In May, readers will meet an Avengers team they never knew existed until now; secret? Yes, but also swinging.
Beginning in next month’s Mighty Avengers #10, Original Sin makes its way to the diverse cast and tells a flashback story of a secret squad of Avengers circa 1972, populated by heroes you know as well as heroes you don’t. Blue Marvel and Blade are members of course, but they’re joined by a black magic sorcerer and one-time foe of Doctor Strange, a beat reporter who isn’t afraid of a fight, a were-woman, and most surprising of all – Luke Cage’s father, James Lucas.
Newsarama caught up with Al Ewing to find out more about this nourish throwback squad and how it all fits in the bigger picture he and artist Greg Land are creating with Mighty Avengers.
Newsarama: With next month’s tie-in to Original Sin, Mighty Avengers will have some new eyes looking at it. Set the stage for us, Al.
Al Ewing: Well, as we saw, Mighty Avengers #9 finished up the confrontation between Adam Brashear - aka the Blue Marvel - and his son Max, who blamed his father for his mother's death and the loss of his elder brother to the Neutral Zone. Along with that, we got to see Ronin revealed at last - as Blade, vampire slayer and hunter of supernatural threats. So if he's around, there's likely some otherworldly problems coming down the pipe for the Mighty Avengers, and they'll start making their presence felt in #10.
Nrama: For me at least, the Blue Marvel’s been the standout character in the series – can you talk about developing him and his past?
Ewing: The Blue Marvel is a wonderful character, very complex and nuanced, and a very tragic hero, which I like. There's something quintessentially Marvel about him - he has all this power, and yet it couldn't save his family. He bears the weight of the decisions of his past, of the people he's lost - weight that threatens to crush him, but he keeps on fighting. There's a quiet sadness to him.
Nrama: But how does he fit in with his fellow Marvel heroes?
Ewing: I like the idea that he helps the places that fly under everyone else's radar - places outside America and New York City, where most of the Marvel heroes don't tend to venture. He deals with things that don't make the news, and expects no thanks or reward, and he's been doing it for decades.
Nrama: In the nine issues so far, you’ve developed a real team here out of a bunch of solo stars, even if they don’t necessarily all trust each other. What have you learned now that you’re virtually a year in and been working with these characters?
Ewing: I've learned that nine characters is a lot! I have a habit of concentrating on three or four at any one time - I try to ensure that everyone gets a turn in the spotlight. Right now the Blue Marvel's getting a lot of play, so once this latest story comes to a head he might end up in the background for a little while so other people can have a turn getting their meaty moments. When I'm plotting new issues, I tend to think "who hasn't had a turn in a while?"
Nrama: So, let me ask you that: who’s due for a turn coming up to get a spotlight shown on him or her?
Ewing: I think Sam is probably due for some love once this Deathwalkers story runs its course. Luckily, I have plans for that.
Nrama: In the next issue, #10, the team is getting into Original Sin and the advance solicitation promises a swinging 1970s team. Can you talk about this crazy – in a good way – team?
Ewing: It's not so crazy! It's actually kind of noir - it starts with a murder and a lot of the action in #11 takes place in a morgue. This is a tough team for a tough time when there weren't any superheroes around, so different archetypes had to get together and save the day - hard-bitten cops, fast-talking reporters, scientists meddling with things they can't control, sorcerers out for deadly revenge, vampire hunters, and a sixth mystery character I won't spoil right now.
Nrama: These Original Sin tie-ins are all about secrets. Why was this 1970s era team a secret?
Ewing: Some things you don't want to talk about. It's pretty much that simple - there are things that don't really make the history books, and sometimes that's because nobody wants to remember them. It's too hard. I probably explain all this better in the comic.
Nrama: That list of members of Mighty Avengers in the ‘70s is quite a list, especially seeing Luke Cage’s dad, James Lucas. Can you tell us about bringing him back into the spotlight?
Ewing: Well, originally - way back when I was putting Mighty Avengers together - I had an idea about finally explaining that bit in the 90s Heroes For Hire comic where the Master of the World says that he knew Luke's dad way back when. I thought it'd be fun to finally explain that one. But very quickly, I realized there just wasn't room for that in this story, so as it turns out, that particular puzzle is still unsolved. But out of that slightly obsessive and nerdish seed - and my love of the strange business of Marvel-time - grew this whole idea, and then when I heard about Original Sin I realized I had the perfect place to tell it. And here we are!