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U.S.Avengers: Done in One

U.S.AVENGERS #4 arrives in shops and on stands on March 15, the first part of a…one-part story?

Yes, indeed. Writer Al Ewing and artist Paco Medina will be taking fans back to the old school with a tale so intense, so fast moving it could only be told in a single issue.

To enlighten us on the ancient art of the done in one, Ewing gave us a spot of his time.

Marvel.com: For you, what’s the key to delivering a single issue story that satisfies in general?

Al Ewing: Beginning, middle and end; a powerful opener and a slam-bang finish are obviously important, but every page in between needs to satisfy. Fortunately, by its very nature, the done-in-one story has to be dense. When you’re delivering a full tale in a short space, there’s no room for messing around.

In this case, we’ve got a beginning, a middle, another middle, and an end, because it’s a four-issue crossover in one comic! Short issues, admittedly—five-page chunks, even—but that just makes them all the sweeter!

Marvel.com: Specific to these characters and this book, what makes a strong single issue story?

Al Ewing: I wanted to go solo on Red Hulk; he got some play in [U.S.AVENGERS #1], but since then he’s been stuck in human form waiting for his “hour of power” to come around again, so I figured the readers deserved 20 full pages of smashing Red Hulk action! We get to see his idea of a stealth op when he’s tasked with infiltrating the small and fictional country of Lichtenbad—nestled on the borders of Latveria and Symkaria—to fight a rogue, rabid American Kaiju!

And what’s a crossover without guest stars galore? I hear that Deadpool guy is pretty big these days—he was in a film, as I recall—and he’s one of the few Marvel characters I’ve not actually written yet. Putting Deadpool in issue #4 is the new thing across all my books, as readers of ROCKET will soon come to learn.

U.S.Avengers #4 cover by Paco Medina

U.S.Avengers #4 cover by Paco Medina

Marvel.com: What can you tell fans about American Kaiju? Why, if they haven’t already, are they sure to fall in love with him now?

Al Ewing: American Kaiju is a giant lizard monster with the US flag painted on his face like Nuke. I think that answers both of your questions.

Marvel.com: What elements does Deadpool bring to this book? How does he alter the chemistry amongst the other U.S.Avengers?

Al Ewing: Well, mostly he’s bouncing off General Maverick, but it’s some fun bouncing, although we’ve made the classic error of taking away his power of speech for the bulk of the issue. It’s like I never even saw that movie.

But essentially, he’s there to poke fun at a couple of cherished genre conventions—I’m pretty sure that’s how it generally goes with a Deadpool guest spot—and he’s bringing along a fabulous new/old villain who’s the great-grandson of one of the forgotten heroes of the Marvel Monsterverse! Who could it be? There’s no telling, unless you’ve already read the solicits for this issue!

Marvel.com: From a creative perspective, what made you feel that it was important to deliver such a story at this juncture of the book?

Al Ewing: Well, we’ve just come out of the opening arc, and we’re about to go into an arc that’s even heavier as Secret Empire plays havoc with all our hopes and certainties. I felt like the readers could use a breath of air and maybe even something to put a smile on their faces. This is definitely going to be the lightest-hearted issue so far; and it’s also the most experimental thing I’ve done in a while in terms of format, what with the whole four-comics-in-one thing.

Hopefully readers will enjoy the fun before everything gets darker and gloomier.

Marvel.com: How did Paco Medina’s art aid you in delivering a single issue story that satisfies by itself and as part of the larger series?

Al Ewing: Paco is a genius when it comes to fun and action; he’s got a clear, clean, un-muddled style that pops off the pages, and every single panel just begs for dialogue. His art on this issue in particular inspired me to add in a whole bunch of additional gags that weren’t in the plot, and we’re passing the savings on to you, True Believer!

Seriously, I don’t know what I’d do without him on this series at this point; he’s set the tone perfectly on everything we’ve done together since CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS, and I’m pretty sure the readers agree.

Dive into the done-in-one action of U.S.AVENGERS #4 by Al Ewing and Paco Medina on March 15!

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Flashback Friday: Elektra

Every Friday we use the powers of Marvel Unlimited to look back at the very first appearance of a major character, place or object that made waves this week.

As ELEKTRA #1 bets our favorite Sai-wielding assassin’s life in a Vegas-set adventure by Matt Owens and Juan Cabal this week, it’s the best time possible to roll back the tape and check out her debut.

Created as part of Frank Miller’s epic DAREDEVIL run, Elektra first appeared in 1981’s issue #168. The writer and artist put the basics of her relationship with the Man Without Fear right on the cover in a blurb that read: “Once he loved her…now she is his most deadly enemy!”

While looking for information, Daredevil ran into some punks who preferred fisticuffs to communication. As he handled them, Elektra watched from her perch on a nearby power line. As she worried that the Man Without Fear’s presence could “ruin everything,” he completely missed her presence because of the fight.

A moment later, the warrior woman threw the handle-end of her Sai into the back of Daredevil’s head and proceeded to beat up our hero’s quarry in an effort to get the same intel. Just before passing out from injuries sustained, Matt Murdock recognized Elektra.

While unconscious, Matt’s mind drifted back to meeting the woman known as Elektra Natchios back when he and Foggy Nelson attended Columbia. They literally ran into the young lady, her father, and their body guards, which gave the future Daredevil a chance to take in her scent.

Daredevil (1964) #168

Daredevil (1964) #168

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Later, Matt used a paper airplane and less-than-subtle subterfuge to distract the bodyguard so he could briefly converse with Elektra and pass her a rose. After she said she didn’t want to go out with him, Matt spilled the beans on his secret origin, explaining his heightened senses.

The play worked and the two had a year of happiness in college. That all ended when some terrorists held Elektra and her father at gunpoint and Matt’s attempt at diffusing the situation inadvertently led to Mr. Natchios’ death. She didn’t stick around long after that, returning to Europe and a life that would eventually shape her into one of the world’s foremost assassins.

Eventually Daredevil recovered and made it to the docks in time to help save Elektra from some of the men she tried to pump for info. Before leaving, he kissed her and she knew the masked man’s true identity.

Elektra stuck around for a while, but eventually wound up on the wrong end of her own Sai thanks to an attack by Bullseye in DAREDEVIL #181. Far from her last appearance, the master of combat has spent time as the head of the Hand, a Thunderbolt and even an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Flash Forward

Much to her chagrin, Elektra fell to the invaders during Secret Invasion. As seen in MIGHTY AVENGERS #16, the assassin nearly defeated an entire squad of shapeshifters, but lost in battle to a Super Skrull sporting a combination of Invisible Woman and Colossus’ abilities called Pagon. This is the Skrull who then took over the Hand and sacrificed itself in battle with the Avengers to let the heroes know they’d been infiltrated. That story actually set off the invasion in NEW AVENGERS #31 when the dead “Elektra” turned green and Skrully. Upon escaping from her initial captors, Elektra and others found themselves incarcerated by S.H.I.E.L.D. and its follow-up organization H.A.M.M.E.R., run by Norman Osborn. Being one of the most dangerous people on the planet, though, she eventually broke out and got back to her life as can be seen in DARK REIGN: ELEKTRA.