Avengers: Age of Ultron is bounding its way to the big screen on May 1, 2014, but a month before then the super-team is facing Ultron, Hydra, A.I.M. and more in a new story by one of the masterminds of the Guardians of the Galaxy … but the only place you can read it is in a book. A prose book.
Next April, Marvel releases Avengers: Everybody Wants To Rule The World, a standalone prose novel by Dan Abnett that sees the Avengers “disassembled” according to the writer as they face the assembled might of some of Marvel’s top villains. Abnett, who splits his time between writing comics and prose novels, is combining his two passions here in his second prose novel for Marvel following up on this year’s Rocket Raccoon & Groot: Steal the Galaxy! Prose novel. This novel sees the complete line-up of the cinematic Avengers, including to-be-introduced Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver and Vision, as they face down against Ultron, A.I.M., Hydra, as well as the High Evolutionary and more.
Newsarama: Dan, what can you tell us about this new prose novel, Avengers: Everybody Wants To Rule the World?
Dan Abnett: It’s an original storyline, and it’s got a huge global scope. Several of the Avengers’ all-time greatest foes strike simultaneously. How do Earth’s Mightiest cope? And can it be a coincidence?
Nrama: The Avengers motto is “Avengers Assemble!” but it seems like the villains are doing more assembling here. What led you to having such an ensemble of adversaries for the team?
Abnett: I wanted to push the Avengers to the limit, force them to disassemble to cover all the dangers. A prose work functions very differently to a comic - obviously, I have no wonderful art to make the tale zing and explode - so I thought I’d pack it with lots of action, lots of threats and lots of menace.
Nrama: The subtitle of this upcoming novel, “Everybody Wants To Rule The World,” makes me recall the classic Tears for Fears song. Any ties there, or just coincidence? If it’s the former, can you talk about that?
Abnett: Ah, Chris, you guessed it. The big villain turns out to be Roland Orzabal. [laughs]
No, it’s a kind of coincidence. The phrase seemed apt, and it’s in everyone’s hind brain because of the memories of that song. Of course, I find myself humming it every time I write a chapter…
Nrama: I noticed in the cover Marvel’s released there’s no Hulk pictured – is that to signal he’s not a major part of this novel?
Abnett: No, he’ll be there. Smashing things. Banner will be there too.
Nrama: So if the Hulk and the rest of the movie cast of the Avengers is in, are they the only Avengers here – or have you brought in more?
Abnett: Dan: Though the novel is ‘comic Marvel Universe’ not ‘movie MU’, Marvel’s one request was that I make the core of the team the Avengers recognized from the movie (s)… so Cap, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Thor, Black Widow, Hulk… and now Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver and the Vision. Once I’d gone that far, it seemed plain rude not to invite two or three more to join the party too.
Nrama: In an interview with Marvel.com you said the Avengers were your favorite superhero team, but up until now you’ve written them only sparingly. What’s it like finally getting to do a sizeable story with them, but doing it here in prose rather than comics?
Abnett: Great. They are my favorite team. They’ve appeared in various comics I’ve written, and Force Works, which was what West Coast Avengers became, was sort of an Avengers book of course, but this is a really dream thing to write. The challenge is to make them seem real and ‘alive’ on the page in all their glory without an artist doing all the heavy lifting.
Nrama: Backing up for a second here, let me ask: what makes the Avengers your favorite team to begin with?
Abnett: Almost every line up of the Avengers has a roster of classic and stupendously iconic marvel characters. They’re noble and courageous, first tier heroes, who band together for the good of the world based on their individual talents as champions, rather than because of bonds of ‘family’ (like the Fantastic Four) or shared genetic identity (X-Men) or just being ‘low-life, disreputable outlaws’ (Guardians of the Galaxy) etc Besides, they were the first superhero team I ever read on a regular basis as a kid, and that kind of thing sticks deep.
Nrama: Before we go, tell me this. You’re becoming Marvel’s go-to author for prose novels coinciding with big movie releases. What’s that like, and would you be up for continuing that down the line?
Abnett: Flattering. Flattering to be asked both times, with Rocket and Groot and now the Avengers. “Novelist” is a hat I wear half the time anyway, and I love writing prose. I hope I do a good enough job to be asked back for future engagements.