Dark Avengers #1In the aftermath of Secret Invasion, the heroes of the Marvel Universe are under the shadow of a Dark Reign. And at the center of the turmoil are the mysterious Dark Avengers, the new comic by Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato Jr.
While the "dark" in the title makes it obvious what kind of tone this new Avengers team and comic will have, Bendis made it clear during our interview with him when the comic was announced that the look and feel will match up well with Deodato's art.
"Having Deodato on the book sets the perfect tone for it," Bendis said of his frequent collaborator. "He's the perfect artist for it."
In fact, Bendis has compared his new comic to the Warren Ellis run on Thunderbolts, leading fans to believe some of the still-unexplained characters showing up on the covers of Dark Avengers are moving there from the Thunderbolts team and donning new costumes.
But until the first issue comes out next month, readers are – somewhat appropriately, given the title – being left in the DARK about who all the characters on the team might be.
In the meantime, we talked to Deodato about his new job as the artist on Dark Avengers. And while he wouldn't spill about any of the characters or make-up of the team, we found out why the artist enjoys collaborating with Bendis, and why Norman Osborn might remind you of Al Gore.
Newsarama: How did you find out about the Dark Avengers job, Mike? And what did you think of the concept and the opportunity to work with Brian Bendis on it?
Mike Deodato Jr.: In the still of the night, the call came to me from Dark Alfred on my Dark Bat-phone... no, wait, wrong company.... make that Dark Jarvis, otherwise known as Tom Brevoort typing an email.
My first thought, when he told me it would be Brian Bendis, my first thought was, "I hope he doesn't give me 50,000 zombies to draw, like last time we did an Avengers." He still owes me 22 pages of a polar bear fighting Wendigo in a snowstorm, to make up for it [laughs]. Since we made such a good team on New Avengers, I saw it would continue to be a good fit.
I was hesitant about leaving Wolverine so soon – particularly since I'd be champing at the bit for a couple of years waiting to draw it – but the opportunity to start a new Avengers project from Issue #1 sounds like a good one, so I'm there.
NRAMA: Have you gotten to design some new characters and costumes? What was that experience like?
MDJr: They said, "Do some sketches of these characters," and I did. They picked the ones they liked, and we were off and running. I'm not that good on uniforms, but I think I did a good job on creating the new vehicles and the logo for HAMMER.
NRAMA: With a comic named "Dark" Avengers, it's easy to imagine it as a "dark" comic. But how would you describe the overall tone of this comic? Are you changing anything you do to achieve the overall look of Dark Avengers?
MDJr: I think it's safe to say, if you liked my work on Thunderbolts, you'll like me on Dark Avengers. Something of a similar vibe creatively.
NRAMA: Are "darker" comics something you prefer drawing?
MDJr: I didn't start out the style I'm using with the intent of drawing "darker" comics. My goal was to draw better comics. I think I am oceans better than I was 10 years ago, and I learn something with every series I draw and every editor and writer with whom I work.
Dark Avengers #2I prefer drawing good stories, and I've been fortunate to have worked with Bruce Jones, J. Michael Straczynski, Brian Bendis, Warren Ellis and so many others. If the writer and editor give me a direction to go, I follow it. Certainly Spider-Man was a much different type of series than Thunderbolts, so visually I handled it much differently. Tell you what: Just give me a fun-filled Fantastic Four story with Stan Lee writing, and you'll see a different side of me there, too.
NRAMA: Can you give us an example of a new character you're enjoying on the Dark Avengers team?
MDJr: I can't say that, or they won't shove the tray of bread and water under the door tonight!
NRAMA: You've worked with Brian Bendis before. What is it about his projects that makes working with him particularly attractive to you as an artist?
MDJr: He always looks for the strengths of those who are working with him. He knows what I am good at, and he gives me the chance to bring on my best game. Also, he has really emotion-filled stories, even if the emotions aren't happy ones.
NRAMA: You're back drawing Norman Osborn. What do you think is important about the character as he heads into this period of being so powerful? How do you portray him and his body language?
Dark Avengers #3MDJr: A lot of people have remarked at how, visually, I've made him look a bit like Tommy Lee Jones – but they miss the other, more significant, part. The character is persuasive, and powerful, and has a lot of influence. Once I went down that path, Tommy Lee Jones inspired me further – I based some of Osborn's look and mannerisms on Jones' old college roommate, who is a well-known politician...
NRAMA: Ah, that's a bit of trivia that people will be looking up now. Just to finish up, Mike, how long will you be drawing Dark Avengers? Is there a set time period? Or are you on the comic for the foreseeable future?
MDJr: I'll be drawing Dark Avengers for precisely as long as Marvel decides to have me do it. I was the new full-time artist of New Avengers and that lasted four issues. I was to be on Wolverine Origins 'til the end of time, and that turned out to be only a few months. Stuff happens – I go where Marvel needs me most. Right now, that's Dark Avengers. I hope they'll keep me on it for years, if reader reaction turns out as great as I hope it will.