|Mighty Avengers #1 preview art by Greg Land|
By Paul Montgomery
Just as Earth’s Mightiest Heroes hurtle towards an off-world encounter with the merciless Builders, an opportunistic Thanos lays siege to the Avengers’ home world. Though more vulnerable to an alien assault than ever, Earth still musters a scrappy resistance force. Rallied by Luke Cage, these MIGHTY AVENGERS hold the line against the Mad Titan and his cruel lieutenants.
As writer Al Ewing and artist Greg Land ready for the arrival of Thanos’ protégé Proxima Midnight in MIGHTY AVENGERS #1 on September 11, we pause to assess the troops she’ll encounter on the Manhattan battlefield. Composed of heroes from all walks of life, experience and power level, male and female heroes of color, the Mighty Avengers represent one of the most diverse super hero teams ever assembled.
They did not spearhead the advance team chosen to venture out into deep space with Captains America and Marvel. Some never supped with Tony Stark in his tower. Most can’t be called household names. Nonetheless, they will prove themselves Avengers by doing what Avengers do best.
“If you help people, you're an Avenger,” Ewing argues. “No A-lists, B-lists, C-lists, ifs, ands, or buts. If you're there for your fellow human being, you're there in the fight with Luke Cage and he's glad to have you.”
It all starts with a few rag-tag Heroes for Hire.
One of Marvel’s earliest African American heroes, the thick-skinned Luke Cage fought alongside Danny “Iron Fist” Rand as the original Power Man. In the years since his freelancer days, Luke emerged as a stalwart Avenger and even managed the Thunderbolts squad of incarcerated villains turned reluctant heroes.
Now on self-imposed paternity leave from active duty in the Avengers, Luke Cage continues to fight the good fight once again as a Hero for Hire. His wife, former Avenger Jessica Jones, and young daughter Danielle remain his first priority, but Luke could never hang up his muscle shirt for too long.
“Luke is, obviously, the hub around whom all this revolves,” Ewing explains. “When we rejoin him at the start of #1, he's back at Heroes for Hire, working with a pair of AVENGERS ACADEMY graduates in the shape [of the new] Power Man [Victor Alvarez] and White Tiger, but Ava has her doubts about the setup, and Luke finds they mirror his own. He's not the same person he used to be, and the low-key, day-to-day Hero for Hire work doesn't feel enough anymore.
“He wants to make bigger changes to the world, the kind he can only make with the social and cultural cachet of The Avengers at his back. So when Thanos [attacks] NYC, it acts as the catalyst for something that's already brewing: Luke stepping up to form his own Avengers, following his vision and dedicated to his goal of helping people who need it, when they need it, how they need it, on whatever scale they need it.”
The hotspur from Hell’s Kitchen, Victor Alvarez boasts the spiritual ferocity of five boroughs, and even more righteous anger. His abilities might suggest he’s the next Iron Fist, but Vic opted for Luke’s old moniker, perhaps just to tick him off.
“Vic is a reminder to Luke of his past, in some ways,” says Ewing. “He's volatile, passionate, aggressive, [and] socially conscious—he's a reminder of the kid Luke used to be. Not just in temperament, either, since Vic's dad was an old friend/enemy of Luke's, there's that connection too; and there may be even more bonding them. Secrets will be uncovered.”
|Mighty Avengers #1 preview art by Greg Land|
Crucially, Proxima Midnight sets her sights on the super hero hub of New York, the very source of Vic’s power.
“Power-wise, he's connected to the chi of all New York City, and maybe even more than that, which makes him one of the more powerful Avengers,” claims Ewing. “Early on, we see him harnessing and channeling that power in a new way, which opens the door to even more ‘power moves’ in the future. Vic and Ava kind of have video game power sets—I could easily see either of them in a beat-em-up—so it makes sense that they should be able to power up, learn new combos, and combine their moves. New York Tiger Style is go for launch.”
A wary member of Luke’s initial Heroes for Hire squad, Ava Ayala represents another young legacy hero. Empowered by a mystic amulet, her big brother Hector Ayala leapt into action as Marvel’s first Hispanic super hero and the first Puerto Rican super hero anywhere. Later imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit, Hector was shot and killed in an escape attempt. Eventually, teenaged Ava secured her brother’s amulet and took on the mantle of the White Tiger as a second wave student of Hank Pym’s Avengers Academy.
“Ava starts out interning alongside Vic, but even as the book starts she's not sure if that's the best path for her,” says Ewing. “She's had a life marked by a great deal of tragedy, with her entire immediate family meeting very nasty ends in one way or another, and all directly because of the White Tiger identity. So she puts a lot of thought into what she wants to do with her abilities and with her legacy; in some ways, she feels like one day she'll meet her own fate in the line of duty, and she wants to make sure she dies doing the right thing. It's kind of morbid, but with the life she's had, it's understandable. She's on the team because she believes in what the Mighty Avengers represent; it's the kind of thing her brother would have been in favor of. At least that's what she tells herself.”
|Mighty Avengers #1 cover by Greg Land|
Though the White Tiger amulet affords Ava enhanced strength and agility, lending her the prowess of a world-class martial artist, that power comes at a terrifying cost.
“The other thing going on with her is the Tiger God,” the writer explains of a presence that first made itself known in the pages of AVENGERS ACADEMY. “It's the source of her powers and takes full control once every month. This is a very old, very dangerous god—it's been walking our planet since the first humans lived in caves, terrified of sabretooth cats in the night—and while it's more benign than some Gods, it's still not to be taken lightly. And neither is Ava.”
Meet more of the Mighty Avengers tomorrow and pick up MIGHTY AVENGERS #1 on September 11