Thunderbolts became Dark Avengers in June — while keeping the numbering of the previous series — but the Thunderbolts cast has continued to play a role in the book. As very heavily suggested by Marvel's November solicitations, that's changing as of issue #183, and by December's issue #184, the book looks to be in a very different place. As announced at Fan Expo in Toronto on Friday, US Agent — the original, even though he was last seen dependent on a wheelchair as the warden of The Raft — is making his return to the series in the near future, among other impending changes. Newsarama talked with series writer Jeff Parker for more, including which original Thunderbolt is definitely sticking around.Newsarama: Jeff, since the transition of Thunderbolts to Dark Avengers, both the existing cast and new additions have continued to play a role in the book. It looks like that will soon no longer be the case, so is it fair to say that this late fall/winter marks a clear shift for you; ending the Thunderbolts' story, and concentrating fully on the Dark Avengers era?
Jeff Parker: Yes. I like that this way gives me a chance to wrap up long-running arcs with Thunderbolts, and also introduce the Dark Avengers as pure villains, coming into the story completely in that role. It's really interesting the way we've been allowed to shift our focus and follow different people. It's dynamic.
Nrama: And given that, has it been difficult at all to say goodbye to some of these characters who are presumably leaving the series after so long — and, it seems, your artistic collaborators, Declan Shalvey and Kev Walker — or is it simply the right time to bring that part of the story to a close?
Parker: It does make sense that they would all go around the same time, but it doesn't make it any easier. I love working with Kev and Dec, they're such fantastic storytellers. And I've really enjoyed shepherding this cast through big developments. I hope readers have had even a fraction the fun I've had.
Nrama: With all of the new characters that have joined the book recently, which ones have you found particularly fun to write? And who can we expect to play major roles in the future?
Parker: Man-Thing has gotten even more enjoyable now that he speaks his mind, and has a mind to speak from. Satana is always a guaranteed good time for me.Dark Avengers
#183 cover.For the continuing cast, The Witch is one I'm really getting into (formerly Toxie Doxie) and now I can spend more time with Skaar. I'm comfortable with Hulks.
Nrama: Going forward, what can you say about the types of missions the Dark Avengers will be tackling? And what's their motivation at this point? Is redemption even more out of their reach than for the Thunderbolts — or are they out for something different entirely?
Parker: Their first mission in the new story is: stay alive. I feel that's something that this group of wretched miscreants can agree upon and get behind.
Nrama: A Thunderbolt that does look to be sticking around is Moonstone, evidently in her old Ms. Marvel guise (which now happens to be unoccupied). Obviously she's a fixture of both the Thunderbolts and Dark Avengers — from your perspective, what's appealing about the character that keeps her around in so many different incarnations of both teams? And what, if anything, can you say about the role she's going to be playing in upcoming issues?
Parker: Moonstone always goes with the flow and changes with the times — she's not one to be left behind! And she'll be wearing a variation of the new Captain Marvel's uniform.
She's still dedicated to her favorite cause — Moonstone — but I think she's reached a place where she's one of the more heroic of the cast. Which just underlines how Dark they really are.
Nrama: "A" U.S. Agent also looks to be joining the book. Can you share any hints, however vague they may need to be, about the character? Is it somebody totally new, or a familiar face taking up the role?
Parker: I'll just spoil it — he's the same US Agent! John Walker has been part of our book for quite a while now, and he's getting back into action! But that comes at some cost for him.
Nrama: Neil Edwards is on board the book as of the September-shipping issues, meaning you've presumably been working with him for a while. What have you enjoyed about collaborating with him, and what does he bring to the series that's unique from your past collaborators, Declan Shalvey and Kev Walker?
Parker: Neil is such an upbeat guy, and impressive creator. He doesn't bat an eye at being asked to pull off a bizarre or impossible setting with such a huge cast. I really don't understand how he does it.Dark Avengers
#182 cover.But like Dec and Kev, he makes incredibly difficult story demands work, so like some sadist I keep asking for that kind of thing. It's pretty freaking hard to come in on the final act of such a big story and keep it all moving right, but he's doing it! It looks terrific.
Nrama: It looks like Dark Avengers is, at this point at least, sticking with its numbering while many other series get new #1s in the Marvel NOW! era. For you as the writer, is there any sort of sense of pride attached to writing a book with a high number, especially given how rare it is at this time? And can we expect Dark Avengers to interact with any of the Marvel NOW! launches — maybe some of the new Avengers series?
Parker: I don't think much about the numbering stuff because I'm not a collector. I do think once all of these new status quos get established, then we can start mixing the characters and slam them into each other.
Nrama: One last question: Will Luke Cage continue to play a role in the book in the future?
Parker: No, Luke needs a break! He's the sane hero who realizes that.More from Newsarama:
- The 10 Greatest AVENGERS Villains of ALL TIME!
- THUNDERBOLTS to DARK AVENGERS a 'Very Natural Transition'
- WonderCon 2012 Exclusive: THUNDERBOLTS Becomes DARK AVENGERS