Despite being dubbed "Earth's Mightiest Heroes," Marvel's Avengers have always been United States-centric - but with the debut this week of U.S.Avengers they're wearing their colors on their sleeves - literally.
The latest volume in Al Ewing's long evolving run on various Avengers titles, U.S.Avengers re-imagines the recent New Avengers line-up as a uber-patriotic secret agent company, in service of the U.S. government.
With U.S.Avengers #1 on stands now, Newsarama spoke with Ewing about his and Paco Medina's new series. And since many have yet to have a chance to pick it up, the interview is spoiler-free - although we have broken down the surprises in the issue over in this companion article.
Newsarama: Al, you've been writing an Avengers title through several adjectives and team line-ups. What makes U.S. Avengers unique?
Al Ewing: Well, it's a kind of Avengers-as-James Bond comic - a kind of streamlining of the wild, wooly, secret-agent style action that marked the last year or so of New Avengers, and tying that more into the Marvel Universe as a whole. So where before, the New Avengers were free to run around doing whatever they wanted, now they're a lot more tied into the various systems and procedures of Marvel-Earth as we know it. So there's plenty of fun to be had, but there's a more solid punch lurking underneath it all for readers who look.
Nrama: This first issue and the solicits for future issues really plays the patriotic aspect to a hilt, reminding me of Team America: World Police almost. Is that intentional?
Ewing: I've never actually seen Team America, which makes answering this question difficult.
I originally had the idea to take things in this direction back in... February? 2015, even? A.I.M. redeeming itself and becoming accepted was baked in from the start of New Avengers, and at some point, the “U.S.Avengers” title was doing the rounds, and I thought it'd fit where the book was headed as a kind of American S.H.I.E.L.D. (Although as it turns out, A.I.M. and S.H.I.E.L.D. are joining forces, with A.I.M. acting as a kind of Q Branch/Impossible Missions Force.)
It was always going to try to be an inclusive book, and I wanted to try and take the inherent symbolic power of the American flag - and it's got a lot of power, a lot of history and blood bound up in it for good and ill - and at least try to harness it for positive ends. Maybe that's a fool's errand, especially at this moment in history and coming from someone who's not from round here.
That said, the Stars And Stripes is a rorschach blot at the best of times, so there's a decent chance any good intentions I have will end up crushed under the weight of it. We'll see.
Nrama: You've got a Captain America and a Skull - but not Steve, Sam, or Red Skull. Instead you have Danielle Cage, the Captain America of the future. Can you tell us about her, and bringing her in like this?
Ewing: I came up with the idea to have Danielle as our future Cap when I was writing Ultron Forever - it seemed like a natural choice - and I've enjoyed bringing her into my various Avengers books since then. I'm confident readers who haven't been introduced will love reading her as much as I love writing her - and we'll be finding out more about the far-flung future of 20XX than ever before, including how it came to be!
Nrama: Her tenure might be short - the solicits for #2 promise a "zero day - the day Captain American died." Should fans not get too attached to her?
Ewing: Well, she's not the Captain America who dies! All will be revealed when issue #2 rolls around, but we've mentioned Zero Day before in New Avengers - it's part of Danielle's future history. Readers can get attached to her as they like - as far as I'm concerned, any near-future worth its salt will have Danielle Cage in the Captain America role.
Nrama: Moving on to the related big bad of the first arc, you have the Golden Skull. What's he after?
Ewing: His aim in life is to wreck the world to satisfy his warped ego and then sell off the rubble. He's one of the few truly irredeemable villains I've written - there's nothing he won't do to make a profit. Having been stymied time and again in his own era, he's come back - and sideways - to ours, in the hope that this timeline is easier to loot and pillage. And if he burns our world to a cinder - no problem, he'll find another What If? to plunder. He doesn't even think its wrong - he thinks it's clever. Smart business.
Nrama: Pulling all the strings behind this is the one-time New Mutant Sunspot, now going by the name Citizen V. What is he up to here?
Ewing: His goal in the previous series was to fully redeem A.I.M. as an organization, and he's done that. Now the goal is to get people to unite. As long as he's been an Avenger, that's been his mission. It's Professor X's dream, in a lot of ways - getting people to look past their differences and come together for the common good of humanity. That's what led to his quest to redeem A.I.M., and it's what he's doing throwing himself so hard into the U.S. - right now, that might be the place he's most needed, and he's here to help. Whether his help will be accepted is another matter.
Nrama: That can you tell us about the rest of the team?
Ewing: Well, there's Roberto's bestie Sam, a.k.a. Cannonball. He's got a home and family off-world, in the Shi'ar Empire, so his relationship with his old home on Earth is difficult. While Roberto is concentrating on the U.S., Sam finds himself drawn away. We'll see how he ends up dealing with that. Then we have Squirrel Girl, bringing her trademark compassion and empathy to the team; the new Iron Patriot - a.k.a. Toni Ho, a supporting member from New Avengers who's stepping up to the super-hero plate with her own armored suit; her girlfriend Aikku Jokinen, a.k.a Enigma, who's rocking a new powerset after the "death" of the sentient defense system that originally gave her her powers; and an all-new Red Hulk to round things out. It's a nice mix, and I'm looking forward to bouncing them off one another and off the bad guys.
Nrama: Big picture, what are your goals with U.S. Avengers?
Ewing: Like I said above, in the current climate I'd like to do something that gives people who might need it some hope, or at the very least a little while away from their troubles. At the moment, the "big picture" seems very far away, so if I can at least do that with this book, that'll be enough for me.