With Age of Ultron #8 released earlier this week, the 10-part Marvel event series is nearing its conclusion next month, already a well-publicized affair featuring the Marvel Comics debut of former Spawn supporting character Angela.
Before that, though Uncanny Avengers — the first Marvel NOW! series out of the gate following Avengers vs. X-Men, featuring a lineup consisting of both Avengers and X-Men living in Avengers Mansion and fighting to protect the mutant cause — is tying in to the story with Uncanny Avengers #8AU, out May 22.
The issue is co-written by regular Uncanny Avengers writer Rick Remender and Deadpool's Gerry Duggan, with art by Adam Kubert (interior pages presented throughout this article). Speaking last month at C2E2 in Chicago, Remender made it clear that not only was the one-shot part of the Age of Ultron story, but also a vital chapter in the ongoing Uncanny Avengers saga featuring Kang the Conqueror and the Apocalypse Twins.
Newsarama talked to Remender about the scope of his long-term plans for Uncanny Avengers, the challenge of writing an event tie-in that doesn't feel like a "castaway," flipping the Havok/Cyclops dynamic, and the considerable dramatic potential of a "jim-jam fiesta." Keep reading Newsarama in the coming days for more from our interview with Rick Remender.
Newsarama: Rick, it's been a bit since we've gotten into story details of Uncanny Avengers, and plenty has changed in the book since the last time we talked — new characters, new series artist, and a new story arc unfolding with the Apocalypse Twins and Kang.
Rick Remender: The angle I took on [Uncanny Avengers] is that this is a monthly book where every issue should feel like it's an event — it's building into something huge. We spent literally months and months and months reworking this outline. The initial story is 20-21 issues, and it is entirely outlined.
I know everything that happens, and for the first time in my career at Marvel, was able to take all of my notebook ideas that were too big and actually use them. Insane ideas way too big for me to ever get away with in books like Punisher, or Venom, or X-Force; or Secret Avengers, even. When you find out the kind of talent involved, and everything we're putting together here, I think it's a very exciting and unique series.
Nrama: Uncanny X-Force ended up being something of one big story, but that kind of came about along the way, right? While Uncanny Avengers was set out from the beginning to be more of one long, continuous thought?
Remender: On X-Force, we knew the very basics of the first 18 issues, but once we got to the end of the fourth issue and once we killed Kid Apocalypse, the rest of it kind of came. I seeded the trouble with Warren Worthington fighting the Archangel persona in the first issue. I had definitely had my head around that; that was something we could do something cool with, I just didn't know when.
"The Dark Angel Saga," as it was cooking, was really a seed for this story in Uncanny Avengers; it was the first part of a much bigger idea of what happens when the new heirs of Apocalypse actually ramp up their attack on Earth. Boy, there was never a better opportunity to tell that story than after the return of mutants, and it also perfectly fit with Red Skull’s new motives, giving us a yin to the yang to the Apocalypses. As I work on this Apocalypse stuff all sort of keeps building, and getting bigger and bigger and bigger. Even after the “Apocalypse Twins” and "Ragnarok Now," we've got a next escalation for the next year, something that Jason Aaron and I have been beating up for a while now.
Nrama: It definitely seems at least partially a case of fortuitous timing , too — as you mentioned, the story fits with what was coming out of Avengers vs. X-Men, and Uncanny Avengers was the first book launched after that.
Remender: Yeah. It all fit together perfectly. And in the first arc of the series, we used the AvX momentum to set up a lot of the next big stuff. We accomplished everything we needed to in terms of getting the character motives established, the stakes established, and getting the new status quo for Red Skull up and out of the gates, because that's going to turn into something very, very big down the road, obviously.
Nrama: In the very near future is the Uncanny Avengers tie-in issue to Age of Ultron that you're co-writing with Gerry Duggan. Hearing you talk about it at C2E2, you mentioned that you really wanted it to be something that's very important to the ongoing Uncanny Avengers story. Was curious about your mindset on why that was a priority — and was it a challenge given that it is a different timeline, and you're looking to make it fit as more than a one-off?
Remender: Uncanny Avengers is of itself an event that continues to build and build and build. I don't want to sideline this story; I don't want to slow this story down. This story, when people see where it's going, is moving the Marvel Universe forward, towards something incredible.
But as we discussed the potential for doing an AU crossover issue, Tom suggested, "Why don't we use this as an opportunity to show Kang teaching those twins something?" I was like, "Yeah, that's a terrific idea." It really is. First off, it was back story I had to cut for space from the regular series. The set-up was so perfect — here you've got a fractured timeline, where Ultron has jimmied with it, and then Wolverine goes back and jimmies with it, and it's just a big jim-jam fiesta. Characters from the 616, from the current modern timeline, can jump back into this altered timeline, and basically utilize it like "The Most Dangerous Game." This is a hunting ground for them. This is Kang using the Apocalypse Twins, who he's kidnapped and he's raised, and basically sending them out on their first assassination mission.
It also gave me an opportunity in writing it to explore the different dynamics between Scott and Alex, and how roles could be reversed; how they could be in different situations very easily in an altered timeline. Which then allowed me to explore a different aspect of what I think is the core of Havok's message in a very different circumstance, where he is now the leader of the Morlocks, and Scott is one of the big shots in the Defenders, up in their tower.
It just presented so many great ideas, and Gerry Duggan and I spent days and days talking about it, which is kind of crazy for 20 pages. And then you realize, "We can't even fit all of this in here. We just created an entire graphic novel of story in this universe." We went through and cut it down, and I think we ended up with something that's super-entertaining. It's [illustrated] by Adam Kubert and Frank Martin, and Jimmy Cheung did the cover, which is such a treat. It's important that it not feel like a castaway sort of tie-in book, as these crossover things sometimes tend to. The talent involved and the connection to the main story ensures that.
Nrama: Usually it seems that a tie-in can either add something significant to the event, or be significant to the ongoing series it spins out of, but to try and do both can be rare.
Remender: It's a challenge. And it's not one that I would have been able to succeed at were it not for Gerry Duggan and Tom Brevoort. It took three brains.
And I know that seems ridiculous, but it really is like a math equation, when you're trying to figure out where exactly it's going to ship in your ongoing story, how it's going to connect, and where it's going to ship in regards to this event, and how that's all going to make sense, and then you have to get downloaded with all of the pertinence of what's going on in this alt reality at this point — Captain America's not Captain America, he's Colonel America, and Scott Summers is Cable. It really was just a tremendous undertaking, but I think when you get the final product, it paid out.