“Ever changing, ever the same.”
That’s what Tom Brevoort, Marvel’s Senior Vice-President of Publishing, tells Newsarama is the mission statement of the recently announced “Avengers NOW!” initiative. The initiative, picking up from previous initiatives such as “Marvel NOW!” and “All-New Marvel NOW!,” sees the face of Marvel’s flagship Avengers franchise changed – literally – with the longtime sidekick the Falcon taking up the mantle of Captain America and Thor being replaced – in spirit and in name – by an as-yet unidentified woman. And although Iron Man continues to be Tony Stark, the Armored Avenger will reportedly be reverting to his darker ways witnessed before he was injured and transformed himself into Iron Man.
Change isn’t new at Marvel. Other people have served as Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man, only for their tenures to be brief as the original heroes eventually returned to their proverbial posts. But with “Avengers NOW!,” Marvel looks to be aiming for a modern-day, more coordinated approach to the idea of a “passing of the torch” moment and a changing of the guard. Brevoort tells Newsarama that the individual changes with each characters were in the works going back years, independently of each other, but once they began coalescing on the publisher’s long-term editorial calendar they saw a chance to sync them up more directly and also let it reverberate across Marvel’s other titles.
At this time, information on “Avengers NOW!” is still somewhat sparse, but Brevoort did pull back the curtain on how it came to be, the goal once they had a plan in place, and how it ties into the broader landscape of Marvel comics.
Newsarama: This has been a week of announcements – a new Cap, a new Thor, and a new (as in old) Iron Man with Tony Stark going back to his old ways. At large, how would you describe the mission statement of “Avengers NOW!”?
Tom Brevoort: It’s less a mission statement and more an announcement of change. We got to a point in the stories of the individual characters where the status quo was changing, and “Avengers NOW!” is a way we can express that for the world to understand. The changes to Captain America, Thor, Iron Man and a few others all were independently set to happen around the same time, so we thought it’d be great to coordinate them more effectively. The changes to Thor are coming out of the events of Original Sin and those tie-ins, while the changes to Cap were coming out of the Captain America title. And the changes to Iron Man are coming out of Avengers & X-Men: Axis, right after Original Sin. The fact that it’s all happening around the same time was a fluke, but a fluke we’re happy to take advantage of to wrap a ribbon around and express it better.
“Avengers NOW!”’s mission statement, if anything, is “ever changing, ever the same.” Marvel’s core characters and properties are always doing things that are interesting and hopefully unexpected; change is the watchword of the day, but there’ll always be a consistency of creative vision, consistence of character, and consistency of story and storytelling from one iteration to another. That’s what makes Marvel exciting.
For all of that, there will be fans who are mad or will rail about the changes. But the fact that we’re not doing the same stories over is part of what’s exciting about this. To be able to throw these characters into new, uncharted territories is something our readers as a whole react very well to; even if some are complaining, they’re engaged. The poster boy for this sort of thing is Superior Spider-Man; it was the most hated, most beloved comic in America for most of its run. It was the most hated because people were upset because of a black card villain was running around in Peter Parker’s body, and that was shocking. But the storytelling and characterization were spot-on, and everyone got over their anger, read the issues, bought in, and eventually got onto the train and got excited about what happened. The question is how far can you ratchet up the attention? For Superior Spider-Man, how far can you go while it still being a Spider-Man story? That’s really the kind of spirit we’re aiming to embody across the entire publishing line.
Nrama: Will “Avengers NOW!” be limited to the core trinity Avengers’ solo books, All-New Captain America, Superior Iron Man and Thor, or is there others?
Brevoort: There will be more, but we’re holding back on going into detail just yet. I can say that the previously announced Deathlok series is a part of the “Avengers NOW!” initiative. While it’s not what you’d necessarily think of immediately as a core Avengers title by any means, it is a big primary launch for us, out of and off the back of Original Sin. It features a character that has far more awareness in the world due to his appearances in the Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television series than he’s ever had before, so again while as a series it’s its own thing Deathlok does fall under the umbrella of “Avengers NOW!”
Nrama: So just how this this work with “Time Runs Out” in New Avengers and Avengers seeing as how they’re coming out simultaneously?
Brevoort: “Time Runs Out” is what it is – 8 months later. It’s a look forward at the events happening at the end of April 2015, so “Avengers NOW!” fits in with that stuff as this happens before and is reflected in Avengers and New Avengers because they’re jumped ahead. At the point of “Time Runs Out” we see a new Iron Man, we see a new Thor, we see a new Cap, as well as other stuff, which will be introduced in the individual series. They’re not all one gigantic story per se, but each one is individually its own thing – but they all take place inside one big Marvel Universe, so it kind of fits together after all. How will these changes impact not just Avengers and New Avenges, but also Uncanny Avengers, Mighty Avengers and elsewhere?
Nrama: One solo series not getting a relaunch is Hulk. It was relaunched earlier this year, but the character appears in that cover to Avengers #35. Is he going to change to, and is Hulk a part of “Avengers NOW!”?
Brevoort: The Hulk is changing more than people might think of realize here. I have to be fairly careful what I say here as not to spoil what’s coming up, but after Original Sin and the Hulk Vs. Iron Man miniseries, new Hulk writer Gerry Duggan has a new status quo for the Green Goliath and a new mission statement. While Hulk isn’t the thing we’re talking about here because it started a bit earlier, Hulk is going through his own set of changes.