The third “Marvel NOW! Next Big Thing” press conference of the week is all about Uncanny Avengers, with writer Rick Remender talking about what’s next for the book, and the new additions coming in issue #5. Things should be getting started very soon, and we’ll be covering it live — this page will be continuously updated, so keep hitting refresh.
While we’re waiting, of note: According to Diamond, Uncanny Avengers #3 has moved released dates from Dec. 19 to Jan. 16, and #4 has moved from Jan. 30 to Feb. 20.
Right off the bat, Marvel’s James Viscardi asks Remender about the new members of the team: As pictured, Wonder Man, Wasp and Sunfire, bringing the total to nine. “Obviously, I’m not going to have all nine in every issue,” Remender says.
All three of the characters are there for a specific reason, Remender states. “Sunfire is brought in for a reason that I don’t want to give away yet, because it deals with the aftermath of the first arc,” Remender says. “He and Wolverine have business. He has a natural reason for being there, and I love Sunfire. I’ve never had a member on any team that I feel I can write as surly as Sunfire.”
“On the Avengers side, we’ve got Wonder Man, who’s going to play an interesting role,” Remender says. He’s now something of a pacifist, and a major reason he’s on the team is for PR purposes; using his Hollywood skills to help bridge the worlds of mutants and humans.
Wasp is going to be funding the team. “They don’t have a government source of funding. They’re not going to be getting orders from any government organization, so their funding comes form Wasp.”
Olivier Coipel is drawing Uncanny Avengers #5, Marvel senior vice president of publishing Tom Brevoort reveals. John Cassaday is on the first four.
First question, from iFanboy, concerns Sunfire’s role on the team and reasons for joining: “He believes in [Uncanny Avengers' mission] passionately,” Remender says. “But at the same time, he doesn’t like people. I love that. He has to learn to become a social animal, even though he is not. There will be an arc for Sunfire. The first 20 issues of this thing is kind of one big story. I’ve got a lot of ideas for ways to make that dynamic fit who Sunfire is, as well as showing him develop and grow.”
“It is a slightly different thing for Sunfire,” Brevoort adds. “He’s not being asked to join the X-Men, he’s asked to join the Avengers, and that means something different for him. This is a bigger deal than maybe people thought it would be for Sunfire.”
Next question, from MTV Geek: In what ways will Wonder Man function as PR for the team? “Simon has a challenge ahead of him, in terms of trying to turn that ship, and help human/mutant relations,” Remender says of the post-Avengers vs. X-Men landscape. “That’s more than just PR campaigning for Coke. He has to highlight what’s good about the mutants he knows, and mutants in general, and dispel the notion that just being a mutant leads to some nefarious purpose. He wants to make up for some of the mistakes of his past, and also help someone he loves — Wanda. There are a lot of interesting things between those two that will come to light in coming months.”
Brevoort adds that the Uncanny Avengers aren’t just there to protect the public (though they do that), but also act as something of an activist group — so the PR comes more from their actions, than press conference.
“You’ve got someone as powerful as Wonder Man, who’s a top-level power guy, and he’s full-on in pacifist mode,” Remender says. “You basically have Superman sitting in your office, and he won’t come help you — and he’s got a good reason for it.”
Next question, from CBR: What does Remender like about building up (what some may consider to be) “B-list characters”? “I don’t see them on a scale of A, B, C or D,” Remender says. “I don’t mean that to be defensive of the characters. I like them. Wonder Man was a big deal on the Avengers when I was growing up — he wasn’t a B-list character.” Remender says he sees Sunfire as similar to Havok — “rock and rollers” who had too much going on to join the X-Men. “I always gravitated to those characters who turned their back on the limelight — not serving, because if they were needed, they would show up and help.”
“I don’t see it as taking broken toys and dusting them off,” Remender says, rather, he sees it as taking toys that other people might not realize are cool, and show them how cool they can be.
Next question, from AP: Is Wasp prepared to provide an “unlimited amount of funds” for the team? “She finds a way to make mutants hip and profitable, that I think people will have a lot of fun with,” Remender says. “I don’t see a lot of conversations where they’re sitting around debating the fiscal responsibilities of the mansion.”
Next question, from us: Is there a plan for another artist to regularly rotate on the book along with Cassaday? “We’ll have stuff to say about that, but we’ll do a whole other phone call about that,” Brevoort adds. “We will inevitably look at whatever resources that we need to have the title come out on a regular basis.”
Next question, from Marvel.com: Why include Sunfire and Wonder Man, when they have a “sketchy past”? Remender says so do Rogue, Scarlet Witch, Wolverine and many other Marvel characters, and in the case of Rogue, it’s something he wants to explore with the character. “She’s very adversarial, because of her upbringing,” the writer says, adding that “Rogue as an Avenger” is not a natural fit for anyone involved. “You get the drama and the fun from her sketchy past, and the fact that she was raised by Mystique. Her first experience with the Avengers was stealing the psyche and powers of Ms. Marvel, and beating the hell out of the rest of the Avengers. When Thor and Wonder Man see her, they’ve seen her since, but they remember, ‘Oh, there’s that crazy mutant terrorist that tried to kill us.’”
Going back around, another question from iFanboy: Based on the cover to #5, is this an “angry” team? Remender says it looks cooler. “You wouldn’t get the same reaction if they were all smiling.” Continuing, the writer states, “I like high stakes. The demeanor of the team is, ‘We have to come together and undo something that the Red Skull did,’ which I don’t want to give away right now.”
“The common thread that unites them is that they’re committed,” Brevoort adds. “It’s no big surprise to anyone who read issue #1 that Rogue and Scarlet Witch do not like each other, for various reasons. But they are committed to living in a world where Professor X’s dream becomes a reality.”
Next question, from CBR: Is Remender influenced more by the Avengers side of it than the X-Men side? “The first arc, because it builds out of the death of Xavier, it opens almost as an X-Men story,” Remender replies. “But then the next few issues are weighted towards the Avengers side of it.” Remender says he’s working to make sure that both sides play into the series equally, and that they integrate in a way that readers haven’t seen before. “It’s a balancing act.”
Next question, from Word Balloon: Are there “assurances” that #3 and #4 come out on time? Brevoort says that, as always, there are assurances until something goes wrong, and Coipel drawing #5 is part of addressing that. “I know it sucks when the books are late and running behind, and everybody hates that in the moment,” Brevoort says, adding that in 30 to 60 days there likely will be an announcement about another regular artist on Uncanny Avengers.
Brevoort continues, saying that Astonishing X-Men, years later, still sells in collected editions in part because Cassaday’s work is so good, so he has to weigh the long game against the short game. “I don’t think that there is really any step down going from John to Olivier. I’m sorry about it. It sucks, I know. I don’t like it anymore than you do, but what I like most at the end of the day is excellent comics, and sometimes that means I have to give a guy an extra week.”
“As a fan, I would rather have a beautiful John Cassaday comic that ships 10 days later than it was listed to ship, than to have five other artists dog piling on it to make the deadline,” Remender adds. “It’s going to be worth a couple weeks’ wait.”
Next question, from us: Is the current nine-character lineup the permanent cast going forward for at least the first over-arc that Remender has planned, or will the roster continue to evolve, with characters leaving and entering the book? “There will be some characters who end up coming into the cast, but not necessarily the team,” Remender answers. “These will be the nine. They all have a purpose, they have arcs, they tie into the big picture. It’s just a matter of squeezing the real estate to give them space in the stories they’re in. There’s where I find team books the most difficult, but I think I’m getting better at it. I think this cast is manageable.”
Last question, from Marvel.com: Will readers see Firestar or Vision? Brevoort says he won’t rule them out as guest stars, but neither are going to be on the team, at least in the foreseeable future. “But there is a lot of Kurt Busiek-era love in my Avengers side of things,” Remender, who inked part of that run, says. “When it comes to Wanda, and Wonder Man, and certain aspects of the team, it’ll definitely have a Roger Stern/Kurt Busiek kind of feel to it.”
Viscardi wraps things up: Uncanny Avengers #5, featuring the debut of the new lineup and illustrated by Olivier Coipel, is scheduled for release in February.