Gerry Duggan digs in on how his cosmic dream team gets along!

We’ve all seen the heroism of the Avengers and the X-Men, but another team always seems to have all the fun: the Guardians of the Galaxy. These seemingly mismatched personalities find themselves facing some pretty insane situations, and they’ve build deep bonds along the way. But as we’ll see in issue #4 of ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, the group’s interpersonal relationships can get a little dicey at times.

We asked writer Gerry Duggan for his insights on the ways in which each character’s personality and background impact the group dynamics. Rocket, of course, has a bit of an impulsive streak and, even though he has a good heart, he has a pretty salty attitude. Does this impact his relationship with the others?

Gerry Duggan: Yeah, I think so. Opportunistic beings are always good to have around; they’ll maybe be able to sniff out an exit strategy that you might not have thought of. In the second arc, Rocket will get a very surprising role on the team, and it’s one that I don’t think he would pick for himself, but it’s going to be one that he will come to really enjoy and relish. We’re going to see more of a focus on Gamora shortly, and she’ll get the Guardians into some trouble. She still has a bit of a loner’s attitude, even though she cares about the team. Does this affect the group dynamics?

Gerry Duggan: She definitely is not afraid to pull the group in the direction that she needs. And that’s actually what we’ll come to see as one of the driving forces of the first arc; her personal quest will either become a Guardian’s quest, or it will mean that she’ll have to leave the team.

The Guardians are, though, pretty rugged individualists. They do understand that they all have very different personal goals, even though they may be working side by side. So far they’ve been able to make that work. But I foresee a future where that may not always be possible with this group. Groot appears in his baby form in the book. How does this change the way they approach their gigs?

Gerry Duggan: What [“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” director] James Gunn and his collaborators have done is great. In our book, even though it looks very much like he might be a baby, I view the Groot that artist Aaron Kuder is drawing more as being diminished, and not necessarily as being a baby. And at the end of the first issue, we begin to see why Groot is diminished.

All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #4 cover by Aaron Kuder Peter Quill, Star-Lord, has a tendency toward sarcasm, which comes off as very funny at the right moment but I think it could also be perceived as inappropriate at times. What do you think the others think of that? Does it ever get in the way?

Gerry Duggan: There’s an issue coming up, issue #4, that really sees Quill grab the bull by the horns and attempt to [solve] a problem, and that’s maybe the Peter Quill that used to grab for the Cosmic Cube and that sort of thing. So he definitely has a mouth on him, and that can get him into trouble, but I think it comes from a place of confidence in his abilities. And it has served him well so far. In this book, we find Drax trying to remain a pacifist—what impact does that have on the group?

Gerry Duggan: It’s much to Quill’s chagrin. And it’s made a joke of by everyone but Drax. And very transparently, for me as a writer, it’s an opportunity for a couple of gags for sure. But it also is very much coming from a crisis in Drax, and a sense of insecurity that has taken hold of him since we last saw him at the end of Brian Michael Bendis’s volume. So something happens there that makes him question the use of violence. And I should say, he’s trying to swear it off—how successful he’ll be by the end of the first arc is very much up for debate. But we’ll reveal why, and eventually he will have a bit of a reckoning. But for now I’m having fun watching Drax try and balance on this beam. Would you like to mention anything else?

Gerry Duggan: We have our first guest issue coming up with artist Frazer Irving in a Gamora-centric chapter that will explain a little bit more about what Gamora’s going through. And it will really be the catalyst for a lot of story that is to come. It will really change some people’s ideas about where this story is going to go, I think.

See the cosmic heroes on display on ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #2, coming May 24 by Gerry Duggan and Aaron Kuder, then Gamora goes solo with artist Frazer Irving on June 7, and Kuder returns for issue #4 on June 21!

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Gerry Duggan helps us overthink Wade Wilson’s next move!

Wade Wilson returns to Earth on June 14 in DEADPOOL #32 written by Gerry Duggan with art by Matteo Lolli, and we’re all wondering if he’ll be adding that Hydra green to his could-be Christmas-themed wardrobe. Unfortunately for us Duggan remains stoically tight lipped about what’s in store for the Merc with a Mouth as Secret Empire creeps its way over, but he did let slip a few cryptic pieces of information that we will, of course, read way too far into.

First we set the scene: Wade and Steve Rogers showcase almost polar opposites. On the one hand you have the original Captain America, whose father died young but his loving mother raised him. Plagued by a sense of duty and honor he went on to participate in a super soldier program leaving him the epitome of an American hero: strong, handsome and just. While on the other hand, Wade rebelled into delinquency until he became a mercenary and, eventually, a participant in a super solider program that left him horribly disfigured.

But Wade has always looked up to Captain America and Duggan says the upcoming issue bridges that gap, showing readers what happened leading up to Secret Empire that affects Wade. “His moral compass definitely spins sometimes and he uses Steve as his true North,” explains the writer, “I think they’d both agree that he is at his best under the guidance of Captain America. That may not be the case forever, but right now he has no reason not to trust Captain America.” But what if Steve doesn’t point true North anymore?

Leading us to our first clue, Duggan let slip that Deadpool has already made some decisions that will prevent him from going back, if he chooses to do so, once Steve Rogers has his big Hydra reveal. “He understood there would be good days and bad, recently there have just been more bad, but he hasn’t realized that he bet on the wrong horse,” he reveals, “When Captain America says jump you don’t even ask how high, you just jump.”

Deadpool #32 cover by David Lopez

Duggan continues, “We know Steve Rogers is a bad guy, but you can have more than one bad guy. We’ll see how it goes with our choice of bad guys.” Oh man, I think that means another seemingly good guy but actually a bad guy mastermind lurks behind everything. You could assume that applies to Deadpool, “His best friend’s name is Hydra Bob, so if anyone would be comfortable with a status quo shift it would be Deadpool,” notes Duggan.

And our last cliffhanger: “The country is changing. Captain America is changing. We’re using the opportunity to change Wade’s life in a very big way,” tease Duggan, mysteriously adding, “You’re going to have to retitle the book.”

I can’t even begin to imagine what this means…it’s a self-titled book. Is Deadpool not actually Deadpool…do we find out that Wade Wilson died and someone has been pretending to be him? “He has a mutant daughter now so that can affect his decision making,” Duggan concludes. “The big thing about Secret Empire is what you’re willing to do for family; Ellie will factor in.”

Your guess is literally as good as mine in this case, so be sure to check out DEADPOOL #32, out June 14, and find out just what Gerry Duggan and Matteo Lolli have in store for us!

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Reflect on how she became the most dangerous woman in the galaxy!

In the upcoming ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #3 on June 7, the spotlight will be turned on Gamora. Many know her as the “most dangerous woman in the galaxy,” but how exactly did she earn that title?

We caught up with writer Gerry Duggan about some of the moments from Gamora’s past that have helped contribute to her reputation. Thanos raised Gamora and trained her to function as a weapon. She has moved on from that, but it still has to have an impact.

Gerry Duggan: Yeah, for sure. That’s something we remind people of in our book. We have a Gamora-centric issue of GUARDIANS in issue #3 that will complicate her story a little bit. But yes, she was raised to be a weapon and actually passed at taking her shot at [Thanos] at the end of the Brian Michael Bendis run. And so, what does that do to you? So much of her life was dedicated to this vengeance that she sort of rose above. In our team dynamic at the moment, Drax is trying to turn away from violence with somewhat limited success, whereas Gamora seems very quick, at the start of our story, to embrace violence. And we’ll see why she feels that way—because of an experience that she had after she left Earth—so I’m excited to see what readers think of that. She’s the sole surviving member of her species, which must mess with her head.

Gerry Duggan: Oh yeah. There are a lot of very interesting cosmic characters that are the last of their kind. And it’s tough because Thanos was not her only tormentor, of course. Her parents were attacked by a death cult and Thanos sort of rebuilt her. He had a perverse love for her, but really she was sort of a hobby for him. She was a creature who, rather than kill, he tried to mold into his own image. But at least at the start of this particular volume, we cleared out Thanos, I’m not writing him at the moment. But that doesn’t mean that Gamora has found peace. In fact, she’s suffering from hoping to have found peace and not found it. And this happens because she turned down the opportunity to kill Thanos on Earth. That raises other questions, and it’s like an emotional blockage for her. She comes to realize something pretty startling and dark about herself if it proves to be true.

All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #3 cover by Aaron Kuder She has gone through a lot. Brushes with death, having her spirit inside the Soul Gem, and more. This probably makes her more of a risk-taker, since other dangers might seem less severe by comparison.

Gerry Duggan: I think the experience of having died and come back to life would always change someone. It’ll be interesting, as we explore the repercussions of a resurrection. That’s something that you can expect to see in the future pages of GUARDIANS. Before her time with the Guardians of the Galaxy, we saw Gamora as a fighter basically out on her own, which probably contributed to her reputation.

Gerry Duggan: Yes, and I think the gift that Brian Michael Bendis gave her, the ability to transcend her sworn vengeance and turn away from that, may have some other repercussions. And you’ll see how she has changed moving forward. Now she has something to fight for. She cares about the Guardians, and having a reason to fight, in many ways, makes her even stronger.

Gerry Duggan: She’s willing to fight and die for her friends. That’s something you’re always going to want when you’re in a high-risk environment, and on a high-risk team like the Guardians. But you know, she will also be causing her friends some distress; not intending to do so, but it comes with the territory. You hope your friends will be there to get you out of trouble, but she’s going to be getting her friends into trouble, as well.

Try to keep pace with the most dangerous woman in the galaxy on June 7 with ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #3 by Gerry Duggan and Frazer Irving!

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Gerry Duggan gathers details on the eccentric cosmic being for All-New Guardians of the Galaxy!

In ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #2 on May 24, our heroes find themselves caught in a war between The Collector and The Grandmaster!

With the collection-obsessed Elder of the Universe causing trouble for Star-Lord and company, we take a look back at the character’s history. Although some may consider him just an interstellar hoarder, ALL-NEW GUARDIANS writer Gerry Duggan emphasizes the danger he poses to the team:

“His mind is operating on a plane far above our characters, and it makes ‘defeating’ a cosmic elder almost impossible, so I jumped at the chance to put our heroes between Taneleer and another cosmic entity, his brother The Grandmaster,” the writer relates.

The Collector debuted way back in 1966 with AVENGERS #28 by Stan Lee and Don Heck. That issue brought The Wasp and Hank Pym, in his Goliath identity, back to the team to join up with Captain America’s “kooky quartet.” Hank reached out to them after The Collector along with The Beetle—an oddball team-up for sure—kidnapped Wasp for his collection. Pym and the Avengers stopped the devious duo, and they escaped via a time machine.

His obsession with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes didn’t end there. He attempted to “collect ‘em all” in the years after that, running up against Iron Man, Hulk and the team as a whole. In AVENGERS #172174, we learn The Collector has once again kidnapped members of the group, past and present, in an effort to protect them from Korvac, a powerful being from the 31st century. His efforts in that story appeared altruistic, despite his devious methods.

“Well, it’s hard for us to apply our morals to a cosmic elder,” Duggan shares. “It’s not his immense collection that gives him power; it’s the knowledge he’s acquired—and that strength can be a weakness, too.”

In his upcoming GUARDIANS appearance, Duggan explains that The Collector may be willing to help the team in return for more knowledge: “Early in our first story, Gamora makes a gesture to The Collector that has unintended consequences for their relationship. It’s one of my favorite scenes that [artist] Aaron [Kuder] has drawn. I’m so grateful to have Aaron and [colorist] Ive [Svorcina] on this journey. Their work has been spectacular.”

Whatever his motives in corralling the Avengers, the Collector’s plan didn’t work as intended. His own daughter, Carina, posed as Korvac’s wife to spy on him for her father, and as The Collector tells the heroes about the threat, Korvac uses his cosmic powers to reduce him to ashes.

But that would not be the end of his story.

All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #2 cover by Aaron Kuder

In 1982, Marvel’s very first limited series, the original CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS, saw Earth’s heroes “collected” by another Elder of the Universe—The Grandmaster! The master gamesman had challenged Death herself to a competition, with the life of his Elder “brother” as his prize. Each contestant chose a team of heroes who fought three-on-three, with Grandmaster ultimately winning—and losing his own life in the process. Well, not really. Later we learned Grandmaster tricked Death in order to steal her power, resulting in the lady banishing all Elders from her realm.

The Grandmaster and The Collector would appear together over the years, sometimes as allies, sometimes at odds, like any good family.

“Family strife is the key to a lot of wonderful stories,” Duggan explains about why he chose to use both Elders in ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #2. “What do your characters want? What are they willing to do to get it? I’m speaking about both the antagonists and protagonists in this first story. The Grandmaster does seem to be the more aggressive entity. He’s also leaning on the Guardians a bit more than they would like—all in good fun, if you’re a cosmic Elder. It’s less fun to be a Guardian marching to someone else’s beat.”

The Silver Surfer and Galactus may know something about that. In the third volume of the former’s title, circa 1987, writer Steve Englehart and artist Marshall Rogers introduced several more Elders of the Universe, with Contemplator, Astronomer, and Obliterator joining the likes of The Gardener, Champion and, of course, Grandmaster and Collector. The Elders wanted to kill Galactus and recreate the universe, but the big guy doesn’t die easily. With help from Silver Surfer and the Frankie Raye version of Nova, the World Devourer consumes several Elders, including The Collector and Grandmaster. Instead of dying, though, they give him a case of cosmic indigestion and eventually escape his wrath.

The Collector would go on to run afoul of the Avengers, Silver Surfer, and Galactus again, and continued to play games with The Grandmaster. One competition saw Collector gather the original Defenders—Hulk, Doctor Strange, Silver Surfer, and Namor—and pit them against the Grandmaster’s “Offenders,” villainous counterparts to the heroes: Red Hulk, Baron Mordo, Tiger Shark, and Terrax. Following the 2015 Secret Wars event, the two Elders took over a leftover portion of Doctor Doom’s Battleworld, once again using it to collect heroes and villains, and make them fight in a new CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS.

In his most recent appearance, The Collector showed up in the pages of UNWORTHY THOR, wanting to collect the hammer of Ultimate Thor. He had already claimed Asgard itself, so why not? Odinson, Beta Ray Bill, and their allies managed to defeat him, restoring Asgard and destroying the Collector’s army.

While ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #2 will likely add another “greatest hit” to the collection, Duggan shares that another appearance by the character could possibly top the list:

“Not to redirect the conversation back to my own work, but The Collector has a pretty interesting appearance in DEADPOOL #30. That issue is an [original graphic novel] essentially—and it has very important threads coming out of it for the next year. The Collector has an important part to play. Wait until you see what [artists Mike] Hawthorne, [Terry] Pallot, and [Jordie] Bellaire have cooked up.”

ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #2, from Gerry Duggan and Aaron Kuder, reveals the Collector’s latest move on May 24!

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Writer Gerry Duggan spotlights the members of his titanic new team!

Following their stint grounded on Earth, the Marvel Universe’s strangest super group returns to the cosmos—with some serious trouble and an unhappy Nova Corps not far behind. On May 3, the team blasts off with ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #1!

Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and Groot head back to where they belong, led by the all-star creative team of writer Gerry Duggan and artist Aaron Kuder. The new series will be double-shipped, with character-centric issues set to enhance the background of the Guardians’ story.

We spoke to Duggan and editor Jordan White about heroic influences, team dynamics, and kicking off a new era of cosmic adventure. Gerry, in an interview a couple of months ago, you mentioned that you’ve been reading up on a few classic cosmic Marvel stories to get inspired for the new series. What books did you look back on? What insight and influence did they provide?

Gerry Duggan: From time to time I revisit some of my favorites runs. Like [Walter] Simonson’s THOR and [Frank] Miller’s DAREDEVIL. One of our biggest, saddest, and [most] messed up stories is simmering in the background for a while. Readers will know more about the coming threat than the Guardians. Walt took his time and let his Thor story unfold in such a way that we were dying to know who was forging that sword and why. When Surtur showed up, we were filled with dread. In our first arc we’ll reveal more problems than we’ll solve. In the past, there’s been a kind of family element to the Guardians—what’s the team dynamic look like when this new series kicks off?

Gerry Duggan: At the beginning of our story, it may not be clear why some of the characters are acting as they are. The stakes will come into focus pretty quickly, and a long emergency is going to need to be dealt with. The team will push and pull itself in different directions, and it won’t be too long before the team looks…different. You’ve mentioned that you might be looking forward to playing the narrative long game in this series; giving us visions of characters’ pasts as well as setting up their futures. What makes that such a fun way to approach and write a story?

Gerry Duggan: We’re starting several fires out in the galaxy that will threaten to spread. A few of the fires are being set by the same arsonist. That unknown subject will be one of this run’s big villains. You’re going to see some familiar faces turns up in some unexpected places. The past few years on UNCANNY AVENGERS and DEADPOOL I learned the value of the short, digestible comic books that become part of a longer mythology. It’s a meat and potatoes design, with some really big, fun, and bonkers ideas in the execution. I’m just trying to write fun scripts for Aaron Kuder and our other guest star artists. If I’m having fun, even as I write terrible things happening to good characters, I’ve found that the sense of fun is passed on. It makes it through the process and onto the page. Speaking of pages, wait until you see what is coming your way the next year. Truly epic and amazing pages are going to print, with even more on the drawing board. Jordan, as Gerry just alluded to, some very exciting news for fans is that ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY will be double shipped for the first arc with some character-focused issues in between the larger story. What artists can we look forward to popping up with the Guardians over the next few months? Which characters will be getting the spotlight treatment?

Jordan White: Doing 24 issues of Guardians of the Galaxy in a year is no small feat—and one we knew we could not physically ask one artist to do alone. That said, we were very committed to making sure Aaron Kuder got to make this book his own as the main artist of the series. As such, over the first 12 issues, Aaron will be doing six of our issues, alternating with guest-artists who will come in to draw spotlight issues revealing something big for each of our cast members. Frazer Irving is drawing our Gamora issue in June, touching on a secret she is keeping from the rest of the team. Next up, in July, Chris Samnee is drawing some gorgeous Star-Lord-focused pages as we speak, dealing with Peter’s ongoing quest. Mike Hawthorne is signed on to do our Rocket and Groot issue, revealing what happened to make Groot so very small. Plus, we’re gonna have an issue showing how Drax became a pacifist; and we’re also working on a spotlight issue for a new team member we have not announced yet! I think their joining the team will be a big surprise.

Oh—and so you know, we’re not going to keep up the alternating issues forever, just for that first arc. We’ve already got an artist drawing our next arc, so they can have five issues in a row after which Aaron will be back with five in a row, too. Lots of issues means lots of planning ahead. Thankfully, that’s something both Gerry and I have gotten good at. Gerry, one last thing—we know the Guardians are headed back into the galaxy in this series. What can you tease about the galactic challenges the team is headed for?

Gerry Duggan: The Guardians are their own worst enemy at the moment, unfortunately even worse enemies wait in the wings. Old cosmic foes. New cosmic foes. Hope you enjoy issue #1 and our Free Comic Book Day chapter on sale the first week of May. See you in space.

ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #1, by Gerry Duggan and artist Aaron Kuder charts its course through the cosmos on May 3!

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Gerry Duggan, Aaron Kuder, and more answer your questions!

Counting down with eager anticipation for ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, launching May 3? Let us help you with an informative and entertaining session with writer Gerry Duggan, artist Aaron Kuder, and editor Jordan D. White! Follow below for all the details!

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Gerry Duggan helps Red Skull bring the Unity Squad’s terrors to life!

As they say, courage doesn’t mean you have no fears, it means you take action despite the fact that you feel afraid. And in UNCANNY AVENGERS #20 on February 8, our heroes will have to do just that, as The Red Skull prepares to use their worst nightmares against them.

Writer Gerry Duggan explains what scares some of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes:

“The team has a mission for which they feel willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. They’re willing to die to win this fight, and take back Xavier from Red Skull. The fear that they probably share in common is having the Red Skull subvert them in this way.”

Of course, they each have their own individual terrors, as well, as Duggan outlined for us. And the Red Skull certainly won’t shy away from using them to his advantage…

The Human Torch
“When you have the power of fire, you worry that you’ll accidentally burn something that you shouldn’t. And we’ve seen some excellent stories featuring Johnny about this fear of his.”

The Wasp
“Janet has gone through the horrifying experience of having Ultron wear Hank Pym’s face over his own. And so in this version, she carries the fear that her life is not her own, and Red Skull preys on that in an interesting way.”

Doctor Voodoo
“Although as a magician he has always seemed to find himself in Doctor Strange’s shadow, he has gotten over that. But his brother has become his Achilles heel. He recently had to choose between an Avenger and his own brother, and he chose the Avenger because he felt so disgusted by what his brother had done to come back to life. Now, he feels afraid of letting his brother get the best of him.”

“Interestingly, Rogue asks Deadpool to stay behind as a safety switch because what’s wrong with his head makes him immune to telepathic coercion. So his fears will have to remain his own.”

“He keeps things pretty close to the vest, but he, possibly more than anyone else would, feels afraid of losing this fight and what The Red Skull having the chance to mature his telepathic control over Xavier would mean for the future. So he knew he had to come back and help win this one.”

Face your fears in UNCANNY AVENGERS #20, due out February 8 from Gerry Duggan and Pepe Larraz!

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Gerry Duggan and Aaron Kuder make space strange for Star-Lord and friends!

This May, April showers do not bring flowers. They bring weird, wild cosmic tales in the Mighty Marvel tradition.

We all owe it to the ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY series, written by Gerry Duggan and drawn by Aaron Kuder, which takes the intergalactic heroes back into space and twice a month besides.

We caught Kuder and Duggan, along with editor Jordan White, as they did the diagnostics on their space craft, so they made time to tell us all about put the odd back in the universe. From jump street in ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #1, fans will notice things are a bit different from where the previous series left the Guardians. Can you all speak to what readers might notice has changed?

Gerry Duggan: Even though the characters are in a different place in their lives, you are going to instantly recognize them, the ones that you love from [writer] Brian [Michael Bendis]’s run and previous stories and even the movie that will be arriving that month. We are starting with that core group of Guardians before we begin to slowly expand it a little bit. So you will know them.

There will be some mystery about why some are a little bit different though. One of the first things that you’ll notice is that Groot is smaller than he has been before and we don’t quite know why. That will lead to a big story for the Guardians.

Then, also, Drax is still Drax that you know and love but he’s not destroying as much anymore. He’s struggling with violence. Something has happened to him to make him question his role as Destroyer and he’ll struggle with that a little bit. He’ll have help struggling with it because his friends won’t be putting him in a position to succeed as a pacifist.

Those are the most obvious ones. Gamora will be struggling with something a little bit more internal but we have a story planned early on that will set the table for her and possibly kick off a quest.

But, the first story Aaron and I are working on right now puts the Guardians between two very large cosmic entities. We have seen The Collector and his collection and we know that he loves having the one thing in the universe that no one else can have but there is another wonderful collection out there. It belongs to The Grandmaster and he’s very quiet about [it]. He doesn’t see the need to advertise about his collection but he is definitely a rival and gets under the Collector’s skin. It is sort of “Trading Spaces” in space; not quite, but they are caught between two very large, very powerful cosmic entities.

I’m so grateful Aaron is here. Aaron is helping keep space weird and it has really been a treat to have these pages roll in. You’ve given me a ton to follow-up on, so, to start with, I’ll just focus on Groot. As I understand it, he’s experiencing difficulty not just from the fact that he is smaller but that he can’t regenerate at this point. Is that accurate to say?

Jordan White: Right.

Gerry Duggan: I think so. We don’t quite know why. They are starting to get a little worried about it. The Guardians might be a little slow on it because they have a lot going on but readers will understand part of the problem before the Guardians do. That’s always fun, the readers knowing somethings the Guardians don’t.

Jordan White: In the past, whenever he’s done this, whenever this has happened to him, he’s regrown relatively quickly. So yeah, something is happening that is not allowing him to grown back to his regular self. With Drax’s new status trying to be a pacifist, trying to abstain from violence, how does that change the dynamics within the team?

Gerry Duggan: One of the great things is having these characters grind off each other and be annoyed. This will be a real bummer for the people who depend on Drax to destroy someone or something in a given situation so they’re trying to respect the problem he is going through but it will be difficult for them to swallow this at the moment.

Look, it is a very real thing. There obviously will be some laughs out of it. It is way to have some gags. However, it really is something he is struggling with that he isn’t able to overcome yet. They’re his friends and they want to help him but they also don’t want to get shot because he won’t pick up a sword.

This is very behind the scenes, but it will also allow us to then focus on Gamora as she’s picking up more of the slack. Drax isn’t going to mind the body count as long as it’s not on his ledger. Aaron, from your perspective, to take a character like Drax who is so closely associated with physical violence, what kind of artistic challenge does that give you to portray him going forward?

Aaron Kuder: I guess, given the new design, the new look, that was really kind of interesting in terms of how do you—the way I’m attacking visually is how do you capture a violent guy who isn’t doing violence even though it almost causes him physical pain to not inflict physical pain on others.

He’s got to internalize it and then I have to represent that visually. That’s what I went for with the design. I find it awesome to make the bowling ball character into the stoic straight man character. The comedy there, you know?

I’m relishing it.   This book is also taking the Guardians back to space after a brief time stuck on Earth. To stick with you for another minute Aaron, is portraying space exciting because there are less rules or does that make it more challenging? In the process have you found anything particularly thrilling or exigent in realizing the world(s) of this book?

Aaron Kuder: Well, it’s both, to be honest. You can draw space and get away with nothing but drawing stars as a background, representing as little or as much as possible.

But if you are doing your job, you are worried about the story and you are worried about if what you are doing communicates as much feeling visually as you can. If you try to just get away with the minimal, it will show up in the end.

In a sense, I could slack off a bit, but actually, in all honesty, I can’t. It’s just not in my nature to do that.

Pushing the boundaries is a blessing and a curse in space. It’s just so easy to go with the minimal but when you can go for the weirdest, why not go for it.

All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #1 cover by Aaron Kuder

All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #1 cover by Aaron Kuder Is there anything you have designed so far that you feel particularly excited about?

Aaron Kuder: Yeah…I don’t know if I can talk about it though…[Laughs]

Well, you know, even just giving the Guardians a fresh coat of paint, introducing stuff with Rocket and Drax’s design and Gamora’s design.

Gerry Duggan: This is perhaps a smaller detail, but, at least for me, you can set these adventures anywhere. We’ve seen locations on planet and locations in space and I think—we discussed how there was a rival collection and it is located in a really cool place that you wouldn’t normally think of as a place that is a normally formidable area.

I think life is probably stranger than we can imagine so if we are trying to imagine as a group [some] pretty out there things, that feels like a distance we should go to sort of imagine, “When you look up at the stars at night, there is more up there than you can’t possibly imagine.” So there is nothing you can imagine that is out of bounds.

So we try to come at it with a pretty big mandate to make things weird.

Aaron Kuder: It’s a planet of puppies.

Jordan White: Approved!

Aaron Kuder: [Laughs] Awesome.

But yeah, very nice way of vaguely saying what I didn’t want to give away. How has the collaboration informed both of your styles and approaches to the work?

Gerry Duggan: I think I’ve always been excited to re-polish my work after the pencils come back with all the artists I’ve been lucky enough to collaborate with and with Aaron it has been the same way. Even if he doesn’t go that off book to tell the story, even if it’s close to the script, it’s always better in ways that I didn’t imagine. So it is always very valuable to me. We talk about the story, I go off and write the story, but Aaron is the one really “shooting” it. It has been really fun to get another crack at it after the art comes back because they have been so great.

Aaron has been good enough to draw a lot of really cool things in a short time, but I think this is his finest work yet. I can’t wait for this to be out there for everyone to see how cool ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY is going to be.

Aaron Kuder: Visually speaking, everything about this book hits all my happy buttons. Not just in terms of in space, but as a career. Something that I want to be known for in 10-15 years, down the line when people look back on comics they loved from their past, I want people to be able to say, “oh yeah, he always drew really great weird stuff.”

Gerry Duggan: I want people to look back and remember fondly the very comfortable coattails I rode into space on.

Jordan White: First class coattails.

Aaron Kuder: Ehhh…it’s more like business class.   Part of the appeal, part of the hook of the book, is that it is being double shipped. That points a lot of extra pressure on you Aaron. To relieve that load, there are special solo issues in between.

Aaron Kuder: Yeah. I’m doing the first two issues, then they come in with a guest artist on the third. Then it is tandem art after that. So basically, my schedule is as though it is a monthly book. I just have to work in tandem with whoever is coming on with the other stuff.   Gerry, can you speak to some of the stories we will get in those issues?

Aaron Kuder: Gerry’s drawing one of them!

Jordan White: No!

Gerry Duggan: Yeah, I’m drawing one which I’m very excited about.

Jordan White: No, I forbid it. It is not happening. [Laughter]

Gerry Duggan: No, no, look, I’ll be honest with you. We are telling a story that is a long game here. That’s something I think that has felt in planning for books like DEADPOOL, to be able to tell some stories that have some unexpected thread that return to the present.

Some of these solo stories will be flashbacks to the recent past. We aren’t retconning anything, these are flashbacks to stories between the end of the Bendis run and the beginning of this run that will answer some questions and raise other ones.

The first one is about Peter Quill. The others—for instance, we are going to see what happened to Drax to make him unclench his fists finally. The Gamora one I’m really excited about; I’m just wrapping [that] up now. That is a story that is almost flashing back to the beginning of the character in a cool way and will create a lot of future opportunities for stories. I think the thing that we are doing here is really set a course for the unknown of the Marvel Universe.

These are characters that get into a lot of trouble but that we would be in a lot of trouble without. This is a situation out in space with these characters, some of them are really unpopular. We’ll see the Nova Corps being reconstituted and see how unpopular these characters are in the universe.

Then we have some elements of classic westerns—a rival group of peacekeepers who oppose the Nova Corps rule of law. It’ll be kind of like the Texas Rangers and the U.S. Marshalls in a western. One force will not be any more valid than the other and that’s really fertile places to put characters to tell weird cosmic Marvel Universe stories.

I’ve had so much fun the past few months going back to re-read old cosmic Marvel stories that I am really excited to bring back old Marvel characters you have not seen in a while or new characters created by this whole situation.

I think if you want to see high adventure with these characters you love in a weird cosmic setting, you are going to want to hop onboard and go to space with us.

If we are having fun, I think that translates onto the page and we are having a blast.

Join the party with Gerry Duggan and Aaron Kuder this May in ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY!

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Gerry Duggan and Jordan White talk about blowing up Deadpool’s marriage and more!

You know the story: assassin meets Queen of the Monsters; assassin and Queen of the Monsters fall in love; Queen of the Monsters declares war on the city where assassin lives—a tale as old as time, right?

Well, perhaps not, but it has become Deadpool’s life in the crossover event Til Death Do Us Part. Spread over three books—DEADPOOL, SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL, and DEADPOOL & THE MERCS FOR MONEY—beginning in March and running into April, the storyline will test Wade Wilson’s marriage, his resolve to be a hero, and the structural integrity of Manhattan’s skyscrapers.

We caught up with DEADPOOL writer Gerry Duggan and editor Jordan White as they packed up their emergency supplies and they kindly spent some time filling us in on the blockbuster storyline. Where I want to start might be an odd place to begin considering we are talking about Deadpool, but I want to get serious for a moment. At the heart of this story is the relationship between Deadpool and Shiklah. From a writer and editor’s perspective how do you guys view their relationship? Within the story, how does each character view their relationship to the other?

Gerry Duggan: I’ll take a stab at it and Jordan you can jump in if I’m off base.

I think…look, there are days when being married is the best thing in your life and there are days when it can be work, even for the best relationships, right? For a lot of relationships. I’m happily married for coming up on 10 years and these years have been the best of my life.

The thing about Deadpool and Shiklah is that they…you have to really look at how they approach their commitments. Deadpool is a little laissez faire about commitments. Or can be on some days and then others—he’s so wonderfully consistent about being inconsistent. So, yeah, he’s not a great husband. If this were Divorce Court, I would absolutely raise my right hand and say, “Yeah, she made not a great choice,” in terms of a husband. But there are days when he was the only person she could’ve married.

Sometimes in romantic relationships logic doesn’t always dictate the decision making. There is heart and libido; they’ve burned bright but they have gone back and forth. This is not the first time they’ve fought and I think we’ve shown that when they are fighting that actually excites Shiklah. Everyone knows the sort of couple that loves to fight and this is the couple that loves to fight.

Jordan White: It’s important to remember that Shiklah literally married the first man that she met after hundreds of years left in a coffin. Now it turns out she really liked him. Again, if they had just met and started dating, it would’ve been wonderfully pleasant. Instead, they got married immediately to thwart an evil plan of Dracula’s. As most people who get married do. [Laughs] They got married for that reason and, you know, it’s good to thwart Dracula but it’s not necessarily the foundation of the most solid relationship in the world.

Now does that mean that they can’t be good together? No, they’ve had some great times. But it definitely means that…when Deadpool married her, he had no idea what he was in for and when Shiklah married him, she had no idea what she was in for. They had experienced each other, living on the road together and having adventures, but that isn’t what their life is.

I think Deadpool had no idea she was an actual serious queen with responsibilities.

Gerry Duggan: And that is very much at the heart of it. And the other thing is Deadpool kind of oversold himself. He arrived and said, “Don’t worry. I rule this place. I rule this world.” And she thought that was all very charming, “I’ve met the king of Earth.” He had to walk it back, “No, no. I meant culturally. I’m popular.”

If there was a quickie marriage lemon law, she’d have a case to get her money back.

Jordan White: When they got married, he had spent days and days with her, spending all attention to her, which is what a lot of early relationships are like. But at this point, he’s really more concerned with being an Avenger. Or taking care of the daughter he didn’t know they had when he got married. Or all sort of different things that keep coming up.

And she’s like, “Umm, I’m the Queen of this world, why are you not being here as my consort?” It’s Shiklah’s role as a queen where the inciting event of this storyline springs from. Much like Namor stories of old, man has overreached and insulted another kingdom and the ruler feels as though he or she has no choice but to strike back in retaliation. Obviously without spoiling things, can you give a tease as to why Shiklah has felt so offended by the surface world that she feels the need to declare war on Manhattan?

Gerry Duggan: There’s an inciting incident in the first chapter; Deadpool has been up and down with Shiklah for a long time now and what really starts the story off is about humans and monsters, no surprise, not being the best of neighbors. Shiklah has responsibilities as the monarch of the monster metropolis and that brings her into conflict with the surface world.

And then, because she is Mrs. Deadpool in some circles, that immediately drags her husband into it. And for the first time, perhaps, Deadpool has some big responsibilities and goals of his own, but also this largely ideal he’s chasing after, to become a hero. What is it like, internally, for Deadpool to be placed in this position where he’s caught between his love for her, his commitment to her, and these new goals he’s begun to pursue?

Gerry Duggan: I think he’s a guy who’s compromised by all these selections. Now there’s been a development recently, in the most recent issues of DEAPOOL, that will further complicate his life and decision making. For a long time now, he was anointed a replacement for Logan on the Unity Squad by Steve Rogers. In Deadpool, I think Steve Rogers saw someone who was at his best when he was receiving orders and was acting the good soldier. He focused a lot of that Deadpool energy to good effect in the pages of UNCANNY AVENGERS.

Now a lot of these things are fraying.

It would be incompatible to have a wife who is waging a war on Manhattan and an Avengers ID card and he knows he’s got to tie this one off. To broaden the focus a bit, this storyline will also feature Spider-Man and the Mercs for Money. How do they specifically end up getting pulled into this mess, as opposed to any number of other New York based heroes?

Gerry Duggan: Deadpool has their phone numbers, which is a huge bummer. We actually have a gag of Deadpool reaching out and ringing for help. Not everyone answers the call, but…

I should say Parker Industries, too, has a specific plot point that would’ve brought in Parker regardless of his connection to Deadpool.

Deadpool: Til Death Do Us Part by Reilly Brown

Deadpool: Til Death Do Us Part by Reilly Brown

Jordan White: Also, Shiklah is definitely making a bit of a ruckus and that attracts people’s attention.

They are people he has a pretty close relationship with. In SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL, him and Spidey have actually—well Deadpool has always liked Spidey a lot, but Spidey is almost starting close to respecting him which is interesting.

Then over in MERCS while they don’t all necessarily respect him, they do work with him on the regular. So they are definitely all people he can count on. Although, like Gerry said, there are some other people he was thinking he can count on that he can apparently count on a little less. How is it to write with Joshua [Corin] and Christopher [Hastings]? What has the process been like, to collaborate together on this project, to craft this storyline?

Gerry Duggan: It’s always fun to write comedy in a group and these are guys who are very funny.

But they are also writing very serious character stuff too so they’re wonderful additions to this team. As are the artists who are doing tremendous work. And Reilly [Brown] who originated Shiklah is doing amazing work on the covers. Tremendous, tremendous work.

I’ve always been very lucky on collaborators for DEADPOOL and that’s true again here. I always liked being surprised and having ideas thrown out there that I wouldn’t have had to make the story better and we’re really very lucky to have that again, coming from every direction. With the artists—Scott Koblish, Salva Espin, and Iban Coello—are they all paired with a specific writer, on a specific book, or is this some rotating around?

Jordan White: The creative teams stay on each book. So Gerry is working with Salva Espin on DEADPOOL, Joshua Corin is writing the SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL issues with artist Scott Koblish—Josh did the recent DEADPOOL: TOO SOON? series as well as the Monsters Unleashed issue of SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL—and then [for the] MERCS FOR MONEY issues we turned to Christopher Hastings who’s been writing GWENPOOL for us and taking over from Cullen Bunn for these, but it is the regular artist Iban Coello who’s sticking with us.

Gerry Duggan: GWENPOOL is so fun that it has been really neat to have [Christopher] onboard for this.

Jordan White: I love that book.

Gerry Duggan: Yeah, it’s great. A lot of fun. Have you gotten to see any of the art coming down besides Reilly’s covers?

Gerry Duggan: Yeah. It’s really amazing work.

Jordan White: It’s really really good so far. You mentioned the balance between Deadpool as a typically humorous character—that’s a trait that’s very important to his stories—and serious character work. From a writing standpoint—and an editing standpoint—how do you find that proper balance?

Gerry Duggan: Sometimes the jokes present themselves early, sometimes the jokes aren’t there until you are doing the lettering polishing pass and sometimes the jokes don’t show up at all, they just take the day off.

All these stories are about characters being portrayed as real people. Even though Shiklah is a demon and Deadpool is a superstar unkillable mercenary, I feel like their story, their relationship has a real feel to it. They have highs, they have lows. They love each other, they fight like hell against each other. It is Sid and Nancy-esque but it helps ground it. The gags sort of take care of themselves if you write a real story about real emotions, in my estimation.

Jordan White: I think Gerry’s been very good at that for his entire run, writing very funny stories that always have a real emotional base, a real—the ability to punch you in the gut. Like…one of the big ones was the issue when Deadpool was trying to find his daughter and the woman who gave birth to his daughter and he finds the woman’s dead body. He makes a few jokes but then it gets so serious and so upsetting and real. It was an amazing impressive issue and I feel like he’s pulled that off a number of times throughout the series and it’s always really great.

Yeah. Gerry, you’re good. [Laughs] What do you want to make sure the reader knows so they put this on their pull list because they are not going to want to miss it?

Gerry Duggan: Hmm…hmm…hmm.

I think if you are a Deadpool fan or a Shiklah fan or a fan of both, I think you are going to want to see these two characters who love each other very much but are opposing each other. I think you are going to see a story with real emotion and a lot of guest stars. We’re in the entertainment business and we have to entertain even when bad things are happening to good characters and I think we are accomplishing that here.

Shiklah’s arrival in the Marvel Universe felt a lot like—you know, downhill, out of control, no breaks. I think we’re capturing that again. This isn’t the death of Deadpool or the death of Shiklah, this is a new road for their relationship to explore. Even though not great things are happening to their marriage, I think they are great things for these characters and a lot of fun for the fans.

Jordan White: This is just the beginning of the Deadpool’s suffering.

Gerry Duggan: Those are the words Jordan has in stone outside his office, actually.

Til Death Do Us Part takes over Deadpool’s life and his books beginning in March!

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