Vengeance, Marvel-style

Vengeance. The name was first teased by Marvel at WonderCon last week. We’ve since seen several teaser pics over the past week thanks to Agent M from – but they’ve all been just character concept art with no further descriptions or hints. Now, almost 10 days since that first announcement in San Francisco, a liveblog with Marvel revealed what Vengeance was all about, and while some guessed a little as its nature prior to the announcement, clearly things are not as straightforward.

For nothing is truly what it seems when it comes to the dark side of the Marvel Universe: its supervillains.

Essentially, claims series editor Tom Brennan, Vengeance is “an exploration of villainy through the eyes of the next generation”. Created by veteran scribe Joe Casey and upcoming artist Nick Dragotta, the 6-part mini-series focuses on the impact of some of Marvel’s treasure trove of supervillains on the young. With the events of Fear Itself wreaking havoc in the lives of our beloved superheroes by July, “burning” the Marvel Universe, Dragotta says this is “the kids’ response” – a new Teen Brigade.

Casey is no stranger to the Marvel Universe, having written for the company since 1998. In the very informative and exciting liveblog held earlier this week, he revealed that Vengeance is one long epic, running concurrently yet distinct from Fear Itself. The scope itself is vast, utilising Casey’s familiarity with a whole slew of Marvel characters, as well as some he’s responsible for creating including Stacy X from his 2001 run on Uncanny X-Men as well as a new Nighthawk from his miniseries The Last Defenders in 2008.

Apart from the character concept art for Stacy X and Nighthawk, there are also new characters that Casey and Dragotta want to introduce to the Marvel Universe. There’s a guy wearing Captain America chainmail, presumably the “Cap fan” referred to in the liveblog, Egghead from the Young Masters (of Evil) who made their debut in Dark Reign: Young Avengers, a new Miss America and a character only known as the Ultimate Nullifier.

Wait, what?

Yes, the one true Macguffin in the Marvel Universe is now a character, but will he (or she?) be a hero or a villain? No one’s telling.

Each of the 6 issues will feature a different supervillain by illustrator Gabriele Dell’Otto on the cover, and will focus on a different aspect of the Marvel Universe that are the traditional stomping grounds of that villain. The examples given were that the Doctor Octopus issue would deal with an urban setting, while the Red Skull issue brings us back to World War II. Presumably, the Magneto, Loki and Doom issues would focus on mutants, Asgard and Latveria and/or the Negative Zone respectively. However, it would seem that the actual supervillain does not show up – it is just his legacy that is being discussed.

The last hint given as to the nature of this series is a tenable link to the Acts of Vengeance crossover two decades ago. In that epic yet largely inconsequential event, the major supervillians from across the Marvel Universe gathered and chose to fight superheroes other than their traditional nemeses. For the first time, Daredevil fought Ultron and The Punisher took on Doctor Doom. There was also infighting within the villains too: in the classic Captain America #367 by the late, great Mark Gruenwald, Magneto took revenge on Nazi Germany by imprisoning the Red Skull in an underground bunker! The only lasting aftereffects of Acts of Vengeance was the debut of the ninja Psylocke as well as the original New Warriors, both of whom continue to impact the Marvel Universe today.

How will all this tie into Vengeance? It remains to be seen. Dragotta clarifies that for the series, it’s not about revenge, but the idea of wanting to “change the world… with a vengeance”.

On a personal level, the series does sound like it has a whole lot of potential, but there’s a feeling that it might be too much too soon. When Vengeance hits in July, Fear Itself would be racing towards an explosive climax and the idea of having another epic story starting up at the same time might only result in sensory overload for readers. Nonetheless, I’ll definitely want to pick this title up, consequences be damned – if only because it promises a new generation of anti-heroes, in the same vein as Daken and The Hood, when they were first introduced. Oh, and because it promises a new Teen Brigade, and everyone knows how influential the last Teen Brigade was to the Marvel Universe!

The truth is supervillains tend to get the short end of the stick, especially in recent years where lines are blurred and Magneto and Loki are now good guys and heroes aren’t very heroic. A big part of me longed for a proper Heroic Age, where the Avengers fight supervillains that are distinct and clearly demarcated, but all I’ve gotten so far is a whole lot of forgettable Bendis shenanigans. Vengeance might just be what I’m looking for, I just hope I’m not disappointed.

Peter Lin

His teenage years spent nursing a giant man-crush on Steve Rogers, the first Captain America, Peter naturally found himself drawn to many other heroes who depicted strong, manly qualities, including the honour-bound warrior Worf, first Klingon in Starfleet, and the muscular rock hard abs of The Thing.

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