If you thought that Comic-Con International exhausted all of Marvel Comics' big announcements, you'd be wrong. Their top selling "New Avengers" has been commemorating "Civil War" with a bevy of guest artists, but with issue #27, there's going to be a new regular penciller: Leinil Yu. The acclaimed artist, known for his work on "Superman: Birthright" and "Wolverine," is tackling a team book after quite some time (he was the regular penciller on "X-Men" years back) and if the applause from fans at Wizard World Chicago (where the announcement was made) was any indication, he's in for quite a positive ride. While Yu can't tell us much about the state of the Avengers after "Civil War," which is when his run begins, he was happy to speak to CBR News about everything else.
Yu's position on "New Avengers" came out of one of the most pleasant business experiences one can have: your co-workers keeping their word. "Marvel promised me the best projects when we were negotiating our contract and they are very true to their last word," he said. "Joe Quesada emailed me about it and it completely blew me away. Not only will I be drawing the 'New Avengers,' I also get to work with Brian Bendis. And the built in strong fan base couldn't hurt either."
Sure, a high-profile gig with the, arguably, most popular writer in comics would be enough to entice most artists, but Yu has a personal affection for the characters. "Captain America, Spider-Man and Wolverine (and other characters I can't mention yet coz their's a war going on)- It's crazy!" exclaims the artist. "This book is the book any artist would want to draw if they were going to die in a few months [laughs]. It's the biggest Marvel Characters in one book and it's ALL MINE!!!!"
Speaking of Marvel, many writers often make the distinction between the superhero universes of Marvel & DC, but as an artist, Yu sees similar differentiation. "The main difference is the grit and mood I guess. It's the exact same drawing with about 2 million hatches in it to create a moody and darker feel. I don't think I could've drawn Superman any other way. I think the clean lines fit the title really well. A lot of things also happened in between 'Superman Birthright' which led to some overly simplified drawings. I got married, and recorded my own band's album. I did the entire recording and mixing and it took a while to get done [laughs]. Right now, all I do is draw, draw and draw."
Each artist on "New Avengers" has brought a unique tone to the series, from the dark atmosphere of David Finch to the clean lines of Steve McNiven, and Yu feels he'll make is own aesthetic mark on the book. "I believe I combine grittiness with a little dynamic cartoon humor in my work," contends Yu. "It's dark but it's also fun and that strange combination reflects the books characters. We have Spidey cracking jokes and Logan being dead serious. I think I can deliver that versatility. Plus, I do mean action shots as well. Wink."
There are unique artistic challenges to both solo and team superhero books, but for Yu, the challenge is more than just how many characters he has to draw. "Solo books are definitely easier to do and I'd feel more comfortable with it. Team books are where men are separated from the boys and I need to grow up," he laughs. "It's definitely tougher. Brian's character interaction is highly intricate and detailed. I also think it's his strength and accommodating that amount of interaction is a challenge. He loves a lot of panel per page and it's a lot tougher but at the same time, it pays off if I do get it right.
"I do thrive under pressure and considering the talent that came before me on this book, I have a huge shoe to fill. Marvel gave me a really good shot to make a mark and I intend to make a significantly good run in 'New Avengers.'"
Part of that good run includes being on time with each issue, something Yu doesn't foresee being an problem. "I have an enormous lead time on this book and I may be eating up too much time cause there literally was no deadline," he admits. "Of course, all time went into the pages. Into learning how to draw the characters right, Gathering references, etc. As soon as I got everything in memory, everything should be faster and better! As long as there is a schedule to keep, I can make it (give or take a few days [laughs]."
Ok, you knew it was coming, the obligatory fanboy question: who is Yu most looking forward to drawing in "New Avengers?" "More Captain America, Wolverine, and most importantly --
Spider-Man without the buildings!" he says. "An artist's dream!"
Staff Writer Arune Singh contributed to this story.