It's Friday afternoon, and it's time for an all-new, all-different installment of Chaos War: From The Field, and this time we're back with the charming Chaos War co-writers Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente, to take your questions about last week's issue #2 and what the future holds for both the godly heroes of the Marvel Universe and their own earthly writing partnership.
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Interior page from Chaos War #3.
Newsarama: Let’s get right to it: Fred, earlier this week you tweeted that Chaos War is the “eighth and final volume” of Incredible Hercules. That surprised some people who thought that Chaos War might be a springboard to further comics with the character from you guys. Has it always been the plan that Chaos War would be the finale?
Fred Van Lente: I will answer the second question first: Yes, this was always planned to be the climactic arc of Incredible Hercules that we’ve been building since Secret Invasion. The story of Incredible Hercules, to me, is the story of the relationship between Hercules and Amadeus — Hercules teaching Amadeus how to be a better hero and Amadeus teaching Hercules how to be a better god. And all sorts of crazy subplots involving Athena’s machinations and Zeus and the destruction of Olympus and how that happened, will all be resolved by Chaos War. So in that sense, Incredible Hercules will come to an end.
That doesn’t in itself mean that something new isn’t gonna launch out of Chaos War, it just won’t be Incredible Hercules.
Greg Pak: It’ll be The Incorrigible Hercules.
We’re actually going to bring back Kirby, Amadeus’s dog.
Van Lente: Fans have been asking for that.
Pak: He’ll team up with Cerberus and they’re going to kill the Pet Avengers.
Van Lente: We can finally do my Skyppi the Skrull story.
Pak: It’s going to be the first MAX book for kids.
Van Lente: There’s going to be a new line called “MAX Adventures.” Which you’d think wouldn’t mix too well, but it’s really like chocolate and peanut butter. I’ll let you figure out if MAX is the chocolate or the peanut butter.
Interior page from Chaos War #3.
Nrama: Seems fairly inevitable. Gotta keep expanding the audience.
Getting to last week’s Chaos War #2, I was wondering if you guys could talk a bit about how you chose the members of the new God Squad, especially given that some of the characters, like Silver Surfer, aren’t strictly a “god” by the Marvel Universe definition.
Pak: In the first God Squad, we had an Eternal, and the Eternals aren’t strictly gods, but they’ve played gods on TV. In the Marvel Universe, since the beginning, you’ve had these cosmically powered characters mixing and matching. There’s that classic Eternals Saga in Thor. The gods and the cosmically powered characters have been walking hand-in-hand in the Marvel Universe for decades now, so it’s kind of in that grand tradition.
When we were thinking about the God Squad, we “reached for the stars” [laughs], and thought about the biggest characters we could, and if they would make sense, and how they would make sense. At a certain point we were like, “why not the Silver Surfer?” He is, arguably, the most powerful character in comics. Wouldn’t it make sense that he would be somebody that would end up on this team?
Van Lente: And his job description, and appearance, and the way he goes about his business — he’s basically he’s an angel. He’s basically a cosmic angel, so that seemed really appropriate to us.
I think part of it also is, unlike the first God Squad which was very carefully deliberated over and chosen by the Council of Godheads, this God Squad was pulled out of his ass by Hercules. “Who’s the most powerful people I can think of? Sersi! Silver Surfer! The big purple guy!” So the team’s membership sort of reflects the method in which it was chosen, which is, “Crap, I need to find a bunch of guys.” Hercules doesn’t have a degree in theology, he can’t really determine who’s a god and who isn’t.
Pak: Exactly. The fun way that scene was set up, is that Hercules was like, “I’m looking for people I ‘get.’ People I can understand. I’m not going to get the Living Tribunal. Don’t cloud my pretty head with this Living Tribunal stuff. I’m going to get the Silver Surfer — I get the Silver Surfer. I need Galactus, he eats planets. I could use somebody with that kind of power.” It’s fun to have a main character who kind of forces you to bring things down to Earth in certain ways, even though we’re doing this crazy cosmic story. Hercules always grounds everything he’s in. That actually helps a huge amount when storytelling.
Nrama: That makes a lot of sense. I have some questions from Twitter — the first is from Hutchimus. “Are we gonna see anymore divine characters who may've escaped @chaosking's sleep whammy?”
Van Lente: Yes. Although many of them will appear in the God Squad one-shot.
Pak: You also definitely don’t want to miss Chaos War #4 and #5.
Van Lente: You mean the rest of the series, Greg?
Pak: But the question will be addressed specifically.
Van Lente: There’s no question we can’t respond to by saying, “read the rest of the series.”
Nrama: I was thinking those issues would be a skip, but that’s good to know.
Pak: In this case it actually is very germane. In particular, folks who have been interested to see some other pantheons explored in a little more depth won’t want to miss #4 and #5.
Van Lente: And #3, for that matter.
Nrama: And they probably retroactively wouldn’t want to miss the first two issues, either.
Pak: Or the Prince of Power mini.
Nrama: Next question, from whosthechamp, is one of those always-tricky timeline questions: “Does ChaosWar take place at the same time as the Thanos Imperative or after? Any chance we'll see more of the cosmic powerhouses?”
Van Lente: Based on the Surfer’s status, we can say that it’s after.
I can certainly see why some readers don’t quite get why events in the Marvel Universe are not more coordinated — like the Fantastic Four has this membership here, now they have this membership here — a lot of it simply has to do with the fact that different creative teams work at different speeds. A lot of times you’re finishing your November issue three weeks before this creative team is finishing its November issue. So at times, that’s why the continuity doesn’t neatly sync up. Editorial wisely has decided that if they made everybody adhere to the same general timeline you’d get a lot less creative comics.
The other thing is, some of these six, seven issue, months-long storylines take place in story-time, in a matter of hours, if not days or weeks.
Nrama: Here’s one more for Fred, from Newsarama’s own TDSpidey616: “Any chance of Hulkling/Druid having a father/son reunion with Cap Marvel/Dr.Druid in Dead Avengers?”
Van Lente: No. [Laughs.] I could do the standard, “you’ll have to read it and see!” but, no, there’s just not. It’s three issues and six dead Avengers. But all the living Avengers do appear, I believe Hulkling also appears in it.
I guess I can say this now that the first issue of Chaos War has come out — the Avengers are still in their coma. The problem is that all of the living people are asleep, and the only awake people are dead. So the dead and the living are not really going to intermingle at all. Any reunion would be, “Hey, there’s my son! Son, wake up. Son, wake up! No, seriously, wake up. Dude.” It would be a scene with not very much drama.
Mar-Vell is not aware of the fact that Hulkling is his son, correct? There’s so many green people in the universe, he’s like, “I don’t know who this is. We don’t look alike.” Druid will have a reunion with his ex-girlfriend. And it ain’t pretty.
Nrama: The next question might be a bit out there — from RajivMote on Twitter: “Is Chaos King the unfettered Void, or a visual coincidence? (And is UberHerc channeling Sentry's 'Biblical' power?)”
Van Lente: What Greg said.
Pak: Seriously, though, it’s a great question. We are definitely, throughout the Incredible Hercules storyline, playing with the notion that certain tropes return time and time again in myths and storytelling. It becomes particularly true when you look at the different pantheons and the different sort of representations of gods as natural forces or abstract concepts. You see totally different cultures that have never had direct contact with each other coming up with the same myths and the same kind of images and characters. There’s an interesting way in which certain characters in the Marvel Universe you see showing up in multiple pantheons, playing the same role.
Definitely playing with that notion, you’re going to see a little bit more of that popping up in Chaos War #4 with a certain key character whose existence in multiple pantheons plays a role in this storyline. The fact that there are parallels between these concepts of chaos and light within the Marvel Universe itself is also intriguing, although the honest truth is we have not constructed a direct link between the Sentry and Hercules.
Nrama: That was a very eloquent answer.
Van Lente: I liked it when Herc kicked Sentry in the … I’m sorry, I just wanted to say that as a counter to Greg’s long, eloquent answer. A short, crass, juvenile one.
Nrama: It’s good to have that balance; must be what makes you guys a good team. One last Twitter question, from ricky_raw, asking plainly what we were kind of hinting at earlier: “will the two of you be doing any more collaborating post-Chaos War?”
Pak: Yes. We won’t tell you what it is.
Van Lente: The problem is, we need to make more comics to earn more money to afford the operation to separate us. So until that happens, this duo will charge bravely forward.
Nrama: Before we go, any final teases you’d like to drop for next week’s Chaos War #3?
Van Lente: Big throwdown between Ares and Hercules. I don’t know how to describe it — you thought the last two issues were big? The third one is going to blow your mind, because it is bigger. We keep thinking of new things that other people haven’t destroyed to destroy, basically. We’re destroying what no man has destroyed before.
Pak: Father Zeus is huge in this issue. And awesome. So you definitely don’t want to miss what’s going on with Herucles’ father.
<li> CHAOS WAR: From The Field #1 - with PAK & VAN LENTE
<li> CHAOS WAR: From The Field #2 - with Artist KHOI PHAM
What are you hoping to see in CHAOS WAR #3? (Hey, that rhymes.)