By Jim Beard
Writer Brian Michael Bendis joins forces with artist Mark Bagley in March of 2012 to kick-off a new mission for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. AVENGERS ASSEMBLE, an all-new ongoing title, boasts an all-star line-up that includes Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, the Hulk, Hawkeye and The Black Widow for a “world-class, high-class Avengers book that will be very tantalizing to both diehard Avengers readers and newer fans.”
“We thought it would be a very good idea to create a book that accentuated and built on what is going to be happening in the ‘Marvel’s The Avengers’ movie, as far as camaraderie and tone, but at the same time create a brand-new, truly giant story that will take these characters in a completely different place,” continues Bendis. “We thought it would be a good idea to show everybody who’s going to be meeting the Avengers in the movie what it is that the comic books do.”
AVENGERS ASSEMBLE offers a true ensemble cast; each member will shine in their own right, according to Bendis, and interact with all the appeal and characterization they possess in their own individual titles.
“First of all, let me say that this book is happening in [regular] Marvel continuity,” he reports. “Captain America will be putting together the team specifically for this world-class threat that also happens to coincide with the cast of the movie, more or less. The Avengers have a ‘holy trinity’ in Captain America, Thor and Iron Man, and it's almost impossible not to have the story of the start a foundation without them. But each character is going to be given some major panel time and individual emotional arcs.
“When Marvel came to me with the idea of doing this book, I told them that I thought for it to work the story would have to be huge and at the same time affect the characters in a profound way. I wanted AVENGERS ASSEMBLE to be more than just a product that saddles up to the movie—I wanted to be a story that mattered. I wanted it to be one of the biggest Avengers stories I would ever tell.”
The threat the writer mentions operates under the name of Zodiac, but, beware—this new Zodiac strives to make its own name in the world, above and beyond its infamous predecessors.
“For those of you who don't know, the Zodiac was and is one of the best and most dangerous antagonists for the Avengers franchise,” notes Bendis. “Much like we did with the Skrulls, we have scraped some of the cheese off of the idea and got to the heart of what really made them such a terrible threat to the Avengers and, hopefully, have created something that will speak to the world we live in.
“The new Zodiac will get under the skin of the Avengers in a way very few criminals have. This will be a tough crew to beat. It is a completely new look at them. There will be members in this uneasy alliance that will be very familiar and surprising to Marvel fans and, also, we will be introducing a couple of new characters. But what we think we have is a truly scary and threatening league of extraordinary menaces.”
Aiding and abetting Bendis on AVENGERS ASSEMBLE, artist Bagley stands as no stranger to titles featuring sprawling casts and far-flung action.
“Mark is one of the greatest storytellers in mainstream comics,” says the writer, who crafted a historic run with him on ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN. “There is literally nothing he can’t draw without complete and utter confidence. Over our years together, I have given him the most serious and emotional beats, I have given him the silliest and most ridiculous premises, I have given him the most spectacular action sequences and he draws them all with the exact same amount of gravitas. You could literally, in your hand, count the amount of artists working today that can do what Mark does and how professionally he does it.
“When he recently came back to [Marvel], he said he wanted a crack at the Avengers. Truthfully, both my current Avengers books are well staffed with amazing artists, but I told him as soon as something became available I would give him a heads-up. Very soon after, our editor asked if I was interested in doing this book and thought maybe Mark would be a good candidate.
“I love it when a plan comes together.”
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