By Jim Beard
The Skrulls have been routed, their invasion now history, but the path to victory now leads the Marvel Universe down a very dark alley.
With the 50 State Initiative in question and the Camp Hammond training camp in chaos, it'll require a writer with an iron will and nerves of steel to guide AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE through the dark waters ahead. Christos Gage of UNION JACK, WORLD WAR HULK: X-MEN, HOUSE OF M: AVENGERS and X-MEN/SPIDER-MAN fame would be that writer.
Before he bids farewell to co-writer Dan Slott on AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE #20, out December 24, and taking the full reins with issue #21 on January 29, we pierced the ebony blackness of Dark Reign for hints of the future from Gage.
Marvel.com: Christos, with Dark Reign poised to be the major crucible for the Marvel Universe in the coming months, how does it feel to be part of it?
Fantastic! Dark Reign and its effect on the Initiative [are] right up my alley. This is one of those events that really feels like an event to me—not forced at all, but growing organically out of what's happened in the Marvel Universe, driven by established characters doing what they do best.
As a fan, I can't wait to read it, and as a creator, I'm thrilled to be a part of it!
Marvel.com: What can readers expect as your mission statement for AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE coming out of Secret Invasion and heading into Dark Reign?
First we have an arc called "The Initiative Disassembled," which shows us exactly how the Initiative is impacted by Norman Osborn's ascent to power. Believe me, things are going to change…that is, if there's anything left after Clor—the insane clone of Thor from CIVIL WAR—returns and wreaks havoc on Camp Hammond!
After that, well, the mission statement of the Initiative will remain unchanged on the surface, but will be drastically altered in how it operates. Up is down. Black is white. Everything is different. There are still 50 state teams that need staffing, and we'll be seeing how that happens. But it won't necessarily be with the characters you expect. And many familiar characters will find themselves in a very unfamiliar role. Is that cryptic enough for you?
Marvel.com: With so many cool characters and themes in AVENGERS: THE INIATIVE, what will be the most exciting aspect of the series for you to write?
exciting? I will say that I have always been a big fan of Taskmaster, and there will be a lot of Taskmaster in the days ahead...
Marvel.com: What major impact will Dark Reign have on the series overall, in terms of tone or feel?
AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE has never exactly been a happy-go-lucky book, but things will be getting even darker and more desperate. The term "inmates running the asylum" comes to mind.
Marvel.com: Readers have become quite attached to the book's characters. Which of AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE's regular cast members will most feel the impact of Dark Reign and how?
All of them, and all in different ways. Some will take a stand, some will try to do the right thing and fail, some will gleefully do the wrong thing, and others will fight the good fight the only way they know how, no matter what the consequences.
Marvel.com: Will the Shadow Initiative, the secret inner circle at the Initiative that doesn't officially exist, continue and if so, how will it be impacted by Dark Reign?
There will always be a Shadow Initiative. The people on it, however, are expendable...
Marvel.com: Some heroes at Camp Hammond have completed their "studies" and left. Will any more of the past graduates show up any time soon, and if so, who?
I'm going to give you a straight answer: look for Justice and the rest of the original New Warriors to return soon!
Tomorrow, NEW AVENGERS: THE REUNION writer Jim McCann joins us as Dark Reign-Makers pulls into the home stretch!
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