AVENGERS FAIRY TALES (WITH SHE-HULK)
- CB CEBULSKI ON AVENGERS FAIRY TALES
by Vaneta Rogers
It's a story we all know by heart. Jennifer Walters tumbles unexpectedly into the land of Oz, where the Munchkins direct her to follow the Rainbow Bridge, searching for the great and powerful Oz with the help of the Cowardly Captain America, the Iron Man and the Scarecrow Thor.
Wait. That isn't the story we all know by heart? And behind the curtain, isn't that Magneto posing as the wizard? And isn't the Wicked Witch a "scarlet" one?
OK, it may not be the familiar story of old, but Marvel fans who want to read an Avengers-filled fairy tale are getting their wish in Avengers Fairy Tales by C.B. Cebulski. The new four-issue mini-series from Marvel starting in March follows the success of similar fairy tale minis starring characters from Spider-Man and the X-Men and will use various artists to tell these new versions of old fairy tales. This time around, Avengers characters from the classic team line-up to the Young Avengers will show up in familiar folktales and stories like the Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland and Pinocchio.
Newsarama talked to Cebulski about Avengers Fairy Tales and the similarities between the themes in comics and folklore, but we found out the writer has still found a way to throw in a few fun surprises here and there.
Newsarama: For those who aren't familiar with the Marvel Fairy Tales comics you've done prior to this, can you give a basic overview of what they are?
C.B. Cebulski: I'm a big fan of fairy tales, folklore from different countries and stories like Grimm's Fairy Tales, and there are a lot of things you can compare between a lot of the old fairy tales and superhero stories that have been used in Marvel Comics, as far as group dynamics and plotlines and overall stories. So since a lot of the different themes and situations from classic storylines have been used in classic comics, I went the other way and tried to take some of the original Marvel characters and put them back into fairy tales and folklore and incorporate Marvel storylines into new and original storylines.
NRAMA: So far you've done Spider-Man and the X-Men in fairy tales, right?
CBC: We started with X-Men Fairy Tales, which started off kind of as an homage to what Chris Claremont did originally with Kitty's fairy tale back in the day when he did the pirate story with Kitty -- kind of an original fairy tale with some of the X-Men characters -- and that was the original basis for doing the X-Men. The original theme was supposed to be that each X-Man was going to take a fairy tale from their culture and re-tell it with the X-Men as characters for a younger generation of readers. And that's basically what we did, with a Japanese story and an African story and a couple others. But we cut out the framing sequence with the X-Men telling it, and we just jumped right into the fairy tale and found that was a little more successful in this case. And then we did Spider-Man Fairy Tales with a little bit more popular or recognizable fairy tales like Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood as the basis for telling those stories.
<B>NRAMA: And are those stories available in trade paperback now?
CBC: Yes, they're both available in trades right now.
NRAMA: Was the goal of publishing these stories to get a certain audience? Or has it surprised you who is reading it?
CBC: The goal for me was to come up with an original idea to get a job writing. [laughs]
NRAMA: And it worked!
CBC: Yeah! But it's worked pretty well for Marvel. Marvel's been happy with the sales. A lot of it is catering to a market of new readers. And some people share it with their kids who know some of the classic fairy tales through animation or through Disney movies or some of the stories they've read as younger readers in schools, and this brings them into the Marvel Universe that way. It's done especially well in bookstores and libraries. A lot of feedback has been from parents who read Marvel Comics who have younger kids and have been able to read them with their younger kids who haven't even been able to get into Marvel Adventures yet. And some readers are just your regular Marvel fans who enjoy seeing a different take on their favorite characters and how we tie together different continuity points in the actual fairy tales.
NRAMA: OK, let's talk about Avengers Fairy Tales.
CBC: Avengers Fairy Tales was supposed to be second, but with the Spider-Man 3 movie in the works, Marvel actually wanted to switch them around. So Avengers Fairy Tales has actually been in the works for some time now. Avengers Fairy Tales uses four very well-known fairy tales.
NRAMA: I know we talked about them when we saw you in Baltimore. But for everyone reading this now, what is issue #1 going to be?
CBC: Issue #1 is going to be Peter Pan. And that just felt natural for Captain America, because he's kind of a boy who's forever young, in a way, because he was trapped in ice, and even his morals are still old in our universe. He still looks as young as the day he came out of the ice.
NRAMA: And there's that boyish innocence of times past that our world just doesn't have anymore, but Steve Rogers still possesses, much like Peter Pan.
CBC: Yep, exactly. And the other characters in there are Wanda and Pietro, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, who fit perfectly as Wendy and John. They go into Never-Neverland with Tinker Bell, who is the Wasp, obviously. And once in Neverland, they meet the Lost Boys, who are made up of the Avengers, who are Hawkeye, Thor, Iron Man and Black Panther. And Portuguese artist Joao Lemos is doing the art, and he's absolutely fantastic.
NRAMA: And issue #2?
CBC: The second issue is Pinocchio, which is the puppet who wanted to be a boy, which in this case, fits perfectly with The Vision. And Tony Stark is the Geppetto role. And there are a lot of great comparisons between the Marvel Universe and this fairy tale, such as Vision wanting to be human, even marrying Wanda and having children back in the day, and this takes those classic Marvel stories and puts them into the context of the Pinocchio story and setting.
NRAMA: I don't know that I'll include this in the interview, but just as an aside, I met Brent Spiner, who played Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation, at a comics convention, and I asked him why people respond so well to android stories like Bicentennial Man and the story of Data in Star Trek and the robot characters in comics, and he immediately mentioned the age-old story of Pinocchio. He said that fairy tale helped introduce the notion of an inanimate doll wanting to be human, and android stories are a play on that theme.
CBC: Oh, that's great!
NRAMA: So there you go! You're not the only one who sees the similarities to Pinocchio in Vision's story. He said that fairy tale is the root of robot stories!
CBC: You should include that.
NRAMA: Yeah! [laughs] He's somewhat of an expert on androids, right?
CBC: Brent Spiner? [laughs] Of course!
NRAMA: So it makes sense that Vision is the role of Pinocchio, the boy who wants to be human. Is there a blue fairy?
CBC: Yes, there is a blue fairy.
NRAMA: Who is that? Is that a surprise?
CBC: It's the scarlet fairy, in this case. [laughs]
NRAMA: Hmmm... wonder who in the world that could be?
CBC: And there's also a Jiminy Cricket, who was not in the original Pinnochio story, but so many people know the character from the Disney interpretation and there as an Avengers character who fit it so well that we just had to use it.
NRAMA: And that is...?
CBC: It's Wasp.
NRAMA: Oh! Of course!
CBC: [laughs] It just seems like every small character is Wasp and every magical character is Wanda, but it is the Avengers...
NRAMA: Are there any fun surprises in this issue?
CBC: There are a lot of fun surprises in that one, actually, and there are a lot of Marvel characters who show up in unique ways where we've been able to pull them in from the original story. I don't want to give too much away.
NRAMA: Who's the artist?
CBC: Issue #2 has art by Nuno Plati, another Portuguese guy. He just recently did a story in the 24/7 anthology. And he's got a blog that people seem to dig.
NRAMA: Yeah, we recently highlighted him and his blog. And issue #3?
CBC: Issue #3 is Alice in Wonderland.
NRAMA: Through the looking glass!
CBC: Through the looking glass! This is going to be through the eyes of Stature – Cassie Lang from Young Avengers. And the way that the story was originally told was that it was kind of an educational tale about lessons Alice learned and how she kind of grew up while she was in Wonderland. So in this case, we're using it as a comparison to what it's like to go through the trials of a Young Avenger on the course to becoming a New Avenger, or a Mighty Avenger. So she shrinks down and falls into Wonderland, where we find that most of the Wonderland characters are Young Avengers and Avengers characters, so there aren't really any classic villains in there, but it's her going through all the trials and tribulations of encountering the Wonderland versions of Marvel characters. For example, Captain America is actually going to be the Caterpillar, and Iron Man is the Door Mouse, the White Rabbit is Quicksilver and the Cheshire Cat is Tigra. It's just about the adventures she has as she overcomes challenges these older Avengers present, comes to understand what it means to become an Avenger, and accepts her place as a Young Avenger.
NRAMA: Kind of a coming of age story...
CBC: Yes, exactly. And the art is being done by Takeshi Miyazawa. It was originally supposed to be done by Adrian Alphona, but he had to do Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, so he got taken off of that. So Takeshi Miyazawa was kind enough to come and work on it, even though he has a lot of work in Japan right now.
NRAMA: Kind of ironic that Takeshi came in to help while Adrian does Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, since that's his old gig.
CBC: Exactly. Those two have a great relationship, but it does always seem like one is filling in for the other.
NRAMA: And then the fourth issue?
CBC: The fourth issue is Wizard of Oz. And remembering that Avengers Fairy Tales was supposed to be done before Spider-Man Fairy Tales, it was originally supposed to be that the Wizard of Oz was based around the House of M, while that was still fresh in everyone's mind. That has kind of passed, so we're changing it around. But I still want to get my classic line of "No More Munchkins" in there. [laughs]
NRAMA: [laughs] That's right! I remember you said that was successful in the pitch.
CBC: Yep! And in this case, Dorothy is going to be She-Hulk Jennifer Walters. And she falls into Oz, under Marvel-related circumstances, although again, I don't want to give away too much. But she has to follow the Yellow Brick Road, although in this case it's the Rainbow Bridge.
NRAMA: Like the bridge to Asgard!
CBC: Yep! And along the way she finds the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man and the Scarecrow, who are Captain America, Iron Man and Thor. And they have adventures along the way. And the one thing we kept a little from House of M was the original villain, who was Magneto. He's Oz behind the curtain. But we switched the emerald and ruby themes. Since she's She-Hulk, she's going to have emerald slippers, and she's going to be going against the ruby of Scarlet Witch and Magneto when they get to the actual Oz castle.
NRAMA: And the artist?
CBC: We haven't announced that yet. We have someone in mind, but it hasn't been announced.
NRAMA: How far are you in writing it? Are you done with the whole thing?
CBC: I've got three issues done, and I'm working on the fourth. It's been a lot of fun.
NRAMA: Will there be more fairy tales after this?
CBC: Oh, I hope so! People have been joking about doing a Punisher Fairy Tales. [laughs]
NRAMA: [laughs] It could work!!
CBC: It could! But the next one I'm hoping for is a Fantastic Four Fairy Tales. I have some great ideas for Rapunzel and Medusa, and maybe Hansel and Gretel with Johnny and Sue Storm, and some really cool stuff that I want to do there.
NRAMA: It sounds like you're having a lot of fun doing these.
CBC: Oh, they're a lot of fun, because I grew up as a big fan of fairy tales and mythology and cautionary tales of gods and things like that. So it's been fun to take my love of comics and folklore and combine them has been a dream come true.
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