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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why it might be Medusa:

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

Why it might not be Medusa:

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

Why it might be Maximus:

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

Why it might not be Maximus:

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

Why it might be Noh-Varr:

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

Why it might not be Noh-Varr:

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

Why it might be Gorgon:

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

Why it might not be Gorgon:

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

Why it might be Swain:

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

Why it might not be Swain:

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

Why it might be Crystal:

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

Why it might not be Crystal:

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

Why it might be Flint:

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

Why it might not be Flint:

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

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Al Ewing tasks the Inhumans with a fight for survival!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The war of the disenfranchised wages across the Marvel Universe with survival at stake. 

Bred by an alien race to be a warrior caste and possessing alien DNA, the Inhumans exist as humans possessed of incredible and otherworldly powers when exposed to the substance known as Terrigen. Living secretly, for the most part, among their fellow man, the Inhumans forge their own destiny as a separate society. Dig into the history of the Inhumans with these Marvel Unlimited comics in preparation for “Marvel’s Inhumans” heading to  ABC on September 29!  

Even when they’re not actively getting involved in major situations, the Inhumans seem to find themselves smack-dab in the middle of conflict! In this case, we’re talking about a major problem with the mutant community that actually started in THE DEATH OF X by Jeff Lemire, Charles Soule and Aaron Kuder.

Set in the eight month gap between the end of SECRET WARS and the ALL NEW, ALL DIFFERENT launch, Cyclops and his band of militant mutants discovered the Terrigen Mist that had been floating around the world proved fatal to mutants, including Jamie Madrox who died on Genosha when the cloud passed over. 

Death of X (2016) #1

Death of X (2016) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Enraged at the prospect of more mutant deaths, Cyclops and Emma Frost alerted the world to the danger posed by the mists and then set out to destroy both of them. It worked with one of them, but a major confrontation took place that lead to the death of Cyclops at the mouth of Black Bolt. 

Death of X (2016) #3

Death of X (2016) #3

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Well, sort of. As we learned, Cyclops actually died from exposure to the mist on Genosha and Frost used his image and her powers to make it seem like he still fought the good fight, even though he actually died very early in the series. Unfortunately, driven a bit mad by her lover’s death, Frost decided that Black Bolt actually killed Scott and demanded revenge.

All of this fed right into INHUMANS VS. X-MEN, which saw the mutants and Inhumans at peace while Hank McCoy worked on a solution to the problem with Iso by his side. As it happened, though, Beast soon realized that the cloud would burst, sending the contents all over the planet which would make it uninhabitable by most mutants. 

Inhumans vs. X-Men (2016)

Inhumans vs. X-Men (2016)

What is Marvel Unlimited?

While McCoy had been working on a scientific solution, Emma had been working on a more tactical one with the likes of Magneto, his team of X-Men, Storm, Dazzler, alternate reality Jean Grey and Fantomex to take out primary Inhuman targets like Black Bolt, Karnak, Lockjaw and the rest. However, they didn’t know much about the NuHumans who not only beat Old Man Logan but also destroyed Forge’s invention for saving the day.  

Inhumans vs. X-Men (2016) #1

Inhumans vs. X-Men (2016) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Meanwhile, the captive Inhumans in Limbo worked together to free themselves and then move on to the school. Meanwhile, Inhuman Mosaic infiltrated the X-Men’s earthly stronghold and took over Magneto’s body. Once inside, he also got a look at all of the X-Men’s plans up to that point, including where they kept Black Bolt captive before being cast out. 

Inhumans vs. X-Men (2016) #4

Inhumans vs. X-Men (2016) #4

What is Marvel Unlimited?

With attacks on all sides, a major standoff took place in Limbo as Havok stood next to the chamber holding Black Bolt right in front of Medusa. Cylcops’ brother initially threatened to kill the former Inhuman king, but soon stepped aside, acknowledging that this really boiled down to a plan between Emma and Scott.

Between that and Karnak’s own escape alongside Lockjaw, the Inhumans found themselves back in the fight. However, when finally appraised of the situation regarding the cloud’s impending destruction and the adverse effects on mutants, Medusa used the Terrigen Eater to kill the cloud.

However, still driven mad by the loss of Cyclops, Emma Frost brought out a batch of Inhuman-hunting Sentinels with Magneto still backing her play, but only because of Frost’s mind manipulations. Once he realized all this, he switched sides and essentially fought alongside Medusa and Black Bolt to take Frost down.

Ultimately, they succeeded in destroying the cloud, but the relations between mutant and Inhuman may never be repaired! 

Inhumans vs. X-Men (2016) #6

Inhumans vs. X-Men (2016) #6

What is Marvel Unlimited?

THE INHUMAN CONDITION

The Inhumans saw themselves facing a new world order after the events of IVX. INHUMANS PRIME set the stage for the franchise moving forward, launching into books like ROYALS, BLACK BOLT and SECRET WARRIORS. The first would find most of the Royal Family taking off into space to discover their heritage while the second found their leader somewhat unfairly imprisoned and the final featured a group fighting against Hydra-Cap’s Secret Empire!

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

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

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

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

We spoke with Al about the challenges ahead.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Writer Al Ewing 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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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 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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Al Ewing outlines the challenges that will change the Inhumans forever!

The Royals will be putting the jet planes, the islands, and the tigers behind them this April because they have decided to leave the world and its treats behind for the indifferent vacuum of space. Motivated by a sense of exploration and a need to find their roots, this collection of the Inhuman ruling class—and Marvel Boy—will depart terra firma for parts unknown.

It will, however, not be any easy task. Challenges await them in the cosmos and within their ranks. Difficulties that may derail them long before they even reach their first planet.

Writer Al Ewing took time off from reviewing his star charts to give us some insight on this team as we eagerly await ROYALS #1.

Marvel.com: To start, the first time we spoke about this series launch, artist Jonboy Meyers had just been assigned. Now the book is nearly arriving on shelves and you’ve worked with Meyers for a bit, how has the collaboration been? What about his work has helped you realize the tone you were seeking for the book?

Al Ewing: I like Jonboy’s stuff a lot; he’s got a lot of energy to his art that really spills off the page and gives the scenes a lot of extra crackle. He’s influenced the book in a lot of ways—for one, during the original design phase he provided a whole bunch of variant outfits for each character, and I think we’re going to end up using most of them—at least as starting points.

He keeps doing it, too. I just got some great art back with a couple of Royals in some very spiffy-looking space suits, fighting Chitauri on the hull of a speeding spaceship as it hurtles past Pluto. Also, that’s happening, we’re doing that.

Marvel.com: What about Marvel Boy’s skills or natural talents makes him the right man to act as the navigator for the Royals?

Al Ewing: He’s loaded down with natural and unnatural talent. He’s got all those cockroach genes, for a start, and his personal weapons system plugs right into the Royals’ spaceship in a way I think readers will enjoy. And also, he’s the guy who knows where they’re going and what they’re going for, heading to Hala for a secret only he knows about.

Wait, only he? No, there might be another crew member who has an understanding of it—and it’s not who we think it is.

Marvel.com: In this launching of their journey, staying away from spoilers as best as you can/want to, what are some of the immediate obstacles the Royals may encounter?

Al Ewing: Death lays a bony paw on one of the team pretty much immediately. Is this the same team member who won’t come back? Who can say? It’s all riddles from me at this point.

In terms of something we can be a bit more certain about in an interview context, I mentioned Chitauri earlier. We’re not so much tying-in with Secret Empire as glancing off it at an angle—Medusa and company fly face first into the oncoming Chitauri wave as it heads for Earth. How they get out of that one is going to be one of the big Marvel moments people remember—I’m pretty confident about that—and from there, we leap right into a look into Black Bolt’s past and the uncomfortable secret he’s been keeping. So all kinds of shenanigans.

Marvel.com: Briefly, if you would, please run down each team member and their motivations for going into space and opinion about taking the journey?

Al Ewing: This is going to be super brief, so hold onto your hat.

Black Bolt’s got a secret.

Medusa’s out of options.

Gorgon needs to fight.

Crystal has her duty.

Flint is looking.

Swain is finding.

And Marvel Boy is doing it all for his oldest friend.

Also: we’re going deep into alchemical territory. I’m doing a lot of research on a lot of pretty esoteric stuff, and everything I find makes more connections.

Al Ewing and Jonboy Meyers’ ROYALS #1 heads your way on April 5, with issue #2 nipping at its heels on April 19!

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Al Ewing runs down the regal cast of his new comic!

In the upcoming ROYALS #1 on April 5, we’ll see the Inhuman royal family embarking on an epic journey, along with Marvel Boy, to save their people. They’ll travel through galaxies and dimensions, maybe even changing the course of Inhuman destiny.

With stakes this high, what does each of these characters bring to the table? We sat down with writer Al Ewing, who gave us a little background on each member of the family.

MEDUSA
“The Queen of the Inhumans, with living, super-strong hair that she can control and direct to perform some frankly astonishing feats,” recaps Ewing. “But the end of IvX will take a toll on her, and she’ll go through some more changes from the very first issue of ROYALS. Will she still be the same person—and the same leader—on the other side?

BLACK BOLT
“[He] is the ex-King, and Medusa’s husband—a marriage now somewhat on the rocks,” the writer cautions. “Black Bolt’s powers complicate matters; the slightest sound out of his mouth, whether a shout, a quiet word or even a cough, could level mountains. Also complicating things: his mad brother Maximus, the constant thorn in the Inhumans’ sides. What secret do the brothers share—and where will it lead Black Bolt?”

CRYSTAL
“Medusa’s sister and second-in-command; one of the more powerful Inhumans, with a measure of control over all four of the classical elements, earth, air, fire and water,” lists Ewing. “She has also displayed a powerful talent for diplomacy, which could serve the Royals well on their travels. Except that they’ll first stop on the dead world Hala, overseen by her ex-husband, cosmic powerhouse Ronan the Accuser. They’ve got bad blood and lost love between them, and it won’t end well.”

Royals #1 cover by Jonboy Meyers

GORGON
“[He] has served as a faithful man-at-arms for both Medusa and Black Bolt since his youth—and with his hooves that can shatter concrete and cause earthquakes with every stomp, he has done his job well,” the writer affirms. “But he’s getting older, and recent injuries have left him unable to use his gift—and some days, even move—without severe pain. But as a widower with an estranged daughter and a son in a coma—after he failed them both—he has become used to hiding the pain he feels.”

 

SWAIN

“Swain is one of the ‘NuHumans,’ an Inhuman bloodline that spread out among the human world, until the release of the Terrigen mists into the atmosphere triggered their Inhuman genes,” explains Ewing. “In Swain’s case, she gained a subtle control over the emotions of people around her. She hates her power, as she can never feel sure of any relationship—except with her literally emotionless girlfriend, Ash. But she also serves as the Inhumans’ top pilot, and a staunch royalist, making her the perfect choice to fly the Royals to the stars.

FLINT
“Flint’s life has been full of trauma: his adopted family were of a branch of Inhumanity that couldn’t survive contact with Terrigen, and they died en masse after the Terrigen cloud passed, leaving him as the only survivor, with power over rock and stone,” the writer recounts. “After that, he tracked down his biological family in a far-flung Inhuman colony, only to find he couldn’t belong. Flint is searching for something he can’t fully articulate, something that drives him into deep space—something that might make him the most powerful Inhuman of all.”

MARVEL BOY
“A Kree from an alternate universe of peace and plenty, who strayed into our reality, whereupon our reality shot him down and murdered his friends and family,” sums up Ewing. “Blessed with insect-gene enhancements and alien weaponry, Noh-Varr has tried to find his place with the heroes of our world before, but has always failed them, and himself; now he’s taking the Inhumans on a quest into space to find the secrets of their people, and his motives aren’t entirely selfless. Will he fail himself again?”

Attend the coronation in ROYALS #1 by Al Ewing and Jonboy Meyers, coming April 5!

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