A Universe Reborn
DON'T CALL IT A REBOOT... STEPHEN JEWELL GOES BEHIND THE SCENES ON THE BIGGEST SUPERHERO EVENT OF THE YEAR, ALL-NEW, ALL-DIFFERENT MARVEL...
Behind the scenes on All-New, All-Different Marvel.
Following close in the wake of this summer’s
Wars crossover event, All-New, All-Different Marvel – the company’s line-wide superhero refresh – has been touted in some quarters as a radical New
52-style reboot. But while DC controversially wrote off decades of continuity when it relaunched its entire line in 2011, Marvel Executive Editor Tom Brevoort insists that the House of Ideas is adopting a more organic approach, describing it as another “periodic refresh of our publishing line” that follows on seamlessly from 2013’s Marvel NOW! initiative.
“It would be a different story if things hadn’t been working, but on the contrary, things seem to have been going very well for a number of years now,” Brevoort tells us. “The most any of the Marvel characters has needed is the occasional nip and tuck. Plus, there’s a value in that history, even if we don’t obsessively refer to it all the time.”
With the likes of Doctor Strange, Scarlet Witch and The Vision all being granted their own titles in the next few months, this “nip and tuck” appears to be designed to align Marvel’s comic book line more closely with its cinematic equivalent. But while it might seem like a natural move to capitalise on the box office-record breaking success of films like
Avengers, Iron Man and Captain America, Brevoort maintains that Marvel’s comic book output will very much continue to pursue its own distinctive path. “While our comics and our films do feed off of one another in a general sense, we’re typically more focused on just doing our own thing, which is
There’ s no need and no sense to reinvent the wheel in an attempt to make it roll better Tom Brevoort, Marvel Executive Editor
telling stories and making them the best they can be,” he insists. “That said, if we know that a character or group is going to be getting a huge amount of exposure in a major Marvel motion picture, we would be foolish not to take advantage of that as well.” Well, quite.
Having amassed an impressive 200,000 in pre-orders for its first issue alone, Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez’s Invincible
Iron Man is being promoted as Marvel’s new flagship title. Bendis previously included Shellhead not only in his numerous team line-ups during his almost decadelong run on the various Avengers core titles from 2004 to 2011, but also in Guardians of the Galaxy’s first arc in 2013. Despite that he had no immediate plans to take charge of the Golden Avenger’s solo adventures. “Tom Brevoort has offered me the book a few times over the years as I guess he has always liked my Iron Man, and I’ve always appreciated that,” recalls Bendis. “But I’ve always had Tony Stark in my life, so I never previously felt like there was an inch to scratch that wasn’t already been scratched.”
Viewing Invincible Iron Man as an opportunity to take his collaboration with his former Ultimate Spider-Man artistic foil David Marquez “to the next level”, Bendis will also pen an as-yet-unannounced second Iron Man monthly. “Like the X-Men, Iron Man is like a franchise unto itself, and it really should be treated as such,” he says. “I’ve come up with a great hook for the first issue of Invincible Iron Man, which I’m not going to tell you about now, but it sets up all kinds of new possibilities for his relationship with the world around him.”
Graduating to New Avengers, Ultimates and Contest of Champions after his recent spells on Mighty Avengers and Loki, Al Ewing believes that All-New, All-Different Marvel represents a significant shift in the creative playing field of the Marvel Universe. “It feels a little different, and I’m getting to do a lot of things that feel new and interesting to me,” he says, citing the case of Sunspot’s recent purchase of nefarious scientific cabal A.I.M. in Avengers World, which he will carry over to New Avengers with the instigation of the so-called Avengers Ideas Mechanics. “I’m
getting to actually not return to the previous status quo, which is a major plus for me, as I generally like it when a big change sticks, and when Jonathan Hickman did that [with A.I.M.] it really caught my imagination. And as a market statement, I suppose it feels like a challenge, a throwing down of the gauntlet.”
Following Hickman’s departure from Avengers and New
Avengers with the advent of Secret Wars, the two core Avengers titles will be written by different authors for the first time since before Brian Bendis’s day. While Mark Waid, Adam Kubert and Mahmud Asrar helm All-New All-Different
Avengers, Ewing collaborates with Gerardo Sandoval on New Avengers and Jorge Molina joins G Willow Wilson on the all-female A-Force.
“For the most part, Mark is doing his stuff and I’m doing mine,” says Ewing. “But there are email chains, and we make use of them. We have the ability to link should something come up, and we will, as time goes on. The same goes for everyone else in the Avengers office, as we’re all able to dive into an email session at any time, should the need arise. At the time of writing, we’re all working on our own gardens, but pretty soon we’ll be meeting around our virtual Legion of Doom-style table again, to plot discord and ruin!”
UNCANNY AVENGERS ASSEMBLE
In almost as daunting a prospect as replacing Jonathan Hickman on
Avengers, Gerry Duggan succeeds Rick Remender on Uncanny
Avengers. Now officially known as the Avengers Unity Division, the often-volatile combo of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and Merry Mutants was intended to build bridges between the two opposing camps after the devastating events of 2012’s Avengers Versus
X-Men. Thematically, it built on Remender’s epic Uncanny X-Force saga, which was renowned for its labyrinthine storylines.
“Rick had such an amazingly large scope for this book and it’s intimidating every time you inherit a book with so many wonderful stories,” says Duggan, who hopes that his experience regularly writing Deadpool for the past several years will stand him in good stead on Uncanny Avengers. “One of the fun things I learned from Deadpool was how to play the long game, and also to know when to pay something off. Our first arc is 100 pages from Avengers
#0 to Uncanny Avengers #4, while #5 is a standalone one and done, which just felt right as we needed to decompress. So we’ll let the individual stories be as long or short as they need to be, and we just agreed on some fun character situations that won’t present until at least year two.”
With the Merc With A Mouth signing up for Uncanny Avengers alongside the Human Torch, Steve Rogers, Spider-Man, Rogue, Quicksilver and Doctor Voodoo, you can expect Duggan to bring Wade Wilson’s trademark humour to the fore. “There are some really big surprises in store for this book,” teases Duggan, who is partnering with artist Ryan Stegman. “I know
it’s hard for retailers to guess at a comic’s orders before it launches, and numbers always fluctuate from the first and second issue. But you’ll want to give us the benefit of the doubt here, as you don’t want the last scene of #2 spoiled on the Internet!”
When Brian Bendis bows out of his X duties after October’s over-sized Uncanny X-Men #600, scripting the main titles of the Children of the Atom will be split between three writers, with Jeff Lemire teaming with Humberto Ramos on Extraordinary X-Men while Cullen Bunn and Greg Land take on Uncanny X-Men and Dennis Hopeless and Mark Bagley are on All-New X-Men. “Brian is a unique talent and his run has been excellent,” says Lemire. “But in our case, having more than one voice is a good thing, as each book can have its own personality. With Extraordinary X-Men being the flagship X-book, we get to set the tone for the overall direction of Mutantkind, but Cullen and Dennis are very much involved in that as well. The three of us are working closely to guide Mutantkind in the Marvel Universe. We have a big plan in place and we’re all working towards it.”
With the Fantastic Four apparently disbanded, Johnny Storm bolsters the ranks of not just Uncanny Avengers but also Uncanny Inhumans. While Reed Richards and Sue Storm’s eventual whereabouts are currently unknown, Ben Grimm heads out into space with the Guardians of the Galaxy. However, that doesn’t necessarily result in Iron Man and his fellow members of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes assuming a significantly enhanced role in the Marvel Universe. “Could the Avengers be any more prominent than they’ve already been over the past decade?” ponders Brevoort. “I don’t really think so – so they’ll continue to be as prominent as ever, even though the stage is also now occupied with the Guardians, the Inhumans and a bunch of other groups as well. But the Avengers books have always been at the heart of the Marvel Universe, the central crossroads, since virtually the beginning, and that isn’t going to stop now.”
Distinct voices, distinct visions
While Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo tackle Doctor Strange, James Robinson and Leonard Kirk are relaunching Squadron
Supreme and Warren Ellis and Gerardo Zaffino are spinning off Inhumans strategist Karnak into his own solo series, it’s business as usual for many other titles, such
as Amazing Spider-Man, All-New
Hawkeye and Howard the Duck, which are keeping the same writing and artistic teams. “This was no different than our methodology for when we’ve done this sort of realignment of our line in the past,” says Brevoort. “We sought out interesting voices who might be able to bring something new to the titles and characters that they’d inhabit – both from within our current ranks as well as from outside of them. And throughout the process, creators and editors pitched projects that they felt passionate about.”
With Secret Wars opening with Marvel’s numerous multiverses violently colliding to form the patchwork planet of Battleworld, it remains to be seen whether any other realities, apart from the core
We sought out interesting voices to bring something new to titles
We need a greater diversity on the page and creating the page
616 universe, will be left standing after the Esad Ribic-illustrated event series concludes with an additional ninth issue in December. For while Brian Bendis and Sara Pichelli’s Spider-Man starring Miles Morales and Al Ewing and Kenneth Rocafort’s Ultimates will both transfer to the main Marvel Universe, Brevoort is not giving anything away about how they and Spider-verse stalwarts like Spider-Gwen and Web Warriors will be integrated into the bigger picture. “It’s premature to speak about that just yet, as those stories are still to come,” he says. “But each situation presents its own challenges, and hopefully we will meet them at every turn. And if not, then the fans will let us know about it.”
Indicating that the Earth-616 Wolvie is still very much deceased after last year’s Death of Wolverine, fans will apparently be able to enjoy the best of both worlds with Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino’s
Old Man Logan joined by Tom Taylor and David Lopez’s All-New
Wolverine, which sees erstwhile X-23 Laura Kinney assuming the adamantium-clawed legacy. “I don’t think that the All-New Wolverine is going to simply be a distaff Logan any more than Old Man Logan will just be a greyer Wolverine,” counters Brevoort. “In others words, those characters are their own individuals, and while they will both have their similarities to the classic Wolverine, they’ll also each present marked differences as well.”
Originally created by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven in 2008 as a Dark Knight style dystopian future tale, then resurrected by Brian Bendis for Secret Wars, Old Man Logan finds it hard adjusting to life in the present day Marvel Universe. “It throws a totally new light on the character, as you suddenly see Logan surrounded by everyone he saw die, and everyone
he lost. It provides me with an incredible amount of drama to mine,” reveals Lemire, who asserts that neither he nor X-23 are standins for their deceased counterpart. “They’re both unique characters and they both bring something different. Old Man Logan is very different from the dead Logan. He has lived a lot more and lost a lot more than Logan did. Those years and experiences changed and scarred him, but they also brought blessings too. He had a family, a wife and children. And while he lost them, his time with his family also tempered him in some ways.”
Working towards diversity
Marvel is continuing its attempt to more accurately reflect in the pages of its comics the different ethnicities and genders that make up its readership, with the former Falcon seemingly taking up the Sentinel of Liberty’s august mantle on an indefinite basis in Nick Spencer and Daniel Acuna’s
Sam Wilson, Captain America, and with Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman’s female-led The
Mighty Thor and G Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa and Adrian Alphona’s Muslim-American Ms.
Marvel both returning for second volumes. “The proof is going to be in the execution, but the recent emphasis on diversity is more a case of right-sizing than anything else,” says Brevoort. “If the Marvel Universe is meant to reflect the larger world that we all live in, then it stands to reason that there needs to be a greater diversity of faces, both on the page and creating the page, and that’s what we continue to work towards.”
Having replaced the Ultimate Universe’s late Peter Parker in 2011 with Miles Morales’s mixed-
Always expect the shocking, the thrilling and the moving
race Spider-Man, Brian Michael Bendis believes that there is still a great deal of progress to be made. “In the past few years, we’ve seen some pretty big movements in the comic book industry as far as how women and certain cultures and ethnicities are portrayed,” he says. “Miles Morales and Ms. Marvel are like the loudest versions of that, and now we have the extra, added bonus of these new launches, as a lot of creators and editors are looking at their material to see where they could do more. So you’re now seeing a big pile of diversity coming out of the right places and intentions, and I’m very happy to be a part of that. Ever since I first came to Marvel in 2000, I’ve been doing my part in that, if only because of my life and family dynamic. I’m aware that there are holes, particularly in American culture, where certain types of people weren’t being represented very strongly. Two of my daughters are African-American and, both as women and African-Americans, there wasn’t much on TV or in comics that they could relate to, and I would think about that as I went forth with my work.”
Native-American hero Red Wolf has also been confirmed to be getting his own book, spinning out of the Wild West-themed 1872 book, though it remains to be seen which creators will be responsible for charting his new adventures.
“We still have a long way to go before we’re completely representing every possible group of readers to the degree where you don’t even think about it any more,” says Brevoort. “But that’s a journey that we’re dedicated to taking. Beyond that, the thing to expect is always the unexpected – the shocking, the thrilling, and the emotionally moving. That’s what makes Marvel Marvel!”
Above: Bruce Timm’s variant cover for
Invincible Iron Man #1 pays homage to Gene Colan’s classic cover for Shellhead’s first solo book in 1968. Makes a change from riffing on Jack Kirby, anyway!
Above: The new Contest
of Champions isn’t about rebooting Marvel’s very first crossover, so much as bringing the spinoff game back into the Marvel Universe – and no character is too big or too small to be involved!
Inset: Adi Granov’s variant cover for
Invincible Iron Man #1.
Above: Look, the Avengers roster has always been... let’s say, rather fluid. There have regularly been multiple concurrent teams, like Avengers West Coast. So the Avengers Unity Division, featured in
Uncanny Avengers, isn’t going to confuse anyone coming to the comics from the movies, right?
Top: The tagline for the new Uncanny X-Men is “Bigger threats require more threatening X-Men.” But logically, wouldn’t bigger threats require bigger X-Men? Bring back the Blob!
Inset: The new Blade is the 16-year-old daughter of the original.
Above: The breadth of the Marvel Universe is apparent in Guardians Of The Galaxy, Old Man Logan, Extraordinary X-Men and (inset) The
Inhumans. It may be the one universe, but they’re pretty different worlds.
Above: Although the details are being closely guarded at this stage, the Spider-verse too is in for some changes, as well as continuing to fly the flag for increased cultural diversity.