The Avengers have been many things. They've been Dark and Young, New and Ultimate, Mighty and Secret. They've even been pets. But starting in May, they'll be all-new and all-different, or at least that's what Marvel is promising. We talked to Tom Brevoort, the editor on All-New, All-Different Avengers, about how that's going to be delivered.
Superficially, the roster, which will co-exist alongside other Avengers titles, consists of Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Man, the Vision, and Nova. But these aren't all the heroes that everybody knows (or, in the case of Vision, will soon know) from the movies. Thor is the new, female Thor (who just goes by "Thor"). The codename Captain America is currently being used by Sam Wilson, previously the known as the Falcon. Ms. Marvel is Kamala Khan, and all signs point not to Peter Parker but Miles Morales. Similar signs are hinting that it might not even be Tony Stark in that Iron Man suit.
Wouldn't you like to know!
Brevoort says that diversity was a deliberate theme when putting the group together, and reaching that goal was made easier by the fact that Marvel has a bumper crop of popular new heroes who are female or characters of color. That made it simple to keep a diverse lineup despite the strong pull of the traditional Avengers roster of "Thor, Captain America and Iron Man."
"The one great advantage we had at this point is that both Thor and Cap are different people—and Iron Man may be—so that immediately makes this group seem different from the norm. Additionally, we wanted to make sure that we had an Avengers roster that better reflected the mix of people in the real world. Again, because the Avengers were first created in the early 1960s when comics were exclusively white, many of the characters most closely associated with the team are white males. So it was important to strike a better balance here."
We gave Brevoort a chance to clear up who, exactly, is behind the full masks in those Iron Man and Spider-Man costumes, and he answered with cheerful deflection as only a superhero comics editor can: "Wouldn't you like to know!"
“Okay, on three. One ... two ..."
Many of the All-New, All-Different Avengers are what the comics world would call "legacy characters," i.e., a younger character who has inherited an already established superhero identity. Editorially, legacy characters often reflect attempts to acknowledge the changing and diversifying market for comics. Occasionally, they become just as beloved or even better known than their elder counterparts, like Hal Jordan as Green Lantern or Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel.
Kamala Khan, the latest person to go by the name of Ms. Marvel, is a Muslim native of Jersey City. Miles Morales and Nova are both mixed-race Latino teens. The current Captain America, Sam Wilson, began his career as the Falcon, the first African-American superhero in Marvel Comics. If indications about the true identity of whoever's in that Iron Man suit (signs point to Pepper Potts) are true, it would mean a team with three female characters and no white men. (The Vision is an android with a very complicated backstory.)
"many of the characters most closely associated with the team are white males"
While the X-Men have often been a team of young people, an Avengers team with a near-majority of teenagers is somewhat more unusual. Brevoort says it was a choice made in part to show editorial support for Ms. Marvel and Miles Morales, and was quick to point out that some of these teens have got more experience than their elders.
"There are a number of new young characters in the Marvel Universe that both our audience and our creators feel strongly about, and making them Avengers sends a signal that those characters have "won their spurs" so to speak. But for all their youth, Nova and Spider-Man have been super heroes for longer than Thor, and longer than Sam has been Captain America, so this isn’t as simple as four full-grown members and three junior super friends. This is a team of equals, and Spidey, Ms. Marvel and Nova wouldn’t be here if they hadn’t earned the right to stand shoulder-to-shoulder alongside Vision, Iron Man, Cap or Thor."
All-New, All-Different Avengers will be one of Marvel's first series to take place after this summer's crossover event, Secret Wars, which promises to change the broader continuity of the Marvel universe by merging several of its parallel settings. We'll get our first look at it, however, just as Secret Wars is kicking off. The first All-New, All-Different Avengers story will be given away free at participating comic shops on May 2, as a part of Marvel's Free Comic Book Day specials. Nevertheless, Brevoort says, the team lineup and the book's story do reflect the new status quo of Marvel, and "includes a number of hints and Easter eggs that fans can puzzle out and puzzle over."Would you believe that this is not the first time Marvel has used “all-new, all-different” as the “adjective” on a book’s title?