The Avengers are a pretty big deal. If you pay any amount of attention to Marvel's publishing efforts in the last few years, you've probably already figured that out. Buoyed by the work of Brian Michael Bendis on the core books, there's currently four Avengers books out each month — Avengers, New Avengers, Secret Avengers and Avengers Academy — and the line as a whole is regularly one of Marvel's top sellers.
Then there's the issue of the Avengers movie out in summer 2012, gathering the Marvel Studios film franchise of Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and Captain America under one massively anticipated film.
So given all that to look forward to, Marvel is stepping back a bit to focus on seven key Avengers characters in five one-shots, titled Avengers Origins, all bent on answering the question, "What makes an Avenger?"
"With this initial push we wanted to really get a sampling of characters from across the Avengers history," series editor Lauren Sankovitch said. "With the upcoming movie and the high profile of the Avengers titles, it seemed a no-brainer to revisit a few of these classic characters in stories that would not only introduce them to a new audience but be engaging and fresh for our veteran readers."
The one-shots, schedule for November, consist of the following: Avengers Origins: Ant-Man & The Wasp from writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacsa and artist Stephanie Hans; Avengers Origins: Luke Cage, co-written by Mike Benson and Adam Glass and illustrated by Dalibor Talajic; Avengers Origins: Thor written by Kathryn Immonen with an artist to be announced; Avengers Origins: Vision by the co-writing team of Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel; and Avengers Origins: Quicksilver & The Scarlet Witch from writer Sean McKeever, with an artist to be announced. Of those characters, only Thor is known to be making an appearance in the Avengers film.
With experience on projects like the current Fear Itself: The Home Front, Sankovitch is used to editing books that involve wrangling a wide array of creative talent.
"I really wanted to get a diverse flavor for each of these books and I’ve gotten that in spades with each of the writers involved," Sankovitch said. "For many of the creators involved they hadn’t written the character before so there was a certain amount of excitement in building their world for the first time."
Newsarama talked with the writing teams of Avengers Origins: Luke Cage, Avengers Origins: Thor, Avengers Origins: Vision and Avengers Origins: Quicksilver & The Scarlet Witch to learn more about the individual one-shots, and how the talent involved connects to the Avengers they're depicting. (Newsarama Note: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa did not respond to an interview request by deadline.) For even more art from the series, click over here.
Avengers Origins: Luke Cage
Newsarama: Mike, Adam, your one-shot stars Luke Cage. What do you like about the character?
Mike Benson & Adam Glass: What we like about Luke Cage is that his journey to hero is filled with obstacles. From his criminal past to his auspicious beginnings as a hero for hire, Luke becoming an Avenger seemed unlikely. But Luke has grown and evolved and become the hero and man he is today. And we feel we can all relate with a character like this, because like Luke it takes most of us a while to figure out who we really are. We and Luke didn't start out perfect like some heroes do.
Nrama: What qualities are you looking to bring out in the one-shot?
Benson & Glass: We wanted to show the cracks in Luke Cage's mythos. Examine the times that haven't been explored in his heroes journey. So we added to his history that has already been created and found new ways to help identify him .
Nrama: Compared to the other characters getting one-shots — including founders like Ant-Man and the Wasp — Luke Cage is relatively new to the Avengers. There are a lot of "archetypes" in the Avengers — what role do you think he fills in the team?
Benson & Glass: Luke is the everyman on the team. He's you and me. Luke grounds the Avengers in reality. He's a street level hero playing at the highest level. And thank God he's there. Because there's a purity to Luke and he will always do what he must to save the world.
Avengers Origins: Thor
Newsarama: Kathryn, your one-shot focuses on Thor, part of the original squad of Avengers. What do you like about the character?
Kathryn Immonen: For starters, he's good-lookin' except for when he gets drawn like he's wearing a 5 dollar wig with a 2 dollar hot roller set. But aside from that... I really like how he simultaneously embraces Odin's expectations and, seemingly, does everything he can to defeat them. Stan (Lee) talks about wanting to a create a character stronger than the strongest human, a god... and what we end up with is a character who is certainly that but who is also having to learn the best and worse lessons that humanity can teach him.
Nrama: What qualities are you looking to bring out in the one-shot?
Immonen: I love Thor's younger self and the pride and brashness that eventually results in his banishment and the formation of his "relationship" with Blake. If anything, the core is how the very human journey toward humility and compassion is also the journey toward godhood and worthiness. We will also be exploring the hitting and the punching.
Nrama: Thor is obviously a character that's been very visible in pop culture lately, but the movie focused on him as a (mostly) solo act. How is the character different in the context of a team of Avengers?
Immonen: Well, we're dealing with Thor's origin as a worthy wielder of Mjolnir not as his origin with the Avengers. I would say, though, that as tenuous as the team part of the team of Avengers has been over the years, I think Thor is a natural fit. In so many ways, he's defined not just by responsibility but by heritage and lineage. So, for him to be part of, to want to be part the continuity of service that is The Avengers, seems natural.
Avengers Origins: Vision
Newsarama: Kyle, Alec, your one-shot stars the Vision. What do you like about him? What qualities are you looking to bring out in the one-shot? (Also, how often would you choose to play him in the Captain America and the Avengers video game?)
Alec Siegel: I like that he's dealing with a very universal problem: who am I? What is my purpose? We can all think of moments in our lives when someone's expectations didn't jive with our own. He's being told what to be and how to act, but his observations of the world cause him to start questioning if this is the way things have to be.
Kyle Higgins: OK, I have to give mad props for the Captain America Super Nintendo (or was it Genesis?)/arcade game reference... wow. I completely forgot about that game! I was always more a Hawkeye guy ([Hawkeye: Blind Spot writer] Jim McCann will be so excited to hear me say that), but I loved the Vision's cape in the game. [Laughs.]
As far as what qualities we're looking to bring out, I've always loved the idea that the Vision was created for a very specific purpose—to kill the Avengers. Of course, he didn't, so where does that leave him? What does that say about someone/something when they're unable to fulfill their “purpose?” But more importantly — is that a purpose that the Vision even wanted? He thinks it is — and that's fascinating to me. What does the Vision actually want? Perhaps killing the Avengers would have fulfilled that? That's really what's at the core of this book.
Nrama: Vision has been an integral parts of many Avengers teams in the past 40+ years. What do you think of as his "place" within the larger context of the Avengers? And unlike a lot of the other characters, he really hasn't had many of his own solo adventures — do you think this makes him more uniquely an Avenger than a lot of other ones, who have many different facets to their identity?
Higgins: To me, the Vision has always been the “soul” of the team — he doesn't often get the spotlight like Captain America or Iron Man, but he's been a steady constant throughout the years — a force of stability. I don't know that a lack of solo adventures makes him any more an Avenger, but I could definitely see the argument for that as a lot of the Vision's adventures (as well as his focus, priorities, and notable storylines) have been so closely associated with the Avengers.
Nrama: Also, just to be clear, this is probably the "classic" version of the Vision we're talking about, right?
Sigel: This is classic Vision, yes, from his first moments alive through his fateful first meeting with the Avengers.
Avengers Origins: Quicksilver & The Scarlet Witch
Newsarama: Sean, your one-shot stars a couple of very early Avengers recruits: Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. What do you like about these characters? What qualities are you looking to bring out in the one-shot?
Sean McKeever: I've always found their relationship, and that unique bond of being twins, super fascinating. So that's a big part of what I wanted to delve into here.
The other piece of what compelled me to pick Wanda and Pietro is their beginnings as members of Magneto's Brotherhood of Mutants. Here we've got these young mutants fighting against the X-Men, and then not too much later they're joining the Avengers! What's that all about? We'll get to see that spelled out here.
Nrama: Quicksilver has been many things in his career — Evil Mutant, Avenger, X-Factor-er. What iteration of the character resonates most with you?
McKeever: I think I enjoyed him best in X-Factor back in the day, and then also in Son of M. It's easy to make him just about being this over-protective, haughty hothead, but there are more subtle things going on there, and those stories really let him shine in that regard.
Nrama: Scarlet Witch hasn't had an easy time of it lately — she was an antagonist in Avengers Disassembled and House of M, was in limbo for a while there, and is slowly starting to make a proper return in Avengers: The Children's Crusade. Is perhaps one of the goals of the one-shot to remind current readers of the "classic" version of the character?
McKeever: Sure, I think it's always important to take a fresh look at the core of what makes a character work — and that's true for the writers as well as readers. In looking back at those early appearances, I really felt the need to give her a greater sense of dimensionality, while still retaining her timid nature and self esteem issues.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!