Some of the deepest darkest secrets in the Marvel Universe will fall into dangerous hands as part of Original Sin this May following the murder of the Watcher. Among those secrets: the story of the original Mighty Avengers, an unlikely team of 1970’s heroes led by Luke Cage’s father, NYPD detective James Lucas.
In the MIGHTY AVENGERS tie-in to Original Sin, Al Ewing and Greg Land uncover the lost history of this forgotten team of heroes and their struggle against dark and deadly supernatural forces. We spoke to Ewing for a first glimpse into the shadows, and to learn how this story ties back to the adventures of the present-day team.
Al Ewing: MIGHTY AVENGERS readers will know that we've been hinting at something big and bad involved a mysterious secret society known as the Deathwalkers, who operate using magical half-animal servants and possessed human slaves. Well, their plan to end the world as we know it is about to come to a terrifying head, so it's a good time to ask if they've ever tried it before. And it turns out they have—in 1972. Luckily, there were six people around to stop them.
That's #11 and #12; #10 is a more self-contained story, involving Blue Marvel's relationship with the late lamented Watcher.
Marvel.com: What can you reveal about the 1970’s team? Is it all new faces?
Al Ewing: There's exactly one new face, someone I thought up for a previous pitch that ended up going nowhere, who turned out to be too good an idea to let go.
Adam Brashear [Blue Marvel] is the face readers will be most familiar with, and by the time #11 rolls around, [we] will have a clearer idea of how he could get into that kind of strange action when he was barred by executive order from being a super hero.
One of the things I wanted to explore with that character was the idea of the history and current affairs we don't know, that we're not taught, that's edited out of the school curriculum and the newspapers by our cultural bias. It's an idea that's complicated by Marvel's sliding timeline, but that's a complication that fascinates me more than frustrates me.
Hopefully readers will feel the same.
So there's one new face and one old face to play with. And anyone who's been reading carefully will already have an idea about two or three other team members.
Al Ewing: The Original Mighty Avengers were involved in a race against time to stop the Deathwalkers from accomplishing their goals and ending the human world. The Mighty Avengers of the present day are in a similar situation—but much, much further behind. Is it already too late? What will they do if it is?
Marvel.com: Marvel's sliding timeline means you're telling stories from the era that originally gave us Luke Cage, who first appeared in 1972. Was that strange to play around with?
Al Ewing: Well, Luke Cage's Dad is involved—there's another face on the team—so there is that connection. But James Lucas, Detective, is a different archetype from his son. Luke Cage was a private eye, slash bodyguard, in super hero drag; Jim Lucas is a “murder police” on the edge of something strange and sinister, in a world between heroic ages. There's the First Line [the “forgotten super-hero team” from MARVEL: THE LOST GENERATION], but they're probably somewhere else that week. I came very close to putting Captain Hip on the team.
So they're worlds apart. That said there's definitely a temptation to go there in terms of the writing, to do things with the medium that were in style at the time, conversational captions, for instance. Calling the reader "baby" un-ironically. The trouble is, if I did, the tone wouldn't fit the story at all—it'd be a humorous thing, retro irony—and what happens when I want to call the reader "baby" un-ironically in a contemporary setting? You never know, baby, I might.
So I suppose I'm thinking less of imitating the Marvel 70’s and more of creating a workable voice for the period that doesn't rely on the reader having knowledge of the writing styles of 40-odd years ago.
Marvel.com: What sort of influences come into play to create a 1970’s version of the Marvel Universe?
Al Ewing: In terms of the story itself, obviously this is not the first time that this, or something like this, has been done. THE LOST GENERATION, AVENGERS 1959, AGENTS OF ATLAS, INVADERS, the 50’s Cap saga—I'm not breaking any new ground here. I've done it myself a few times before now—I keep going back to periods in Dredd's past before Prog 2 of 2000AD. He wasn't in Prog 1. Trivia!
But as for stylistic influences, I would be very surprised if Richard Stark didn't feature heavily in the tone of it. So far it's feeling a little bit noir and a little bit pulp—and a little bit of that indefinable Mighty Avengers thing. That thing people like.
Continue to follow Marvel.com for all the latest news on Original Sin before the event kicks off this May!