To get readers ready for "Uncanny Avengers," Marvel's first big superhero launch of 2015, the publisher is conducting one of their semi-regular "Next Big Thing" conference calls. The new volume of the Avengers and X-Men mash-up team comes from writer Rick Remender and artist Daniel Acuna.
Talking "Uncanny Avengers" with the comic press today is writer Remender and Marvel Executive Editor Tom Brevoort. CBR will be updating this article live with a full report of the discussion. Up first, take a peek at some freshly debuted pages of Acuna's interior art from the first issue, as well as the artist's covers for "Uncanny Avengers" #1-3. Leinil Yu's cover for "Uncanny Avengers" #4 rounds out the reveals.
Marvel PR's Chris D'Lando opens up the call with a bit of context for Remender's Uncanny Avengers team, which was formed from the ashes of "Avengers vs. X-Men" in 2012. The new team launches out of "Avengers and X-Men: AXIS" with a new roster, which D'Lando asked Remender about.
"The teams are normally -- the way they fall together is sorta fantasy football where you're talking and trading," said Remender. "You think about their individual personalities and powers and what you want to accomplish. It was important to Tom that Quicksilver and Wanda get back together, and to do some interesting things with Vision. I obviously have a lot of love for Doctor Voodoo, same with Sabretooth. Rogue is still there from the last team. For obvious reasons, you have to have a Captain America."
All of these characters have been villains at one point, which Remender said wasn't something they had discussed while picking out the roster. "Daniel Drumm went a little crazy after the death of Jericho, but I don't think Daniel's ever gone off-the-rails evil." Remender admitted that most every Marvel hero has gone evil at this point, but that it wasn't at the forefront of their mind when they picked this team.
With initial Unity Squad leaders Havok and Steve Rogers off the team, Remender talked about the new group's leadership. "The idea for the time being, right now, is that Rogue and Scarlet Witch have earned a sisterhood and they've earned each other's trust; they're the lynchpins of the Unity Squad at this point. They've come through it all and learned the most. Their friendship was one of the main points of the first story, and they're co-leaders when we open." Remender clarified that the team is quite shattered when the new series kicks off.
"This wasn't like Rogue or Scarlet Witch put together the perfect team," said Remender. "This is more like they're going to war with who they could get at that moment. It adds an X-factor to the whole thing because they were called together because they were available."
After his personality inversion in "AXIS," Sabretooth has taken on a Wolverine-esque role within the Marvel Universe. "The Sabretooth story is obviously one that is carrying out from the events of 'AXIS,'" said Remender. "You've got an inverted Creed dealing with the events of his past, except his moral compass has been flipped and he has to deal with the fact that no one trusts him. The Avengers don't know what to do with him. He was in the Avengers Mansion jail cell at the end of 'AXIS,' and no one knows how long this inversion will last. It doesn't change the fact that he's a serial killer." Remender adds that the Avengers have need of him when "Uncanny Avengers" kicks off, so he gets brought along on the mission.
Brevoort then talked about the "runt-sized hole" left by Wolverine's recent absence, and the role Sabretooth will play in the Marvel Universe. "I think obviously our readers look at what's coming up, they see the advance covers and solicits and press releases that we put out, and they try to figure out what we've got going on and then kind of stay ahead of us. If we're doing what we're doing right, they shouldn't always be able to tell exactly where we're going or how we're getting there. It doesn't stop a lot of them from getting really agitated with what we're doing. Like, Sabretooth being in an Avengers book meaning that he's an Avenger. 'Jarvis brings him a mug of beer and everyone's forgotten that he's a man with an awful, sordid past and a hundred years of black misdeeds.' There are people anxious about that out there. I would hazard an opinion that that's not what we're doing, but neither is it simple to say that he's just going to be the new Wolverine -- Wolverine but blonde. He's a different dude."
Brevoort cited the ticking clock aspect of his personality inversion, saying that Sabretooth's current outlook is not natural and won't last forever. "Who knows what the next day will bring?"
The "Counter Evolutionary" arc will see the series start with the Maximoff twins frantically trying to discover the truth about who they are and who has created this grand lie about their ancestry, says Remender. "To me, the most fun aspect of this story is Counter-Earth. When Tom hit on that, it all fell together. It's one of the coolest and most exciting concepts in the Marvel Universe that has been underused for a long time. Having this group of Avengers journey to the new Counter-Earth, and the reveal of what the new Counter-Earth is and the villain behind it all and what he's up to contextually connects to Wanda and Pietro. It's the thing that got me excited about the story. Having Daniel Acuna provide the visuals for such a strange and fantastic sci-fi story is the icing on the cake. The sheer quantity of designs and architecture and cities that we're developing has put him to task. It's the work of his career." The new pages feature Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch on Counter-Earth.
The parentage reveal from the pages of "AXIS" will play a role in "Uncanny Avengers." "It's our entrance into the story," said Brevoort. "Even by the time we're done with the story, I don't know if every question every reader has is going to be answered. There's plenty of story road for us to go down. We're at the beginning of that journey. As with Sabretooth, this has people a little bit rattled up, but that's good because that means they want to see what sort of horrible abomination thing we're going to do in our book -- that won't be as horrible as what they are imagining."
"There's been some angry and confused people on Twitter," said Remender. "One of the things that happened here is the story that presented itself, and with this assignment we dug into it, and ultimately came up with something that fit continuity well and was exciting and unlocked classic elements of the Marvel Universe that haven't been in the spotlight recently."
With press questions opened up, Marvel.com asked about Scarlet Witch and Vision. How will the former couple interact around each other after years apart?
Remender says he went back to the last time they were around one another, saying that Vision hasn't forgiven her. "They had a family together, they were married and together a long time," said Remender. "The attraction Scarlet Witch felt to Vision was because he was the purest version of Simon Williams, who she was really in love with. We revealed that she's still very fond of Simon and they are very close, and now he's trapped in Rogue's head. I wouldn't go so far as to say that it's complete animosity. Vision's going to do what he has to do to protect her, but he's vocally the most mistrusting of Wanda and her mental state."
Next question, from CBR: How important of a role will the Unity Squad angle that was central to the previous volume be to this title?
"It's important to the premise of the team, that was sort of the purpose it was created to fill -- to cross the aisle so to speak," said Brevoort. "I know people are worried as to what we might be doing with certain characters in the book and how that will affect the demographic mix in some ways of the series, but it's still a big part of what 'Uncanny Avengers' is about."
Next question, from Newsarama: How will the High Evolutionary play into the series?
Remender seemed a bit surprised that the High Evolutionary's role in the series had been revealed. "One of the things that attracted me to this assignment is the High Evolutionary," he said. "One idea we cooked up, Counter-Earth being the big one, gave me a lot of story ideas -- way too many to cover in one story. Ultimately I'm going to set the groundwork in this first arc and who knows where it will drift to. There's real meat on the bones of that character." Remender called him a classic Kirby character with interesting motivations.
Next question, from ComicVine: How long will Sabretooth be on the leash, as depicted in the preview pages?
"He doesn't appreciate [the leash]," said Remender. "With his moral compass and state of being inverted, he's not there to make a big stink about the precautions the Avengers have to take to bring him along. Why he's brought along, I made sure there's an important reason for it. He gets it. Because this a Creed whose internal mechanisms are inverted, he's not thrilled with it but he's not bitter about it."
Next question, from ComicBook.com: How will Simon Williams being in Rogue's head affect her friendship with Scarlet Witch?
Remender stated that there's only so much real estate in "Uncanny," and that aspect of their relationship alone could take up twenty issues. "The full examination of all of this will not transpire in this first arc," he revealed.
Next question, from Comics Beat: With Brother Voodoo taking a role in this team, will we see more supernatural subject matter?
"My goal before I'm washed up is to do a legitimate Avengers of the Supernatural," said Remender. "I love the supernatural corner of the Marvel Universe. I have created that team in one incarnation or another in alternate universes. The silly Mojo annual we did was a goof version of it. There's not plans for it right now but Tom and I have discussed it at length."
Next question, from Word Balloon: Do you think all of these characters had reached a level of stagnation that needed this level of fresh start?
"Part of the fallout of 'AXIS' required a shuffling of the deck," said Brevoort. "Havok coming out of 'AXIS' in a totally different place makes it impossible for him to lead the Avengers anymore. This was by design. It was this big story that we were leading up to which would shake up the cast of the book and the characters that were on the team, partly because you want a big story to have an impact on the team." Brevoort said that this happens constantly when it comes to characters that have been around for decades -- you look for new insight into them that will make them exciting again. "That's something that Marvel creators have done virtually since the beginning. This is not different from that, whether you're talking about Sabretooth being in a new role or all the stuff with the High Evolutionary or who Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver's parents are this week."
"This was an idea that Tom presented me with," said Remender. "At first I recognized that it was potentially a frightening job because it's a big story, but that attracted me to it. More than that was the ideas that were hatched for the High Evolutionary and Counter-Earth. The danger of it became quite appealing because I started to believe in the story. It does make these characters exciting, and it's a mystery. It's a mystery that Tom figured out a way to make very natural. We dug in and developed this big thing that I became very fond of." Remender said writers should embrace the big mysteries and shake-ups that keep the Marvel Universe fresh.
Next question, another one from Marvel.com: Where will we see Havok next?
"Given enough time, you can expect to see Havok in the book," said Brevoort. He then said that a big hint as to his next appearance was given at the end of "AXIS." "It's fairly obvious."
Next up from CBR: With Sam Wilson still talking to Steve Rogers regularly in Remender's other book, "All-New Captain America," can we expect to see the old Cap have a role in this book?
"Steve's not really playing a role in 'Uncanny Avengers' right now," said Remender. "This isn't like the first story where there was a press conference. This is crazy; there's a mission that has to happen and Rogue puts a team together that's available." Remender says that things will get "panicky and chaotic" quite fast. "There is no clear anything at the beginning. There isn't a lot of calling back to Steve at the base. There's no hierarchy."
"Rick sort of used a slightly different methodology in writing this story," said Brevoort. "There is no chapter two. In the first page of the first issue, things have already happened. Things are already in motion. The issue where Rogue's on the phone recruiting people is the issue we did not do."
"I think it makes for exciting comics," said Remender. "I write four issue outlines to get issues moving, and to make things exciting I've been cutting the first issue and getting the important bits of it out in flashbacks or little bits of exposition. We catch you up as we go through the first thirty pages of the read. It feels dangerous as I write it; it feels exhilarating."
Next question, from Newsarama: Bits of Remender's other Marvel work, like "Secret Avengers" and "Uncanny X-Force" have popped up in his Avengers work. Can we see that happen again?
"It might not be a bad idea to get out [Remender's] 'Doctor Voodoo' trade paperback," said Brevoort.
"That 'Doctor Voodoo' thing was something Tom and I put a lot of time into and I was really proud of," said Remender. "I think he's a really wonderful character and has such a great origin and is completely unique in the Marvel Universe and to get to pick up with that trade is pretty exciting. Otherwise, this is pretty much a fresh start. In the 'Rage of Ultron' graphic novel, some plot threads come out of 'Secret Avengers' and little Easter eggs, but in terms of other things -- no, this is a whole different assignment that demanded new and innovative things." Brevoort took this time to mention that an "Uncanny Avengers" omnbius is on the way collecting the previous volume.
Next question, from Comic Vine: Is Magneto going to show up?
"It's clear that he's going to be involved at some point," said Brevoort. "I don't know if I want to say anything more than that. These revelations strike close to him."
Lastly, ComicBook.com had a question about this series' soundtrack.
"With sci-fi stuff, you can go wrong with God is an Astronaut," said Remender. "It's sci-fi-y instrumental; Vessels is a nice band that would fit nicely with the strange sci-fi we're digging into."
"Uncanny Avengers" #1 is on sale January 28.