In October, the "Infinity" crossover will expand to the far reaches of space, as Marvel's premier group of spacefaring miscreants, the Guardians Of The Galaxy, step into the fray to face down Thanos and his evil minions. We here at MTV Geek are always down for a good space opera, so we took the chance to ask writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Francesco Francavilla a few questions about what we have to look forward to in this story arc.
MTV Geek: The information we've heard so far about Infinity has made it sound like The Avengers spend much of the event in deep space, battling an alien threat… So then, where are the Guardians as they enter the storyline?
Brian Michael Bendis: I have been working closely with Jonathan Hickman to carve out a very special part of the story for the Guardians. A lot of this stuff is brand-new or way out of the comfort zone of the Avengers, but a lot of this is right in the Guardians' wheelhouse. This is the world they live in. So it was important to me to make sure that their part of the story recognizes this.
Geek: For that matter, is this a battle that the Guardians meant to involve themselves in, or is it them once again just being in the wrong place at the wrong time?
Bendis: Each Guardian comes with their own agenda and sometimes those agendas fly in each other's faces. Our issues will reflect just that. The politics [of the Marvel cosmic division] are getting increasingly tense.
Geek: Steve McNiven, Sara Pichelli, and now Francesco Francavilla have been the three people to take on the new Guardians so far. These are three amazing artists, each with a wildly distinctive style – what led to Francesco being chosen as next in line to take over?
Bendis: Books like Avengers and Guardians are so difficult to illustrate that having a regular artist is near impossible in this day and age. So I made it my personal mandate on the Avengers to use this as an opportunity to spotlight the very best artists that are making comics all over the world, so that every storyline feels like an event just based on who is drawing it. I have taken that philosophy and applied it directly to the Guardians. As a very active member of tumbler I was seeing Francesco's work almost every 25 minutes, then Dark Horse editor-in-chief Scott Allie gave me copies of his new book and I said to myself and anyone else who would listen: I have to work with this guy. Weeks later, Steve Wacker told me that Francesco was available for these issues and I jumped at the chance.
Geek: Francesco, you're best known for your work on down-to-earth, pulp-styled series and concepts. How are you feeling about working on this, a giant, star-spanning adventure? Is it in any way daunting, or is it another exciting challenge?
Francesco Francavilla: One of my very first comic gigs here in the States was a full issue of Rick Remender's FEAR AGENT, which is space opera in the classic Wood/Frazettta vein. So this is not my first foray in space, so to speak. I have been itching for a while to do a sci-fi book (I am even putting together a GN titled "Phantoms of Space", probably out in 2014) so when Wacker and Bendis came along asking me to draw this mini arc of Guardians, it didn't take me too long to say yes.
Geek: Brian, I'm sure you're conscious about telling us too much about what to expect in this story, as we're so far out… But can you tell us about any specific storylines or trade paperbacks that we should be looking at to prepare us for these Guardians issues?
Bendis: Well hopefully they will be very reader friendly, but for fans of what's been going on with the Guardians, the mystery of how Peter Quill and Thanos escaped death a few years ago means a lot to this story. There is a theory that if the Guardians would have assassinated Thanos when they had the chance maybe the earth would be in safer straits.
Geek: And as Angela has just been introduced into the mainstream Marvel Universe and features heavily in the GOTG issues leading up to this story, can we expect to see her play a large role?
Bendis: At this point, anything I say about Angela is a spoiler so I'm going to plead the spoiler fifth.
Geek: How much is this story changing in the telling? Is it being written 'Marvel-style', or full-script? And Brian, how much are you gearing this story to Francesco's style and strengths?
Bendis: I gear all of my scripts towards the artist and their strengths. It is the best part of my job. I won't even start writing until I find out who the artist is. This is a visual media and artists like Francesco have a very powerful style, and it's my obligation as a writer to find a way to let that shine on every page.
Geek: Francesco, are there any specific highlights of the series for you so far? Events, characters, any elements you're really enjoying drawing?
Francavilla: The main highlight - and I am being totally honest here - is to be able to work with that talented Brian Bendis fella! And I am very thrilled to work on and draw characters a bit unconventional in our mainstream superhero comics, like Rocket Raccoon and Groot. Plus spaceships, rayguns, and aliens. I mean, this is the quintessential definition of FUN!
Geek: And when we read these issues, what else will we need to know? Are there any other crossovers we should be sure to pick up to get the whole story?
Bendis: The magic of a very good tie-in is making sure you don't need to read everything else to understand it. Because of the Guardians' very specific relationship to a lot of the elements of the story, it is very easy for me to find a way to tell a story within the event that's important to the event, and at the same time stands on its own. I'm not a fan of books that MAKE you buy other books. I'm a fan of books that make you WANT TO buy books.