As much as Marvel fans want to see Iron Man, Thor and Steve Rogers happily working together on the Avengers again, the characters have a lot of recent history that can't be ignored.
Avengers Prime: Siege Aftermath, a five-issue, bi-monthly mini-series by Brian Michael Bendis and Alan Davis, deals with the three "prime" Avengers and how they resolve their many differences. While the series will begin at the same time as other Avengers titles in June, the entire five issues take place before the first issue of The Avengers and the launch of the "Heroic Age," but after the events of Siege.
The story begins at the end of Siege as Iron Man, Thor and Steve Rogers find themselves in a different place in time, stuck there until they work together to get home. As they experience this displacement over the series' five issues, the three end up dealing with their rocky past in a way that avoids lots of talking heads, instead forcing them into an action-filled dangerous adventure while they also work through their differences.
Vice President, Executive Editor Executive Tom Brevoort, who guides the Avengers titles, told Newsarama that the "Siege Aftermath" part of the mini's title may actually be temporary, dropping down to just Avengers Prime later this summer, since it's only there to explain when and where the story takes place. As Newsarama readers know, there are four Avengers titles launching this spring, so the "Siege Aftermath" label is meant to differentiate Avengers Prime as its own, separate mini-series.
Newsarama talked with Brevoort about what motivated this five-issue series, why Alan Davis was brought on board, and whether this "place in time" is a familiar one.
Newsarama: What role does this comic play in the aftermath of Siege?
Tom Brevoort: It is a Siege aftermath, or Siege epilogue, but it's less about the specific events of Siege, and more about the relationship going forward of Thor, Iron Man and Steve Rogers.
Nrama: Yeah, these characters have a few things to deal with.
Brevoort: Yes, they have a lot to deal with. In the same sort of way that, at the end of Civil War, Brian wrote the [Civil War: The] Confession one-shot, this fills that same role, except that there is more, and we want to actually have some colorful superhero action-adventure during the course of it. It'll be five issues rather than one where they all sit around and share their feelings.
Nrama: So does that mean they're going to deal with the problems they have with each other while embroiled in some kind of action that needs to take place?
Brevoort: Yeah. Due to stuff that I can't get into just yet, Thor, Iron Man and Steve Rogers find themselves pulled into this adventure, pulled into a place in time that is not their own, and having to once again come together and once again join forces to get to the bottom of it, and to find their way back and deal with the situation they're in. As part of that, they'll work through some of their outstanding issues and get to some kind of resolve on all the stuff that has come before.
Nrama: So often, after characters have conflicts, they shake hands and smile and it's all forgotten. Was it always the plan to take five issues to resolve the problems between these characters? Or was it a case of Brian trying to write that smile and handshake and realizing it just didn't work?
Brevoort: I think it was always the plan to do this is some way, shape or form. That's all endemic of the type of writer Brian is and the things that interest him the most. I think you can sort of see, based on his body of work, that this is the sort of thing he likes to sink his teeth into the most. So I don't think there was ever any doubt that he was going to deal with it and delve into it in a meaningful way, and not just kind of brush it off and go, "Hey! Everybody's friends now!" and go away and forget all those comics and stories we did in the past.
Again, going back to the Civil War: The Confession. It wasn't part of the original plan, but it became apparent, specifically to Brian, that there were these outstanding emotional issues that had to be addressed, that weren't really being addressed in the climax of Civil War or the set-up of the Initiative stuff that was coming after. At that point, Brian realized the characters needed to put some punctuation on this emotional story they've been through on top of running around and punching and hitting one another.
Siege and the aftermath of Siege, and going into this new Avengers era, is all coming from Brian. And this was part of the jigsaw puzzle that he had always intended to deal with. Some of the initial thoughts were, well, where will it be dealt with? Will it be dealt with in Avengers? Will it be dealt with in Siege? And as it turned out, we felt the best place to do it was in it's own book, where it could be the sum and substance of what the story is about, rather than sort of weighing down an Avengers launch that starts with a new #1. Starting that with a ton of baggage, dealing with stories that are a year or two years or three years or more old, just didn't make sense. Or weighting down the end of Siege with 80 pages of guys standing around emoting to one another.
Nrama: Why "Prime?" Because these are the three prime characters in the Avengers?
Brevoort: Yeah, it's the three prime members. Honestly? In a perfect world, we would have called it "Avengers Trinity." But some people soured the name "Trinity" for us. [laughs] Unfortunately.
So really, Avengers Prime is Thor, Cap/Steve, and Iron Man. When people think of the core, classic Avengers, these are thought of as the holy trinity or holy trio. So, "Prime" is really just our idea of saying "those three guys."
Nrama: Where did the idea of bringing on Alan Davis come from? And why him on this project?
Brevoort: Well, it's sort of two-fold. The real reason is that Brian is a huge Alan Davis fan and has been for years. Brian has always been interested in working with Alan on something, but we could never get the timing to work out. Alan's always had other stuff he was writing and drawing himself or other projects going on. The plan never synched up in a way that would work. But now, it has. So it's not very much different than that on the one hand.
On the other hand, the good part about Alan is he can draw anything, and makes everything look quintessentially Marvel. We haven't sent it out yet, but you see his first cover, and it's really just Thor, Iron Man and Steve just standing there, but they look quintessentially like themselves. They look cool and immediately click to the fact that this is that foundation kind of Marvel project.
Also, for all that Alan is great at action and movement and so forth, his characters act; his characters emote in a very sympathetic type of way. And for a story like this, that's going to have a strong emotional underpinning, you need somebody who can breathe life into these characters and make them seem like human being, albeit human beings with powers and strange backgrounds and what-not. And can get across some of what's going on behind the eyes in certain sequences, in a way that lesser artists can't quite convey. They may be able to draw a perfect shot of someone throwing a punch, but they can't necessarily depict a guy saying one thing but thinking another.
Nrama: This being five issues of "Siege Aftermath," there's going to be this gut reaction from fans that you're drawing Siege out for another five issues, milking the event for all its worth. But is this different from the actual "Siege" event and more like "Dark Reign" or some other story that explored the aftermath of an event? Does Marvel see this as event-related, or do you have a different view of the word "event?"
Brevoort: "Event" has become kind of a catch-all. There are different types of stories that are lumped into the big cauldron of, "Oh, this is an event." There are specific crossover stories. Secret Invasion was a specific crossover story: A beginning, middle and end, theoretically, and it had 4,000 tie-in books. It took place from this month to this month; it was one story. And really it was the one story of Secret Invasion, with all the tie-ins built off that.
There are also things like Dark Reign, which was not a story. It was the landscape of the Marvel Universe at the time. It was branded as an "event" because it was on the covers of things. People would say, "When is this Dark Reign event going to be over?" But to us, that wasn't an event, in the same way The Initiative wasn't an event, but was the landscape of the Marvel Universe now. And we labeled the books as such because they provided some insight or some key piece to where the world is now. But somehow this has all been conflated into one sort of thing in the mind of readers, retailers and reviewers. It's all become this magic word, "event." It's all become "event." Anything that has a name becomes an "event." We could do a storyline of four issues in Amazing Spider-Man, and because it has a title, it's an event. What is this latest "event" about?
In a way, that's not particularly bad, because you want all your stories to be reacted to like they're big and important, like events. On the other hand, they're not all the same thing. And it's not a catch-all.
In the specific case of Avengers Prime, it's worse than you think, because it's bi-monthly. So we're talking about five issues, and that's about 10 months. Honestly, the reason that we're calling it Siege Aftermath – and honestly, the Siege Aftermath part of that title might fall off eventually, after an issue or two – is really to signal to people where it fits within the larger cosmology of what we're putting out right now.
At the same time we're doing this, we're launching four other Avengers titles. The Avengers #1, Secret Avengers, New Avengers, which we talked about yesterday, and Avengers Academy, which we haven't actually released the teasers for, but we've talked about in the past. And having yet another book that's just, "Hey – here's another Avengers thing!" We didn't want to do that because it will get lost in the shuffle. People aren't going to understand what this is as opposed to all that.
So very specifically labeling it, at least out of the gate, as Siege Aftermath lets people know, "Oh, OK, I get this. It comes after Siege and before Avengers #1.
Hopefully, they get on board the story, and away we go, and by Issue #3, it won't matter so much that we tell them this comes right after Siege. Absolutely, we're concerned about the "aftermath" seeming to last 10 months. It seemed like other people –. saying stuff in this regard is always conflated, but here's where you'll get all your comments on the board afterward – it seemed like all of the Final Crisis aftermath ran really long after Final Crisis ended, so that's definitely something we're concerned about, doing a Siege Aftermath story where the last issue will come out nine or 10 months after Siege. And that's why, most likely, the Siege Aftermath portion of the title will probably go away after an issue or two.
It's really there as a signifier to let people know exactly what this is and where it sits with everything else.
Nrama: Just to review, then, these three characters are going to be tossed somewhere in time and space, and then they'll come back, and the first issue of The Avengers will begin at that point?
Nrama: So this is that missing time period that we're going to see, where the resolution of their problems takes place.
Nrama: Is this place and time they're going to something Marvel fans have seen before? Or is it a brand new place and time?
Brevoort: It's definitely a place Marvel fans have seen before, although not necessarily this way. And there will be other characters from Marvel's pantheon that will show up and hopefully delight and enthrall readers along the way.
Nrama: Is anyone else after Siege tossed there, or is it just those three?
Brevoort: There are a couple other Avengers who cameo in the first issue, but this is really a story about those three guys. They're the three leads. There will be other characters that show up along the way, but really, it's about them.