In 2012, writer Rick Remender and artist John Cassaday's "Uncanny Avengers" was the flagship of Marvel's "Marvel NOW!" publishing initiative. The last volume of the book ended prior to the currently unfolding "Secret Wars" event, but is set to return with a new #1 in October during Marvel's All-New, All-Different era.
Along with a new #1, the series will also have a new creative team in writer Gerry Duggan -- taking over the reins from Remender, who's currently focusing on his creator-owned work -- and artist Ryan Stegman, recently of "Inhuman." The series will continue in its tradition of uniting Avengers and X-Men team members as the "Avengers Unity Squad," but now with an Inhuman or two joining the fray.
Duggan & Stegman's "Uncanny Avengers" roster features characters both new to the book (Spider-Man, Deadpool) and familiar (dramatically-aged former Captain America Steve Rogers, Rogue, Brother Voodoo, Quicksilver), plus the Inhuman Toro and a new character named Synapse. We spoke with Duggan about the team's line up, how members like Spider-Man and Deadpool will impact the group's dynamic and the adventures he has lined up for the new Avengers Unity Squad.
CBR News: Gerry, you've co-written issues of "Uncanny Avengers" before with your friend Rick Remender, who wrote both of the book's previous volumes. How does it feel to be taking over the title? And I know you've written books with large casts before, but is this your first monthly team book?
Gerry Duggan: I would have to say yes. We did at times make "Deadpool" a team book, but this is my first classic team book and that's a little bit of a different muscle group. You can always focus on one character for an issue, but I really have to make sure that every character has their moment to shine, and that the book feels balanced. Luckily, I have [editors] Tom [Brevoort] and Alanna [Smith] to keep me in line. The danger for me is actually with Deadpool. Sometimes a little Wilson goes a long way in an ensemble.
People forget that it wasn't that long ago that we didn't have an "Uncanny Avengers." In a short amount of time Rick Remender, Daniel AcuÃ±a, Tom Brevoort, and everyone else who worked on "Uncanny," made some of the most fun comics to ever roll off a printer. So it's a little bit intimidating, but at the same time I'm ready for it. I'm really looking forward to making some fun Avengers comics. I never imagined that I'd be writing anything with "Avengers" in the title.
Your Avengers team lineup is intriguing. Let's talk about it, starting with Steve Rogers. You've written the elderly Steve Rogers before and he'll play a supporting role in your new volume of "Deadpool," but what's Steve like here, eight months in the future? And what's his role in this new incarnation of the Avengers Unity Squad?
Any team with Steve Rogers on it would most likely have him in a position of leadership, but actually it's Rogue who is the group's commanding officer in the field. After aging, Steve Rogers is still in the fight, but he's not in the field every time out. So he's very much a part of the team, but Rogue is actually the Unity Squad's commander.
Rogue is a returning cast member. What made you want to keep her on the team?
Rogue has been a personal favorite since her debut. She's always been cool, and her mutant gift comes with a curse, and her ability to absorb another person on contact is so isolating. We've added a few new wrinkles to Rogue's life that will test her mental toughness. She was recharged with Wonder-Man's ionic energy; that story will come to a head in the coming months. This weekend I happened to write a beat for her that will surprise fans, because it surprised me. I think it will pop up towards the end of year one.
I also see this team features some of her other comrades from past incarnations of the squad, in the form of Doctor Voodoo and Quicksilver.
I love Doctor Voodoo. Rick [Remender] and Jefte Paolo did a great series with the character a few years back. It really got me excited about Voodoo and I love what Rick and Daniel Acuna were able to continue to do with the character in the latest volume of "Uncanny." He's in an interesting spot eight months later. He's got some issues with the spirit of his brother, and the team's new headquarters will present him with some challenges.
Pietro is unburdened by the revelation that Magneto is not his father. After the eight-month gap, he's a bit more lighthearted than we've seen him, and determined to enjoy life. I wonder how long that will last.
There's a fiery character in the teaser image, and my first guess was that it was perhaps Toro, Thomas Raymond, who is an Inhuman.
Good guess. [Laughs]
There's a new Inhuman character on our first cover; her name is Synapse. I think she has some pretty interesting abilities. I don't want to talk about them too much, but I can say if I was thinking about the team as if they were a "Dungeons & Dragons" group I would imagine Synapse very much as a Priest class. She's not flying and punching as much as she's maybe buffing and nerfing people around her in I think some fun and cool ways.
This team also features new members, Deadpool and Spider-Man. I know many writers find balancing these two characters out when they appear together to be a daunting task. How has it been writing them in this book?
I always look for ways to make these characters grind against each other and that's a big source of sparks. Sparks for me are very much a big piece of the equation. Eight months later there are some brewing situations in the Marvel Universe that will put a lot of these characters at the intersections of some conflicts.
I will also say about Spider-Man and Deadpool, that I know what's coming. I'm very excited about what Joe [Kelly] and Ed [McGuinness] are cooking up [in the upcoming "Spider-Man/Deadpool" series]. I don't think this book will step on what they're doing at all.
When the new volume of "Uncanny Avengers" begins, eight months has passed so I assume you're dealing with a squad that has a few completed missions under their belt. Or are we seeing the group come together for the first time?
No, this will be a team that has been together for a while. The fun of that is at this point is they've sort of matured. The cover that Ryan [Stegman] drew is wonderful but... in the end it will also be notable when you look back for what is not on the cover.
As you mentioned, this incarnation of the Avengers Unity Squad features at least one Inhuman, which is something we haven't seen in past lineups. So it looks like with this new team, the definition of "Unity" has expanded to include the world's burgeoning Inhuman population?
One of the things that Uncanny Avengers was supposed to do was project unity for humans and mutants. The Inhumans were obviously always there, but now they're a population that's on a rapid increase. That's going to be a problem. Mutants and Inhumans in particular will have a very legitimate reason to want to go at each other. So this team is going to be tasked with leading by example in a very visible way.
When it comes to group dynamics and infighting, you have two characters in your cast, Steve Rogers and Rogue, who saw how disastrous things became when the Unity Squad couldn't work together back in the first volume of "Uncanny Avengers." So I imagine they might especially want to make sure that people are getting along?
Absolutely. If history repeats itself, disaster awaits. You'll see the lengths that Steve and Rogue will go for one another in our part of "Avengers" #0. We only have eight pages in that book, but I think fans will get a kick out of that story.
We know that Mark Waid's cast in "All-New All-Different Avengers" will be a relatively cash-strapped team, but your lineup includes two affluent characters in this time-jumped period, Wade Wilson and Peter Parker. How does that translate in terms of things like the team's funding and headquarters?
Yeah, we're definitely in a situation where we do have some pockets on this team, but no one had deeper pockets than Tony Stark. So the days of possibly jumping into a service elevator and then into a Quinjet parked in a hanger overlooking the West Side Highway might be over. Deadpool though does have access to helicopters and gunships. There's also a super fun headquarters that I think will set it apart from other Avengers teams.
Deadpool and Spider-Man won't be getting along very well though. So maybe that will be about money and maybe part of it won't.
You're working with artist Ryan Stegman, who has experience drawing heroes like Spider-Man, mutants like Wolverine, and most recently, the Inhumans. So it seems like he'd be the perfect artist for this book.
He's incredible and he's doing the most amazing work of his career. When the pages started coming in from issue #0 I thought, "Well this can't get any better." Then the first issue really blew that out the door.
I'm super happy to be working with Ryan. His visual style is setting the tone for this book. It's frenetic and fun, and his "acting" on the faces of the characters is tremendous. We're really enjoying the work. I love polishing the lettering script after his art comes back, I couldn't ask for a better collaborator. He's one of the best artists working today.
Finally, "Uncanny Avengers" is essentially the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup of Marvel teams. You've got two great teams that go great together. That means you also have a lot of fun villains you can draw from. Can you leave us with a hint or tease of some of the villains we might see in your initial stories?
Yeah, the initial story is actually going to be a new situation. Something the Avengers haven't faced before. I actually think, in a weird way, the genre of this story is almost more horror than high adventure. It could be just the mood I'm in now, but it has more of a Stephen King vibe than maybe some of the other stuff I've written.
Then we're going to see some very big heroes and villains in the Marvel Universe show up in that first year. I've basically plotted almost a year. I may have to change some stuff around, but I am reaching for some of the toys that have been on the higher shelf. [Laughs] I hope not to break them or get people mad at me. We're having a lot of fun and I hope that fun translates to the page for the reader.
So in terms of scope and scale your "Uncanny Avengers" run will be as big as the volumes that preceded it?
Yeah, I hope so. Out of the gate we have a real serious situation that by the end of the second issue really goes bonkers. There are some big secrets in these first couple of issues.
I grew up reading Avengers and X-Men so to be in a position to write some of my favorites in the same book is something I never thought would happen. I'm very lucky at the moment to have a busy plate, but the thing I'm most excited about is this new volume of "Uncanny Avengers." If you liked the previous volume with Rick and his great collaborators, I hope you give me the chance to have you stick around.
If you haven't checked out the book though, or you're questioning whether Deadpool is the right fit for your Avengers book add me to your pull list for a couple of issues and I'll make a believer out of you.
The new volume of "Uncanny Avengers" is set to debut from Marvel in October.