When a hero joins the Avengers, they become part of one of the Marvel Universe's premier crime fighting teams, which brings with it added responsibility, camaraderie and notoriety. which means Suddenly, the whole world is aware of their existence, and sometimes that extra attention can be distracting, detrimental or potentially deadly. Thus, in an effort to avoid such complications, an established hero may adopt the shared identity of the masked martial artist known as Ronin.
Maya Lopez, better known as Echo, became the first Ronin when Captain America sent her on a mission to infiltrate the Japanese underworld. Clint Barton, the original Hawkeye, later adopted the identity in the aftermath of his resurrection. And most recently a new Ronin joined the ranks of Luke Cage's Mighty Avengers.
This new Ronin picked up the legacy as a way of concealing his identity. However, the malevolent, supernatural group he was attempting to fool saw through the disguise, and in "Mighty Avengers" #9, its assassins attacked him. The battle ended with Ronin's unmasking and readers discovering that the new Ronin was in fact the vampire hunter known as Blade. CBR News spoke with "Mighty Avengers" writer Al Ewing about the ramifications of Blade's unmasking and his presence and role in the book now that his identity is no longer under wraps.
CBR News: Now that Blade's identity as Ronin has been officially revealed, let's talk a little bit about his inclusion in the group. What made you want to bring Blade into the book? And why did you initially want to keep his identity a secret?
Al Ewing: Bringing in a new Ronin -- and having it be Blade -- was Tom [Brevoort's] idea, originally, and it immediately suggested a whole bunch of story possibilities. Why exactly was Blade running around in a Ronin outfit? Why would he need to hide his face -- and from who? One of the nice things about Blade is that he brings in this whole supernatural dimension to the book, this hidden world of vampires and otherworldly creatures, so immediately we had a massive Big Bad for the first year, some scary occult force that even Blade had to hide from. It gave a shape to the whole first year.
Also -- I love mysteries! There's not much that's more fun for me than having a mystery character that the reader has to work out. It was great fun watching readers make guesses and consider the possibilities, although a few people guessed who it was from that first interaction with Monica. Next time, I'll have to make it harder!
We readers know Ronin is Blade and two other members of the Mighty
Avengers, Spectrum and Luke Cage, know who he is. Do any other members, like the Blue Marvel, suspect that Ronin is Blade? And will the rest of the team learn of his identity soon?
It's kind of an open secret -- it's more of a thing for the readers to puzzle over than the characters. Blue Marvel would have worked it out very quickly if they'd had more interactions, I'm sure. And we're about to have the lid blown off that entire plotline, so, very soon now, the whole team is going to know everything there is to know -- and a few things they'll wish they didn't.
Blade has the tendency to come off as a bit of a loner, but it's interesting to note that he seems to work with teams just as much as he works solo, if not more. He's been a part of Quincy Harker's group of vampire hunters, he worked with the Nightstalkers, was an agent of MI:13, is a member of the Mighty Avengers and we'll soon find out that he was a part of Jim Lucas' secret team in the '70s. What do teams mean to Blade? Why do you think he often ends up joining forces with other people?
Teams are useful. Blade is a very practical man -- he's used to working alone, but if help comes along and that help is competent and trustworthy, he's not above joining forces. And he's not made of stone -- Blade's incredibly committed to his vocation, but he's a lot more rounded and human than he might let on, as we saw in "MI:13." Personally, I'm slightly distrustful of a character who won't accept useful help when it's offered -- "NO! I must work ALONE! Yes, ALONE! SO ALONE!" It reeks of insecurity, and Blade is too cool for that nonsense.
In your upcoming "Original Sin" tie-in, we'll find out more about Blade's activities with Jim Lucas' team in the '70s. What kind of guy was Blade back then? And in terms of Marvel's sliding time scale, do Blade's activities in the '70s take place before his adventures in "Tomb of Dracula?"
Blade was -- a bit less mellow than he is now. More prone to stake first and ask questions later. There were less superheroes around back then, so he might have felt more alone in the war against evil than he does now.
The "Tomb Of Dracula" timeline question is a good one! I've a feeling there weren't so many crossovers with the modern Marvel Universe, so it might be possible for them to happen at roughly the same time, but it's probably easier to assume that this adventure happens beforehand. I'll leave that question to the experts!
What do you feel artist Greg Land brings to both the past and present day incarnations of Blade? What do you enjoy most about his depictions of the character?
He's very cool. His trench-coated Ronin is awesome, his Blade is a whirlwind of action and while I've yet to see pages with '70s Blade, I have no doubt things will continue in that vein. Even in Blade's Spider-Hero guise, Greg made the character a badass -- physically imposing and intimidating, despite the goofy knock-off costume.
Now that we know Blade is a part of "Mighty Avengers" what can fans of the character expect from his role in the series?
Well, Blade is currently holding the McGuffin -- the object everybody wants -- and as we'll see in upcoming issues, that puts him in quite a dangerous position. Not to mention that he might be a McGuffin in his own right. So Blade fans will see him right in the middle of things, although maybe not always in a way that they'd like. Put it this way -- even the coolest character has to go through the wringer sometimes. And it's Blade's turn.
I want quickly say at the end here that it's fantastic seeing word of mouth spread on "Mighty Avengers" -- this is a title I'm very passionate about and one that's only going to get more intense as we head towards the end of the first year of stories, and it's great to see the fans responding so positively to that. Thanks, everyone!