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U.S.AVENGERS Writer Al Ewing Talks HYDRA Cap, Squirrel Girl, and More

While Marvel Comics is currently publishing several titles in their Avengers family of books, maybe the most interesting is the latest edition of Al Ewing’s and Paco Medina’s ongoing series U.S.Avengers. In this new take on Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Avengers Idea Mechanics (formerly the villainous Advanced Idea Mechanics, a.k.a. A.I.M.) merged with the U.S. military to form American Intelligence Mechanics. Now, we see the head of A.I.M., former New Mutant/Avenger Sunspot (under the alias of Citizen V), has formed his own U.S.Avengers. On the team are New Mutants’ Cannonball, Pod (now called Enigma), Squirrel Girl, Toni Ho’s Iron Patriot, and Robert Maverick, who gained a Hulk Plug-In that enables him to turn into a variation of Red Hulk for an hour. Together they serve as America’s answer to the world’s greatest super team.

After the first seven issues of U.S.Avengers, it struck me that one of the main themes of the book seemed to be that in America, anyone can remake their image in the public eye. After all, A.I.M. was a criminal organization, and Roberto DaCosta/Citizen V had rebranded them and made them into something popular. According to writer Al Ewing, that reading “seems a little cynical, if I’m honest.”

He said,”Roberto isn’t smuggling vicious criminals into a place of power by disguising them as good guys–he’s offering rehabilitation and a second chance to some people who made mistakes. Even back in Jonathan Hickman’s seminal Avengers run, he was one of the first to treat A.I.M.’s troops as human beings, not just empty beekeeper suits to punch.”

Charged with summing up the mission statement of the book, Ewing said, “Maybe it’s … the idea that redemption and rehabilitation is possible, the idea that people are people and deserve to be treated as such. Certainly this upcoming story, post-Secret-Empire, plays into those ideas.”

Speaking of Secret Empire, the event currently raging through the Marvel Universe, in which a Captain America-led HYDRA has overtaken the United States, was not without its vocal critics livid at the thought of a “fascist Cap.” Compared to how some have written him lately, HYDRA Cap came across as almost nuanced.

“I wrote HYDRA Steve Rogers as a monster,” Ewing said. “He was Roberto’s boss for one issue, and in that issue, every word out of his mouth was either probing for weaknesses or just being a genuinely horrible person. I mean, he didn’t foam at the mouth or eat human flesh on-panel, and as far as HYDRA Supreme Leaders go that is fairly nuanced, so I can see how you could come to that conclusion.”

Ewing continued, “To be honest, while I think I got his evil across, I was glad to get through that issue and get to the bit where the masks came off and the good guys could start turning the tables on HYDRA and taking their whole ugly system to pieces – for example, in issue #8, out this Wednesday. I don’t think I’m dropping any huge spoilers when I say HYDRA take a right pasting.”

So there you have it, HYDRA-Cap haters (and I know you are legion)–if you can’t wait to see HYDRA Cap get his, be sure to get U.S.Avengers #8 when it hits comics shops this week. As for the future, the publisher has been hyping the Marvel Legacy initiative for the fall, which is meant to bring back classic concepts to the Marvel Universe.

One thing we already know about U.S.Avengers in the coming months is that part of the action will revolve around finding the missing Sam Guthrie, A.K.A. Cannoball, who, like Roberto DaCosta, is a former New Mutant. In many ways, Sam has been the heart of the team, a heart that has now gone missing. Said Ewing of the team’s biggest softie, “As for Sam’s heart, I think in this upcoming story we’re going to get a good look at it. He ends up in a situation that calls for a lot of compassion and character, so we’ll really get to see the best of him at work.”

For all the serious drama going on in the pages of U.S.Avengers, it’s also a pretty funny and lighthearted book as well. I couldn’t help but think of the ’80s run of DC’s Justice League International from the creative team of Keith Giffen and JM DeMatteis. “[That]’s actually a favorite comic of mine from my childhood!” Ewing said. “I’ve never thought of it as an influence before, but it almost certainly is. It was very funny to me at the time, but I was conscious that when it got serious, it hit hard–there was a contrast between the laughs and the drama that really worked well, and that’s probably a lesson I took away with me. Even the most serious comic should have a couple of jokes to leaven it, and for contrast … light-hearted pieces should be able to get heavy on occasion. There’s certainly plenty of that coming up in the Legacy storyline.”

Of course, one of the most lighthearted heroes on of the team is Marvel’s breakout star Squirrel Girl. She’s arguably Marvel’s biggest cult character at the moment; unlike some storylines have,  U.S.Avengers doesn’t treat her like a tongue-in-cheek joke, instead making her pretty formidable.

“Squirrel Girl is awesome,” said Ewing. “She is, and I say this with absolute sincerity, a fantastic character and a role model for us all. She has boundless compassion, she never gives up, she thinks her way out of problems–and the thing is, none of that was my idea. I was just following the lead of the wonderful Ryan North and Erica Henderson, who make Doreen a ‘real’ superhero every single month, without fail, in her own solo comic–which frankly, if you’re not buying, you’re missing out. She gets a particular spotlight in issue #9. I won’t spoil it, but if you’re a fan of giant mechs duking it out to save a nation… wait, I said I wouldn’t spoil it.”

With that cryptic note, what can fans expect from U.S.Avengers in a post-Secret Empire world, going into Marvel Legacy?

“They can expect some HYDRA-smashing action, a major upending of the status quo for at least a couple of characters, a brand new Supreme Leader of A.I.M., a quest to the depths of space, a mysterious American suburb that’s a million light years from Earth, the terrible secret of Bugface Brown… and much, much more,” Ewing said. “It’s going to be a fun ride for all our readers.”

U.S.Avengers #8 hits comic shops this Wednesday, and the series welcomes Marvel Legacy this fall.

Are you reading Marvel’s latest take on a classic concept? Be sure to let us know your thoughts on U.S.Avengers down below in the comments.

Images: Marvel Comics

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