Joining forces with fellow writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Stefano Caselli, Nick Spencer helped to launch AVENGERS WORLD earlier this month. The first issue showcased a series of seemingly unrelated disasters occurring all across the world, but it won't take long for all the threads to tie together.
Nick Spencer: I was really intrigued by the statement that Jonathan made, the idea that this is "an Avengers world." It's a very bold statement from Captain America and the rest, that this is a planet that falls under their protection. I was very drawn to the contrary opinions that would make themselves known, following a statement like that. The opposing viewpoint; the idea that a whole lot of people would sit up and take note of a statement like that and have some objection to it.
Marvel.com: I take one look at the cast page, and as a reader, I'm almost intimidated by how many characters you have in the book. Is it intimidating at all as a writer?
Nick Spencer: It's funny. I helped Jonathan out on AVENGERS last year for a bit, and my first issue featured virtually all of the members. We did that again with this issue. I really enjoy the challenge, bouncing around between different groups and finding ways to give each character a little moment. That's something I enjoy.
Marvel.com: There are numerous plotlines happening simultaneously in this issue. The first belongs to Captain America, who is on the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier with Bruce Banner and Maria Hill.
Nick Spencer: I have a soft spot for writing Cap. I take advantage of every opportunity I get to do it. I like him being the guy who puts the players on the board. I like emphasizing his leadership role. Part of the fun for me was just writing a scene between him and Bruce, who is another huge favorite of mine. I'm a huge fan of what Mark Waid has done with Bruce in INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK. I like reflecting that take on Bruce. It's a really fun one.
Maria's another big favorite of mine. I wrote a lot of her in SECRET AVENGERS last year and I really fell in love with the character. It's great now to kind of have her interacting with the Avengers, to not be entirely in control but in a partnership. It's great to have Maria and Cap butting heads. They come from very different schools and they have very different approaches to the challenges at hand. They give you some great, very easy back-and-forth.
Marvel.com: Maria informs Cap about a series of disasters happening all around the world.
Nick Spencer: I wanted the book to reflect the title. Before the book came out, we talked a lot about the global feel it should have, exploring the map and getting outside of the United States and New York, hitting some other continents and places, some of which are familiar and some of which aren't. It gives the book a nice international flair. That was important. There's a lot here that's very intentionally moving around locations that are very far removed from each other.
Marvel.com: Up first, there's some meteorological mayhem occurring on the eastern seaboard, with Hyperion, Captain Marvel and Thor sent to handle it.
Marvel.com: We move to Madripoor, which isn't just a change of scenery and setting, but also a change of tone and genre. There's the "messianic vibe" of Hyperion, Thor and Captain Marvel, as you mentioned. And then there's the stealth squad of Wolverine, Black Widow, Falcon and Shang-Chi in Madripoor. Those teams are worlds apart.
Marvel.com: I'm glad you brought that up, because the Italy squad—Hawkeye, Spider-Woman, Starbrand and Nightmask—strikes me as a weird mix of characters, at least on the surface.
Marvel.com: Last time we talked about AVENGERS WORLD, you said Smasher, Cannonball and Sunspot are some of your favorite characters. Here they are, all together, in issue #1. It's all your favorites in one group!
Marvel.com: Back on Madripoor, we find out that Gorgon is head of the Hand, and that Madripoor itself is on the back of a dragon. That's pretty nuts.
Nick Spencer: I've been carrying these ideas around in my back-pocket for ages. Some of these ideas were originally meant for year two of SECRET AVENGERS, and this is one of them. Gorgon gets control over this part of the Hand, we're going to find out that Madripoor is built on the back of a dragon, and it's going to go airborne. I've been pitching that for almost two years now. To finally get to write it was really cool. To get to do it in this book, where it made so much more sense to do it is also nice.
Nick Spencer: Like I said, these casts were picked for a reason. While this one seems a little ill-formed, there's a reason they're here. Particularly, you'll see in AVENGERS WORLD #4 when we come back to this scene, this place—there are definitely some things waiting for certain members of our cast here, things that will very much hit home for them. This was an opportunity to do a story that's a little darker, a little more magic-oriented, something a little more from left-field. But it's going to lead to some very big things.
Marvel.com: Personal opinion: Ricardo Montalban or Benedict Cumberbatch?
Nick Spencer: [Laughs] I'm going to have to go with Montalban, which is crazy because I love the Cumberbatch in everything. But “Wrath of Khan” is untouchable.
Nick Spencer: Exactly. It felt natural for the characters. This part of the cast is always very fun to write. We'll spend some time on this part in AVENGERS WORLD #2. There's a slightly lighter vibe to stories that they're involved in. Not in a way that compromises the seriousness of the situation, but these are guys who crack jokes while they're on the field. That's part of who they are.
Marvel.com: It's revealed that A.I.M. Island is no longer A.I.M. Island—so what is it?
Nick Spencer: This is A.I.M. Empire now. It's a massive leap forward for A.I.M., which is an organization that Jonathan and I have been building together for three years. We're not going to stop until they're the biggest players they can possibly be. He'll do stuff with them and I'll do stuff with them, and it feeds back and forth. It's been very nice and collaborative. Jonathan created the Scientist Supreme, Andrew Forson and put him on A.I.M. Island. I did the High Council of A.I.M. and all of the stuff that comes with that. Now, with A.I.M. Empire, there's even more to come. We want them to be big-time players. It's a mad-scientist cult with dreams of entropy. That makes for a fun mix.
Nick Spencer: The structure of this book is a really interesting experiment. The next issue won't be cutting between every story. The next few issues will stay in one place for 20 pages. The second issue will focus on Smasher and the A.I.M. Empire part of the story. The third issue will focus on Shang-Chi and the Madripoor storyline. And the fourth issue will focus on Starbrand and the City of the Dead. Then we'll circle back around and do it again and mix things up a bit.
The idea is now we'll break off and spend some time in each of these individual locations. We'll set up some new problems, clue you in a little bit about what's going on in each of these, and we'll move the story along that way. Hopefully, it'll all build up. If we do our jobs right, the character arcs we'll start moving on in these next few issues will feed in directly with the big bads we've set up here. It should all come together pretty nicely.
Pick up AVENGERS WORLD #2 this Wednesday!