Onslaught, the evil entity that has twice almost defeated the heroes of the Marvel Universe, returns in February in the four-issue mini-series Onslaught Unleased.
Starring the Secret Avengers and the Young Allies, Onslaught Unleashed is written by Sean McKeever, who writes the Nomad: Girl Without a World back-up stories in Captain America. Art duties on Onslaught Unleashed will be handled by Filipe Andrade, with variant covers by Rob Liefeld.
As most Marvel fans know, Onslaught has been trapped in the Negative Zone since he battled the Marvel heroes during the aftermath of the House of M. He was also behind the events that created the Heroes Reborn world, where Rikki Barnes (Nomad) was first introduced.
Onslaught Unleashed brings back the dark entity in a way that requires Captain America and Nomad to work together again. The series also teams experienced heroes like Beast, Black Widow and Ant-Man, with young heroes like Gravity, Firestar and Spider-Girl.The latest version of the team known as "Young Allies" was recently formed by McKeever, who launched a new Young Allies series earlier this year. Although that series was recently canceled, McKeever gets to flesh out their stories even more by putting them up against a major threat within the pages of Onslaught Reborn.
Newsarama talked with McKeever to find out more about Onslaught's escape from the Negative Zone, how the heroes react to their team-up, and what other teenage heroes he may be writing for Marvel in the future.
Newsarama: Sean, let's just start with the basics of the story. What is Onslaught Unleashed?
McKeever: It’s a four-issue mini-series that teams the Secret Avengers with the Young Allies. They wind up in Colombia, where Onslaught, who’s been trapped in the Negative Zone for quite some time now, is finding his way out. And he’s doing it through Rikki Barnes, who’s the current Nomad.
Nrama: How do the Young Allies get involved with this? Is it because Nomad's involved? Because this seems like something big enough for the Secret Avengers, but not so much the Young Allies.
McKeever: What you’ll see is that Rikki Barnes is deeply involved in the history of Onslaught. Her world, her universe was created due to Onslaught's first attack on the Marvel Universe. It was created by Franklin Richards to save the heroes and hide them from Onslaught. And so there is a tie between Rikki and Onslaught that he’s going to exploit. And that’s how she becomes involved.
And when she becomes involved, she gets her friends involved as well.
As for the Secret Avengers, well, Steve Rogers is essentially a father figure to her. So he becomes involved more from the aspect of something else going on in Colombia that’s tied to this, which is a secret project by the Roxxon Corporation.
Nrama: Obviously, we're aware of the relationship that exists between Steve and Rikki, but are there some other match-ups kind of that we’ll be seeing between the Secret Avenger members and the Young Allies members?
McKeever: Yeah, I don’t wanna give too much of that away but yeah, it’s gonna be really cool because the Secret Avengers are really a very serious sort of team and the Young Allies aren’t even a team at all. And they’re young and at various experience levels. So what will it be like for Gravity to meet Moon Knight? That’s something I’m really excited about.
Also, Nomad has a relationship with Black Widow that we’re currently exploring in the back of Captain America that will be seen in the Onslaught mini-series as well. But you don’t have to have read all of this backstory to understand what we’re doing here.
Nrama: So you can just pick up Onslaught Unleashed #1, with no background required?
McKeever: Right. I’m very consciously making this as a mini-series. I’m making sure that anybody picking up Issue #1 can understand what’s going on and doesn’t have to have read the last year of Secret Avengers or the Young Allies series or even any previous Onslaught appearance for this to make any sense.
Nrama: Secret Avengers is -- as Ed Brubaker so often writes -- a very grounded, almost street-level superhero team. The Young Allies comics had a much younger feel to them. Does this come somewhere in between? Or are you putting this more toward what you’ve been doing with Young Allies?
McKeever: No, this actually goes more toward Secret Avengers territory.
Onslaught Unleashed is going to be a darker story. It’s gonna have some horror elements to it. It’ll be very different from what we’ve seen in Young Allies, because the stakes are really high and there are some really horrific things going on and some really big choices to be made. So you know they’re gonna have to step up and take this pretty seriously.
Nrama: What does Filipe Andrade bring to the project?
McKeever: He's currently my artist on the Nomad backups in Captain America, and he has wonderful expressiveness. He has a very singular art style that’s... it’s very impressionistic but also emotionally expressive, so I think he’s going to be great in creating that darker atmosphere but also bringing a lot of human elements to it and bringing the fantastic elements to it as well. So I’m really looking forward to working with him.
And we’ve got Humberto Ramos doing covers. He did a wrap-around cover for Issue #1 which has been shown all over the internet.
And Rob Liefeld has done a couple of variant covers for Issue #1, which gives you an idea as to how Onslaught makes his way back to the Marvel Universe.
And I think those covers are just balls-to-the-wall awesome -- what you'd expect from Rob. And I’m excited that Marvel’s giving me this opportunity -- and that I get to keep on writing my boy Gravity, especially.
Nrama: You mentioned the Young Allies series. Was the original plan to have this mini-series tie into that series, before it got canceled?
McKeever: Yeah, the initial plan, when Young Allies was still an ongoing series, was to plant the seeds of this in Young Allies and then build into this miniseries. But it still works to just jump right into the miniseries. Like I said, I'm making it so that the first issue stands alone as an introduction for people who have never even heard of these characters before.
Nrama: Over the years, between Gravity and Young Allies and Teen Titans and your acclaimed run on Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, you’ve written quite a few teen focused series. Now that Young Allies is gone, is there any chance we’ll see more teen focused stuff from you at Marvel, or do you know anything that Marvel’s planning for teen heroes?
McKeever: Well, in terms of what Marvel’s planning, they’ve still got the Avengers Academy and New Mutants. They’ve got a lot of good teens for young character-centric books.
As for as myself, I really like being part of that "younger hero corner" of the Marvel Universe. I think that when you look at Spider-Man, who is my favorite superhero, that’s really what comes to my mind: Marvel was built on, from my perspective, Spider-Man as this teenage superhero juggling life and superheroics and romance, and trying to scrape by while doing the right thing.
And so that really appeals to me. There are so many great teenage characters and young adult characters at Marvel that I’m excited to get to play with all of them. I got to write the Young Avengers this year, and getting to do Young Allies, of course, and even going back to my work on Sentinel and Inhumans, it’s a great tradition of Marvel’s and I pinch myself that I’m able to be a part of it.
As for what I'll do next in that area, I can tell you that I'm definitely involved in some of the younger characters appearing next year, not just in Onslaught Unleashed, but in some other stuff as well. But that’s, you know, to be announced at a later date.Are you ready for Onslaught's return?