Al Ewing on Maximus, Marvel Boy and what else awaits 5,000 years from now.

Writer Al Ewing plans for the long-term in ROYALS; the 5,000 years in the future long-term, to be clear. On December 13, that future finally arrives in full in ROYALS #12.

With only Maximus and Marvel Boy of the Royals left, all hope may be lost as the Progenitors returns to the 71st Century.

We got writer Al Ewing to tell us more about what we’ll see in ROYALS #12.

Marvel.com: The “5000 Years From Now” future of the Inhumans has been nibbling around the edges of ROYALS for a little while. For those not in the know or late to the book, what are Maximus and Marvel Boy about to face?

Al Ewing: There have been two ongoing stories in ROYALS since the very start. We’ve obviously had Medusa and her crew on a voyage deeper and deeper into space in the main body of each issue, but we’ve always started with a flash-forward to 5000 years on, showing the progress of the Last Inhuman – an extremely aged Maximus – as he journeys across the ruined planet Earth, after getting a signal from a long-forgotten warning system that something ancient and terrible is coming back to Earth after almost destroying the world. Along the way he awoke Marvel Boy – now the Kree Accuser – from a cryogenic sleep. And the goal of the journey was the wake the Moon King, another extremely altered Royal, who’d been building up his power since the original battle with the enemy.

That enemy being the Progenitors. They’re coming back to Earth, to do who knows what – though we’ll find out what – and the only people who can stop them are old, broken and a little weird. And now we get a whole issue of them.

Marvel.com: Given that you’ve included it in your story, one imagines issue #12 will somehow play into the present day as well as 5000 years ahead in the future. Without spoiling, can you point to some possible connections between ROYALS present and future?

Al Ewing: There’s a big connection, in that present-day Maximus, at this point, has access to the Prima Materia, the mysterious Primagen he’s been chasing his whole life, as we revealed in #3. Now, the last time he was exposed to this stuff—in the womb—it drastically altered him, and arguably provided him with glimpses of his entire timeline [which was] exacerbated by Black Bolt yelling into his ear, years later.

So what happens when he gets another dose? We’ll find out.

Marvel.com: Creatively, why did Maximus and Marvel Boy make sense to you as the two last Royals, if you will; the ones still around in 5000 years to face down this momentous event?

Al Ewing: Not quite the last—the Moon King is a Royal too. But those two kind of suggested themselves. There are things I plan out right from the start—the last issue was always going to be set 5000 years on, and Maximus was always going to be the Last Inhuman. If you cast your mind back, I was pretending early on that Black Bolt came along on the voyage, when in reality it was Maximus in disguise. The Last Inhuman could have been any of the cast, really, but I made it Maximus to play some more with that fake-out, in the first couple of issues, it could well be Black Bolt under that hood.

As well as the things I plan out from the beginning, I try to allow myself room to let the story dictate things, and that’s where Marvel Boy as the Accuser came from. I knew, after #3, roughly where the Last Inhuman was going, if not who he’d find when he got there, and I knew he’d need help on the way—and someone to talk to. Marvel Boy was the obvious choice. For one thing, he had an obvious possible future path, in that I knew he was going to reboot the Kree Empire in a new peace-and-love incarnation—although I’d be surprised if karma didn’t come out of the barrel of a space gun with those guys—so him becoming the Accuser at some point in the future made a degree of sense.

Secondly, I knew I wasn’t going to kill him. I like him too much, and it’s a cop-out if the Inhuman who doesn’t come back isn’t even an Inhuman. And him not being an Inhuman meant Maximus could still be the Last Inhuman, not the Penultimate Inhuman or whatever.

Marvel.com: How do the two credited artists, Kevin Libranda and Javier Rodriguez, combine to help you realize the look of ROYALS, especially in reference to the future? When conceiving of what 5000 years in the future would look, what kind of inspirations did you draw from? How would you describe the “feel” of the universe at that future date?

Al Ewing: Well, we should credit Jonboy Meyers here as well—he was the one who came up with the original look of the Last Inhuman, the Pterolith Riders, Arctillan, the Sleepers and a whole bunch of other things that generally set the tone. But it was Kevin Libranda who designed the Accuser; I forget exactly what I gave as a brief, but I suspect it was Marvel Boy at sixty, having lived through some extremely hard times and gotten further into depressing country music. And Kevin came back with this wonderful grizzled space cowboy, who I’ve taken a lot of pleasure in showing in action. And then Javier Rodriguez, for his part, ended up designing the Moon King, this third member of our final trio, starting with the image of the upside-down skeleton in the Hanged Man position that I started off #9 with, and then kind of going from there into some wonderfully weird, non-human territory. I’ve seen readers get very disturbed by the idea that a human being could metamorphose into this thing, which is a testament to Javier’s skill.

So we’ve ended up with a trio of three characters, created by three artists, who all nevertheless kind of mesh together in a wonderfully organic way. And I had no idea when we started that we were going to get here. It’s one of the nice things about working this way, that you give yourself room to surprise yourself. And Kevin and Javier—and Álvaro López on inks—have been an absolute treat to work with, every step of the way.

Marvel.com: Maximus is not widely known for being a good partner and Marvel Boy has also had a history of being…reactive at times. How, if at all, has 5000 years matured them a bit? What is their relationship to each other in that future?

Al Ewing: Maximus is still pretty awful. He seems very wise and regal when he’s living alone, but as soon as he links back up with the Accuser, he starts showing his true colors. He’s either aloof or snarky most of the time, and he doesn’t particularly care when the Rider, his human taxi service, dies on the quest. I liked the idea that he could attain enlightenment and still be a terrible person afterwards.

There’s a bit I enjoyed writing where the Accuser, well, accuses him; Maximus did something awful to Marvel Boy, and hasn’t apologized for 5000 years. And Kevin drew this wonderful beatific smirk on his face, because he’s never going to apologize, ever. So he hasn’t matured, exactly.

Noh-Varr’s gotten gruffer and tougher over the years, but he’s not really changed either. But even with Noh-Varr’s time in suspended animation, these two have had decades to bond, and at this point it’s turned into a weird odd-couple-friendship-slash-codependency.

Marvel.com: What are you most excited for in issue #12? What really gets your blood pumping when you imagine fans reading?

Al Ewing: There’s a bit in #12 that’s horrible—just horrible, one of the most awful horrors I’ve ever written. A terrible fate for two characters who absolutely do not deserve it. And that doesn’t exactly get my blood pumping—I don’t enjoy putting readers through these things—but at the same time, it’s the path we have to go through to get somewhere much more hopeful.

After issue #12 comes the JUDGEMENT DAY special, which is kind of a bookend with the PRIME special that started all this off, and also links up with the continuing BLACK BOLT series—I’ve been in consultation with Saladin Ahmed to make sure I get Black Bolt entirely correct, and he’s made a couple of suggestions to keep me on the right path.

And while there’s an ending in #12—the future plot comes to a close, and the Royals begin their journey home—JUDGEMENT DAY is where things wrap up and we tie a bow on a couple of the long-running themes.

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Chairman of Tourism Al Ewing takes you on a tour of the most delightful place in the galaxy.

Hello and thank you for choosing Glenbrook for your tourism needs. It is a big known existence out there and we appreciate that you recognized how special our little patch of land is!

We have big city attractions wrapped up in small town charm and friendliness and we trust you’ll love it here. Love it so much you may never leave? Well, yes, that is the plan!

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First, let us help you get to know our charming hamlet. We promise you won’t regret it.

And please don’t upset…others. Because we are all so nice you wouldn’t want to. Especially….well, nevermind that ugliness. Just know that being nice is the key to getting along here. And you simply must get along while you are here.

TOWN SQUARE

The wonderful thing about our Town Square is that it feels wonderfully familiar, and yet fresh and new all at once. It’s like every place you’ve ever visited and no place you’ve ever seen before! How do we do it? Trade secret, friend-o! But we just know you’ll adore it. And if you don’t believe me, just ask an expert, Chairman of Tourism Al Ewing!

“Take a trip to the Town Square–the hub around which Glenbrook revolves,” he demands. “Whether it’s getting a period-appropriate suit for your newest alien slave–sorry, ‘geography teacher’–or clapping one of your entourage in irons for being insufficiently ‘in character,’ it all gets done here! Remember to remain in character at all times.”

See! Doesn’t that sound amazing? And important! Especially that last part.

GLENBROOK HIGH

I know what you are thinking, “Go back to high school? No thanks!” The thing is, you will be going here. You won’t be able to stay away in fact! No matter how you feel right now! A delightful architectural achievement—how many high schools do you know that are this pretty and this difficult to leave—Glenbrook High is where the shaping of young minds happens and the leader of tomorrow is born!

“Glenbrook’s seat of learning, and the place for all manner of wacky hi-jinks!” warns Ewing. “Students live in fear of a bad report card from the lovable principal, Mr. Waspwind–mainly because the report cards explode with intense concussive force, thanks to the borrowed abilities of the mutant human known as ‘Gambit.’ Remember, any mention of ‘Power Skrulls’ or the ‘skrull military’ will be seen as breaking character. Please stay in character.”

Goodness! If my high school was like that, I’m sure I would’ve ended up going to a top 10 school like my dad wanted and not let everyone down!

It may seem far-fetched to say, but we guarantee education has never been fun in quite this way before!

PAPPY GUGGENHEIM’S MALT SHOPPE

This location combines cool eats and hot treats, an expression that is wholly unique to Glenbrook and you’d do well to remember that.

If you want in on the hustle and the bustle of our delightful Burg, you HAVE to stop by here. It is an absolute MUST for all out-of-towners! Pappy is a local celebrity of sorts and his food simply cannot be beat. And no one should try.

Why?

Well, look, Al Ewing is back to tell you all about it.

“Why not enjoy a delicious malted milkshake–the traditional beverage of typical teenagers everywhere?” interrogates the Chairman. “Pappy Guggenheim will make them just right, or what we assume is just right. Taste is a difficult thing to gauge from TV signals transmitted through the depths of space, but we figure a ‘chocolate malt’ tastes somewhere between lizard and beetle. Anyway, Pappy knows the important thing is not to break character, so he rarely speaks due to his extreme terror of the dungeons. Don’t break character.”

Mmm, mmm, mmm, we wish we were slurping a malt right now. Yummy! And you’ll be declaring the same when you have one. Which you will. And you will call it yummy. Remember the rules.

THE SUBURBS

We’ve heard the suburbs get a bad rap elsewhere but we would NEVER EVER say that about our suburbs because we appreciate our lives and our well-being and the fun we have on our quiet but not too quiet streets where we live side by side with friendly but never nosy neighbors. With reasonably priced houses that always shoot up in value upon purchase—how does that work? DON’T ASK US!—and beautiful lawns and park spaces, this is suburban life as it has to be lived.

“Otherwise known as ‘everywhere else,’ the suburban streets of Glenbrook form the perfect backdrop to play out the comedy-dramas of typical teenage life–be they short humorous skits based around simple wordplay, or longer ‘special episodes’ like the time they all got drafted to fight in one of the human wars, and since humans don’t enjoy wars for some inane reason, that was bad,” Ewing cryptically observes. “Although try not to mention that you aren’t human, as that will break character. You don’t want to break character.”

Being a suburban human is just the best. We assure you, you will come around to our way of thinking on this.

THE DUNGEONS

We know what you are thinking. Well, we don’t “know” know. We’d never invade your mind like that, of course. But we assume you are thinking, “Odd that such a nice place needs a dungeon.”

Which…well…ok, we see that, but the thing is…

OH! Look, Mr. Ewing will explain. Take it, Chairman!

“The key point of interest in Glenbrook is the secure dungeon built under [REDACTED]’s haunted castle outside of town,” he reveals in hushed tones. “The castle is no longer used, because [REDACTED] is an unperson who broke character, but the dungeon has proved extremely useful. Here you will find all the other dangerous subversives who broke character, starving slowly to death with no food or water and with their shape-changing abilities locked down by hyperwave projectors so they can’t escape. That said, if you do find them, it’s because you broke character as well, so you deserve everything you get. Enjoy Glenbrook! And don’t break character!”

See. A delightfully wonderful reason!

To book your trip to Glenbrook immediately, please pick up the travel guide U.S.AVENGERS #12 by Chairman of Tourism Al Ewing and Chairman of Commerce Paco Diaz, available on November 29.

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Writer Al Ewing handicaps which Royal won’t return from space.

It has been promised from the beginning. Seven go out into space… only six return. With ROYALS #11 hitting stands on November 22, that reality draws ever closer.

Still, we just hate waiting so we barged in on ROYALS writer Al Ewing and demanded he tell us everything. He would not, but he did drop some hints.

Why it might be Medusa:

“Medusa is currently the most dying out of any of the cast,” Ewing points out. “At this stage, she’s lost most of her hair and what’s left has gone grey and lifeless, and she’s effectively been operating without powers since the end of the first issue. While she can keep the coughing fits at bay with forward motion and positive action, what happens when she runs out of road?”

Why it might not be Medusa:

“She plays a very major role in JUDGEMENT DAY, the one-off special which brings the current cycle of INHUMANS comics to some sort of crescendo,” reveals the writer. “Then again, maybe part of JUDGEMENT DAY is set in the afterlife, or some other non-physical realm? In which case, there’s a pretty good chance it’s Medusa who pops her clogs after all.”

Why it might be Maximus:

“It doesn’t look like it’s Maximus, admittedly–he’s the Last Inhuman, 5000 years in the future–but then, it’s not a question of who dies, it’s a question of who doesn’t come back from the voyage,” says the writer. “And Maximus has a very good reason not to come back–he caused his brother, Black Bolt, to be incarcerated in the hellish space prison he was due to go to for his many crimes. And rumor has it Black Bolt got out which means he’s probably looking for revenge. Where better to hide out than beyond the known galaxies?”

Why it might not be Maximus:

“Well, he is the Last Inhuman,” he recalls. “And Maximus, being a notorious coward, probably doesn’t want to be hunted by godlike alien creatures for the rest of his short life. If there’s a ticket home, Maximus wants it.”

Why it might be Noh-Varr:

“Similarly, just because we know he doesn’t die–he’s the Accuser, 5000 years in the future–doesn’t mean he can’t miss the boat home,” asserts Ewing. “When we first saw Noh-Varr the Accuser, 5000 years from #5, he was in suspended animation in a crashed ship–did that ship fly to Earth from the Progenitor system, long after the events of ROYALS? Is that what made Noh-Varr into the big, bitter-looking badass we see in the far future? He had to get that duster coat from somewhere.”

Why it might not be Noh-Varr:

“Not being an Inhuman, exactly–although it turns out the Kree have a lot in common with them–Marvel Boy might not be inclined to stay behind in Progenitor-space for the cause,” states the writer. “He’s got his own cause to get involved with–seeing as the new Supreme Intelligence of the Kree is his old buddy Plex, on a mission to spread the Meaning of Love throughout the Marvel cosmos. So he might get on with that instead. Or not. Who knows?”

Why it might be Gorgon:

“Gorgon’s established himself at this point as the fighter, the one who leaps headlong into danger–whether it’s fighting Chitauri by the million on the outside of a speeding spaceship, or charging, powerless, at reptilian aliens who’ve stolen the abilities of the whole crew,” declares Ewing. “But he’s getting older–he’s still as strong as he ever was, but not as quick or vital, and the wounds of previous battles have taken their toll on him. What happens when he’s thrown at something bigger than he can handle?”

Why it might not be Gorgon:

“Gorgon’s not just a hammer to throw at problems–he’s family,” he explains. “If he’s in trouble, we can count on the whole team–well, except Maximus–to fight in his corner, with their own lives if need be. Not to mention that he and Medusa–his long-time friend and ex-Queen–have fallen into an unlikely relationship. Since Medusa’s giving the orders, that would probably make her a little less likely to send him to his death. Right?”

Why it might be Swain:

“Swain’s lost her ship, she’s billions of light years from her girlfriend, and she’s been questioning herself and her motives since Ronan trapped her in a reality of pure judgement back in the first arc,” the writer affirms. “She’s been known to idolize the Royals–would she try to prove herself to herself by giving up her life for them?”

Why it might not be Swain:

“I like Swain, and a better way to sort out her internal struggles would be, well, to go home and sort them out,” says Ewing. “Plus, she’s the pilot–can they get back without her? I hope not, because if they can, it puts her right back in the running.”

Why it might be Crystal:

“I’ll just come right out with it: Crystal takes on a Progenitor in #10,” teases Ewing. “She’s in battle with one of them–one of these spaceship-destroying, universe-shaping creatures–in an attempt to stop it killing the whole cast, and well… let’s just say she doesn’t make it out of that one without a scratch.”

Why it might not be Crystal:

“Crystal has a lot of motivation to stay alive,” he proclaims. “Like Gorgon and Medusa, she has a child she’s going to want to see again–Luna–and she left things very up in the air with Ronan. Plus, with her elemental powers, she’s one of the most powerful Inhumans. Powerful enough to fight an impossible foe? You’ll have to pick up ROYALS to find out.”

Why it might be Flint:

“Something is definitely going on with Flint, and it may not be a good something,” the writer reveals. “His arm’s turned to crystal–the same crystal that’s in the Skyspears–and he seems to be increasingly attuned to the Progenitor system, and the Progenitors themselves, to the extent that when he first saw the World Farm he called it ‘home.’ Given that Flint’s been searching for a place he feels at home, that’s troubling. Will he want to leave?”

Why it might not be Flint:

“I mean, looking at that, it’s probably Flint, isn’t it?” offers Ewing. “I think it’s Flint. It’d be a bit of a left turn if it wasn’t Flint–I mean, there’d have to be a pretty good reason, within the story, for it not to be Flint. Like, there’d have to be an in-story reason why Flint was the one person it actually couldn’t be. So yeah, it’s probably Flint. Unless it’s Crystal.”

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Al Ewing tasks the Inhumans with a fight for survival!

Meeting your creator can’t be easy. And meeting your creator in space with no ship, no weapons, and no back up may be an impossible task.

Unfortunately, the Royals find themselves in that exact position. Fortunately, they thrive on long odds.

On November 8, writer Al Ewing and artist Javier Rodriguez present ROYALS #10! The team, stuck inside the endless city-mind guiding the World Farm, meet a Progenitor—one of the members of the Inhumans’ parent race.

We spoke with Ewing about the Inhumans meeting their maker, losing hope, and why things can always get worse.

Marvel.com: Where exactly do we find the Royals at the start of issue #10?

Al Ewing: Well, they no longer have a ship. At the end of issue #9, the Astarion blew up. I won’t spoil how, or if, they get out of that one—except to say that ROYALS #10 won’t be 20 pages of seven frozen corpses floating in the intergalactic void—but it does leave them marooned in a dangerous and alien environment, with impossibly powerful beings who want them dead.

And that doesn’t even touch on Flint’s condition—he contracted something from an alien Skyspear and his flesh has slowly been becoming crystalline—or the unfolding events 5,000 years in the future, where a very aged Maximus and Marvel Boy deal with the fallout of the First Progenitor War…which suggests things don’t end well in the present.

Marvel.com: This mission takes them face-to-face with a Progenitortheir creator race. Do the Progenitors have an awareness of the Inhumans’ existence? What do they think of the Royals?

Al Ewing: The Progenitors also created the Kree, so they’re aware of that. And they’ve been monitoring the Inhumans—and their equivalents on other worlds—through the Skyspears, so they’re obviously keeping an eye on how their experiment has branched out.

As for positive or negative feelings…we’ll find out a little more about the Progenitors and how they work, but one thing that’s obvious from the start will be that these are deeply alien beings…so positive and negative feelings might not apply.

When they try to wipe the Royals out at a molecular level, it’s probably not personal. Probably.

Marvel.com: Given the scale of their mission and their lack of resources, the Royals seem really up against a wall in this book. But does this team become more dangerous the more they stare down their potential destruction?

Al Ewing: The Inhumans exist outside of the human world. Sometimes that makes them morally dubious—to put it mildly—and sometimes that makes them highly adaptable. If their backs get pushed against a wall and the gods of their gods are getting ready to slaughter them like roaches, the Royals will fight back in ways even they can’t predict…yet.

Marvel.com: Medusa, in particular, serves as a source of hope and guidance for the rest of the team. What makes her the potential key to the Royals’ survival?

Al Ewing: Even without her powers—her trademark hair—Medusa’s established her command of the mission. She’s gone from being Queen to being Commander; when she gives the orders, the crew jumps. That’s going to end up forcing her into some dark decisions as the ongoing struggle against the Progenitors wraps up, but the Inhumans have never been all sweetness and light.

Marvel.com: The World Farm seems like a massive, mind-blowing kind of place. How would you attempt to describe it?

Al Ewing: I’d describe it as a machine made of worlds—each with its own separate but interlinked task. We caught a glimpse of the garden-world, where Primagen gets grown, but now we’re going to see the “brain” of the operation—the city-mind. We’ll also take a journey to the power source: the sun-engine it all revolves around.

Marvel.com: How does Javier Rodriguez bring this otherworldly place to life?

Al Ewing: Javier—along with Alvaro Lopez on inks and Jordie Bellaire on colors—has been a wonder. I can provide him with a few short sentences of description, some bare ideas, and he’ll parlay that into a gorgeous vista that’s exactly what I wanted and then some. It all flows out of his amazing designs for the Progenitors—again, a short sentence or two extrapolated into something visually dazzling—which inspired me to go bigger and further with the concept.

Marvel.com: Considering all the factors in play, what would you estimate the Royal’s prognosis of coming out of #10 in anything near good shape is?

Al Ewing: Not great. We’re going to get injuries, mysterious maladies, ongoing health problems, Maximus acting up even more than usual, and of course, by the end of issue #11, our crew of seven will be down to six. It’s a dark time to be a Royal.

Witness the impossible task ahead in ROYALS #10, by Al Ewing and artist Javier Rodriguez, on November 8!

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Writer Al Ewing leads the team on a Marvel Legacy search for a lost comrade!

Sam Guthrie died. Everyone saw it. Everyone knows it.

Except…what if he didn’t?

On October 25, A.I.M. finds itself pondering that very question at the start of U.S.AVENGERS #11! Marvel Legacy dawns as writer Al Ewing and artist Paco Diaz assemble the team to find Cannonball on the vaguely nostalgic—yet wholly original—planet on which he finds himself.

We spoke with Ewing to see where the team has been, where they go now, and why Richie Redwood should not be messed with.

Marvel.com: How do we find the U.S.Avengers in the wake of Secret Empire’s upheaval?

Al Ewing: Well, in the wake of the Hydra takeover of the country, the U.S.Avengers feel badly damaged—Red Hulk’s developed some serious health problems after being ‘hacked’ by Hydra science, Dr. Toni Ho has given up her role as The Iron Patriot, and Cannonball has gone missing…and presumed dead. Meanwhile, S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn’t possess the power it once did, and that’s left A.I.M.’s status as a S.H.I.E.L.D. affiliate up in the air—which in turn led to unscrupulous government scumbag Kevin Krask making a play to become the power behind the scenes.

Roberto headed him off by giving up his Supreme Leader status—passing the leadership of A.I.M. to Toni—but that’s made him some powerful enemies and left A.I.M. and the U.S.Avengers adrift in the super spy community. And that’s when Smasher, the Shi’ar Superguardian—and Cannonball’s other half—dropped the bombshell that Sam Guthrie may not be dead after all.

Marvel.com: Issue #10 reveals that, despite everything, Cannonball remains alive. How does this affect each member of the team?

Al Ewing: This won’t be quite the last mission for the U.S.Avengers, but it does feel like it. Roberto, obviously, would travel to the ends of the universe—literally—to rescue Sam, and he won’t let anything like, say, giant 1920s gangster robots stand in his way.

But he won’t be the only one going along for this particular rescue mission; the whole team has a bond of friendship with Sam. Even the General, who reveals himself as the big softy we always suspected he was—and also reveals himself as someone who might be addicted to the power of becoming a Red Hulk, even if every transformation puts more strain on his increasingly damaged body.

Meanwhile, the search for Sam will be Toni’s first mission as head of A.I.M.—and she leads by example—but without the Iron Patriot armor, what does she bring to the table? We’ll find out.

Marvel.com: And what about Sam? How’s he doing lost out there in the big universe?

Al Ewing: Sam has no idea what’s going on, at first. Oddly, he feels fully at home in the alien worlds of outer space; it’s the strangely Earth-like atmosphere of Glenbrook that confuses him. He’s got enough of the old super hero instincts to investigate for a while. At the same time, he has a home and a family he needs to get back to; he only has so much patience for this nonsense. But when he decides to take his leave, will Glenbrook let him go?

Marvel.com: What can you tell readers about Glenbrook, U.S.A.?

Al Ewing: You’ve never seen anywhere like Glenbrook, U.S.A.! You’ve never seen any typical teenager like Ritchie Redwood, or his love interests Becky and Vanessa, or rival Gerry Mays, or his teacher Mr. Waspwind. Or Bugface Brown, who we don’t like to talk about any more, after…what happened.

Bugface Brown acted as a dangerous subversive, you see, and he had to be dealt with. All the filthy subversives must be dealt with. But let’s not talk about that, ha ha! Because talking about that would break character. And if you break character, Ritchie Redwood gets annoyed.

You don’t want that.

Marvel.com: How did Paco Diaz help to realize Glenbrook? Any further homages beyond the excellent cover by David Nakayama?

Al Ewing: Paco Diaz has a wonderfully lush line that looks great for the perfect ‘50s/’60s world of Glenbrook and for the outer-space craziness of the Shi’ar. I’m particularly fond of his command of expression—he’s got a great way with faces, and always nails the emotional beats. I’m also a big fan of his Roberto; Paco adds an extra dollop of suave sophistication to A.I.M.’s ex-leader that I always dig.

And yes, we can expect homages—and not just to classic teenage comics either. Fans of the X-Men will get some interesting surprises in these pages.

Marvel.com: What can fans expect from the team going forward? How does the team adapt to a new world after their Secret Empire experience?

Al Ewing: In some ways, we’re coming out of a rough patch into a brief burst of wild and wooly hilarity, a final fun-times adventure before…well, that would be telling.

But the Marvel Universe won’t give the U.S.Avengers much time to adjust to their new status quo. They’re going into the crucible, and they’re going to prove themselves once and for all—even if they end up with a memorial statue for their troubles. We’re coming up to the ultimate do-or-die battle, a fight for the fate of the entire world…and there’ll be no surrender.

Al Ewing and artist Paco Diaz’s U.S.AVENGERS #11 hits shelves on October 25!

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Writer Al Ewing illuminates the raccoon’s dark past!

The Marvel Universe can barely contain the story of Rocket Raccoon.

He’s done it all—from his adventures with the Guardians of the Galaxy, to finding love, to pulling heists with his own crew of ne’er-do-wells. And on October 11, writer Al Ewing and artist Adam Gorham present ROCKET #6, in which the smart-talkin’ hero continues his (not-so-successful) fight against rival rodent Castor Gnawbarque III!

We spoke with Al to break down Rocket’s past, present, and tenuous future in issue #6.

Marvel.com: Rocket’s changed a lot in recent times. How do you plan to reconcile his past with his current mentality?

Al Ewing: Well, I’ve hinted in interviews and in the actual text—in the “prose gutter” where we keep most of the narration—that Rocket remembers a little more of the old days than he lets on. We’ve actually seen him bump up against his past on Halfworld before, so this isn’t such a new development. But Adam and I add a little noir tinge to that—Halfworld feels explicitly like the Good Old Days in our book; the days that were lost and can never come again.

We’re leaning into the meta-knowledge that the once innocent, playful, fun character has become a hard-bitten sci-fi thief—we move forward, and that’s for the best, but at the same time Rocket’s lost something that he can’t quite define or put his finger on, and the knowledge eats at him.

Marvel.com: How much of Rocket’s old life will we witness as the series continues?

Al Ewing: We get deep into it in issue #6…I won’t get too spoiler-y about how the memories come up, but they provide quite a contrast between how Rocket used to be and how he acts now. Fans of the old Bill Mantlo and Mike Mignola series will hopefully be happy with the glimpse they get of some of the old gang—and our superstar artist Adam Gorham puts his all into bringing them back to life.

Marvel.com: What made you originally decide to tell a crime noir story in this series?

Al Ewing: When I got the call to do ROCKET, I’d been reading a lot of Richard Stark and that sat heavy on my mind. I knew Rocket had become a little shadier since the early days—and obviously in the films he’s a much more criminal character—so the idea of putting this little Raccoon guy in a suit and having him pull off stylish sixties-influenced heists really tickled me. And when the initial absurdity of the situation wore off, I started thinking about how interesting it’d be to get into the deep-down melancholy of this character.

Marvel.com: What traits did you feel were integral to bringing Rocket to life in this storyline?

Al Ewing: Well, they’re more Raccoon-centric than Rocket-centric, but I found out raccoons have excellent senses of touch and hearing, which pretty much instantly made me think of safecracking. But, as we’ve seen, he also applies that to listening to people.

In terms of specifically Rocket-centric traits, he projects a lot of confidence in this two-parter. Rocket knowing how to wear a suit becomes bizarrely integral to the plot. And his ability to take a good thing and screw it up also jumps to the front and center.

Marvel.com: How does Rocket handle the difficulties of his tragic past while simultaneously dealing with the Technet?

Al Ewing: The Technet are a fun addition to the book. You can thank [Editor] Jordan White for that, since he asked me to bring them back, which I was more than happy to do…in fact, my one regret is not thinking of it myself.

We’ve set up a will-they-won’t-they, flirtatious thing between Rocket and the Technet’s leader, Gatecrasher, but whether it’s all going to end well…well, we’ll have to see. Somehow I doubt it.

Marvel.com: What inspired the “prose gutter” format of this comic?

Al Ewing: The “prose gutter” became part of the plan from pretty much the very beginning. I’d done it once before in an old issue of MIGHTY AVENGERS, but, full disclosure, it’s not a new idea—it shares some DNA with a few comics that came before. ROCKET presented me with an opportunity to use the noir voice, but I’m sure I’ll break it out of storage in the future, as well—it can be so fun to write in that sparse, gritty style.

Marvel.com: With Otta Spice now in the picture, what happened to Rocket’s romance with Lylla?

Al Ewing: We set up Otta as the rebound fling from Lylla—Rocket has a “type,” essentially, and while there may be a height difference, we made them visually very similar on purpose. How much like Lylla Otta actually acts…well, we’ll find out. But Rocket’s certainly projected an awful lot of Lylla onto Otta in a way that absolutely can’t be healthy or smart. And I doubt I’m giving out any big spoilers when I say it all comes back to bite him.

Writer Al Ewing and artist Adam Gorham’s ROCKET #6 drops on October 11!

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Writer Al Ewing sends the Royal Family on an odyssey for survival!

The Inhuman Royal Family has emerged from a bitter war against the X-Men and Thanos only to lose their powers and doom their race to extinction—but hope remains.

In ROYALS #9, legend states that seven Inhuman Royals will journey into the unknown to find the Progenitors of their race, learn a lost secret that will save them all—and that while seven leave, only six will return.

On October 4, writer Al Ewing and artist Javier Rodriguez send the Royals on a search set to test the mettle of their family and shape the fate of their people.

We spoke with Al about the challenges ahead.

Marvel.com: What can you tell us about the plot of issue #9?

Al Ewing: I could mention the World Farm. The moment when we finally reveal the World Farm—the Progenitor base of operations out beyond the far edge in the darkness between one galaxy and the next—will be one of the most visually spectacular moments of the year.

The Progenitors are, at the very least, a Type Two civilization on the Kardashev scale—maybe even a Type Three, as we’re only seeing an outpost of theirs. (If you’re curious about the Kardashev scale, Wikipedia is your friend!) Suffice it to say, these are big, big dudes, and that’s going to be represented visually thanks to the amazing work of Javier Rodriguez, [inker] Alvaro Lopez, and [colorist] Jordie Bellaire in ways that will blow readers’ minds out of the backs of their skulls.

And from there…I’ll just mention “Judgement Day” and leave it at that. No Inhuman deed goes unpunished.

Marvel.com: What are the family dynamics within the Royal Family like right now? 

Al Ewing: They’re all over the place! Medusa and Black Bolt are each on their own journeys—you can see Black Bolt’s over in BLACK BOLT, which everyone should be reading—and when they see each other again, they’ll have gone through some…changes.

Meanwhile, the other Royals are dealing with going further and further away from home in different ways. Some are missing the people they left behind, others are drawn to what’s waiting for them out there, and they all have their own agendas.

Marvel.com: Why are the Royals looking for the Progenitors?

Al Ewing: They’re looking for Primagen—the prima materia of Inhuman chemistry—the original philosopher’s stone from which Terrigen (the crystals that gave Inhumans their powers, until they were destroyed recently) can be derived from. This isn’t a Holy Grail type of quest, exactly; there isn’t just one piece of this stuff. The Progenitors have plenty. This feels more like the Promethean myth—or Jack stealing the giants’ gold. It’s a quest into the halls of a science-fiction Olympus to steal a handful of fire and bring it to Earth. But, just like Zeus did not intend men to have fire, the Progenitors aren’t happy with the wayward products of an old experiment (the Inhumans) stealing even a handful of their power. There will be consequences.

Marvel.com: Walk us through the process of creating the Progenitors.

Al Ewing: It started with the basic idea of a new alien mega-civilization—creatures who could be truly worthy of being the creators of one of the oldest and most advanced alien races in the Marvel Universe. I gave a couple of fairly basic design notes to Javier…I think really I just gave him the relative size and maybe one visual signifier, and he did all the rest.

He came back with all manner of different designs, and we very quickly decided that instead of choosing one, we’d just use them all and have different “classes” or “types” of Progenitor for different tasks. That inspired more of their society and how it works. We ended up with something a little different to the other Marvel aliens—creatures that fill a specific niche. I think they’re here to stay.

Marvel.com: How does Marvel Boy fare in all of this?

Al Ewing: Well, Marvel Boy’s been around since issue #1, but after events that unfold in the latest issue of ROYALS (issue #7, which drops tomorrow), he’s in a better position to understand the Progenitors and what they want. And there’s another of the Royals who’ll be affected by the Progenitors in a way that I won’t spoil, but it will leave them significantly altered now and in the future.

Marvel.com: There’s an ominous promise: one will die. What inspired that?

Al Ewing: It’s a very mythical kind of beat. One of the things I wanted to originally go for with this series was to create a kind of “myth from the future”—a science-fiction quest based on the classical Argonauts/Prometheus model.

One of the cornerstones of that was the idea that some meaningful number would venture forth and one less would come back. Someone pays the price for stealing fire from Heaven, and there’s no shortage of likely candidates…

Join the search with ROYALS #9, by Al Ewing and artist Javier Rodriguez, on October 4!

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Writer Al Ewing discusses the raucous raccoon’s newest foe!

Rocket Raccoon’s been traveling around the galaxy for decades—and he’s come up against some formidable opponents in that time. He’s battled cosmic villains, alien races, and sometimes even himself—but he’s never had to contend with an anthropomorphic beaver that’s CEO of a mega-corporation.

Introducing Castor Gnawbarque III—a walking, talking nocturnal mammal that rivals even our hero. And in ROCKET #5, out on September 13, writer Al Ewing and artist Adam Gorham bring the two face-to-face…or snout-to-snout.

What else will we learn about this villainous semiaquatic rodent? We met up with Al Ewing in a secluded beaver dam to find out.

Marvel.com: I’ve got to ask… How exactly does one get in the headspace of a sentient animal?

Al Ewing: I haven’t really thought about it in those terms. I guess I have given Rocket some animal characteristics, in that raccoons have excellent hearing and a very good sense of touch—which ended up informing the comic a lot with Rocket being good at cracking safes. But mostly, I’m just writing an alien who happens to be Raccoonoid instead of humanoid, in a universe where a lot of alien species are some form of evolved animal. In a lot of ways, ROCKET veers into being a funny animal type of book—it’s the easiest thing in the world to describe a new alien as being like a giraffe or a warthog, and our superstar artist Adam Gorham loves to play around with what that might mean.

Marvel.com: Right! Rocket is so much more complicated than he seems. Is it difficult writing him?

Al Ewing: I think the challenge was reconciling the happy-go-lucky Rocket of my childhood with the very different character he’s become—and finding a way to make those two elements work together. And that’s the joy of it, too, because as soon as I understood that the Rocket of then and the Rocket of now are the same person, a whole chunk of his personality clicked into place. He’s a character who’s fallen a long way from what he was, which makes him very suitable for the kind of absurdist noir we’re telling.

Rocket (2017) #5

Rocket (2017) #5

Marvel.com: He’s definitely grown a lot since then. What do you think of his modern pop culture presence? Did it alter how you developed him for the book?

Al Ewing: Well, I was already far along with the Rocket book when I saw “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” but one thing that struck me in the movie was that Rocket carried a lot of sadness. His arc was all about lashing out, driving people away, dealing with his pain. And, yes, the movie Rocket is a very different character to the one we’re writing, but they do share that emotional core. Rocket’s someone who carries a lot of pain around.

Marvel.com: And how does Castor Gnawbarque III fit into this story?

Al Ewing: Castor Gnawbarque is the guy behind all of Rocket’s troubles…but at the same time, as I’ve been writing him, I’ve realized that he’s not a bad guy. Or he is, but as villains go, he’s a flawed, desperate individual trying to fill a hole inside him that no amount of money can fix. Essentially, he’s quite a small, paranoid man, driven by petty little neuroses. But because he’s so rich and powerful, his desperate scrabbling around for some meaning in life affects more people than just him. Without even thinking about it, he’s causing misery for a whole planet—and Rocket can’t let that go.

Marvel.com: Sometimes villains echo experiences the heroes are going through themselves. How do you think Gnawbarque and Rocket differ—and how are they the same?

Al Ewing: Well, obviously, they’re both small furry mammals and they’re both plagued by inner pain. But where Rocket is a raccoon—a thief—Castor is a beaver—a worker. In some ways, he’s been poisoned by that; work doesn’t make him happy, his damming projects are creating an environmental disaster, but he can’t stop. He’s driven by the ghost of his father—to achieve more and more, without knowing why. In some ways, despite the fact that Rocket’s essentially a failure and a guy who lost everything that mattered to him a long time ago, he’s retained more of his soul than someone like Gnawbarque.

Marvel.com: How does this adventure influence Rocket’s difficulty grappling with his identity and past?

Al Ewing: Rocket has to deal with his identity in a lot of ways over the course of this caper. We’ll see what remains of Rocket when you take every distinguishing feature away and who he chooses to stand by when the chips are down. We’ll also get a good look at how he deals with the ghosts of his past. Frankly, I’m not sure there’ll be a dry eye in the house when this all ends.

Meet Castor Gnawbarque III in ROCKET #5, by Al Ewing and artist Adam Gorham, available on September 13!

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Writer Al Ewing spotlights the latest threat to the Inhuman crown!

The Inhuman royal family has faced its fair share of villains over the years—and soon they’ll face off against another clan of nobles eager to usurp our heroes and assert their own galactic sovereignty. On September 6, join writer Al Ewing and artist Kevin Libranda for a showdown between the Inhumans and the Snarks in ROYALS #7!

These baddies, the monarchical leaders of an alien reptile species, certainly shouldn’t be underestimated. And just what will go down when these two royal families clash? We caught up with writer Al Ewing to find out.

Marvel.com: The Snarks have a ruling royal family, but one that differs quite a bit from from the Inhumans’ royals. Do the two groups serve as foils for each other?

Al Ewing: They do! It was kind of an accident how it happened—I was casting about for warlike alien races in the Marvel Universe that hadn’t been used much for a while and the Snarks fit the bill. I didn’t realize until I was already well into writing the thing that from the Snarks’ point of view, their royals are on an adventure into space to gain power—kind of a mirror quest to the Inhuman Royals—so it’s actually pretty neat that they end up bumping into one another like this.

Marvel.com: What motivates the Snarks? It seems like they want to watch the world burn, but do they have any other goals or priorities that the Inhumans can use to their advantage?

Al Ewing: The Snarks are warlike, but they’re not just rampaging aliens—their wars are mostly civil wars, battles for succession to the Snark throne. The last time Marvel readers got a close look at one of these royal intrigues was back in the ‘80s when POWER PACK was on the shelves and Prince Jakar of the Zn’rx had the bright idea of stealing Power Pack’s powers to assist him and his mother in usurping the Emperor—well, that’s something that’s caught on. Fast forward to the present and a faction of Snark heirs are roaming the galaxy looking for “weapons”—useful powers they can steal. And they’ve targeted the Universal Inhumans in particular.

Marvel.com: Compared to, say Thanos or Ultron, we’d consider the Snarks lesser known villains, but they still pose quite a threat. What makes them formidable opponents?

Al Ewing: This particular crew have already stolen Kymellian “weapons” before we meet them, which means they have all the powers of Power Pack—essentially, a degree of control over the fundamental forces of the universe. So when they enter the story, they’re already capable of giving the Royals a serious fight… And that’s before they start taking Inhuman abilities.

Marvel.com: Does their reptilian physiology give them any unique advantages or disadvantages?

Al Ewing: Not so much—like human beings, they come in all manner of shapes and sizes, and even within Prince Hyinar’s retinue there are plenty of different personality types butting heads. That said, this particular bunch are especially cold-blooded—and not just literally.

Marvel.com: Would you like to mention or tease anything else?

Al Ewing: I should thank everyone who’s buying and reading the book—it’s always very much appreciated. And to tempt in the curious, I should mention that over the course of this arc, two of the Royals are going to hook up, one of them is going to be changed forever—at least if I have anything to do with it—and we’re going to learn the secret of the Skyspears, in glorious, double-page technicolor! And with the absolutely gorgeous art of Kevin Libranda to feast your eyes on, there’s never been a better time to jump on!

Enter the fray with Al Ewing and artist Kevin Libranda in ROYALS #7 on September 6!

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Al Ewing reveals Rocket's latest partner in crime!

Rocket is back on August 9 in ROCKET #4 and per usual, the heat is on! Written by Al Ewing with art by Adam Gorham, our favorite trash panda finds himself in a pinch for some fast cash after his attempts to win back his ladylove goes horribly wrong.

So what’s a genetically-altered space rodent to do? Well, he happens to find himself in the same place as none other than the Merc with a Mouth, Deadpool. “Is that a bar? Is that a cell? All will be revealed,” teases Ewing. So when life hands you a crazed, possibly schizophrenic, semi-heroic lemon with a knack for shooting first and asking questions later, I guess you make some lemonade…and then rob the mob after you’ve quenched your thirst with said lemonade.

“Artist supreme Adam Gorham – who, as ever, knocks this issue so far out of the park it might as well be in space itself – asked me when we met in person if I was interested in doing a Space Kingpin and I’ve done my best to give Rocket that kind of adversary,” notes Ewing.

“The creep’s name is Cordyceps Jones, and he’s got a particular talent that biologists reading this may already have picked up on, that’s going to end up being quite a headache for at least one of our heroes,” says Ewing confirming that yes, he is a mushroom, because space. “One of the things I’m fairly proud of with this series is building various Swiss-watch space heists, and while the one in this issue is fairly simple, it’s probably one of the strangest. How do you steal a man’s brainwaves,” asks Ewing.

This issue also boasts a brand new omniscient narrator. “That’s right, this issue is narrated entirely by Wade Wilson himself, using the prose gutter provided, and giving it his best noir,” says Ewing. That should prove interesting considering the duo don’t really know much about each other. “All Rocket knows is that Deadpool’s an Earther, that all the other Earthers hate for some reason, and Earthers also seem to hate clean water and a livable climate, so he’s not going to care to much about that,” notes Ewing. However, Deadpool does care about Rockets lack of knowledge when it comes to hilarious pop culture references. “I mean that extended bit about the Evergreen Forest – pearls before swine, man, pearls before swine,” recalls Ewing.

The end of the issue does see our two friends – we’re using a very loose interpretation of friends here – going their separate ways. Wade back to his own story and Rocket on a quest for vengeance. “It wouldn’t be a hard-boiled noir space-heist furry mammal story without a little revenge on the big bad responsible for all the hero’s troubles…which, in this case, is Castor Gnawbarque III, a criminal CEO, and beaver, with his teeth buried in a tasty log of illegal activity that’s about to come back to bit him, like a beaver, because he’s is a beaver. I don’t know if I made that clear,” jokes Ewing. I don’t know guys, sounds like the guy pulling the strings might be a gopher or something…

Catch all the inevitable puns, guns and heroes on the run in ROCKET #4, written by Al Ewing with art by Adam Gorham, out August 9.

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