Paul Grist, who’s writing a Marvel five-issue mini-series featuring a new UK super team, The Union, is just one of several great comic creators at Invasion 2020 in Taunton, Devon, next weekend (29th February).
Also on the line-up are ace Gerry Anderson illustrator Graham Bleathman, Doctor Who comics and storyboard artist Mike Collins, the brilliantly inventive Shaky Kane, illustrators Ian Schofield and Huy Truong, and David Morris on behalf of Time Bomb Comics.
Fronted by Union Jack, The Union, centring on a brand-new superhero team, debuts in comic shops in May during Marvel’s big Empyre blockbuster event series.
“40 years ago, Roger Stern and John Byrne introduced a new Union Jack into the pages of Captain America! This is the comic I’ve been waiting 40 years to write,” says Paul, whose credits include Judge Dredd and his own fantastic creations, Kane and Jack Staff. “New heroes! New adventures! And a team that’s falling apart before it’s even begun!”
Writing separately on Facebook, he previously acknowledged The Union starred “a bunch of other guys you never heard of.”
Paul also hinted separately that The Union is not a pro-Union comic, despite the title, which has provoked some strong reactions from Scottish nationalists and others concerned by media coverage suggesting the story glossed over current divisions within the UK.
(News reports and social media comment mostly written by writers with scant regard for any proper research into British Marvel superheroes beyond looking at a picture of Captain Britain, we should note).
“The basic principle is [that],the government is setting up a super hero team to help unite the UK post Brexit,” he sayshe says, “so all outfits and names are government imposed, but they end up getting pushed round so much the team end up walking away. Over five issues.
“If there are any more issues it won’t be called The Union any more.”
Designed by R.B. Silva ( Power of X), who also provides covers for the mini-series, these have been revealed as Snakes from Northern Ireland, Kelpie from Scotland, The Choir from Wales, and their fearless leader, the legendary Britannia.
“I really like Medieval themes,” says Silva of his designs. “With Britannia and Kelpie, I wanted them to look like medieval warriors and I just simplified and modernised it from there.”
“For Snakes, I thought of the visual for the Executioner. Someone the enemy will fear from just a look. And for the Choir, more of a light visual, something that can enable quick movements. On her knife I put three dragon’s heads. I know on the Welsh flag they have a dragon with only one head, but I thought, why not three?”
“To be honest, The Union wasn’t my idea for the title. My original idea was The New Adventures of United Kingdom’s International Powerhouses,” Paul joked on Facebook, tongue clearly very much in cheek, “but I couldn’t get it past small minded editorial. They don’t have the creative vision. It’s a curse.”
The Union features art by Andrea Di Vito, with Paul hinting he will be making “a visual contribution”, but would not reveal more, other than this would not be a variant cover.
This mysterious new team will assemble to protect the UK during the threat of Empyre, a crossover event whose creative team include fellow British writer Al Ewing.
That story spins out of the events of Marvel’s Incoming one-shot, with Young Avenger Hulkling uniting the Kree and Skrull together, with Earth as their new target.
Before the event debuts in April, which headlines with both The Avengers and Fantastic Four as the main protagonists, Marvel will also release a prelude one-shot, Road to Empyre: The Kree/Skrull War, by Robbie Thompson, Mattia de Iulius and Javier Rodriguez.
This will explore the origin of the longstanding conflict between the Kree and Skrulls, with the main characters from Thompson’s previous Meet the Skrulls miniseries playing a central role.
Taking place at Taunton Library Glass Box on Saturday 29th February, Invasion 2020 is a special event spotlighting the worlds of SF and comics, promoting literacy and the visual arts.
Invasion 2020 will be supporting three charities at the event: the Trigeminal Neuralgia Association, MIND in Somerset; and Breast Cancer Awareness.
• Invasion 2020 11.00am – 4.00pm Taunton Library Glass Box Saturday 29th February 2020 | Facebook Event Page
• Follow Paul Grist on Twitter @mistergrist
• Follow Andrea di Vito on Twitter @andrea_di_vito
• Follow R.B. Silva on Twitter @rb_silva
• Empyre #1, by Al Ewing, Dan Slott and Valerio Schiti, goes on sale in April from Marvel Comics; The Union #1 (of 5) follows in May