No one else decimated Avengers Mansion quite like writer Roger Stern and the legendary art team of John Buscema and Tom Palmer in the classic “Under Siege” arc of AVENGERS #270-277.
In the final installment of a two-part interview, Stern shares with Marvel.com what it takes to bring a hero to tears as well as his favorite scenes from the story. He makes clear his high regard for the Wasp both in Avengers history and in this arc. The writer also confesses how flattering he found it when his Masters of Evil incarnation served as the springboard for Kurt Busiek’s future Marvel hit series, THUNDERBOLTS.
Marvel.com: It is rare that readers have seen Captain America cry, as he did after the battle was over--and he realized the only photo of his mother had been destroyed. Was there any creative disagreement about doing a scene like that, or did it make sense to everyone? The scene definitely resonates with readers.
Roger Stern: Thank you. And no, I never encountered any blow-back from my editors about that scene.
Despite all the action and mayhem in the story, I really wanted to get at the human aspect of the Avengers. I wanted to show how they reacted to and dealt with the Mansion—their home—being invaded and pretty much destroyed. Cap’s reaction became a very important part of that.
I mean, he’s Captain America! He's pretty much been Mr. Avenger ever since he was re-introduced in AVENGERS #4. There's a reason his movie was sub-titled “The First Avenger.” He’s the one you can always count on. Cap is resilient, not rigid. When he’s on the job, he’s all business. But afterwards, when the crisis has passed, he’s man enough to let his grief show. That’s his real strength, his humanity.
Marvel.com: Is there a certain scene or element to this arc that years later you look back and are even more pleased and proud with how it turned out?
Roger Stern: Well, there's that final scene with Cap—it’s really with the two Captains. Remember, it was Monica Rambeau/Captain Marvel who noticed that Captain America wasn’t around, and who went looking for him. She’d been in law enforcement, and good cops are good observers; they have a keen awareness of the people around them. Of all the Avengers, it was Monica who went looking for Cap herself, rather than asking a more senior Avenger. Why? Because she was the good cop, looking out for her teammate. In that respect she’s the Avenger who is most like Cap.
But I’m also very happy with the scene where the Wasp takes out the Absorbing Man. That was really the moment when the tide turned and she started putting her Avengers back together. There she was, the little débutante who had literally come of age within the Avengers—she had given them their name, remember—and who had ultimately become as important to the team as any Avenger.
Marvel.com: How surprised were you, years later, when Kurt Busiek used this arc partially as inspiration for the Thunderbolts?
Roger Stern: I wasn’t terribly surprised, because Kurt had told me what he was up to, back during the planning stages of the THUNDERBOLTS. But I was very flattered that he did it.
Marvel.com: Could you have ever imagined that the “Under Siege” arc would be so well-remembered?
Roger Stern: Absolutely not. At the time, I was mainly concentrating on coming up with ideas for the next story. I was happy with the way the story had come together, and I hoped that the readers liked it, but I never imagined that people would still be asking me about it almost 30 years later.
Marvel.com: Reflecting upon your work on that Avengers era, how do you feel about it now, from a perspective of several decades in the rear view?
Roger Stern: Oh, there are probably scenes I would handle differently if I were writing it today. After all, I'm a more experienced writer now—hopefully, a better one. But you know, I think it’s still a pretty good story. It has aged well.
And after three decades, people are still asking me to autograph copies of the original comics.
For more of Marvel’s 75th anniversary celebration, visit marvel.com/75