The second Marvel NOW! “Next Big Thing” press conference this week is all about the new Young Avengers, from the Phonogram creative team of writer Kieron Gillen and artist Jamie McKelvie. Things are scheduled to start around 3 p.m. eastern — this page will be updated continuously, so keep hitting refresh. New art from January’s first issue is here.
First question, from Marvel marketing’s James Viscardi — what are fans in for when they pick up the first issue? Gillen says it’s one of his “full-on rush of ideas books,” and that he’s not looking to replicate the prior Young Avengers series. “It’s a book about optimism, and how optimism tends to get crushed, and how it’s worth persisting,” the writer continues.
Talk turns to the cast, with Kid Loki up first. “Last time we saw the Young Avengers, they were actually in the ironic situation of being accepted by the Avengers. And at that moment, none of them wanted to do it anymore, which is one of my favorite things about the end of Children’s Crusade,” Gillen says. Kid Loki is the catalyst of getting them together. Exactly why he’s putting the team together is a mystery, initially.
Miss America is another mystery — “She’s been a superhero for longer than anyone knows,” Gillen says, “And she has no interest of doing it to be famous,” and is simply doing it because it’s the right thing.
Wiccan is “phenomenally powerful in ways that people don’t quite understand,” and his relationship with Hulkling is a “core romance” of the book. The plot involves Wiccan making a mistake; Gillen compares it to a “Hank Pym plot.”
Kate Bishop is also in the book, with Gillen saying that her and Marvel Boy are sort of “off to one side,” in something of a b-plot.
Those characters are the “core six,” but Gillen hints that more might join the cast in the future.
McKelvie says his favorite characters to draw so far are Wiccan and Hulkling. “You want them to look like real teenagers as much as you can, and I’ve done research, looking at styles, putting together reference photos.” He’s also fleshing things out the world with details like what Marvel Boy has on his walls — classic cinema posters from different eras.
First press question, from CBR: How is McKelvie approaching his unconventional layouts? “We wanted to do something as different as we can make it,” McKelvie replies. “Every single fight scene, we tell it in its own specific way, and once we do that, we chuck it aside and never do it again.”
“We have superhero books on the stands every week,” Gillen says, and they’re attempting to recapture the uniqueness of the genre, and that they’re going to avoid things like homages to classic superhero covers or imagery.
Next question, from us: Following the well-received Bryan Lee O’Malley variant cover to #1 that spoke to the uniqueness of the series, are there plans to get more artists not known for superhero work involved? “For sure,” series editor Lauren Sankovitch says. “Jamie and Kieron come chock-full with ideas for requests and various different persons that I might not be aware of, but having discovered their work, am also equally excited about the possibility of working with.” Stephanie Hans is doing a cover for issue #2, Tradd Moore #3. “This will be an unconventional book, one for people looking for a little more spice in their superhero life.”
Next question, from Word Balloon: Will any characters from Fear Itself: Youth in Revolt be involved? Gillen says it’s a possibility, but not a definite at this point, and that the book’s focus will move around a bit beyond the six main characters.
Next question, from the Associated Press, concerns capturing a sense of “cool” or youth in a superhero comic book: “This is a very natural book,” Gillen says, instead of “grasping to be cool.” McKelvie says it’s about “looking at how the characters feel, and hopefully its own kind of thing comes out of that, organically.”
Next question, from iFanboy: Based on his past work, does Gillen feel an obligation to deal with real-life youth issues? “When I did the suicide story in Generation Hope, any moral in that story had to be decoded,” Gillen answers. The writer says he’s looking at the “full range” of teenage emotions, from suicidal friends to a crappy job. “Nothing will be out of bounds.”
Next question, from IGN: Is Loki still wrestling with the inevitability (or not) of him becoming a villain? Gillen answers in the affirmative. “Not quite in the same way,” he adds, “but these are things that interest me, and I will continue to explore.”
Next question, from Marvel.com: Will readers see Speed in the series? Gillen says he didn’t want to “overload” the cast and put someone there just to be there, but he likes the character. “Speed’s absence is explained quite briefly in the first issue. I hope to come back to him in issue #6.”
Going back around, another question from us: Between the restaurant scene in the Marvel NOW! Point One issue between Loki and Miss America, the recently released preview page of Loki at a diner and Gillen mentioning breakfast in multiple interviews, how important is food, specifically breakfast, to the series? “Extremely, I would say,” Gillen says. “I would say superpowers is the most important thing, and breakfast is the second most important. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” McKelvie says that they come back to the diner more than once. “The sense of place is important,” Gillen says, and that’s it’s a similar vibe to early-morning breakfast after a night at a club. “It’s a phenomenally optimistic book,” Gillen adds, contrasting it to Journey Into Mystery in that regard.
Next question, from Word Balloon: What was the process of the creative team being chosen for Young Avengers? Gillen says it evolved out of early Marvel NOW! planning, and that he said he specifically wanted to work with McKelvie. Sankovitch says that she went into “editorial deathmatch” to get the book in her office, and the creative team — including Mike Norton, sharing art duties with McKelvie as they’ve been doing recently — came into place. Sankovitch says there’s “alchemy” in having creators as familiar with each other, like Gillen and McKelvie, working together.
Viscardi asks what Gillen and McKelvie’s collaborative process resembles. “It’s a hybrid style,” Gillen says, saying that he’s blending full script with a “loose Marvel method,” the latter for the music video-esque fight scenes.
Next question, from iFanboy: How much has the main cast’s “hero worship” changed since the earlier incarnation of Young Avengers? And will the characters ever take on different identities to distance themselves from the adult heroes? “I would say yes to almost all of that,” Gillen says. “It’s not really about distancing yourself, you mean. Noh-Varr’s changed his name already. The concept of name and identity is a superhero conceit, but it’s also a metaphor for individual growth. I could totally see characters changing their name. I could also see them not. It’s less about the hero worship, and more about the group.”
Last question, from Marvel.com: What sort of presence will the “adult” Avengers have in the book? “The grown-up Avengers are in issue #2 briefly,” Gillen answers. “It’s hard to explain without giving away the plot. I don’t want to say much more than that. It’s very much about parent figures. The relationship between parents and children is very key to the book, and growing up is also key.” Sankovitch: “Will you see other Avengers? Yes.”
To recap: Young Avengers #1 is out on Jan. 23. That’s it, thanks for reading!