By Matt Powell
With the onset of Dark Reign, the odds may be stacked against the Avengers, but they've got a shot with Slott.
Earth's Mightiest Heroes were pushed to the limit throughout the melee of Secret Invasion this year. With the shape-shifting scourge of the Skrulls leaving a bad taste in everyone's mouth, the question of 'Who do you trust?' has been replaced by 'Where do we go from here?' in the forefront of the Marvel Universe's collective consciousness.
Wrier Dan Slott will be taking the first shot at clearing the path and getting Earth's Mightiest back in order when he takes over MIGHTY AVENGERS beginning with January's issue #21 alongside artist Khoi Pham. The scribe's no slouch in reconstruction or taking action, as he helmed the debut "Brand New Day" arc of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN last year, and drafted the youth of the Marvel U in AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE. Slott will also pen SECRET INVASION: REQUIEM, the epilogue to the death of the Wasp and prologue to his Avengers run, on December 24, and then wrap his time on INITIATIVE with issue #20 on January 2.
With a love of the characters equally matched by his desire to challenge their ability, Slott's building a better Avenger with each issue; as he says, "This is when true heroes are tested to shine their brightest."
Marvel.com: To say the least, with the fallout from SECRET INVASION, the entire world is going to expect big things—if not be a little skeptical—of the Avengers. How are you going to put the public's hopes and/or fears to rest with your run MIGHTY AVENGERS?
Before the invasion, the Mighty Avengers weren't just the "Pro-Registration" team. In the public eye, they were the Avengers team that was cut from the same cloth as the original Avengers: larger than life, gods among men, champions who stood for all of us. In short: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! The public might think they're getting that with the Dark Avengers, but you and I know better. We're in on all of Norman Osborn's dark, twisted little secrets. And while the New Avengers are hiding in their warrens and striking from the shadows, somebody's gotta stand tall in the light. That's the Mighty Avengers.
Marvel.com: Post-Secret Invasion, what kind of Avengers team is the Mighty Avengers?
The standard-bearers. After "Avengers: Disassembled," Brian Michael Bendis put together, literally, a New Avengers for a new age. With big guns like Spider-Man and Wolverine, they're the down and dirty Avengers, and the undisputed flagship book of the Marvel Universe. After Civil War, with the help of Frank Cho, Bendis did it again. They introduced a book that reassembled that classic Avengers feel—chock full of characters like Iron Man, the Wasp, Wonder Man, Black Widow, and Ms. Marvel. After Secret Invasion, Khoi Pham and I are going to try [to] keep that going, putting together the Avenger-iest Avengers team we can.
Marvel.com: Since you're aiming for the best of the best, what can you say about the roster of this team?
Each and every one 'em has strong Avengers "cred." Most of our roster appeared in the first 50 issues of the original run [of AVENGERS]. These are characters that [have] been on the frontlines of some of the greatest moments in Avengers history. We don't want to give away the final line-up just yet, but you can tell from the cover of MIGHTY AVENGERS #21, we have Hank Pym, Jocasta, and—gasp—the Scarlet Witch on our team!
Marvel.com: So would you say everyone who made the cut has the "it-factor" of an Avenger?
Out the proverbial wazoo! When I was growing up reading AVENGERS, there were two strata of team members: guys like Cap, Thor, and Iron Man, who had their own titles, and guys like Vision, Scarlet Witch, and Hawkeye, who didn't. And while Cap, Thor, and Iron Man were the heavy hitters, nothing really big could happen to them in AVENGERS; that stuff got saved for their own books. Meanwhile, the Vision and Scarlet Witch could get married, Hawkeye could get jerked around by Henry Peter Gyrich, and Ms. Marvel could get pregnant with/by Immortus. You never knew what was going to happen to them! For me, that made those guys the cool ones. And those are the kinda guys we've got in MIGHTY! Trust me. Things are going to get interesting.
Marvel.com: Let's talk about where that interest begins, your first arc…
It's called "Earth's Mightiest." It's a three-part story with a mega-sized first issue. This story is full-to-bursting with everything you need for an Avengers epic: the formation of a new team, one of their most powerful foes, one or two well kept secrets—and did we mention the return of the Scarlet Witch? Right there, that's practically a Marvel event in itself!
Marvel.com: In terms of the opposition, what villains can we expect to show up or who would you like to bring in if you had the chance?
Expect some of the biggest Avengers bad guys of all time! We've got both Hank and Jocasta on the team, so down the line we have to do an Ultron story. It's the law! I'm a sucker for a time travel story, making either Kang or Immortus a safe bet. I love the old school Squadron Supreme, the Super Adaptoid, Count Nefaria, the Masters of Evil—you name it!
Marvel.com: I think it's safe to say that a reconnect with heroes is one of the first steps to rebuilding the Avengers foundation after fighting an enemy with the guise of their closest allies. With that in mind can we expect a few guest heroes from Avengers' past to show up?
One of my biggest guilty pleasures is whenever the Avengers would go up against another super hero team: the Avengers/Defenders War, the fight they had with the FF in [FANTASTIC FOUR v1] #26, and whenever Kurt Busiek would have them run into the Thunderbolts. So not long after the opening three-parter, you can expect the Mighty Avengers to go head-to-head against a major Marvel U team! That's a guarantee.
Marvel.com: Do you have any plans to partner with the casts of AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE or NEW AVENGERS?
[My AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE co-writer] Chris Gage and I talk all the time. I think it's a given there'll be a MIGHTY/INITIATIVE thing happening down the line. There's been some leaked artwork, so people already know that the New Avengers are appearing in our first issue. The ones I'd keep an eye out for are the Dark Avengers. I don't think Norman Osborn's going to be too happy with what the Mighty Avengers will be up to...
Marvel.com: Following the fate of the Wasp in SECRET INVASION #8, that's another blow to the Avengers' legacy in terms of losing a founding member. What does that loss mean for the present Avengers and for the legacy of the team?
Janet Van Dyne's passing is going to have an enormous effect on the Mighty Avengers, especially on Hank. There are some very important Hank issues coming up. His journey is going to go straight from MIGHTY AVENGERS #20—Brian [Bendis'] last issue—to AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE #20—my last issue. The coda to all of that will be in a short story Khoi and I've done for SECRET INVASION: REQUIEM. By that journey's end, Hank will be the...man he is at the start of MIGHTY AVENGERS #21.
Marvel.com: Since you brought it up, what can you tell us about SECRET INVASION: REQUIEM?
Just like the Wasp, good things come in small packages. The short story Khoi and I did for that—besides being our first collaboration before jumping into MIGHTY—it's also a game changer. Two pretty big things happen in it. One, there's no way you're gonna miss it. People will be talking. And the other lights the fuse for something that'll blow you away months from now.
Marvel.com: Although you're gaining MIGHTY AVENGERS, as you mentioned, you're leaving AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE. What are your thought on that and the landscape of the Marvel Universe right now?
Part of me is just aching about my last issue of the AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE. I'm really proud of it. I think Chris and I just nailed that one, Steve Kurth's art in it is awesome, and Mark Brook's cover for the issue is one of the best covers in the entire run. It's a powerful issue! Lots of fallout from both the invasion and Jan's death—along with the
long-awaited reveal of Mutant Zero—and the departure of some of the cast regulars as they go off to other books. You do not want to miss this comic!
I really like that Chris and I created, revived, or spotlighted characters in the INITIATIVE and now they're going off to help expand the Marvel U. The Marvel Universe can be such a rich and fertile place. I love that new characters like Brian's Secret Warriors are out there—and that guys like [upcoming SECRET WARRIORS co-writer] Jonathan Hickman get to help take 'em to the next level. I'm digging all the new, cool places and plans Chris has for THE INITIATIVE. This is a great time for new and exciting things at Marvel Comics. As a creator, I'm stoked to be playing in this sandbox. But I'm equally psyched as a reader. I can't wait to see what's coming up next!
The first week of "Dark Reign-Makers" concludes tomorrow with INVINCIBLE IRON MAN writer Matt Fraction!
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