The current cast of Marvel Comics' "Mighty Avengers" came together in classic Avengers fashion, joining forces to stop an immensely powerful foe and save the world. But that's not why they stayed together. The team's leader Hank Pym saw the group as a way to both do some good and keep the Avengers legacy from being tarnished by Norman Osborn and his team of Dark Avengers. In the months ahead, those purposes are going to put the team in the line of fire and force them to work side by side with all who lay claim to the Avengers name.
CBR News spoke with "Mighty Avengers" writer Dan Slott about his plans for the series which include a team-up with other Avengers teams, a showdown with the Dark Avengers, an appearance by the Mighty Thor, and the book's involvement in next year's Avengers family event story, "Siege."
At the end of "Mighty Avengers" #29, a call went out for the Avengers to assemble to face an Omega level threat. So, it looks like, in issue #30, your cast is going to be joined by quite a few characters who consider themselves Avengers. Roughly how many Avengers will be answering that call?
I haven't had the time for a lot of interviews lately. So I've been saving up for the important issues - this is one of "em. "Mighty Avengers" #30 is good comics! Sean Chen turned in some amazing artwork for both #30 and #31. These issues are the payoff, the big final fight against a new villain, The Unspoken. We're at a point where even if you haven't been following the book so far, it's easy to get up to date and jump in right here.
This issue's our big Avengers-palooza. We've got characters from "New Avengers," "Young Avengers," the Avengers Resistance (from "Avengers: The Initiative"), and there are even some members of the Dark [Avengers] who make an appearance as well. A whole gaggle of these guys are assembling in China to fight this crazy missing Inhuman king, The Unspoken, before he can take over the world.
Any hints or teases about some of the character dynamics we'll see when all these Avengers come together?
One of the things I really like in issue #30 is we get the first ever meeting of U.S. Agent and Bucky-Cap. That was a real fun moment to write.
Let's talk a little bit about the villain all those Avengers will be confronting, the mad Inhuman known as The Unspoken. He's a character that you co-created, but he also has a pretty strong connection to the history of the Inhumans, correct?
We haven't seen The Unspoken before, but he was king of the Inhumans before Black Bolt ascended to the crown. The Unspoken took the throne after Black Bolt's father, and some people are wondering why he hasn't appeared in Inhuman history before. It's because, well… he's been written out of it.
It seems that being disowned and disavowed has really affected The Unspoken's psyche and is the main reason he's causing so much havoc in China. It also seems like he's not so much a villain as he is a tragic figure.
He's a horribly tragic figure. He's someone who should be an important legend, but he's not. So much of our identity is not just who we are, but what people say about us and how we're remembered. And he's this secret that the royals keep to themselves. Now he's a guy who literally howls at the moon because he thinks the royals are looking down at him from up there. What's even sadder is that he's been in a cave for several years so he has no idea that they're gone and there's nobody up there.
b>So, The Unspoken's motivation is that he's looking for a chance to rejoin his people?
He just wants to go home. That's a very primal feeling. You look at all of the great Kirby characters, like the Inhumans and the New Gods, and there's so much stuff there that cuts right down to the most primal thing of all: family. The Unspoken's been cut off from his. The only family he's got are surrogates - a bunch of lowly Alpha Primitives.
It appears that The Unspoken plans to reunite himself with his family by using a mysterious device called the Slave Engine. What exactly is the Slave Engine supposed to do?
Encompass the Earth in Xerogen Mist, which is an element bestowed upon the Inhumans by the Kree.
Based on what happened to U.S. Agent in "Mighty Avengers" #29 it looks like the Xerogen Mist turns people into Alpha Primitives?
The Alpha Primitives were actually created by the Inhumans' ancestors. Some of their best scientists and geneticists created the Alpha Primitives. Xerogen predates the Alpha Primitives and is something the Kree left along with Terrigen.
Xerogen allows the Inhumans to implant whatever kind of genetic code they want into it. It allows them to transform man into whatever they desire. In this case, they've taken the code of the Alpha Primitives and imprinted that code into the Xerogen crystals.
It may seem as though, with all the Avengers assembling to stop him, The Unspoken is a little outgunned. But is he? Just how powerful a foe is The Unspoken? And how do his powers work?
The Unspoken is the living embodiment of Terrigenesis, the process that gives the Inhumans their super abilities, so he's extremely powerful. He can transform his own genetic make up to exhibit any super inhuman power he wants.
In the past, the Avengers have faced foes with infinite power levels: Korvac, Thanos and Chthon. What you're looking at here though is not just a clash of powers but of personalities. How can they stop this crazy-ass king?
It sounds like fans of Marvel's Cosmic line of books might want to take a look at the end of the "Unspoken" arc. Does the story feature a post "War of Kings" appearance by the Royal Family of the Inhumans?
Coming up in "Mighty," you'll see an important sequence with the Inhumans, and you'll see some reciprocity over in the Inhumans' camp. We're the one book in the Marvel U bridging the gap between "Dark Reign" and "War of Kings."
In "Mighty Avengers" #29, Hank Pym set out on a separate mission of exploration using his growing powers. Will he be part of the battle with The Unspoken?
The Hank Pym sequence in issue #30, where he's off on this cosmic style adventure, is one of my favorite things I've written all year. It's big; literally huge. And Page 10 is my favorite page. I'm kind of scared about where I'm going to take Hank Pym next, though. I don't know how I'm topping this one.
And then there's Page 11… That's the page that's going to cause everyone to put down the issue, run to the Internet, and write long angry diatribes. Page 11 is going to be where everybody goes, "What the hell? No! No! No!" But read to the end of the book. Then you'll be like, "Oh! Okay, I'm cool with it now."
Based on what you're telling me, it sounds like these next few issues of "Mighty Avengers" will be huge for the series in terms of moving things forward?
When I was a kid reading Marvel Comics, I flipped over any scene with Aunt May in it. I wanted to get to Spider-Man punching Electro, and it was the same thing with the Avengers. It was, "I don't want to know what that guy over there with the briefcase is doing! I want to see the Avengers fight Kang!" I look at these issues and the eight year old in me would be so happy. This is good comics. It's a bunch of guys in costumes beating the crap out of each other and moving the story forward in new ways. I really feel that, starting with issue #30, everything in "Mighty' gets kicked up a notch. That's the issue where the dial goes to 11-- and from here on, we're not turning it down!
Another reason I wanted to do this interview is to not just show off some of the gorgeous art we've got from Sean Chen, but also to offer a sneak peek of what's coming up with issue #32, when our regular artist Khoi Pham returns to the book. Because something happened. Khoi's art has taken a quantum leap, and all his pages from issue #32 are just jaw-dropping-awesome! As good as he's been, Khoi has started taking things to an entirely different level! He's brought an entirely different game! I've been loving Khoi's work from the get go - but starting with #32, this is like Khoi on steroids! Seriously, just check out this art!
From what I've read, it sounds like December's issue #32 kicks off a new storyline called "The Coming Darkness." Is this correct?
To keep "Mighty' coming out every month, we've occasionally gone to another artist, and on the writing-side, we brought in my "Avengers: The Initiative" pal, Christos Gage, to co-write. When I'm working with Chris, we're really fast. I plot and he scripts, but there's some crossover. He throws in ideas for the plot, and I'll do a script polish here and there. So with each pass, it's like an 80-20 split on each side.
Now that we're back on schedule, I'm going back to writing the book full-time. I greatly appreciate all the help and ideas Chris added to this coming arc. He wanted to call it "The Coming Darkness," but I think I'm going to change the title. We called the two-part Fantastic Four fight "Mighty/Fantastic." I like the idea of keeping with that and calling this one "Mighty/Dark."
As that name indicates, the arc finds the Mighty Avengers running into the Dark Avengers. There's a huge amount of bad blood between both teams, and it seems like part of that is because Hank Pym is beating Osborn at his own PR game.
Yes. It's been getting under Osborn's skin. For some time it's been the case that, once you leave the U.S., everyone else in the world thinks that Hank Pym's team is the "real" Avengers. The New Avengers are working underground. The Dark Avengers are trying to be the public face, but you've got Hank's team running all over the world doing Avenger-y stuff, whether it's fighting Swarm, monsters like Titan, or agents of A.I.M. And it's Hank's way of saying, "No, we're the Avengers." And that's not making Osborn all too happy. So, heaven help the Mighty Avengers if they have an adventure on American soil.
What happens in issue #32 that put the two teams on a collision course with each other?
Thanks to Loki's meddling, a hardcore Avengers villain becomes an immediate threat and these two teams are going to have to work together - like that's going to happen.
If and when a fight does break out between the two teams, how evenly matched are they in terms of power?
Well, let's be frank, one team has the Sentry. How do you deal with that? And the other thing you'll see, is that the U.S. Agent doesn't have a problem with Norman Osborn. To him, Osborn's a patriot He shot the Skrull Queen in the head! It's John Walker's belief that if it weren't for Osborn we'd all be speaking Skrull right now.
From what you hinted at earlier it sounds like Loki will have a part to play in the clash between the two teams as well? Since he's manipulating both Osborn and the Mighty Avengers, I imagine he's sort of a wild card in the storyline?
As we all know, Loki's been impersonating the Scarlet Witch on the Mighty Avengers team. And now that Loki's a guy again, he's not thrilled with putting on that dress! Loki is also a part of Norman's Cabal. He's sitting at Norman's right hand; whispering things in his ear. So that's not good.
The solicits have also hinted that you'll be adding Thor into that mix as well?
There was a slight goof up in our solicits. So let me set that straight. It was mentioned that you're going to see Thor in "Mighty" #32. You're not. You'll see Thor, in all his glory, in issue #34.
What's it like writing Thor?
The majesty of the character scares me a little. The thought of writing "Thor" monthly would scare me, but he's really fun to write as part of a team or as a guest star.
When I was working on Batman stuff at DC, I used to be afraid of writing the Riddler. The Riddler should be so much cleverer than I am, but with a character like that you can spend hours as the writer to make him sound spontaneously brilliant. I feel the same way about Thor. A lot of time, effort, and thought have to go into the way Thor sounds and feels. It's got to be just right.
Thor isn't the only classic Avenger headed for the pages of "Mighty Avengers." The recently announced Avengers family crossover, "Siege," kicks off in 2010. Does the encounter with the Dark Avengers in #32 lay any groundwork for this?
The Dark Avengers, the Thor issue, and really everything is building towards bigger and bigger things that'll come to a head in the "Siege" issues of "Mighty Avengers." There are elements that we've been seeding in this book from the get-go that are going to pay off - starting now and going all the way to the "Siege" issues. Again, if you haven't been reading "Mighty," this is a good spot to jump on.
It's been hinted that "Siege" will be when Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man reunite under the Avengers banner. How does Hank Pym feel about that? Is he excited to have his comrades back? Or is this kind of his worst nightmare?
The promise of "Siege" is that you might see the [Avengers] Founders reunited-- the trinity of Cap, Thor, and Iron Man together again-- and we know that Hank's always worried about measuring up to these guys. So you'll see a great moment of conflict; a kind of "my way or the highway" moment with Hank. We've read the comics and know that Hank is part of the legacy, but he often comes off as a fifth wheel. So you're really going to see a massive turning point for Hank Pym and the Avengers during "Siege."
Will the gathering of Avengers in issues #30-31 have any implications for when the various teams get together again in "Siege?"
Something is going to happen right after "The Unspoken" arc, which will lead to a powerful Avengers player affecting the lives of the Mighty Avengers. One of the biggest Avengers characters of all time is going to enter into the fray and that will build up all the way through to a climax in the "Siege' issues. Things are brewing. You'll see the spark starts all of that at the top of issue #32.
Will the action in "Siege" flow directly into the "Mighty Avengers" tie-in issues? Or will the story in "Mighty" be more of a side mission that's directly related to what's going on in "Siege?"
Yes and no. You're going to see a split. That's very telling. So the answer to that is a definite yes and a definite no. Sorry to be obscure, but I don't want to give anything away.
Any hints you can give about the plot of "Siege" or what it means for the cast of "Mighty," who've sort of been presented to the world as the standard bearers of the Avengers' legacy?
It means complete and utter upheaval as well as the possibility of great triumph… or great tragedy. And there's a marriage. You'll see a marriage. Of sorts.
In terms of scope, how big is "Siege" for the cast of "Mighty Avengers?" And how big of an impact will the fallout from the story have on these characters?
One word: devastating. The impact on "Mighty Avengers" is going to be major.