Alex Ross talks "Avengers/Invaders"

Fri, March 28th, 2008 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Dave Richards, Staff Writer

"Avengers/Invaders" #1 (on sale in May) and #2 (on sale in June)

With his work on books like "Justice Society of America" and "Project Superpowers" as well as his nearly innumerable posters, lithographs, plates and other commercial illustrations, Alex Ross has proved to audiences his undying affinity for the superheroes of the Golden Age. Hot on the heels of their hit DC Comics "Justice" series and more than a decade since Ross and co-writer Jim Krueger took Marvel Comics fans to a dark alternate future in "Earth X" and its sequels, the hugely popular duo return this May with the twelve-issue "Avengers/Invaders," a story firmly set in the golden past AND the shiny present of the mainstream Marvel Universe. CBR News spoke with Alex Ross about the miniseries and the cover art he's providing for it.

Created in the 1970s by Roy Thomas and Sal Buscema and set during World War II, the Invaders have a number of distinct traits that distinguish them from other costumed champions of the wartime era. "There's a ferocity to the Golden Age Marvel characters because their stories base them very much fighting the war on the frontlines," Ross told CBR News. "This was unlike a lot of the characters [actually] published in the '40s. It seemed particularly by the covers that these guys were the most engaged of the characters from this era. That sense of them being based in wartime was also aided by the storytelling in the original 'Invaders' series from the '70s. And recent revelations about their past in the pages of 'Captain America' and other books really hit home that these were heroes who had a stake in what was going on and were dealing with it the same way as any of the soldiers."

"Avengers/Invaders" art
In "Avengers/Invaders," the Invaders team of Captain America, Bucky, the original Human Torch, Toro, and the Sub-Mariner are transported from the battlefields of World War II to the modern day Marvel Universe, where they encounter a multitude of heroes including both the Mighty and New Avengers. How the Invaders were sent forward is a mystery but it soon becomes very clear their presence in the present puts it in dire peril.

"The question is whether or not the reverberations Doctor Strange has seen happen are directly related to the actions of the Invaders or are the Invaders caught up in something much larger?" Ross teased. "So it's a mystery as to what this thing is and why it may be happening but the threat is looming. The effects of the Invaders time traveling could be devastating."

Pages from "Avengers/Invaders" #1
The Marvel Universe has recently been rocked by many big events like Civil War and the Death of Captain America, and next week things are shaken up yet again when "Secret Invasion" begins. The Invaders arrive at a point in time after Captain America's death but before the invading Skrulls launch their onslaught against Earth. "I think the Skrulls are referred to in the storyline but the Skrull infestation is not something we have a terrible amount to do with," Ross confirmed. "When our entire series is seen as a whole, it doesn't need to be linked to this other event."

The WWII era Captain America may be dead in the present day, and Steve Rogers's sidekick Bucky Barnes has taken over as the new Captain America. The new Cap is not affiliated with either Avengers team, but he'll still get some face-to-face time with the WWII era Cap and the other Invaders in "Avengers/Invaders." "He's a guest star at best. But the two Caps meeting is a very important thing that should come to pass," Ross remarked. "I'm doing a cover where the two Caps meet."

Pages from "Avengers/Invaders" #1
Many of Ross's covers for "Avengers/Invaders" are tributes to other iconic Marvel images. "The cover to issue one is somewhat of an homage to the image I did of the Invaders coming down on the Nazis in 'Marvels' [the landmark 1994 graphic novel Ross created with writer Kurt Busiek]," Ross said.

"[The cover of Avengers/Invaders #2] is somewhat reminiscent, not figure-for-figure, of a cover from the old 'Invaders' series that had them beat into unconsciousness and laying all about. I believe it was them versus the Master Man and some of the other Nazi characters. So this in some ways is a reference to that without it being a literal translation.

"My third cover has Namor splashing through the air fighting against his modern self. It's a direct homage to the classic Bill Everett illustration of Namor fighting the Human Torch."

Pages from "Avengers/Invaders" #1
Ross feels penciler Steve Sadowski, who has worked with him and Krueger before on books like "Paradise X: Devils" and "Project Superpowers" #0, is giving the interior art of "Avengers/Invaders" a sense of utter believability. "Looking at the faces and the details of all the matter, people and locales in the series, you feel yourself planted in those environments," Ross said.

Ross and Krueger have enjoyed their first assignment back at Marvel and hopes "Avengers/Invaders" strikes a chord with fans because they'd love to tell more stories for the publisher, especially featuring the Invaders. "We'll take it as it comes but we do have a lifelong fandom that we respond to with this group of characters," Ross stated. "So we hope to see further opportunities come from this. It all depends on how people like it. But as far as where we're coming from, we've always loved these guys. They're a unique group."

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