So, let’s sort out that Avengers Omega business from yesterday. We’re taking part in a Marvel’s Next Big Thing press call with Jonathan Hickman, incoming Avengers writer for the Marvel NOW! era.
First up, Avengers proper with artist Jerome Opena. Hickman’s calling it “Avengers World.” This opening story introduces an ensemble, mission statement and threat bigger than we’ve ever seen in the book. While most in the starting lineup should be familiar to most readers, we’ll see a lot more diversity as the issues progress. Starting with the seventh issue, Hickman promises to roll in an expanded cast, ultimately expanding the ensemble to two-dozen members, half of which will be “female and minority characters.” The level of diversity and the ability to reflect the modern world seem crucial to the writer. He’s eager to try something different with the Avengers name.
How to handle such a big team? Hickman describes the command structure as Captain America as primary leader, with Captain Marvel and Iron Man serving as his chief lieutenants.
As for New Avengers, Hickman reveals that the cast is actually the Illuminati group created by Brian Michael Bendis during the Civil War event. Where the Avengers exists as the “utopian, ideal” Avengers, Hickman describes the New Avengers as something a little more apocalyptic, a little shadowy. It includes original Illuminati members like Iron Man, Reed Richards, Doctor Strange, Black Bolt, Namor and even Black Panther who originally turned them down when asked to join. Hickman calls him the moral center of the book. It looks like Beast will also be tagging in for the departed Chuck Xavier. Obviously the fallout of AvX will play into many of these relationships. “Even though they don’t like each other and don’t get along, they have to save each other from stuff they know is threatening.”
As to the level of crossover, editor Tom Brevoort points to the symbiosis Hickman achieved with Fantastic Four and FF. They’ll work beautifully apart, but even better together. With Avengers shipping twice a month, the franchise won’t simply remain a centerpiece of the larger Marvel U story, but become even more prominent.
In terms of threats, it’s the classic mixture of new and old. Hickman remains tight-lipped as to just who we’ll be seeing in the coming months, but we do know that a major event in Wakanda will serve as an inciting incident for the New Avengers group.
Oh, that omega symbol? It’s just the new New Avengers symbol. Simple as that. Hickman suggests it relates to tone, Avengers represents day and light, while New Avengers is darkness and night. In the latter, “a lot of these guys will grow to hate each other. Immensely.”
Asked about cameos from previous projects, Hickman teases that characters and elements from Secret Warriors and S.H.I.E.L.D. will feature as the series progress. We’ll also see a ton of hints as to future events in Hickman’s final issues of Fantastic Four.
Avengers #1 and #2 hit in December and the book will continue to double-ship each month. New Avengers #1 and #2 follow in January, though the book will then transition to its regular schedule of one issue per month.
Let’s take a look at a few covers, including some Jock!