Saladin Ahmed Goes Inside the Mind of Quicksilver
Editor Alanna Smith interviews the writer about Quicksilver: No Surrender!
Quicksilver’s super-speed and abrasive personality have always isolated him, but he’s never been truly alone…until now. Spinning out of the pages of AVENGERS: NO SURRENDER, Pietro finds himself trapped beyond the perception of friends, family and allies, waging a one-man guerrilla war against a monster that he’s not even sure is real in order to save a world that he may never be a part of again.
To prepare for this new adventure, we called upon series editor Alanna Smith to join Saladin for a deep dive into their shared love for Marvel’s greatest speedster.
Alanna Smith: In the first phone call we had about this project, I remember you asking me what I liked so much about Quicksilver. Now that we’re further along, I’d be curious to hear your answer to that question—what do you like so much about Quicksilver?
Saladin Ahmed: I think the things I’ve come to love about Pietro in writing him are sort of flip sides to the things that readers have long hated about him. I’ve come to see his standoffishness as a powerful story about living out of pace with other people. I’ve come to see his arrogance as a sort of dry old-world skepticism toward American super hero pluck.
Alanna: Coming off a book with a more straight-laced character like Black Bolt, is a bit liberating to be writing someone who’s, uh…kind of a tool?
Saladin: Well, a big part of BLACK BOLT was his coming to terms with what a tool he’s been! Pietro has a rep as one of the Marvel Universe’s hero-jerks, but honestly most Marvel heroes have deeply jerky sides. What is immensely fun after BLACK BOLT is writing an iconic character who likes the sound of his own voice.
Alanna: When we were still brainstorming, you called me up to say that the more you thought about Quicksilver’s impatience with the world and other people, it felt more like anxiety than anything else (which made me think, “Dang, guess I picked the right writer!”). How has that realization played into the story you’re telling here?
Saladin: Many of us who’ve suffered from serious, weapons-grade anxiety or manic episodes know this set of familiar physical & mental symptoms—racing heartbeat, sleeplessness, racing thoughts. Fury at everything moving so slowly around you. Having to stand in line or sit to get your hair cut can fill you with this surging terror but also this absolute rage at the tiniest inconvenience. Peter David touched on a version of this 25 years ago in a incredible bit where Pietro’s being analyzed by Doc Sampson. But where David saw super-speed breeding a contempt for other people in Pietro, I see it as having bred a fear of them.
Alanna: One of the things I love about Quicksilver is that his temperament really isn’t suited to being a super hero, but he does it anyway. Have you formed any theories about why that is?
Saladin: Well, one thing I hope to show in this series is that Pietro’s temperament might not be quite what we think it is. Pietro will spend a lot of time alone in this book and we’ll get deeper into his head than we’ve been in decades. What readers will find is not a cruel man. They’ll meet a man who literally rescued a kitten from other boys when he was a kid, but was then made hard by life.
Alanna: And most importantly—how do you think his hair does that thing? Does he sculpt those antenna bits with gel or is it some secondary super power? How?
Saladin: Gel. Lots of gel.
Read QUICKSILVER: NO SURRENDER, by Saladin Ahmed and Eric Nguyen, on May 16!
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