Today, Marvel Comics held a press conference to help spread the word about the upcoming release of Avengers Assemble #1 coming to readers in March. The call featured the creative team of writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Mark Bagley along with editor Tom Brevoort. As previously announced the title is meant to be the “go to” book for fans of the upcoming movie, Marvel’s The Avengers as well as holding an important place for the Marvel Universe by being in continuity.
Bendis began the call by proudly proclaiming that he has indeed seen the upcoming film (and continued to remind everyone on the call of this fact) and through his work with the Marvel Creative Committee, and with his long history of writing the characters, he felt that this was the perfect book for him to approach. Bendis elaborated, “It isn’t just the movie, it’s a completely new story with completely different stakes” and he’s using this series as way to launch new things into the Marvel Universe, such as debuting the new Avengers Tower as well as new villains, with a new take on the Zodiac villains. The most interesting aspect of Avengers Assemble is Bendis promises it will “debut something that’s completely new” as well as teasing his own personal future projects as ”one of the places I’ll end up in for my post-Avengers career.”
Teaming up for Avengers Assemble, Bendis and artist Mark Bagley are no strangers after their legendary run on Ultimate Spider-Man. For Bagley, the opportunity to draw the top characters of the Marvel Universe as well as design the new Zodiac villains has been the main attraction for the project. These new villains present themselves based off the Zodiac concept but are brand new. Bendis shares that “Who they are and how they got their powers and what their agenda is starts to formulate over issue one…They are Thor level villains.” In approaching the design of the characters, the approach is as their name would be suggest but with an added touch by Bagley, I came up with some designs for a military look” and each character is designed to tie in with their name, like Aquarius who is featured in the preview pages below, which Bagley pointed out were inked by Danny Miki and colored by Paul Mounts.
The biggest challenge for this book lies with creating a book that is both accepted and enjoyed by long time fans as well as accessible to new readers. Both Bendis and editor Tom Brevoort explained that the approach is delicate, but something that Marvel as been doing for years. Bendis spoke of the introduction of the new Avengers Tower as a perfect way to introduce the characters, and yet still have it work for long time readers, he said: ”There’s a very smooth transition introducing all these elements in the context of the story that doesn’t feel very expositiony.” In terms of how this book plays with the current status quo, the question of how the Hulk or Thor would be involved, given what’s going on in their current books. In regards to the Hulk, Bendis explained, ”I was actually thrilled with what Jason Aaron had set up with the character because it gave me the level of voice and intelligence I needed for the series itself.” Brevoort also added that by writing a story that reflects the status quo to long time readers, you don’t need to bring in every bit of baggage a character has, which could scare off new readers.
And of course, the main question I know everyone is curious about. With Avengers Assemble taking place within continuity, and featuring Hawkeye, I had to ask Bendis if this was the story where we would find out what was behind the door in New Avengers #26? Bendis and Brevoort laughed and then Bendis shared, “If what’s behind that door is what’s powering the Zodiac, then yes. If not, then no.”
This lead the discussion to Bendis’ wrapping up of The Avengers series he’s working on and he did reveal that many things will be wrapped up in the pages of The Avengers and New Avengers, with finale stories that he promises will be a gigantic pay off for long time readers of the book. He then corrected himself and said that “If you see the Avengers movie, they tell you in the Avengers movie” and laughed.
Avengers Assemble #1 will hit stores and digitally on March 14th.
Below is a gallery of preview pages of Avengers Assemble #1 and covers and variants to Avengers Assemble #1 and #2