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Avengers vs. Atlas: Blast From the Past

Jeff Parker brings his fan-favorite Agents of Atlas against a time-displaced group of Earth's Mightiest Heroes

AVENGERS VS. ATLAS #1 preview art by Gabriel Hardman & Elizabeth Breitweiser
By Marc Strom

The past has a way of catching up with the Agents of Atlas.

This time, however, the team will have a more literal run in with a bygone era as they face the original roster of Earth's Mightiest Heroes in AVENGERS VS. ATLAS #1, on January 20 from writer Jeff Parker and artist Gabriel Hardman.

And if a face off between the Agents and the original Avengers doesn't sound like enough for you, each issue will also feature an all-new back-up story focusing on a different Agent by a variety of the industry's greatest talents, beginning when Parker and artist Takeshi Miyazawa take a dive with Namora.

Scott Kurtz and Zach Howard delve deeper into the mysteries behind Jimmy Woo in issue #2, before Venus takes center stage in AVENGERS VS. ATLAS #3 as the acclaimed creative team of Paul Cornell and Leonard Kirk reunite. Finally, Jason Aaron and Carlo Pagulayan team up for a story of Gorilla Man in the final thrilling issue.

As to what brings the Agents and the Avengers together, Parker would only hint at the exact circumstances.

"It's part strange phenomenon, [and] part-well, someone all Marvel readers know," hints the writer. "And it creates a very unique phenomenon that brings the earliest version of the Avengers back in action."

AVENGERS VS. ATLAS #1 preview art by Gabriel Hardman
According to Parker, when the two teams first meet they'll have much the same reaction to each other that many of Marvel's heroes have experienced.

"Well you know, when most Marvel heroes meet for the first time, they like to bring gifts, properly introduce themselves, and assess the situation before doing anything rash," he jokes. "I'm just kidding, they start hitting."

Given the number of Avengers lineups running around in the present day Marvel Universe, Parker had his options when it came time to choose which iteration the Agents would come up against. However, he decided to go with the original team to give the story a more classic, epic feel.

"At first the Agents are running into the New Avengers, whom they've mixed it up with before," promises Parker. "But then when the original team arrives, I mean, that's like getting to meet Louis Armstrong and Chuck Yeager and Cary Grant and Muhammad Ali, all the biggest of the big from the past! Iron Man and Thor are there! The Agents seriously need to remember to get some autographs."

Recently, the Agents have run into a number of groups, from the X-Men to the Thunderbolts. Parker says he enjoys giving his team a tour of the Marvel Universe because it allows him to riff on what they really represents.

AVENGERS VS. ATLAS #1 preview art by Gabriel Hardman
"The Agents are archetypal heroes who are generally precursors of what was to come in the Silver Age," explains the writer. "So when they meet these other heroes, they're newer and older than them at the same time. It gives me a lot of room to make observations about what kind of characters they all are. And everyone's personality is well-defined, so it's interesting to throw, say, Venus and the Wasp up against each other, or the showdown I couldn't resist, Iron Man vs M-11."

In the future, Parker says he'd enjoy seeing the Agents meet another organization he's had a hand in creating.

"I'd like to see them run into some of the Intelligencia villains like M.O.D.O.K., the Leader, Red Ghost," he muses. "The oddest pairing to me is the one we're doing now in THUNDERBOLTS. It makes for a story that's weird by both groups' standards."

Parker can't create this series on his own, however, and feels he's lucked out with his fellow creators.

"Artist Gabriel Hardman and colorist Elizabeth Breitweiser are making this thing a wondrous book to behold. I cannot wait to have all of this art in one trade, they have just gone above and beyond. When you see how they handled the Agents fighting the Crystalloids in issue #1, you'll see what I mean. It is such a good looking book."


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