Back on February 9th, we asked you to participate in a Q&A session with the architects of Marvel's big cosmic event, "Annihilation." Writer Keith Giffen and editor Andy Schmidt agreed to enter the CBR Interrogation Room (really the Annihilation Forum here at CBR) and let you, the fans, ask the questions. And ask you did! So much so that we've got thirty pages of questions and answers for you to read. With so much ground to cover, we've chopped this Q&A into two parts. Part one is below, with part two set to publish Tuesday afternoon. There's no doubt in our minds that you'll enjoy these interviews.
Special thanks to Keith and Andy for giving up their time this weekend to address your questions. Also, thanks are due to Marvel's Marketing guru's John Dokes, David Gabriel and Jim McCann for all their help in putting this thing together. CBR and our readers appreciate it. Now, without any further delay, onto your questions.
CBR: Allright guys, you have your work cut out for you. I sent you over 10 pages of questions from those who participated in the Q&A thread on our "Annihilation" forum. We're taking these questions in the order they were posted, so we start with long time forum member Expletive Deleted, who had two questions for you.
Who are your influences when it comes to Marvel's cosmic characters? Lee/Kirby, Thomas, Engelhart, Starlin, Gruenwald, others that I'm probably forgetting . . . lots of different writers with very different styles have dealt with this stuff over the years, and I'm wondering whose work had the most impact on "Annihilation."
Keith Giffen: You can't do Marvel sci-fi without touching on Starlin. I'd have to cite Jim as my number one influence, if only because I was, and still am, a huge fan of his Captain Marvel / Warlock runs. What most people don't stop to consider is that, back when Jim was playing around with the cosmic stuff, the concepts he was introducing were staggering for their time. He did all of the cosmic, mystical, head trip stuff first and it was must read month after month. Starlin's influence is more "stay original" than "do it my way."
Andy Schmidt: For me, I look at Kirby. That includes the Lee/Kirby stuff like FF and Silver Surfer, but I love the ideas Kirby would throw around. For me, it doesn't get any better than his "New Gods" books across town. Stunning in every way- compelling characters, outrageous ideas, and visually energetic- a complete mythology.
I certainly wouldn't take anything away from Starlin or Engelhart, but I do feel like much of their work was a product of the times and isn't as universal as what Lee and Kriby did. Now, I'm looking to usher in a new age of cosmicy-goodness that is respectful of the giants who's work we're building on, but is different enough to stand on its own. I hope ten years from now someone is going to ask this question to another young Marvel editor, but that list includes Giffen, Abnett, Lanning, Furman, and Grillo-Marxuach. Now that would be awesome.
Also, does Quasar have a chance of making it out alive?
KG: Depends. How much is it worth to you?
AS: Well, I'm looking at a very cool new Quasar costume design by Gabriele Dell'Otto, so what does that tell you?
CBR: Allright, we're off to a great start. CBR member Dingo wants to know:
What do you guys perceive to be the strengths and weaknesses of cosmic characters compared to their earth-bound brethren?
AS: I'm not sure exactly what you mean, Dingo. But if I understand your question properly, I think the strengths of all characters, cosmic or otherwise, is in what motivates them. For example, I'm also the editor on "Ms. Marvel" (launching in March!) and I put the series off until I knew exactly what motivated her. I think it's a very strong launch because of that. She's Earthbound, but she'd be just as interesting, engaging, and entertaining in space. She knows she can be the best of the best and she's going to prove it. Now that kind of story can play out anywhere and at any time. It's finding these core motivations that brings life to these characters. I'm thrilled to have the cosmic landscape to play them out on, but strong characters are captivating where ever they are.
KG: Cosmic characters are not bound by what we know to be real. Paris is Paris (the city, not the wacko). We know it's there and know there's no mountain of crystal at its center. With the cosmic characters, we can create our own city and put whatever we want in it. I guess the biggest appeal is world building. Earth's already been built.
CBR: The Purple Skull wants to know:
Any chance we will see Captain Universe and/or Gladiator?
AS: There's always a chance. Captain U just had his own book, in case you missed it. And Gladiator just so happens to be one of my personal favorite Marvel cosmic characters.
KG: Captain Universe? Dunno. Gladiator? That's a big "maybe". He was fun to write in Thanos so…
CBR: TheSentryLives broke his questions down for each of you:
First Question to Andy: If the sales on the main "Annihilation" series are good, but the mini's aren't, does that reflect as lack of interest or is it because of the pricing being more than one can afford?
AS: Dude, I honestly have no idea. I have a masters in media communications with an emphasis in marketing and I have no clue what makes certain comics sell. These limited series are no more expensive than other comics, so I think it just comes down to how interested the readers are. I hope these will succeed, and if they do, I'd certainly rather believe it's due to the stories than the pricing, but that might just be my own ego talking.
What we do have, fortunately, are three marketing guys behind these books. The unsung heroes (and actually the guys who approached CBR with the idea of the Annihilation forum) are Jim McCann, David Gabriel and John Dokes. You don't know them, but they're the reason for the house ad in all our books and a lot of the interviews with the creators. They've been extremely supportive, so at least I know the word of "Annihilation" is getting out there. If they don't succeed, then I probably did something wrong. I won't hide from that.
2nd question for Keith: Was it possible to include the Runner or was he not available?
KG: Who the hell's the Runner?
CBR: JimmyDee wants to know:
How does this event compare in scope to previous cosmic events like "Infinity Gauntlet" and what not? Is it bigger? Smaller? Similar? Or just different? Does it have longer lasting effects on the characters?
KG: I'll go with different and long-term impact. When we promise change, trust us, there will be change. Big time. Andy?
AS: I'm glad you asked this, JimmyDee. "Infinity Gauntlet" was six issues that crossed over almost every other book. So it was bigger in terms of number of books involved. I'm not going to be asking you to get anything that's not already been announced. So, in that respect it's smaller. But I think a better word is "tighter." There's an awful lot of stuff that happens in this. A lot of status quo shake ups, new characters, and what have you. However, the core characters are relatively small. One of the things that bothers me about stories like "Infinity Gauntlet" is that the heroes get reduced to action figures- they're no longer characters. I'm trying to strike the right balance between giving the fans every single character they all want to see and being able to portray those characters as human beings. Its tough. And I won't lie to you, not everyone you'll want to see will show up. In fact, there was one character in particular that I was hoping to spin out into his own book because I love him, but he got cut because he just didn't fit. It was the right thing to do for the story. Sucked for me- but good for the story.
I think the lasting effects from "Annihilation" will continue for a few years to come- I hope forever- but definitely for at least several years. There are things we're doing that cannot easily be undone, that's for sure. So, boiled down, the answer is both bigger and smaller. When "Infinity Gauntlet" ended, nothing really changed. When "Annihilation" ends, the "Marvel Cosmic Map" will be completely changed.
CBR: Allright, Eh_ver is clearly excited about "Annihilation" as he posed three questions your way:
This is just killing me. Based on the fact that Abnett and Lanning are writing "Nova" and that they created Century in "Force Works," is there a chance we will see the character in "Annihilation?"
AS: Sorry, no Century.
Any chance you can list off a few more characters we'll be seeing? So far I know of the big four (obviously) along with Drax, Gamora, Thanos and Devos.
AS: Sure. Quasar, Galactus and Firelord. How's that? You know, "few" means three, right? If you'd said "dozen," wouldn't that have been wiser? Kidding…
KG: Silver Surfer, Super Skrull, Space Knights, Dopey, Grumpy, Doc and Jerry Mathers as the Beaver.
Any chance of an ongoing spin-off from this event? Out of all the events going on in comics lately, this one is the one I'd like to see have its own book for repercussions.
KG: Lord knows I'm there. Andy?
AS: Just one book? You're shooting low, my friend? I'm hoping for seven spinoffs!
CBR: Lanowar asks:
Was there any character you wished to use or give a mini series to, but couldn't, and if so why not?
KG: I was kind of partial to Drax getting another go 'round… Quasar would have been a challenge… Ooh! Ooh! Impossible Man!
AS: Yes. Mainly very solid story reasons. Like I said above, there was one that's killing me that I couldn't use, but he just didn't fit.
There were a few others that we couldn't use in the overall story because they were in play elsewhere. And that's fair, too. How annoying would it be if the Silver Surfer was popping up in three places all at the same time!?
The limited series title characters shifted a bit as we were figuring out the mechanics of the story, but I think we got it pitch perfect as is. I know I'm excited, Lanowar.
CBR: Eh_ver is back! He's clearly excited about this event! Although this isn't exactly a question.
There have been rumors of a new Captain Marvel. I've heard that he/she will be a part of "Civil War," but it would make a lot more sense to see him/her come out of "Annihilation," wouldn't it? Here's to hoping you guys get the honor of bringing this legacy back!
KG: Not on the ol' Annihilation agenda. Sorry.
CBR: Faroniousd, who has a handle I have no idea how to pronounce, has some questions:
Seeing as how Thanos is involved (thank you!!!), will we be seeing his brother Eros aka Starfox? And what of Rocket Raccoon?! Now that would surprise some people!
KG: Eros is a distinct possibility…
AS: Hmmmm, what of Rocket Racoon? You never know. HEY KEITH, REWRITE ON SILVER SURFER! ROCKET RACOON KILLS GALACTUS! WHAT DO YOU THINK!?
KG: Rocket Raccoon? Pass. I'm not a big fan of humor in comics…
Any of you interested in re-launching "Rom," now that Marvel and Hasbro have a working relationship?
AS: Love Rom, just not likely to happen. I'm not really in a position to even ask about getting that license back.
Can not wait for this event!!!!
AS: Yeah, me either.
KG: Me neither.
CBR: Doom Hammer (with a handle like that, you don't want to get on his bad side) has a spoilerish type question:
This is a tricky one...
Yes or no?
KG: That's exactly right. Yes or no. I mean, it'd have to be one or the other, right?
Any chance we'll see some other cosmic characters show up? Galactus? Pheonix?
KG: Galactus? Absolutely. Phoenix? Did I miss something? Isn't she Jean Grey?
CBR: Young Avenger checks in with this question:
How many new characters can we expect to see in "Annihilation?" And will these new characters appear elsewhere when "Annihilation" is over?
AS: A decent handful. I don't want to introduce a whole bunch of characters because then none of them will have enough camera-time for you guys to get to know them. And if you don't get into the characters, then you won't care about them when this whole thing is over. We're better off coming up with three or four and getting them right than introducing 10 that everyone forgets about two weeks later. And yes, they'll probably show up elsewhere.
CBR: Allright, we're really trucking along here aren't we? Overcomebyfumes is clearly a big Thanos fan and wants to know:
Thanos - when we last saw him, he was a wandering philosopher seeking his place in the universe, not sure of where exactly he belonged. While not truly a "hero," he wasn't a "villain" either. It was a much more thoughtful take on the character, and one I liked a lot. (I was really sad to see the series cancelled, btw.)
Question - is "Annihilation" going to use this characterization, or are we going to see a reversion to the eeeeevvviiiill, but two-dimentional, nihilist Thanos?
I like Thanos, and I'd like to see his character continue to develop, rather than regress.
KG: If anything, Thanos' motives grow murkier until he… Trust me, you'll love it.
CBR: Indigo Al stopped by to ask:
I think "Marvel Two in One" #61-63 are cosmic classics! Any chance we'll see Her, Starhawk, the High Evolutionary, or any of the others?
AS: Always, a chance, Indigo AI.
KG: At this point, much more than cameo appearances are unlikely. We're already pretty densely populated.
CBR: Dark Soul #7 (what happened to the previous six?) has a comment and some questions:
First of all, I would like to say that the preview for the prologue looks awesome and I can hardly wait for this thing to start coming out on the market and make me a bit poorer. Now questions.
Can you, at this point, tell us something we don´t already know about the big bad threat that´s coming in "Annihilation?"
KG: It's all Reed Richard's fault.
Will Firelord, my favorite cosmic character, have a big or small part in "Annihilation?"
KG: Big. Starting in the Silver Surfer mini.
AS: Firelord is burning up the space ways!
CBR: Kinbote wants to know:
I'm excited about Annihilation as well, it seems like any day now it should be out.
There's been some good questions posted already that I like, and I'm very eager to see the Silver Surfer and see his part of the story. In a way though, I don't want to spoil it by asking questions about what will happen to him. I'm just hoping I get to see him prevail in all his glory.
There is one question though that's been eating at me, dealing with one of my favorite characters of the cosmos, the Watchers. Will we ever get to see Uatu again by possibly intervening or letting it be known that he's watching the "Annihilation?"
It's been awhile since there's been an appearance of him, sadly for me, and it seems like if there's any moment for him to make one, it would be "Annihilation." Either way, I'm just glad to have had the chance to pose the question... What if?
AS: Uatu will not be interfering. He's a watcher. He watches. By definition, he doesn't interfere. If you look really closely in the backgrounds, I'm sure you can pick out little Watchers. They're everywhere- the pesky devils!
KG: I've got an Uatu story I'm dying to tell. If not Annihilation, then definitely elsewhere.
CBR: Overcomebyfumes apparently wasn't that overcome by fumes, because he had another question for you guys:
Is there the obligatory Celestials cameo? Does anyone know what to do with these guys other than have them show up every time there's a cosmic "event?"
KG: Andy and I have batted around some Celestial ideas… Probably not in Annihilation, but…
AS: Celestials are more often used as plot devices. I hate that. It's not fair to you readers. I assure you if/when they show up, it will be with purpose. I actually really like the concept of these guys and I'm sick of them being portrayed like giant stooges. So, maybe, but if it makes you feel better- I whole heartedly agree with sentiment. I really want to get them right!
CBR: Ender asks:
Will "Annihilation" better define what the Power Cosmic is? I've always felt that it is a bit of a vague concept. What limitations, if any, are there? Like a catch-all solution to plot problems.
AS: First, I love your name. Great book. Secondly, you know, that wasn't something I had intended on tackling going into "Annihilation," but as luck would have it, it does actually get cleared up a little bit. And yeah, I know what you mean. The biggest obstacle in dealing with some of these characters is making sure no one of them can just solve all the problems. Don't worry, no one gets de-powered just to solve this problem. I demanded more interesting solutions. I think you'll dig 'em.
CBR: Rahul asks a potentially spoilerific question:
Will the ongoing "Planet Hulk" storyline have any connection to "Annihilation?" Seeing as how (SPOILER ALERT) the Silver Surfer will be appearing in "Incredible Hulk" #95? (END SPOILER ALERT!)
KG: Nothing concrete planned at this time. Andy?
AS: "Planet Hulk" features the Silver Surfer in a story that takes place before "Annihilation Prologue." Scheduling wise, we just didn't want to wait. And while I'd love all the Hulk fans to buy "Annihilation" because of this touch point, it's really nothing more than that- just a touch point so that both Greg Pak and Keith Giffen could tell cool Surfer stories.
How large will be the body count, if people die in this saga?
Also, do you have second thoughts about killing second stringers?
KG: I'd, kind of, rather fix than kill. That said, if it makes for a good story…
AS: I have some first thoughts about killing "second stringers." I don't think there is such a thing as a second string character- I think the fact that I have "Ronan" as one of the limited series should prove that. I also don't think killing off characters is all that cool as a general rule. That being said, I allowed two characters to get killed in "Drax The Destroyer." It worked for that story and Keith Giffen created Lunatik, so I thought that was fair.
CBR: Titan76 wasn't happy with just one question, so he went all out!
1) Will we finally learn what the Celestials are and what their job is? And are any of them more powerful then a fully fed Galactus?
KG: Nope. Sorry.
2) Will Galactus be in this or any of the MU Skyfathers like Zeus?
KG: Galactus definitely. Zeus? I'm going to say… no.
3) I know more than likely she won't be in this, but will Jean Grey/Phoenix be in this? If no, why not?
KG: Jean's a no show. There's just too much happening to bring in X-continuity.
AS: I hate Jean Grey. Yeah, that's right. The only great thing she ever did was die. I said it. "Uncanny X-Men" #137 was one of the best issues in comics history and I'm tired of seeing it walked on by Jean Grey.
She has cosmic ties as well and has every right to be in this, plus this series would be a great place to explain what the White Hot Room is. She can be written outside an X-comic you know.
KG: Try telling the X-Men editors that.
4) Will the Watchers be in this? If so, can we finally see their home world, learn how big their population is, and learn what their race is really called? If no, why not?
AS: The Watchers home world no longer exists. So, it's not there. If it was, I would annihilate it! I would also annihilate Jean Grey!
5) Will the Elders of the Universe be in this? If no, why not?
KG: Andy? I honestly have no idea which characters constitute the Elders. Was it Shazam and Max Lord or is that across the street?
AS: Sort of.
6) And finally will the Shi'ar, Kree, Skrulls, and Brood be in this? If no, why not?
KG: Kree - yes.
Skrulls - yes.
Brood - probably not.
Shi'ar - No, due to circumstances beyond our control.
Hey! We've got the Badoon! Anyone? The Badoon? Hah? Hah? Hello?
AS: And you can see the Brood in "Ms. Marvel" #1 - 3 (on sale in March - May).
CBR: Whew, what a line of questioning! It's like we're in a police station under a hot light all of a sudden! It doesn't stop there, though, as MrStytch has a bunch of questions, too!
Before I ask my questions, I'd just like to thank Keith and Andy for taking the time during what are doubtlessly busy schedules to answer our varied queries. Thanks, Guys. Now, on with the interrogation...
AS: Thanks for thinking of us. But to tell you the truth, this interview gives me an excuse for when all of these titles ship late. "Well, I couldn't look at the lettering, I had to do the CBR interviews!" Seriously, though, happy to do it. I like talking with fans.
KG: Waitaminnit… we're not being paid!?
CBR: Uhhhhhhh…Keith? You still there? Hello? Keith?
1) While you were plotting out "Annihilation," and probably deciding how each character fit into the overall story, were there any Marvel characters you were told "Sorry, he/she's off limits" that you would have liked to involve?
AS: Yeah, I couldn't use the Hulk. I kept saying, wouldn't it be great if the Hulk were shot into space and started trashing all these alien planets- like annihilating them! That'd be awesome!
KG: The Shi'ar. That's about all I remember… Oh! Warlock at first, but now we got him!
2) Alternately, were there any characters you could've used and just couldn't seem to fit in (and why not)?
KG: I wish we could have touched base with all of the cosmic characters, but it was just too unwieldy for the story we need to tell. That's right. Need to. Money has changed hands and Quesada's connected… if you know what I mean.
AS: There are a lot of characters that I like and want to play with. However, if I couldn't give them enough time to do them justice, I stayed clear. The Celestials, for example. I want to do something huge with these guys and Keith has a great idea, but it just wouldn't fit in this story.
3) Are we going to see anything of the (often mentioned, but not seen) Kree Accusers (aside from Ronan, obviously!) or their counterparts from the Skrull Empire (aside from the Super-Skrull)?
AS: One other guy.
4) Are there going to be any references to "Annihilation" in the mainstream books or are the Avengers and X-Men gonna completely miss this one?
AS: Sadly, no Spider-Man, no Wolverine, no Avengers (oh, wait, they are Avengers). These events transpire in space. But I'd be lying if there wasn't an Earth connection.
KG: I'd like to think we'll have some impact. I know the Young Avengers are going to know what's going down.
CBR: That eh_ver can't be stopped:
I'm working my way through the brilliant Marvel Legacy 1960s Handbook right now, so I've got to ask if we'll see any of these little known "classic" characters:
Hidden Man (a favorite based solely on his design, plus there is a suspected connection between him and Starfox that's never been addressed)
KG: Couldn't find him.
Infant Terrible and his family (c'mon, this guy is early FF)
KG: I only wish…
Ixar (this guy sounds just insane and would likely fit nicely into this event)
KG: Ummm… No
Kurrgo (yet another shafted early FF character)
KG: Wasn't that a crappy mid 60's giant monster movie?
Plus, I think we can all agree that it's been too long since there's been a proper Xemnu the Titan appearance (beyond the Monster Handbook).
KG: I beg to differ.
AS: Can we all agree on that? I'm not so sure.
CBR: Sharcque wants to know:
Will the ex-herald Nova show up? Frankie Ray?
KG: sigh… No.
AS: You mean her cold lifeless body? That would be rude.
CBR: Will.S has two, count 'em, two questions:
1) Will Nova's new costume change be due to story purposes and if it is, is it going to be a permanent new look?
KG: Nova's look will reflect what he's going through and the man he will become. As for permanent… might I refer you to the grave of one Bucky Barnes…
2) Will Nebula be appearing in "Annihilation" given her ties to both Thanos and Nova?
AS: Yes. Check out "Ronan" for Nebula.
KG: Nebula's a chick!?
CBR: Selective Memory has two select questions for ya:
Keith, would you compare working on this project to some of the other major events in your comics career? Where does this one rank for you?
KG: This one ranks high because its effects are far reaching and genuine. No "bait and switch" here.
Oh, and will we see any Bwa-Ha-Ha?
KG: Not this time around. This time I'm as serious as a heart attack.
AS: Secretly, I've hired J. M. DeMatteis to script the hell out of this whole thing!
CBR: Jack Ryder may be trying to stir up some trouble with his questions:
Is there a reason you plan this to imitate DC's Crisis format of mini-series leading in to the main mini?
KG: Not my decision to make. Oh, and I don't think "imitate" is the right word here. DC and Marvel bump up against one another constantly and ideas / formats / gimmicks become kind of… communal property. Were we doing "Annihilation" as three 80 page giants, it would be because we felt that was the best way to tell the story, not because DC did it with "Invasion." Besides… is it format that tells the tale or content? And before you start in on my being a Marvel apologist, I'd like to point out that I'm a DC apologist too.
AS: This question about format is irrelevant. It's a format. The structure of "Annihilation" was in place before the format for "Infinite Crisis" was announced. I thought about changing our structure once it came out. But, it serves our story and I wasn't going to mess up "Annihilation" because of a coincidence.
And are they going to be as light, story-wise, as the Destroyer mini was?
AS: You thought "Drax" was light on story? Let's recount what happened in four issues of that series: an alien prison transport crash landed in Alaska, unleashing four alien power houses and Drax the Destroyer (then with little brain function). The aliens held an entire town hostage, forced them into labor camps, killed Drax. Drax underwent a transformation, was put back together so he's smart and powerful again, he rescues the town, kills two Marvel characters ruthlessly and forces the ring leader, Paibok, to turn himself in. Meanwhile, Cammi, the little girl who's mother was murdered by the evil aliens decides to join Drax in space. I don't know about you guys, but that feels like a lot to me.
Bottom line, a lot goes down in "Annihilation."
CBR: ColdFury makes the case for one of his favorite characters:
I have one word for you, ladies and gentlemen. Quasar.
KG: Those are three words.
The man's book was a 1000 times more interesting than anything I've read out of the Silver Surfer, he's my favorite character in the entire Marvel Universe, and this is the second time in recent history where he's been a fringe character in a chessboard of a storyline. (See: "Avengers: Disassembled") Meaning: Likely possibility of being knocked off.
Now, Quasar has a history of getting knocked off in crossovers. The man's died three times so far as I can count. (And hell, for a minute in "Avengers: Disassembled" I was worried he had the worst death ever.)
I don't expect a "is Quasar going to make it" answer, but can I get an answer as to how much Quasar is going to be in the books? A page? A supporting role? Obviously, I don't expect the "Nova And Quasar" show, but I'm going to be disappointed if we get a "Oh, what about Quasar, he's Protector of the Universe?" "Sorry, he's busy" Scenario.
So... Quasar? Does he have any sort of sizeable role in the book??
KG: I say we kill him.
CBR: OK, I think we can safely say that eh_ver is stalking you guys now, but in a good way. He's back with more questions!
I've seen people mention Quasar, but I'm curious, is Quasar definitely making an appearance? He would seem to be a shoe-in, but you never know. I know he's not all that popular, but I've always liked him. He may've been overshadowed by Captain Marvel and Silver Surfer, but Quasar really struck me as "Earth's cosmic character."
KG: Oh yeah. Definitely kill him.
...and what about Captain Universe? It seems to me that making up a fifth week event for such a character only to see him/her/it disappear back into limbo is kind of odd.
KG: Yeah! What's the deal with that!?
This question may lead into if we will see a spin-off after "Annihilation," but I'm already curious if we're going to see any work from these creators after the minis are through. I've been really happy to see Simon Furman especially getting some work sent his way with "Death's Head" and now "Ronan!"
AS: All maybes. Seriously, if this is successful, then we'll do more.
Return for part two of this Q&A on Tuesday afternoon. In the mean time, discuss this interview right here on CBR's Annihilation Forum. And if the above isn't enough to satisfy your "Annihilation" jones, then check out these related stories:
- Marvel announces "Annihilation" Press Release
- Keith Giffen talks "Annihilation"
- Andy Schmidt talks "Annihilation"
- Keith Giffen talks "Silver Surfer"
- Javier Grillo-Marxuach talks "Super-Skrull"