Capitalizing on the imagery and popularity of their blockbuster films, Marvel has teamed with IDW Publishing to create the Marvel Action line - licensed comics that depict all-ages versions of Marvel's heroes that closely resemble the ones seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
True to form, the Marvel Action line is anchored by Marvel Action: Avengers from writer Matthew Manning and artist Jon Sommariva, an all-ages title that delves into the classic characters and themes of the Avengers through a lens that modern audiences will immediately recognize.
To get a handle on what's in store for this version of Earth's Mightiest Heroes when their title launches on December 12, Newsarama spoke to Manning about his Avengers roster, the villains we can expect to see, and what it means to be creating an Avengers comic book while the franchise is at its mightiest.
Newsarama: Matthew, the Avengers are some of the biggest superheroes in the world right now. What's it like getting to write their adventures at the height of their popularity?
Matthew Manning: It's definitely a challenge. These are high profile characters, most of which have high-level power sets as well. That means we've got to find threats that are new and unexpected, but big enough to keep the entire team on their toes. It's a daunting job, but today I wrote the words, "Avengers Assemble!" in a script, and it doesn't get much better than that.
Nrama: Is there a mission statement for Marvel Action: Avengers? What's your aim with the series?
Manning: We're very much out to make a true all-ages book. We don't want to talk down to our audience, and we want to create a book that kids can enjoy as much as longtime comic book readers. It's a tough balance, but I think Jon, Bobby, and I managed to hit that target fairly well with Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures. Only now, we have the whole Marvel Universe to play with!
Nrama: Who are the core heroes that make up this version of the team?
Manning: Captain America, Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Thor, Black Panther, and Black Widow. It's a fun mix, and we're looking forward to giving each character a moment in the spotlight as the series continues.
Nrama: Every great hero needs great villains. Who will the Avengers be going up against as the series goes on?
Manning: Right away we've got the threat of A.I.M., Madame Masque, and Fin Fang Foom, as well as an unexpected villain that I can't go into much without veering into spoiler territory. As the series progresses, we hope to dive a little deeper into the Avengers' lore, and deal up a few minor villains who are personal favorites of mine, a few fun guest stars, and a very classic bad guy who will be revealed at the end of our first three-issue arc.
Nrama: You're working with artist Jon Sommariva. What's he bring to a book like Marvel Action: Avengers?
Manning: Jon brings pure, unbridled energy from down under! His work has a cartoony flair that appeals to both kids and adults, and his storytelling is clear and concise. But most importantly, Jon's work is electric. He has the rare ability to move the action across the page with ease.
Nrama: What's the story structure of Marvel Action: Avengers? Are you going for one-and-done adventures?
Manning: These are three-issue arcs with continuing subplots. If we're doing our jobs correctly, you can dive in at any point without getting lost, but every three issues will be a brand new jumping on point. If you start with issue #1, you'll get a larger sense of the threat that's building in the background. We're planning a big storyline for the second half of the first twelve issues. It's the type of epic battle fans have come to expect from the Avengers, but with a pretty fun twist.
Nrama:Marvel Action: Avengers is published through IDW, but it's still got the "Marvel" name on the cover. What makes an essential Marvel comic book to you?
Manning: It has to have character and heart, to start with. I got into Marvel because Stan Lee and Gerry Conway and Peter David and David Michelinie convinced me that a Spider-Man could have real, relatable problems. The flash and the action get you to open the cover, but it's the relationship between the characters that gets you coming back.
With Marvel Action: Avengers, you're going to see a lot of fun banter between our cast, you're going to see them get into big, crazy situations. But we're doing our best to find a few of those quiet moments to really sell you on these characters, and hopefully shed a little light on why they do what they do.
Nrama: Bottom line, what can fans who want more of Earth's Mightiest Heroes expect from Marvel Action: Avengers?
Manning: I know "action" is in the title, but that's a lot of it. We're going to be running at a fast pace, but we also want to deliver the kind of characterization Marvel is known for.
We want kids to be greeted with the brand of witty dialogue they're accustomed to from the Marvel Studios films, and we want longtime readers to find their familiar heroes taken to unfamiliar places.
We have big goals for this series, but again, these are big characters. We're just trying our best to measure up.