It’s been a pretty big fourteen days for Alex Ross. Two projects he’s art directing and shepherding have hit - Dynamite's Project Superpowers #4 this week, and next week from Marvel, Avengers/Invaders #3.
With a double shot of his work out, we caught up with him for a double shot of questions, starting with Project Superpowers #4:
Newsarama: Alex, we’re just past the halfway point for the opening Project Superpowers series - has the story changed from when you first worked out the details with Jim and Dynamite? If so, how?
Alex Ross: Basically, I have a much better idea of what we’re doing with the sequel at this point. Progressively, watching the art come in and doing my part of the covers and designs has been a total blast on this project, and has fueled inspiration for its follow-up.
NRAMA: Where do things end up – without giving anything away, of course – at the end of the opening eight (including #0) issues? This initial miniseries is the springboard to launch the entire universe, correct?
AR: Yes. It’s basically to get the main superhero characters on stage, except that we’re only going to continue introducing classic and new heroes into our lineup as things go on. At the end of this initial series, we see this first round of heroes gather together. And we deepen some of the mystery about our players.
NRAMA: That said, is working on this similar to what you and Jim Krueger did with Earth X, in that you were creating a world that you (or others) would be exploring, or is this different?
AR: This is new because we’re finding our way within the material as we go through it. Our previous collaborations had much tighter outlines with very little wiggle room.
NRAMA: With so many characters now in play in ,b>Project Superpowers, who have you found resonating with your sensibilities that you may not have thought of in that way before?
AR: For me, it’s been growing a personal love for the Black Terror. He’s our main hero, I feel, and a good metaphor for a modern nomadic hero.
NRAMA: As we've talked about before, Project Superpowers is one of a handful of projects - including Avengers/Invaders - that is seeing Golden Age characters brought back into prominence. Why do you think these projects and characters are re-entering the zeitgeist now?
AR: Who can explain how the zeitgeist works? I wouldn’t have predicted this. There’s no economic reason for this to be done, and I don’t believe any of the parties are lifting from one another. That said, these all revolve around ideas of something that hadn’t been tried in quite the way that we have all done, separately.
NRAMA: You’re on record as being very happy with the interior art team. With that said, has your role as art director on this series changed from start to now?
AR: Changed, no. But I’m continually impressed with the team we’re fortunate to work with on this.
And now, Avengers/Invaders #3 (click here for a preview):
NRAMA: This project marks your return, creatively, to the Marvel Universe, how’s it been so far? Are you used to the lay of the land as far as the present-day Marvel Universe goes yet?
AR: I don’t think anybody can be used to it when there’s so much you don’t know. Even if you’ve read every issue of the New Avengers and most all of the related books, you can’t know what will be twisting the characters’ lives or be the secret thing they’re not telling you – such as who’s a Skrull – so you’re not entirely clear of how what you’re working on fits into the big picture.
NRAMA: Fans have wondered since the start, where does this story fit within the Marvel Universe of today? Or does it really matter to you?
AR: Well, I would like to think this is a unique event, that the actual Captain America’s return, of a sort, is a more than poignant passing moment. At the end of the day, we just have to be concerned with making an engaging adventure, and how well others perceive us will determine how much we fit in.
NRAMA: On that front, and again, without giving anything away, how is this going to "stick?"
AR: It’s very important for me that this not be a time-traveling moment that is erased from everyone’s minds. That said, what our heroes from the past may learn would have to have been in their heads when we return them to their time. To some degree, this vision of the future wouldn’t seem to the participants like it’s really part of their life’s timeline.
NRAMA: When thinking on this project, what was your one personal goal, either in terms of your cover work, or your co-plotting/writing?
AR: To try and measure up to all the quality work that’s being done by other creators at Marvel today.
NRAMA: Given what we've seen in issue #2, you're setting the bar kind of high for the "two teams meet, two teams fight." The Avengers are being pretty harsh on the Invaders, something that's deepening the Invaders’ distrust. Is this you and Jim doling out a little commentary on the heroes of today versus days past?
AR: Not by my feeling. I have enormous sympathy for the modern-day heroes in each side’s struggle. And the Invaders are not meant to be present as an overly idealistic teaming – they never were. They’re not the DC heroes; they’ve always been an example of the chaotic and aggressive Marvel Universe, even before it was Marvel.
NRAMA: Touching on Project Superpowers again - with Avengers/Invaders, both your series launched at #4 in the Top Ten - how does that feel?
AR: It feels fantastic. But it feels even better to know my publisher (and packager on the Marvel book) Nick, who has put everything into this, is rewarded for his efforts.