Game, set and death match
Al Ewing talks about New Avengers, Ultimates And Contest of Champions
New Avengers centres on a reformed A.I.M. Do you like reformed villains?
People like Sandman and the Rogues’ Gallery were big draws for me growing up, and I always hated it when they inevitably turned back to crime. So when Sunspot bought A.I.M. and turned them to the cause of good, less-mad science, I thought it was great and hoped it was a change that’d stick around. And then pretty soon, I found myself in a position to make sure it would.
In bringing Ultimates into the main Marvel Universe, do you rely on Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch’s original run?
Not really. We go big and widescreen, but we do it in a different way, one maybe more fitting for the Marvel Universe itself. I’m trying to push forward and do big, interesting stuff that maybe hasn’t been done quite this way before. There is one big reference, though, as the Triskelion is now in the Marvel Universe, as cool as it ever was, with a few additional attachments built in. That’s going to be a lot of fun to play around with.
With the Ultimate Universe no more, what makes them the Ultimates?
It’s more of a thematic link. These are the Ultimate superheroes, finding and fixing problems. Ultimates is a great name, and it’d be a pity to let it go. But people expecting any Ultimate Universe action are, unfortunately, going to be disappointed.
Contest of Champions was Marvel’s first crossover in 1980, predating Secret Wars. Do you reference the miniseries or the recent video game?
It’s very much inspired by the video game. I’ve played it, but I’m not so good at it, although I’ll give it another serious go once the character I helped invent specifically for this series, Guillotine, drops in the game. We’re also bringing back Outlaw, the British Punisher, and I’m really hoping he gets into the game eventually.
Does Contest of Champions emulate similar gladiatorial-format series like Avengers Arena and Secret Wars, or indeed The Hunger Games?
There are some tenuous links to Secret Wars that’ll become more obvious in due course. In terms of Avengers Arena and Hunger Games, there’ll always be some shared DNA with stories where people have to fight in arena-type settings. But this isn’t quite the hero-versus-hero action people are dreading; it’s more hero-versus-villain in a team sport kind of way with occasional deaths and building towards something.