Secret Avengers will get a new #1 this spring, as Spider-Woman joins the team and writer Ales Kot goes solo on the title.
Earlier this week, Newsarama talked to Kot about his first story arc, "How to Maim a Mockingbird," that he's co-plotting with the current-but-soon-departing Secret Avengers writer Nick Spencer.
Now Marvel has announced at New York Comic Con that Kot is taking over the writing on Secret Avengers as the title kicks off a new #1 as part of the publisher's All-New Marvel NOW! campaign.
Kot will be kicking off his solo Secret Avengers run with artist Michael Walsh, who recently collaborated with Kot on Zero #1, the first issue of his ongoing spy action thriller series for Image Comics.
For Marvel fans, Kot may be a fairly unknown entity, but the writer has been impressing readers and critics with his work for Image, including the acclaimed series Change and the graphic novel, Wild Children. He also has experience with the cloak-and-dagger type stories familiar to Secret Avengers readers, because he worked on spy teams in both the aforementioned Image series Zero and his short run on DC's Suicide Squad.
Kot brings his unique voice to comics after having grown up in Czechoslovakia, where he was a comic book reader from a young age. As Kot detailed to Newsarama earlier this year, his big break into American publishing came in 2011 when he took some of his pitches to Eric Stephenson of Image Comics.
Newsarama talked to the writer about taking over Secret Avengers, bringing Spider-Woman onto the team, and how the story he's co-plotting now with Spencer leads into his new #1.
Newsarama: Ales, what's your approach to Secret Avengers as you take over as writer with the new #1 for All-New Marvel NOW? What's the tone you're hoping to achieve, and what themes or scenarios are you most interested in exploring with the book??
Ales Kot: I find that the tone is discovered through research and imagination – and it's a continuous process that is always open to new possibilities. Secret Avengers #1 will ideally enter a territory of a tense superhero action thriller with a solid amount of snappy one-liners, amusing and surprising character development and stories that will be relevant to the world we live in. When thinking about the first issue and feeling out what's working, I discovered that the closest comparison I can make as of the moment is James Bond and Breaking Bad meets Arrested Development meets Marvel.
Themes, scenarios – I want those to be surprises. What I am willing to say is that I am interested in exploring the (super)human condition through exploring scenarios already present in our society. I am interested in exploring ethics and what they mean. I am interested in exploring new worlds that emerge as consequences of our decisions. Also in explosions.
Nrama: What was behind the decision to add Spider-Woman to the team? What does she bring to the comic, and what do the other characters think of her addition?
Kot: It felt right! I was eating ramen with my editor, Lauren Sankovitch, and she asked what I thought of Spider-Woman as a possible addition. I immediately said yes. Spider-Woman fascinates me because she's a character who is trying to learn how to have a life she can be happy with while juggling twenty different pieces of the puzzle. It's a very relatable condition.
As for what the other characters think of her addition – and how they feel about it – come read #1. One thing I will tell you is that Black Widow takes her to a Russian spa.
Nrama: Many of the characters you're handling in this series are popular movie and TV characters. How much do the movie versions of the characters influence their portrayal in the comic? Is there an effect to allow/not allow the live action version to inform the comic??
Kot: There's no metric system in place. For example, Phil Coulson's character is so well defined in The Avengers film when it comes to the basics that I feel no need to alter them. Can I add to them? Yes. Do I intend to add to them? Yes. I want all characters to feel alive and evolve.
Nrama: How would you describe Hawkeye and Black Widow as characters? What's the key to writing them???Kot: Hawkeye is a slacker who can be hyper-competent when he wants to be. He is troubled, well meaning and exciting to be around – in small doses. Black Widow is constantly in the on mode, scanning, wondering, making moves, the kind of a spy that never stops working. That sort of constant work pressure inevitably takes its toll, even when it seems one is enjoying it.
The key to writing characters is always the same to me: research the past stories and then listen to their current voices and stories as they appear in my consciousness. I let the first drafts and ideas come and I write them all down – and only after that do I employ logic.
That's the way I usually work. That's why I trusted my gut and said “yes” to including Spider-Woman pretty much immediately. The discussion that helped us understand why it's really a good idea happened right after that.
Nrama: What about Fury Jr., Maria Hill and Coulson? How are they similar and different??
Kot: Fury Jr. is a bit of a cipher, isn't he? I won't spoil that one at all. Maria Hill runs S.H.I.E.L.D and that means that her analytical mind might at times – or very often, even – overload her emotions. Imbalance is sometimes required, but what about the repercussions of her past decisions? What if some hard calls came back to haunt her and she had to go back and wonder whether something like “a greater good” truly exists?
Phil Coulson is probably the kindest, smoothest S.H.I.E.L.D agent I have ever heard of. How does he keep his cool? What does he do when he's off work? I am interested in answering these questions. I am interested in seeing and showing the complexity behind them.
I am giving you small bits and pieces. There is much more to come.
?Nrama: What's the main threat to the team as you begin the story in Secret Avengers #1? And what kind of threats are you hoping to bring to the title overall???Kot: The thing about perceived threats is, they are rarely what they seem to be. What if someone targeted S.H.I.E.L.D? What if three organizations targeted it at the same time, each engaging on a different level? Would there be one mastermind or many different cooks? Also, who would send a hitman after Maria Hill and why?
Nrama: You and Michael Walsh collaborated on Zero #1, the first issue of your ongoing spy action thriller series for Image Comics. How has it been working with him again??
Kot: Wonderful. There's a symbiosis to our collaboration that is one of the key reasons why I continue to love making comics. We trust each other. We believe in each other. We respect each other and we know that a good creative relationship – or any good relationship, for that matter – comes from a place of love, respect, communication and enthusiasm.
I love Mike's work. He is, at least to my eyes, continuing in the great tradition of comics artists such as Sean Philips, Charlie Adlard, David Aja and Chris Samnee. Once I get to know my collaborator, I keep the scripts very open, usually not specifying the amount of panels per page and often not mentioning angles, simply because I trust the artist and because I know we will go over anything that won't be working smoothly until it becomes exactly what we want it to be. And it's precisely this way with Mike – we have each other's backs.