidating. We have a real fun story though and a fun take on the character. This Thanos has experienced a few more things than the Thanos from some of the other stories. So I’m excited to see what people think about it. There are no retcons at work here. However, there is a different set of starting experiences. So boy, is it fun to write Thanos!
We talked a bit about how Anwen’s family will play supporting roles in this story. Are there any other supporting characters from perhaps the cosmic corner of the Marvel Universe that will play roles in “Infinity Gauntlet?” Or is is this a smaller story just about the Bakian family and Thanos?
I think you’re going to see some interesting takes on some old favorites and some new characters. Maybe there will be a canine unit that makes an appearance. And Star-Lord appears in the preview art that’s been released. So you’ll definitely see a version of [Peter] Quill and maybe there will be some unexpected faces that turn up.
Finally, will Anwen encounter these characters that we’ve talked about on her journey in this post-apocalyptic world that you’re creating? Or will the events of the “Infinity Gauntlet” take her into other Battleworld domains as well?
This is a little more of an insular tale. I’m doing three “Secret Wars” books. Two are more insular and one’s a bit of a sprawling yarn.
I’m super excited to be working with Dustin on this. He’s a hell of a talent. We’ve got a real fun story that I think regardless of who your flavor of Nova was you’ll find a lot to enjoy in this new story about the Infinity Gauntlet that goes to a place that I think no one will expect. I’m really happy with some of the surprises we have in store for this book. There are some really great page turn reveals and final page cliffhangers. We’re super excited and we hope that this summer you’ll throw on the Infinity Gauntlet and join us.
“Infinity Gauntlet” #1 is scheduled for release from Marvel on May 27, 2015.
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