EXCLUSIVE: Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders join Marvel's Secret Wars

If you've been paying even a little bit of attention to comic-book news over the last few months, you know that Marvel Comics has big plans for Secret Wars, the continuity-spanning event that kicks off in May with a main series by Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic and a host of tie-in series that will explore various Marvel timelines, realities and possibilities for the future. We obviously can't wait to find out how the events of the main series will change the future of the Marvel Universe, but in many ways we're just as excited about the accompanying series, because they seem to be offering creators a massive Marvel sandbox to play in.

So far we've heard about everything from a revival of the Old Man Logan world, to a Wild West adventure starring Steve Rogers and Tony Stark, to an all-female Avengers team and much more. Now we've got the exclusive reveal of another Secret Wars tie-in, a two-part limited series from writer Al Ewing (Mighty Avengers, Loki: Agent of Asgard) and artist Alan Davis (Excalibur, Uncanny X-Men). Prepare to meet Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders.

Here's how Marvel describes the series:

- Welcome to Battleworld -- where, in what's left of Mondo-City One, Boss Cage is the law!

- When the fascist futuropolis annexes neighboring Yinsen City, who'll stand up for Ho Yinsen's dream of universal peace?

- If you liked the Mighty Avengers -- you'll love the Mighty Defenders!

Spinning out of Ewing's current Captain America and the Mighty Avengers series, Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders restores Faiza Hussain -- who took the mantle briefly from Brian Braddock during Age of Ultron -- to the Captain Britain role and plunges her and a superteam that includes White Tiger, Kid Rescue, Hobie Brown and She-Hulk into a power struggle between two neighboring Battleworld cities.

We chatted with Ewing about the book's setting, how he chose the team and what readers can expect from Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders. Check out what he had to say:

Blastr: Where in Battleworld is your series set, and how did you arrive at that location for the story?

Al Ewing: We're set on the border between two smaller principalities -- I don't know if we're even on the map, unless there's been an update recently. On the one hand, we have the fascist futuropolis of Mondo City, originally invented by Jeff Parker, which is an analogue for a certain sci-fi mega-city I've written about in the past, one that British comic readers -- and fans of cool, cult sci-fi movies -- will be very familiar with. It's ruled over by the Bosses, who are judge, jury and executioner. Toughest of them all is Boss Cage, aging but still undefeatable clone of Luke Cage's grandson Danny.

On the other hand, we've got Yinsen City, from an alternate world I made up in Iron Man: Fatal Frontier, where Ho Yinsen survived the origin of Iron Man instead of Tony Stark, and used his own medical tech to create the Rescue Armor. His influence turned Marvel-Earth into a utopia of peace and plenty, peacefully colonizing space. As you can imagine, when Mondo City decides it wants some of that peace and plenty for itself -- all in the name of the law, or course -- the kind and generous people of the Yinsenverse are going to have trouble standing in their way. Or are they?

So to answer the question -- it's me writing things I've got a connection with, essentially. Which should hopefully make for some fun comics!

Blastr: You briefly made Faiza Hussain the new Captain Britain during Age of Ultron. What made you want to revisit that role for her, other than the obvious linguistic symmetry between “Captain America and the Mighty Avengers” and “Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders”?

AE: I just wanted to give Faiza-Cap another go in the spotlight. It was a bit sad for me that, because of the date the issue in question dropped, her timeline had already been erased when she got the title. So, since I had the opportunity on Battleworld to revisit old timelines and alternate universes, I figured that'd be one to come back to for another visit.

Blastr: How did you end up with this particular team? Obviously some are carryovers from your Mighty Avengers work, but how did the newcomers get to be a part of it?

AE: I was thinking about using a very small team -- no more than five -- and who'd be good on that team. It couldn't be anyone too powerful, so Adam (Blue Marvel) and Monica (Spectrum) were out -- but White Tiger doesn't have to be quite as powerful in the main series, especially as those amulets she's got on in this timeline are replicas. The real ones were destroyed with her brother. And I like White Tiger a lot, so she's in.

Fighting the future's toughest lawman, you'd need someone connected with the law -- hence Jen (She-Hulk). And then out of the newcomers, I've been having requests for Hobie Brown to join the team forever, and I figured if we were in Yinsen City, we should have Ho Yinsen represented somehow -- hence Antonia Yinsen, aka Kid Rescue. And then we've got Faiza coming in to rally the troops and bring the team up to five.

Blastr: What can you tell us about the main threat of this miniseries? What are the Mighty Defenders up against in their little corner of Battleworld?

AE: It's a straight land-grab. Yinsen City, being a chunk of a sustainable, environmentally conscious future, has a load of infrastructure built in -- solar panels, vertical farms, water purification, etc. They can sustain their small population indefinitely. Mondo City, meanwhile, isn't quite as well laid out -- all they've got in their surviving chunk is prisons, armories and a whole lot of gun-wielding supercops. And their law, which says that they're in their rights to maintain the well-being of their citizenry by any means necessary -- including invading neighboring territory.

Blastr: You’re touching on the Age of Ultron timeline with Captain Britain, but you’re also playing with the Boss Cage timeline with this miniseries. How did those two come together as you developed this story?

AE: Well, the Boss Cage timeline came first in my thinking. It's no secret to anyone that I'm a huge fan of Judge Dredd. I've worked on the strip many times -- in fact, I have a Dredd story running in the Judge Dredd Megazine right now. So naturally, I would heartily recommend that anyone interested in this story or in good comics in general picks up some Dredd. Right now! If you've not read Dredd, particularly the Wagner Dredd, you're missing out on some of the very best sci-fi satire/action/drama ever written.

But back to Marvel ... the Boss Cage timeline is a callback to Jeff Parker's Thunderbolts run. I loved it, and when I heard about the Battleworld concept and was asked what kind of alternate worlds and timelines I was interested in, that was where my mind went immediately, not least because of the Cage connection. Then I thought -- well, who'd fight this Dredd analogue? Captain Britain. And then I liked the idea of the Yinsen What-If too much not to want to come back to that, and here we are.

Blastr: What was it like collaborating with Alan Davis, who has such a history with Captain Britain, on this book?

AE: It's early days yet, but he's been an absolute joy to work with when it comes to the Ultron Forever book, coming out in April. Seeing his gorgeous art come through the pipeline is always a highlight of my day, and knowing he's on this book -- an accomplished writer as well as a brilliant artist -- really forces me to raise my game and make this the best two-parter it could possibly be. It's an extra incentive to make this something absolutely special and joyous.

Blastr: Secret Wars is obviously a very ambitious, very far-reaching event for Marvel. What was it like diving into this complex network of stories, and how much freedom were you given to play with these characters and this segment of Battleworld?

AE: Well, I'm fairly out of the way of things, so I've pretty much got total freedom as far as I'm aware, which is the way I like it. I don't think there's anything in my pitch that contradicts anyone else's, so I can just go off and have fun and produce a really fun, warm, beautiful book that hopefully Mighty Avengers fans -- as well as fans of everyone else involved -- will love.

Check out an exclusive first look at Alan Davis and colorist Jordie Bellaire's cover for Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders #1 below, and look for the series in comic-book stores this July.

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