It's rare to see creative teams on major superhero comic books stick together for too long these days, but the almost four years of collaboration between writer Geoff Johns and artist Scott Kolins came to an end with "Flash #200."
Well, that's what you'd think… unless you're also a Marvel Comics' fan.
Later this year, the duo re-team on Marvel Comics' popular super team comic, "The Avengers" and hope to excite fans as they did with the conclusion of the "Blitz" arc in "Flash." Kolins spoke to CBR News about his work on the series and also provided a nice introduction to Marvel's Mightiest Heroes, lest ye be unfamiliar with the team.
"The concept of Marvel's 'The Avengers' is: a gathering of heroes able to fight foes no single hero could withstand!" says Kolins. "To deal with any threat imaginable because they stand together! My run on Avengers begins in September 2003. It's a four-issue story arc called 'The Search for She-Hulk' that will come out bi-weekly (every 2 weeks instead of every 4 weeks!).
This story centers on Jennifer Walters a.k.a. The Sensational She-Hulk. During the preceding story, 'Red Zone', Jennifer lost control of herself and raged among her teammates, The Avengers. She tore apart the powerful synthazoid, The Vision, decimated the rest of the Avengers, and then Jen herself was gone. No one has seen or heard from her again. But Avengers stick with Avengers and so now the search for her begins as well as finding the reasons for her bizarre behavior. The small town of Bone, Idaho is stage where all hell is gonna break loose! This is Geoff Johns' last story arc for The Avengers, and it's a doozie!"
Kolins, who's best known for his work on DC Comics' properties like "Flash" or the "Legion of Superheroes," readily admits he took the initiative to make sure he wasn't unemployed after he finished his run on "Flash." "When I decided to leave The Flash after #200, I let anyone and everyone know, so I could begin figuring out what was next," he explains. "Among other people, I began a dialogue with Tom Brevoort about possibilities at Marvel comics and from there we eventually wound up with the Avengers. I've always loved the Avengers, and am really enjoying playing with Marvel characters again. I can't tell you who but one of my favorite Avengers is rejoining the group during this story. The diverse characters and general fun and grand scale of stories are the big draw for me. I get Captain America, Iron Man, The Scarlet Witch, The Vision, Ant-Man, The Wasp, She-Hulk, Warbird, the Black Panther, Jack of Hearts, and of course Jarvis - all under one roof! That's good and bad of it, actually. I get to draw all these great characters but that also means I'm got to make sure all these characters look great. Solo character books are much much easier. So the fan in me gets excited about drawing this book, and then I get the script and realize all these characters I have to draw! It can be very intimidating! So far good though :)"
Some fans might be confused as to the nature of Kolins' position on the book- it wasn't so long ago that "Legion" penciller Olivier Coipel was snagged by Marvel to be the "Avengers" artist, but other reports have Kolins himself as the regular deal. The artist admits that at first, he was as confused as some fans are about the pencilling duties. "When Tom Brevoort offered me the Avengers, I was confused at first as I knew Olivier Coipel was drawing the book, but Tom explained a new thing that Marvel wanted to try. Since everyone seems to hate to wait 4 weeks for the next issue of their favorite comic to come out, Marvel wanted to give the readers what they want: more issues that came out faster! Well, comics are hard enough to produce monthly so they needed help. That's where I come in. I'll help pick up the pace. Oliver and I will trade off stories. My 'Search for She-Hulk' story arc will come after 'Red Zone' arc that's coming out now. Then Oliver will do the arc after that. Back and forth we can put out more comics without giving up any quality to the art or story."
Something else that Kolins won't be giving up is the joy of working with one of his favorite writers and friends in the industry- Geoff Johns. "I'd love to work with Geoff Johns the rest of my life," Kolins gushes. "I couldn't be happier that my first Avengers arc is with Geoff. He's written a really fun story."
Fans of Kolins' current work can take heart in the fact that his art will not be changing that dramatically when he tackles "Avengers," despite the different universe and characters. "Mostly it's the props, characters and costumes that change. 'The Flash' and 'The Avengers' are both pretty straight-forward super-hero stories in a contemporary setting. It's not like I'm suddenly drawing dragons and castles or even that I'm dealing with a different writer. Geoff writes his comics in a fairly straight-forward way. The story dictates how I'll represent it with the panels and drawings. 'The Avengers' is a more complex book to draw because there are more characters, but it's still super-heroes and super powers in a world very similar to our own. I have made some subtle changes to my art but that's in relation to the change in coloring Marvel has decided to try. The biggest difference is that this is my first monthly book to be not inked. It's going straight from pencils to colors. I've always been a pretty tight penciler and it just seemed an interesting thing to try. Check it out and you'll see what I mean."
And the overall style of his work, says Kolins, will remain the same as well. "I hope it's more of same - in a good way. For example, I love to make as much sense in these stories as possible - so when I needed to draw the front doors of the Avengers mansion I took a look at what others had done and tried to take it a step further. The general design of the mansion was done long ago (probably by Jack Kirby) and George Perez had pushed it further in his new Avengers run with more neat mansion architecture like columns and chandeliers. Well, the front doors were pretty but in thinking of this mansion as a fortress for "the world's mightiest heroes" I thought about how this extravagant mansion needs to be tough looking as well. So when I drew a shot of the front doors open, for a scene with Ant-Man, I drew the doors about a foot thick with extra tech stuff in the thickness of the door. Just to help give a subtle feeling of how impressive even the Avengers doors are. Like Hulk could come crashing by but still have to fight to get through those doors!"
While his redesigns of various Flash villains in "Flash" went over well with fans, don't expect the artist to be redoing any of Coipel's work on the Avengers' costumes. "No plans to redesign anyone yet. I'm not re-establishing any new villains in my first story which is more 'hero versus hero.' Olivier redesigned a lot of the characters outfits just before me and did a great job. I love Ant-Man's new duds. I'm not a huge fan of redesigning characters for no reason. The villains that we re-designed in the Flash needed it.", though Kolins does admit, "I'd like to take a crack at Ultron; see if I could push him somewhere new and still keep him recognizable."
Now you might think an imposing robot like Ultron would be the challenge for Kolins, but he says there's a couple of Marvel icons who are giving him a little bit of a hard time. "I love Cap but am always worried of not drawing him well enough. Iron Man is a pain in the butt - as much as I think he's really cool. I have to use a ruler, french curve or flexi-curve tool to draw him and make him look manufactured (like Bob Layton did) which is even more important for me to do now, since I'm not being inked anymore. Ant-Man has been a surprise for me. I think of Cap, Thor, and Iron Man first when I'm thinking about the Avengers, but Olivier's updated Ant-Man rocks! I've loved She-Hulk ever since John Byrne wrote and drew her, so she's been a blast - especially as she's completely out of control! I hope I get to draw Thor soon."
Some artists do say it's harder to draw team books because of the size of the cast, but Kolins says that hasn't been a problem, in part no doubt due to his love for the Avengers themselves. "Not bad so a far. Cap, Iron Man and The Scarlet Witch are the search party for Jennifer. Ant-Man and Jack of Hearts are busy back at the mansion - so everybody isn't in the same place. If I had to draw the cast George Perez drew in #1 I think I'd cry."
A lot of readers might also be wondering who Kolins' favorite Avenger is and he has two choices- two very different choices. "My favorite Avenger is Hawkeye or Thor," admits Kolins. "Both have tons of attitude but it's not like they can't back it up. Hawkeye I like because he's self made. Clint's gotta be working out in the gym and constantly practicing his skills to be who he is: an incredible marksman who happens to have a smart mouth. He's great because he comes off real next to such larger than life characters like Cap, Iron Man or Thor. The Mighty Thor was always one of my favorite books and again he stands in contrast to the rest of the group. He's a freakin' god! The hammer! The helmet! He's even taller than Cap or Iron Man and he couldn't give a crap what people think is right and wrong. He knows. Plus he's linked to giants and dragons and fun stuff like that. I love fantasy."
In celebration of the end of their work together on "Flash," both Johns and Kolins held a fan luncheon at the recent Comic-Con International in San Diego, something that the artist quite enjoyed. "It's good but sometimes sad to be done with 'The Flash.' I'll miss that book. No, I have no regrets. It was the right time for me to move on. I needed a fresh challenge to keep me working at my best. We had a great time getting together with Flash fans at the San Diego Comic Con. The convention is so huge now that we had a hard time finding a place to sit and chat but we wound up outside in the nice sunny afternoon. Everyone got to ask questions and we surprised them with an advanced copy of Flash #200 for everyone to read if they wanted. Most skimmed but did not read the ending. They were very cool about not spoiling anything before everyone else got to read the issue."
No interview would be complete without whetting the appetites of fans and Kolins hints at what's to come. "Part one (issue # 72) is a moody beginning to the She-Hulk story but by the end of the issue the reader gets a good understanding what this arc is really about. And for the people who like to see the mayhem I'm becoming known for - You're in for a real treat!"
If you still haven't tried "Avengers" and you're thinking of coming on when Scott Kolins work debuts, he offers some final words to make sure you buy the series. "Hopefully fans should check it out for all the cool stuff we're gonna do. An Avenger rejoins! An Avenger quits! The incredible Hulk shows up! I'm having the best time drawing this stuff; hopefully you'll have a great time reading it!"