Fans of complex, part-robot women rejoice: Nebula from Guardians of The Galaxy is getting her own Marvel comic. While her first-ever solo series won't directly impact the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it's undoubtedly exciting for any fan who saw Karen Gillan's rendition of the character help save the day in Avengers: Endgame. In this new storyline, writer Vita Ayala (known for their previous work on Marvel's X-Men comics as well as the Shuri comic series), takes Nebula into new territory as the anti-hero tries to shed the shadows of her father, Thanos, and sister, Gamora.
When the limited series launches in February 2020, the blue sometimes-villainess will be trying to build a new future, only — as the official Marvel description reads — that will come with "a huge cost that will change her forever."
Above, you can see the first cover from the Nebula series, revealed exclusively on Refinery29. It is illustrated by artists Claire Roe and Jen Bartel, two people Ayala is excited to work with for their "Muscle Ladies" and "Space Babes," respectively.
And since it's the only concrete imagery we'll get until February, Refinery29 asked Ayala to break down some details of what she and the artists are spinning for Nebula come 2020.
Refinery29: What is Nebula getting her own series so exciting?
Vita Ayala: "I've always found her fascinating because there was a lot of mustache-twirling-villain to her at first, but then there'd be these hints of this deeper pathos. [Since] the movies kind of reinvigorated interest in her, we've gotten to see her pop up more and more in the comics. And now, here's her solo title where all we do is really dive deep and explore who she is and why she does what she does. That's kind of my jam."
People have different ideas of who Nebula is and what she represents in the Marvel universe. Who do you think this comic is going to reveal her to be?
"I think of her as someone who has been fundamentally traumatised and damaged, both physically and psychologically. One of the things I found really interesting about her was how she became kind of a cyborg; they went in and put robotic parts everywhere, including her brain. I wondered, What does that do to a person? Does that account for some of the really wild stuff that she gets up to later on? So the series has explosions and punching and shooting — it's basically a space Western — but through all that stuff, I really want to show what trauma does to you, fundamentally as a person.
"I don't think that Nebula is innocent because she went through bad stuff. I think she's a pretty bad hombre, but I want to show why that might be. I think that it's very similar to Xena back in the day, but I wanted to show that she's like the Callisto of the Marvel Universe. She goes through all this gnarly stuff, and you can come out real hard because of it. I want to soften some of her edges, because I think that there is something interesting to say about what understanding someone's motivations does to your feelings of empathy towards them."
[Ed. note: Callisto was a recurring villain on Xena: Warrior Princess. She was ruthless, but came to behave that way after going through severe personal trauma.]
The description mentions Nebula getting out from under her sister Gamora's shadow. Should we expect this to be Nebula fully on her own the whole time?
"We definitely reference back to the relationship, and I think that's very important because, even with the differences in the comics and movies, it's still very much shaped who Nebula. But the comic is definitely about her working through her own stuff, like her bitterness and not feeling enough for anyone. So you will see how those relationships [with Thanos and Gamora] affected who she is now and how she's working her way out of it. But I think that it would be really boring if it was just kind of her brooding in space, so she does have people that she interacts with that you've seen before. That's all I think I'm allowed to say."
You've worked on a lot of different Marvel hero stories — a little with Shuri's series, and you also worked on X-Men. What have you learned working with those other characters that informs how you're working with Nebula now?
"It's funny, because I think the one that really is going to inform this the most is Shuri. She is another character who is brilliant and capable and badass in and of herself, but lives in the shadow of her brother, Black Panther, who is literally a King and a superhero. Having the opportunity to write about a person and try and show how dope they are, despite being in shadows, is definitely going to be helpful going into this story. I really want to kind of showcase how cool Nebula is even though she's a bad guy, and how much more complex she is than what we might assume."
Now that you're very much in Nebula's head, is there anything that you've discovered while developing this rendition of the character that surprised you?
"I originally went into it wanting to look at her bitterness and what makes her into a bad guy, but what I really found is that I had a lot more sympathy for her. It was my mission to try and show who she is on a kind of two-dimensional level. Being able to be in her head and fill out all the corners is really given me an appreciation for her, and I want other people to also love her and want her to do her best."
Any time a cool female comic book character gets some her own series, I think about how much I wanted that as a kid. As you're crafting this, what's your hope for the young girls who are going to get their hands on the story?
"Remember that feeling that you got when you first saw Han Solo be an accidental badass [in Star Wars]? That's what I want. I want for kids reading this, or teenagers or even adults, to read this and go, Whoa, that's so cool. I want people, especially little femme people who are angry and who are going through things, to see this character and go, Oh, that's a thing that other people feel, and I'm a valid person, but also for them to go, All right, I should probably do better than trying to destroy the world, though. I want that moment that's like, Wow, somebody that I could see myself being is really complex and really cool.
"I want to give little girls, I mean everyone, but I really want little femme people to cosplay as like Nebula, but from an angle of, I'm strong and cool and can do space stuff just like all these dudes can."