This summer between their continuing mission to find the Red Skull and the inevitable splintering of heroes with Civil War II, Uncanny Avengers' Avengers Unity Squad is going to have their work cut out for them. But as Gerry Duggan tells Newsarama, their leader Steve Rogers has some extra 'oomph!' to corral the team: he's getting a new dose of Super Soldier Serum.
Marvel had previously announced that Rogers would once again be taking up active duty as Captain America, but the hows and whys were left unknown, until now. Duggan reveals how Steve gets "back on the serum," as well as how the recent inclusion of Cable, the Inhumans and more affects the "unity" of the team.
As a bonus, we've also got your first look at pages from Uncanny Avengers #7.
Newsarama: Gerry, the Avengers are arguably Marvel’s biggest franchise right now. You’ve got the benefit of having a particularly unique line-up in your book, but what would you say really sets Uncanny Avengers apart from the other books bearing that team name?
Gerry Duggan: They are tasked with leading by example for an increasingly contentious world. That would be hard enough, but they also have a more important secret mission that is important to the X-Men and the Avengers: take down the Red Skull, and remove Charles Xavier's brain from his head. It's going to be epic.
Nrama: Let’s talk about your cast. Along with bringing in Avengers, mutants, and Inhumans, you’ve managed to reunite Deadpool and Cable. Was that a goal from the start, or simply an opportunity that arose?
Duggan: Yeah, I don't think you can have a team that reflects all the major players of the universe without at least one Inhuman. The very fun thing for me is the way that Emily/Synapse plays not just against her teammates, but the rest of Inhumanity. Her thinking is complicated. She didn't just inherit a power set, she also got a membership to a club that she might not be in love with right away. Reuniting Cable and Deadpool was an accidental cherry on top.
Nrama: You’ve written Deadpool’s solo adventures for several years now, and he’s also a big part of Uncanny Avengers. Uncanny Avengers has a very different tone than Deadpool – how do you maintain consistency when writing Wade on his own, and as part of this ensemble cast?
Duggan: I hope all my Deadpool writing is consistently inconstant. Even though I've been the guy helping steer for the last few years, we always had fun bouncing him off other characters. I don't really have any great advice about writing him, unfortunately. I tend to let him do the talking. Team books are difficult. You have to be aware of the various stage times for these characters. Everybody has to hit the spotlight for a little while. I'd like to think that Deadpool's time on stage has been in balance. I think everyone expected him to be an awful Avenger, but I think his fellow Avengers are coming around. How long the halo will remain balanced on that mask is another matter.
Nrama: Speaking of those mutants and Inhumans, why is it so important that the Avengers “Unity Squad” expand in that way? What can you tell us about relations between Mutants and Inhumans?
Duggan: Charles Xavier's dream is coming true, but for the Inhumans. They may be poised to inherit the Earth. There's no denying their importance especially now that the Terrigen mists are "free range". Synapse's powers are still bubbling up to the surface. She's been very fun to write. If this book were a Dungeons & Dragons campaign, she would be the cleric class. I love the point of view she has in Uncanny Avengers #6. We reveal the fate of Avengers Mansion eight months after Secret Wars, and we let another mystery bubble to the surface. I like writing shorter stories and arcs, that have fairly long connective threads. One of those threads arrives in Uncanny Avengers #6.
Nrama: In addition to reuniting Cable and Deadpool, you also recently brought back one of the X-Men’s other power couples, Gambit and Rogue, but with a major twist. Were you worried fans would be upset with the bait and switch? Will we ever get the real Gambit in a room with Rogue?
Duggan: I'd prefer not soliciting any comic book. I think they spoil surprises. I thought some people would be mad, but that was not the point. The point was to give one of our villains a grand entrance. If Rogue finds out, it will get her Irish up, so that will be fun. I've already spoiled in future solicits that Remy and Anna Marie will in fact meet soon.
Nrama: Coming up, Uncanny Avengers is going to be touching “Avengers Standoff”, the major event this spring. What role does this squad play in this conflict? Since they’re under the watchful eye of Steve Rogers, is there a clear goal for the Unity Squad?
Duggan: They're caught up in the intrigue. They would prefer to be on their secret mission, but the events in Pleasant Hill mean they're going to have to deal with the emergency. The Uncanny Avengers make some odd friends...and enemies.
Nrama: We’ve also seen something of a return for Hank Pym, but he’s bonded with his evil creation, Ultron. What can you tell us about what his role will be? Is he a villain in disguise? A hero with a new purpose?
Duggan: Hank is back, he's tamed the beast. He may have to win over some skeptics, both on the team, and readers out in the real world. I think Hank is up to the task.
Nrama: After “Standoff”, Steve Rogers will be back in the game as an active hero. Will his role in the Unity Squad change once he’s back on his feet?
Duggan: He'll have boots on the ground. His return could cause some friction between Rogue and Cable. And potentially for Deadpool, who was in essence, acting as his muscle in the field. With Rogers back on the serum, there might be consequences for some members.
Along with Steve’s return, Marvel will also move into Civil War II after “Standoff”. What’s the plan for the Uncanny Avengers as part of that conflict? Will we see fractures in the Unity Squad as Marvel heroes pick sides?
Duggan: The Unity squad will not be so unified during Civil War II, but I'd rather play my cards close to the vest about how the team is fractured.
Nrama: In May, regular series artist Ryan Stegman is taking a break, with Pepe Larazz filling in on art. Will Ryan be sticking with the book long-term? What makes him such an ideal artist to work with on a book that combines so many corners of the Marvel Universe?
Duggan: Pepe is drawing a story I've been looking forward to telling for a long time. Wait until you see his pages. There is so much love in every line. Ryan will be back after Pepe. All the artists I've had the chance to collaborate with have really made me look better than I am. Stegman, Carlos Pacheco and Larazz are perfectionists. It shows in every panel. Once again, I'm very lucky in collaborators.
Nrama: The first volume of Uncanny Avengers grew out of the aftermath of Avengers Vs. X-Men. With the Marvel Universe once again taking sides, what is the role of this title moving forward through those conflicts?
Duggan: The secret mission is now known to readers. This team is hunting the Red Skull. You'll see that mission in the background at times, but then it will suddenly be the center of the book. Issue 5 shows the scope of the problem. It all comes to a head at the end of my first year, and there will be some very big changes coming out of the confrontation.