SDCC: Kieron GIllen and Marguerite Bennett Talk Angela: Asgard's Assassin

Yesterday afternoon, Marvel Comics announced Angela: Asgard's Assassin, a new series based on the long-lost daughter of Odin and sister to Thor and Loki.

Written by Kieron Gillen and Marguerite Bennett, the series is expected to turn some heads...especially since it's another status quo-altering story taking place around the same time as Thor is replaced by a woman deemed more worthy of Mjolnir than he.

Some people, in fact, had speculated that Angela might have been the new Thor -- although that seems pretty unlikely given the decision to give her a solo title where she's still Angela.

Gillen and Bennett joined to talk about the new series and what to expect from Angela's immediate future.

So first of all, Marguerite, you broke onto the scene in a big way with Lobo and now here you are doing Angela. Do you just walk into a room and say, "Hey, I want the job that comes with angry reader mail?"

Marguerite Bennett: Yup!

You're also co-writing a few books right now. How does that work, exactly, in terms of your process?

Bennett: I've been so fortunate to get to work with writers who are some of the most talented in the industry, in addition to being such incredibly kind and encouraging people. Working with Scott Snyder, Tom Taylor, and now Kieron Gillen has been a delight and I'm so, so grateful for their genius and support. To have a friend for a co-writer is the most auspicious thing I could imagine for a book—being able to communicate, laugh, argue, agree, understand, and ultimately trust the other party.

Now, Angela wants nothing to do with Asgard -- but the title of the series suggests she won't get what she wants. Will that be a major source of conflict, at least in the beginning?

Bennett: Absolutely. What Angela believed she was will grind against the revelation of who she is. She must find a way to go forward, to serve the debt she feels both to the place of her birth and to the place of her upbringing, while navigating what it is she wants. She is in crisis, though she'd be damned if she let anyone know.

Kieron Gillen: Angela is big on major sources of conflict. She starts the book as a ronin, a sole gunman in the cosmos, unwanted by the people who raised her and hating the people who gave birth to her.

But Angela does care about some things and people – and hasn't shaken the Angel's obsession with debts and prices. She's a character with, to steal a phrase, a lot of red in the ledger.

The reference is for a reason – Asgardian Black Widow may give you an idea for the tone of the book. Or Winter Soldier. That kind of "position" given a mythic/cosmic twist, in the same way I thought Journey Into Mystery was Nick Fury... but Asgardian (and a kid).

Angela is a character who's inherently kind of hooked in with a lot of key titles at Marvel right now. How much will this book stand alone versus how much do you need to always know what's going on in Loki, Thor, Guardians, etc.?

Bennett: While the books will natural have appearances from other key characters, we want the title to be very accessible on its own. We're going to take pains to see that no reader is bewildered by Angela's integral role in the MCU, while giving her amazing supporting cast their due.

Gillen: They'll be no required reading bar every line we put in the book. It's a new series? It's a new series. I'm informed by everything that came before, especially what we learned in Original Sin: Thor & Loki – The Tenth Realm... but it's a new comic. I want you to be able to pick it up and enter this world, and understand exactly what makes the character compelling, with nothing other than what's on the page.

It's tempting to ask whether Kieron is a great help with the arcane mythology of Asgard, but Angela comes with her own! Is it hard to keep track of?

Gillen: Oh, I wouldn't want it easy. I like it difficult. Easy jobs aren't even worth doing.

(Which if you want a trait I share with Angela, that would be it.)

The real trick is that I have to integrate Angela's mythology with Agsard's, as seamlessly as possible. It's one of the main things that attracted to the book.

Bennett: Kieron's a great help in all things! I was intimidated, certainly, to be included on such a spectacular project with such incredibly talented teammates, and allowed guardianship of such a notorious character. However, with the revelations in Original Sin, many former truths have been found suspect, and there is a great deal of freedom with which to play.

What's it like working with this art team? They're really quite spectacular.

Bennett: They are. Unequivocally. Phil, Kieron, Jonathan, Wil, and I got to carve out some time to chat at the end of the last Marvel retreat—Phil's pen wasn't still, I swear, the entire conversation. I truly could not believe how quickly and inventively he could compose, just based on the ideas we were pitching around in casual conversation. And Stephanie's art is just exquisite. I'm not sure what's the larger pressure, my awareness of fan expectation or that I must write something worthy of being illustrated by her.

Gillen: I've loved Phil's work before I was even regularly reading comics. Stephanie did the majority of the covers of my best Marvel comic, and the final issue – which is probably the best single book I've done for Marvel. I think they both bring so much to the book. It immediately says a lot about how we see Angela conceptually.

Do you guys have an arc worked out for Angela? I mean, you're dealing with immortals, so one could argue that she doesn't need to have closure with Odin and all that anytime soon, since everything is on a very different scale.

Bennett: We have our arc set. Beyond that, loose lips sink giant floating Norse space god cities.

Gillen: We enter the book just after the most traumatic change in Angela's life. Almost by definition, she's going to be going through some big changes here. She needs to find a new place and meaning for what she does, as well as cutting the ropes that bind her to the past.

An obvious question is, can she? Red in the ledger.

Obviously this character has a complex backstory both in and outside of comics. Did you red the Image stuff to prep for this title?

Gillen: I take a holistic look at any character. You use what's most important.

And really, it's always a case of reinvention. Her history is complicated, but she's still highly enigmatic. That's what we're digging into it.

Is there anybody in particular we're likely to see in this title? Any Asgardians she feels she can trust/rely on?

Gillen: The latter remains to be seen. The former... well, the first arc is a tour of the many parts of the Marvel Universe, and her defining her relationship with each of them. Any of the characters you'd think important to her should turn up... though we also learn a lot about her life in Heven. Where she's from, where she's going to, who she's going to hit.

Obviously there were a lot of people, including some pretty smart comics reporters, who were convinced that a female Thor meant Angela would be the one. Do you know yet what, if any, relationship she'll have with the new Thor?

Bennett: We would be naïve, I think, to rule out anything of that nature. ;) 


Gillen: That would rely on Jason Aaron telling me ANYTHING. I am very lonely.

I joke. Yes, I do know what's going on with Thor. I also know it's one hell of a story. I can't wait to see people's response to it, and another reason to feel seethingly jealous about how good Jason is.