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Questions for Al Ewing @ Mighty Avengers #11
Few writers use Marvel continuity as well as Al Ewing. Fewer still have had to start a new book as a part of not one but two “events.” Ewing did, with Mighty Avengers, and successfully so as the diverse assemblage is quickly becoming one of everyone’s favorite Avengers titles.
Now entering its third event in its very brief existence, Ewing works to not fit his MA plots into Original Sin but instead find the best way to use that event to propel his characters and storyline ahead. Smart.
Dynamic Forces caught up with the scribe in the Temple of Raggadorr to flesh out how things are going down with a Secret Seventies version of the team in issue #11.
Dynamic Forces: Al, there have been very few issues of Mighty Avengers that have NOT been part of an event. How have you managed to do this and still turned out one of the best character-driven team books Marvel has?
Al Ewing: Thanks for the kind words!
I've never really agreed with the idea that a tie-in issue has to be a fill-in issue. Really, a tie-in is just a normal issue that happens to have some connection, big or small, with the crossover of the moment. And with a team book like Mighty Avengers it's very rare that that connection needs to be at the expense of the ongoing story, at least in my experience. With nine characters to play with, I can find some way of bringing the crossover in that doesn't come at the expense of character development - and then, with something like Original Sin, the crossover is all about character development anyway. A dark secret of the past only has power if it affects the characters in the present.
DF: Well said, sir. Tell me. will the exploration of these 1970s Avengers have any ties to Brian Michael Bendis' examination of Luke Cage and his dad in his New Avengers?
Al Ewing: Yes! #11 and #12 form a kind of sequel to that story, in a sense, and to the 90s Cage series. Luke's Dad accepts that his son isn't the criminal society painted him as, and he follows his exploits, but at the same time he won't - can't - have Luke in his life. That's a fascinating dynamic. Luke's been giving his Dad space, hoping he'll come around, but with the revelation of this secret that James Lucas has been keeping for decades, Luke can't wait anymore. So we get the confrontation that they've been putting off for a while, and some old demons and skeletons come out into the light.
DF: Tell us about the members of this 70s team. Any new characters?
Al Ewing: One new character, someone I created for a pitch that ended up not happening. Usually, in a situation like that, there's at least one or two elements worth cannibalizing for later use, and this is one of those times. All the other characters have been seen in comics before, although one is a relatively recent creation.
DF: Can you tell us a bit about the relationships between Cage Sr. and Blue Marvel? Blade?
Al Ewing: James Lucas is a different archetype to those two - he's very much a tough cop in a tough cop's world, so one of the themes as the run develops is whether he can step outside that world and fit in with a world of supernatural monsters or weird science. Adam especially is an interesting case, because James remembers Adam from his childhood - and obviously seeing him again now raises some uncomfortable questions.
DF: How does the adventure in #11 spill into the present day? Can you hint at any ramifications?
Al Ewing: Well, the immediate connection is that we have the same evil cropping up and needing to be vanquished once again. So there's that. And also, we have various old-school Mighty Avengers making their presences felt in the modern day: Adam, Blade, James Lucas ... and maybe a couple of others. Could there be a merger of the old and new teams on the horizon? Signs point to yes.
DF: Hmm … OK. But will we learn anything about the relationship between Blade and Kaluu?
Al Ewing: We get their first meeting! Kaluu's just back from his exile in Raggadorr with his revenge on the Ancient One very much on his mind, and Blade is younger, brasher and going through a “stake first, ask questions later” phase. So like all good super-team-ups, there's a misunderstanding and a fight. It's the 1970s way.
DF: Speaking of Blade, as an old Tomb of Dracula fan what exactly are his "powers" these days?
Al Ewing: Well, I'm going from what I saw in MI:13 - so he's half vampire, with lots of the cool stuff but none of the weaknesses, he's got a Wolverine-style healing factor and he's a super awesome martial arts guy who spends his time hunting vampires ninja-style and seducing the British aristocracy. It's all on the wiki, really. I know recently he turned into a bat, which I'm trying to work out if I can use it. There is something very cool about it - it's like Manimal. (I remember very little of Manimal, but what I remember was cool.)
One of my internal things with Mighty Avengers is that I will always make these guys more powerful if I have the chance. So Vic and Ava have both had huge power boosts, Monica's doing all sorts of cool hologram stuff. So I might end up embracing that and running with it.
DF: This subplot has been sewn so brilliantly into the background of Mighty Avengers since issue #1, is everything that is happening going according to original plans or did Original Sin affect it?
Al Ewing: Pretty much [as planned originally]! I always had a vague plan to do a 70s Mighty Avengers, although to begin with it was the kind of very vague plan that could either get mentioned to an editor in the fullness of time or just stuffed in a mental drawer. I have a few of those. But when I heard about Original Sin, and the general theme of secrets of the past revealed, it seemed like a no-brainer to bring that aspect in. And here we are!
DF: Glad to have Greg Land back?
Al Ewing: Yeah! Greg's got a wonderfully glam style, which I'm very fond of, and I'm really getting into the way he lays out fights - there's a fight coming up in #11 that's just a riot of gorgeous imagery. It might be one of my favorite spreads of the run so far, and that includes the amazing volcano spread from #9 that blew me away.
DF: Al, what's next for our assemblers? I love single-character arcs but those that involve the entire team.
Al Ewing: Well, there's another crossover coming up - we like getting involved with those - and, as usual, it's going to have some ramifications. A Mighty Avenger will not be a Mighty Avenger by the end of it, and we're not talking about one of the phone operators. After that ... well, I've got some big ideas, and some bigger ideas, but I'll wait a while before I spill what those are. Let's just say it's time for the CORTEX Corporation to take its place as the Big Bad ...
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Al Ewing for taking time out of his hectic schedule to answer our questions. Mighty Avengers #11 hits stores in June!
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