"Time Runs Out" on the Avengers' Future

Readers have seen glimpses of numerous visions of possible futures for the Marvel Universe. In most cases, heroes in the present must fight to stave off some apocalyptic future. This September, however, there will be no fighting the future as writer Jonathan Hickman's "Avengers" and "New Avengers" titles jump eight months ahead and give readers a definitive glimpse of what the Marvel Universe will look like in April 2015 for a storyline titled "Time Runs Out."

In the upcoming tale, Hickman takes readers across the Marvel U and reintroduces the current lineups of the Avengers and New Avengers as they prepare to stop the final Incursion Event -- a mysterious cosmic phenomenon that occurs when two Earths from different universes occupy the same space and ends with the destruction of one or both worlds.

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CBR News spoke with with Marvel Executive Editor and Senior Vice President of Publishing Tom Brevoort about the storyline that begins in the double-sized "Avengers" #35 (featuring art by Jim Cheung) and "New Avengers" #24 (featuring at by Mike Deodato) and marks the beginning of the third act of the grand story that Hickman is telling across both titles.

CBR News: Tom, when last we spoke about the Avengers books you mentioned that Jonathan Hickman's titles would be moving toward a convergence point in September. It appears that "Time Runs Out" is that point, correct?

Tom Brevoort: Yes, it is in fact that point.

If we were to break Jonathan's Avengers opus into three acts would "Time Runs Out" be the beginning of the third act? Or is this his very last story?

It's the beginning of the third act. That is a good way to phrase it.

The cover to "Avengers" #35 features a number of different characters including an unidentified blonde man with a cane. I don't suppose you can confirm who that is right now, can you?

I'm not going to confirm who anybody is on either of those two covers. But I will clarify something else, though, because this is a confusing bit of business. Even with the couple of press releases we've done I'm not sure everybody quite understands what's happening here. So I'll try and articulate it.

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In September both "Avengers" and "New Avengers" are effectively skipping their storylines ahead eight months. That means the cast situation of the books and where everybody is in the Marvel Universe will be contiguous with the end of April 2015.
So one of the things that these covers already sort of mysteriously do is portend changes that are going to happen not necessarily in the pages of "Avengers," but throughout the various books of the Marvel Universe. Reading "Avengers" and "New Avengers" in September is literally like getting a comic sent to you from the future eight months ahead of time.

It sounds like a lot of planning and scheduling was involved in getting readers these two issues.

Oh yes, but not just those two issues. From that point all the way up until April of 2015 they will both be running eight months ahead of the Marvel Universe and then the Marvel Universe every month will be closing that gap. So in October they'll be seven months ahead of everybody else. Then in November they'll be six months ahead until everything converges once again at the end of April and then BAM! Time runs out.

So essentially this is an in medias res story that we'll find out more about the beginning of as we move closer to April?


You mentioned you don't want to talk about who is on the covers of "Avengers" #35 and "New Avengers" #24, but perhaps we can talk about the implications of those characters being there. On the cover to "Avengers" #35 we have Havok and Thor is wielding the axe Jarnbjorn. That has me wondering if we'll see some of what Rick Remender has been doing in "Uncanny Avengers" tie into what Jonathan's doing in his Avengers books?

Again, I'm going to have to plead the Fifth. I'm afraid I'll probably have to plead the Fifth on a lot of your questions especially given that both of those covers and the secrets that they hide are not just Avengers' secrets. They're secrets from throughout the Marvel Universe.

So yes, the stuff that Rick is doing will be reflected and reflected in a significant way in these books. Again though, I don't want to say too much. And I can't say too much.

The point of having images like these, which are teases for the future, is for people to wonder and speculate and to be interested in what's going to happen to all of these characters. To wonder what could have put them in this situation? How these changes could have occurred? And what in fact do these changes entail? And again that's a story that's not just going to be told in "Avengers" or "New Avengers." It's a story that will be told in all the books in the Marvel line over the course of those eight months.

I understand. So the point of the "New Avengers" #24 cover where we see a guy who looks like Namor along with characters like Thanos and Proxima Midnight is to get readers speculating on is if that is indeed Namor and why Thanos and Proxima Midnight are walking about and not frozen in amber like they were at the end of "Infinity?"

I can grant you the fact that those characters are Thanos and Proxima Midnight because it's fairly obvious and that very much is "New Avengers" business. I can't get too much into specifics about what exactly they're doing on that cover and what they represent by being there, but yes, they will be there and be a part of that comic book.

Set the stage for us -- when does the story that begins in "Times Runs out" take place? Does it begin on the day of the final Incursion Event?

It begins on the eve of the final Incursion, which is not quite the same thing. We are building up to the final Incursion though, which is coming and which these books will lead you to in a significant fashion. Again, it literally is like you're getting a look ahead to what's going to be going on eight months from then as that story accelerates and as the overall story that Jonathan has been telling since the beginning reaches its climax, which is coming.

The other information that came out in the press release was that a new version of the Cabal somehow figures into the story?

Yes, that is true.

Can you comment on them at all? Is this the Cabal as we've previously seen them; an Illuminati counterpoint group composed of super villains?

They're definitely a counterpoint to the Illuminati and they're definitely more villainous in nature. I think that's all fair to say.

The preview image for "Axis," the upcoming Rick Remender-written event, featured a group that appeared to be a version of the Cabal. Does "Time Runs Out" tie into or set up "Axis" at all?

It does not set up "Axis" because "Axis" comes out in the fall at around the same time, but "Time Runs Out" takes place after it. That's why it's confusing. These stories are actually taking place next year.
Will "Axis" have an effect on this story? Yes. So "Axis" happens before "Time Runs Out" because if it happened after there would be no time for "Axis." [Laughs]

[Laughs] So this story not only gives readers a glimpse at what will happen in monthly titles, but an event as well?

We are jumping ahead of everything. Not just that event, but big events everywhere; big events in the X-Men books, in the Spider-Man books, in "Guardians of the Galaxy," and all our titles.

It's not quite jumping a year ahead, but it's close. A lot of things have changed and are different. The where, the how, and the why of it all though won't just unfold in these books. It will also unfold in all the comics between now and then when things sync up again eight months from when we start in September.
Like I said, it's a slightly complicated idea to get across. I realize it can be difficult to wrap your mind around it. Again, the best analogy I can give you is it's like suddenly you're getting next year's Avengers comics now.

It sounds like the story in "Time Runs Out" will be sweeping and touch base with all the various corners of the Marvel Universe and hint at the changes that have happened.

It will hint, and even beyond that. It will show. It won't all necessarily happen in one issue. Because we're going to be there for eight months particularly as these events play out in real time in the other Marvel books you'll also be seeing the aftermath of those events in "Avengers" and "New Avengers" at the same time. And maybe in one or two cases slightly ahead in "Avengers" and "New Avengers." So it's an interesting construction. It does mean "Avengers" and "New Avengers" are your one-stop shopping for the stories that will be happening everywhere else.

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The fact that "Time Runs Out" kicks off in "Avengers" #35 and "New Avengers" #24, drawn by Jim Cheung and Mike Deodato, respectively, suggests to me that this story is a huge deal. What do these guys bring to these stories?

They're certainly artists that we tend to deploy on things that are huge. In the case of Jimmy in terms of visualizing what we need visualized in the world of 2015 he delivers the goods; both in terms of his big super hero stuff and in the fact he can juggle a monsoon's worth of characters all in these tricky situations.

In the case of Deo it's kind of like a stopover in his home town in that he was the regular artist on "New Avengers" prior to "Original Sin." So coming back and doing this big issue just helps to underline the importance of it. And Deo is going to be bringing some of that noir styling that he's been perfecting even further in "Original Sin" back to "New Avengers" as we make this leap.

The fact that Mike is moving to this right after he finishes "Original Sin" suggests to me that he's an incredibly fast artist. Is that accurate?

He's definitely among the fastest and steadiest artists that we have. And hopefully we will have calculated all of this correctly and he will be able to get through it all as we believe that he will. [Laughs] As we talked about last time though, he has a new child and that's kind of the X-factor in the equation.

I don't know that I'm selling "Times Runs Out" and getting it across very clearly, but because of this time-jump ahead, "Avengers" and "New Avengers" are maybe the two most significant books in terms of where things are going in the Marvel Universe. These will be two great oversized issues that will both answer a bunch of questions and ask a bunch more. We'll set up some intrigues as we race toward the climax of what Jonathan has been moving toward for about three years now. This is where it all starts.

"Time Runs Out" begins in "Avengers" #35 and "New Avengers" #24 this September.

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