The Avengers are known across the Marvel Universe as a team that fights for Earth, taking a big picture approach to super heroics by tackling global and intergalactic threats. Of course, that doesn't mean the Avengers ignore smaller, more localized crime and issues. Recently, Luke Cage, Sam Wilson (formerly known as the Falcon, now known as the all-new Captain America) and several other heroes came together to establish an Avengers team whose focus is on bringing super heroic help to people and communities in need. And, in a nod back to Cage's Power Man days, they even have a hotline that can be used to contact them.
Writer Al Ewing chronicled the team's formation and initial battle with a powerful supernatural menace in the first volume of "Mighty Avengers." In the debut issue of "Captain America & the Mighty Avengers," Ewing and artist Luke Ross kicked off a dangerous new era for the team that finds two of its founding members mystically corrupted by the events of the "Avengers & X-Men: AXIS" event and attempting to destroy and pervert the group's purpose. CBR spoke with Ewing about those team members, his plans for the non-inverted cast -- including the team's newest recruit, the Amazing Spider-Man -- and what dangers await the Mighty Avengers in the new year.
CBR News: We kick off this new volume of Mighty Avengers with a different title and two of your main cast's personal codes and alignments inverted thanks to the spell cast in the first act of "Avengers & X-Men: AXIS." What's it like writing an inverted Sam Wilson? What do the Mighty Avengers mean to him now that his personality traits have been inverted? He seems almost offended by their very existence.
Al Ewing: Writing an inverted Sam is easy; I just take some of the attitudes I see every day in the real world and have Sam espouse them. All the stuff about how human rights are so terrible and we need to tear up our most essential freedoms in case someone we don't approve of benefits -- that's a newspaper front page seemingly every single day in my country, and I seriously doubt it's that different across the pond. Regular, non-fictional humans don't seem to need an inversion spell to turn against what's right -- sometimes it feels like we take to it at the drop of a headline. So there's a lot of my own horror and anger going into making Inverse Cap the polar opposite of the real, true Sam Wilson. And make no mistake, horror is on the menu.
To answer your question -- the Mighty Avengers are basically an organization devoted to helping people whether they "deserve" it or not. They're an organization that says anyone can join and hold Avenger status, regardless of power or privilege, as long as they're there to do good for their fellow people. Naturally, Inverse Sam is very much against them, in the same way that Regular Sam -- the true Sam -- was very much in favor.
We've seen the inverted Luke Cage briefly in "AXIS," but it feels like you're getting a chance to develop his inverted personality more here. What are sort of the core traits that define inverted Luke? And do he and Sam Wilson have similar or rival agendas?
While the thing that gets inverted in Sam is his commitment to freedom, democracy and human rights, the thing that gets inverted in Luke is his devotion to his community, and to humanity in general. Essentially, Inverted Luke is all about him and his. He still loves his wife and daughter, after a fashion -- in fact, he wants to spoil Danielle rotten. If that means a thousand other kids starve? Not his problem.
We've seen glimpses of Luke's plan in "CA&MA" #1, when he was on the phone to CORTEX Inc -- we'll be getting more of it, and whether it succeeds or fails, next issue. Right now, his plans for the MAs diverge pretty strongly with Sam's, but as we've seen in the regular "AXIS" book, they're very capable of working together if need be.
Luke's inversion begs the question of how his wife will react to it. Will Jessica Jones-Cage play a role in this "AXIS" tie-in arc?
All next issue! #2 is our big Inverted Luke issue, including a pretty heated discussion with Jess. As solicit-hungry readers will have seen, their marriage is under a strain (Would you want to be married to an evil version of your spouse?) and, much as I'd like to reassure people who, like me, are fans of the Jones-Cage marriage that it'll all be okay -- well, let's just say I've not finished throwing plot beats at Luke yet. Luke's going on a journey into the abyss, and that might not even be a metaphor. There are bad things out in the dark, as Jason Quantrell would say.
We got a glimpse of Power Man and White Tiger, and it was mentioned that some people thought they were dating. What can you tell us about the dynamic between the two teen heroes?
They're definitely dating. They're also very different people, with very different approaches to what they do and how they process the losses they've suffered. But one thing I want to do over the course of the next few months is showcase them as a team, and as the "Next-Generation A-List" I'm trying to set them up as. Remember that both of these kids have potentially unlimited power -- Ava already wields the power of a god, after the Tiger God agreed to surrender its power to her, while Vic's abilities are only constrained by his knowledge, and he's learning more every day. They might seem like the "Gamma-Level Threats" on Tony Stark's little battle-board, but they're a lot more powerful than he thinks.
But then, they'll need to be. Bad moon on the rise and all that.
Spider-Man was in the issue as well, but there was some question as to whether he's with the team since he got thrown out of the Mighty Avengers HQ, the Gem Theater. What can you tell us about Spidey's role in the book? And what's it like writing Spidey in a book like "Captain America & the Mighty Avengers?"
So far, Spidey's role seems to be to find redemption for what Spider-Ock did to the team in the first volume of the series. He's not doing a great job yet -- mostly because an inverted Luke refused to accept his apology -- but the day isn't over yet.
Spidey is -- intimidating to write. I try and write him funny, but my sense of humor can get a little strange, as readers of "Zombo" may remember. I also try and write him as someone with problems, someone who struggles. If we didn't have a whole support staff of reader-surrogates, he'd be the reader-surrogate, the "hero who could be you".
He has bad days. Sometimes he'll get a sudden stab of guilt about something he did, sometimes he'll spend hours in a big hole of self-loathing, sometimes he actually is fine, and sometimes he's just saying he's fine so you don't worry. That's just how it is sometimes, you know? We've all been there. We have bad days and we have to get through them, and it's nice that there's a superhero in this big metaphorical world of tights and fights who has bad days too.
Do any of the members that we didn't see in this issue get a larger focus in this "AXIS" tie-in arc? Or is this more of a Luke and Sam story?
I decided to lean heavily on the "Captain America" side of the title for #1, mostly for the simmering sense of dread as it becomes increasingly obvious that something's gone horribly wrong. But from here on, the whole team is involved -- in fact, next issue, we get a nice breath of fresh air as the non-inverted team members swing into action against a wild, outrageous and decidedly day-glo threat in the Mighty Avengers manner -- before we're back to the creeping awfulness of some terrifying opposite of your friend staring out at you through their eyes.
The first issue also introduced a new supporting cast memeberWhat can you tell us about Soraya Khorasani and her role in this series moving forward?
When I knew we were getting a new #1, I wanted to do a scene that introduced how the Mighty Avengers operate, particularly the whole "hotline" concept. So I figured I'd have a new recruit to the support staff being given the tour on her first day, and Soraya came to be. We'll be seeing more of her as the series continues -- especially as she's become a fan-fave in just a few panels -- and there'll come a time when the support staff, the Mighty Avengers who really could be you, have to come together to help the world in its time of crisis. Soraya's going to be leading that charge.
The solicits suggest we're going to get a big Mighty Avengers vs the inverted Axis of Evil Avengers rumble in this "AXIS" tie in. What can you tell us about that, and what will we see besides it?
I suppose this arc is partly about what makes an Avenger -- whether it's raw power, or having a set place in the great hierarchy of super-heroes, or living in a big tower or a mansion. Or whether, maybe, it's something more than that. The Inverted Avengers are almost the shells of super heroes -- stripped of everything that makes them what they are, all personalities reversed, only the powers remaining. Battle-board super heroes, existing only as sets of powers to play against one another. They're heroes of the abyss, hollowed out. And if that sounds like a horror story -- well, in practice, there might be a little more BIFF, BAM and POW, but if there's one overarching theme to the year ahead, it's horror. The horror of what lurks in the empty spaces, of what's looking out from behind the eyes of the person you thought you knew. What might be outside, in the dark.
Luke Ross had some great action scenes in the first issue, but it really felt like it was a showcase for his character acting skills.
Luke loves the Marvel method, it turns out. I think the only point in the issue where I really micromanaged him was the Spidey apology page, where I specifically asked for a nine-panel grid of supreme awkwardness. I usually try to specify emotions while I'm plotting, especially if I'm putting some dialogue in the plot. But beyond that -- it's all Luke.
I'm seeing his art come in for future issues now, and there are some treats ahead -- he draws a good Odinson in particular.
In January you kick off a new year and a new arc. What can you offer up about your plans for the series in the early months of 2015?
Gideon Mace is dead, and it's murder -- or something worse. Another old enemy gets a very unpleasant upgrade. Jason Quantrell keeps smiling. Luke Cage goes on a mission he might not return from. There's something outside that wants to get in. And that's not even talking about the really scary stuff.
I'd like to finish up with a thank you to all our readers, old and new. We're going into some dark places, my friends, but I think I know the way. And if it turns out I don't -- well, you probably won't feel a thing. What? No, I didn't take your hand. Clammy, you say? Feels like it might be dead? Or maybe never alive? Hmmm.
"Captain America and the Mighty Avengers" #2 goes on sale Nov. 26 from Marvel Comics. Read a preview of the issue here on CBR.