by Will Allred (07/17/1998)
The Avengers. Doesn't simply saying the name conjure up images of Marvels best and most powerful heroes. Think about it, the Avengers have the big three, Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man. (Actually, Quasar fans say the big four, but I digress...) Not only do they have the powerhouses, but they've got great characters like Hawkeye, the Vision, Wonder Man, Captain Marvel, Hank Pym in his various guises (Ant-Man has always been my favorite), Mockingbird...the list goes on. And if you're not familiar with a some of these great characters, you don't know what you're missing. Go raid the back issue boxes already!
You've probably figured out by now that the Avengers hold a special place in my heart. I read them continuously for nearly 13 years. I grew up with them. Avengers was the first title I ever subscribed to all those years ago. I remember reading epics like "The Mansion Siege" and "Assault On Olympus" as they came out. It nearly broke my heart when I had to drop it when everything got so dark and gritty. But enough strolling down memory lane. The Avengers are back! Kurt Busiek and George Peréz have rejuvenated my favorite team. I feel like I'm ten-years-old again waiting for the mailman to deliver the latest issue. It's great!
Kurt and George aren't the only members of the Avenging team, though. Al Vey adds exceptional inks with Tom Smith providing vivid colors and The Usual Suspects supplying crisp lettering. There's also another member of the team that's often overlooked, which is odd considering the fact that Editor Tom Brevoort shoulders the responsibility of keeping everyone on the Avengers team working together like a well-oiled machine. Tom took a few moments out of his busy schedule to talk about the Avengers, Thunderbolts, editing, and ultimate godlike power.
Allred: Let's start with the obvious question, how did you end up as an editor at Marvel Comics and what books do you edit?
Brevoort: I started out as a college intern in the summer of 1989, was hired as an assistant editor by that December, and worked my way up from there. I currently edit Avengers, Thor, Thunderbolts, Marvel Universe, Avengers Forever, Iron Fist, Nighthawk, Union Jack, Captain America: The Classic Years, Timely Comics Presents The Human Torch and other assorted stuff.
Allred: That's quite a list. But when you say you edit these books, I'm sure there are more than a few of us out there that are curious as to just what this means. What does editing entail? For instance, are you part of the creative team, just a glorified proofreader, only a continuity cop, some combination of these, or maybe something else entirely?
Brevoort: The editor is like a combination coach/manager of a sports team. I don't get to play in the game, but I select who does. I can call which plays should be run, what the team uniforms should look like, which players get taken out and which get put in, and so forth. In short, I have ultimate, godlike power, which is seldom employed at its fullest (since it's rarely necessary.) 90% of doing the job right is hiring the correct creators for a project.
Allred: Speaking of hiring the correct creators for a project. What process did you go through in selecting the final creative team for the Avengers as Heroes Reborn: The Return was taking form? (Note: Heroes Reborn: The Return was the limited series that returned the Avengers, Fantastic Four, and various other heroes to the Marvel Universe from the pocket dimension to which they were shunted in the battle with Onslaught)
Brevoort: I wasn't all that much involved in the Avengers creative team, though I did speak with Kurt about some of his ideas when he was pitching the book (George was already in place by this time). Avengers was the last title to have an editor, and by that time the creative team had been pretty well decided upon (except for the inker--we had about a dozen inkers do samples over George's pencils, and selected Al Vey as the guy we liked best).
On the other hand, I did have a lot to do with Iron Man, since I was going to be editing that book, and swapped it off to get Avengers. Initially, I pushed for Kurt to get a crack at it, since I knew he'd always wanted to write Iron Man. Again, I discussed various elements of his plans with Kurt before he wrote up a pitch, and then solicited a follow-up from him to clear up a few outstanding points. From there, we moved to find an art team that everybody could agree on, ultimately settling on Sean Chen. He and a couple of other folks had done sample pages from a dummy plot Kurt had made up. Eric Cannon, I think, was recommended by Mark Powers, for whom he'd done some fill-in work, and his stuff looked good over Sean's, so there we were. We'd just about finalized the new armor designs (going back and forth between me, Kurt, Sean and Bob H.) when the book shifted over to Bobbie Chase.
Allred: What can you tell us about upcoming events in the Avengers?
Brevoort: Stuff coming up in Avengers includes Moses Magnum, a new hero named Triathlon, the Grim Reaper and the secret behind Wonder Man's resurrection, the Thunderbolts, Ultron, and all sorts of other stuff. And, the 12-issue Avengers Forever series starts in October, which will take Earth's Mightiest Heroes all throughout Marvel history in the ultimate battle with Kang and Immortus, which should also answer a few outstanding questions about those two entities. Also, The Mansion Siege TPB (reprinting the classic battle with the Masters of Evil) will be coming out in November which is Avengers/Thunderbolts Month.
Allred: The Avengers have such a wealth of characters that have come and gone over the years. Does your office control these characters. For instance, Avengers that are currently in limbo, such as Quasar, Mockingbird, or Captain Marvel (Photon)? Any plans for these characters in the near future?
Brevoort: Control is too strong a word. They're Avengers, so we certainly have a proprietary interest in them. However, if we have no plans for them, and somebody else wanted to use them (say John Ostrander in Heroes For Hire), he'd certainly be able to. I can mention that you'll see at least one of those characters that you mentioned in the core Avengers book within a year, in some capacity.
Allred: Besides Avengers, which seems to be keeping you extremely busy, what other projects do you have in the works that you can talk about?
Brevoort: The Nighthawk 3-issue limited series starts in July, by Jim Krueger, Richard Case and Bob Wiacek. I'm sure it's not what anybody is expecting, but hopefully people will like it. After that, Ben Raab and John Cassady are doing a 3-issue Union Jack limited series, which is shaping up really nicely. It's got a tone similar to that of Hellboy, and gives the character a unique role in the Marvel Universe, as well as dealing with the history and legacy of the costume. Beyond that, there's the Timely Comics Presents The Human Torch one-shot in August, which reprints the big book-length Original Human Torch vs. Namor battle from 1941. This is one of those classic books that the folks who were reading back then still talk about, so we're making it available again, with an essay by Roy Thomas and a painted cover by Ray Lago.
Allred: Keep those Golden Age reprints coming! Recently, there have been rumors circulating about a new version of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. Any truth to these rumors?
Brevoort: First off, it's called The Official Marvel Handbook, since we've currently got a different series titled Marvel Universe, and we want to avoid confusion. It's on track to debut in early 1999. We've just about got the format lined up, and Tim Tuohy's office started calling artists last week. With 24 sixty-four page issues to deal with, probably most of the notable artists in Marvel's canon will be represented somewhere. On the writing side, Peter Sanderson's hard at work on the first batch of entries, and has agreed to serve as a consultant on the ones he doesn't write, and on the series as a whole (Peter's worked on every version of the Handbook so far). He'll be joined by a couple of other knowledgeable folks, but since we haven't squared them all away, I'd just as soon not mention them before the fact.
Allred: Avengers and the Handbook!?! I'm back in the 6th grade. Something I've always wondered about are character restarts. Are there any hard and fast policies on character restarts? For instance, if Captain Ultra got canceled at #30, how much time (if any) would have to pass before Marvel would launch another Captain Ultra series?
Brevoort: There's no hard-and-fast policy; it's just a gut instinct. I think Alpha Flight was one of the quickest restarts I can recall, having been canceled in 1994 or thereabouts, and returning in 1997.
For more information about upcoming Marvel Comics, be sure to check out the Marvel Comics web site at http://www.marvel.com/. Also, for Avengers fans, there best place on the Web to go for Avengers info is Avengers Assemble at http://www.avengersassemble.us. Oh, and one last thing…AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!