Remender Takes "Uncanny Avengers" To The Next Step

Rick Remender broke sales records with Marvel Comics' "Uncanny Avengers" #1, forming a new team of Avengers, re-introducing the Red Skull as the major antagonist in the Marvel U and exploring the fate of Charles Xavier following his demise in "Avengers Vs. X-Men." Although the second installment of the Marvel NOW! launch title just dropped, he's already ramping up for the next arc. The writer was on hand in a special press conference call to discuss his plans for the Avengers/X-Men mashup team following the conclusion of his first arc -- and what's in store for Thor, Captain America, Wolverine, Havok, Rogue and the Scarlet Witch.

Call moderator and Sales and Communications Coordinator James Viscardi kicked things off by introducing Remender and editor Tom Brevoort, and noted Daniel Acuna would be coming on as interior artist.

"A lot of the foundational stuff is picking up from the 'Dark Angel Saga,'" said Remender, but noted he didn't want it to be a straight-up sequel and would include Kang's relationship to Apocalypse. "This has been a story that we've been reworking for so long now," he said. While readers don't have to have read "The Dark Angel Saga" to enjoy the next "Uncanny Avengers" arc, it will deal with the direct fallout of Archangel impregnating Pestilence. "This is something that has a magnitude and scope that I don't think anyone will anticipate."

The name of the arc was revealed as "Ragnarok Now."

The story involves Thor, but also involves Apocalypse and Remender wanted to find a way to connect "Uncanny X-Force" to the greater Marvel Universe. "You're going to see Thor and that axe that he picks up playing a huge role in 'Uncanny Avengers," he said, referencing conversations with Jason Aaron. "When you read issues 5, 6, 7, you'll have an idea. There are so many things I don't want to kill the surprise of, but you'll get an idea of how this will interconnect with the stories Jason is telling."

Remender stated he's working off a questionnaire, filled with questions you have to answer in order to help understand the characters. "You still don't discover where you're going to take the characters until you're writing them," he said. Remender said he's outlined "rock-solid" until "Uncanny Avengers" #20. "Anytime you take on a team book, the beginning is very arduous, very difficult," he said, noting that continuity can be a difficult issue. "The continuity is there, they still affect our character. Things that happened to Havok in 'Inferno' still affect the character."

"Ragnarok Now" has been in development for "close to a year" according to Remender.

One of the major shifts of "Uncanny Avengers" is the addition of Daniel Acuna as interior artist. Brevoort characterized Acuna as a "world-class talent." Acuna has been working ahead on the issues and he's doing pencils, inks and colors. "He's really been improving by leaps and bounds every year," said Brevoort. "He and Rick seem to be on the same page. Hopefully it'll make for some good stories."

Remender noted the preview pages showcase some of the "quiet moments" in the issue. "He sells the reality while still making it seem like a Marvel comic book," Remender said.

"When I'm looking at these pages, it's stylized realism," the writer said. "Acuna's got a color pallet unlike anyone else's. ... He's dialed it back to the point and he's getting so good now that he's hitting that Mignola point. He doesn't have to mess around with a bunch of rendering."

Although Thor has a large role in "Ragnarok Now," Remender stated other characters would get a chance to shine as well.

"Thor has a big role in it and he's deeply, deeply involved in the inciting incident in this thing. That doesn't mean that every other character isn't as well," Remender said, noting that Wolverine especially was a big target considering his recent connection to Apocalypse. "There's also plenty of context here with the pieces that are on the board for Havok and Rogue and Scarlet Witch and Sunfire. The story is intended to shine a light on each of our cast members. I don't want to give anything away, there's some big reveals, but every single one of our heroes has someone involved in this story that gives them personal context in this fight."

The writer continued on the topic of Wolverine, saying that readers will see the fallout of his actions in "Uncanny X-Force" in issue 5 of "Uncanny Avengers."

"As far as my take on him, I don't see Wolverine as the pre-emptive killer," said Remender, and said he's hoping to make Wolverine pop the claws and use lethal force less. With the death of Daken and the death of Xavier, there will be more of "the noble samurai trying to find that path."

Brevoort confirmed it's "Acuna's book regularly" and that John Cassaday's involvement in the book in the future (in terms of interiors) is still "up in the air." Remender stated Cassaday would remain on covers.

"When you see what we put John through in 'Uncanny Avengers' #3 and #4 -- Issues #1 and #2 were a slow burn. They were character pieces. I don't know that John will ever recover from what we're making him draw in those two issues. As I was writing it, I felt sorry for him," said Remender. "If he ever recovers, he's got an open invitation to come back at some point."

Remender said Sunfire, a former horseman of Apocalypse, would have been a perfect member of "Uncanny X-Force" and the character is "damaged," especially given the past history of the character. "This story is going to address all that stuff, in a very similar way to when Archangel went out to kill Apocalypse in the first arc of X-Force ... things won't go well for everyone," he said.

Brevoort stated the connection between Apocalypse and Kang works due to their shared origin space. "We'll come to see that some of the things that have happened to them over the years, there's a little more relationship between the two of them that we've seen until this point," said Brevoort.

"Uncanny Avengers" #6 will be different than the 5 previous issues -- the entire thing takes place in the past, in the 11th Century, involving an encounter a young Thor had with a young Apocalypse.

"The ghosts of X-Force will haunt Wolverine as long as I'm writing the character," said Remender, stating there are a lot of things he had planned for the character in "Uncanny X-Force" that bleed over. "Moving forward, that stuff will definitely -- I'm just trying to dance because there's so much stuff I don't want to reveal. The interconnectivity will be there for sure.

Much like "Uncanny X-Force," the first 20 issues of "Uncanny Avengers" will make up one big story, meaning Red Skull will be in the "Ragnarok Now" storyline. "When you've got Red Skull, you've got Kang and you've got Apocalypse, things are going to be really unpleasant for the squad of Avengers stuck in the middle of it," Remender said. "This is an opportunity to ramp up and shine a light on three of the very best villains in comics. The threat they're up against when you add these three together starts to become pretty insurmountable."

While there is some bleed-over from "Uncanny X-Force," Remender stated a lot of his ideas don't work when you switch out a team of heroes. "What was difficult was to take my notes on that and strip it down to the Wolverine/Sunfire of it all," he said. "What played into my desire to have Sunfire on the team was his connection to some of that stuff. ... It's been reworked to be an Avengers and X-Men story and in issue #6, you'll see the lengths we go to to make sure the threats and what they're up against demand human/mutant interaction in a way we haven't seen in the past.

In terms of Evan, the young Apocalypse clone, Remender was rather tight-lipped, beyond stating that he'd been in conversation with Jason Aaron. "We know how all these pieces intersect and we know the end result. We're planning this stuff out, we're working close together to make sure that it all fits. It's so planned out that everything you read is out there for a reason."

In terms of Evan, the young Apocalypse clone, Remender was rather tight-lipped, beyond stating that he'd been in conversation with Jason Aaron. "We know how all these pieces intersect and we know the end result. We're planning this stuff out, we're working close together to make sure that it all fits. It's so planned out that everything you read is out there for a reason."

With that, the call wrapped. "Uncanny Avengers" #6 by Rick Remender and Daniel Acuna hits in March.

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