Marvel Digital: Jason Aaron Talks 'American Eagle'

As part of Marvel's rollout of online-only comics, Jason Aaron's taking a closer look at American Eagle.

As announced last week, Marvel is adding original content to their Digital Comics Unlimited initiative. The service formerly only relied upon Marvel's library of back issues, offering subscribers the ability to view (but not download) thousands of comics, from classic to recent releases.

Now the company is adding digital-only titles for subscribers beginning this week, and Jason Aaron's eight-page story, "American Eagle: Just a Little Old-Fashioned Justice," with art by Richard Isanove, is among those comics being featured.

Besides being the ongoing writer on Ghost Rider and the Wolverine: Manifest Destiny mini-series, Aaron is no stranger to stories about Native American characters, since his ongoing Vertigo series Scalped focuses on crime at a reservation, his recent Pilot Season issue for Top Cow was about the Native American character Ripclaw, and Marvel's recent X-Force Special featured his story about Warpath.

We talked to Aaron to find out more about the online-only comic, his thoughts on the future of web-exclusive content, and whether he minds writing about Native Americans so much.

Newsarama: How did this eight-page story for Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited come about?

Jason Aaron: Marvel was looking for a way to highlight Richard Isanove's art, and I think he was the one who suggested American Eagle. I guess I was one of the first people who came to mind to do an American Eagle story because he had read Scalped and was a fan.

NRAMA: What's the American Eagle story about?

JA: It takes place post-Civil War, but I guess before Secret Invasion, because it takes place after American Eagle's appearance in Thunderbolts. We're dealing with the fact that he's had a run-in with the Superhero Registration Act and with Tony Stark, but because of his status as a Native American and resident of the Navajo nation, he's exempt from the Registration Act.

So we see the Desert Stars, who are the Initiative team of Arizona. They're pursuing a villain, and they chase him from Arizona onto the Navajo rez, where the rez cops tell him, "You have no authority here. We have our own man to deal with something like this."

NRAMA: Enter American Eagle.

JA: Yep. That man is Jason Strongbow.

NRAMA: Who's the villain he's tracking down?

JA: I'd rather leave it a surprise as to who it is. It's only an eight-page story, so you have to leave some surprises. But it's one of my favorite Marvel villains. One of the reasons I have a certain affinity for this villain is, as far as I know, it's the only Marvel villain from Alabama. So we're both Alabama born. [Newsarama Note - Aaron didn't know we'd have the above art...]

NRAMA: Are you afraid of being typecast as a writer of Native American characters?

JA: Yeah, I don't want to be typecast in general, whether it's as the "Native American guy" or the "grim and gritty guy" or the "batshit crazy guy."

NRAMA: Is that a comment on Ghost Rider?

JA: [laughs] No, I just mean in general! But yeah, I've always been aware of that. I'd rather work on different characters and different genres. I don't want my career to just be one note. So I'm conscious of that. But at the same time, I think being the "Native American guy" at Marvel's not such a bad thing. Obviously, there aren't that many Native American characters anyway, so it's great to be able to take one of those characters and dust him off and give him the spotlight. I dealt with the Warpath character in that X-Force Special and now I'm working with American Eagle.

NRAMA: And besides, you don't have to do too much research, since you've already done it for Scalped, right?

JA: Yeah, I guess so. And I knew the American Eagle character anyway. He hasn't popped up too many times. I'm a big fan of Marvel Two-in-One, the book that featured the Thing, and that was where American Eagle had first appeared. And I read the Thunderbolts issue where he showed up briefly because I'm a big fan of that book. So in between that first appearance and the most recent one, there's not a whole lot. There's a few appearances here and there, but not really much.

NRAMA: What is your thought on Marvel having original online comics? Do you think there's any chance this type of comic would replace paper comics?

JA: No, I don't see that happening anytime soon. The comics industry attracts collectors. I'm a collector. I have tons of long boxes in my basement. And I think it's just hard to kind of replace that world of collecting this physical item with stockpiling files on your hard drive. It's just not the same thing. Hopefully the original digital content will be good to bring in new readers -- people who aren't being reached by the limited distribution system we have these days. Maybe this will bring them into the system and make them seek out those books. But I don't see the online content replacing the physical books anytime soon.

NRAMA: Plus you can't curl up with a computer like you can with a book, right?

JA: That's right. And it's a lot harder to read your laptop on the toilet, 'cause it winds up burning your knees. [laughs] And it's hard to balance it.

NRAMA: Is there anything else you want to tell people about "American Eagle: Just a Little Old-Fashioned Justice?"

JA: It's mainly a showcase for Richard. He draws it and colors it. It's a gorgeous looking book. You'll get to see him do a little bit of action and some gorgeous landscapes on the Arizona desert, so it's a really great showcase. And if you're a fan of Scalped or of the Wolverine stuff I've done, this will be right up your alley.


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