Avengers are Occupied by writer David Walker
When a world's costumed champions have their eyes on the bigger picture, the plight of the average citizen can be overlooked. In October, Avengers veteran Hawkeye hopes to change that as he sets out on a cross-country journey to battle the injustices and problems faced by everyday people.It's head-shaking how they can force these rotten ideas on their cast of characters, all so they can have some kind of burden, no matter how contrived. And unlike the cast, the writers and editors won't be coming to terms with their own selfishness.
While he does that he'll also wrestle with lingering guilt over his role in the death of Bruce Banner in Marvel Comics' "Civil War II." It's a daunting task, but Clint Barton won't have to tackle it alone. He'll be backed up by an entire team of heroes that's also looking to make a difference while coming to terms with personal demons.
CBR: The title "Occupy Avengers" suggests you'll be dealing with a team of heroes interested in some more down-to-earth problems.I don't think Walker or anybody else at Marvel cares to make sense of what they're doing now. Besides, who says the Avengers never got involved in everyday issues? I'm sure there were some where the cast did, even if not as a group. Oh, and when did the Occupy movement ever actually defend the residents of Flint? All they did was cause a lot of grimy nastiness. Walker just refuses to acknowledge reality.
David Walker: This is a post-"Civil War II" book. Most people at this point know what Clint Barton did in that event, in terms of the fate of Bruce Banner and the Hulk. This book takes place after all of that, and Clint is in this sort of weird existential malaise. Within the hero community, he's seen as someone who's betrayed the cause, and with everyday people, he's like the ultimate hero. He's David who slew Goliath.
He's not only trying to atone for what he's done and make sense of it, he's also out there trying to make sense of where he fits in. In the process he keeps running into everyday people who have real-life problems -- the sort of problems that the Avengers don't normally get involved with. He begins to form a team that's tackling what we'd call, for lack of a better term, everyday issues.
I use that term hesitantly because sometimes everyday issues are critical life-and-death issues. You live in Michigan, and I was just reading about the court decision in the Flint water fiasco. That should not be an everyday issue. Those are the sorts of things that Hawkeye -- or Clint Barton, I should say, because he's really more Clint than Hawkeye at this point -- finds himself getting caught up in. He's representing and protecting the underdog. Or, for lack of a better term, that 99 percentile that is sort of synonymous with the Occupy movement; the people who are often trod upon, can't protect themselves, and don't feel like they're being protected because of things like corporate interests or political corruption.
When you add superheroes, who engage in direct action, to complex social problems that involve listening and evaluating options, sometimes unintended consequences result. Is that something we'll see in "Occupy Avengers?"Oh please. As if wealthy can't be creative. William Marston, creator of Wonder Woman, was one of the richer folks working in the Golden Age, and I'm sure there's been some other people from wealthy backgrounds who've worked in comicdom since. Let's also consider that some poor people have succeeded in becoming rich from their ideas, and to suggest they don't is ridiculous. On an almost similar note, it's laughable if he wouldn't put superpowered heroes in the cast of this series, as if superpowers literally make it impossible to relate. All he's doing is compounding an exaggerated claim that superpowers are some kind of hinderance.
Yeah. We're sort of tackling things in comic book form, meaning we have a limited amount of real estate and a limited amount of panels and pages to tell stories. You can't fix a real-life problem in 20 pages. A lot of it is broad strokes, and a lot of it is sort of wish fulfillment for the readers. Because that's what I think a lot of superhero comic books are all about; trying to find wish fulfillment, trying to find justice or equality when we're not getting it in our everyday lives. That's where the escapism part of it is.
It's been an interesting challenge as a writer, because I'm looking at some of the issues that this team is going to be wrestling with, and a lot of them are very similar to the issues that we're wrestling with in everyday life, but there are no simple answers.
It's interesting to me because I remember the shock that I felt during 9-11 when the plane hit the first tower. Then the second plane hit, and I was working at a newspaper at the time, so we were watching it all happen, trying to figure how to report on what seemed like the end of the world. I remember one of my co-workers saying, "I just keep expecting Superman to show up and save the day." This is almost 15 years ago now, and I remember thinking, "That's how much superheroes and the solutions they provide have ingrained themselves in our thought processes." When real-life tragedy strikes, we're actually surprised that Spider-Man and the Avengers don't show up.
In real life that doesn't happen. So it's been an interesting challenge to write a book where the superheroes can show up and save the day, but trying to keep it more grounded in reality in that they're not always successful.
There are no super-powered beings on the "Occupy Avengers" team. They are highly skilled and highly dedicated people, but there are no gods, goddesses, mutants, Inhumans or anything like that on the team. So that also plays into the Occupy movement which was about everyday people. It's the 99 percent who aren't rich, who can't buy they're way out of some of the problems that they have. America is often a country that's built upon ingenuity and necessity. Those concepts are often dictated by the poorest and most oppressed people.
That's how people become skilled. That's how people invent some of the most important inventions of the last two or three centuries. That's part of what we're playing with as well.
Interesting Walker admits, at least in theory, that all these superheroes in themselves are fictional creations, because a lot of the folks he's working with don't, and some of the editors/writers at Marvel act like Mary Jane Watson is real and at fault for all supposed irritations she never caused. At the same time, there's something annoying about how Walker claims a co-worker didn't recognize that Superman's not a real person, because I've got a hunch there's far more people outside comicdom than in who do recognize Clark Kent isn't.
And the part about just 20 pages? Well, that's what happens when you turn out such bad writing - the page count has to be reduced because they're not selling well, much like in the mid-70s when some titles were truncated. When they turn to the subject of a character named Red Wolf, Walker says:
I drew a lot of inspiration from Captain America/Steve Rogers. I'm developing Red Wolf as this guy who has his smartphone with him at all times -- he's constantly looking things up, trying to learn about the world he stuck in.Oh, I dispute that, based on Nick Spencer and company's quest to insult the intellect of Marvel fans. Besides, if Walker really believed what he's writing, he would've checked the real picture of the Occupy movement more clearly. Walker's stuck in fantasyland.
What can you tell us about the lineup of the rest of your team? How diverse is your cast?And I certainly won't be bothering to see which cast members they've added. For all we know, they could be villains, or crooks who haven't sought redemption like the Thunderbolts did.
At this point there are no original characters in the lineup. We're playing with some interesting notions in that there's going to be a core team. That team consists of characters who are already established in the current Marvel Universe, and all of them are some of the last people we'd expect to see on a team like this. That's really fun to play with. Then as we're moving forward we're talking about having guest stars show up for a single issue or story.
So we've got Clint and then we've got characters A, B and C. We'll have the core team in place by, if not issue #3 issue #4. Issue #1 and #2 really establish Clint on a sort of mission and the fist member of this team. Then in issue #3 we bring in the remainder, and by issue #4 the team is in place.
We want to make sure that the team is diverse, because it's really easy to go one of two directions -- to have a team of nothing but the fallback white characters, or to just have diversity for the sake of diversity, but the team doesn't make sense. I'm not saying Misty Knight is someone I want to use, because she's not someone I want for the team, but it would be really easy to go, "We need a black woman on the team. Let's get Misty Knight." That's not what I'm trying to do.Despite his arguments, I'm sure whatever he's planning will be quite contrived, and the politics are what'll make this unreadable.
I imagine another large part of the appeal of "Occupy Avengers" is the fact that the team is traveling the country, since it allows you a lot of freedom to develop other parts of the U.S. and villains that can be found there.Based on what he's hinted at so far, you can be sure the villains will be right-wing caricatures. Say, did he just mention the villain Brian Bendis conceived, whose only notable act was to beat up on Tigra for the sake of mayhem? Yawn.
Yes, that gives us the opportunity to have both established villains in some capacity and the sort of Boss Hogs of the the world, [Laughs] to refer back to the "Dukes of Hazzard." When you watched TV shows like "The Fugitive," "Have Gun -- Will Travel" or "The A-Team," it was like there was always this little town somewhere in Iowa or something and the evil boss who runs the factory. I always go back to the character of Curley in "Of Mice and Men." He was the son of the guy who owned the farm that George and Lenny show up at, and he's sort of the bully. So there's going to be a lot of "Of Mice and Men" moments. [Laughs] Clint Barton and his ragtag team will show up and protect the rights of the workers or the local population from whatever scourge that is threatening them.
I also like the idea of in the Marvel Universe you have characters like the Kingpin, the Hood or several other New York crime lords, but who is the kingpin of Des Moines, Iowa? And what is he or she doing there that will lead the Occupy Avengers to try and clean up that town? It's pretty fun to think about that sort of stuff.
Walker sure seems to have quite a few double-standards as a writer, and the politics he's promoting in the books does nothing to assure he knows what he's doing.