There’s more to being Captain America that being a soldier – you’re also a general. And this fall when the Falcon takes up the mantle of Captain America, he’s also taking the reins of the Mighty Avengers. This November, Mighty Avengers relaunches as Captain America & The Mighty Avengers, with series writer Al Ewing staying on board and joined by veteran Cap artist Luke Ross. Announced at Friday’s “Avengers NOW!” panel at Comic-Con International: San Diego 2014, Captain America & The Mighty Avengers sees Falcon-Cap give this multi-cultural Avengers squad a new mission statement – hinted at with Ewing’s new moniker for the team – “The People’s Avengers.”
Ewing looks at Captain America & The Mighty Avengers as the second season of this Avengers series, with a new member in Falcon-Cap and a shake-up in leadership as Falcon, Luke Cage and Monica Rambeau all struggle to see who’s boss. The first three issues will tie-in to Avengers & X-Men: Axis, which guest appearances by Tony Stark and a mention of something Ewing is calling an “Avengers/Avengers War.”
Newsarama: Al, it looks like the Mighty Avengers are entering a new era – how would you describe Captain America & The Mighty Avengers on its own and as part of a continuation of what you built with Mighty Avengers?
Al Ewing: As a continuation - we're going bigger. Everything you liked about the first 'season', but more of it. Bigger, weirder threats. More deep character stuff. More Monica, more Vic-and-Ava, definitely more from Sam. The return of Cortex and Gideon Mace. The return of the Plunderer. More people helping people. More everything!
And as its own thing - well, if I could boil it down into something quick and snappy to hook in those who've never heard of us before... "The People's Avengers" would probably be the phrase that pays. An Avengers for the people, of the people.
Nrama: Luke, this isn’t the first time you’ve drawn Captain America. What’s it like though, returning to the codename with a new man, Sam Wilson, under the mask?
Luke Ross: I'm very excited to be back on an Avengers book and drawing Captain America again and I must thank my editors at Marvel for this great opportunity. As a reader and fan as well as its artist, I'm curious to see how Sam Wilson will deal with this big responsibility; of course, he's someone who fought so many times beside the "Sentinel of Liberty" that he's familiar with everything involving that costume and what that symbol represents. But it still comes down to a new man inside the suit, with a different upbringing, different experiences, different life leading up to this moment. But you know what's really cool? Cap can fly now!
Nrama: We know Cap is in this, but who are the people who’ll make up the “Mighty Avengers” in the title’s name?
Ewing: You are.
The people who make up the Mighty Avengers are, to quote the Goodies, you and you and you. One of the themes we've had from the beginning is that this is not an exclusive club - if you can help, you're in. There's a place for you.
In terms of the field team, though - to actually answer your question - it'll be pretty much the same team we have at the end of Mighty Avengers #14. Plus Spider-Man! Some of the team will be moving more to support roles after the initial arc - the old "what do you do with thirteen X-men" conundrum - but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
Ross: The one I look forward to drawing most of all is Spider-Man, because he's my favorite Marvel Comics character ever -- and it will be very interesting to draw him again after so many years. He's changed, and I've changed. I've learned a lot more as an artist since my run on a Spider-Man title in the '90s, so I'll do a better hob. But as a fan, what makes it all the more exciting is that Spidey is in a moment that he is Peter Parker again and has to face the group after being so awful to its members when he was Superior Spider-Man. It will be very embarrassing for him, Poor Peter! Yeah, it's the web-slinger that I love to draw most!
But you know, I'm also excited for the chance to draw She-Hulk, because this will be my first time with her!
And I'll draw Luke Cage! Hey, and Monica Rambeau! Yeah, I have some fun stuff waiting for me!
Nrama: Luke, you’re drawing Sam-as-Cap in this new costume designed by Carlos Pacheco. You’ve drawn Cap in a couple different looks in the past, so what do you think of this new design and how are you doing drawing it?
Ross: Carlos did great work creating this new costume, He added the wings detail, that represents Falcon, framing the star on Cap's chest. Actually, it's the only detail I'm still having some difficulties to draw. I need to get some more practice with it!
The all classic design elements are still there, but finessed into with a more modern look. It's not too simple nor too fancy, a good balance. Sort of like how each Marvel movie interprets the costumes a little differently. But thank God it's less detailed and complicated than the last one we saw Cap using.
Nrama: Luke Cage led the team in the previous iteration, but it looks like Sam-as-Cap is taking that position. Where exactly does Luke fit into the scheme of things here?
Ewing: It does look like that, doesn't it? Which is bad news for Monica, since she is and has always been the leader in the field. Luke Cage is the support role - the organizer, the Professor X to Monica's Cyclops. But the public perception is that Captain America leads every team he's on, in the field and anywhere else. That's going to cause some tensions.
I can promise that at the end of it all, this confusing "field leader and support leader" business will be done with. By Captain America & The Mighty Avengers #4, the Mighty Avengers will have one clear leader, in front and behind the scenes. Who will it be? You'll find out. But it's probably one of the three I just mentioned. Or Adam.
Nrama: You’ve had the Mighty Avengers go up against a wide variety of threats in Mighty Avengers – who or what are they up against, initially at least, in this new series?
Ewing: Well, Cortex is back - this is the corporation that funded Gideon Mace, the man who killed White Tiger's parents and caused trouble for Luke back in the day. And it seems they want to own the Mighty Avengers too... but why? And why is Luke letting it happen? Meanwhile, why does Tony Stark want to start the Avengers/Avengers War, and which Mighty Avenger is on his side?
Also, it wouldn't be a Mighty Avengers #1 without... the Plunderer! You heard it here first, true believer!
Nrama: This is launching around the same time as Avengers & X-Men: Axis, so will the events of that series be of effect in Captain America & The Mighty Avengers? And if so, how?
Ewing: The first three issues are an AXIS tie-in - although to say exactly how it all ties in would probably spoil the plot of Axis in ways it hasn't been spoiled yet. So I'm going to play my 'wait and see' card on this one.
Nrama: What would you say is the modus operandi of Sam’s Avengers team here, and how is it different than the various other Avengers teams out there?
Ewing: I think the big difference is that anyone can join the Mighty Avengers. If you can help in any capacity - from answering the phones to generating anti-matter with your fingers - there's a place for you if you want it. There's no 'A-list' or 'C-list' here - just heroes doing what they can to help. That's the whole mission - to help out, in whatever way they can.
Obviously, things do come up that shake the entire concept of reality, and the Mighty Avengers can and will deal with these kind of universe-shattering threats. But that's just all part of the remit.
Nrama: We’ve talked about the series as a whole, and the first arc, but that first issue in November – what can readers specifically look forward to?
Ewing: Well, the #1 issue is our jumping-on point for new readers, and it's going to explain what the Mighty Avengers, and their current Big Bad, are all about for anyone who's just joining us. We won't be leaving those readers who haven't been with us from the start out in the cold. And there'll be action, drama, laughs, Spidey apologizing to Luke for the whole Doc Ock business, or trying to - and wait until you see how that goes down - intrigue, schemes, a cliffhanger that'll leave you gasping and desperate for issue #2 to drop so you can find out more... and the Plunderer. The Plunderer, people.
Nrama: Working with you on this is Luke Ross; Luke is a veteran of a variety of Marvel comics, but I specifically know him best for is instances drawing Cap. How is it for you teaming up with him, and are there things you’re taking from his previous work that you might utilize or request in your scripts?
Ewing: Well, so far we're in the very early days, but I love his style from what I've seen of it - he's got that great mixture of realism and dynamic action. I've seen him do a few fun things with panel layouts, too, and there'll come a time when I really start leaning on that.
Nrama: Luke, how about you? How do you go about feeling out a writer to know what you’re working with? Do you simply go by the script, or do you sometimes seek out a writer’s previous work to get a sneak peek? And either way, what do you look for in a script when you’re just getting started with a writer?
Ross: I use a very critical investigative technique called reading! [Laughs] Most of the time I like to know more about the writer's previous work, to be more prepared and in tune with the writer's storytelling. So I tried to get my hands on everything Al had worked on, and I can say that I am very fortunate to be working with him on this book!
Other times, when I'm not familiar to the writer's work, I just go by the script and see where it will lead me. In both cases, despite the fact that I try to be the more accurate possible in translating the writer's vision, I look for opportunities to use my own ideas in terms of storytelling. I think you'll be happy with the book.
Nrama: Last question – if people had to pick just one Avengers book to follow, why do you as this series writer think Captain America & The Mighty Avengers is the one they should choose?
Ewing: Well, it's not a race - each of the Avengers books has something of its own that it can offer, and what might be perfect for one reader might not work for another. I suppose the thing that I try to do is create a fun, old-school superhero book with a solid conscience, plenty of character work and a scope that can go from street-level punch-ups to creepy supernatural threats to cosmic action at the drop of a hat - or mix and match. And a lot of readers can't get enough of that.