As heavily rumored to the point of basically saying it out loud, Marvel officially welcomed writer Kelly Sue DeConnick and artist Stefano Caselli to Avengers Assemble today with a press call that also included Editor Lauren Sankovitch, and Tom Brevoort. Though the title started as an easy entry point for new readers coming out of this Summer’s big movie, written by Brian Michael Bendis, and pencilled by Mark Bagley, the book is clearly continuing even without its two initial creators. So would it have a different focus? Roster? Let’s find out!
“We knew Brian was coming off the book, and were looking around to see who had an interesting voice in comics,” said Sankovitch, adding that because of her work on Captain Marvel on Osborn in particular, DeConnick’s name jumped out. “With Stefano, I had a chance to work with him on Amazing Spider-Man... He was a shoo-in!”
“Avengers Assemble will continue very much in the vein its bee running in up to this point,” said Brevoort. The book will have classic Avengers line-ups, for the start - “the Movie Avengers,” added Brevoort, and will run in three to four issue arcs.
The initial line-up will include the cover characters, plus Captain Marvel. “I have a certain affinity for this character, as you may know!” said DeConnick with a laugh. Asked for one word that came to mind when thinking about the series, she immediately quipped, “AC/DC... Is that a word? It’s sort of the short rock classic Avengers. When I went to see the movie, I managed to keep it together until Iron Man flew onto the screen to AC/DC, and then I was bouncing up and down in my chair clapping. That’s what I’m aiming for.”
DeConnick also noted she’s interested in the idea of being both a hero and a celebrity at the same time, as well as new media ideas. “Its funny, that term new media is so old now,” said DeConnick. “The Avengers in the age of the Internet, how does that affect their public personas?”
Kicking it into questions, DeConnick was asked if she’ll be bringing any of her Osborn characters into the fold. Apparently one is on the table, but she couldn’t confirm at this time. She was then asked more about the line-up, saying, “These are the characters you think of when you think of the Avengers. Black Widow is not present, but we will be getting to her. And I just really, really like Jessica Drew, how broken and angry she is.”
Next, she was asked about following up on Bendis’ run, joking, “Oh, I would not want to go up against him. I could take him in a cooking contest maybe. But we’re different writers. We have a similar bantery dialogue, and I’ve been a fan of Brian’s from before I knew him; but I am writing my Avengers book, I’d never want to stack it up against his.” Then we asked what it was like turning her focus from one central character, to an ensemble cast like the Avengers. “I really like large casts, it’s in some ways a more comfortable way for me to write,” said DeConnick. “I like to rotate point of view in scenes. Osborn is a good example, the way we move from Osborn, to Norah, to the Priest; using that novel structure going from chapter to chapter. It’s actually been more difficult for me to shift to Captain Marvel, where I’m focusing on Carol all the time.” She added that Avengers Assemble on the other hand is a right in her wheelhouse, as she’s able to shift that point of view.
Getting back to the cast, DeConnick mentioned that the team roster will switch around, with Brevoort noting that just like Jonathan Hickman’s title, the cast is very large, but each arc will focus on a few core characters. And clarifying the tone, Brevoort said, “If I had to give you a macro philosophy, the best way I can describe it is this is the Aaron Sorkin book.” Joking DeConnick, she said, “Lots of walking and talking. I mean, fighting and talking!”
Asked about how new reader friendly the book would be, Brevoort said, “For the most part we’ll play it by ear. I want to make sure its civilian appropriate enough for someone who has just seen the DVD. But if it makes sense to tie in another title, it could be reflected in some way in Assemble. It’s all about presenting the information in such a way that someone who isn’t into Marvel is getting enough information and context to not feel put upon.”
DeConnick then noted that the characters in the book are, “the movie voices,” continuing that, “The Tony Stark I hear is Robert Downey Jr. Whether that comes across or not is up to the reader.” She continued that the first arc is inspired in part by The Amazing Race, with the team members pairing with each other - Spider-Woman with Hulk, and Thor with Iron Man.
Then we asked - hesitantly, I might add - about the idea of gender and the book. Specifically because DeConnick is the first woman to write an ongoing Avengers title, ever, other than two issues co-written by Anne Nocenti in 1984. “You know me, gender is a really important issue for me. I like to look at trends, I like to look at how we’re treating our female characters, the respect given to the female readership, and hope we don’t treat women in this industry as they’re somehow peculiar. That there’s something about scifi genre that’s particularly masculine.”
“This is a thing that’s near and dear to my heart,” continued DeConnick. “I’ve always had an interest... I read comics growing up. The hero ideal is as important to my daughter as it is to my son. I don’t want her to have this idea that if its interesting to her, it’s somehow peculiar. And I don’t want to represent all women in comics! Particularly, as I blow things sometimes! I hope that I’m always trying so hard that my reach will sometimes exceed my grasp. I don’t want it to be that if I blow it, no more women should write comics.”
Brevoort then jumped in, adding that, “It’s a nice thing for people who care about this sort of thing. I didn’t hire a woman to write Avengers, I hired Kelly Sue to write Avengers. I hired her based on who I thought could get the job done. It’s a nice thing, but beyond that, she’s a writer writing the book, just like Jonathan, just like Rick.”
“Though if Jonathan blows it, that means no more Southerners should write the books,” quipped DeConnick.
And that was it! Avengers Assemble #9 hits comic book stands in November from Marvel Comics!