Al Ewing helps to illuminate the history of The High Evolutionary!

The High Evolutionary loves change.

That’s an important factoid to know as you head into ULTIMATES 2 #9, out July 19, because when the Evolutionary teams up with The Maker, another guy who loves change, well, nothing will ever be the same again.

Now, you might be saying, “Who’s this High Evolutionary? Why’s he so big on changing everything? What’s he gonna change?” Those would be good questions, because he’s one of the universe’s most enigmatic figures, neither truly a good guy of a bad guy—although the Ultimates may disagree on the latter. They’ve got to figure out just what High Evolutionary’s up to as he puts his latest scheme to advance evolution into play.

Luckily, the team—and you!—have writer Al Ewing on their—your!—side to help everybody figure it out by offering up a few more factoids, and maybe even a few hits about the upcoming Eternity War in ULTIMATES 2.

Dude’s Name is Herbert

“Taking a look at the High Evolutionary, you’d be forgiven for thinking that he was some kind of human-sized Celestial, or at the very least an alien being,” Ewing notes. “But underneath all that weird pink/purple armor is a real live actual human named Herbert Wyndham who studied genetics under Nathaniel Essex—the man who became the X-Baddie Mister Sinister—and worked extensively with Spider-Woman’s father, Jonathan Drew. In fact, his armor is purely practical—to protect against werewolf attacks.”

Army of Half-Animal Servants? Check

“Herbert knows all about werewolves, as well as other human/animal hybrids, because he makes them in his various secret laboratories and rules over them like a god,” says the writer. “The High Evolutionary’s semi-animal subjects are known as the New Men, and they’re actually super-evolved animals who once helped him battle the demonic entity Cthon, and in the process released the arcane energies that merged with psychic soldier Emmett Proudhawk to become the Psi-Force.”

Ultimates 2 #9 cover by Christian Ward

Send his Christmas Cards to Counter-Earth, a Duplicate Earth He Built Himself

“Stuff like that meant that eventually Herbert was persona non grata on ordinary Earth—so he created Counter-Earth, a second duplicate Earth orbiting on the other side of the sun, forever hidden from the ‘true’ Earth,” explains Ewing. “How did he do it? By ‘evolving’ a small chunk of terrestrial material. The High Evolutionary has some interesting ideas about what ‘evolution’ involves.”

He Has Some Very Interesting Ideas about What Evolution Involves

“As we’ve seen, he’s evolved animals into humanoid forms—usually still with the heads of the original animals,” insists the writer. “He’s evolved a bit of rock into a full-scale replica Earth. He’s even experimented on himself. Scientifically minded readers might have noticed that his idea of ‘evolution’ owes a lot to Intelligent Design—his intelligence in particular—and he doesn’t limit himself to things that are capable of evolving. So what would happen if he was convinced to ‘evolve’ an entire multiverse? And would we survive?”

Suffers from Popular Super Villain Malady

“What makes Herbert spectacularly dangerous is that he believes he’s firmly in the right,” Ewing concludes. “No matter what mad scientific scheme he’s up to his pink/purple neck in, he convinces himself it’s for the good of all. That’s bad enough when you’re playing with human or animal life—when you’re playing with the destiny of an entire cosmos, things have the potential to get very bad, very fast…”

Find out how bad how fast in ULTIMATES 2 #9, available July 19 courtesy of Al Ewing and Travel Foreman!

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Al Ewing takes us inside the confines of Colon to catch up with our hero!

After falling prey to the siren song of an old flame, Rocket starts back down the not so righteous path of stealing from the rich and, well, keeping it for himself mostly. But he gets played by a pretty face and ends up trapped deep within the bowels of the Colon where the clock winds down. Can he escape before the metaphorical—or possibly literal—crap hits the fan?

ROCKET #3 takes us inside one of the worst penitentiaries space has to offer on July 12 and we spoke with writer Al Ewing to give you all the lay of the land before setting off on this daring escape mission.

Marvel.com: Give us a quick run down of The Colon, what it’s like on the inside, how Rocket ended up there and why it’s called that?

Al Ewing: I’m so glad you asked me this question. What is it like, inside The Colon? In the hot, cramped confines of The Colon? How did Rocket end up in The Colon? Some would say that, in a real sense, Rocket entered The Colon the moment I began work on the character. Anyway, to answer your question: The Colon is a dark place, where the squeeze is on and something somewhere stinks. There’s a network of tough guys there—a ring of muscle, if you will—and Rocket has to navigate the twists and turns of The Colon in order to escape through the rear exit. It’s very much a bum note in his life.

Anyway, it’s named after the punctuation mark, clearly.

Marvel.com: Rocket’s been behind bars before; how does this joint stack up to other prisons and how is he handling life on the inside? What does he miss most?

Al Ewing: Silly name aside, this one’s pretty grim. It’s owned by a big corporation, and the shareholders like it when the prisoners are brutally and inhumanely punished; there’s a lot of “prison shouldn’t be a holiday camp” thinking in the richer parts of space. The prisoners are put to work making the space equivalent of license plates all day—and if they don’t, they go to The Hole, which is basically a pay-per-view gladiatorial arena that makes money for the prison through illegal gambling. Oh yeah, and every prisoner has a “punishment implant” attached to them that can deliver pain in various different ways for the most minor infractions. It’s a hellhole, essentially.

Marvel.com: I’m sure Rocket is already coming up with an escape plan—what can you tell us about it and how does the execution of said plan go?

Al Ewing: At first, Rocket’s keeping his head down, getting the lay of the land—but then he learns that there’s a deadline, and if he doesn’t break out immediately, he’s screwed. So the countdown is on, and it involves taking everything The Colon throws at him and turning it into an asset. We put all the puzzle pieces in place, and then we watch Rocket put them together. Not that his escape is a certainty; it’s well within my power to have him get all the way to the end, get a stroke of bad luck, and end up in an even worse situation. Maybe I’ll do that, maybe I won’t—I’m a capricious god.

Marvel.com: Does Rocket have any help/meet anyone while he’s there? Any interesting new characters to tease?

Al Ewing: Well, this might be the sensational character find of 2017: Rocket’s cellmate, Gasbag, a living sentient gas in a kind of rubber gimp suit. Also we have the usual complement of alien creatures, all with their own laws, customs, and bodily functions and all wonderfully illustrated by Adam Gorham.

Marvel.com: If Rocket taught Prison Life 101 what would be on the syllabus? What are Rocket’s three rules for surviving the slammer?

Al Ewing: As we see in the issue, Rocket’s first rule is to learn the lay of the land and find out the individual peculiarities of this particular hoosegow. Learn who his friends are, learn who his enemies are, learn the routines. Somewhere in that knowledge is the map to the exit.

The second rule is to make sure you get the top bunk. That’s the plum position in any cell. Norman Stanley Fletcher had the top bunk. Seriously, Rocket will fight you.

And the third rule is that there are no rules! Psyche!

Marvel.com: What is your favorite scene in issue #3?

Al Ewing: Well, without spoiling too much, there’s a wonderful bit that happens in the vacuum of space. Again, Adam’s work is superlative here; he really conveys the feeling of weightlessness, the terror of being in airless space with only a very fragile means of survival. Another favorite bit is when Rocket has an exchange with an old lag, a wizened inmate with vital information on the prison setup; Adam draws a wonderful rhinoceros person, which I think readers will probably end up falling it love with.

Marvel.com: Is there anything you can tease about what’s in store for our furry weapons crazed friend?

Al Ewing: Well, from here, he’s meeting up with a very special guest star—your friend and mine, Deadpool—and together, they’re going to get deep into the gangster life, with tommy guns, bursting out of cakes, and a heist aimed at a particularly vicious space mobster. Adam wanted a space Kingpin—and I put my thinking cap on and gave him one that’ll hopefully be a presence in Marvel Space for a little while to come.

Be sure to catch all the face palming, snarky remark making, prison life action in ROCKET #3 out July 12, written by Al Ewing with art by Adam Gorham!

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Cue the montage as Al Ewing’s team battles back from the brink!

In U.S.AVENGERS #6—available now—the tenuous situation of the team quickly descended into outright bad. Divided from each other, under assault, some of their own members being turned against them, this squad of heroes faces if not their darkest hour, the prelude to it, for certain.

But we know that you cannot keep a good group down. That it always seems darkest before the dawn. That rally caps really do work. So we sought out writer Al Ewing to tell us what difficulties his squad must best to cancel their personal apocalypse in U.S.AVENGERS #7, coming June 21.

“It’s very difficult to talk about the exact challenges the team will be facing over the course of the next couple of months, and how they’ll get out of them, without getting deep into spoiler territory,” Ewing admits. “But I’ll do my best to drop some hints.”

ROBERTO DA COSTA – CITIZEN V

“Roberto’s had it relatively easy lately,” argues the writer. “There’s been no challenge he hasn’t been able to overcome. But that was when he was a free agent in total command of his forces. Now A.I.M. is part of S.H.I.E.L.D., and when the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. is secretly HYDRA, that’s bad news. As we saw in #6, Roberto and A.I.M. have lost big—and in the process, Roberto was shot by a treacherous subordinate. Never mind bouncing back, is he even alive?”


TONI HO – IRON PATRIOT

“As we’ve seen, Toni’s been building bigger and bigger suits of armor—from something relatively reasonable in issue #1, to the behemoth in issue #3, and in issue #6 we saw it’s gotten completely out of control,” Ewing points out. “Pretty soon, we’re going to see how useful all this big armor actually is. The question is, what happens once it’s taken away? And when she’s in a position where she’s got to rebuild from nothing, will she follow Tony Stark’s path or the road of her late father, Professor Yinsen?”


SAM GUTHRIE – CANNONBALL

“As we saw in #6, Cannonball is absolutely dead,” the writer promises. “Dead, dead, dead. We never even saw the body, so that’s how you know he’s dead. And even if, by some freak accident, he managed to survive…well, he’s probably lost in space and very likely in an extreme form of trouble that we’ll find out about over the course of months before the team has to embark on some kind of ‘Search For Sam’ that takes them into a wild adventure. But what are the chances of that? He’s dead as a doornail.”

GEN. ROBERT L. MAVERICK – RED HULK

“The General’s been chafing against his limited brand of Hulk powers for a little while now; as a government-issue Hulk,’ he’s not quite the powerhouse he thought his ‘Hulk plug-in’ genetic treatment would make him,” says Ewing. “He turns back to human at bad moments, and then has to wait over a day for his next transformation. Fortunately, science just discovered a means of making him a Hulk 24/7. Unfortunately, it’s HYDRA science. What happens when Maverick is forced to stay a Hulk for far, far longer than his body was meant to take?”

AIKKU JOKINEN – ENIGMA

“So far, Aikku’s only ever been part of a team,” the writer reminds. “In fact, as Pod, she was a team of one, bonded to an alien ‘planetary [defense] system’ that died saving her life. She’s always had the rest of the U.S.Avengers to rely on. Even her personal life revolves around the team, as she met her current girlfriend, Toni, from inside the Pod suit. So what happens when she’s torn away from the team—from all her friends, bar Doreen—and flung all the way to Europe, where the international wing of HYDRA is causing havoc on the streets of Paris? Can she go it alone?  Who can she turn to for help?”

DOREEN GREEN – SQUIRREL GIRL

“Squirrel Girl faces the challenge of fighting some bad guys,” Ewing reveals. “Will she beat the bad guys? She usually does, admittedly, but it’s always possible that this is the time she won’t. I mean, we killed off Cannonball.”

Find out who might be next to fall in U.S.AVENGERS #7, brought your way June 21 by Al Ewing and artist Paco Medina!

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The Inhumans set course for the Kree’s shattered planet for a reunion with Ronan!

Hala has been visited by much tragedy over the years. Most recently, the planet became basically uninhabitable leaving only Ronan the Accuser to keep silent watch over his shattered former sphere of residence.

For many that survived Hala’s recent destruction, one group stands out amongst all others as being key in the world’s destruction: the Inhumans. Ronan certainly would count himself amongst those with that opinion.

So just imagine the awkwardness that will ensue when ROYALS #4 hits this June 21, bringing the Inhuman ruling family back to the desolate globe that formerly served as Kree homeworld. And if that might be galling enough to Ronan all on its own, wouldn’t you just know that they have come to ask for a favor?

We found writer Al Ewing hiding in the game room upstairs looking to avoid the squabbles and asked him for the latest Kree-Inhuman gossip.

Marvel.com: The connection between the Inhumans and the Kree is a long-standing “fact” of the Marvel Universe. However, there hasn’t been much of that story told. What is your take on their historic relationship? How are things between them before this issue?

Al Ewing: Things are not great. A short and simple version of the history is that Black Bolt and company came to the Kree Empire, took it over, and then later went off to pursue their own projects, leaving Ronan and Crystal in charge. Ronan resurrected a version of the Supreme Intelligence, The Supremor, who promptly declared war on the Inhumans and the Earth, whereupon Ronan quit to be with Crystal.

Unfortunately, a peace treaty between the Kree and the Inhumans required Ronan to separate from Crystal and go back into the Supremor’s service. Crystal basically agreed to that, out of a sense of duty to both races and over Ronan’s objections. And after that, Hala was destroyed and Supremor with it. And in the same incident, Ronan got cosmic powers from a magic mirror. And here we are.

So, to answer your question…the relationship isn’t all it could be.

Marvel.com: Regardless of the past, Hala is a very “hot spot” especially between the Kree and the Boltagons specifically. Why return to what is, essentially, the scene of the crime?

Al Ewing: Hala contains some buried knowledge—a piece of history pertaining to the Kree and the Inhumans both, a lost secret of Terrigen. Bringing it to the surface will let the Royals know if it’s possible for them to bring the Inhumans back to their former glory, and whether they can atone for their own crimes in the process.

Meanwhile, for Ronan, Hala is a planet-wide graveyard, a sacred place. He doesn’t like visitors at the best of times and especially not these visitors.

Marvel.com: How are dynamics changed by Maximus being present, not Black Bolt?

Al Ewing: If Black Bolt was there, he’d probably be the target of Ronan’s wrath. He’s responsible. He conquered the Kree, he chose to abandon them, and it was his diktat that tore Ronan and Crystal out of their happy place and [sent] Ronan back to serve a monster.

Maximus doesn’t figure so much on [Ronan’s] radar. He was the weaponsmith, the court jester, and the occasional traitor, but in Ronan’s eyes he’s never been the important one. So Ronan will probably leave him on the back burner and concentrate on other targets. Whether Maximus will feel the same, I don’t know. Ronan did play a big part in his parents getting killed.

Royals #4 cover by Jonboy Meyers

Marvel.com: Ronan’s connection with the Inhumans is especially complex. What is his reaction to seeing them again? How does it make Crystal feel to encounter her partner in a failed arranged union?

Al Ewing: Ronan’s not in a very good mental state when he sees them again. He’s angry, he’s sick with grief, he’s looking for someone to blame. His immediate reaction is to get hold of them for a little chat, as only a cosmic-powered Accuser of the Kree can do.

As for him and Crystal, they’ve got a lot to talk about. From Ronan’s point of view, he blames her, because it was her decision to effectively annul their marriage—a marriage that had gone from mutually-agreed convenience without any intimacy, to a full-on actual true-love connection—and he’s bound that up with a lot of other stuff he’s going through.

Crystal’s in a different place. She’s got responsibilities to the Inhumans, to her child from a previous marriage, to her home planet. There’s been just as much running from one crisis to the next for her as for him, but she’s managed to move on in a way that he hasn’t. What that means when they’re in a room together? I don’t know. I guess we’ll all find out.

Marvel.com: This marks the first full issue with Thony Silas on art. What does he bring to the book?

Al Ewing: Thony’s got a good style for these issues—shadowy, a little sinister in places. Plus he does great things with [previous artist Jonboy Meyers’] character designs for the book. I really enjoyed his work on issue #3, and he came up with a layout suggestion for a particular bit in #4 that I’m kicking myself a little for not thinking of [first]. It’s going to be nice to see out this first arc with him.

Marvel.com: Why is this a cannot miss capture in the evolving relationship of the Inhumans to the larger Marvel U?

Al Ewing: There’s a thing readers should understand with this book: we’re not doing business in the normal way. There will be no tie-ins until we get back to Earth. We’re self-contained, telling our own story, beholden to nobody, and we’re on a trip out to the far reaches of Marvel Space, and we’re going to come back changed, and carrying something very special with us.

And then we’re going to see what the other two books have been doing, and what they’re bringing to the party. And we’ll see what happens when we put it all together and shake it around a little.

Maybe it’ll turn to gold. Maybe it’ll explode. I honestly have no idea, but I do know that it’s not the job of the Inhumans to ever be predictable. So…I guess we’ll all find out together.

Al Ewing and Thony Silas reunite Ronan with ROYALS in issue #4 on June 21!

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Al Ewing prepares us for a Galactus vs. Ego grudge match for the ages!

The Planet Eater vs. the Living Planet: a tale as old as time.

In ULTIMATES 2 #8 on June 21, however, that story has been flipped on its ear. No longer a devourer, now a lifebringer, Galactus, nonetheless, must lock horns with Ego. A grudge-carrying, very unhappy Ego.

ULTIMATES 2 writer Al Ewing called us from the outer reaches of the galaxy to tell us what the titanic intergalactic struggle could mean for the Marvel Universe.

Marvel.com: Galactus v. Ego certainly makes a lot of on the face sense but it isn’t just about the World Devourer v. the Living Planet. How deep does their antagonism run?

Al Ewing: They’ve hurt each other. Galactus, in particular, bolted a sidereal engine to Eternity—digging it into his living flesh, probably causing a lot of pollution—and shot him off into the depths of space. That’s not something that Ego finds easy to forgive. They’re almost destined to fight each other, on some level, like you say; it’s the planet-eater versus the living planet. They’re natural enemies, like the cobra and the mongoose.

Except Galactus isn’t a planet-eater any longer.

Marvel.com: Galactus has gone through a lot of changes as of late. How, if at all, does that change the dynamics of this struggle?

Al Ewing: It’s going to have to. If Galactus can’t consume Ego—and presumably he’s got an ethical objection to just blowing him up, given his new catchphrase of “Everything Lives”—we’re left with a very one-sided fight. Which is bad, since Galactus might be the only thing standing between the Marvel Multiverse and the First Firmament, an ancient evil sentient cosmos looking for revenge against Eternity just for existing.

Ultimates 2 #8 cover by Christian Ward

Marvel.com: Artist Aud Koch is relatively new to the book. When you get into depictions of cosmic conflicts, there is a lot of chance to just really dig into some exciting visuals. What has Koch brought to the book? How does her art showcase your approach to the story?

Al Ewing: Aud’s been one of my favorite artists to work with. She’s got a unique style in terms of comics, something reminiscent of Aubrey Beardsley, allowing for some much more intense emotional beats.

She’s also not afraid to break up panels, set her own pacing, and make suggestions. [Regular ULTIMATES 2 artist] Travel [Foreman] does that as well, and it really helps take the book into that collaborative space where it’s unique to the team. I hope ULTIMATES 2 readers enjoy the art on these two issues as much as I enjoyed watching it come in—see if you can guess which page of #8 I’ve got up on my wall.

Marvel.com: Where do the Ultimates figure into a battle of this huge a cosmic scope?

Al Ewing: Issue #8 is a solo issue for Galactus, before we bring the team back to fight the Eternity War at long last. So he’s on his own and, as readers will have seen in issue #7, he’s not in peak condition. He’s still recovering from his treatment at the hands of Logos and the First Firmament, so it’s entirely possible Ego—who’s more powerful than ever—could take him down for good.

Marvel.com: Speaking of scope, what could be the fallout/consequences of these two facing off once again?

Al Ewing: Well, there’s everything to play for; Galactus is building forces for a war for reality itself, and if he can get Ego on board, that’s going to be a big win for him. Alternatively, if Ego bows out—or worse, joins the other side—Galactus is in serious trouble. I will say that whatever happens, readers will exit this issue very excited for the next one. The Eternity War is on, and things are ramping up at an astonishing rate.

Join the cosmic conflict with ULTIMATES 2 #8, coming your way from Al Ewing and Aud Koch on June 21!

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Rocket Raccoon runs up against the bizarre bounty hunters!

They may have been gone a long time, but they have returned in the pages of ROCKET #2 on June 7. Technet. Back and bickering more than ever?

Oh, you don’t know Technet?

Don’t worry, you will love them, we promise. Or love to hate them.

Can’t believe it? Good thing we roped in ROCKET writer Al Ewing to give you the lowdown.

Marvel.com: Given most comics fan might have missed out on Technet since they haven’t appeared in nearly 20 years, who or what is the Technet? What does it mean that they are seemingly at war with itself?

Al Ewing: The Technet are a group of extremely alien bounty hunters with very strange powers that are destined, in the future, to travel through time and become a headache for Captain Britain some years ago. Which is probably more information than readers strictly need to know.

What’s important is that they tend to get into disagreements with each other about money, and this particular schism is no different; it’s essentially half the Technet doing a walkout and striking out on their own because their leader, Gatecrasher, hasn’t paid them in a while. I wish it was all about higher-minded ethics or morals, but it’s not. It’s about the moolah, as always.

Luckily, Rocket is on hand with an offer of work…

Marvel.com: What classic Technet members will readers get to see?

Al Ewing: Well, in the first issue, Technet fans will get to see Ferro-2, the skinny four-armed werewolf with the big swords, China Doll, a half-snake lady with excellent hair who shrinks things and people, Scatterbrain, a walking psychedelic episode, Numbers, a big cowardly lizard-creature with a head for accounting and a robotic turn of phrase, and then there’s the egg.

Technet fans will remember the egg. We don’t want to spoil the egg for new readers. We love the egg.

I’ve tried very hard to keep the Technet just the way I’ve found them, and use them in the spirit of their original appearances. Fans will hopefully feel like they’re speaking in their authentic voices from the days of yore.

Rocket #2 cover by Mike Mayhew

Marvel.com: How did you and artist Adam Gorham collaborate together to update the looks of the members of Technet for 2017?

Al Ewing: It’s always a very difficult job, drawing characters that are so heavily associated with one particular creator—the marvelous Alan Davis—but Adam’s been fantastic. I don’t think he’s updated the looks as such, but he’s adapting them to his own style and the tone of the book and the results are, as ever with Adam, absolutely terrific. He’s a complete joy to work with.

Marvel.com: How does Rocket fit into this larger conflict? Is he a helpful factor or does his presence promise to make things much worse?

Al Ewing: Well, in some ways he’s a catalyst for events. Left to their own devices, the Technet would probably squabble and reconcile as they ever have, but Rocket slides in at the perfect moment with a big job offer—a heist that needs the team’s unique skills—and that might keep the conflict going a little longer. If nothing else, Gatecrasher’s going to be interested in any Technet members making big bucks outside her purview. But anyone who wants to know how it all shakes out will have to pick up ROCKET.

Catch up with the gang in ROCKET #1 by Al Ewing and Adam Gorham, available May 10, and then in issue #2 on June 7!

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Al Ewing talks about the recently revealed truth behind ‘Black Bolt’!

Never one to stand on ceremony, Mad Maximus saw a problem and decided to solve it. The dilemma? His brother, the near sainted Black Bolt had gone too far and not for the first time.

So, as revealed in ROYALS #2, Maximus seized the moment and impersonated his sibling as the Royal Family launched itself into space.

With the real Black Bolt trapped in some remote location, the family seems stuck with Maximus amongst them. However, what if he really did make the right decision for the good of the Inhumans? In advance of May 17’s ROYALS #3, Ewing helpfully dropped in on us to present the case for Maximus seizing his brother’s identity at an even earlier date.

Joins the Illuminati

“Yeah, this was just your basic autocratic stuff,” Ewing comments. “Just a king, chilling out with his fellow kings, deciding the fate of the rest of the planet, nothing to see there.”

“The world had to actually be ending before T’Challa got involved with that, but Black Bolt was there from the get-go,” he elaborates. “And he didn’t consult the Inhumans, either. How can we trust the king not to sell Attilan down the river to the super-celebrities? Why is he talking to known jerk Professor Charles Xavier before consulting his own Queen? It’s not a good look. If Maximus had swapped places with him, the Illuminati would have been dancing to Attilan’s tune, not vice versa.”

Declares war on the United States over the crystals used in Terrigen Mist

“Well, getting the crystals back from the U.S. government was a priority for the Inhumans, but the way Black Bolt went about it wasn’t exactly ideal,” argues the writer. “A lot of humans and Inhumans died, Gorgon was mutated for a while, and while Maximus was able to use the situation to his advantage, who can say he wouldn’t have done even better if he’d been in charge? He might have gone about it in a less obvious way. Or he might have built a giant ray gun that didn’t work properly, because [sometimes] he rolls that way too.”

Overthrowing the Kree government and seizing power for himself

“It’s not much of a spoiler that there are people who don’t remember this move fondly,” Ewing reveals. “Ronan is out there, remembering every detail of how he put his trust in the Inhumans—indeed, he put all his weight and power in Kree society behind their new regime—and then they just left without warning the moment Black Bolt decided they had better things to do. And after that, of course, Hala was blown to pieces and everyone on Hala died.”

“And now Ronan’s about to come face to face with the Royals as their quest takes them to the dead planet,” he continues. “Looking at it that way, maybe Maximus was wrong to swap places with Black Bolt; it might have been better to let his older brother face the music…”

The release of Terrigen Mists across the Earth that started IvX and forcibly changed many people’s lives without their consent

“Well, Maximus actually helped with that one,” admits Ewing. “And he’d probably have done the same thing himself. But the important thing is that it was Black Bolt’s idea, which means Maximus is completely blameless and it’s entirely right that Black Bolt is being shot off to a space prison in his place.”

Causing the accidental death of his parents and his brother’s traumatic brain injury through the use of his sonic voice

“And this is the big one,” insists the writer. “As we’ll see in issue #3, there was a little more going on that day than we’ve seen before; we’re going to be getting deep into the secrets of the family Boltagon, the secret origin of Maximus the Mad, and why exactly Maximus betrayed the Inhumans to the Kree that time—which was why Black Bolt used his super-voice in the first place. It’s all going to come out and once you know the full story, maybe you’ll agree with Maximus that he was right all along to do what he did. Or maybe he’ll be scarier than ever.”

Sit down with the family Boltagon for some quality time in ROYALS #3, available May 17 from Al Ewing and Jonboy Meyers!

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Al Ewing reveals Steve Rogers’ plans for A.I.M. as Secret Empire dawns

In U.S.AVENGERS #6—available May 17—Steve Rogers continues his campaign to remake the Marvel Universe in Hydra’s image by finally seizing control of A.I.M. One cannot help but wonder, however, what’s motivating the Sentinel of Lies to pull this society of scientists under his wing.

Thankfully, we do not need to wonder when we have writer Al Ewing on the speed dial. He gladly gave us some perspective on Rogers’ dark plan.

Marvel.com: To begin with, why is A.I.M. such a glittering prize for Steve Rogers in specific and Hydra in general?

Al Ewing: Well, they’re not a glittering prize as such—although if he can sway any to his side, that’s fine—but they are a potential complication, and one with the potential to mess up his intricate plans. So ideally, he needs to get them out of the way, both by making sure they don’t interfere with his plan as it unfolds, and then after that, by making sure they don’t interfere with Hydra business.

Marvel.com: What threat would an independently operating A.I.M. represent for Rogers?

Al Ewing: Well, for one thing, they’ve been trained to resist hypnosis in a way S.H.I.E.L.D. hasn’t—thanks to the teachings of the late, great Professor X—so Rogers can’t just use his good friend Dr. Faustus to brainwash them. Which means he’s probably going to have to lock them up in some secret facility somewhere and work on them for a while. He can’t let a bunch of super-scientists run around free and unsupervised.

Marvel.com: How does he envision A.I.M. working after he fully seizes control of them? What is his ideal vision of them as an organization?

Al Ewing: I imagine if he can get the whole organization on board, he’ll put them to work somehow, most likely as an arm of Hydra.

To be honest, what Rogers probably wants from A.I.M. is for them to just get back in their safe little box and be “evil scientists” again so at least he can understand what’s going on with them. He’s an old man at heart, he likes things a certain way and why does he have to change?

Marvel.com: As Roberto da Costa struggles against and, seemingly, falls to Rogers’ agenda, what are his fears for A.I.M.? Where does he worry it might go under someone else’s direction that isn’t his?

Al Ewing: Well, Roberto’s going to have a lot to worry about himself. As people might have guessed from the solicits, he’s in some serious personal danger and he might not make it through this one alive. But assuming he does, I’d imagine his biggest nightmare for A.I.M. would be them slipping backwards into their old, evil ways, or being lured there by a charismatic creep like Rogers.

Marvel.com: U.S.AVENGERS, particularly with this issue, is a great mix of intense action and political machinations. How does Paco Medina’s art help to bring that to life on the page without either element eclipsing the other? Any particular sequence, without spoilers, you are really excited for fans to see him render?

Al Ewing: Paco’s brilliant and he draws an amazing Red Hulk, too. I’m going to particularly enjoy seeing him deal with the sequence set in Europe, since that’s going to feature some exciting guest stars—for anyone who knows his work, we’re bringing back a selection of the contestants from the CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS comic we did together. So fans of Guillotine, Outlaw, and Ares should hopefully be happy there. I know I will be.

See if Steve Rogers succeeds in U.S.AVENGERS #6, available May 17 courtesy of Al Ewing and Paco Medina!

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Al Ewing makes the case for Rocket as a criminal mastermind!

To paraphrase a cliché, Rocket has proven good when he does good. But when he does bad? Well, then that not-a-raccoon has shown himself to be downright great.

In ROCKETissue #1 on sale May 10—writer Al Ewing and artist Adam Gorham will go all in on the diminutive Guardian’s felonious side. The writer kindly took a moment from baking a file into a cake to listen to our reasons why his protagonist has a natural talent for being bad and agree or disagree.

He’s small for getting in where he doesn’t belong and hiding

“Technically, that could come in handy down the line, but so far size hasn’t been a factor, and neither has hiding,” Ewing counters. “In fact, the big heists and other assorted shenanigans he’s had so far at the time of writing—I’m up to the end of issue #4—are pretty brazen, full of big moments and high-octane action. Still, I definitely wouldn’t rule out the possibility of ducts in the future. Everybody likes ducts, and Rocket could easily fit in one.”

He’s quiet which helps with sneaking.

“Again, Rocket hasn’t really had to sneak much so far—although there is a bit of implied sneaking when we get to the bit where he pulls a complex jailbreak from the roughest, toughest prison in outer space, a Swiss-watch affair that makes ‘Prison Break’ look like day release from the kiddie’s ball pit at a fast food restaurant,” the writer confesses.

He’s possibly nocturnal which is good because night is the best time for doing crimes

“I’d agree with this,” affirms Ewing. “Rocket isn’t really a morning person, and while there are many crimes that happen in the morning, like stealing newspapers from doorsteps and milk float theft, not to mention the ongoing violent attacks on worms by the bird community, Rocket isn’t really going to get involved in that. He’s going to be mostly committing much flashier ‘after dark’ crimes.”

He has a defiant fearless attitude

“Rocket certainly is a rude dude who exudes ‘tude’!” enthuses the writer. “And he’s not in a subdued mood, even when nude or being booed. In fact, to be crude, he’s much ballyhooed, an objet d’etude which the shrewd conclude cannot be pooh-poohed.”

He’s great with weapons including those nearly as big as him

“He does have a Cable-like strength and steadiness when it comes to aiming relatively giant guns,” Ewing allows. “Will he be displaying it here? Adam Gorham—and let’s use this as an excuse to mention the top-notch art by Adam Gorham, colored to perfection by our resident color artist Michael Garland—hasn’t yet drawn the latest gun I’ve written into the script, and it’s possible that might end up being huge, but so far Rocket’s guns have been relatively small, elegant, and set to stun. I know that’ll be a disappointment to those fans who love his violent side, but a good heist is all about style.”

He is good at working in groups aka organizing criminal conspiracies

“Kind of?” hedges Ewing. “On the one hand, the book takes place while he’s away from the Guardians, so he is capable of operating solo. On the other hand, he does keep teaming up with people—whether it’s half the Technet, or a sentient bag of unknown gas from a Gas World, or the ever-delightful Deadpool. We’ve yet to have him tackle a job completely solo, and looking ahead at my future plans, I have to wonder if we ever will.”

He has raccoon-like qualities

“I added this one in myself,” states the writer, seizing control. “Raccoons, as you’ll learn from their Wikipedia page, have extremely sensitive senses of hearing and touch, and Rocket, being very raccoon-like—although he’s not a raccoon, as he’ll tell you—also has. That makes him incredibly good at cracking safes. The more you know.”

No one ever suspects the guy with fur

“Poppycock,” the writer protests. “Bears have fur and I’m very suspicious of bears and their constant theft of my pick-a-nick baskets. Also you can hide penny sweets in especially thick fur and steal them and eat them later. And Cruella De Ville had fur. Objection sustained and case closed, your honor.”

Get into trouble with Al Ewing and Adam Gorham in ROCKET #1 on May 10!

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Steve Rogers and Roberto da Costa face off about the group’s future!

Steve Rogers has arrived and his agenda shall not be ignored—well, that’s his plan, anyway.

Roberto da Costa, the former Sunspot and current Citizen V, however has different thoughts on the matter. He helped turn A.I.M. from an enclave of evil into an entity of scientific good in the world and he sees it just as the start. Why should he cede control now?

U.S.AVENGERS writer Al Ewing has studied the case and stands ready to arbitrate, but squeezed us into his docket to review the dispute.

Marvel.com: In U.S.AVENGERS #5, we’re promised what seems to be a battle between Sunspot and Steve Rogers for the direction of A.I.M. To handicap that faceoff for a moment, what advantages does each person—Steve and Roberto—bring to the situation?

Al Ewing: It’s more of a standoff than a battle. Steve, as the new big man on campus at S.H.I.E.L.D., is essentially Roberto’s boss now that A.I.M. have been absorbed by everyone’s favorite global superspy organization. Since Steve Rogers is also an agent of HYDRA after some meddling from a Cosmic Cube, and Roberto doesn’t know that…well, the situation’s a little tricky.

Steve’s goal here is to see if Roberto can be persuaded as to the rightness of his cause, and if not—and let’s face it, it’s going to be “not”—he’s going to find whatever weaknesses he can in A.I.M.’s defenses and generally get Roberto rattled enough to make an error.

Roberto’s goal, meanwhile, is to get through a particularly rough, and increasingly strange, performance evaluation.

Marvel.com: To look at the debit side of the ledger, what are each of their vulnerabilities or weaknesses?

Al Ewing: Roberto doesn’t know what’s going on with Steve. That’s a biggie—that’s everything. This is the first time Roberto’s been in a situation where he hasn’t been two steps ahead.

But from Steve’s point of view, Roberto is clever enough to figure it all out—if Steve pushes too hard. So there are a lot of subtle tactics, a lot of gentle probing, pushing and the occasional naked micro-aggression. HYDRA-fied Steve Rogers might think he’s the hero of his own story, but he’s a very nasty character, and he doesn’t mind if people don’t like him, either. He’s going to put all that to work.

Marvel.com: If we were able to speak to both of them, why would they say that control of the direction of A.I.M. should be theirs?

Al Ewing: Steve Rogers can’t have any loose cannons and general weirdos interfering with his masterplan. A.I.M. could be great allies of HYDRA if they just knocked off this goofy stuff they’ve gotten into. Steve likes the way Roberto’s rehabilitated the brand in the public eye, he just thinks he needs to straighten up at this point and fly right. As for Roberto, why would he want to quit now? He’s just gotten started. If Roberto’s going to hand A.I.M. over to anyone, it’ll be someone who gets it—in the meantime, he’s going to keep control as long as he can.

Marvel.com: This conflict leaves Sam Guthrie, Cannonball, feeling as though he is being pulled in separate directions. What about this situation is leaving him feeling as though he is stuck in the middle? What does each party represent and mean to him?

Al Ewing: Sam is actually on leave this issue—he’s being pulled in separate directions because he’s on his new home planet with his space family. Except Earth is his home planet, isn’t it?

Readers have been asking what the status of Izzy—aka Smasher—and their son Joshua is, and whether the marriage is going to turn up in the book; well, this issue, it does. It’s been mentioned before that Sam commutes to the team from space, but this is the first time we’ve seen him on weekends, or seen how nice the Shi’ar colony planets can be. Sam’s got a lot to think about.

Marvel.com: Within A.I.M. is there a dominant opinion amongst the employees about the direction the organization should go and who should be in charge of it?

Al Ewing: At this point, Roberto’s pruned the organization pretty effectively; anyone with a hankering for the bad old days of evil science and world takeover has been pretty much kicked out. But there are always one or two who are nostalgic for the good old days of bad against good, and Roberto might find traitors in the ranks where he least expects them.

See how the situation between Steve and Roberto plays out in U.S.AVENGERS #5 by Al Ewing and artist Paco Diaz, coming April 19!

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