For the past several days, Marvel Comics has been teasing fans with a graphic labeled "Mighty" featuring a growing number of icons representing their superheroes and assembled in the design style championed by writer Jonathan Hickman. The accumulated images have led many to expect that the publisher will be launching a new "Mighty Avengers" title out of their incoming "Infinity" event series, and today they confirmed it.
As part of their latest "Next Big Thing" press call, Marvel assembled writer Al Ewing, SVP and Executive Editor Tom Brevoort to confirm that a new volume of "Mighty Avengers" will debut this September from the writer and artist Greg Land and will feature a team including Power Man, She-Hulk, White Tiger and Blue Marvel.
"It's a fairly key 'Infinity' component," Brevoort said of the book. When the core Avengers team leaves earth to deal with the threat known as the Builders and Thanos attacks the planet they leave behind, this team forms around Luke Cage in order to battle back again the Mad Titan. "That will be the core cast that makes up this book...really the course of our first number of issues will show our cast coming together."
The editor said that it was him who saw the potential for another Avengers team to roll out of this event, and after working out the place within the larger "Infinity" framework, he recruited Ewing to write. "Immediately, I thought of a niche. I'm pretty sure this was the niche you guys were going for anyway, but it was for a team of Avengers on the ground as part of the community – almost a community outreach thing," the writer said.
The call promised that many more characters beyond the ones teased this week would be a part of the team including Monica Rambeau who Ewing was very excited to write. "She's got a new costume and a new name, but she's kind of rejoining the superhero set in terms of rebranding herself. She's basically coming back as Spectrum, which we batted around possible names, and you could tell that one had a kind of hard science-fiction feel to it. One of the things I love about Monica...is that she was once the leader of [the Avengers] team, and it's great to have her in that position again." He added that he's finding new ways to use the former Captain Marvel's powers and ways to incorporate her history into the group and book.
The series will also use Falcon and a new version of the mystery hero Ronin which Ewing joked was "the character find of 2013" but the identity of the hero would remain in shadow. "We'll find out why we don't know who he is and why he's remaining hidden" in the first issue, the writer noted adding that there will be some costume changes and identity changes over the first issues and first year of the series.
Overall, the team will be full of heavy hitters, though Luke Cage won't take the field leadership role due to his responsibilities as a father. But Ewing said the Blue Marvel would be a take charge character in the adventures of the new Mighty Avengers. Meanwhile, the Falcon and Power Man represent two sides of the coin in that the former is a team player who follows orders well while the latter bristles at being told what to do. "They're all going to have different ways of putting their ideas forward, and a lot of sparks will fly," he said.
"It's a very idealistic assortment of characters which is embodied by Luke," Brevoort said. Cage has an idea for what the Avengers can be, and this series will allow the character's view on the role of the organization going back to Brian Bendis' issues of "Avengers" focusing on his home neighborhood of Harlem to be seen in a better light.
The call spoke to Land's role in the series as this is the artist's first "Avengers" title. "He's got a really tight looking superhero art style," Brevoort said. "He can do action. He can do storytelling...and as he's done for us in the past, Al is writing this book in classic Marvel Style. He's working plot first, so hopefully Greg is getting an opportunity to flex some storytelling muscles he doesn't always get to use.
This will be Ewing's most recent Marvel project focusing on many fan favorite heroes after his "Age of Ultron" tie-in for "Avengers Assemble." "It's something I take very seriously," he said. "I've never been a fan of A-list or B-list or C-list character...you never say to the first firefighter that comes along to save you 'Oh no, you're a C-list firefighter.'" He said that his previous work at Marvel utilizing characters like Captain Britain and the Black Knight were because they were personal favorites, but with the Blue Marvel, he had to be introduced to the character. Since then, however, he's fallen in love with the hero. "He's almost the opposite of the Sentry in that instead of the mental instability that marked that character, this is a guy who thinks very carefully and seriously about everything he does." The writer said he knows what it's like to have a favorite character that never shows up that much, and he's happy to bring back a hero certain fans have been clamoring for.
Brevoort said it was "no accident" that this team is very diverse in its makeup saying that he's used to fielding questions about Marvel doing a team of "Black Avengers" or any other group with a minority focus. He said that he'd always felt the concept was fake and forced, but "The reality is that he people who are interested in these characters and want to see heroes that reflect them have a genuine point. We first started conceptualizing this book in February around Black History Month, so there was a lot of talk around that." He said particularly a huge inspiration for the book was the late writer Dwayne McDuffie. Brevoort said he wanted to make a book that McDuffie would have made in terms of there being at least 50% non-white, non-male characters. And as it turns out, the final balance is more than 50%. Brevoort promised the series didn't mean that more diverse characters won't show up in other titles, but this series needed that as an anchor thanks to the guiding presence of Luke Cage.
Speaking of which, asked about the presence of the new Power Man on the same team as the original hero to hold the name, and Cage will not likely take to his spiritual successor. "It's not the kind of teach/student relationship that Danny [Rand] and Vic have. When we first see them, Vic is doing an internship for Heroes For Hire...it's like when you're running a business and there's a slot for your friend's kid who you don't really get along with because he's kind of a jerk," the writer said.
The Superior Spider-Man will also take a part on the team, though with the mind of Otto Octavius in the driver's seat, questions abound as to his motivations. "He's not going to miss a giant, horrible thing happening in the middle of New York," he said of the "Infinity" launch for the series. From there, Otto takes a "Who do you people think you are?" approach to the new team trying to protect "his" city, and his place on the team will be a rather antagonistic one as he forces his way into the proceedings.
As for the overall team dynamic, the creators promised that would develop over time since they first come together amidst a crisis. "It's going to be a classic, free-form Avengers team of the sort you would have seen in the '70s or '80s," Brevoort said.
Ewing said that he jumped into writing in the "Marvel Method" of plotting when he got his first gig on "Avengers Assemble." Now "There's a lot of dialogue in it, but it leaves plenty open for Greg to do what he wants," the writer said. "So far, we've got a few pages that are kind of thrilling. Every time I get a new page, I get what everybody is saying [about the process]. I'm quite enjoying it so far." He spoke about one sequence in an early issue featuring the villain the Plunderer where Land drew Ewing's request for the bad guy to be "ranting" in a way where the writer said the final text would be "One of my top ten all time rants." Ultimately, he called the style of scripting much more dynamic than writing out everything for an artist to follow to the letter.
The call confirmed that Iron Fist will not be a big part of this series. "I think it's inevitable that eventually he will turn up in the book...but not initially," said Brevoort.
Ewing said that there is potential for a lot of strange pairings and complex character relationships as each member of the team has a different role. She-Hulk will be along for both her brawn and her legal knowledge since this team will not be associated with S.H.I.E.L.D. like the classic Avengers.
On the villain side of the equation, Thanos and his "Infinity" generals will appear, but some new villains are showing up as well as some classic bad guys – one with a connection to White Tiger. "The Plunderer is not the toughest threat they'll ever face in their time as a team," Ewing deadpanned.
The writer also said that of the lessons he's learned from his years writing for "2000AD" is to write with a certain density to the stories in each issue as well as working in some humor bits amidst the action.
Locale wise, the team won't be restricted to the streets of New York. "There will almost certainly be some kind of terrible hidden mountain," Ewing said. "I'm thinking in terms of who they'll be fighting and where that might take them."
They also revealed that one character who was in the mix early on but didn't make the cut was Wolverine, which led to quite a bit of laughter as this may be the only Marvel franchise expansion that doesn't involve the X-Man. The book will feature Jessica Jones at moments, and Cage's wife won't be entirely happy that he's getting back in the superhero team game. But she does support Cage's vision for a new kind of Avengers and a new kind of superheroing.
"Mighty Avengers" #1 ships in September from Marvel Comics.