Frank Tieri: Shaking Things Up With Avalanche

Tieri Talks Avalanche

X-Men: Manifest Destiny #5, page 4

The Amazing Avalanche!

no, no – wait…the Incredible Avalanche!

The Invincible Avalanche?

Astonish….aw, forget it.

As far as Marvel’s mutants go, Avalanche’s name could just as easily have been Wallpaper Man. A member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, Freedom Force and other groups of mutants looking for a bad time or otherwise working for the shady side of the government, Dominikos Ioannis Petrakis isn’t one of the shining stars of the X-Men’s world. His name is his power, but beyond that…not much. That’s why it’s all the more surprising that he was one of the mutants who held on to his powers on M-Day, an event during which the vast majority of Marvel’s mutants lost their special powers.

So what’s he been doing since?

That’s where X-Men: Manifest Destiny #5 and Frank Tieri come in. Manifest Destiny, a five issue anthology miniseries has been checking in on Marvel’s mutants since the staus quo change chronicled in Messiah Complex and the resultant relocation of the mutants to San Francisco. The fifth and final issue is due in stores on January 7th, and Tieri is writing the story starring Avalanche. We caught up with him for some details.

Newsarama: Frank, you're taking part in X-Men: Manifest Destiny #5 - it's an anthology book, obviously, so how does one get a spot in the lineup?

Frank Tieri: You know, I have a pretty long history with the X-office, but I hadn’t done anything over there in a while. So Nick Lowe and I got to talking and he was like “Hey, I’ve got this X-Men: Manifest Destiny thing in the works, why don’t you throw me a pitch for it?”. We tossed around different characters to use, different types of stories to tell, but the one we settled on was this little Avalanche number.

NRAMA: Why Avalanche?

FT: I’ve always been a sucker for the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants—especially the first two, the Magneto and Mystique versions. And while there’s been plenty of stories on Mystique, the Blob, Toad, etc, there really haven’t been that many stories focusing on Avalanche. Yeah, the guy’s been around for decades but what do we really know about him outside of the fact he wears a goofy helmet and makes the ground shake a lot?

X-Men: Manifest Destiny #5, page 5

NRAMA: Technically speaking this is the "return" of Avalanche. He didn't lose his powers as a result of M-Day, but hasn't been seen since. That said, Avalanche has a backstory and history, but yet M-Day is a life-changing event for mutants. So how did you want to approach him as a character? Same as it's ever been, to quote the Talking Heads, or show him as a different man due to being a survivor?

FT: I’d say he’s definitely a different man. As you say, M-Day would’ve been a life changing experience for some mutants. Some would’ve “found religion”, so to speak, and taken it as a chance to make a fresh start—and that’s what I see happening with Avalanche.

In fact, when we find him in our story, he’s not running around in funny under wear anymore or running after whoever the hell heads the Brotherhood now– the only thing he’s running these days is a bar.

NRAMA: A bar?

FT: Yep. He’s retired to a fairly quiet existence, running a little bar in San Fran. But, of course, we all know what a bad location he’s picked because that’s where the X-Men are heading.

You can pretty much see how it all pretty much hits the fan for him after that.

NRAMA: So when the X-men show up… given what the mutants have been through, as well as Cyclops' telepathic call to all mutants to come to San Francisco...why would a member want to stand against other members of this small "tribe," for lack of a better term?

FT: I believe the question you should be asking instead is why would the tribe want to stand against the one member?

M day really has changed everything… so how much have the X-Men and their methodologies changed as a result? That’s the question this story really addresses.

NRAMA: Which X-men in particular are involved in this story?

X-Men: Manifest Destiny #5, page 5

FT: Probably my four favorite X-men of all time:




And… get ready for it… surprise, surprise… Wolverine.

Wolvie really does most of the heavy lifting in the story—I’ve always seen him as the guy the X-men would send if they wanted to send a message to somebody. Sort of like the X-family’s leg breaker go-to-guy.

NRAMA: Again Frank, we find you writing a villain...dude, what is it with you and the bad guys? Do you find that you have more latitude with them, as opposed to heroes, who by and large have to stay on a relatively narrow pre-ordained path?

FT: Well, truthfully, this is almost as much an X-Men story as it is an Avalanche one. And if you’ve been paying attention—and I know you have, Matt—my work as of late has been largely hero-centric (Batman, Outsiders, for DC, Nick Fury, Hulk for Marvel Digital) That being said…

Yeah, I know, I’m doing another villain thing. I guess partly because it’s become sort of my niche by now. People decide to do villain pieces and I’m usually one of the people who comes to mind. I take it as a compliment, actually—it shows that the work I’ve done in the past with villains is appreciated, and that people think I can bring something interesting to the table.

And the maybe the key word to that last sentence is “interesting”—I just find villains to be more interesting… more real. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—I don’t know too many people who, upon getting super powers, will put on a pair of long underwear and start running into burning buildings or pulling cats out of trees. More than likely they’d knock over the nearest bank or beat the ever-living crap out of that kid they never liked from high school. More than likely the people I know would be what would be considered villains, so that’s probably where a lot of it comes from.

Besides… aren’t villains just a hell of a lot more fun anyway?

NRAMA: So where will we see your name show up next?

FT: Well, I know my output’s been DC heavy as of late (so much so that a lot of people mistakenly thought I was DC exclusive) but the pendulum’s going to shift a bit and you’ll be seeing my name involved with a lot of upcoming Marvel stuff. I expect one of those projects to announced fairly soon, but for the most part, a lot of the other stuff will come to light at New York Comic Con and beyond.

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