Charles Webb caught up with writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, who give us an intimate look at what’s happening in Marvel’s Cosmic Universe.
Be sure to check out the newest adventures coming out of the cosmic Marvel U, with Realm of Kings and Realm of Kings: Inhumans #1, in stores today.
Charles Webb: Between space-hole ripping wars and genocidal emperors it has to be pretty rough living in the cosmic Marvel U right now. How much worse is it going to get?
Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning: Well, space is very big. There’s got to be a quiet corner SOMEWHERE… Of course, the official line (put out by the High Hala Ministry For Public Information and distributed by DataNet throughout the Kree Stellar Empire and the Shi’Ar Dependancies) is that we are entering a period of great stability and recovery following the Great War of Kings, a time of renewal and rebirth, where the great civilizations of the cosmos will advance together, in peace, under the wise rule of Attilan’s Inhuman nobility in the person of Queen Medusa. Having endured a time of war and privation, we face a new golden age…
But that would make for boring comics, right?
DnA: Recovery is going on, as the official press release excerpted above suggests. But the truth is tougher: Kallark is struggling to hold the Shi’Ar Imperium together and protect its interests without being overshadowed by the Inhuman overlords; the Guardians of the Galaxy and Nova are working their tails off policing the new border along The Fault; and, though they present a united face, the nobles of the Inhuman Royal Family are divided by loss, grief and duty. The Fault’s the big problem, though: a gigantic rip in space and time leading to who knows where, and out of which anything could pop. It’s a huge mystery and it’s a massive potential threat…to everyone (including Earth!).
CW: Many of the central threats of your previous events were old enemies made new or given new context (i.e. Annihilus, the Phalanx, the Shi’ar) but is it correct to assume you’re introducing something new with the first issue of Realm of Kings?
DnA: Yes…though it too may be horribly familiar. Readers will know exactly what the threat is…they just won’t believe it could be happening!
CW: There appears to be a lot of long-term plotting and planning on your parts to get your events to connect. How far ahead are you two looking with these stories?
DnA: The far future, baby!
Without wishing to show you how we make sausages, we tend to plan — speculatively — a long way in advance. The theory is if we get where we’re going, or the stories we’re engaged in take us to where we think they’ll take us, we’ve seeded the groundwork in for the next stage. Someone called it our “meta-story” recently. A meta-story probably glows, and when you say its name, the words come out in open case letters.
DnA: All of it. It’s surprisingly painful to do bad things to characters you’re very fond off. Even ruthless, hand-rubbing, cackling writers like us have trouble with it.
But with a skin-of-their-teeth team like the Guardians, it’s actually quite hard to pull off a meaty ending: a proper, satisfying closure to a story arc. The Guardians of the Galaxy are more likely to escape death by the slenderest of margins and ride the fiery bow-wave to safety while making inappropriate hand gestures in death’s general direction. So…stopping the Fault, stopping Adam Magus, winding up the time-travel epic…we decided we really needed that issue to be a proper chunky ending with satisfying closure, so that’s what we went for. And look what happened: a jaw-dropping body count, claret everywhere, and tears before bedtime. AND not even real closure after all, because- guess what?! That whole event and the terrible losses suffered is going to come back and bite us all on a part of the anatomy that should not be bitten.
CW: Nova was the standout character of Annihilation, and then you shed some light on Peter Quill in Conquest, and finally Gladiator in War of Kings. Who should we be watching in Realm of Kings?
DnA: Well, you should keep your eyes on Nova and Star-Lord. And Drax. Oh, and Crystal and Ronan. And Smasher and Hussar. And Darkhawk. And definitely Quasar…
CW: Gladiator is in a new position — a leader and no longer a soldier. Is he still seeing this as a temporary thing until someone better comes along? Or is he starting to grow into it?
DnA: If he can’t do the job well, no one can, and therefore the Shi’Ar Imperium is finished. And you’d better hope he does stick to his guns, because the threats are external and internal for the Imperium. Ancient forces want the Shi’Ar destiny to fork in a different direction, and they will be very difficult to stop.
CW: When we last saw her, Medusa still seemed to be struggling with Blackbolt’s death. She seemed to humanize him to some extent. But it seems like she’s lost something with his death.
DnA: She’s grief-stricken, and that’s made her seem quite hard and unfeeling. Those around her think she’s approaching the role of queen with single-minded determination and almost ruthless efficiency, a desire to “be right”, to get the job done, to not let anyone down, especially her husband’s memory. The truth is; if she lets her feelings out, even for a moment, she’ll be overwhelmed.
CW: Which titles will Realm of Kings be running through?
DnA: Regular readers of the cosmic books can look forward to some serious new fun and epic storylines that build on what they’ve already been enjoying. If you’ve heard about the cosmic excitement, Realm of Kings is a great place to jump on.
We’ll even explain everything as we go along… but bring running shoes, because we don’t stay still for long!
en words or less: what can your readers look forward to with Realm of Kings?
DnA: Here are some useful words in no particular order.
Massive Cosmic Horror Meta-story Combat SF Epic Heroic Imperial Cataclysmic (in space).
Space just got a whole lot darker.