As Fred Van Lente’s climbed the ladder at Marvel, he’s sent Spider-Man climbing up the side of buildings in Red Hook, put a supervillain lair in Gowanus, set up a vampire club in DUMBO and staged a battle between super heroes and the Olympus Gods on the waterfront.
But the County of Kings will not be big enough to hold the Chaos King.
The Boerum Hill writer’s breakthrough project at Marvel, “Chaos War,” will pull super-powered heroes, world-devouring bad guys and almighty deities from every corner of the Marvel Universe in an attempt to save reality itself from the clutches of the Chaos King. In this five-part series, and all the tie-ins that will spill into the pages of many of Marvel’s other comics, Van Lente will demonstrate that he knows how to bring the cosmic.
“We had to make this thing super-mega-huge,” said Van Lente. “This is a disaster movie on a superhero scale. Supermen may not be all that impressed by meteors or earthquakes, but in the Chaos King we have a villain who is destroying the Dream Realm, the Underworld, the pantheons of the Norse, Greek, and all the other gods in Marvel U.
“The entire multiverse will be utterly destroyed, with the dead and dark Chaos King as the only thing left in creation. So the stakes are high, to say the least.”
“Chaos War” begins with issue No. 1, out this month, but has been three years in the making, taking root when Van Lente and co-writer Greg Pak rescued a character often relegated to the D-list and paired him with a precocious newcomer to the Marvel Universe.
When the heavens stop shaking and the Kirby Krackle settles, “Chaos War boils down to the unique friendship of the original superhero, the Greek god Hercules, and his super hero-of-the-future trainee charge, Korean-American teen genius Amadeus Cho,” said Van Lente. “It has been prophesized that Amadeus will save the world, but first he has to come into his own as a hero. And Herc has to see whether or not he can step aside and allow that to happen — and in doing so Hercules will find out at long last what it truly means to be a god.”
It’s been an amazing climb for Van Lente, 38, who was struggling to break into the business just five or so years ago. His first success came when he formed Evil Twin Comics with Ryan Dunlavey, and they began making their own comics, the most successful of which has been their “Action Philosophers” series.
Marvel must have noticed, because the editors gave him some all-ages books to work on. Before long he graduated to “The Amazing Spider-Man” and the “Marvel Zombies.” And “Chaos War” is already in its second printing, likely to be one of the highest selling single issue books for comics this year.
Along the way, Brooklyn has been an inspiration to Van Lente. He’ll often push himself away from the computer to go for an afternoon bike ride, where the solution to a plot problem will come to him “while I’m zipping through the trees in Prospect Park.”
Other times, the sights and sounds of the borough become fodder for his comics.
“Brooklyn is so diverse, with all its nationalities and cultures, and I know it so well, having been here for 15 years, that it’s just natural for me to take advantage of that,” said Van Lente. “Particularly since Marvel is so New York-centric, I have ample opportunities to.”
“Chaos War” can be found at Bergen Street Comics [470 Bergen St. between Flatbush and Fifth avenues in Park Slope, (718) 230-5600]; Bulletproof Comix [2178 Nostrand Ave. between Avenue H and Flatbush Avenue in Flatbush, (718) 434-1800]; Desert Island [540 Metropolitan Ave. near Union Street in Williamsburg, (718) 388-5087]; Galaxy Comics [429 Fifth Ave. between Eighth and Ninth streets in Park Slope, (718) 499-3222 and 6823 Fifth Ave. near 68th Street in Bay Ridge, (718) 921-1236]; and St. Mark’s Comics [148 Montague St. between Henry and Clinton streets in Brooklyn Heights, (718) 935-0911].