Change is coming to Secret Avengers — as in, new writer, new artist and new cast type of change.
Come Secret Avengers #21.1, Uncanny X-Force and Venom writer Rick Remender takes over from Warren Ellis. As of February's Secret Avengers #22, artist Gabriel Hardman (Hulk) comes on board.
With the new creative team comes a new leader — Hawkeye — and a new lineup, including Captain Britain. Yeah, that's a lot of changes, but Remender says that the "secret" aspect of the book and sci-fi bent are most assuredly not going away.
Newsarama has the first interview with Remender on the subject, talking some of his long-term plans for the book, working with Hardman, his take on Hawkeye and a whole lot more.
Newsarama: Rick, first off, congratulations on the Secret Avengers gig, and though following Warren Ellis is no easy task, I'm sure you're game.
Rick Remender: Yeah — I followed Warren Ellis a couple years back. He was the guy who did all the original stuff on Dead Space, then I was the second writer to come in on that game, so it's interesting to be in the same situation again.
Nrama: And along with Venom and Uncanny X-Force, you've got the three main corners of the Marvel Universe covered; Spider-Man, X-Men and Avengers.
Remender: Yeah, it's going to be a fun year. I'm definitely planning on interconnecting the three titles, and having a lot of things hopping from one to the other, which is fun. I can create my own little covert universe.
Nrama: Secret Avengers is going to be getting a new leader in Hawkeye. What are you looking to explore with him?
Remender: I wanted to get to his core. I wanted to make sure that he had an arc here, and something that he was learning. As a character who was an orphan, I think at the core you've got somebody who grew up with in a very tumultuous situation— it leads to him being almost a control freak, in terms of why he's always had such a tough time with authority. I think it all comes down to his need to control his surroundings. That's sort of my take on him at the core of it all.
You've also got someone that, given his background and the fact that he was a villain at first and what he's been through, it definitely lingers over his legacy as a hero. I think he handles things a bit differently than the other classic, traditional heroes. He’s always trying to overcome his past, I like it. For lack of a better term, he has an edge to him, and I think it's something that he's always trying to overcome, and it's always something that's sitting there in the background. He definitely has a lot of interesting character things to dig up, and explore. It's all about putting him in situations where those character points can come to light, and play a role in the story.
Nrama: It's also interesting to see him as the leader of an Avengers team.
Remender: There might be some continuity freak that jumps down my throat, but I think that he hasn't really run a big squad like this since West Coast. I really enjoyed that series as a kid, so it's interesting to get to put him in this role. This is a much bigger responsibility.
The new status quo for the team is that Steve Rogers recognizes that the things that he's discovering that are bubbling underneath the surface of the Marvel Universe are bigger than he originally anticipated. And one of those is the coming of the Descendants, and the automaton revolution that they're going to be trying to deal with.
The Descendants are a species that are evolved from all of the different robot species across the Marvel Universe. They're sentient, and they're hyper-evolved. We'll reveal how, and the depth of their proliferation throughout the Marvel Universe throughout the first year.
Nrama: It sounds like the book is definitely keeping a science-fiction bent, then.
Remender: Yeah, which is obviously in my wheelhouse. I'm a big fan of that stuff. Being able to turn that on and really sink into it with this has been a ton of fun. It's going to explode in a pretty big way.
Then in issue #21.1 will reveal the new Masters of Evil. This is sort of my bridge from all the stories that have taken place prior to my taking over the book, and seeding some big stuff for the future. The all-new Masters of Evil are going to play a big role coming up, as well. We are, in the first five issues, introducing a lot of new villains, and a lot of new areas in the Marvel Universe. It's always fun to world-create, and really get in there and make new stuff, to interconnect it to previously existing people and places. I'm super-excited about The Descendants, because I've always wanted to do an automaton revolution in the Marvel Universe, because there are so many great robot species in the Marvel Universe. The Descendants, being sentient, living versions of these things that are the next generation, gives us so much to play with. Turning these robots into actual people with backgrounds and loves and hates and character traits, as opposed to just giant robots and cool looking things that we encounter as we're having adventures.
Nrama: And that's interesting to hear about the Masters of Evil, because I don't think there really has been one since a while back in Thunderbolts.
Remender: It's been some time. The new Masters of Evil, we seed their plot and what they're up to, the very basics, in #21.1, which is a mission with Captain America and Hawkeye. Cap brings in Hawkeye for a number of reasons, and we'll reveal that in the story, that leads to Hawkeye taking over the team. As they're realizing that there are a lot of big things going on that demand a covert team — there's a secret war, there's a new secret world or two, there's a secret new race, secret team betrayals, a secret affair. I wanted to make sure that the title of the book was reflected in the story.
Nrama: So as opposed to the single-issue stories Warren Ellis has been doing, this is definitely something with a long-term plan, then?
Remender: I'll always try and make sure the arcs have a beginning, middle and end, but still feed things that are building into my bigger year-end goal. I always try to write 12 and 18 issue broad arcs.
Nrama: Like in Uncanny X-Force.
Remender: Yeah, exactly like X-Force. And like Fear Agent. Venom is also the same — at the end of all the things we're doing in Venom, you'll see that it's all leading to something very, very big and cool. And I like that. I like that readers know that there's something boiling in the background, and that it's leading to some bigger confrontation, so that you can see the current adventures in the A-story, as well as the undercurrent in the B-story that's going to turn into something much bigger.
Nrama: Captain Britain is also joining the cast. The female Captain Britain was in the Avengers around 2003, but this is Brian Braddock's first time in the Avengers, right?
Remender: Yeah, it is. He was invited in the Age of Heroes special by Cap to join the team. In the meantime, Captain Britain has left MI:13, and Merlin is missing from Otherworld. Otherworld, with the Starlight Citadel, contains a tower that has a doorway to every dimension in the Marvel Universe. Alan Moore created that, and that's where the 616 comes from, and I really like the idea. Captain Britain and the Captain Britain Corps have been revived, and he's back in Otherworld, and running the show there, and taking a bigger role in the protection of not just Earth, but the Multiverse.
Those are reasons that Cap wanted him on the squad, given that one of the things we'll be dealing with are not only international threats that need to be handled with care, but interdimensional threats. This needs to be big and sci-fi to keep me excited. That's one of the reasons that he was brought in, as well as a connection to The Descendants. I wanted to make sure that any character that was brought in fit the story and had a reason for being there. As we went through the story, I found natural connective tissues, especially given the Captain Britain in Otherworld story I'm telling in X-Force from issues #20-#23. This all interconnects. I can't help but connect dots when I'm writing. Captain Britain is playing not only a power role, but he's got a lot of specific reasons for being on the squad.
Nrama: So in the spirit of connecting tying together, can we also expect Secret Avengers to tie into the other Avengers books more than it has been?
Remender: Yeah, absolutely. In the next year, that'll happen for sure. For me, the one thing I want to do is build big threats. I want to build up the big villains, as well as creating new ones. That's been my goal for the next year in Secret Avengers, Venom and X-Force; to really turn up the volume with the villains and what they're doing in the background. Which is great for these teams, because the villains aren't stupid. They're not out in the open attacking cities anymore. They're doing things that are a little more subversive and a little more behind-the-scenes, to acquire wealth and power and sex and whatever. These are perfect books to explore that stuff in, as it hasn't bubbled to the surface yet.
Nrama: For the rest of the cast, it looks like it's going to be some characters that had been in Secret Avengers before, some Avengers from the other teams, and some totally new to the Avengers in general?
Remender: We're drawing from some old characters, some new characters, I think it's about 50/50. Other characters will be on call. International characters will be on call. I think any time that they go into international territory; they will call on the resident superheroes so that they're aware of what's going on, and to try and avoid quagmires. The tone of the thing needs to be separate from the Avengers. It needs to feel like its own thing.
I like the idea that there's a core team. But I also like the idea that Hawkeye will put together squads as needed based on the mission, which keeps a core team but also keeps it fresh as new characters can come and go as we move forward.
Nrama: So beyond Hawkeye and Captain Britain, are there any other specifics we can talk in terms of the cast, or is that to be revealed?
Remender: I think it's to be revealed. I don't think [Marvel] has revealed the rest of the cast yet.
Nrama: And the other part of the new Secret Avengers equation is artist Gabriel Hardman.
Remender: Yeah, absolutely. I worked with Gabe a little bit on Doctor Voodoo. Gabe is somebody who services story above and beyond all else. The guy's storyboarded Inception. He's one of Christopher Nolan's storyboard artist. When it comes down to storytelling, it doesn't get much stronger than this guy's pedigree.
That's my kind of comic book artist; somebody who prioritizes telling a clean, dynamic story over big, splashy images. I know that I can write complicated things, I know that I can write beated-out action sequences, and he's going to turn in something that's very cinematic, and that's really what I look for in artists I work with.
Nrama: So what else should fans know at this point about your upcoming run on Secret Avengers?
Remender: #21.1 sees the reveal of the new Masters of Evil. #22 we meet the Adaptoids for the first time — Sentinels hunt mutants, Adaptoids hunt Avengers. We're going to be establishing this new sentient race that are evolved from the original Super-Adaptoid. The Adaptoids are going to be a giant new threat in the Avengers lives. They play a giant role in what I've got planned coming up in some other things, as well — interconnecting with some of the X-Universe, as well.
I hope that people who have maybe not picked up the book at this point can easily hop on either #21.1 or #22. #22 is the official launch, that's Gabe and I taking over the book and moving forward. #21.1 is our bridge, which is a real exciting done-in-one story with stunning art form Patrick Zircher. We get a full look at the new Masters of Evil, and I think that people will be pretty damn excited to see the squad we put together for that. It was fun, because one thing that was important to us was to draw characters from all corners of the Marvel Universe, so it's not just Avengers villains. It's all villains who have common goals, and they're all big shots. They're all from different corners, which is really exciting for me. They're going to be a threat to be reckoned with, for sure.
The first two issues alone, we're introducing a lot of new threats. It's a great point to jump on. If you like what I'm doing on X-Force or Venom, you'll definitely want to be reading Secret Avengers, as the books are all going to have a common thread, and they're going to have undercurrents that intersect, for sure.
Nrama: It's good to hear that you're sticking with both Uncanny X-Force and Venom, since we talked a while back about how busy two books were keeping you.
Remender: We've got all three books plotted out for the next year. I think having the tracks laid, I'll be able to keep the trains running on time. That's the hard part, knowing where you're going. Now that we know where we're going and have the tracks laid, telling the story is a lot easier. I think I can handle the workload — at least for this year, we'll see. [Laughs.]Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!