Marvel's has been full of exciting new announcements lately and today is no exception. Last Friday, the publisher revealed the only standalone "Avengers vs. X-Men" tie-in, "AvX: Versus". On Monday, Rick Remender and Gabriel Hardman teased their upcoming "Secret Avengers" arc. Tuesday, Brian Michael Bendis and Walter Simonson announced their collaboration on "Avengers." Yesterday, Cullen Bunn spoke on "Captain America & Hawkeye," a new series replacing "Captain America & Bucky." This morning, the publisher released an intriguing teaser image by Marco Checchetto featuring Daredevil's mask, the Punisher's skull and webs with a filename "TheOmegaEffect.jpg." Now, in the latest of Marvel's Next Big Thing series of press conference calls, the publisher pulled back the curtain on an upcoming crossover between "Avenging Spider-Man," "Punisher" and "Daredevil" in April called "The Omega Effect."
Moderator and Junior Sales Administrator James Viscardi was joined by writers Greg Rucka -- who was making Moroccan Mint green tea -- Mark Waid and Senior Editor Steve Wacker to discuss the upcoming crossover.
"Both Mark and Greg in the past few months launched 'Daredevil' and 'Punisher' and they've become two of my favorite projects I've ever worked on," said Wacker. "Daredevil and Punisher have a long history together. We just played off of that in Issue #7 where Greg harkened back to one of my favorite stories from the '80s." According to Wacker, "The Omega Effect" picks up from threads that have already begun in "Daredevil" involving Matt Murdock's possession of the Omega Drive.
"Daredevil has basically conned five of the biggest crime communities in the Marvel Universe -- Hydra, AIM, Black Spectre, Secret Empire and Hidden Team -- out of a unique hard drive that contains key information on all five organizations," said Waid. "It's the hot potato that Daredevil has and it makes him the most dangerous man on Earth." While Daredevil has the drive trying to beat the clock to find the best application for it, Frank Castle comes knocking on the door.
"The problem with Daredevil holding the device is that these organizations don't want anyone else to have it," said Rucka. "Once Frank finds out about the drive and finds out what's on it, he says, 'You know what? Give that to me.' ... Frank's feeling is 'I can keep it safe and I can use it properly,' so one sees the conflict immediately between these two gentlemen."
Spider-Man comes in at the behest of Reed Richards, who invented the Omega Drive, to recover it from Daredevil. "The downside is that if you bring the Punisher in, it's like handing an atomic grenade to… well, to Frank Castle," said Waid. "It could be a very, very dangerous thing. What we've likened the story to is 'The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.' The basic idea is that it's different people from different walk on life that have similar goals all focused on a unique artifact and they start to work together to find out the best way to work with this. As the story progresses, different allegiances arise, different backstabbing things happen and it gets very tense."
"Nobody's going to be surprised that they team up," said Rucka, "but how long is that going to last? The clock is immediately ticking."
As for Spider-Man, Waid mentioned there was an entertainment factor. "Part of what puts Spider-Man in the story is half a need to babysit these two guys and half a need to eat popcorn and watch what happens when they eventually collide," said Waid.
Rucka and Waid will hand off "Avenging Spider-Man" scene by scene and Waid referenced their work on "52" in terms of experience in working together in that format.
"I had [written 'Daredevil'], but I didn't really write him. When Ed [Brubaker] and I did those issues of 'Daredevil,' I was pretty much writing the Dakota scenes," said Rucka of his familiarity with the character. "I've written Matt once or twice in the past, but it's always been in the, 'Why hasn't he committed suicide yet?' [way], if that makes sense. ... I understand the heroes of the Marvel Universe have it rough, but really, talk about somebody who has made himself a bed of nails and goes, 'Ow! This bed hurts!' The new lease on life that Mark has given Matt makes him, honestly, and I'm using this very specifically, it makes him more 'fun' to write as opposed to fun-to-write. That distinction will not appear in print, I know."
"One of the things I've always admired about Mark's work is that he never forgets about the wonder that makes these superhero universes so vibrant," Rucka continued. "You never forget that Matt is blind and that is actually a determent. His other senses being heightened don't actually make him not blind. There is something beautiful and quite elegant in the way Mark never ever lets you forget the blessing and the curse at the same time."
"Honestly, not quid pro quo, but it's absolutely true. What Greg has done with Punisher, not only in print, but also just talking to him about the character, he's given me a level of interest and understanding in a character that up until now, I wouldn't have given a nickel for," said Waid. "If you'd asked me six month ago, 'Do you want to do a story with The Punisher,' I have no interest in that, that's not my wheelhouse at all. Now that I understand him better through Greg, it's much easier for me to find a hook on him because Greg has explained Frank's mission to me from Frank's point of view, but he's also given Frank an accomplice." Waid also said Frank's accomplice has given "me an emotional hook in the character that works well for Daredevil as well because that's the rolling b-plot in that story. Daredevil has had to make peace with the fact that he'll never reform Frank, he'll never be able to change Frank, but now that Frank has an associate, an accomplice -- maybe there's a way for Daredevil to do some redemption there. If he can't do it with Frank, maybe he can do it with this other person."
"Then we've got Peter, who under no circumstances can abide Frank," said Rucka.
According to Waid, Dan Slott's "nobody dies" edict from "Amazing Spider-Man" will continue on through the event. "It's not always a realistic point of view for Spider-Man to have, but it's a good affirmation of what makes that character very unique and strong. To throw him up against the Punisher again with that new point of view…"
"I think Spider-Man is really going to be the viewpoint through which most of our readers enter the story," said Wacker. "With Matt, I really see Pete understanding Matt. There's a level of Pete that understands Punisher. I think Pete's entire career as Spider-Man has been about keeping that guy inside. The way the story rotates around Spider-Man like that is interesting to me."
Marco Checchetto will be the artist for all three parts of the event "Marco has been my secret weapon these past few years," said Wacker, noting the artist has been on "Spider-Man," "Punisher" and "Daredevil" and has exhibited an enthusiasm to draw all three characters in the crossover. "To me, he seemed like just a natural casting."
"There is, for me, a couple moments in this that I'm very much looking forward to those moments when you get to read them in the final product," said Rucka. "There's an obvious ticking clock and when it runs down, it's either going to make Marco real happy or he's going to hate us forever when he has to draw it."
"There's a moment where Punisher's going to learn you can't leave Matt Murdock alone with a woman," said Wacker.
"There's a big reveal about Peter blown," joked Rucka.
As for the changes in Matt's life making him more relaxed and uplifted going on in "Daredevil," Waid said it wasn't a complete and permanent status-quo change. "I don’t think it's the healthiest way to deal with your problems to not think about them. It's a necessary step for Matt right now," he said, noting there will be consequences for Daredevil's ignoring of his problems in Year Two.
"Mark's got a pretty healthy respect for the last few decades of Daredevil comics," said Wacker, noting that Waid was building from Brian Bendis and Andy Diggle's "Daredevil" stories.
In terms of the Punisher, Rucka has quite a few tricks up his sleeves. "I love Frank as a thinker, but the second we put him in 616, the second he's not in a MAX world, he has access to 616 resources," Rucka said. "In a couple of upcoming issues, he's going to get his hands on a variety of resources. One of those is going to be incredibly useful to him. He will recover something from one of the people that he's fighting that is going to make him -- I don't want to say bulletproof -- but it will prove to be of great assistance."
"The story purposefully started small, but the reason 'The Omega Effect' story is placed so well is that Frank's story is about to be big," said Wacker. "He's not only going to have to be bulletproof, he's going to have to be SHIELDproof as well."
As for the name of the event, it's named after the device known as "The Omega Drive" that Daredevil currently possesses.
Waid also spoke to Daredevil's attitude toward the Punisher after the events of "Shadowland." "I think he totally understands -- I think he's always understood where Frank is coming from, but that doesn't mean he has respect for the way Frank does his job. Matt, now more than ever, [because of the events of 'Shadowland,'] maybe he's almost more repelled by taking human life."
In terms of major villains, there were no actual names mentioned, except for one: "Darkseid, as we mentioned before," joked Waid. "We see guest appearances by different organizations."
"You're not going to see the heads of the organizations, because nobody wants to report back that Daredevil's got it," said Rucka. "Punisher wants to play a very street level game, and even though Matt's got this device, everyone around him wants to keep it quiet. I will say where this ends for Matt does take it into major bad guy territory, literally."
Waid also elucidated on Rucka helping him to understand the Punisher. "If I ever spent any time before this wondering what Frank does when he's not out killing people," Waid said. "I've learned from Greg that that time doesn't happen."
"From Greg's point of view, Frank doesn't do anything for pleasure," said Waid.
"We're going to get into that, but yeah," replied Rucka. "Pleasure doesn't exist."
In terms of the supporting cast, Punisher will have some of his support showing up. "By the time this starts, Punisher and Cole will have met a second time," said Rucka. "I get really leery of talking about this because I don't want to shorthand it in any way. Frank's not looking for a parter and frankly Cole isn't looking to be his partner. That doesn't mean they don't share the same mission objectives and won't try to work in concert with each other."
The issue of Daredevil coming out after "The Omega Effect" will be very supporting-cast heavy, according to Wacker.
Waid and Rucka also addressed the tone of the mini-event, saying they would be holding on to the tones of each individual book to a large degree. "I think that's part of the fun of it. I think we start with Spider-Man with something tonally that is very close to what Spider-Man is, but the moment the Punisher walks into the room, thanks to Greg, the tone shift. That's part of the fun of collaborating on this thing; bouncing back and forth without it being jarring," said Waid.
"I think the reason these characters are, in my mind, the best Marvel characters is that they walk the line so easily between tones," said Wacker. "I still find Punisher and Daredevil to be dark books in terms of what they're saying the actual characters involved and the struggles they go through. Bringing the Punisher certainly makes it night outside in terms of comic books, but I think they straddle the line pretty well in terms of tone."
"I think at this exact state in time, at this exact point in all their character developments, they do a good job representing the Id, the Ego and the Superego," said Waid referring to Punisher, Daredevil and Spider-Man, respectively.
"They speak to most people on different days," said Wacker. "There are days that I relate to Frank Castle, but I usually feel like Daredevil. Truth is, I'm probably Spider-Man."
Wacker mentioned the reasoning for the decision to have the mini-event in the main books rather than a separate series. "I think if you've got something great, you put it in the regular books," said Wacker. "I guess I had a little bit of a marketing hat on in that I want someone who's reading one of these books to go over to the other two."
"If it's really that good, it's good enough for the regular series."
The call closed with Rucka's reasoning for wanting to go back to write Daredevil at some point, but most likely not to Spider-Man.
"I've always like Daredevil, but he's always felt a little above my speed or pay grade," he said. "Honestly, now getting to play with him in this way, I would eagerly swim around in that Daredevil pool and at length. Spider-Man continues to intimidate me. I don't think of myself as a terribly funny guy and I think that wit is terribly crucial to Spider-Man. For that reason, I find Spider-Man very difficult to write. I'm still very leery."
"It's not that you're not a funny guy, but you're not a wisecracker," said Waid. "I think that's something you need to have that in your voice to write Spider-Man."
"Your jokes are more hopeful truths about yourself," said Wacker.
"The Omega Effect" begins in April in "Avenging Spider-Man" #6, continuing to "Daredevil" #11 and "Punisher" #10.