By Josh Wigler
In January, Nick Spencer teams up with co-writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Stefano Caselli for AVENGERS WORLD, part of the All-New Marvel NOW! initiative. As a sister series to AVENGERS, WORLD serves to “advance the stories and themes of the main title," while focusing greater attention on some of the new heroes recently added to the team’s roster.
"The premise of the book is that it's the Avengers, doing big things, because it's an Avengers World now," editor Tom Brevoort explains. "But while we'll field the same potential lineup of 18+ Avengers in WORLD, we'll specifically be looking to give greater screen time to some of the newer Avengers, like Hyperion, Smasher, Cannonball, Shang-Chi, Starbrand and Sunspot."
For more details, we reached out to Spencer about what to expect from his brave new WORLD.
Marvel.com: Nick, what can you tell us about AVENGERS WORLD and its mission statement? What's this book all about?
Nick Spencer: Some of it, I can't say yet. This past year, I had the opportunity to co-write the core AVENGERS book with Jonathan Hickman, during the prelude to INFINITY and a little bit before that. We had a really great time doing that. I think everybody involved felt like some good stories and comics came out of it. We definitely wanted to continue working together and to keep building something. In addition to that, coming out of INFINITY, there were some real opportunities to tell stories about this changing world that the Avengers are finding themselves in. One of the big themes of Jonathan's run so far is that this world is what it is because of these heroes; that this world very much falls under their protection. There was a lot of great story to mine in the challenges to that, and the challenges of that, both in terms of other forces trying to assert their control from within, and also just the changing face of the globe itself.
|Avengers World by John Cassaday|
That was a huge mission-statement for the book: taking Marvel's Earth, breaking outside of the U.S. and outside of New York, and really saying, "What does a world with these kinds of people in it look like? How will that affect the boundaries of nations? How does that affect governments and societies? How different can things be while still keeping that innately Marvel connection to our real world?"
Marvel.com: It's not just a catchy title, then. When you say AVENGERS WORLD, you're talking about a big, global story.
Nick Spencer: Exactly. The title needs to mean something. This is very much a geographic book, a book that's built on geography and a sense of place.
Marvel.com: How does that mission-statement inform the characters we follow in AVENGERS WORLD? How did the premise of the book lead you to the heroes we'll see here?
Nick Spencer: The roster is the same as you see in AVENGERS: it's all of the team, as Jonathan has assembled them. This is a book that has Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and the Hulk. But it's also a book that is very much focused on character development. A huge part of the mission-statement, and something Tom was very passionate about as we were getting the book off the ground, was spending time with these Avengers and getting to know them and forming emotional connections with them, and spending some time in their heads. This is very much a book where that is key. It's happening within the framework of a big, epic story, but when you break down the individual issues, most of them will take an individual character and really spend some time with them, and put them in the driver's seat. We're trying to find a happy medium between driving a story forward and really building out our characters. We do very much approach things from a character-first perspective.
Jonathan has brought in a lot of new faces: Hyperion, Smasher [and] folks that are new to the Avengers roster like Cannonball and Sunspot and Shang-Chi, or characters we haven't seen that much of in the Marvel Universe over the last decade. One of the big things this book is going to do is spend a good amount of time with those characters as well, making sure we understand why they're Avengers and what their roles in these stories will be.
Marvel.com: It's early days yet, and it's a deep roster, but are you already finding a favorite character in the mix here? Are any of these heroes standing up and speaking to you?
Nick Spencer: Smasher. I like Smasher the best. When Jonathan created the character, I was immediately drawn to her. "That's my new favorite." There's a lot of great territory to mine. It's a great idea, plucking this girl off of a farm and shooting her up into the Shi'ar Empire and making her an Avenger. She gets to be your fresh eyes in this story. More than that, to have the fresh eyes with the enthusiasm for adventure, with that joy and excitement in being there, that's a lot of fun. But I also love writing Cannonball and Sunspot, too. That's a great buddy dynamic. Early on, those are my favorites. But like I said, it's a big cast. I mean, we have Shang-Chi—who can turn that down?
Marvel.com: Let's talk bad guys. Who are the Avengers up against in AVENGERS WORLD?
|Avengers World by Arthur Adams|
Nick Spencer: A.I.M. has a major role to play in the book. It's an organization I spent a lot of time with in SECRET AVENGERS, and Jonathan has been doing a lot with them in AVENGERS and NEW AVENGERS, and even back in FF and FANTASTIC FOUR. They're going to have a big impact on the Marvel Universe over the next year and this book is sort of ground zero for that. They are one of our big bads in this story.
Marvel.com: Structurally, is AVENGERS WORLD more of a long-form story, or is there a "mystery of the week" element to it, where new readers can hop in at any time?
Nick Spencer: That was a big thing for me. This book needed to have a big story driving it forward, and it needed to have that buy-in. We're telling a really big story that's going to have a big impact on the Marvel Universe. It's the third leg of the core Avengers franchise. These aren't side-stories. These aren't non-essentials. Big things are going to happen in this book that are going to matter. I know that kind of thing is said a lot, but it's the core Avengers team in a core Avengers book. For people who are into that thing, I would not consider it optional.
Marvel.com: With that in mind, can you talk about working within the AVENGERS creative team?
Nick Spencer: Stefano Caselli is drawing it, and he's one of my favorite artists at Marvel. He's such a great guy to work with. That guy, to me, is one of the great, quintessential super hero artists of the past decade. I loved his work on SECRET WARRIORS, on AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, on AVENGERS ASSEMBLE, on AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE. He does super hero books the way I love to look at them. It's really fun to be working with one of those guys who is already your default mind's-eye, the way a Marvel book should look like. To me, Stefano defines that as much as anybody at this point. I think this is his year. I think this is the year where he becomes one of the biggest artists in comics. The stuff he's going to do here—he's getting an opportunity to go really, really huge. He's more than up to the challenge. The book is just going to look beautiful.
Beyond that, working with Jonathan is really great. We've been friends for a very long time. We've worked together on various projects, and it's always a terrific experience. He's been a huge help in the development of the book and helping to figure out its direction. He's been incredibly generous in terms of character stories and arcs that we can pursue here. He really opened up the story to me in a way that allows this book to be a central part of the overall story, and to really make sure the book is the absolute best that it can be.
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