Dark Avengers: Roll Call

Jeff Parker and Declan Shalvey break down the new team of villains Luke Cage must attempt to bring in line!

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By Ben Morse

Luke Cage thought he got handed a tough job when Steve Rogers asked him to head up the Thunderbolts program and attempt to reform super villains like Crossbones, Juggernaut and The Ghost. Right about now, he’s thinking of those as the good old days.

Beginning this week in DARK AVENGERS #175, Luke sees his time-lost T-Bolts replaced by the very bad guys he just got done trashing over in the pages of NEW AVENGERS. When it comes to the likes of Ragnarok and Dark Spider-Man, Cage can’t even think about rehabilitation, he’ll be too busy trying to survive his own teammates.

Before DARK AVENGERS hits comic retailers, the Marvel Comics app and the Marvel Digital Comics Shop, writer Jeff Parker and artist Declan Shalvey took the time to analyze each member of the new team and give their take on what to look forward to and be wary of when it comes to Marvel’s most dangerous group.

Luke Cage

Still an active Avenger and with turmoil ruling his personal life, the former Power Man’s not thrilled about presiding over some of his most hated foes, but he wouldn’t have anybody else do it either.

Jeff Parker: Luke thinks F.A.C.T.—Federal Advisory to Thunderbolts—is out of their minds for trying to use the Dark Avengers like they do the Thunderbolts. He is not happy at the beginning of this arc. These Dark Avengers characters have messed with his personal life, something he is incredible protective of. It’s not a good mix.

Luke really wants to take a break from all his work and focus on his family. He has the perfect chance to leave the Thunderbolts program and do so, but his absence at key points led to [the last team] being lost or dead, as he sees it. He wants to get them back if at all possible, and he seeks out the help of superbrain Hank Pym.

[DARK AVENGERS shows] another side of Luke the heroes don’t get to see. What makes him work well with the Thunderbolts is that part of him rooted in a criminal past. He may act in ways he normally doesn’t when he’s around the prison operatives.

Declan Shalvey: I’ve definitely approached drawing Luke with a no-nonsense attitude. Fans of his [previous artist] Kev Walker-designed jacket may be disappointed; it’s the first casualty of this arc. I ruined it to imply that cracks are starting to show. Things are not comfortable. His jacket, to me, showed Luke’s control over the T-Bolts. F.A.C.T. [is] now directly threatening his command so I’ve stripped him down a little to show how his power is being taken from him.

Skaar

The savage son of The Hulk, this alien refugee turned against his Dark Avengers teammates once and has now been recruited by Luke to help keep the team in line.

Jeff Parker: Skaar is there to back Luke up because he knows this team, and Luke knows they aren’t giving him the whole truth of this [first] mission. Also Skaar is a Hulk, which really comes in handy in deadly situations. I think the other Dark Avengers are too wrapped up in themselves to think about Skaar’s other persona. Luke knows though.

Declan Shalvey: It’s an interesting take on The Hulk. They’re always known as brutes and monsters; Skaar is a fighter, but he is primarily a warrior. Drawing a Hulk interacting with something like that huge sword changes his physicality in a big way, for me.

Ragnarok

A cyborg clone of Thor created by Iron Man and Mister Fantastic, this wild card possesses the power of a god and virtually no restraint.

Jeff Parker: He seems to be in this weird limbo of “NotThor,” and we give you a glimpse into his mind at one point. Luke doesn’t see why this person should be around, definitely.

Declan Shalvey: I wanted to draw [Ragnarok] a little different from how Olivier Coipel revamped [Thor] some years back. To me, it’s how Thor used to be remembered. I tried to draw the Thor we all remember from years ago who is still quite different from the character he has become in recent years.

Dark Spider-Man

A South American deity, Ai Apaec has been able to gain new abilities that mimic an altered Spider-Man thanks to former cellmate Norman Osborn.

Jeff Parker: He is not comfortable around these people. He is very reserved and doesn’t talk a lot, so it’s not easy to tell what he thinks. I don’t think he relates to anyone, really. He thinks of himself as a force of nature.

Declan Shalvey: I really love that black Spidey costume. It’s been difficult to depict all those extra arms though; you’d be surprised how much it really changes how a character can move. I’ve enjoyed the challenge though. I’ve tried to draw Dark Spider-Man as being very different from the rest to show how different a creature he is and to emphasize his “otherness.” He walks and crawls around in a very creepy and alien way. He uses all his extra arms just as much as his bipedal “lighter” counterpart uses his arms and legs.

Toxic Doxie

Another Osborn ally, twisted biologist June Covington uses genetic enhancements and toxins to affect her enemies and has adopted a visual appearance based on that of The Scarlet Witch.

Jeff Parker: Like the others, she’s trying to find her place in the world. I think she gets to spread her wings a bit. She suddenly has some new abilities that she could have used in fighting the Avengers, so that certainly helps! She and [Dark Spider-Man] have a weird connection; I’m not sure you could call them “close,” but yes, I think they see themselves in relation to each other, in this world they find themselves in.

Declan Shalvey: She’s the least challenging of the Dark Avengers to draw to be honest. When you have to draw a clone/android god, a warrior Hulk, an animal/god/Spidey creature, a master archer, etc., then the sexy witch is actually a welcome pleasure.

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