SPOILER WARNING: This interview contains major spoilers for "Avengers" #1, on sale now.
Earth's Mightiest Heroes first crossed paths with Kang the Conqueror in 1964’s “Avengers” #8 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Since then then, the time traveling despot has returned to menace Marvel Comics' flagship superhero team on many occasions. Because of his tactical mind, futuristic weaponry and ability to traverse time the Avengers’ battles with Kang are often epic and evolve elaborate machinations. Recently, he pushed one Avenger, the synthezoid known as the Vision, too far, leading the hero to attempt to end the threat of Kang forever, by traveling time himself and kidnapping the infant Kang and hiding him in the 21st Century.
That abduction, of course, only made Kang angry -- and desperate. So, in the debut issue of the newest volume of “Avengers” by writer Mark Waid and artist Mike del Mundo, he struck back at the titular team, joining forces with his descendant, the Scarlet Centurion. The duo have travelled through time to murder the Vision and his comrades in a newly minted Avengers line-up.
The question now, is, what happens in “Avengers” #2, the next chapter of “Kang War?” To answer that and more, CBR spoke with Waid about Kang, the new cast members who appeared in issue #1, and the cryptic teaser that ended the issue.
CBR: Mark, in “Avengers” #1, it's mentioned that Kang cannot travel into the future, but it looks like his abilities allow him to completely alter the past. In the cliffhanger of the issue, he and the Scarlet Centurion did just that, by killing some of the Avengers when they just had been born.
Mark Waid: Right, what's happened is that his infant self in the 21st Century creates a paradox, and Kang has learned how to create and feed off of time paradoxes.
In the issue, Vision describes Kang as being able to alter time like a doctor. Does that mean he could perhaps commit a crime in the past and wipe out all traces that he was there?
Yes, very much so. One of the things we'll find out is that Kang may have been responsible for more things in the Marvel Universe than you previously realized.
Kang and the Scarlet Centurion were in “Avengers” #1, and the cover to issue #2 suggests that other members of his lineage, like Immortus, Rama-Tut and Iron Lad, will become involved in the story at some point. When it's all said and done, will “Kang War” be an exploration of who the titular time traveling character is, what makes him tick, and his lineage?
Yes, certainly what makes him tick and what makes him want to conquer. We'll look at what is it about him that set him on this path. We'll have at least one issue that is completely told from Kang's point of view, that will help us get into his head.
At one point in Marvel continuity, Doctor Doom was tied to Kang's lineage. Is that still the case?
I always liked that Doom was part of the lineage, but apparently that's no longer the case in modern Marvel continuity. Still, if I can find some way to give a nod to that, it would be great.
In issue #1, Hercules was not one of the Avengers that Kang and the Scarlet Centurion attacked when they were infants, so hope still lies with Herc! What made you want to bring the character into the book? It looks like you were a fan of Dan Abnett's recent “Hercules” run.
Very much so! What I liked about Dan's recent run is that he decided that there was no reason why Hercules couldn't adapt and use modern weapons. That's something that makes perfect sense to me, and it's something that nobody had ever done before Dan, so I wanted to run with that. Hercules adapts with the times.
Beyond that I wanted Hercules in the Avengers first off because with Ms. Marvel, Spider-Man, and Nova out of the group we were down some Avengers. Then just in terms of brute strength that's something that Hercules brings to the table.
One of the things I loved about Dan's Hercules run was that Herc was a character trying to be better and not always succeeding. Is that something we'll see more of in “Avengers?”
Yeah -- in fact, that's why he joins the Avengers. He's looking to rehabilitate his image, so he figures by joining the Avengers and staying on the straight and narrow that will help.
Another Avenger that joined the team is Peter Parker, who, of course, has been an Avenger before. What does it mean for Peter to come back to the team the way he did here, as their financial backer?
It puts Peter in a strange place, because none of the other Avengers know his secret identity. They just know him as Peter Parker, and for the Wasp, something about Peter just grates on her nerves. So there's some question as to whether or not they'll accept Peter's offer of being their new backer and setting up a new headquarters in the former Baxter Building. I have a feeling, though, that Wasp will lose that fight.
It's interesting that there's that dynamic between the Wasp and Spidey. The sense I got from Nadia Pym is that she's one of the more happy go lucky members of the team, and here she is butting up against a character who is often pretty happy go lucky as well.
That's just a call back to the very first time that Spider-Man met the Avengers and it really didn't sit well with the original Wasp, Janet van Dyne. She said, “Wasps and spiders are natural enemies.” I don't think that's actually true, but it was fun to give a nod to that.
[Laughs] Vision also reunites with the team in “Avengers” #1, which is set after the events of Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta's recently concluded “Vision” series. What's your sense of the Vision's demeanor in the aftermath of that book? Do you think what he went through with his family in that series changed him on an emotional level?
It changed him on a deep emotional level, but as we established in a previous issue of “All-New, All-Different Avengers,” when things get too weird for him he tends to off load his emotions on to a hard drive so he's not carrying all his emotional baggage around with him.
He still has some of that floating around in him, and we'll see as the issues progress that a lot of the story hinges on Vision wanting to make right some of the things that went wrong with him.
So you're interested in possibly exploring some of the threads Tom set up for future writers in the final issue of “Vision?”
Sure. That was a terrific book, and beyond his daughter Viv, who is in the “Champions,” if there's anything more we can pull out of that, I'm more than happy to.
Your artistic collaborator on “Avengers” is Mike del Mundo, whose work on books like “Weirdworld” and a variety of recent Marvel covers has shown an aptitude for emotion and bringing strange realities to wondrous life. What do you enjoy most about Mike's style?
The expressiveness; the fact that he can go from super serious and realistic to genuinely comic and funny in a panel. His range as an illustrator is really remarkable.
Let's start to wrap up by looking ahead in “Avengers.” You gave us a glimpse of some of your future plans with the teaser at the end of issue #1. Approximately how many months of stories are laid out in that teaser?
At least a year is laid out in that teaser. We know where we're going with that stuff. Obviously, the Champions and Avengers crossing paths only makes sense at some point down the line. Avenger X is someone you'll be introduced to sooner rather than later. The ancient Vision also shows up sooner rather than later.
I was excited to see the Infamous Iron Man, Victor Von Doom, in that teaser as well.
Yeah we might see him in issue #7 depending on how things shake out with the first six. He'll be around somewhere along there, and the problem with Victor Von Doom as Iron Man is the fact that he thinks he's their leader.
Finally, you're launching another tale of Earth's Mightiest Heroes with “Avengers” #1.1 featuring art by Barry Kitson. The fact that the .1 issues are set in the past and you're telling a time travel story in the present day issues of “Avengers” has me wondering how connected these two books will be.
More connected than you might think. I'm not sure yet if there will be an actual crossover between the two books, but there are events in that .1 series that will be very, very important to the “Avengers” in the back half of year one. We're laying some seeds there, so it's not just a fun romp in the past. There's also some influence on the modern day Avengers.