Dead Avengers Re-Assembled: Interview With Fred Van Lente
The Earth's Mightiest Dead Heroes re-assemble in response to the threat imposed by the Chaos King this November from writer Fred Van Lente and artist Tom Grummet in the three-issue mini-series, Chaos War: Dead Avengers.
With the fate of all existence at stake, a protector is reborn out of the chaos -- Captain Marvel! Side-by-side with his fellow Dead Avengers -- the Swordsman, the Vision, Deathcry, Yellowjacket and Doctor Druid -- Mar-Vell and the reluctant Re-Assemblers must face an Avengers foe of yesteryear: the Grim Reaper, one of the Chaos King's lieutenants.
Cosmic Book News spoke with Fred Van Lente on his Dead Avengers, including Mar-vell, Deathcry, the Grim Reaper and whether or not the dead shall live again!
Cosmic Book News: First: This is the real Captain Marvel, the Mar-Vell, correct?! And these are not zombies, but the real characters?!
Fred Van Lente: Correct. They are not zombies. Just dead. Slight difference. The Chaos King has destroyed the Underworlds, so anyone who’s ever been dead has been dumped into the mortal realm. Some are good, some are evil.
And one is the real Mar-Vell, one of my favorite characters recently, having read the first Essentials volume for an unrelated project. He’s such a terrific idea for a character, an alien invader who goes native and decides to fight on our side instead. It’s like, what if Superman was sent by Krypton to conquer Earth, but changes his mind?
Cosmic Book News: Can you tell us the reasoning behind why the Dead Avengers first come together and assemble?
Fred Van Lente: That is part of the mystery of the first issue. They don’t really know. I mean, we know why they come back (see my previous answer), but that doesn’t explain why they specifically have been assembled with their living counterparts in a particular place.
But they find out by the end of #1. And it’s not necessarily a happy reason.
Cosmic Book News: Will these Dead Avengers be fighting the Chaos King alongside living comrades, beside the coming Dead X-Men or Alpha Flight members, or in a battleground all their own?
Fred Van Lente: That’s giving a little too much away. Let’s just say the Dead Avengers’ relationship to the living Avengers is the most important thing in the series.
Cosmic Book News: All the members of the Dead Avengers seem to share a similar background in that they are or were “villainous.” What was the reasoning behind assembling a group of characters such as this -- other than that they were dead, of course?
(Captain Mar-Vell led an invasion of the Kree; the Vision was created by Ultron; the Swordsman infiltrated the Avengers with help from the Mandarin; Yellowjacket was a member of the Masters of Evil; Deathcry, a Shi’ar, was killed fighting Captain Universe; Doctor Druid was mind-controlled by Terminatrix and others, leading to his death.)
Fred Van Lente: That’s an excellent point. I’m not really sure how much that influenced my decision on who got picked and who didn’t … after all, Comic Book Death being what it is, there aren’t really all that many truly dead Avengers to choose from … but it is definitely contributing to my enjoyment of the series. I like rogues, rascals and rapscallions … partly, I guess, because I’ve always been something of a compulsive troublemaker myself.
I think the one character that will surprise people will be the Swordsman. We’ve done our best to make him a total badass. He’s a classic swashbuckler, a blade for hire, but in modern times, and we’ve had great fun playing that up.
Cosmic Book News: How much of a difference will we see between their living personas and their “dead” ones? Will having been dead brought about any new powers or characteristics?
Fred Van Lente: Not particularly. In Mar-Vell’s case, to a certain extent, powers like cosmic awareness have been heightened. This is the end of everything, or the brink of it, and every sense Mar-Vell was given by Eon is crying out. The cosmic entities are arraying in terror against the overwhelming threat of the Chaos King – who was all the multiverse was before there was a multiverse, and seeks to become once again with the only thing in existence – and so Mar-Vell, in his Protector role, is a huge part of that.
Cosmic Book News: Regarding Deathcry, how will she deal with working with all these heroes? She has never really been known as a team player; in fact, as one of Star-Lord's team, that is how she died!
Fred Van Lente: Yes, and she is keenly aware that she died less than honorably. She is hoping to change that now that she’s apparently been given a second chance, but old habits die hard, and Deathcry’s temper is her worst quality. Will it overtake her a second time?
Cosmic Book News: Will any of these Dead Avengers attempt to rectify what happened with their past lives as now they have a second chance of sorts?
Fred Van Lente: Yes. All of the Dead Avengers in one way or another, even Mar-Vell, who died relatively peacefully, have left unfinished business. This is part of the theme of Dead Avengers – if given the opportunity, will we change our destinies, or simply fall back into old patterns? Is change possible?
Cosmic Book News: The super-villain Eric Williams, the Grim Reaper, is said to be the main foe in Dead Avengers. Countless times he has faced the Avengers and has history with two of the Dead Avengers, namely the Swordsman and the Vision. What can you tell us about his role as one of the Chaos King’s lieutenants and involvement in the Chaos War?
Fred Van Lente: Grim Reaper has dabbled in the occult more than once (and has even been brought back from the dead himself), and that connection has allowed him to give himself wholly over to the Chaos King. He’s so maddened with hatred for the Avengers, he’s going to devote his last few hours on this Earth to utterly destroying them – the living and the dead ones. And by the time he attacks, the Dead Avengers are the only Avengers team left in existence, so it’s up to them to defeat him.
Cosmic Book News: Will we be seeing any more Avengers foes alongside the Grim Reaper or past villains from the Marvel U.?
Fred Van Lente: GR’s long-time squeeze Nekra, Priestess of Hate, is back, and since she’s the one who actually killed DA member Doctor Druid, that reunion could be … awkward.
Cosmic Book News: Post-Chaos War, if the Marvel Universe is still intact and these characters still “dead,” given they have had a small taste of life again, will they want to stay dead or return to the land of the living on a more permanent basis?
Fred Van Lente: I think it is quite possible that some of them will be resurrected. But the stakes are quite high – those who are “killed” by Grim Reaper don’t just die, they will be erased from the continuum for all time. So if the Dead Avengers don’t succeed, all will be lost to the multiverse forever.
Cosmic Book News: Anything you wish to add?
Fred Van Lente: Tom Grummett’s pencils are absolutely epic and amazing! He’s a pleasure to work with and he’s bringing the old-school Avengers action like we haven’t seen in some time. I think you’re gonna dig it.
Thanks for your time.
And thank you for your interest!
"Chaos War: Dead Avengers #1" arrives in stores November 17, 2010! "Chaos War #1" begins next Wednesday October 6th!