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The Mighty Cho - Part 2

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Frank Cho continues to see his status climb as a mainstream superhero artist with his assignment on Mighty Avengers with Brian Michael Bendis.  He stopped by for a chat on the book and how life at the House of Ideas has been.

Part One

BROKEN FRONTIER: Since we’re discussing it a little, could you take me through the creative process between you guys?  Is it more of the “old fashioned Marvel style,” does he send you detailed scripts, or somewhere in between?

FRANK CHO: Well, one of the earliest phone conversations I had with Brian he said to me, “What do you want to draw?” [Laughs]  And of course I replied with some type of crazy monster battle in the middle of Manhattan and he replied, “Done.”

We do talk it out a bit.  Brian does have a lot of the stuff outlined already, so we’ll just end up talking about different scenes that I want to do. 

I really wanted to do a giant Brood scene; some huge massive invasion, which still might happen, but at this point we could not do it because it turns out that someone is using them elsewhere.  But I really wanted to do one of those, something like Starship Troopers with all these Brood showing up in the middle of Arizona with the rocky mesas.  And just turn it into a giant battle.  Then Brian broke it to me gently that we couldn’t use it, but it did kind of turn into the giant Moleman invasion in Manhattan in issue 1, instead so that’s cool.

BF: And I’m sure you’ll have many other chances to draw stuff like that in this book.

FC: Oh yeah.  The big storyline that will lead up to the first year of Mighty Avengers is going to blow people away.  I was just stunned at the scope of the storyline.  Brian really has this incredible epic mapped out in his mind.

I was like, “Holy crap.”

BF: “I get to draw this?!?!”

FC: Exactly.  I just wanted to draw monsters fighting in New York.  Avengers fighting something big and nasty and he actually took everything I wanted to draw, plus, put some sort of a deeper meaning behind it, rather than just being a Rock’em Sock’em storyline.

I can’t come up with enough good things to say about Brian right now.  With this story he’s really taken his writing to a whole new level.  It’s just “popping.”  There’s a real “crackle” to his writing that will really surprise a lot of people.

BF: You mentioned that you were a fan of superheroes, was Avengers one of the books you collected?

FC: Yeah.  My main collecting period was from 1983 to 1990.  And I mostly collected Marvel titles and Avengers was one of those titles.  I never collected DC books, aside from Teen Titans.  I always thought that in DC books the superheroes were antiquated characters, to where it just didn’t quite fit with modern sensibilities—which is a polite way of saying that they’re boring. [Laughs]

But going back to your question I do fondly remember reading Avengers during that time.  I believe Roger Stern was drawing it with Al Milgrom mostly on the artwork.  I wasn’t a big fan of Milgrom’s artwork but the storylines were great.  I remember the Trial of Hank Pym, the Death of Egghead, and the invisible barrier storyline that came from Fantastic Four and kept growing and growing.

BF: And those were your favorites?

FC: Favorites might not be the right word, but those were definitely the more memorable ones that I read.  I also really liked the George Perez Taskmaster storyline; that was really cool as well.

BF: Is there extra pleasure then from drawing some of these characters that you grew up reading?

FC: Oh hell yeah!  It’s freaking Christmas!  I never in my wildest imagination thought that I would be drawing characters and books that I read as a kid.  You know what I’m saying?

BF: I can certainly imagine.

FC: It is just a real kick in the pants to be able to work with these characters.

BF: Ok, well, is there anything else here that we might have missed that you wanted to talk about?

FC: The Sentry character is a big surprise for me.  Coming in, one character I really had no desire to draw was The Sentry.  But after talking to Brian and reading the script, the Sentry is becoming one of the most exciting characters in the Marvel Universe.  Sure, there are people who say he’s a Superman clone, but the way Brian is writing him this is everything you wanted Superman to do but couldn’t see because of all the red tape that would be associated with it.

One thing’s for sure though – you won’t see Sentry crying on every other cover like Superman is. [Laughs] I’ve never seen such a man weep before.  He’s like a Frenchman!  Sentry will be a real man.

Brian has written some great epic battle scenes with Sentry doing some great destructive stuff, going toe-to-toe with some very powerful villains.  Basically the stuff that you would think of that Superman would do, but can’t because he’s too busy crying.  In issue #3 where Sentry goes against Ultron, it’s one of the greatest battle scenes that I’ve ever read. 

Issue #3 is another great issue that Brian has really outdone himself.

BF: Did you get to design the New Ultron?

FC: Yes. [Laughs] But there wasn’t much to design actually.

BF: Well, you did make her female.

FC: [Laughs] One of the first things that Brian said was, “Make her HOT!” [Laughs]  He said to think of her as the Terminator 3 villain, who can turn from flesh to metal.  She’s like a liquid metal.

But I didn’t really have to do much; it was mostly the colorist who had to do the most work with the metallic effects.

BF: And in line with that, we spoke about your favorite heroes; did you have any villains that you really wanted to draw?  That you are getting to draw unlike the Brood scene?

FC: We’re still negotiating the Brood scene [laughs].  But the Moleman and his monsters… I can cross them off my list.  There is a huge storyline of a major/classic Marvel villain that I can’t talk about, but that’s another one I can cross off my list.

I would really like to do a Taskmaster.  I always thought he was potentially a great villain, although a lot of the more recent writers have made him more of a joke.

BF: It really varies depending on the book you’re reading.  Either he’s a super joke or he’s a super bad ass.

FC: Right.  I see him as the super bad ass.  Almost Captain America level in terms of a tactician.  But at this point I think we might have to leave him alone and then bring him back later, because I think he was really turned into a joke in Moon Knight and got his ass handed to him pretty badly.

You will see a lot of classic Avenger villains and also some classic non-Avenger villains appearing who the Avengers will end up battling with.

BF: Any chance you could end up drawing the Enchantress?

FC: No, that one has not come up yet.  I think a big rule of thumb right now is to leave Thor and his rogues gallery alone right now because Marvel has something pretty bid planned with him.

BF: She was just the one that popped into my head when you talked about classic Avengers villains that I would really like to see you draw.

FC: There are going to be a lot of villains that will pop up and surprise you.  Some of them you never thought you would see in an Avengers book but when you read it it will make sense.

It’s going to be a great fun book.

Click to enlarge    Click to enlarge    Click to enlarge

BF: I would say that with you on artwork it can’t be anything but.

FC: My only regret is that we couldn’t get Beast on the team.  I would love to have gotten the furry ape-like Beast because he and Wonderman had a great chemistry that would have been fun.

BF: Well, you never know.  Keep fighting for the Brood and maybe they’ll give you the Beast instead.

Mighty Avengers #3 goes on sale May 16 from Marvel Comics. A sneak peek of the issue can be found  here. Frank Cho’s website is www.libertymeadows.com.

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