Next week, Aconyte Books will release Into the Dark Dimension: A Marvel Crisis Protocol Novel. The new novel tie-in to the hit roleplaying game is written by Stuart Moore, who previously wrote another tie-in novel for the game, Target: Kree. Today, ahead of the new book’s release, The Beat is pleased to present an exclusive look at the novel’s prologue, which follows the Guardians of the Galaxy as they race against time to send a message back to Earth. Read that, as well as an introduction to the excerpt by Moore, below, and look for Into the Dark Dimension: A Marvel Crisis Protocol Novel to arrive in stores on Tuesday, May 2nd.
By Stuart Moore
Hi, and welcome to my new Marvel novel! This one, I have to tell you, almost killed me. Why…?
I’ve written several books set in and around the Marvel Universe. Some, like Thanos: Death Sentence, focused pretty tightly on one character. Others—the prose adaptations of Civil War and The Dark Phoenix Saga, for instance—were sprawling, multicharacter novels. In those books, I had to distill long, intricate comics storylines into exciting, self-contained stories.
For the Crisis Protocol line, the
lunatics geniuses at Aconyte and I cooked up an even more ambitious plan. We decided to build, over the course of three novels, an all-new, original epic of the Marvel Universe on the scale of the Thanos films. If you think about it, novels are ideal for that sort of thing. You don’t have to schedule dozens of actors, your effects budget is zero, and no one has to field calls from an exhausted comic artist asking, “Who the **** is Woodgod, again?”
So I dove into the first novel—Target: Kree—with fire in my eyes. I cooked up a clash between the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy, centering on a group of refugees from a destroyed Kree world. I started the book off by blowing up that planet, which seemed like a pretty cracking way to start off a Thanos-level epic novel series. It also gave the Guardians something to, er, avenge—thus setting the plot in motion.
The heart of Target: Kree, as I’ve said before, is the interaction between Tony Stark and Kamala Khan, which for me is the richest thing Marvel has going. That mentor/student, rich-person/normal-person friendship is tested even further in this new book, Into the Dark Dimension.
During the writing of Target: Kree, I realized something. It’s easy enough to plan a novel featuring a dozen or more superheroes. It sounds great to plant a cosmic threat operating from a dimensional plane beyond the reach of our heroes, with plans that stretch throughout the galaxy and beyond. It’s a cool idea to create an entire new team of Avengers tasked with stopping that specific threat.
Actually writing the book was another matter—the most difficult job I’ve ever done, for sure. Every character had to get their moment, every incident had to move the plot forward. Multi-character fight scenes had to be meticulously choreographed against complex landscapes. I remember reading my friend Alisa Kwitney’s excellent book Rogue: Untouched and breaking out in fits of jealousy. She has scenes with only two characters! In a coffee shop! Wouldn’t that be nice?!
By the time I finished Target: Kree, in the fall of 2020, I was proud of it. But I needed a break. Thankfully, the multitalented Carrie Harris stepped in to write the second book, The Shadow Avengers, which is well worth your time and (as Stan used to say) your hard-earned shekels.
Of course, while Carrie was busy putting Doctor Strange’s new team up against our looming menace…I forgot everything I’d learned.
And so, for the third and climactic book, we decided to pull out all the stops. Blow the story wide open. We brought in even more characters: Shang-Chi, Cloak and Dagger, Norman “Green Goblin” Osborn, and a team of amoral scientists that I really came to like, the more I wrote them. Doc Ock was a lot of fun, in particular—but mostly I was drawn to the idea that Tony Stark would seek out these people because he respected their technical genius, ignoring all the obvious drawbacks to his plan. As always.
We expanded the scope of the story to encompass the entire universe, and other dimensions as well. Magic! Science! Mass conquest! Once again, all this sounded great. My awesome editor, Gwendolyn Nix, called the book “our Endgame,” which works for me.
Here’s the thing, though. Remember how huge, how epic Avengers: Endgame was? Did you notice they haven’t made another film of that scope since then? Do you know why?
I know why—now. If writing Target: Kree was difficult, this one—like I said—almost killed me. In the end I think we pulled it off, but that’s up to you to decide.
At the beginning of Target: Kree, Gamora says “The world is ending. Again.” Now, you don’t have to read Target: Kree or The Shadow Avengers to enjoy Into the Dark Dimension. All you need to know is this: As Dark Dimension begins, the world has already ended.
Gamora, and the other Guardians, are about to tell you the rest.
So settle back, put on the Winter Soldier soundtrack (that’s a good one), and start reading. Me, I’m gonna go write something with two characters talking. Three, max. Oh hell, maybe five or six. And an EXPLODING STAR!
Brooklyn, New York
Into the Dark Dimension: A Marvel Crisis Protocol Novel is out in stores on Tuesday, May 2nd.