Captain America Revisits THE KORVAC SAGA

1978’s “The Korvac Saga" can be considered kind of a prototype for recent large-scale Marvel Comics storylines like Secret Invasion or Siege. Pitting a large group of classic Avengers — Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch among them — against Michael Korvac, a cyborg from the far future bent on ruling the cosmos, the story ran from Avengers #167 to 177. More than three decades removed, it’s still one of the most recognized Marvel superhero tales, so it’s not surprising that it would be revisited. What might be surprising is the choice of writer — Ben McCool, making his Marvel Comics debut and best known for horror-noir series Choker, his creator-owned Image Comics series with artist Ben Templesmith.

Captain America & The Korvac Saga is a four-issue miniseries starting in December of this year. Though an artist hasn’t been announced yet, we spoke to McCool over e-mail about his own history with the original Korvac Saga, how much a British kid was able to get into Captain America, and if the cannibalism in Choker prepared him for this assignment. 

Newsarama: First question is kind of an obvious one: what exactly is this series? The information released to press said it's the original "re-imagined" for the modern age. It seems like an alternate take on the classic story, set in the present day instead of the '70s and squarely from Captain America's perspective. Is that something close to right?

Ben McCool: It is — bravo! The original Korvac Saga is one of Marvel’s most admired — not to mention first — big events, and really set the table for a lot of what was to follow. My take on it is very different, and that will be obvious straight off the bat. The similarities essentially stop with Korvac’s involvement (along with a few other characters, who for story-based reasons I’ll keep furtive for now) and his ominous agenda; I’ve crafted a story that pays homage to the original series, but is unique and original in its own right.

Nrama: It's also only four issues; the original Korvac Saga. So is this, perhaps, more glimpses of a larger story with a focus on the more personal, character-based aspect of it?

McCool: Indeed, the four issues focus very much on Cap’s involvement throughout the story. In terms of composition, this isn’t the magnum opus the original was; instead, I’ve tried to focus on a tightly plotted and action-packed adventure that’s both accessible and (hopefully) enjoyable to established and new readers alike. Like I mentioned before, there are elements of 1978’s Korvac Saga in here, but presented in a fresh guise.

Nrama:Is the Avengers lineup, then, a modern one and not the one seen in the original story? Or something else entirely?

McCool: Lots of the characters used in the original Korvac Saga are amongst my favorites, and so the lineup is very similar. But with are a few exclusions, a couple of additions, I’ve assembled a bloody good Avengers Dream Team!

Nrama:This is your Marvel debut. Are you a long-time Marvel — specifically Captain America — fan?

McCool: Oh, absolutely. I first discovered American comics when I was 10 (Uncanny X-Men issue 271; I still have my copy tucked away at my parent’s house!) and was immediately blown away — not to mention hooked. I started reading more Marvel comics straight after that (not to mention DC, Dark Horse, anything I could get my hands on) and my interest evolved from there. Captain America wasn’t one of the first characters I started collecting, but I soon became a big Avengers fan and my interest in ol’ Cap developed as a result.

Nrama: Was the original Korvac Saga a personal favorite story of yours?

McCool: I’ll be honest, I hadn’t read the Korvac Saga until fairly recently. But I was surprised with how fresh a read it is — for a book over thirty years old, it definitely holds up! Some of the ideas in there are plain bonkers (in a good, Jim Shooter kinda way, of course) and George Perez’s art is predictably top-notch. I hope that my story serves as a suitable ode!

Nrama: What ways, if any, has you work on Choker prepared you for this miniseries?

McCool: Choker was my very first mini-series, and the experience of developing a multi-part comic book for the first time was as enjoyable as it was enlightening. To be working on something so different to Choker (there’ll be no deranged senior-citizen-eating cannibals in this book, I’m sorry to say) is an additional bonus — the stark contrast in style allows me to unleash a whole new blend of creative juices!

Nrama: The story picks up on a connection between Captain America and Korvac. What's the tie there — is it just that they're both kind of displaced in time, or maybe something more concrete?

McCool: Well, I don’t want to give too much away, but the time displacement factor is certainly prominent. As the pair engages in further interaction (whether Cap likes it or not) more details about their enigmatic connection begin to surface …

Nrama: How important is it to maintain a sense of humanity with a character like Korvac, who is pretty far removed form what's traditionally relatable (being from a thousand years in the future and all that)?

McCool: Well, Mr. Korvac is definitely one of a kind! Dare I say, he’s at his most “human” when we first meet him, establishing his association with Cap. He has to be; an old school soldier-boy like Steve Rogers is befuddled with the situation to begin with, and Korvac knows that to captivate his attention he must first try to relate to him. But as events unfold, Korvac’s true character is revealed… And he turns out to be quite the lunatic.

Nrama: It seems like the main theme of this series is the isolation felt by Captain America. What appeals to you about that element?

McCool: Well, Cap first and foremost is a soldier, and a bloody good one at that. He’s as tough as old boots, and isn’t the type to shirk a challenge. But the sense of isolation is a tough one to bear, especially with an abundance of other conflict thrown into the mix. How would an elite Avenger deal with it? I believe this is an important element in Captain America and the Korvac Saga, and I really hope it contributes to a good fun and interesting story!


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