Marvel's latest "Next Big Thing" press conference call took place Monday afternoon, in which Marvel announced that Joe Casey and Nick Dragotta would be the creative team for "Vengeance," a six-issue miniseries debuting in July which will be an exploration of villainy in the Marvel Universe. Casey, Dragotta, and editor Tom Brennan were on hand for the call, with Junior Sales Administrator James Viscardi moderating.
"The motivations have always been as strong as the heroes'," Brennan said of the villains. He described it as a "fascinating exploration" of evil, especially considering major villains like Magneto and Bullseye are dead or not active.
Dragotta said the he has designed seventeen characters so far for "Vengeance," and that, while the Marvel U is burning in "Fear Itself," "Vengeance" will see the youth reaction.
"The fact that all the spotlight is on ['Fear Itself'] gave us the opportunity to do whatever the hell we want to do," Casey said. "This is kamikaze comics ... if people were looking at our work, this is stuff we might not get away with."
He continued that heroes young and old will appear, and "it runs the gamut" of characters readers might like to see.
"I don't want to say there's a new teen brigade we're following," Brennan said, but their journey "hits each touchpoint" of the Marvel Universe.
"We're going to the Sixth Dimension, Hitler's Germany, an insane nightclub, and a homeless shelter," Dragotta said—of the first eight pages.
"It's not just any homeless shelter, people!" Casey said.
"The classic Marvel villains we're using and where they are right now provides a throughline and a backdrop," Casey said. "It really does drive the story, the evolution of these villains—Magneto's a good guy now," he added, citing a hypothetical young villain might be influenced by his idol's turn. "That's confusing to a young terrorist." Meanwhile, some do-gooders may have a problem accepting Loki is "on the side of angels now."
Casey joked, "I'll give you every cliche: everything will change, nothing will be the same, marriages will end, people will be born, oceans will boil!"
Asked whether one of the characters is Stacy X, Casey said, "It looks like Stacy X, doesn't it?" He hinted she wouldn't be the only character he's written who will return. "Those two or three people who have followed my Marvel work will say, 'wow, I can't believe he had the balls to bring that character back!"
The story takes place all over the Marvel U, Casey said, which is "a big place."
Classic villains "are there, every issue," Casey said, adding that the cover villain would be the one to appear. "It's not like they get together and sit around the table and decide how to fuck things up," he added, but each villain would provide a thematic and geographical focus.
Casey said that the six teaser images do not match up to the six villains. "We just wanted to put characters out there we thought would get people talking," he said, but said he'd like "to go back in time" to match them. He added that two characters are a new Miss America and the Ultimate Nullifier.
Casey clarified that "Vengeance" will not be an anthology, but "a big sprawling epic" with "guest stars" each issues. "The characters that carry through the whole story, each in their different ways, deal with the issues each villain presents." He noted specifically the example of Bullseye who, while dead, has a female successor and has had a profound impact on the Marvel U. "I think you'll be satisfied with how we handle each big villain."
Captain America is "too low on the pay scale to appear in this book," Casey joked, but there's clearly a character who's been inspired by Cap.
Through exploring villains, Brennan said, we'll also see how heroes are perceived.
Asked whether each of these characters were looking for revenge, Brennan noted the universe is based on cause and effect—"there's no moment of, 'this is vengeance!'" but "if there's someone who picks up the mantle of Bullseye, there's going to be someone who doesn't like Bullseye."
Dragotta mentioned that "when you're a teenager, you think you can change the world; and one in a million, they might be right." He said the teens would be going after this goal "with a vengeance, and that's what it means to me."
"I think there's a few new characters here are total breakouts," Dragotta said, especially "when you find out what that Cap character has in his holsters."
In response to a question, Brennan confirmed that "Vengeance" relates in some way to "Acts of Vengeance," after Casey dared him to "squirm out of this one."
Brennan said Marvel's approach to legacy characters is that there should be a reason, that it's not "put someone in the costume." "That's not Captain America Boy," he said of the teaser image.
Asked whether, in the course of examining the evolution of villains, the new heroes themselves would undergo significant changes over the course of six issues, Brennan said, "Absolutely." "They're teens, they have a very set way they see the world, and by the end some of them will be in a very different place," Brennan said. Casey added, "Not only that, some of them are going to die!"