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

  • Published: September 13, 2017
  • Cover Artist: Mike Mayhew

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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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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