Civil War II is poised to see superhumans, soldiers, robots, mutants, iron men and more fight over – but what about the gods? In the newly announced tie-in series Civil War II: Gods of War, Earth’s original superhero Hercules is leading a group of Expendables-style fellow gods into the 2016 summer event conflict.
Hercules writer Dan Abnett is leading the way in this series, continuing the story from that ongoing series and the struggle against the Uprising Storm and into the crucible of Civil War II. Abnett is joined by G.I. Joe/Street Fighter artist Emilio Laiso, who was a guest artist early on in Hercules.
Newsarama talked with Abnett, along with series editor Katie Kubert, about his series debuting in June and what it means for gods, the Hercules series, and the Civil War II event itself.
Newsarama: Dan, the first question is the obvious one -- what will Civil War II: Gods of War be about?
Dan Abnett: During this big event, Herc is an outsider. In a crazy way, this story is sort of like a comic book realizing there’s a cross-over happening and trying to be part of it. Herc’s a bad boy, party animal ways have basically got him shunned by his fellow heroes and old friends, so when this kicks off, no one tells him.
Nrama: Katie, I remember Marvel's mythological gods having great side-stories as part of previous Marvel events. As editor, what did you see as the opening for Hercules?
Katie Kubert: I’m happy to say that most of the idea was Dan’s. I tasked him with trying to figure out how to make Hercules a larger part of our Civil War II event, stating that as a former Avenger, he should be at least taken into consideration when it comes to fighting off a world-class threat. Marvel wanted to elevate his role and his new sober status quo, and Dan came to me with the brilliant idea of Herc’s past coming back to haunt him, and the heroes not taking him seriously. He was able to weave together this huge crossover event with what was personal to Hercules…and I ate it up.
Nrama: Will the regular Hercules series be on hiatus during the course of this 4-issue series?
Kubert: Hercules is going to be dealing with not only the events of Civil War II, but the big bad from his own series…the Uprising Storm. Both stories will continue here.
Nrama: How is Herc and his ongoing series dovetailing exactly into this event?
Abnett: I want this to be a really organic follow up - Herc is still struggling with the massive job of repairing his rep as the world’s first and greatest hero, a rep that his lifestyle has done a lot to destroy. He’s also facing a massive threat, a world-class danger. Because of Civil War II, he finds he is more alone than usual. No one wants to include him, no one wants to hear his troubles and - most importantly - no one wants to help him, with his thing.
Nrama: Now the title of this isn't "God of War" but "Gods of War" -- can you say who else might show up -- or rule out any Marvel “gods” like Woodgod who won't?
Kubert: Correct! I don’t want to give away who will be showing up, but since will be dealing a lot with the Uprising Storm, a villain who wishes to decimate all the heroes of antiquity, we’ll be seeing a cast of characters who, like Herc, have learned to adapt to the modern world. Think battle axes with grenade launchers.
Abnett: To save the world, Herc is forced to call on old old friends to help him out, because the ‘modern heroes’ are all too busy and they’re not taking his calls. That means calling mythological heroes out of retirement. The editor, Katie Kubert, and I joked that this is like a Marvel Universe Expendables. Herc is forming his dream team from heroes of myth like Gilgamesh, Beowulf, Theseus, Sigurd and Lorelei. But with Civil War II underway, there’s likely to be conflict with some very recognizable Marvel Heroes.
Nrama: Heroes versus heroes is a big deal, but Hercules is a mythological god and -- as you say -- the first real superhero. How are you mixing the god-part of things into this struggle between human heroes?
Abnett: Because it’s about fate, and as a mythological hero, Herc has had to deal with fate more literally than most modern heroes. In the classic myths, a hero’s fate was ordained, and then he struggled to overcome it. This is a personal test - a labor - for Herc.
Nrama: Hercules has been through more wars than just about anyone – even Captain America. What does he think of this Civil War II conflict and heroes in-fighting?
Abnett: He hates it. It’s just wrong for heroes to clash with heroes. He’s probably going to kick some ass about it.
Nrama: The artist on this is Emilio Laiso, who drew part of Hercules #2 and is also doing great with IDW's Street Fighter/G.I. Joe crossover. What made you think of him for this special four-part story?
Kubert: Emilio did a fantastic job on Hercules #2, and was a welcome fit for the feel of the story we were trying to tell in that issue. He is extremely skilled when it comes to drawing shirtless, hunky men (which, in my book, is skill numero uno for a project like Hercules) and he is very adept at placing fantastical elements in a familiar world. He makes you believe that these mythological creatures could very well be hanging around Astoria, Queens.
Nrama: What does this whole Civil War II conflict and this miniseries offer for the ongoing narrative of Hercules and you, as a writer?
Abnett: It’s going to be huge fun to write. It’s a powerful, self-contained story, but for readers who have been with the Hercules series since we started it, it’s an organic extension. That’s pretty refreshing. This isn’t a case of a book having to drop everything it’s doing to jump into a cross-over, because cross-over. This is the event smashing headlong into Herc’s already messy life and changing the flow of his own narrative.
Nrama: Katie -- editorially, you're guiding this to work in concert with the main Civil War II storyline -- so how do you balance that with trying to make a great story in this book -- to make it the best it can be -- without outshining the main event series?
Kubert: It’s really the skill of the writer and the artist to move seamlessly between a huge event like Civil War II and what’s going on in Hercules, and I can confidentially say we’ve been able to do that withGods of War. All I have to do is make sure we’re serving both stories accurately and authentically! For those who have been reading the Hercules series, it picks right up off of a pretty intense cliffhanger in #6. For those who will be picking this series up for the first time, either as fans of Civil War II or those just trying something new, it’ll feel like a character down on his luck, at the bottom of a barrel, and realizing that he has it within himself to be the hero he always was. Combine that with a new cast of characters, Hercules team of Expendables if you will, and you’ve got one hell of a fun series.
Nrama: Last question -- whose side is Hercules on?
Abnett: Well, ultimately, his own… against the Civil War!