The New Avengers forced underground. Iron Man on the run. Captain America dead. Asgard under siege.
Such is the Dark Reign of Normon Osborn, whose corruption of the Avengers legacy seemed all but certain in the beginning of 2009. But thanks to the work of Hank Pym -- AKA The Wasp -- and his team of Mighty Avengers, Osborn's success is anything but assured. For months, the Mighty Avengers have protected the Marvel Universe from a host of threats and are presently assembled against Osborn and his attack on Asgard itself. Meanwhile, The Wasp prepares alone to confront his own dark legacy, the murderous and immensely powerful robot known as Ultron.
Both of these threads come to a dramatic conclusion this week in "Mighty Avengers" #36, the series finale by writer Dan Slott and artist Khoi Pham. CBR News spoke with Slott about the story and what's next for him now that "Mighty Avengers" is coming to a close.
CBR: Dan, you began your run on "Mighty Avengers" a year-and-a-half ago when you brought together Hank Pym, Hercules, U.S. Agent, Quicksilver, Amadeus Cho, the female robot Jocasta, and the Young Avengers Stature and Vision to form the Mighty Avengers. How does it feel now that book is about to come to an end?
DAN SLOTT: "Mighty Avengers" has been a very strange book. In the beginning, I was trying to put together the most Avengers-like team I could from all the available pieces in the Marvel Universe. It was very hard to find and assemble those. It's like someone says, "You get to write the Avengers" and in your heart of hearts you think, "That's great. I'll have Hawkeye and Wonder Man and Beast." Then you find out almost all of those guys are taken. So that kind of became part of the fun of the book. I really associated with Hank as the leader of the team, that's why, throughout the book, he's constantly saying things like, "This is the best team that I could put together."
And I think it's a credit to Khoi, the rest of the team and myself that we kept the book going with the cast we had: Hank Pym, Jocasta, and two Young Avengers whose stories we couldn't move along too much because Allan Heinberg had stuff that he wanted to do with them in " Avengers: The Children's Crusade." So it was a very bizarre cast to manipulate and move around. I'm very proud that we kept this book in the top 30s without guys like Cap, Iron Man, Thor, Wolverine, and Spider-Man.
You're ready to give your cast a hell of a send off in issue #36, especially Hank Pym. Much of your work on "Mighty" has been about the redemption of Hank Pym as he's worked through a lot of issues from his past. How does Hank feel now that he's being forced to confront his greatest mistake, Ultron?
This story isn't about Hank taking on his mistake. It's more about Ultron assuming the role of Hank's son. He's the heir apparent. He wants to take over all of Hank's new great achievements. He's attempting to seize control of the Infinite Avengers Mansion, which we now know is Hank's attempt to bring back Janet Van Dyne, the original Wasp. Ultron is out to corrupt that for his own nefarious purposes.
Does Ultron have an Oedipus Complex?
His relationship with Hank is very Oedipal, especially when you add Jocasta and her history with both characters into the mix. That whole family tree it's just a wonderful and entertaining mess.
Speaking of Infinite Avengers Mansion, in "Mighty Avengers" #35 you reveal that the Mansion exists in a realm known as Underspace. What else you can tell us about this dimension?
We know what Underspace is, it's the space below the Microverse. Dimension-wise, it's the lowest spot you can reach in the Marvel Universe. Overspace, where Eternity manifests, is the highest spot. So it's a sister dimension to Overspace and through it you can reach any spot in the Marvel U if you fashion a door for it.
The rule governing travel through Underspace was going to be revealed but I believe it ended up on the cutting room floor because we didn't want to give away the reveal that Janet was trapped in it. That rule was you could only use Underspace to travel to places that Janet had been to -- though you could establish another door to it once you'd been there. Does that make sense? So there are limitations even though we didn't quite tell everybody. Hank has been exploring this other dimension with the ultimate goal of restoring Janet, who was transported here at the end of "Secret Invasion."
The other Mighty Avengers have also been featured recently in Jeff Parker's "Thunderbolts" series, where they've been trying to keep the title characters from stealing one of Asgard's most powerful weapons. Will their "Siege" tie-in adventure continue in "Mighty" #36?
Definitely. I think one of the fun things is looking at just how well Jeff and I have coordinated these stories. It fits together like a nice little puzzle, which is neat. There's some really tight back-and-forth going on here between what's going on with the Thunderbolts and the Mighty Avengers, who now have just gone, "Screw you, Hank Pym! We're going off to Asgard."
The stories in both books are totally independent, but at the same time if you read both of them it fleshes out to this bigger, richer story, which I think is pretty cool too. Also, by the time you get to the end of "Mighty Avengers" #36, you'll see tie-ins to "Siege" #4. Because of the way books are coming out, there may be a spoiler for something that happens in "Siege" #4 in "Mighty" #36. So a slight heads-up about that. It doesn't tell you how "Siege" ends, but there is a beat in "Siege" #4 that you will see. It does not spoil the final conflict, though.
In addition to the two big action set pieces in Underspace and Asgard, "Mighty" #36 also features a wedding. What can you tell us about that?
Back even before "Mighty Avengers" #21, we did a one-shot called "Secret Invasion: Requiem," which reprinted two classic stories: the introduction of the Wasp and the pivotal story where Hank struck her. "Requiem" also included an all-new bridging sequence which took place after Janet "died" in "Secret Invasion" and Thor sent her to this other dimension. When you reached the end of that sequence, you discovered that the narrator was Jocasta and the year was 2010. And she signed off her narration, as Jocasta Pym. So we pay off on that promise.
"Mighty Avengers" may be coming to an end but much of the cast will continue their adventures in other books. It was recently revealed that your friend and frequent collaborator, writer Christos Gage, will be using both Hank Pym and Quicksilver in his new ongoing series, "Avengers Academy." Do these final issues of "Mighty" set up those characters for roles as faculty members in "Avengers Academy?"
Yep. There are hints of what's in store for Hank going back as far as the "Unspoken" arc. In that arc, you get a moment where Eternity tells Hank, "More than a founding Avenger of old, you are the founder of Avengers yet to come." And that's what you're going to see in "Avengers Academy." Hank is going to be helping the next generation of Avengers come into being through Avengers Academy.
It's easy to see what Hank has to offer the next generation of Avengers, but what do you think Quicksilver has to offer the students of "Avengers Academy?"
In a kind of Goofus and Gallant way, Pietro has probably seen all the worst things that can happen to an Avenger [laughs]. Though he was lovingly raised by gypsies in the shadows of Mount Wundagore, he was trained by the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants under Magneto. Here's somebody who had a pretty nasty taskmaster when it comes to training a super powered kid.
On the flip side, he was also someone who, by becoming a member of the Avengers, was given a second chance and trained by Captain America. So between Magneto and Cap, that's a pretty broad range of experience. If there are any troubled kids in Avengers Academy, Quicksilver is someone who may have a sympathetic ear for them.
A bigger question is why would Pietro want to be a teacher in the first place? He's not exactly known for his patience and understanding.
Look at the arc that Quicksilver has had since coming into "Mighty Avengers." First he's used by Cthon. Then, when he comes out of it, he thinks his sister is back and he's constantly using the Mighty Avengers as a way to try and find his sister. That's forcing him to run these paces and be an Avenger again. Then, when he has his falling out in #34 and he's left to his own devices, he thinks, "I was doing good! I had purpose as an Avenger. This is what I should be doing." And I think we've got a very nice beat in issue #35 with him going to join his teammates in Asgard and he's thinking, "I'm going to the fight. The Avengers need me. Once an Avenger always an Avenger."
This is a character who has always wanted to be part of a family and now, with the Scarlet Witch gone and his daughter distanced from him, he's rudderless. What family does he have outside of Magneto? The Avengers. So I think there's a lot of fun stuff involving Pietro for Christos to play with in "Avengers Academy."
Another thing to think about: Quicksilver and Hank Pym will be working together at Avengers Academy, but right now everyone he's got some pretty bad feelings about Hank. So something has got to change for that to happen.
Will any other elements of "Mighty Avengers" be carried over to "Avengers Academy?"
Yes, you see Hank and Quicksilver along with some other surprises. They'll be interacting with the new Avengers Academy characters and some classic Marvel characters like Tigra, Justice and Speedball. This is all new, though. This isn't "Avengers: The Initiative." This is Chris Gage doing his own thing, which is awesome. I can't wait to read that book!
This is a golden time to be an "Avengers" fan. In addition to "Avengers Academy," you have these two powerhouse books by Brian Michael Bendis. "Avengers" and "New Avengers" are going to be must-reads! Out of all the Heroic Age titles, I think the book I'm most excited for is "Secret Avengers." It's gonna be brilliant! It's got War Machine and Moon Knight and Steve Rogers. Plus, it's from Ed Brubaker and Mike Deodato. All the creative teams on all these books are amazing. I also think of "Thunderbolts" now as an Avengers book because of the upcoming Luke Cage involvement. So you have these very strong Avengers titles coming out and it's going to be pretty darn cool.
Looking back, what are you most proud of and what did you most enjoy about your "Mighty Avengers" run?
I really enjoyed working with such a strong team of artists. It was a real pleasure to work with Khoi and I'm expecting him to move on to bigger things now that people have seen what he can do with these "scrappy Avengers." Rafa Sandoval, Stephen Segovia, Sean Chen and Neil Edwards did some stunning work for us as well. It was fun working with Khoi and this great big mix of creators. I'm going to miss that.
Also, I loved playing in the big tapestry of the Marvel Universe. Once we got past the first arc and our cast was together I think we had some fun stuff in there. I loved doing the two-part FF/Avengers fight. And the Reed Richards-Hank Pym duel was a blast to write. I had a great time with all of the Avengers coming together to face off against the Unspoken. I especially loved the scene with Clint and Cassie on the arrow. Plus, the recent Hank versus Norman battle for the Cosmic Cube was a hoot. I got to have so much fun on this book, especially once we brought in the big toys.
I'm also very proud of where we moved the bar on the character of Hank Pym. We didn't run away from his craziness. We embraced it and at the same time, hopefully, we elevated him to where people go, "Wow. I never thought of Hank Pym like that." He's really carried the burden of the Ultron screw up, his bad break up and abusiveness towards Janet, and the fallout from that. So many people have tried to run from that and I think we embraced it in a weird way. We knew he was a strange, quirky character. And I loved the Scientist Supreme bit that has caused so much, as my grandma would say, "tsuris" in the online community. It was a cool moment for me-Eternity, himself smacking Hank Pym around and then offering him a hand up. Seriously, what says Hank Pym more than the rest of the Universe kicking him when he's down? That is my favorite sequence in the whole run.
I hope people feel that with this book, I've told the story of Hank Pym finding a place for himself an interesting place for himself in the Marvel U and that he can move on to new exciting places from here. This is one of the first books in a long time where you had to have Hank stand on his own and I think that was great for the character. He was able to get the kind of focus that he wouldn't have if you had an Iron Man or a Cap or somebody else on the team to steal focus from him. So I think that was cool. Basically, I had a good 16 months telling the story of Hank Pym and his team.
With "Mighty Avengers" coming to an end, what's next for Dan Slott? Any upcoming projects that you can hint, tease, or talk about?
I'll have a story in all four issues of the upcoming "Age of Heroes" anthology, but I'm telling very, very, very short stories. These are one-pagers, modern day versions of Hostess Fruit Pie ads [laughs]. You're getting a six-to-nine-panel story on one page, but important things will happen in these stories. They'll have some things to say about this new Heroic Age. I've also got a one-shot coming up. I believe it will hit October, and it should be announced very soon.
So I'm off the grid for a little bit, but that doesn't mean I'm not working. In fact I think I'm working harder than ever now! The next step for me is huge, probably my biggest challenge in comics to date! There'll probably be announcement about it around the time of [Comic-Con International in] San Diego. And when you hear about it, then you'll know why I'm so pumped for this!