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Tuesday Q&A

Tuesday Q&A: Joe Casey

The writer discusses trips through the history of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and into Shellhead’s cinematic universe

By Kevin Mahadeo

Writer Joe Casey returns Earth's Mightiest Heroes once again this April for AVENGERS: THE ORIGIN, a brand new limited series taking readers back to the beginnings of one of the Marvel Universe's most prolific super teams.

Casey teams with artist Phil Noto for the five-issue series, which focuses on the first five members of the mighty Marvel super team: Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, The Wasp and Ant-Man. The first issue detailing the assembly of the Avengers hits stores on April 7 and expands on the story originally presented by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1963's AVENGERS #1.

Along with peering into the Avengers' past, Casey also takes a trip into the Marvel movie-verse with the March-launching limited series IRON MAN 2: PUBLIC IDENTITY. The in-movie-continuity adventure takes places after the events of the first "Iron Man" film and follows up on the consequences of Tony Stark's bold statement of "I am Iron Man," before "Iron Man 2" opens in theaters on May 7.

Casey took some time to talk about the two new series, the stuff he loves about the Avengers and what it's like writing two Tony Starks.


AVENGERS: THE ORIGIN #1 cover by Phil Noto
Marvel.com: AVENGERS: THE ORIGIN tells the story of, well, the origin of the Avengers. What's it like tackling this iconic story over the course of a limited series?

Joe Casey: It's good fun. I love the characters, and since we're dealing with them in their classic iterations, it's as close as I can get to being that 10-year-old kid I used to be, writing and drawing my own Avengers comics for fun. Now here I am getting paid for it. Not a bad way to make a buck.

Marvel.com: This isn't the first time you've worked with the Avengers, but this story specifically concentrates on the original five. What are your thoughts on these characters?

Joe Casey: Well, I think the beauty of this story is that these five are probably the least likely characters you'd want to put together on a team meant to safeguard the Earth. They're kind of freakish, when you really stop and think about it. Unlike the Fantastic Four, who were embraced by the public fairly quickly, these guys are the ones you don't quite trust. One of them is a corporate lackey to a big weapons designer, another claims to be a bona fide god, two of them are basically bug-people, and the last one is a destructive monster. Sounds more like a recipe for disaster to me.

Marvel.com: How would you say writing the Avengers in this series differs from your previous work on the two EARTH'S MIGHTIEST HEROES limited series?

Joe Casey: It's kind of the prequel to the first EMH. It's an extension of that work in a lot of ways. I just go into these things trying to do something that a diehard Avengers fan would enjoy because that's what I am. Plus, it's got Phil Noto knocking it out of the park on the art side. If anything, it's going to look great.

Marvel.com: You're a massive Avengers fan yourself. What do you like about the team? What interests you about their dynamic?

Joe Casey: I just think the book, when I was growing up reading it, was the undisputed epicenter of the Marvel Universe. I would argue that issues #50-200 are some of the best modern super hero comics that were ever created. From Roy Thomas to Steve Englehart to Jim Shooter to David Michelinie, the quality level was incredibly high. Plus great art with the Buscema brothers, Barry Smith, [George] Perez and [John] Byrne in

AVENGERS: THE ORIGIN #2 cover by Phil Noto
their 70's heyday. It was a book that just hit me at the right age, with just the right mixture of drama and spectacle.

Marvel.com: As we mentioned previously, this story tackles the origins of the team, but how does your take differ from the original? What sort of adjustments did you have to make to fit the story into a modern day context?

Joe Casey: Whenever I do these stories, I always set them in the present day. That means cell phones, handhelds, the Internet, Tivo, Twitter, etc. I don't like creating distance with modern readers by setting these stories so obviously in "the past." The rest of it is a fun connect-the-dots kind of job-finding logic connections where the original might've glossed over details. Adding cool, previously unseen bits in the narrative. It's a bit strange, taking a story that Lee and Kirby did in one issue and stretching out to five, but that just means we can explore the characters and their dynamics a bit more because we have the room. We've expanded on some of the events, using more modern storytelling techniques. We've also come up with a radical new take on Rick Jones' Teen Brigade, which is something I'd actually like to revisit something in the future. There's gold to be mined in that Teen Brigade concept, guys!

Marvel.com: Shifting gears a bit, you're also working on IRON MAN 2: PUBLIC IDENTITY. What can you tell us about that series? Does it bridge the gap between the first and second films?

Joe Casey: Yeah, it does. It shows the brief period where Tony Stark tries to work in concert with the military. It doesn't quite work out so well, which dovetails directly into the opening scenes of the new film. We worked pretty closely with Marvel Studios to make sure everything syncs up. They consider this series part of movie continuity, so I guess there's an incentive to check it out.

Marvel.com: How would you say the Tony Stark of the movie world differs from the Tony Stark of the comic world?

IRON MAN 2: PUBLIC IDENTITY #1 cover by Adi Granov
Joe Casey: Stark in the films is funnier. A lot of that is due to [Robert] Downey Jr.'s portrayal, so it was fun to write that character. Stark in the comics is a much more serious guy, carrying around much more responsibility and personal burden. Now that I've written both, I have to say the Stark in the comics could lighten up a bit.

Marvel.com: Are there any other characters outside of the Avengers you're dying to work on? Who and why?

Joe Casey: I've been lucky in the past few years, because I've had the chance to write most of my favorite Marvel characters. I'm a classic Marvel guy. Avengers. Iron Man. Captain America. Thor. Fantastic Four. That's what I grew up on, so writing those characters is probably in my DNA. Right now, I'm eyeballing a few more left-of-center Marvel characters, so we'll see if any of that pans out. I'm one of those contrary types who likes to go against the grain, so while everyone is entrenching in this Heroic Age stuff, I'm more inclined to try an inject some new-ness back into the Marvel Universe, much in the way we did last year with the [DARK REIGN: ZODIAC] book. We'll see what happens.


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