Chris Eliopoulos is back this winter and he's bringing his pack of wild Avengers along with him.
As announced at Toronto Fan Expo, the Pet Avengers will return to Marvel in a four-issue limited series beginning in February. This time around, the team of feathered and furry heroes rush to find out what happened to the team's fan-favorite amphibian, Frog Thor.
After the success of their Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers mini-series this summer, Marvel is reuniting Eliopoulos with artist Ig Guara for the new mini-series. Newsarama talked to Eliopoulos to find out more about what Marvel's band of animal side-kicks are doing in the newest edition of the Pet Avengers.
Nrama: First off, Chris, why no Lockjaw in the title this time around? Are the Pet Avengers now established enough to carry the series? Of were you unsure about the end of War of Kings?
Chris Eliopoulos: In the first series, it was Lockjaw's mission to retrieve the gems and ultimately battle Thanos. Now they are a team in every sense, so it seemed appropriate.
Nrama: Is the cast going to be the same?
Eliopoulos: The cast is intact. They work well together and I see no need for them to lose a member. They may add a member as the story goes on, but I like these guys.
Nrama: So we've got Lockjaw, Lockheed, Falcon's bird Redwing, Speedball's cat Hairball, Ms. Lion, Zabu and Frog Thor, or Throg. Where do we pick up their story for this series?
Eliopoulos: If you check out the Tails of the Pet Avengers digital comics coming in October, there are some stories about the Pet Avengers back home after the first series. I wrote and Ig Guara drew the Frog Thor story as a connecting thread between the two series. He is a little lost when he returns home and finds he no longer belongs with his frog clan and goes on a self-discovery search. For the others, they have returned to their normal lives. They have become a family of sorts, so they all are a bit lost without each other, but that doesn't last for long.
Nrama: What gets them started on this adventure together?
Eliopoulos: Frog Thor is on a search for who he is and where he belongs in this universe, when he disappears. The rest of the Pet Avengers sense that he has gone missing and join together to find him. That's where the story starts.
Nrama: Last time, Obama's dog was a guest star for an issue. How are you going to top the presidential pooch appearance?
Eliopoulos: I don't think I have to top Bo appearing. Though there will be creatures that we haven't seen before, but I'm not interested in topping something. I just want to tell a good story that people will enjoy.
Nrama: Why do you think this was such a success the first time around? What is it about the pets that make them so appealing to readers?
Eliopoulos: I think people didn't expect much from the first series. So, we benefitted from low expectations. I loved that most reviews and comments were surprise at how much fun it was and that it was much better than they expected. What made people take a chance on it was that it had pets, which most everyone loves and that it was something different than what's going on everywhere else. But, at its core, it was just a fun story.
Nrama: Have you gotten a lot of feedback from fans about the first Pet Avengers series? What age group does this reach and do you have any anecdotes about the fans?
Eliopoulos: Wow. We have heard from just about everyone in every demographic. We've gotten letters from little kids, adults and everyone in between! It's been really exciting to hear all the feedback. The one I love was a father who said he had to buy 2 copies of the book, because he loved it as much of his son and his son would take his copy everywhere and destroy it in the process. I'm so relieved we were able to reach adults and kids alike.
Nrama: And you've got the same art team this time around?
Eliopoulos: Ig Guara and Chris Sotomayor are back on board. I begged Nate, my editor, to make sure they stayed on. I don't think I could do the series without them. They MADE the series.
Nrama: Anything else you want to share about the Pet Avengers?
Eliopoulos: We’re working super hard to make this next series as accessible as possible for new readers young and old, so you’re going to spend most of your time with the team and what makes each of them tick. The PA’s have busy lives, so there’s got to be something REALLY special that brings them back together to deal with a threat that no being with opposable thumbs could handle…to save the world, you need a pet.
And the online "Tails of the Pet Avengers" will be five different stories, premiering in October.