It takes a certain state of mind to comprehend the work, artistic integrity, and sheer willpower to create a comic book event, especially one as massive as the cosmos-spanning Empyre. Building an event with multiple tie-ins — a veritable EMPIRE of comics — requires a special kind of skill, tact, and organization. Where is Captain Marvel?, is Swordsman still sword..ing?, What’s a Groot? All reasons why we’re excited to peel back the curtain and see what Tom Brevoort has to say about the development of the numerous stories spilling into and out of Empyre starting April 15th in this, the second-ever EMPYRE STATE OF MYND!
Below you’ll find questions from fans via our Twitter as well as our own (your Empyrical Emcees, David Brooke and Forrest Hollingsworth) about all things tie-in. Plus, check out exclusively below the Empyre #5 cover art by Jim Cheung and the Strikeforce #10 solicitation and cover art by Juan José Ryp.
We start off by asking Brevoort two questions, “What has you personally excited about this story, and what Dan Slott and Al Ewing are doing here?”
Tom Brevoort: Using what we’ve learned from working on the two Avengers weekly series, I’m excited to see the combination of Dan’s big, broad ideas with Al’s clockwork mind in putting together an intergalactic Marvel Universe story that can stand comfortably alongside the original Kree/Skrull War and the Celestial Madonna Saga. That’s the kind of story that we’re trying to make here. There are some particular elements to Empyre that have me especially invigorated—but I can’t really mention those just yet.
When preparing for tie-in stories how do you begin that process, do you take every pitch and go from there or do you build off the skeleton of the event and tuck tie-in stories where they make the most sense?
TB: As with almost all of our big storylines, we start with the core story itself. From that, somebody—typically the editor in question—drafts up a document describing the storyline and possible tie-in opportunities and that gets circulated to our editors and the talent. And from there, people come back to us with stories that they’d like to do in order to tie in, and we try to make sure that those storylines fit in with the overall Empyre events. In certain instances, there may also be things that I want to see done—like a Captain America series that’s a war book or a Squadron Supreme of America project to further spotlight those characters from Jason’s Avengers. In those instances, I get those projects created and then we attempt to line up the talent we can best bring those ideas to fruition.
Twitter user @LukaNieto asked, “What can you tell us about Captain Marvel’s role in Empyre? She has a let’s say rocky relationship with the Kree and Skrull; will that be explored as she becomes an accuser? And will she talk with Teddy about his father Mar-Vell, who was a friend and great inspiration for Carol?”
TB: As you’d expect, Captain Marvel will be playing a relatively central role on Empyre, and we’ll certainly be seeing the effects of his in Kelly Thompson’s Captain Marvel series, which will also be following up in a very meaningful way on the recent revelations concerning Carol’s family history and background. I don’t know that Hulkling and Carol are going to get all that much time to chat about Mar-Vell, though—Carol’s doing to be way too busy swinging that Accuser’s Ultimate Weapon for a whole lot of chatting.
@SGT_KILR followed up with, “Will the other Young Avengers have roles or just Hulkling?”
TB: While I don’t know that we’ll see positively everyone, a number of the other Young Avengers will be making their presence felt in Empyre. Wiccan, for example, is a central player in Tini Howard’s Strikeforce tie-in story—it’s a cracker!
Speaking of Strikeforce, check out an exclusive first-look at Strikeforce #10 and it’s solicitation:
THE SEEDS OF DISCORD!
Aliens are invading Earth, and after taking care of the exiled Vridai, this team is more than prepared to oust unwanted visitors. But their enemy is no delicate flower…and for Wiccan, the stakes are higher than anyone can guess. This is the single issue you’ll wish you’d read – so beat the regret and get on the Strikeforce train before it’s too late!
Writer Tini Howard
Artist Germán Peralta
Cover by Juan José Ryp
Release Date June 2020
Back to Forrest (sheesh, give other folks a try right?) who asks, “This will be the X-Men’s first big event since HoX/PoX, how is the creative team approaching adding them along with the wider roster of heroes in their current state?”
TB: We approached the X-Men in this series by letting the X-crew determine their role. Consequently, they’re not very present in the main Empyre series. But the two tie-in issues of X-MEN that Jonathan is writing and the Empyre X-MEN limited series that the whole X writing staff is collaborating on will both be important bricks in the road that the X-Men office is laying down. They certainly went all-in on taking advantage of the opportunity to showcase the fact that the X-titles are still a part of the larger Marvel Universe as a whole.
Next up, @teddyurge asked, “Since they’re always together, was Billy and Teddy being separated by Strikeforce part of the grand plan for Empyre? Or did Billy just happen to fall into Strikeforce (the book) while Empyre was being worked on, and it turned out that way?
TB: The truth is, a little from column A, a little from column B. Strikeforce was already being planned and the first issues had already been written when we sat down to block out Empyre and to come up with the whole storyline. And the fact that Wiccan and Hulkling were already off doing separate things presented an opportunity that Al, in particular, was keen to do things with, having written both of them in NEW AVENGERS previously. We might have gotten there anyway, but it was a lot easier to justify Hulkling leaving Earth for the Kree/Skrull Alliance in INCOMING given that Wiccan had been going off on his own missions with the Strikeforce crew for a few months already by that point.
Dave (Dave is allowed to ask as many questions as he wants, we like Dave) followed up with, “How do you coordinate with other editors to ensure continuity between tie-ins and the main event?”
TB: In theory, the main editor reads everything that ties in and gives back comments on it all to ensure that everything lines up properly. In practice, that process can get a bit sketchy, especially when books are running late and are under the gun. I will say that on Empyre, the secret weapon in this regard has really been Al Ewing, who have not only been reading all of the tie-in outlines and scripts and giving feedback but who has also been tailoring aspects of the central series in response to what he’s been finding in those tie-in stories. I don’t know that it will be perfect because no crossover of this scale ever is, but Empyre should feel a bit more connected across its component parts than some, I expect.
Followed by Forrest with, “Are you working closely with other non-tie-in authors like Hickman, too?”
TB: Really only when they need something—otherwise, I leave them to their own regular editors to manage. And Jonathan doesn’t need my help in coming up with a story.
Your AIPT Emcees wrap things up with, “All of these tie-ins are likely to explore the cast’s relationships with Hulking. Can you tell us about making a villain who is nuanced and relatable rather than abruptly evil? How about all the unique views the casts have of him?”
TB: Well, I’ll mostly leave this one to the story to answer, but I don’t think that Hulking is going to be behaving in a suddenly evil manner. He’s going to have good reasons for what he’s doing and why he’s doing it, and those reasons will impact on the Avengers and the Fantastic Four and the other characters around him. But part of the intention here is to take Teddy and raise him up from being seen as just a “junior” Avenger and making him a character who stands toe-to-toe with the big players of the Marvel Universe. But for all that he’s Dorrek VIII, he’s still Teddy Altman.
That’s a wrap on our second edition of Empyre State of Mynd. Look to our Twitter for a chance to ask Al Ewing (he writes stuff you might know like…Immortal Hulk) questions for our third column out Tuesday, March 24th!
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can browse AIPT ad-free, gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!