Unity between man and mutant has always been an important concept, and in the wake of “Avengers Vs. X-Men” some of Marvel’s greatest heroes tried putting aside their differences to join the Avengers Unity Squad, a team comprised of both mutant and human heroes. In the All-New, All-Different Marvel Universe that arose following “Secret Wars,” the idea of super human unity has been forced to expand its definition in order to make way for the growing number of Inhumans born from the Terrigen Mist cloud that is also poisoning mutants.
â€¨In the first two issues of the new volume of “Uncanny Avengers,” writer Gerry Duggan and artist Ryan Stegman introduced readers to the latest version of the Unity Squad, composed of Steve Rogers, Spider-Man, Quicksilver, the Human Torch, Rogue, Doctor Voodoo, Deadpool and the newly awakened Inhuman known as Synapse. Readers also saw glimpses of the eight-month gap after “Secret Wars” and how that time led Spider-Man to quit the team amid growing tension following the group’s battle to liberate Boston from the grip of the powerful Inhuman ecoterrorist known as the Shredded Man.
As rocky as things seem now, all hope is not lost. “Uncanny Avengers” #3 returns the team to full strength thanks to the arrival of its newest member, the fan-favorite time-traveling mutant known as Cable. What kind of impact he will have on his new teammates and the twists and turns that await will be revealed in time, but CBR News spoke with writer Gerry Duggan to uncover some new info about the team’s future. Duggan discussed his immediate plans for the cast, how the book will tie into the upcoming “Avengers: Standoff” crossover, his love for classic, soap opera-style subplots and the new characters and concepts introduced in the first two issues of the series.
CBR News: Gerry, let’s talk about the big reveal at the end of “Uncanny Avengers” #2. Cable is back, and he’s going to be a major part of this series. He seems like a natural fit given his connections with Deadpool and Rogue, but I understand he also holds Steve Rogers in high regard as well. Is that correct?
Gerry Duggan: Yes, that’s 100 percent true. He obviously respects Steve Rogers, but he’s also butted heads with the Avengers. He’s an exciting name to make an Avenger because he’s not necessarily someone you think would enlist. He comes back in time though to assist this team, and he’ll be joining for the foreseeable future. There are some circumstances that will keep him around. Some are personal and some are sort of circumstantial.
So he’s a reluctant Avenger for the moment, but he’s a hero and he buys into what the Uncanny Avengers’ secret mission is.
Deadpool and Cable are of course old friends and are currently starring together in the digital first miniseries “Deadpool & Cable: Split Second.” So how happy is Wade Wilson to have his old pal as a teammate?
To be honest I don’t think Deadpool is real thrilled to have him here. Steve Rogers made Deadpool an offer he couldn’t refuse; to join this team of Avengers and serve in the role that had previously been occupied by Wolverine. With Logan’s death and Steve Rogers diminished, this was a moment for Deadpool to shine. Now maybe he feels like, “Well is this a Deadpool and Cable adventure?” Will he be unwilling to share the spotlight? It will be interesting to grind those two against each other in the book moving forward.
I imagine you’re also going to have some fun creating relationships and dynamics with some team members Cable hasn’t really had a history with such as the Human Torch, Quicksilver, Doctor Voodoo and Synapse.
For sure. He’s got a lot to catch up on. I think it will be especially interesting to see how Cable reacts to the Inhuman on the team, and Inhumans in general. He’s aware of the M-Pox and the T-Mist problem with mutant physiology. That doesn’t have a fix yet, so he may be unhappy with the Inhumans over that situation.
Cable coming into “Uncanny Avengers” fills the vacant team slot of Spider-Man who quit the group in issue #1. I know you’d rather not say when, but is there a chance we might see Spider-Man again in this book?
He might turn up eventually, but his roster spot has been absorbed by Cable. He’s not returning to the book as an Avenger in the foreseeable future. I wanted him quitting to be sort of an electrifying moment. I don’t think we’ve necessarily seen a hero of his stature quit a team like that. It made a lot of sense though. I don’t think he made a bad decision. His point was that he can do more good with Parker Industries and obviously we all know that Spider-Man is Peter Parker.
It might be too much to expect that he would be out doing the things that Dan [Slott], Nick [Lowe], and everyone is planning for him in “Amazing Spider-Man,” and also maintain a membership in an Avengers roster. I think Deadpool was sort of the convenient excuse there.
Plus Peter will reluctantly become embroiled in adventures with Wade Wilson again in Joe Kelly and Ed McGuinness’ upcoming “Spider-Man/Deadpool.”
Yeah, and as a fan of comics I’m thrilled to death to be able to read that. I actually was hoping that I could do that launch a tiny bit of good in that now there could be some hurt feelings leading into that, which could be fun.
What Joe and Ed are up to on that book is really, really special. I don’t want to comment on it, except to say that I’m really impressed and I can’t wait for people to check out what they’ve got going on.
Spider-Man’s departure was just a little bit of the turmoil the team was experiencing in these first two issues. It seems like you’re really enjoying the chance to write the soap opera style character dynamics that have been such an iconic part of past Avengers books.
Absolutely. 100 percent. Look, I never thought I’d get a chance to take a swing at an Avengers book, and to me the fun of all those great runs was the enjoyment that came from watching the characters grind against each other.
This is a team with a few egos. It’s a team that that’s experiencing turmoil, and I think with Cable’s arrival you’ll start to see that the ship is balanced once more. It begins to operate at a very high level — I wouldn’t want to run up against the Uncanny Avengers right now. They’re a powerful team that’s learning their strengths and weaknesses. So they’re starting to gel in a fun way.
I went back and reread some of my favorite team books. Morrison’s “JLA,” Waid’s “Tower of Babel” storyline in “JLA,” and a lot of old classic “Avengers. I also went back and re-enjoyed a lot of the Claremont “X-Men,” and then read forward. I had the luxury of knowing I was going to do this for quite a long time, and I’m having a lot of fun. I think my collaborators are as well, and I think if we’re having fun, that always translates to the page. We’ve got have some really big stories planned for the first two years.
Is some of the tension and turmoil the team is experiencing romantic in nature? In these first two issues you seemed to be suggesting that Rogue and Johnny Storm were an item during the eight-month gap the book picks up after. Did I interpret the scenes between them correctly?
Yes, they were an item very briefly, and it didn’t quite work out. Now Johnny is in a different relationship, so you hit the nail on the head. I think if anything I was guilty of almost being too subtle there, but yes, they’re going to have sort of a fun back and forth.
Rogue is one of my favorite team members. I’ve got some really fun plans for her. I don’t know if you saw the cover to issue #5, but it has Rogue jumping into Gambit’s arms. So I’m really enjoying putting her up against some pretty tough situations, but this was a fun chance for me to maybe not play so rough with her. So I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone thinks of that issue. I just wrapped the script for issue #8, and it has one of my favorite Rogue moments. She’s the only character I would have fought tooth and nail to keep. Luckily Tom [Brevoort] agreed out of the gate.
Since we’re on the topic of interesting and awkward romantic subplots, one thing I’d love to see is for Quicksilver and Johnny Storm to run into both Queen Medusa and Crystal’s team of “All-New Inhumans.”
Yes, there is a lot there, and obviously Pietro has got his own past with the Inhumans.
Also, speaking of turmoil, Pietro is enjoying a new chapter in his life. He’s not feeling so bad about learning that he’s not the son of Magneto. So he’s unburdened, but he’s still acidic. Pietro has really been a fun character for me to write and I look forward to complicating his life in a lot of ways in this first year.
Is Pietro also enjoying his time away from his sister, the Scarlet Witch?
I think that part is bothering him a little bit. They’re each handling the revelations of the last volume of “Uncanny Avengers” differently. As I said, at least on the exterior, Pietro seems to be a little unburdened. Wanda wanted her personal space though, and Pietro is doing the best he can to be a good brother and give that to her. You’ll see though, after this first arc, that he checks on her and she’s unaware that he’s checking on her. It’s not in a creepy way; more of a drive by, so to speak. So I think he really does look forward to a reunion with Wanda.
Let’s move on to some of the new characters and concepts you introduced in these first couple of issues of “Uncanny Avengers” starting with the team’s headquarters, the Schaefer Theater. What inspired the creation of the Schaefer?
I had gone back and was for various reasons rereading a lot of my favorite, old Marvel Comics, and if nothing else it’s certainly a nod to the Gem Theater. I tried to really think about how all this would work organically though. An untold event made Deadpool very popular. We’ll begin to unravel that one a bit in Deadpool #7. The end result was Wade was able to capitalize and merchandize off that. We obviously leaned into the meta there. We’re having fun mirroring his popularity in the real world, but Wade won’t get to enjoy it much.
For now though, it’s a lot of fun, and I just thought, “How would this work?” He’s not “Tony Stark rich” in that he can buy a skyscraper, and I think a financial advisor would urge him to buy a commercial piece of real estate and use it in different ways. So that’s what he did. The more money that he makes, the more money that he can put towards the Avengers. So the Mercs business, the retail store, and the Avengers are all located in the theater complex.
Theaters are also really interesting places. There’s all sorts of dark nooks and crannies, and we gave this particular theater a dark past. It used to be a speakeasy that was under mob control. It’s got access ways in and out of the basement if you wanted to use one of the tunnels to get to the subway.
It’s neat. It offers some discretion, but it also offers each of the teams that inhabit it at the moment a decent place to get away from prying eyes. Plus, logistically it’s in Manhattan. So it’s good to be able to sort of stay in that corner of the sandbox.
Another new element you added to the book and the Marvel Universe was the Inhuman character, Synapse. She’s sort of a rookie hero and is still learning the ropes. So is she meant to be the reader’s perspective on the team?
I think so. She’s meant to be someone that I hope people root for, but she’s also someone who is a newly emerged Inhuman. She wasn’t around before “Secret Wars,” which was when we last saw the Marvel Universe. So how she came to be in the Avengers orbit is a story we’ll get to another day, but the fun thing is that we’re getting to learn about her powers and abilities as she’s doing that. I’ve had a lot of fun with that and this was a thought that came from rereading the old X-Men issues I loved.
A lot of that stuff happened in the Danger Room. Professor Xavier encouraged the young mutants of his teams to challenge each other, and here is a group that will challenge Synapse to grow. So I think if anyone was sort of underwhelmed by what she could do at the beginning, I do believe she’s going to turn out to be a real powerhouse.
She’s a “neural electrician.” She can reach into you head and there’s a fun scene coming up where Cable is going to be teaching her to be a living lie detector. So it’s a fun power set. It’s also a complicated power set, but I have a lot of people who can shoot through walls, punch through buildings, and fly through the air. This was something a little more cunning and mysterious. I like that about her. I hope she’s going to become a fan-favorite character.
The other new character you added in these first two issues was another Inhuman, the villainous Shredded Man. It seems like with him you really leaned into the idea of inhuman as an adjective to describe his appearance and behavior.
Yes, he is someone who has shed his humanity and embraced this new life that he has out of the cocoon. We knew we were going to be debuting in October, and any chance I get to sort of lean into the Halloween of it all I will. Not in a sort of “Hawkeye vs. Deadpool” sense, but this felt more inspired by my favorite Stephen King stories, which featured some great bad guys that you can’t take your eyes off of.
Plus, the Shredded Man has a point of view. I don’t necessarily think that he’s wrong, but he’s obviously trying to solve the problem in a terrible way. His point of view though is honest, real, and unfortunately true.
Yeah it seems comparable to someone like Poison Ivy from the Batman books.
I think so, but it’s almost like Poison Ivy is trying to tend one garden while The Shredded Man is trying to change an ecosystem. He’s operating on a global scale, and the fact this his scheme actually worked out and Cable had to come back in time does speak to his abilities. If he were a mutant he would be an Omega level one. As a newly sparked Inhuman he’s certainly high on the power scale. It’s sort of frightening to behold.
As you mentioned, your artist Ryan Stegman is having a ball drawing the Shredded Man story, and I know from talking with him in the past part of the reason is because he loves drawing strange beings and monsters.
Yeah, I gotta say Ryan has just gotten better and better with every issue. I hope he’s having fun. If he’s not he’s good at faking it. I’m really happy with how we stick the landing of this arc, and where we position these characters to be moving forward. Boston could have gone smoother, but it’s a huge win for this team of Avengers. We build off that first arc in a way that I hope will surprise readers.
After Ryan wraps this initial arc you’ll be collaborating with another great artist for a few issues, Carlos Pacheco, a veteran who has depicted virtually all of Marvel and DC’s most iconic characters.
Yeah, I’ve gotten to live a lot of dreams and being able to collaborate on a comic with him was not something I ever thought would come my way. He’s got two really fun issues back to back, and both are a little different.
I think my job is to try and give fans what they want, but not in the way that they expect it. I try to always have some surprises, and the first six issues of “Uncanny Avengers” have at least one really big surprise in each issue. I didn’t try to plan it like that, but I do know it’s a little disorienting coming in after “Secret Wars.”
We don’t know some major things that have happened like how Synapse came to catch Rogers’ attention and what made Deadpool famous, but I think that’s really a lot of the fun of the MU right now. “Wait, that’s what this is now?” Or “Spider-Woman is pregnant?” Across the line there’s been a lot of thought about what can change in eight months, and on “Uncanny Avengers” myself, Tom and everyone really tried to come up with some fun shifts in the status quo for this book.
You mentioned you have a lot of big plans coming up on “Uncanny Avengers” and I imagine part of those plans is the upcoming “Avengers: Standoff” crossover that celebrates Captain America’s 75th anniversary, correct?
Yes, “Standoff” is an Avengers family crossover. So it’s not going to be a sprawling epic that requires months and months of purchases across the line. It’s a pretty solid, tight Avengers crossover that will feature some surprising alliances and maybe even some more surprising face-offs. It all has to do with a place called Pleasant Hill, which has a deep dark secret, and what the characters involved do with that secret is all pretty different. I’m just wrapping up my work on those issues this week. They’re some of my favorites scripts in a while.
â€¨As an Avengers family crossover I imagine this gives you some fun opportunities to play with a variety of characters including Sam Alexander who you spent so much time with on “Nova.”
Yeah, it’s fun to be able to return to Nova. He’s a character I have a real soft spot for. Mark Waid’s team of Avengers is so fun. So this has been a really neat experience. I’m as big a fan of some of these other writers as the fans are. So to be able to talk to writers like G. Willow Wilson, James Robinson, Al Ewing and Mark Waid about this story that Nick Spencer and Tom have cooked up feels like I’ve won the lottery.
I want to wrap by saying thank you to our readers for adding “Uncanny Avengers” to your pull list. I know everyone has an X-character or an Avengers character that they would love to see on the team including some obvious ones, and maybe some ones that are less obvious. I want to let you know that we are going to start to see some familiar faces in “Uncanny Avengers” perhaps in some surprising ways.
By the time you get to about issue #5 or #6 you’ll really understand what this team was put together for. Publicly it’s to project unity. That’s very important and I’m not taking anything away from that. That’s something that now in the Marvel Universe eight months after “Secret Wars” we need more than ever, especially with the Terrigen Mist crisis for the mutants. There’s is another mission though too that will begin to come into focus, and I think will be very exciting for people. I think and hope that it will play out in some surprising ways, so thank you again for reading our book.
“Uncanny Avengers” #3 is on sale now from Marvel Comics.
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