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Tuesday Q&A

Tuesday Q&A: Thunderbolts Annual

The Thrilling Adventure Hour team of Ben Acker and Ben Blacker discuss the meeting between the Thunderbolts & Doctor Strange!

Thunderbolts Annual #1 preview inks by Matteo Lolli

By Jim Beard

This December, writers Ben Acker and Ben Blacker continue their Marvel Comics takeover in THUNDERBOLTS ANNUAL #1, a story that promises to catapult the duo into the Marvel Universe in a big way—or set them squarely in Doctor Strange’s sights.

The Thunderbolts’ latest mission stands as a fairly simple, straightforward one: kill the Sorcerer Supreme.

We asked Acker and Blacker, creators of the “Thrilling Adventure Hour” radio program, to clue us in on all the danger and drama.

Marvel.com: Guys, how'd you get involved in the project? What about it made it a good fit for you creatively?

Ben Acker: We were coming off of writing a DEADPOOL ANNUAL and editor Jordan White thought we'd be a good fit for the Thunderbolts. We agreed. We have fun with heroes who are kind of villains; we love heists and capers and big genre fun; assault-on-the-fortress kind of stuff. The THUNDERBOLTS book inherently has the kind of characters to which we gravitate: they're the best at what they do and also they disagree with each other.

Marvel.com: How much coordination was there between the Annual and the regular book? Or can it be read strictly as its own thing?

Ben Blacker: It can be read as its own thing. There was some coordination between the Annual and the regular book, in terms of what sorts of things we wanted to do and characters we could and couldn't incorporate into the story. 

Thunderbolts Annual #1 preview inks by Matteo Lolli

Marvel.com: Okay, then; is this the entire T-Bolts team? Which members are you overly drawn to and why?

Ben Acker: We don't have Mercy in this book, but it's the rest of them. Punisher and Elektra are fun to write; humorless characters tend to be the funniest. Deadpool continues to be fun too. Selfish smartasses are also right in our wheelhouse.

Marvel.com: What can you tell us about their mission to kill Doctor Strange?

Ben Acker: We started with the idea "What if Doctor Strange went the way of Colonel Kurtz?" and we ended up with THUNDERBOLTS ANNUAL #1. I assume the Marvel audience is intimately familiar with “Apocalypse Now.” “Apocalypse Now” sounds like a Marvel event, doesn't it? 

Marvel.com: How do you define the Marvel Magicverse? What sort of tone or feeling do you set in the Annual to convey it to readers?

Ben Blacker: We can't define magic, but we know it when we see it. We got to play with a lot of the Marvel Magicverse in here and we even got to build in some new corners here and there.

As far as the relationship the Thunderbolts have with magic, we attempted to convey how frustrating the Magicverse would look to the Thunderbolts, who may be utter bad-asses, but they're still Muggles. We took them all over Marvel's magic landscape, from Asgard to Bloodstone Manor to a department of S.H.I.E.L.D. that deals with magic called W.A.N.D.—Wizardry Alchemy Necromancy Dept. We hope the readers like it as much as we do.

Thunderbolts Annual #1 preview inks by Matteo Lolli

Marvel.com: How do you portray Strange in THUNDERBOLTS ANNUAL?

Ben Acker: This is a Doctor Strange who has broken bad. He's gone too far. He is buying into the "Supreme" part of his title, the Sorcerer Supreme.

Marvel.com: Gotta ask: do you see connective tissue between writing a comic like this and writing “Thrilling Adventure Hour”?

Ben Acker: Absolutely. Both feature clever-ish characters [that] bicker or wisecrack while they save the world.

Marvel.com: What other kinds of Marvel stories would you love to tell next?

Ben Acker: Next? Man, we have a lot we want to do and no pressing order in which we would care to do it. Having created W.A.N.D., we can't wait to play in it some more, and we hope the fans demand it and editors allow us to.

We want to play with more characters that live in the morally gray area. Absorbing Man's long been a favorite. We'd love to get our hands on The Thing. When he's not hanging out with the Fantastic Four, his exploits would rival Hawkeye's solo adventures, probably. We have a Ka-Zar/Savage Land story we'd love to tell. Oh! Ask us about our Tomb of Dracula ideas sometime!

Look for THUNDERBOLTS ANNUAL #1 on December 4

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