After Marvel Comics announced its plans for the Marvel NOW! status quo following "Avengers Vs. X-Men," one of the most exciting titles announced was "Uncanny Avengers" written by Rick Remender with art by John Cassaday. The title will unite two sides of the Marvel Universe in a single team, the roster of which will include Captain America, Wolverine, Thor, Havok, Rogue and Scarlet Witch. Earlier today, Marvel released fully colored "Uncanny Avengers" #1 pages by Cassaday and continued to tease plans for the Marvel NOW! launch title with a press conference call with Remender and Marvel Executive Editor Tom Brevoort, moderated by Sales and Communications Coordinator James Viscardi.
Viscardi kicked off the call by introducing Remender, who said, "Issue five of this thing is killing me," and Brevoort. "Uncanny Avengers" #1, on sale October 10, is the big kick-off to Marvel NOW! and the writer expounded on what brings the heroes of "Uncanny Avengers" together.
"The origins of the team are unlike most of these groups where someone is picking these people, it's more of a chaos factor," said Remender, who said the team coming together is more happenstance, but Captain America is trying to actively trying to mend fences between the Avengers and X-Men, until the Red Skull throws a monkey wrench into everything.
"Wolverine, I'd been in for a while. The events of 'AvX' and the end of the current arc of 'Uncanny X-Force' do things to Wolverine -- there's going to be some character development and change based on what he's endured and been through," Remender said. "Wanda's on the redemption arc," he continued, referencing her uphill climb due to her past going crazy and getting rid of all mutants.
"Scott's going through some wacky business and this speaks to Alex and why he's on the team," Remender said. "Rogue is not dealing with certain events very well -- she's almost more of a Wolverine than Wolverine."
The writer further stated that Havok would take on a leadership role. "He's being promoted to a role that he doesn't want, but is really huge," said Remender.
The Executive Editor further stated Marvel NOW! is a more broad initiative than "Dark Reign" or "The Heroic Age." "It's about new guys in new places working on new characters in new books -- really, it's about a global refresh of the publishing line," Brevoort said. "'Uncanny Avengers' is a direct outgrowth of 'AvX.' Readers will be able to go fairly seamlessly from 'Avengers Vs. X-Men' #12 to 'Uncanny Avengers' #1."
Brevoort also stated the goal with "Uncanny Avengers" in the post-"AvX" world is to further unite all corners of the Marvel U. "In the post-'AvX' world, the X-Men ... had kind of been ghettoized in the best way possible," Brevoort said. "They stuck to their own corner of the Marvel Universe and stuck to their own stuff. ... That artificial boundary is really just going away. That's not going to be there anymore after 'AvX' is done."
"It's a new kind of Avengers group for the Marvel Universe and it's expanding the boundaries of what we do."
In terms of how the team will operate in the structure of the Marvel Universe, Brevoort said "Uncanny Avengers" is an Avengers team, who will operate out of Avengers Mansion.
"The particular goal and mission of Uncanny Avengers is on top of being a typical Avengers team ... they're also in effect an advocacy group," he said. "They're there to promote the cause by example that mutants are not people to be feared. They're just like you and me."
"When you see Thor and Rogue come save the day... you'll stop seeing mutants as the bogeyman," said Remender, reinforcing Brevoort's point and compared the team to the original X-Men and Professor Xavier's initial goal for the first incarnation of the X-Men.
"They're really going to what Chuck's philosophy was here," said Remender.
"Cyclops and Wolverine, in following their own particular roads, have skewed that a little bit," said Brevoort.
"This is a return to the original dream," said Remender.
Considering the PR and public aspect of the team of Uncanny Avengers compared to Remender's clandestine teams in "Secret Avengers" and "Uncanny X-Force," the writer said the tone will be different than his other books. "Having done all the shadowy covert stuff, in titles like 'Punisher' and 'Venom' where killing is part of the books, it's nice to not have to do that all the time," said Remender. "Not having to follow the black ops thing ... as much fun as it was, this is the same magnitude of threats and even bigger, but this is very public and everything they do is under a magnifying [glass.] ... They're trying to win the hearts and minds. The tone of that is completely different, which is a lot of fun."
Remender further stated the final cast would be nine or ten members and described the team under one roof as "an amazing reality television show."
"It's sort of a wonderful metaphor for me doing my black ops books in the corner to doing ['Uncanny Avengers']," he said.
Remender and Brevoort also spoke about the reappearance of the Red Skull, with Brevoort saying the Red Skull has an anti-mutant agenda and an anti-mutant bias -- understandable, considering his roots. "The Skull is using that philosophy in a modern-day context," said Brevoort. "He's got a jones to take the mutants off the board." He further said the Skull will gather his own version of the X-Men, who preach the opposite side of Xavier's philosophy, wanting to promote a race war between humans and mutants.
"This is the Skull large," said Brevoort. "This book is really where his larger plan and scheme is going to play itself out. He's not going to be around just for the opening storyarc. He's going to be a big deal in Marvel NOW!"
Remender stated the goal was to make Red Skull "the threat he needs to be."
"Some of the plans we have for the Red Skull are going to be Earth-shattering," the writer said. "You're not going to see his ultimate goal for a year, but when you get there, I think it's going to be exciting to see the classic Marvel."
"He's going to once again take his place at that level in the pantheon and just be really hateful and despicable," Brevoort said of the villain.
"It's just fun to write," said Remender. "We're going to give him a giant moustache and he's going to be twirling it all the time," he joked.
In terms of bringing back and re-exploring some of the core values of the Marvel Universe at its start, Remender and Brevoort said a lot of that exploration came about organically.
"A lot of that stuff you naturally gravitate towards," said Remender. "There's also a lot from that core that just works. It just does. While we break the toys and do crazy things with them, there is that instinct to pull back to those core ideas and those core ideas of these books. In terms of tone and in terms of philosophy, you're going to see a lot of [my favorite] eras of the Avengers and the X-Men. While trying to move things forward and have a modern approach, ... it's going to look and feel like a classic X-Men and a classic Avengers book."
"That is one of the things that quantifies it as the launch book for Marvel NOW! All across the line, in all cases, while we weren't looking to retread the stories of the past, we were looking for all these books to be the quintessential versions of these characters," said Brevoort. "We were looking to get back to the hallmarks and the roots of all these characters as a part of Marvel NOW!"
Brevoort also spoke about redesigning some of the characters for Marvel NOW! and especially "Uncanny Avengers."
"Most of them, John had a lot of influence," said Brevoort, saying the designs of the "Uncanny Avengers" reflect what's been designed in individual books, but with a Cassaday-tweak. "In most cases, he had a final design with only very minor tweaking in one or two gos. I think the one that took the most amount of tweaking was the Scarlet Witch. ... The only guidance we gave John was 'her costume is a bit absurd from a superhero standpoint, let's see if we can make this a little more plausible.'" The only think he was asked to keep was the Scarlet Witch's headdress.
"The great thing about the females' design on the team is to not have them running around in Jane Fonda leotards," said Remender, who said he was trying to get away from "I'm going to save the world, but I'm going to do it looking a bit like a stripper" with more practical costumes. "I think that kind of stuff, people respond to more."
"He clearly digs drawing the Skull and his Skull is ridiculously good," said Brevoort.
Brevoort also teased whether Magneto might appear in "Uncanny Avengers."
"To some degree, it all depends on 'AvX.' I would say given the relationships of the characters, given the worldview of the team and what they're trying to accomplish, it seems like it's inevitable if he's alive and ambulatory that he'll be around at some point," said Brevoort.
Remender took the opportunity during his "AVX: VS" segment to explore how the two teams feel about each other and set up a bit of the "Uncanny Avengers" stuff.
In terms of character relationships, Remender is crafting a lot of interesting character development -- something Brevoort echoed. "You can draw a line between any two of the six characters we have and find an interesting relationship there," said Brevoort.
As for Professor Xavier, Brevoort and Remender said he'd be playing a huge part of "Uncanny Avengers."
"I think it's fair to say that Xavier is fairly important to Uncanny Avengers," said Brevoort. "With all the AvX stuff that's bubbling up, I don't think we want to go much deeper than that. Yeah, he's pretty critical. You'll definitely see him in the book."
"You don't want to know the end of the big event," said Remender.
"Don't mention the hairpiece!" joked Brevoort.
"The gameplan, the characters' relationship with Charles and Charles' current status quo all play a huge role in this book," said Remender, laughing.
Remender further teased the second arc would feature a huge X-Men villain and part of the challenge of the book is trying to balance the merging of Avengers and X-Men. "We're trying to find ways that Avengers villain A and X-Men villain B can lead to stories that we've never seen before," said Remender, who mentioned he was outlined on "Uncanny Avengers" until issue #19 or #20, teasing that three major villains will culminate into a massive story. "It's all very natural and the story dictates the choices. By issue #7, you'll have a really good idea of the three big players on the board. I have no question that what we've put together will make people very excited."
Remender revealed Kang and Apocalypse will be the two villains in addition to the Red Skull, and a lot of what Remender is doing in "Uncanny X-Force" will spill over into a "grand huge story that I'm wildly excited about."
"Uncanny Avengers" #1 by Rick Remender and John Cassaday goes on sale October 10.