Making Them Mighty: Dan Slott on Mighty Avengers
Dan Slott on Mighty Avengers
While the ending to Secret Invasion had its own batch of surprises for readers (check our interview with Brian Bendis out over here), Marvel today released covers and solicitations for upcoming stories that had a few shocking revelations of their own.
One of the titles that has fans talking is Mighty Avengers, which is being taken over by writer Dan Slott with artist Khoi Pham. Slott already warned Newsarama readers in September that there were a lot of changes coming in the title when he takes it over with Mighty Avengers #21. He mentioned Jocasta, Jarvis, and a team of what he called "Avengery Avengers."
But today, covers have revealed a few new characters on the team that weren't exactly spelled out in Secret Invasion, including the long-gone-and-off-her-rocker Scarlet Witch, U.S. Agent, Hercules, and Hank Pym in a new winged costume.
Newsarama talked to Dan Slott about the changes in Mighty Avengers and why these characters are on the comic's covers, as well as what's coming up in Secret Invasion: Requiem and his final issue Avengers: The Initiative.
Newsarama: Now that Secret Invasion #8 is out...
Dan Slott: Secret Invasion #8 is out, right?
NRAMA: Right. It came out yesterday.
DS: OK, for everybody out there – spoiler, spoiler, spoiler, spoiler, if you haven't read Secret Invasion #8 yet don't read this. I can't be held accountable. Turn back. Still here? Okay, we can finally say it: Wasp is dead! Wasp is deeeeeead!! Aaaaahhh!!!
NRAMA: Aaaah!! So will you be the main person dealing with the aftermath of her death?
DS: I think Janet's death is going to affect lots of books. But in Secret Invasion: Requiem, which has eight pages of all-new material by myself and Khoi Pham, you'll see a story that focuses on Hank and Jocasta dealing with Jan's death, and dealing with Jan's life. Along with that new story by the new Mighty Avengers team, Requiem is also going to feature two very classic Marvel tales – Tales To Astonish #44, where Janet first met Hank and became the Wasp, and Avengers #213, where Yellow Jacket lashed out at Jan and irreparably changed their relationship for all time.
There was a lot of argument at one of the creative retreats about whether Avengers #213 should be undone, if that should be "Skrulled" out. Everyone looks at Hank as this wonderful hero who, the moment that story took place, was ruined forever. But let's be honest: Hank is the guy who created Ultron; Hank has made a lot of terrible choices. I think if you took those moments away from him, you would take away a lot of what makes Yellow Jacket an interesting character.
NRAMA: We've seen him on the covers that were just released. Is Hank officially on your Mighty Avengers team?
DS: Hank is on the team. One of the goals of this book is not to "un-screw-up" Hank, but at the same time, make him an A-list character and really push him to the forefront of the Marvel U while letting him stay complex and deeply flawed. Those are the characters we want to read about. Who wants to read about a character who's perfect and happy and has all their ducks in a row?
One of the messed up things about Hank is that he's going to be spending a lot of time with Jocasta. Most people forget that Jocasta's robot brain is based on Janet Van Dyne's brain patterns. And... let me creep you out... could this lead to a new relationship? Think about it. Jocasta's a cyber-reflection of Jan, a version of Hank's dead ex-wife, a version he could never hurt physically or emotionally. There's something very disturbing about that.
NRAMA: From the look of the covers, Hank's featured in several Marvel comics that are coming up, right?
Let me tell you, with all the "Classified Information" tags we've had to use, it was very hard to write up the solicitations for some of these issues. I'm glad everybody's had a chance to read the real ones now. And see the covers!
And these are gorgeous covers! Avengers: The Initiative #20 cover by Mark Brooks is one of my favorite covers of the entire run. It has the Wasp sitting serenely, peacefully looking straight ahead, with Yellow Jacket curled up on the floor, crying, holding onto her. It's a stunning piece of art.
For Secret Invasion: Requiem, there's a cover by Khoi Pham with a classic head shot of Wasp, and all around in the background are these wonderful shots of the founding Avengers and different versions of Hank. And finally, both Hank and Jocasta are prominently featured with Scarlet Witch on the cover to Mighty Avengers #21. The first three Mighty Avengers covers all link up to form this majestic triptych. It's very sweet.
NRAMA: Let's talk about this, Dan. What is Scarlet Witch doing on the cover to Mighty Avengers #21? She's not in Secret Invasion, so how did she suddenly show up in all this?
DS: Hmmm... it might have something to do with her showing up very early on in Mighty Avengers #21. And, as we've re leaked elsewhere, also running around in that issue are Vision and Cassie. So the girl who had her father, the second Ant-Man, killed by Scarlet Witch is going to be in the book, and so is Vision, who has some of the original Vision's programming in him.
NRAMA: Are these Young Avengers characters going to be permanent fixtures in Mighty Avengers?
DS: You're going to have to keep reading.
NRAMA: But they have something to do with Scarlet Witch's return?
DS: You're going to have to keep reading! But yes, we lose Jan, a size-changing character that has strong ties to Hank, but here's a size-changing girl, Cassie, who looks up to Hank as an uncle. And here's this new robot version of the Vision running around that's built partially on the Kang armor from Iron Lad and partially on the Classic Avengers Vision. So you're going to have Vision and Scarlet Witch, and Vision and Cassie, and Cassie and Scarlet Witch, and Hank and Jocasta. And right there, you're going to have Avengery Avengers characters, especially when you think of Cassie as someone who was running around in the Avengers books as a youngster. This is someone who Jarvis has bounced on his knee and who lived in the mansion for years. It gets to the heart of these characters and this legacy and the mythology of the Avengers. And that's not even the whole cast!
DS: I know! I'm trying really hard to dance around this because it is a really big bombshell that she's back in the book. But there's no way to avoid it – she's on the first cover. Scarlet Witch!
NRAMA: There are a lot of Secret Invasion one-shots and Dark Reign issues coming out – so let's clarify this. Scarlet Witch isn't showing up somewhere else first? She's showing up first in Mighty Avengers #21, correct?
DS: Yes. And you know, not everything has to come out of Civil War, Secret Invasion, and this and that and the other. It's okay for stories to start somewhere. And this one starts right here. Bam! Right there in the pages of Mighty Avengers. It's okay for really big things to happen and it's not in some Big Event Book. This is a big event, but it's right there in issue #21. Mighty Avengers #21 is its own big event, shining with Scarlet Witchery goodness.
NRAMA: Okay, but Dan -- Scarlet Witch has been down a seriously dark path recently. Is she crazy anymore? Does she still have those powers from House of M or is she depowered? You have a lot of baggage to deal with here, don't you?
DS: Ummmm.... keep reading. I know fans say they want you to spoil the story, but they don't really want you to spoil the story. Then there are no shocks and surprises. You'll just have to pick up Mighty Avengers and read the story.
NRAMA: Then moving on... you mentioned Jarvis, whom you'd already confirmed as part of your team. But we've now seen that Jarvis was in a Skrull ship, as well as Hank. Are you going to explore in your comic anything about that experience on a Skrull ship? Or will that be tied up by the time you take over Mighty?
DS: You are going to see at least one scene that touches on it, but for the most part, Mighty Avengers is going to hit the ground running with all new adventures. We've just come off of eight months of Skrull intrigue. And now it's time to move into the Dark Reign. Brian wove an incredible tale in Secret Invasion—and that includes its aftermath! Going from the Secret Invasion into Dark Reign will have major ramifications on the Marvel Universe.
NRAMA: On the cover for Mighty Avengers #22, we see Hercules. Is he part of the team?
DS: You'll have to wait and see what happens with him, but you'll see Hercules showing up in issue #21, and you'll get to see Khoi Pham drawing him again. Which is awesome! The Prince of Power and Amadeus Cho will be along for the ride. Amadeus is our Rick Jones-like character, except he's super-duper smart. And Herc is -- I've said this time and time again: I'd love to write Thor in a team book, but I get really intimidated by Thor as a lead guy, but with Herc, I don't feel that at all. Herc is Drunk-Thor. I love writing Drunk-Thor. I could write Drunk-Thor every day of the week. He's just such a great character, and I love everything Fred and Greg have been doing with Herc in Incredible.
NRAMA: And U.S. Agent is also on the cover of issue #22. Is he part of the team?
DS: If he is, that means he's officially gone from Canada, doesn't it? He was on Omega Flight because... what better place to have U.S. Agent than Canada? [laughs] I kid! I kid! But no, we're messing around with John Walker. You're going to get to see him swing his shield over here.
NRAMA: Well, that makes sense to have a shield-swinger in the Avengers.
DS: You gotta! It's the law!
NRAMA: The second cover also has Iron Man. At the end of Secret Invasion, it looked like he was going down. So is Iron Man still in Mighty Avengers?
DS: Iron Man is at least going to be in our first adventure. Will he stay on and be a member (or leader) of this Mighty Avengers? You'll have to wait and see.
NRAMA: With Iron Man being shunned by the government...
DS: ... in America.
NRAMA: Hmm.... OK, with Iron Man being shunned by the government in America, the function of this team would then have to change, right?
DS: What you're going to see is an Avengers that looks out for planet Earth, and America isn't all of planet Earth.
NRAMA: You had said there's a new Avengers headquarters in Mighty. Can you talk about that?
DS: The new headquarters will be revealed in issue #26. It's something that will at once seem familiar, but it's something you've never seen before. It will feel "Avengery" to the core.
NRAMA: Who's setting up their headquarters?
DS: Who is setting up their headquarters? That's a very good question.
NRAMA: You mentioned Dark Avengers, and we know now who the Dark Illuminati are. Will that "dark" piece of Secret Invasion affect the Mighty Avengers?
DS: The whole umbrella of Dark Reign is really going to affect all of the Marvel Universe. The good way to think about the Mighty Avengers in the Dark Reign: They are the ray of light.
NRAMA: Do you want to tell fans about the story you're telling in the first storyline of Mighty? You have a villain showing up, right?
DS: Yeah, but we want to keep the first villain a secret. But one of the things we're going to see happening in Mighty Avengers is that we're really going to go hardcore with Avengers villains. We've seen a lot of stuff in New Avengers and Mighty Avengers where we've seen Venom bombs, and fighting the Hand's ninjas, and all different things in the Marvel Universe. What you're going to see in Mighty Avengers is mainstream, big-time Avengers villains.
NRAMA: So you've got to do Ultron, right?
DS: Somewhere down the line, we've got to do Ultron. But it's such an obvious one, since we've got Hank and Jocasta. How can we not do an Ultron story? So I think I'm going to sidestep that for a little bit and save it up for a biggie.
They're going to have a throw-down with a major Marvel mainstream team pretty close off the blocks, around issue #24 and issue #25. What they're fighting for, what they do with it and where that's going -- it'll be like, when you think about great Avengers stories, you think about the Avengers/Defenders War, or that time The Thing fought The Hulk and it turned into a whole FF/Avengers fight, or all the classic Avengers/Thunderbolts throw-downs when Kurt Busiek was writing it. They've got a really good history, the Avengers, going toe-to-toe with big teams.
NRAMA: Let's talk about the fact that there are now three Avengers teams running around. Now that we have the Dark Avengers and New Avengers, what does Mighty Avengers represent?
DS: The way I see Mighty Avengers is that it was created as counter-programming. Mighty Avengers is counter-programming for fans of New Avengers. After Avengers: Disassembled, New Avengers was a break from the Avengers books of the past. It went in bold new directions featuring "Big Gun" characters like Wolverine and Spidey. When Bendis and Cho started up Mighty Avengers, to me, it was like Avengers Re-Assembled! With characters like Iron Man, Wasp, Ms. Marvel, Black Widow, and Wonder Man it felt more in tune with the Avengers legacy. What Khoi and I are hoping to do is to keep that flavor. I think it's a book that will really appeal to fans of those core Avengers. And it's going to be a completely different animal from Dark Avengers.
NRAMA: How excited are you to be writing an Avengers book?
DS: It's really fun! I was a big fan back during the Stern/Perez/Byrne/Micheline period. I've always gravitated more to the Marvel Heroes side of the Marvel Universe than the X-side or the cosmic side, so this is really fun for me. It's a great corner of the universe to be in. To me, the Avengers has always been like a big toy box with all the best toys. When I was working on Initiative, we mainly focused on the C-listers and D-listers, and at times the G-, H-, I-, J-, and K-listers. And that was great, getting to use those characters. But it's also fun to jump over to the Avengers. It's like going from the farm team to the majors. Not that I didn't love working on every page of the Initiative. The Initiative was great, and I really loved the obscure and weird characters, and I think I've gotten a lot of internet love as someone who's treated the C- and D-listers with respect while (hopefully) taking them to interesting places. Now I'm getting to crack my knuckles and play in the majors with the big toys. I can't wait till you guys see what Khoi and I are cooking up for you!