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!
Marvel.com: 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.
Marvel.com: 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.
Marvel.com: 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.
Marvel.com: 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!
Marvel.com: 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 Marvel.com and our social channels for all the latest news on Marvel NOW!