Al Ewing has been foretelling ominous things since Royals launched - even promising that one of the Inhuman Royal Family will die. While he's not ready to reveal whether Royals' "Legacy" arc "Fire From Heaven" will contain the big moment, he does promise that readers will be asking that question until the dust settles on the final pages of the story.
Working with Ewing on Royals in "Legacy" is artist Javier Rodriguez, who calls tackling the Inhumans "pure pleasure," drawing on his Kirby-esque influences to take the story in an even more cosmic direction - introducing the Progenitors, alien experimenters with ties to the Inhumans' origins.
Newsarama spoke to Ewing and Rodriguez ahead of their first issue together, September 27's Royals #9, digging into what makes a good cosmic tale, the true meaning of "Legacy," and what's next for Royals.
This article also contains previously unreleased interior pages from Royals #3.
Newsarama: Al, you’ve been delving into the secret origins of the Inhumans since Royals started. Now, in “Legacy,” you’re introducing the Progenitors. Who are they, and what does that mean for the Inhuman Royal Family?
Al Ewing: Put simply - if the Kree experimented on Earth's neanderthals to create Inhumans, the Progenitors are the race that experimented on Hala's neanderthal population, way back in the mists of time, to create the Kree. We actually see that happen in #9 - we see a Progentor land and go to work on the "Kree-Anderthals.” For what purpose? Well, it's not that easy to say - the Progenitors are incredibly alien and hideously advanced, to the extent that their technology is difficult for humans to process. (And if you think I'm kidding, wait until you see the World Farm, the City-Mind and the Primagen Gardens. Javier is a genius, particularly when it comes to creating legitimately alien environments, and I'm loving every page that drops into the inbox.)
Nrama: There’s the obvious parallel between the search for the Inhumans’ origins and the idea of “Legacy,” but when it comes to the overall goals of the “Legacy” initiative, what does that mean for Royals?
Ewing: I feel like part of what “Legacy” is about is celebrating the classic Marvel Style without forgetting to keep pushing forward into the new - and I'd say the Progenitors fit firmly into that idea. They're new, they're exciting, they're a massive new piece waiting to be slotted into cosmic Marvel, but at the same time, they fit neatly into the overall Marvel story. We're forging ahead, but at the same time, this is just the latest chapter in a grand cosmic saga - and it's heading for an Earth-shattering climax.
Nrama: Javier, at this point you’ve worked on a wide swath of the Marvel Universe as an artist. But this is your first time working on the Inhumans. What new challenges does going cosmic bring?
Rodriguez: To me the first 100 issues of Fantastic Four, by Lee and Kirby are my favorite comic books ever - especially all the Attilan related issues. And Medusa is my favorite Marvel character, so as you can imagine, this is not a challenge, it is pure pleasure. Al’s story in Royals is fantastic by the way. He’s of the best writers out there dealing with sci-fi and cosmic elements. And I realized that I’m super comfortable drawing fantastic elements. I enjoy it because it allows me to create fresh visual page designs. And I love drawing huge guys. These Progenitors are super fun to draw. Perfect to dance along with a group of superheroes considering on page pace and design.
Nrama: Javier, your art really reflects the tone of what a lot of people would consider “Classic Marvel.” What are you looking to as inspiration as you draw Royals?
Rodriguez: I think that I’m classic - which doesn’t mean dated - because I like a clean, active, narrative. Easy reading, giving all the control to the reader. You learn this about me when you forget you’re reading a comic after one page and it all becomes fluid. There is a lot of Kirby and of course all the classic Marvel big names and lot of contemporaries. I try to draw comic books that I enjoy as a reader. I love when the artist creates that magic environment that you forget all around you and you are abducted through the panels.
Nrama: Al, we know someone is going to die in Royals – you’ve been ominously warning us since the series started. Is this Progenitors story the arc where someone doesn’t make it home?
Ewing: "Fire from Heaven" is a three-parter with an epilogue issue, and readers are going to be on the edge of their seats about that question right up until the last page of #11. Some candidates are, admittedly, more likely than others - we're definitely going to start seeing front-runners, and as the Last Inhuman, Maximus is eliminated from the running (or is he?) - but hopefully we can keep readers guessing right up until the fatal moment when it all goes down.
Nrama: Is there a particular character we should be focusing on during this “Legacy” story?
Ewing: Let's see - I've given some special thought to Medusa, Gorgon, Crystal, Swain, Flint... Maximus and Noh-Varr... um... sorry, that's not very helpful, is it? It think everyone gets a decent moment in the spotlight as things go to hell, but if I had to pick one particular character in #9 to watch - keep an eye on Flint. His arc is just gathering steam.
Nrama: Al, after the Inhumans meet their makers (both literally and possibly metaphorically), what’s next for them?
Ewing: No God-deed goes unpunished. You can venture to Olympus and steal the thunder of Zeus... but not without making a powerful enemy. The Progenitors were just curious before - seeing how their experiment had progressed - but in the wake of what happens during "Fire From Heaven"... they're angry. Judgment Day is coming - and when the Gods of the Gods descend in all their wrath, who will be able to stand?
Nrama: Javier, what’s next for you after this arc? Are you sticking around on Royals?
Rodriguez: I'm on this book for as long as they'll have me!
Nrama: For both of you, without being too spoilery, what’s your favorite moment of the “Legacy” story that you’ve worked on so far?
Ewing: I've got to say the revelation of the World Farm. That's an amazing visual moment, perfectly brought together by Javier, inker Alvaro Lopez and colorist Jordie Bellaire. It's the Inhumans at their biggest, their maddest and their strangest - and it only gets weirder and more wonderful from there. Join us - you won't regret it.
Rodriguez: That moment is my favorite too. And let me say that it is so cool the way that Al built this world. The first time I read the description my mind was blown.