All-New, All-Different Marvel ushered in a new era for "New Avengers." Written by Al Ewing and drawn by Gerardo Sandoval, the team had a pretty ideal setup thanks to their leader Sunspot purchasing and repurposing the terrorist think tank, Advanced Idea Mechanics. As an arm of the new humanitarian focused A.I.M., Sunspot's Avengers served as a global rescue organization armed with a variety of high-tech vehicles and gadgets. There was, of course, one major caveat: They weren't allowed to operate on American soil because the U.S. government and S.H.I.E.L.D. didn't trust A.I.M's new leadership.
After Rick Jones, in part responsible for bringing together the original incarnation of the Avengers, needed their help after leaking information about a top secret prison, the A.I.M. affiliated Avengers rushed home to rescue him from S.H.I.E.L.D. during the currently unfolding "Avengers: Standoff" crossover. The New Avengers are now reaping what they've sewn, losing members, dealing with a S.H.I.E.L.D. spy in their ranks, and their island home under assault from both the forces of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the U.S. government's newest super weapon, the American Kaiju.
CBR News spoke with Ewing about the Kaiju, the revelation of Songbird as S.H.I.E.L.D.'s deep cover operative inside the Avengers, and how the explosive climax of "Standoff" sets the stage for the New Avengers' role in "Civil War II" -- and the return of the villainous Maker.
CBR News: Let's start with the big reveal, the fact that Songbird has been S.H.I.E.L.D.'s deep cover agent inside A.I.M. Why did you cast her in this role? And how is she feeling at the end of "New Avengers" #9 where she's fighting side by side with S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Hawkeye who tells her he's not about to betray his friends on the team to his boss' invading forces?
Al Ewing: There's more of that story to come, and obviously I don't want to spoil everything that's ahead -- but she's not feeling too great about it right now. Melissa's decision to work for S.H.I.E.L.D. was an extremely difficult one, and we'll get into the exact whys of it down the line, but this is far from the end of that particular arc, and once readers see her side of things, they might feel more well-disposed toward her.
S.H.I.E.L.D. isn't the only force assaulting A.I.M.'s base at the end of Issue #9, it's also under attack by the U.S. government and its newest super weapon, the monstrous American Kaiju. What inspired the creation of this character and just how big, dangerous and intelligent is the Kaiju?
When I first pitched "New Avengers," one of the main things in my mind was that it had to be new, or at least new-ish. New bases, new toys, people who hadn't been Avengers before -- and most of all, new bad guys. I wanted to give Marvel at least one or two all-new, all-now threats -- and most of my ideas were along the "big and crazy" variety, things like Neohedron, Moridun of the Fifth Cosmos and most of all, the American Kaiju. The more I thought about him, the more goofy ideas I had to throw at him, but at the base of it all was the simple concept: "Godzilla exists, and he's American."
As for his vital statistics -- he's thirty stories high, like in the cartoon. He's intelligent, despite his limited vocabulary in monster form and his single-minded devotion to whatever cause the unhinged General Maverick throws him into. And he's very, very dangerous -- I mean, so far, readers have only seen him use his fists. What happens when -- and from the reader reaction, it's definitely a "when" -- he picks up a giant gun?
S.H.I.E.L.D. and the U.S. government have come for A.I.M. because they operated on American soil to rescue Rick Jones, who currently plays a role in "New Avengers." As an old school Marvel fan, how does it feel to have such a storied character like Rick in your series? Have you written him before?
I have written Rick Jones before -- or rather, a Rick Jones. I wrote the Rick who became the Hulk in the old "What If...?" stories, which was for me essentially an extended joke about groovy juvenile delinquents, and I'm currently writing a version of the old Rick Jones from the "Future Imperfect" timeline, as someone for the Maestro to bounce off of. Both of these are happening in "Contest Of Champions," natch -- available at all good thrill-merchants!
If I had to pick a favorite Rick of all, I was always slightly partial to the blond, cowboy-hatted Rick of the old Hulk cartoon -- you might notice he made a cameo appearance on the side of the "Rick Jones" arcade machine in #9...
What can you tell us about "New Avengers" #10, the next part of your "Standoff" tie-in? It seems the stage is set for an epic battle, but will that battle continue into "Standoff: Omega?" What can you tell us about the role your cast plays in the crossover's final bookend issue?
Elements of the final issue will pop up in "Standoff: Omega" -- including the final-for-now fate of at least one of the Avengers Island inhabitants. As for the epic battle -- well, it's a two-hander, with Avenger Five battling American Kaiju in the bay and a more personal action drama developing on land between Songbird, Hawkeye and the riotous Rick Jones. He's had his doubts about A.I.M. from the start -- will he stand together with them at the final moment, or will A.I.M. hang separately?
These "Standoff" issues of "New Avengers" mark artist Marcus To's return to Marvel after a few years doing work for DC and some independent publishers. What do you enjoy most about Marcus' style?
I love it! Marcus' style is clean, beautiful and his storytelling chops are pretty excellent, plus he's got a great command of facial expression, which is a huge plus-point with me. I had the good fortune to meet him in Chicago earlier in the year, and I'd love to work with him again at some point in the future if he's down Marvel way.
I understand Gerardo Sandoval returns in "New Avengers" #11, which appears to be a spotlight issue on the trio/quintet of New Avengers who were given the team name and tossed out of A.I.M. after they voted against operating on American soil, correct?
Yes, Gerardo is back for #11, lending his big, bold style to a small-scale tale of Wiccan, Hulkling, Squirrel Girl and Tippy-Toe picking themselves up and moving forward as the All-New New Avengers. And they're facing my personal test of fire, that all new teams must eventually go through -- a date with the Plunderer and Terry! Parnival Plunder is back, and he's more wondrously plunderous than ever!
In June's "New Avengers" #12 your cast becomes embroiled in "Civil War II." Fans of your work know you like to use the framework and elements of a crossover tie-in to propel long term story points and ideas. I know you're likely wary of spoilers, but can you talk about how that will work in "New Avengers?"
Well, we're getting back to the ongoing Maker plot line, but there's a lot of connective tissue in the mix with the main book. When you have this much sturm and drang going on in the Marvel Universe, it's bound to affect things on the edges -- I liken it to something like the play "Noises Off," where there's the action going on on the stage and the drama happening backstage, and one affects the other. "New Avengers" glances off the main "CW2" plot, but we'll be coming out of it in a very different place from where we go in.
In "Civil War II" heroes are lining up behind the generals of Iron Man and Captain Marvel, but what does that mean for much of your cast of characters who in the eyes of the U.S. government and S.H.I.E.L.D. are terrorists? Will Iron Man and Captain Marvel necessarily want any of the New Aveners on their side?
I'm not sure having Roberto da Costa on their side would be that helpful for either of them at this point. That said, A.I.M. aren't the only New Avengers in the book, and at least one of them will be acting on one side or the other in a big way.
Finally, you mentioned that the Maker will be returning during your "Civil War II" storyline. Will we see him, his New Revengers squad, and his villainous organization W.H.I.S.P.E.R. make a major move in this story?
A very major move -- in fact, a move that might be more appropriate for one of my other books -- "The Ultimates!" That's the kind of scale the Maker wants to operate on- and A.I.M. might unwittingly hand him the means to do just that. With "Civil War II" distracting the major players of the Marvel Universe, is this the time for the Maker to blow up the whole enchilada?
I'd like to finish up by thanking those readers who've joined us for "Standoff" and plan to stick around -- not to mention those readers who've stuck around from before "Standoff" began! It's been a wild and wooly ride, but from here on it's only likely to get crazier -- so strap in and hold tight, pilgrim, because the best is yet to come! To namedrop a certain shapeshifting superhunk's space sword -- Excelsior!
"New Avengers" #10 is on sale now.