In a twist on the old Heroes for Hire set-up, Al Ewing and Luke Ross‘ Mighty Avengers are just a phone call away for those who need their assistance. However, unlike Luke Cage’s old business venture, his Avengers team doesn’t charge those who call the hotline looking for help. The team is available, 24-7, for all of the Marvel Universe‘s unique emergencies, ranging from your average super-powered lunatic on a rampage in downtown NYC, to the biggest and baddest monster-styled apocalypse.
In the coming months, “Captain America and the Mighty Avengers” are set to confront the cosmic horror behind the sinister business conglomerate CORTEX Inc., a challenge that will be followed up with nothing less than the looming end of the Marvel Universe. We spoke with Ewing about revealing the final mysteries behind CORTEX Inc, how the team will confront the end of the Marvel Universe in their “Last Days” tie-in to “Secret Wars,” and his favorite “Mighty Avengers” moments.
CBR News: Recent issues — and our last interview — have shown that there will be a Lovecraftian cosmic horror vibe running through the series. What made you want to inject that sort of vibe into a superhero title?
Al Ewing: It’s something that’s been on my mind since issue #11 of the old series, when I suddenly had a flurry of ideas about what to do with CORTEX after the whole Deathwalkers thing was over and done with. When “AXIS” and the relaunch came along, and Captain America turned evil, that seemed like a way to start down that road — use the existential horror of that to set the tone for what was coming, and the month’s break between “seasons” to establish a moment in time when everything might have gone horribly wrong behind the scenes.
Of course, the wonderful thing about “Cap & The Mighty” is that there’s no story we can’t do — or no super-story, at least. Look at this team! There’s nothing they can’t handle. So it’s only natural I’d want to take things into the hyper-cosmic realm on a fairly regular basis.
You’ve been building up the story of CORTEX Inc. ever since you introduced them in your “Iron Man: Fatal Frontier” Infinite Comic. How does it feel to finally reveal the mysteries of that organization?
When Kieron Gillen and I first planted the seed of CORTEX, it was just a fun idea that we were thinking could grow into something interesting. Around then, though, a whole bunch of shady, mysterious corporations started doing their thing — CORTEX wasn’t really doing anything Serval or Roxxon couldn’t do better. (And I have to say, I loved the Serval reveal in the last issue of “All-New X-Factor!”) I asked Kieron how he felt about me ending things for CORTEX with a bang, and he was happy to let me run with it. I’m pretty happy with how we’re finishing up — I have a feeling the ending to #5, and what follows, will make people either ecstatic or apoplectic.
When we first met CORTEX, Anderson Sixty asked why a corporation couldn’t wear a sexy mask and take over the world. Well, the mask’s coming off.
What kind of shape is your team in when “The Last Days” arc begins? Approximately how much time does Earth have left when the “Last Days” arc begins?
There’s a bit of a time jump after the end of #7 — I have a nasty habit of rushing along at a headlong pace, to the extent that I think #1-#7 of “Cap & The Mighty” takes place over about eight or nine days. So they’ll have time to rest and recuperate from whatever cataclysmic cosmic catastrophe explodes out of the current plotline — much longer than the reader will, in fact.
How much time does Earth have left when we rejoin our story? Not much. I doubt we’ll spend a lot of time outside the eight hours of the final incursion, if I’m honest. I might want to check in on the events that unfolded recently in “Avengers” and “New Avengers,” when the Mighty Avengers acted as Steve Rogers’ secret team — presumably he called the hotline — but space is at a premium, and there are going to be a lot of other things readers will want to see.
The Mighty Avengers aren’t exactly a “go gently into that good night” group of people, plus, they have a variety of incredibly powerful members. That having been said, have certain team members made their peace with the looming end? Or will we see everybody “raging against the dying of the light?”
Some members will want to be with their loved ones and families — even if they have no families left. Some members will want to fight to the end to try to preserve the Earth, any way they can, even though the situation may be hopeless. And some of what we see will just be small acts of decency performed in the last hours of existence. It’s not going to be easy to pick what stays in and what gets left out, but I’m hoping everyone gets their moment.
Your Mighty Avengers stories have always been about more than just super heroes; they’ve been about the support team that helps out, the team’s families, and even the community the team serves. How important is that human element in this “Last Days” tale? Will we get to spend time with people like Jessica Jones, the team’s support staff, and the everyday people of Marvel New York?
The human element is very important, and has been since the beginning. For all the cosmic shenanigans we’ve been falling into, “Mighty Avengers” — and now “Cap & The Mighty Avengers” — always has a relatable human experience behind it. (Hopefully, anyway. When I’m writing panel descriptions of giant space hands bursting out of volcanoes that can seem a bit of a stretch.) So we’re likely to see as much of the “support staff” as we are of the heroes — which doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll see all of either. It’s the end of the world, and people are going to have things to do.
I would imagine a tale of powerful heroes and the people they serve dealing with the end of the universe would be an emotional, difficult tale to write. Should readers have a box of tissues nearby when they read the “Last Days” of “Captain America & the Mighty Avengers?”
It’s kind of scary, if I’m honest. You’re catching me at the early stages of plotting, where I have a very strong idea of the basic shape of it, but I’m still shifting all the building blocks around to make it as good as it can possibly be, and the enormity of this is really making itself clear. I’ve really got to bring the most intense emotional punches I possibly can to this. It’s going to be very tough. And yes, if I’m doing my job right, you are going to need at least a couple of tissues.
Artist Luke Ross has been with you for all of the “Captain America & the Mighty Avengers” issues so far, so you have a pretty good sense of his many strengths as an artist as you build this tale.
He’s got a great eye for expressions and for drawing real people, as well as impossibly good-looking hero-types. I saw some art for #6, and there are some expressions in there that are just wonderfully perfect — I’m looking forward to what he brings to this. Not forgetting Iban Coello either — another great artist who I’d enjoy working with again — and Rachelle Rosenberg’s awesome color work, which brings it all to life.
Now I’ll feel bad if I leave out Travis Lanham and Cory Petit on lettering duties, and Tom Brevoort, Wil Moss and Jake Thomas on editing. We’re often quick to reduce the creative team on a comic to a couple of people, but it takes a whole crew to get this stuff out the door and onto the shelves.
The arc may be called “The Last Days” and the Marvel Universe as we know it may be ending, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your time with the Mighty Avengers is over — though I know you can’t really talk too much about what the future holds. That said, in looking back at both volumes of the Mighty Avengers, what have you enjoyed most? How much fun have you had?
You’re right! My lips are sealed! But in terms of the past year and change, I think I had the most fun with the Blue Marvel stuff. I really got a kick out of writing him, and giving him this long history of out-of-costume adventures — paralleling all the great scientific minds and historical figures who’ve been conveniently left out of the history textbooks because their faces didn’t fit. My one big regret is that we haven’t seen his daughter Adrienne. There’s time yet, though.
So there’s that. I guess the other thing I really enjoy is beefing up characters — increasing the scope of Vic’s powers, for example, or putting Ava on a level with the gods. It’s Mighty Avengers — the clue’s in the name.
I’ll finish up with my traditional big Thank You to anyone who’s been buying and supporting this book — I’m beyond grateful for all the love this title gets every month, and I hope the thought of everything you know and love dying hideously in a fiery cosmic collision of universes doesn’t turn you off too much, true believers!
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