Published March 1, 2018

Avengers: Back to Basics Comes to Comixology

Peter David and Brian Level share hints about the limited series!

Image for Avengers: Back to Basics Comes to Comixology

In a digital adventure the likes of which Earth’s Mightiest Heroes have never seen before, writer Peter David and artist Brian Level are bringing AVENGERS: BACK TO BASICS to Comixology! And the six issue limited series begins next week on March 7!

A solar eclipse is about to hit North America—but this is no scientific phenomenon. Darkness is coming, and with it, a terrible and ancient danger. Can the Avengers avert this Ragnarok, or will the servants of death prove triumphant?

We checked in with writer Peter David and artist Brian Level to get the scoop on this brand new Comixology series! So, for some background, what’s the premise for this story?

Peter David: There are three plots! I wrote three two-part stories which, to me, seemed like the simplest way to go about it. The first one is some ancient Norse characters endeavoring to jumpstart Ragnorak, the second one is a Captain Marvel story except that Captain Marvel seems to have gone insane or has been replaced by a Skrull, and the third one is a time travel story with Ms. Marvel being shunted back to when the Avengers were first started. Brian, how did you incorporate the idea of “back to basics” into the art of this series?

Brian Level: Well, I knew that I was working with certain costumes from a certain era, but a lot of my reference was Frank Robbins’ stuff and older material that I really like anyway, like old Jack Kirby cells. I love pulling out that old stuff to look at action and how those older comics were framed out; what got me excited and got my imagination going. I wanted to strip down some of the more complex things visually, plus I’m a horror guy so I was thinking about how we could up the creepiness levels here. I love Steve Ditko stuff, I love Jack Kirby stuff, so I went back to those things that I really, really like to try to relate it back. These are the mid-2000s costumes, so I was thinking about what could I bring from then to 2009 but still keep it 2018—current and modern—so I was kind of trying to mash up a bunch of influences and aesthetics. I think that definitely comes through in the design!

Peter David: Good! Like I said, we have a story that’s set back to AVENGERS #4.

Brian Level: Yeah, the original AVENGERS #4!

Peter David: Right, and giving this a kind of old-time feel is exactly what the material needs. And Peter, how did you incorporate those “basics” into the story?

Peter David: Well, the thing is that I was approached to produce a group of issues that was supposed to cover six issues and my editors thought that I could do whatever I wanted in terms of how I laid that out. I could do a two-parter, and the second one could be a four-parter. What I decided to do is to connect the whole project to each other because back in the Avengers-whatever-it was-called-back-then that Ms. Marvel was in, the Vision gave her a pair of goggles that would enable her to see previous adventures of the Avengers. And I thought that was perfect! I set this up by having Ms. Marvel sitting in her bedroom, watching old adventures with the glasses and the thing that makes it interesting is that I make it clear in issue #2 that some individual is watching her doing this and has some nasty plans for her. So in the third two-parter, Ms. Marvel is watching the original Avengers and they suddenly turn to look at her and say “Who the heck are you?!” and she realizes that she’s actually there! And then we have Ms. Marvel interacting with the original Avengers which was very entertaining for me to write.

Brian Level: For just a second, I wanted to say that the scene at the beginning of issue #1 with her in the goggles, when I drew it, it literally felt like how I felt reading comics growing up. I thought, holy cow, this is how I felt—to just get so totally transported like that. Did knowing this was going to be a Comixology special change your process?

Peter David: In general I tend to write very very specific scripts anyway. I write in what’s called Full Script Style, where I break it down panel-by-panel and have all the dialogue in the panel so that the artist can figure out how the whole thing should run. I think it makes it easier for artists with me doing the basic storytelling so they don’t have to choose because I overwrote it and then they have to go try to get in there. Writing it like that forces me think about how the story is going to look.

Brian Level: But your panel descriptions were so succinct, too, so it makes it great for me. It felt like I could still be imaginative without feeling like I’m just handling logistics.

Peter David: Well, you know, I wanted to make my script so detailed that the artist should be able to have everything he needs for what he’s supposed to put into the comics page.

Brian Level: You’re very, very good like that.

Peter David: Thank you! There are some writers who are even more detailed—they start drawing layouts and that kind of thing—but that’s not something I’d be interested in doing because my attitude is, well, you’re the artist, if you can’t come up with better layouts than me then something is wrong! What about you, Brian? Any difference in how you created the art to be read on Comixology?

Brian Level: I’ve done it a little differently, like in the way that they do the panel-to-panel jumps. There’s a scene where somebody vanishes so I did this weird sequence of panels that were the same size and I would imagine that when readers jump to the next page it’ll almost feel kind of animated in a way. I also did some page design stuff so there’d be a splash when you see the whole page but then it goes back to the panels. I thought about stuff that I could do differently to play that up, but it would still work just fine on a physical page format, too—but Comixology does have the panel-to-panel thing, so I wanted to make it so that feature would pop. Peter, could you hint anything about the mysterious villain of the series?

Peter David: Why would I tell you that?! [Laughs]

Go to Comixology for AVENGERS: BACK TO BASICS, by Peter David and Brian Level, on March 7!