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Tuesday Q&A

Tuesday Q&A: Ales Kot

The Secret Avengers writer bridges one series of covert adventures into the next as part of All-New Marvel NOW!

Why keep a good thing secret?

Writer Ales Kot’s ready to talk about the new era of SECRET AVENGERS, a book he’s recently taken over but already made his own. Listen in while we dig up the facts on Kot’s upcoming run and highlight a few of the special things that make the book one of Marvel’s best secrets that need not be kept.

Secret Avengers #15

cover from Secret Avengers (2013) #15
On sale February 12
Buy digital issue
Marvel.com: Ales, how's it feel to be wrapping up your current SECRET AVENGERS run, and how might it inform the upcoming All-New Marvel NOW! volume?

Ales Kot: Wrapping up the current series feels quite wonderful. [Co-writer] Nick Spencer and the team set up a lot of interesting threads and I got a chance to help wrap them up in a manner that hopefully brings plenty of emotional and cerebral resonance. Working with the team is a smooth ride.

As to how the current run [informs] the new series, the dirty spy games are not going away. M.O.D.O.K. is not going away. We focus on the shadow games and add done-in-one missions that expand the scope of the comic. Just in the first four issues we hit space, air, ground, we go to New York, Sokotra, the Kowloon Walled City; I love the interplay, the chance to chronicle what's happening underneath the massive events. How many layers we don't even know about does the Marvel Universe have? This is one of the key questions I am asking myself as I work on the new series. 

Another question is: what would happen if Michael Bay directed an episode of “Arrested Development,” but with super heroes? What if it was serious and amusing at the same time?

Marvel.com: As a writer, what are the benefits with playing with such diverse environments as Russian baths, the Helicarrier, and outer space, all in one story?

Secret Avengers #15 preview art by Luke Ross

Ales Kot: Comics are about the interplay of visuals and text. I want to give the readers something special. This means I focus on creating interesting visuals. On top of that, the tempo of the comic is such that we practically fly between the locations. To say that SECRET AVENGERS now becomes a globe-spanning comic is an understatement. We begin in space, after all.

Marvel.com: Let's talk about your new character lineup: how would you describe them as a group? Who do you see as the strongest personality and who might be the weakest link?

Ales Kot: The new Secret Avengers is a group that is full of strong personalities. There is no obvious weak link. If there is a weak link, it could be their interplay, or someone playing them from the inside. After all, just how much do we know about Maria Hill? And how much does she know about various factions within S.H.I.E.L.D.? And what of M.O.D.O.K.? Nick Fury Jr. is another person who can be quite shady. 

Is everyone in the group competent? Certainly. Is Hawkeye lazy? Sometimes, oh yes. Does Black Widow want a new friend? Maybe. 

A possible strength—and also a possible weak spot—lies in the group's capacity to work together. Unless they learn how to do that, they will be picked [off] one by one. Because something is coming for them. And not from just one direction.

Secret Avengers #15 preview art by Luke Ross

Marvel.com: Why does the team have to split into three missions in your first story? Are the missions interconnected?

Ales Kot: The team is supposed to meet up on Friday. Then emergencies happen and Hill needs everyone sooner than expected. Including Hawkeye, who is not really on the team anymore, but he wanders into a sauna and…I'm not telling.

Are the missions interconnected? Absolutely. Does it seem that way at first? Nope.

Marvel.com: What kind of danger are they up against? What hangs in the balance if any of them fail?

Ales Kot: Decommissioned S.H.I.E.L.D. satellites are falling down to Earth. That is, unless Fury Jr. and Coulson stop them, which is why they're inside the space station. But as to who put the Fury up there…I won't tell. So what's hanging in the balance? About 250 space satellites above us. If they all fall down, it's a small apocalypse. 

Besides that, Hawkeye is chased by A.I.M. and has no idea why. There's a very driven hitman on board of the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier—and Maria Hill is his target. The team is thoroughly separated. What hangs in balance are their lives, and lives of many people on Earth. 

Marvel.com: Was it fun to assign characters to the three groups? What was your criteria in doing so? What makes for interesting dynamics here?

Secret Avengers #15 preview art by Luke Ross

Ales Kot: There was no criteria at all, and yes, it was a lot of fun! I just went with my gut. I trust my gut. Spider-Woman and Black Widow hanging out in the Russian baths eating ice-cream? Sure thing. Fury Jr. and Coulson in space? Yes. Hawkeye on a rooftop? Of course. 

Whenever I write, I aim to ask myself one thing and one thing only: what's the scene I want to read? And what comes to my mind goes into the script. I usually write two-three drafts, so focusing on the finer dynamics comes once I'm done with the first draft. And I usually find that, for some reason, I mostly get things right. Perhaps it's because I read so many Marvel comics. I've got a database to play with. 

Marvel.com: Okay, do we discern a particular focus on Hawkeye? What do you love about him as a character?

Ales Kot: I am very communist when it comes to my focus on characters: everyone gets a proper storyline and their time in the sun/moon. With Hawkeye, well, he's a bachelor. He can be slow. And lazy. And he's great at shooting arrows. He makes mistakes. I really like that. He makes mistakes and then he learns from them but sometimes it takes him a while. And sometimes he doesn't take a shower for two days and does something dumb. And then he jumps from one rooftop to another and shoots an arrow and winks at you and breaks his nose. I love Hawkeye.

Marvel.com: What's it been like so far working again with artist Michael Walsh? What do you see as his strengths for a project like this?

Secret Avengers #1 preview inks by Michael Walsh

Ales Kot: I love working with Mike. I wanted to work with him because we worked together on Zero and the collaboration went quite smoothly. We get each other's approach. I consider Mike an artist similar to Sean Philips, Michael Lark and David Aja. The next generation of these artists. Same or similar school. There's some Alex Toth in his work with shadows, too. 

I love Mike's ability to work with many panels per page. He gets each character; he knows how to get emotion into each drawing. He's committed, fast, interested in creative collaboration. Mike can draw anything. And this is a comic that requires all of these things. We are excited about pushing ourselves, about pushing the story, about creating something unique. To have a chance to tell an expansive story within such an inspiring universe is a gift.

Pick up SECRET AVENGERS #15, the penultimate installment of the current series, February 12

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Why kill Taskmaster? :( He was the reason I first started reading this comic book