Starting in January, Earth's Mightiest Heroes will become Earth's timeliest title, as Avengers #675 marks the start of Avengers: No Surrender, Marvel's first ever weekly Avengers series. The 16-issue story will unite the casts of Avengers, Uncanny Avengers, and U.S.Avengers under the umbrella of the core Avengers title, and is written by Mark Waid, Al Ewing, and Jim Zub with art from Pepe Larazz, Kim Jacinto, and Paco Medina.
Overseeing the endeavor - which he says is already farther along in production than any other project of this kind he's ever undertaken at this stage - is Marvel executive editor Tom Brevoort. Brevoort spoke to Marvel on the heels of the announcement of No Surrender, revealing the key details of the story - including who the villains are, which Avengers will be present (spoiler alert - all of'em!) and the secret identity of the mysterious Voyager - who Brevoort says is the "most important character in the Marvel Universe you don't remember."
Though Brevoort wouldn't reveal too many details, he also offered Newsarama some insight into what going weekly could mean for the future of Marvel's publishing line - both for the Avengers title itself, and for Marvel's potential approach to future event stories.
This interview also contains the first look at never-before-seen interior pages from Avengers: No Surrender, as well as covers for Avengers #676, 677, and 678.
Newsarama: Tom, Marvel revealed some of the basic details of Avengers: No Surrender in FOOM #1. Can you elaborate on what No Surrender is and give readers a more detailed idea of what to expect?
Tom Brevoort: As we were going into our next planning cycle 10 or 11 months ago, we had – and have – four Avengers titles. Sometimes two or even three of those Avengers titles would come out on the same week, and we heard from retailers that had been an issue for them. They would rather not have all the Avengers titles shipping together that way.
Building off of that, one of the ideas we previously considered, after we did something similar with Amazing Spider-Man in “Brand New Day,” was rather than having four different teams having four different adventures in four different places, wouldn’t it be better to have just one title that has everybody in it? That was the starting point of us developing No Surrender. Avengers: No Surrender is a 16-part Avengers epic that starts with Avengers #675 and runs through Avengers #690, so it will be one book, one title, one enormously massive story that features all the current Avengers – and some characters from the past, and some new characters – in the biggest, craziest adventure we could give you.
In the past we’ve done similar things with X-Men crossovers – or “events,” though I hesitate to use that word because everyone seems so burned out on “events.” This is really kind of the first Avengers-centric crossover like this, and the entire story is completely told in these pages, in these 16 issues, and it’s a new chapter every single week starting in the second week of January and ending in April. It’s the biggest, craziest, most gonzo story we could come up with.
Nrama: What is the threat in No Surrender that brings these three titles together? Who is the villain?
Brevoort: I don’t want to reveal too much, but I’ll tell you that in the first issue, the inciting event is that the Earth has been stolen. Everyone wakes up on Monday morning and the Earth is not where it’s supposed to be – it’s been purloined and taken elsewhere. So the fate of all humanity, and of the stolen planet, rests in the hands of the Avengers.
I can also tell you there are two contentious groups of villains in Avengers: No Surrender that are rampaging across the surface of the Earth. One of those is the Black Order, Thanos’ minions who were introduced in Infinity, and the other is a brand new incarnation of the Lethal Legion made up of some new villains and a few old familiar faces who have been somewhat overhauled.
These two forces are on the Earth doing something for some reason, and getting to the bottom of all this is one of the Avengers’ main goals at the outset of the story.
Nrama: There’s a lot going on in Marvel Legacy #1 that seems to be foreshadowing No Surrender, with Jarvis & Nadia’s scene clearly alluding to it directly, but is there any other specific connective tissue between Legacy #1 and No Surrender readers should be paying attention to?
Brevoort: Not to be too catty, especially given that the book only just came out this past Wednesday, but you should pay attention to everything that’s in Marvel Legacy #1. Everything that’s there is there for a reason, and to foreshadow things to come.
I don’t really want to break it down scene by scene and say which things will come up in No Surrender and which scenes are alluding to other stories. I want readers to be surprised and curious and discover that for themselves by reading the comics that are coming out in “Legacy.” Marvel Legacy #1 absolutely sets up things that will payoff in Avengers: No Surrender, and certainly that Jarvis page is one of them. Beyond that, I can’t get any more specific.
Nrama: Jason Aaron told us that the 1,000,000 B.C. Avengers that debuted in Marvel Legacy #1 will appear again in the Marvel Universe. Would it be crazy to assume that they’ll show up in No Surrender?
Brevoort: No, it wouldn’t be crazy to assume that. Though I’ll say you may be seeing more of them even before No Surrender in other places.
Nrama: As we discussed earlier this week, “Legacy” in general is about the return of classic characters and concepts and honoring Marvel’s past. We know Steve is returning as Cap, Tony appears to be returning as Iron Man, and it looks like Odinson will become Thor again. So out of the team founders (a concept clearly important to this story) Bruce Banner and Hank Pym seem to be the missing pieces. Should readers expect a restoration/reunion of the original team – “Legacy” style?
Brevoort: Apart from the fact that we put the Founders statue front-and-center in the promo image, and the fact that we made it central to the story itself, I can’t get more specific.
I will say this: there will definitely be founding Avengers that play a crucial role in a way they haven’t in many, many years in an Avengers comic.
Nrama: In the FOOM story, the Wasp was mentioned. Which Wasp was that - Janet Van Dyne, or Nadia Pym?
Brevoort: Given that we’ve said that every current Avenger will be involved in No Surrender, I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say both Janet and Nadia will appear in No Surrender.
Nrama: Is there a core team in Avengers: No Surrender? Who are the POV characters?
Brevoort: It’s a big, big group. [laughs]. Boiling it down to the sort of three-headed hydra (no relation!) of these three Avengers teams, the leaders of the three squads are Sam Wilson, Rogue, and Roberto Da Costa – in essence the leaders of the three functional Avengers teams in Avengers, Uncanny Avengers, and U.S.Avengers.
Everyone that shows up has a big moment or a big beat in No Surrender, especially the more classic Avengers. So there are big moments for Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. There are big moments for Vision. There’s a big Wonder Man sequence.
But also the more recent members – Rogue is a big part of the story. The Human Torch plays a big role. The Red Hulk gets his moment. And there are probably at least a few characters you won’t expect to see in there. We mentioned Red Wolf in the FOOM story, so all of the remainder of the Occupy Avengers will have a role to play. Lightning is a big part of the story.
Pretty much everyone who you would consider an Avenger right now has a role in Avengers: No Surrender.
It’s a big story, kind of putting a big punctuation mark on this era of the Avengers. There’s absolutely nothing that says any of these characters – or the structure of the Avengers as we know it - will be the same by the end of the story.
Nrama: I want to ask you about Voyager. I’m not naïve enough to think you’re going to spoil everything about her and her identity right now, so what can you tell us about who she is and her role in Avengers: No Surrender?
Brevoort: I can tell you she’s the most important character in the Marvel Universe that you don’t remember – but you will. And you’ll remember her by the time Avengers #676 comes out, the second part of No Surrender.
There’s a scene in there that lays out quite concretely exactly who she is. Her identity will be revealed.
I will tell you – because it fills me with immeasurable glee – that her secret identity, her real name, is Valerie Vector. Take that as you will – people can go to their Marvel Handbooks to see if they can suss out any clues about her identity.
There are clues in Marvel Legacy #1. There are clues in the promo image that Alex Ross painted that’s on the back of the lenticular variant and will be seen on a lot of books moving forward, where she’s included with the founding Avengers on their statue.
Nrama: You said she’s a character we don’t remember, but soon would. Would you say Voyager shares some DNA with other “secret history” characters like Sentry or Blue Marvel?
Brevoort: I’d say pointing to characters like that is probably the closest analogy you could make, at least right now. So yes, in some ways she is similar to characters like that.
Nrama: Again, I don’t expect you to reveal Voyager’s secret now, but I want to get your impression on how she might relate to some characters that have been in the Marvel Universe recently.
Nrama: Avenger X/Cressida (a very recent Mark Wade creation).
Brevoort: Well, Mark is one of the writers of Avengers: No Surrender, so you never know.
Nrama: An adult Kobik – they have the same hair color, and she’s been a major character lately.
Brevoort: I hate to specifically rule anything out, but I think there’s no reason not to tell you that Kobik has no connection to Voyager whatsoever. I’ll give you that one.
Nrama: That’s our “No Prize” for this interview.
Brevoort: [laughs] Yeah, that’s a freebie for you and the readers.
Nrama: Avengers: No Surrender starts in January, and it’ll take the title nearly to Avengers #700 - and it ends just days before Avengers: Infinity War is due out in theaters. You’ve got Infinity Stones showing up in the Marvel Universe, and the Black Order appearing in this story. Is it safe to assume that the timing of No Surrender is not a coincidence, that this story is building to that moment?
Brevoort: In essence, yes. In a certain way – and it’s not as cut-and-dried as this – but in a certain way Avengers: No Surrender will be like the “Avengers Disassembled” of this era of the team. And after that – and again, it’s not exactly this, but it’s kinda like this – we’ll follow that up with the New Avengers of the next era. Not literally – but in spirit.
Nrama: So what you’re saying is, No Surrender will mark the end of one era of the Avengers, and the beginning of another.
Brevoort: I can say pretty definitively that Avengers: No Surrender is designed to create a big, apocalyptic finish for the current incarnation of the team and lead to the next iteration of the Avengers.
Nrama: Assuming Avengers: No Surrender goes according to plan, could we see this approach applied to other Marvel lines with multiple core titles?
Brevoort: I think it’s certainly possible – it might even be something we can continue to apply to Avengers – though I’ll tell you, we’ve been working on No Surrender for a long time and I would hate to have to hit the gas and pick it up as a weekly immediately thereafter cause it’s not easy to do it right and do it well.
It’s a very different beast, but it’s a beast that I think could be applied to the X-Men, or to a street level Defenders type of story, something like that. I think it’s just super cool – and it’s not like a typical event. You get the whole story in a single title, soup-to-nuts. It flies by like a rocket and you get to look forward to it every week. It’s a very modern way of doing something like this.
Nrama: You used the capital-E “Event” word twice now. When last we spoke about Legacy, you told me Marvel was shying away from what most fans probably think of as “events” for the foreseeable future. Is this kind of model – a weekly series confined to a single title – a possible model we could see for those kind of Marvel Universe stories in the future?
Brevoort: It’s not impossible. Again, a lot of that will depend on how this all works out. But this is definitely the kind of big story you can expect in “Legacy.” The main thing that we’re not going to be doing are those kind of, bringing all the heroes together, touching every corner of the Marvel Universe, one core title with lots of tie-ins and mini-series capital-E “Events. “
But part of the motivation for No Surrender and for those kind of event stories, is to do something that fans can get excited about getting into shops and picking up every week, so we very well could see this kind of model applied to that kind of thing in the future.
Nrama: On that note, tell us about the creative team. You’ve got three co-writers in Mark Waid, Al Ewing, and Jim Zub, and three artists in Pepe Larazz, Kim Jacinto, and Paco Medina. How did this project come together?
Brevoort: This is thoroughly a group writing process, and a gestalt mind in the way that even the Webhead braintrust wasn’t during the weekly “Brand New Day” era of Amazing Spider-Man. Over there, while everything was planned out in advance, everybody still wrote their own parts. Everything was coordinated and we planned together, but if you were writing, say, a Molten Man story, you would write your Molten Man story and that’s it.
This is a completely different beast in that Mark Waid, Al Ewing, and Jim Zub came together and plotted this entire series as a unit, and every one of them is writing on every single issue. It’s a group effort. Literally everybody’s fingerprints are on every single issue of No Surrender.
On the flipside – this is still in the world of “If everything goes right,” and with the consideration that we’ve been working with this since February, I’ve got issues banked up already that nobody’s seen yet - because we’re working so far ahead, we were able to make it work so that all every issue in the first month – Avengers #675-678 - is drawn by Pepe Larazz. The entire second month - #679-682 - is drawn by Kim Jacinto, and the third month - #683-686 – is by Paco Medina. And, if everything goes according to plan, #687-690 will be drawn by all three of them.
We tried to look at every place that’s done something like this before, at what those guys did right and what those guys didn’t do so well, to try to do this better than anyone else has done it. You know, Mark Waid worked on DC’s 52, and he brought a lot of good insight into what he thought they did well, and what worked and what didn’t.
We’re so deep into this story that we’re farther ahead than I’ve ever been on a project like this. We were able to complete an incredible amount of work before anyone even knew we were actually working on something like this. No Surrender is in great shape – which is good, ‘cause I’ve gotta put out 16 issues of weekly comics!
Nrama: We’re going to geek out on you for a second here. Wolverine was a big part of the Avengers in the last decade before he died. Now, seemingly on a dime he’s back from the dead in possession of an Infinity Stone. Gamora’s scene in Marvel Legacy #1 foreshadows a comic book war over the Infinity Stones. And what’s more, all this is happening just a few months before Avengers: Infinity War.
How crazy on a scale of 1 to 10 would a theory about Hugh Jackman making a cameo as Wolverine in Avengers: Infinity War be?
Brevoort: [laughs] I have no idea! Anything I could say would be pure speculation. That’s entirely on the Marvel Studios side, so I’m just as out of the loop as everyone else. You should ask Kevin Feige that question! [laughs]
I can tell you Wolverine has a big role to play in the Marvel Universe in comic books coming up, though.
Nrama: After Marvel Legacy #1, what should readers pick up next to get to Avengers: No Surrender?
Brevoort: Well, obviously Avengers would be a good title to pick up. We’ve got a really big story happening right out of the gate in Avengers where they’ll crossover with Champions in a story called “Worlds Collide,” and then coming out of that we’ll be moving into No Surrender.
Likewise, both Uncanny Avengers and U.S.Avengers have several issues coming out leading up to No Surrender that will tell big “Legacy” stories and set up the teams coming together for this crossover.
Nrama: Any last thoughts fans should know about Avengers: No Surrender?
Brevoort: I’ll reiterate what I said before: Avengers: No Surrender is an Avengers story unlike any we’ve ever told. This is a huge, monumental story, and it’s coming out on a weekly basis. It’s the kind of incredible adventure that people have been asking for, and it’s going to deliver in epic ways.