It's official - the Avengers have fired up their latest weapons, a series of giant robo-style mecha suits that they're piloting to fight off an invasion of massive biomechanical aliens as part of the now launched Avengers Mech Strike #1, on shelves now.
Heading up the new storyline - which also ties into the impending launch of Avengers Mech Strike-themed toys, including several LEGO sets - is writer Jed MacKay making his Avengers writing debut, who teams up with artist Carlos Magno for this one of a kind blockbuster.
Newsarama caught up with MacKay as Avengers Mech Strike is making the scene, digging into the mecha and kaiju stories that form his Mech Strike influences, what it's like to write a story that will come with its own toys, and how it feels to tackle an all-killer-no-filler Avengers line-up.
Newsarama: Jed, walk us through the genesis of Avengers: Mech Strike. Avengers in giant-robo suits is cool enough – how did you and artist Carlos Magno wind up bringing the concept to life?
Jed MacKay: As far as secret origins go, this one was pretty simple - [Marvel executive editor] Tom Brevoort emailed me asking if I was interested in working on a mini about the Avengers in robot suits, and of course I said yes! From there we went about figuring out what the Avengers would need the suits for, where they came from, and what kind of horrifying threat they were up against, and we were off the races!
Nrama: What are the Avengers up against in this limited series?
MacKay: In Mech Strike #1, the Avengers come up against a mysterious menace that overwhelms their capacity to handle it... almost as if by design. This creature, dubbed a "Biomechanoid", presents both a mystery and a ticking clock for the Avengers - where did it come from? Who set it in motion? And, worst of all, are there more of them? And how can Earth's Mightiest Heroes make themselves ready for such a planetary threat?
(Spoilers: it's mech suits)
Nrama: Outside of the standard superhero comics, what are the influences you're bringing to the mecha and kaiju aspects of Avengers: Mech Strike? What are your touchstones for this kind of action?
MacKay: I came up on Godzilla movies, and that sense of scale- huge threats battling while the hapless folk below scurry away, is always in my mind when working with these ideas. As well, that super-widescreen comic style that you saw in late '90s/early '00s Bryan Hitch work is always an inspiration!
Nrama: We've seen a solid number of Avengers mecha suits already, including Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Black Panther, Black Widow, and Spider-Man. How do the suits play into the characters the pilot them? Are there any still unrevealed characters appearing (in mechs or out) that you can tease us on?
MacKay: The mechs serve a very specific purpose- their Vibranium cladding protects the Avengers from the Biomechanoid menace, without which they'd be up the creek (as they find out in Issue #1). We'll see not only the Avengers you mentioned there, but also the Hulk and Captain Marvel!
Nrama: Not to get too lost in the mecha aspect of the story, you're now writing the Avengers – and an all-killer-no-filler version of Earth's Mightiest Heroes to boot. What's it like getting into that headspace? How does it differ from your other Marvel experiences so far?
MacKay: Difficult. [Laughs]
I'd never written a team book before, and certainly at the power level of the Avengers! I'm the guy who writes Black Cat, Taskmaster - underdogs with pretty limited power sets.
All of a sudden I'm working with Earth's Mightiest Heroes (and Spider-Man)! It was a new challenge for me to come up with threats at such a scale to put the Avengers on the back foot, but it was an exciting challenge to meet!
Nrama: Judging by the limited preview art we've seen, there are some truly bonkers visuals in Mech Strike, as one might expect. What's your favorite thing Carlos Magno has drawn so far?
MacKay: Woof, hard to say. I think it's all the gnarly, gribbly, Biomechanoid stuff- when you see those weird cables and wires and Kirby krackle out there, you really understand how Carlos nailed it all.
It's not a book that's been real simple to draw- there's more cracking of heads than talking heads, but Carlos has powered through it all with such style that I'm amazed. There's a last minute addition to cast in Issue #5 that I am particularly fond of as well...
Nrama: When Avengers: Mech Strike was announced, it was also announced that the concept would spin-off into toys and other media. We've even seen some LEGO sets with Avengers mech suits already. How does it feel knowing you'll be able to physically interact with these massive creations you're putting on the page?
MacKay: It's definitely interesting to see things I've worked on branch out into other media- the Spider-Punk skin appearing in video games, for instance- and I'll be keeping an eye out to see what is done with the Mech Strike property!
Nrama: Toys and comics co-existing goes back as far as Super Powers and Masters of the Universe insert comics and the development of Secret Wars simultaneously as a toyline and the first comic book event, and even longer. How do you play that up while balancing the fact that this story has to stand on its own two legs?
MacKay: I've approached Mech Strike like it was any other project: what story can I tell here? What are some interesting and exciting things that we can do with this concept? How can we give people a real rip-roaring adventure that will make them come back for more?
If we succeed in answering those questions, in taking those answers and putting them on the page and giving them to the reader, then I consider that a job well done.
Nrama: As straightforward and badass as the pitch of Avengers in mech suits fighting giant aliens is on its face, what do you want fans to know going into Avengers: Mech Strike?
MacKay: We're putting on an old-school, superhero spectacle here, and I hope that people will give it a look!
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