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San Diego Comic-Con 2013

SDCC 2013: Uncanny Avengers

Steve McNiven joins Rick Remender in entering Ragnarok Now!

By Paul Montgomery

“This is the most ambitious thing I’ve ever done,” says Rick Remender of “Ragnarok Now!”, a culmination of everything broiling in UNCANNY AVENGERS.

Fittingly, Remender will be partnering with Steve McNiven, the artist behind Marvel’s CIVIL WAR, to punish the Avengers Unity squad for their constant infighting. All those squabbles haven’t gone unnoticed by the likes of the Red Skull, Kang the Conqueror, and the Apocalypse Twins. Now Death comes calling.

What began in the inaugural arc of UNCANNY X-FORCE reaches a fever pitch in November. Remender considers the initial 10 issues of UNCANNY AVENGERS as a first act, a series of inciting incidents rife with character interaction and the seeding of plot. As McNiven joins ranks with UNCANNY AVENGERS #14, a band of heroes faces the consequence of failing to behave heroically.

“They’ve allowed personal differences and petty rivalries, all of the things we humans allow to create conflict amongst us, to fester,” reflects Remender. “If I’m in that world, watching these people who are bestowed all of these wonderful powers, these gods and mutants and spider-men and Inhumans and all of this wonderful craziness, why can’t they get along? Why are they fighting again? Especially when there are such stakes. That’s what humans do, though. We butt heads.”

The primary instigators include Captain America and Wolverine—at odds over Wolverine’s murderous tactics involving Apocalypse in UNCANNY X-FORCE—as well as Rogue and Scarlet Witch—still seething over M Day. For Remender, gray remains the boldest hue on the palette.

Uncanny Avengers by Steve McNiven

“One of the things I’ve worked towards here is to give everyone on the team a unique perspective,” he says. “It’s all nuanced. We as human beings want to categorize things as black and white, good and bad, hero and villain, but it’s never really that way. The examination of these characters and their disagreements in these first 10 issues is an attempt to spotlight that. I could argue the Wolverine point of view. I could argue the Cap point of view. I have to, if I’m going to write them correctly. Who’s right and who’s wrong? I have opinions. Ultimately it comes down to context.

“Wolverine maybe shouldn’t be an Avenger. Wolverine is a murderer, which goes against what the Avengers are all about in Cap and Wasp and Wonder Man’s minds. On the other hand, maybe Wolverine is the person, because he’s got this blackened soul and is willing to take a life when it’s necessary, maybe he’s done the hard thing and saved the Earth.”

While the writer attempts to find the merit in each character’s argument, even forcing himself to commiserate with the Red Skull for that harrowing screed, the Avengers continue to back themselves into individual corners, unwilling to compromise.

“‘Ragnarok Now!’ is the consequences,” says Remender. “‘Ragnarok Now!’ is what happens because they can’t get it together, can’t unify, can’t make good on the promise of the Unity Squad to live up to the ideals of Charles Xavier. I’m excited to get to this point to punish them all for their bad behavior.”

And he promises to make it personal. A few of the Apocalypse Twin’s selections for their Four Horsemen of Death roster represent key failures from the Avengers’ past. Wolverine put his son Daken down like a problem dog. Plagued by personal demons, the Sentry died at the hands of Thor. Rogue will be forced to contend with the recently slain Grim Reaper, a man she inadvertently killed with the use of his brother Wonder Man’s powers. Felled in his efforts against Vulcan, Banshee won’t likely harbor much good will toward Havok.

Remender also stresses that while these Death avatars may be driven by Celestial Death Seeds, they function as much more than mere zombies.

“That seed has an evolutionary prerogative and is pushing him in some strange directions,” he says of the resurrected Sentry, “How his crazy brain that still wants to be noble, still thinks he’s a good guy, perceives these messages and decodes all of this—and the conclusions it comes to—are incredibly fun.”

“Getting to pay this stuff out with some Steve McNiven artwork and kill a bunch of people, destroy a bunch of stuff, lay waste to a whole lot of things—I’m pretty excited.”

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