Zac Gorman has his say on the GLA member!

In GREAT LAKES AVENGERS #6—due out March 15—Big Bertha steps out on her own to face Dr. Nod and the Bod Squad, a group of villains who want to use her to sell weight loss supplements.

With this issue serving up a rare Big Bertha solo tale, we spoke with writer Zac Gorman about the character and her role on the team. Zac, how do you view Big Bertha’s role within the Great Lakes Avengers?

Zac Gorman: I think Big Bertha is probably the actual best choice for the leader of the Great Lakes Avengers. She’s the most capable and confident member of the team. Usually when we see Big Bertha, it’s within the context of the bigger team, but it sounds like in issue #6 you get to shine a spotlight on her. What can we expect from her, in terms of this solo outing?

Zac Gorman: Bertha has been a little one-dimensional in the past, but that always seemed like a shame to me. She’s the only member of the team with a real job outside of fighting crime and saving the world; she’s also a model. In our book, she’s a plus-sized model. She’s sort of merged her hero persona with her civilian one. She even changed her name. She’s found a balance that works for her. I think that’s cool. What can you tell us about Dr. Nod and the Bod Squad? What makes them the perfect enemies for Big Bertha to face?

Zac Gorman: Dr. Nod and the Bod Squad are sort of your modern snake oil salesman turned up to 11. In a sense they’re sort of a funhouse mirror version of Bertha. They’re really meant to illustrate the dark side of this body-obsessed, diet supplement industry that would have you risk your health to conform to a certain body type. Finally, like you said, Big Bertha’s always seemed like the GLA member who had the most going for her outside of the team, in terms of her modeling career. What do you think keeps her from leaving to pursue it?

Zac Gorman: The Bertha in our story has taken a path that feels more true to herself in becoming a plus-sized model, but there are challenges associated with that that she didn’t face before. Her decision cost her some of the clients that she had before, but it also gained some new ones. In a way, I think her decision to take her career in a new direction also involved some starting over. Sometimes that’s just the price you pay for doing what you really want.

Join Big Bertha’s adventures next week in GREAT LAKES AVENGERS #5, and then on March 15 with GREAT LAKES AVENGERS #6!

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Zac Gorman and Will Robson bring the Midwest's premiere team to Detroit!

Mr. Immortal. Big Bertha. Flatman. Doorman.

These names might not strike fear into the hearts of criminals everywhere, but they do excite fans’ funny bones. As part of the new Marvel NOW! initiative, the Great Lakes Avengers will unite once again in their own series thanks to writer Zac Gorman and artist Will Robson.

The team first debuted in WEST COAST AVENGERS #46 by John Byrne, who soon after sent Hawkeye and Mockingbird to serve as their mentors. Over the next 25 years, the team would make several cameos in comics like AVENGERS and THUNDERBOLTS, as they underwent several name changes and saw members come and go. 

Gorman and Robson shared details on the next chapter in the team’s history, as the GLA become legitimate Avengers and prepare to move to a new location: Detroit! How did each of you end up working on GREAT LAKES AVENGERS? Were you familiar with the team before you took this assignment?

Zac Gorman: I was familiar with them! Although, I’m pretty sure I would’ve never remembered Doorman’s name, which is funny since he’s quickly becoming my favorite. I’d write a Doorman spin-off series, I swear! I was actually working on another pitch for a Marvel project that didn’t pan out and so I was put in touch with [editor] Tom Brevoort, who mentioned to me that they were trying to get a new GLA series going. And weirdo, C-list super heroes are kinda my thing, so it seemed like a perfect match!

Will Robson: It’s all happening so fast! I was on STAR-LORD before this, which just ended its run, and was looking for new work. I sent emails out to a bunch of editors, and luckily Tom came back within a few hours with a whole bloody series for me to do! Both me and Zac are really keen, as we are both new to Marvel. It’s been a lifelong goal for me to get here, and I’m so ready to jump in head first on a monthly title. I really enjoy the whole process of making comics! 

As for the GLA, I read the Dan Slott run from 2005 and instantly fell in love with the characters. I think Mr. Immortal is one of the most interesting characters that Marvel has. He literally will be the last human alive; he’ll see the end of our race and our planet. That’s incredible! Although the team is very tongue-in-cheek, I think there’s still a lot of potential to rejuvenate them and bring them into a better spotlight for a modern day audience. The team will relocate to Detroit; what brings them to the Motor City? And how on Earth do they get reinstated as members of the Avengers? 

Zac Gorman: Those are actually sort of two sides of the same coin! It’s total luck that the GLA manages to get signed on as full-time Avengers, and you get the impression that Detroit is exactly the sort of minor, unglamorous job that the “real” Avengers feel comfortable giving a team like the GLA. What sorts of threats and challenges will they face as they move to Detroit?

Zac Gorman: I’ve spent the vast majority of my life living in the Detroit metro area, so the reason I moved them to the city was because I really wanted to work some of the reality of the city into the plot. So aside from the ridiculous super villain stuff, you have this background of real world, everyday problems like gentrification, political corruption, etc., which are all things Detroiters are intimately familiar with. That might sound strange, but there’s something about the tension between taking these ridiculous characters and peppering in this kinda heavy real world stuff that’s actually pretty funny in an absurd way. I think absurdity always works a little better if you give it something to contrast. The roster of the GLA has been pretty consistent over the years, with a few changes here and there. Who’s on the team in this incarnation? And who have been your favorite members to write and draw thus far?

Zac Gorman: All of the surviving members make an appearance, although not all of them are on the roster! The “big four” of the GLA are definitely back: Flatman, Mr. Immortal, Big Bertha and Doorman, but there are also some new members. I like them all, but Doorman’s dialogue is my favorite. In this book, he’s on the run from his responsibilities—which happen to be on this very important cosmic level—but he treats it just like we’d treat any job we hate. He’s lazy and self-involved and sarcastic; it’s just fun to write.

Will Robson: I love drawing Big Bertha; she’s real fun. I’m a big supporter of plus-size fashion and have friends in that world, and I’m loving the changes Zac has brought to the character. I also like drawing Flatman, as I don’t have to worry about anatomy! A book like GLA gives you the opportunity to look at the more humorous side of super heroes. What are some of your influences, both inside and outside of comics, as you approach the humor in the book?

Zac Gorman: It’s not surprising, but I watch a lot of cartoons. I’m a huge Matt Groening fan. I don’t think there’s any person more singularly responsible for shaping my sense of humor. I find influence all over, though. I still think NEXTWAVE: AGENTS OF H.A.T.E. is the funniest super hero book I’ve ever read. The GLA is a team of inherently absurd characters, created as more or less a parody of other super hero teams, but what I’m trying to do with the book is to take all that absurdity and contrast it with this background of mundane, grounded stuff. It’s that tension that I think is really funny.

Will Robson: In terms of art, I’m a very cartoony artist. The thing I focus on the most is my characters’ facial expressions and hands. There’s a video somewhere of Stan Lee and John Romita, Jr. chatting about “all you need in comics is good faces and good hands,” and I took that to heart. I’m always trying to draw a face where the audience can know exactly what that character is thinking without having to read a speech bubble. There’s a million ways to draw a smile, but the variables can change an expression in an instant. It’s what makes comedy so fun! It’s easy to draw the typical brooding hero, but the cheeky ones are a challenge, and a challenge I like!

In terms of influence, I love people like Ryan Stegman who never draw the same face. Same with JR, Greg Capullo, and J. Scott Campbell. These guys tell stories through their facial expressions, which makes the comic very exciting to read. 

Zac Gorman and Will Robson assemble GREAT LAKES AVENGERS later this year! Stay tuned to and our social channels for all the latest news on Marvel NOW!

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