CHAOS WAR: From The Field #1 - with PAK & VAN LENTE

CHAOS WAR: From The Field #1

Hercules is back from the dead and more powerful than ever, and it's up to him to gather Marvel's heroes and stop the Chaos King from reverting the world to a state of nothingness — yep, Chaos War is now raging, with #1 out for a little more than a week, and the second issue on its way this coming Wednesday.

We asked you, the well-informed Newsarama readers, to ask series co-writers Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente whatever you may be curious about on both Twitter and our forums. We then talked to both creators, freshly returned from New York Comic Con, to get your queries answered, ask a few of our own and get some hints as to what expect with issue #2.

The answers follow, and start thinking ahead to what else you might want to know — because we're doing it all over again for Chaos War #2, and with each subsequent issue and major tie-in to come.

Interior art from Chaos War #1.

Newsarama: Greg, Fred, with Chaos War #1 now out for a little more than a week — and sold out — has the reception pretty much matched up with your expectations? Exceeded them?

Fred Van Lente: Definitely in my case it’s exceeded them. The book sold out like two weeks before it went to press or something like that, that was a pretty cool e-mail to get.

Greg Pak: The reviews have been a lot of fun — and the reactions at the New York Comic Con. I think folks have been eager to see what’s happening next with Hercules, and we’re having the chance to play out his next big thing on a pretty huge stage, so that’s a ton of fun.

Interior art from Chaos War #1.

Nrama: Reading the first issue, I was wondering from both of your perspectives — was there maybe a past Marvel event that helped to inform the way you approach Chaos War? I’ve heard some comparisons to Infinity Gauntlet, and I can see a little bit of that in there.

Pak: I think we just sort of followed the story where it needed to go and wanted to go. We’ve been talking about this story in one form or another for two-and-a-half, almost three years now. The exact way in which this would play out has shifted around a little bit, but we always knew we’d have this gigantic, climactic showdown. It involved this massive tapestry of Marvel planes of existences, characters. The crazy thing is, since we’re dealing with the gods of the Marvel Universe, there’s almost no such thing as “too big.” By definition, the gods are the biggest things that there are. So a battle between gods and godlike forces sort of earns the right to go completely haywire, and we have embraced that opportunity. [Laughs.]

Van Lente: Just working in superhero comics for so long, a word that gets bandied about is “grounded.” “We’ve got to ground these stories about these more than mortal beings so people can relate to them.” Well, this is the opposite of grounded. [Laughs.] This is big budget stuff beyond anything even Hollywood would attempt, just because it’s so nuts. Even though it has that human connection — grounded, as all of our Hercules stuff, in the friendship between Amadeus and Herc — we just kept trying to outdo ourselves. Once we decided the first scene was going to be Nightmare getting killed, this abstract representation of dreams and imagination, then you’ve just sort of thrown the doors open for all sorts of crazy stuff.

Interior art from Chaos War #1.

Pak: We’ve also been incredible lucky to get Khoi Pham back. Khoi did our first Incredible Hercules arc right after “World War Hulk.” To do a story like this, you need an artist who is going to be able to not just deliver, but go above and beyond and kind of take whatever crazy ideas you’re throwing at him and amp it up, while at the same time maintaining that emotional core with the principal characters. I can’t even find the words to express how dazzled I am by his pencils when they come in. It’s just been amazing. He puts so much crazy detail and power and imagination into these pages, it’s just perfect.

Van Lente: And he’s paired with Sunny Gho. The combo of the two of them is just amazing. Sunny’s really complimenting Khoi’s pencils amazingly with his colors. There’s this massive battle sequence we just started getting today that’s just … wow.

Nrama: Moving to reader questions, the first one is from “Pistolero” on our Newsarama forums: “How stoked are you guys to bring the story of Hercules to the forefront of the Marvel U. Your run on The Incredible Hercules often poked fun at the character in a lot of ways (from his guest stars lack of respect to the imaginative sound effects) it going to be a difficult transition from Prince of Power to God of Heroes?!”

Van Lente: I think that in many ways that transition is the story of Chaos War, or at least it’s one of the major subplots. Herc better figure out how to get it together, otherwise all of reality is screwed.

Interior art from Chaos War #1.

Nrama: Based on the first issue, and it probably should have been pretty obvious, but it really does seem that Chaos War, while also a sweeping Marvel Universe-wide story, is really a Hercules story at its core.

Pak: Every story needs a main character. World War Hulk was all about the Hulk. It played out against this giant canvas, but when you boil it down it was really about his crazy, furious story and the terrible revelations that he uncovers at the end of the story. In a similar kind of way, this big, epic Chaos War story is fueled by Herc and Amadeus and the hero’s journey that they are undertaking.

I think that makes sense. It’s a good way for a giant story to hang together. You kind of need to have those P.O.V. characters to figure out where you are, and stay interested when so much crazy stuff is going on. But I’ll also say that the Chaos War event is going to have massive impacts, not just on Herc, but on several other key characters — at least several other niches of the Marvel Universe will be very much affected by this story. I’ll reveal one of them: definitely the Chaos War tie-in to the Hulks book will absolutely have a lasting effect on the Incredible Hulks and the relationships of those characters.

Nrama: Next question is from fowardnotion on Twitter, who asks “Besides the dead rising, what other kinds of chaos can we expect on earth?”

Van Lente: Well, the death of Nightmare is a huge, big deal. You already saw some of that going on in the first issue, and that gets explored even more in the second issue. When Nightmare is gone, nobody can dream any more, and that’s driving people crazy. There’s also the reverse of that, which is a waking sleep — you started to see the beginning effects of that on the last page of Chaos War #1. Between the dead rising, and the living falling into a coma …

Nrama: That seems like a good amount of chaos right there.

Van Lente: Each issue provides even more horrifying disasters to befall our heroes and our beloved planet.

Pak: There are multiple levels of reality that the Chaos King is attacking simultaneously, and we’ll see more and more of that revealed with each issue.

Exclusive interior art from Chaos War #2.

Nrama: Here’s a well-worded question from our forums — Matapiojo asks, “With Herc wielding the new powers and responsibility he now does, what will be the role of Amadeus? We've seen him providing the Greek with much needed companionship and loyalty that often grounds the usually hot-headed brute, but what exactly will he be doing since Herc has seemingly and justly diverted his attentions to greater matters at hand? Is there any room for Cho in the Lion's new purpose?”

Van Lente: That’s a terrific question. That is a huge part of the Chaos War story. Just as Herc is now the god of heroes, Amadeus is no longer his sidekick. He’s a hero in his own right, and Athena even predicted that he would be the most important hero of the Heroic Age. Herc and Cho may find themselves at cross-purposes, and the God Squad may actually split. Some may side with Cho, some may side with Herc. We might have some Mighty Marvel Misunderstandings going on here.

Pak: It’s also worth noting that as readers may know from previous stories, Athena is usually the kind of wise, guiding hand helping both Hercules and Amadeus make their way through their various adventures — she kind of gives them a mission, and points them in the right direction. With Athena out of the picture, potentially Amadeus might be the person who provides that voice of reason, and that wise guidance, but it’s also debatable whether or not Amadeus actually has any wisdom to share. We know that he’s insanely brilliant, but intelligence and wisdom are not the same thing, as you D&D freaks may remember.

Exclusive interior art from Chaos War #2.

Van Lente: Nerd!

Pak: Now that Hercules has become the most powerful all-father the world has ever seen, it could be that Hercules has access to knowledge himself, that Amadeus simply can’t understand. Amadeus’s place remains to be defined, and you’re definitely going to want to keep reading to find out what becomes of him and what becomes of that relationship, between Herc and Amadeus.

Nrama: The same poster who asked that last question has another, rather specific one: “Exactly what is the nature of the celestial powers given to Earth's heroes by Herc, and has this gift weakened the Greek Skyfather's true potential? Will he be reclaiming this gift at a later confrontation with Mikaboshi (or any other threat of that magnitude)?”

Van Lente: That’s actually a really easy one: he let them fly, and no, it did not weaken him, because it was such a miniscule amount that he used.

He’s so powerful, he can beat up your god. Hercules can beat up your god. Yeah, I just said it.

Exclusive interior art from Chaos War #2.

Nrama: That’s the headline. Next question is from Twitter, Newsarama’s own TDSpidey616: “Maddy/Amadeus Cho Reunion anytime soon?”

Pak: Eventually. We’re not yet prepared to say exactly when, how, or if, but as always, you should just buy everything we write.

Van Lente: Chaos War ties up every single Incredible Hercules storyline except that one. There was an intended ending to that, but we kind of got diverted, and perhaps one day that might emerge from the Pak/Van Lente archives.

Pak: There is a story, and there is a plan, and that’s all I can say at this point.

Nrama: Next question is from Twitter’s Warden_JP: “So will we get a def answer where Herc stands in realtionship to his father powerwise/potential now?”

Pak: You do not want to miss Chaos War #3.

Van Lente: Short answer: “yes.”

Exclusive interior art from Chaos War #2.

Nrama: One more Twitter question, courtesy kaarebp: “Is the writing/coordinating an event process something you'd like to tackle again on this scale?”

Pak: Sometimes in comics you can work on a story that’s very insular, that’s set off in its own world, and it’s just you and your editor for the most part. That can be incredibly fun, where you’re building the story with just a small team and can kind of go crazy.

At the same time, when you have the chance to work on that bigger canvas, and use more of the Marvel Universe, and tie into other books, other stories and other characters, there’s a real charge to that. Particularly when you are as lucky as we are and you get to work with all kinds of other writers and artists, all the brilliant folks who are working on the various Chaos War tie-in books.

Nrama: Greg, in terms of size, how would you compare Chaos War to World War Hulk? It seems fairly similar in terms of number of tie-ins.

Pak: I think there was probably more going on in World War Hulk. World War Hulk tied into a few more ongoing series. With Chaos War, just because of the nature of the story, we have this great opportunity to play with characters that we haven’t seen for a while, namely Alpha Flight, and the characters in Fred’s Dead Avengers book. It made sense to do tie-ins that were especially created for the event, as opposed to tying into ongoing books with those particular characters.

One thing that’s absolutely worth emphasizing, since it comes up every time with every event — folks should know that, if your budget is limited, all you have to do is buy that Chaos War series. You can buy Chaos War #1-5 and get a totally satisfying, complete story.

Honestly, all of these tie-ins are spectacular, and all of these tie-ins are going to add to the whole experience. When you read them all, it expands the story in a way that’ll knock your socks off, although your socks will already have been knocked off by the main mini.

Van Lente: It’ll vaporize your socks.

Exclusive interior art from Chaos War #2.

Nrama: One more question on my end — the Chaos King’s goal is bringing things back to a state of nothingness, as things were when he first existed. But a state of nothingness is the opposite of chaos, isn’t it? Wouldn’t he rather have this ensuing chaos continue in perpetuity?

Van Lente: Different cultures interpret this entity differently. To the Greeks, in Ovid, in Metamorphoses, he describes this pre-universe state as “chaos.”

[Reads.] “Crude, linked mass, nothing but tonnage; discordant elements and badly bound congestion.” Those crazy Romans. In other words, it’s not always necessarily a void. The Bible calls it just the “waters of the deep” in Genesis. All of this stuff is what the Chaos King represents.

Pak: I think the Chaos King, he’s tired of this incessant yammering from all of creation. He’s the “get off my lawn” villain of the Marvel Universe. It’s time for everyone to get off his lawn, and everything to return to that beautiful, sweet quiet of the void that existed before creation. He could just continue to plunge the world into chaos and maintain a constant upheaval, but there would still be a level or order, just because people would be kicking around. And it would also be really annoying for him. He’s ready to just put out the lights.

Nrama: To wrap things up for this inaugural edition, any teases you can give towards next week’s Chaos War #2?

Pak: #2 is where you will see the new God Squad. Hercules had assembled a God Squad during Secret Invasion, but he’s got an all-new God Squad now which includes a number of shocking members who are above and beyond anything we’ve ever seen in a superhero team-up like this.

Start preparing your questions for issue #2!

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