Jim Krueger and Stephen Sadowski: Avenging and Invading

A comics interview article by: Sean Boyle
Coming from Marvel Comics in May is the new project from the writing duo of Jim Krueger and Alex Ross: Avengers/Invaders! Providing art for said project is Steve Sadowski, former artist of JSA and Red Sonja.

We recently caught up with Jim and Steve to talk about Avengers/Invaders.

Jim Krueger

Sean Boyle (SB): So I guess I’ll start off with the most obvious question. Coming off of Justice for DC, everyone knew you and Alex were going to do Project Superpowers for Dynamite Entertainment. Then seemingly out of nowhere comes the announcement of Avengers/Invaders. How did this project come about, and what brought you back to Marvel?

Jim Krueger (JK) : Nick Barucci really got the ball rolling. He pitched Marvel the idea of Alex and I doing Avengers/Invaders. Marvel said great. Nick then said great. He called us. We said... well... great.

SB: Ha. Well, that’s simple enough. I think it's safe to say that you and Alex have a pretty good working relationship. Can you tell us a little bit about collaborating with Alex, and how you guys go about brainstorming and choosing ideas?

JK: It's very organic, and usually the result of a lot of phone conversations. Each of these projects also usually includes us hanging out, either in the Chicago area where Alex lives, or Milwaukee, where I often visit and where I grew up. We'll talk for hours about the possibilities of a story, then discuss how each of these ideas we've generated could possibly work. I think that's probably the secret to the fun of creating together. We don't throw out ideas until we've both thought through how they could possibly work.

SB: Your last project at Marvel, the Earth X trilogy, dealt with the Marvel Universe's future. Now you're revisiting and reintroducing elements of the past. Why go back to the original Invaders rather than, say, creating a new team?

JK: Well, who's saying that by going back, we're not also going forward? Part of this series takes place in the present, and part in the past.

SB: Good point. How do you view the Invaders, and what do you think they represent to the today’s Marvel U?

JK: They are, of course, chronologically, Marvel's first team, and really the first brotherhood of heroes. I know the FF is the first family. I think what's important about the team is how they are almost in stark opposition to everything done in the sixties when the Marvel era began.

This is a team that is together, not splintered. Unlike the Fantastic Four, or the X-Men, or the Avengers (now splintered into two teams), they really don't doubt each other. There's a trust there. Perhaps this is only because they were fighting WWII and had no time to mistrust each

SB: Arguably the biggest point of interest with this story revolves around Captain America. Obviously, Cap is dead now, and that creates an interesting dynamic when the Invaders come to the present. But Bucky's role has changed in the current universe as well. How will Bucky's character play out? Will Invaders Bucky run into himself (even though he's not a current Avenger) and see his new role?

JK: It would be an evil worthy of ol' Doc Doom himself not to have Bucky meet his current counterpart. But that's not the only emotional spine to our story. Iron Man, who blames himself for Captain America's death, also has to face Captain America after thinking he never would.
But as far as whether Bucky learns that the New Captain America/Winter Soldier is actually his future self, that's to be dealt with in the story.

SB: Stemming off the previous question, will the other Invaders run across the newer characters that carry on their legacies like Spitfire and the Human Torch?

JK: Can I say maybe? I'd say there will be a chance to have them experience part of the Marvel Universe. And I know this seems completely atypical of me, but we already have the Invaders and two teams of Avengers. There is such a thing as too many characters. I mean, there's this part at the end, in which we need to limit...
Aw, who am I kidding, there's no such thing as too many characters!

SB: Ha, ha! I think the first "Crisis" is evidence of that. Continuing with the generational differences, how do the Invaders view the world the current Marvel Universe lives in?

JK: You'll see in issue #1, that they're not too pleased initially…or ever. To a certain degree, the vision of a post Civil War/Post 9/11 world, where there are soldiers in Times Square, is not something they fought for.
I actually lived in Times Square for a couple years. It is really strange to see the kind of weaponry that is carried for the sake of safety. It's almost surreal.
Also, the Invaders being here now, means to them, that they are not fighting the war. That means they are not advancing the fight for freedom.

SB: I hadn't actually ever thought about it like that. There is kind of a military presence we haven't seen in our cities for quite a long time. I can see how that could be widely offensive to the Invaders' generation. Speaking of martial law, we've got the fictional Registration Act that has splintered our current superteam. One of the main points of interest with this project is exactly who you guys will include in the Avengers. How was it decided on which characters you brought into this story as "The Avengers"?

JK: It's both teams. Part of what's really exciting is that there is bad blood between the Mighty and the New assemblages. That bad blood comes to a boiling point as they each have a strategy for how best to deal with the Invaders.

SB: A lot has already been made about the ideological differences between the two generations of heroes, but what do you think the Invaders can teach the Avengers? What can the Invaders learn from the current Avengers?

JK: The Invaders can teach the Avengers a lot about how to fight as a team, and not with each other. But the Invaders do have something to learn, something that won't be revealed until the end. One of the things I'm thinking about right now is as to which side the Invaders Captain America would be on in Civil War... there's a part of me that wants to believe that he would side with Tony Stark. And that's really interesting.

SB: I suppose the heroes cannot be fighting each other the entire time, so briefly let’s talk the bad guys. Will the villains of the story be more modern characters, or will we get to see guys like Luke Cage and Iron Man fight some Nazi super-soldiers from the 1940s?

JK: It's safe to say that there will be villains in both eras to face off against, and before it's all over, the Avengers will fight Nazis back in WWII

SB: All I ever wanted was to see Luke Cage punch a Nazi. It could be the history minor in me. Thank you very much for your time, Jim! It sounds like you guys have a lot of cool stuff going on with this mini that should excite all Marvel fans, both new and old!

JK: Thank you!

Stephen A. Sadowski

Sean Boyle (SB) : So first things first, how and when did you get attached to this project?

Stephen Sadowski (SS) : I was asked by Nick Barrucci of Dynamite almost a year ago at the New York Comic-Con if I was interested in something "I would like." He was packaging a deal, and he thought I would be great for it. I wasn't told much more until the deal was hammered out, but after a few weeks he told me what it was and explained who I'd be working with. Boy, was he right!

SB : I would imagine the project is probably a little bit different for you, because now you’re working with Alex Ross, who brings his own artistic sensibilities to the project. What is it like to work with another primary artist on a book? Do you find that you and Alex are feeding off one-another's styles in creating Avengers/Invaders ?

SS : Anyone who knows me knows what a fan I am of Alex Ross. Aside from Alex's cover designs for Avengers/Invaders and some small notes on how he approached things, I've been given pretty free reign to do as I see fit. I think we have extremely similar feelings of what we like to see in comics, and it's nice to be able to chat with him about what might work visually. He has suggested a few page layouts, but mostly he's just letting me do my thing.

SB : So how much actual influence does Alex have on the visual design of the book?

SS : Well, Alex is doing the primary covers, with some other artists doing some variants for fun. I guess I am doing the "design" of the interiors, but I ALWAYS have Alex’s "eye" in my head, or on my shoulder inspiring me! But other than my own psychosis, it's just me making those decisions!

SB : How did you approach the visuals of a classic team like the Invaders?

SS : Same way I approach all of my books: just try to do my best with what time I'm given. With the Invaders specifically, there hasn’t been a LOT of stories told of them in quite a few years, so I feel comfortable giving them my own spin without stepping on anybody's feet. Similar to my approach to JSA , I guess.

SB : Is there a tendency to sometimes over-think redesigning classic characters like the Justice Society and the Invaders?

SS : There definitely CAN be. I am a firm believer that "if it aint broke..." Some characters can definitely benefit a little revamp, but with the Invaders and most of the JSA even, they have stood the test of time and have now elevated to "Icon" status. Mess with people's icons, and people get pissed! Fortunately for me, there's no "redesigning" going on here.

SB : Virtually all of your mainstream work in the past few years has been on JSA and Red Sonja . What was it like for you to jump over to Marvel and work with a new set of characters?

SS : Well, honestly, JSA was QUITE some time ago. There's been a fair bit more stuff, but this is easily the most high profile since then, sure. As for Marvel vs. DC, it really makes no difference to me, especially now. As a kid growing up, most of my comics were brought home in boxes from garage sales and Flea Markets. To me there was NO division between Marvel Tales and Teen Titans and X-Men and Justice League. I loved them ALL. I leaned more towards DC as a kid, perhaps because the covers were much more vibrant with the Nick Cardy covers and all…but there was ALWAYS love for Marvel's guys
too, specifically The Avengers . I LOVE working on these guys!

SB : Your big breakout work was on DC's first super-team, the Justice Society. Now you get to draw Marvel's first super-team. Were you influenced much by the Golden Age characters growing up?

SS : I can't say I was, not really anyway. Most of my comics were Silver Age with some Golden Age reprints mixed in. Most of my influences would definitely be of the Silver Age guys.

SB : Interesting. I can definitely see that Silver Age influence in your artistic style. Do you consciously try to keep with a classic style of illustration?

SS : Consciously? No. All my favorite artists are the ones whose anatomy is accurate, clear and defined and the storytelling simple and distinguishable…I guess that’s called "classic" now, huh? I'm always looking at books coming out, and there is no shortage of AMAZING artists in comics right now. If I compare myself too much with any of them, I wouldn’t get anything done. I'd just be whimpering in a corner!

SB : Oh please, you're too modest. Coming up with Avengers/Invaders , what was the character/moment you were most looking forward to drawing?

SS : There are quite a few actually. Anytime past characters meet their modern age selves it is fun. SO MANY of these characters are longtime favorites of mine. Getting to draw Wonder Man or Ms. Marvel is truly exciting. I also think that ANYTIME you draw Spider-Man for Marvel comics, even in a cameo, it's kind of…humbling. There are a couple of villains coming up that I am REALLY looking forward to drawing. It's going to be CRAZY fun!

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