After the success of Young Avengers 2008, Marvel wanted to revisit them in a way that remained trued to Allan Heinberg’s characters. Enter Kieron Gillen. A veteran Marvel writer, Gillen has had stints penning Thor and Uncanny X-Men among others before taking the helm for Young Avengers.
BuzzFeed chatted with Gillen via email about the new series and what it means to be 18 and a superhero.
BuzzFeed: Who are the Young Avengers?
Kieron Gillen: Avengers who are young. That’s entirely a lie.
Young Avengers are a group of teenagers who, inspired by the original Avengers, started being superheroes. It all went wrong. Some of them died. Other of them wish they did. They all decided, no, let’s not do this anymore.
That’s the story so far. We come in when a youthful Loki puts his oar in, and manipulates them into putting the band together.
It’s not about being an Avenger with a membership card. This is about the ideal. It’s a book about saving the world because you have to.
BF: What can you tell new readers about each member of the team?
Gillen: Team isn’t the word, really. This is a book about a group of people. Young Avengers is about using the concept of superhero fiction to look at everything — absolutely everything — about being 18. From waking up in the bed with beautiful strange alien boys to working a crappy job where you know you’re wasting all your talents, we transform it into superhero narrative. There’s also fights. We’re not stupid.
Brief bio of core cast!
Kid Loki: Reincarnated form of Norse Mischief god. Like Tom Hiddleston but with less pubic hair.
Wiccan: Billy Kaplan. Enormously powerful reality warper and dirty great geek. Going out with…
Hulkling: Teddy Altman. Prince of the Skrull Empire, hiding out on Earth. Shapechanger. Nothing to do with the hulk bar the color.
Hawkeye; Kate Bishop. Lady Hawkguy! Has bow, shoot things. Arrows or one liners, she’s not fussy.
Miss America: Miss America Chavez. Mysterious dimension-skipping wearer of hotpants, big Doc boots and jacket. Puncher of Loki’s face.
Marvel Boy: Noh-Varr. Ex-Avenger. Ex-wearer of hotpants. An Alien Kree boy and hipster pop-cultural obsessive of Earth.
BF: Kid Loki, Marvel Boy, and Miss America are among the new faces on the roster. What made you include them?
Gillen: Loki got the original Avengers together, as anyone who saw the movie knows. I thought it was fun for him to do the same thing for my team, in a completely different way. He’s a manipulator, and a clear snake in the garden of Eden. What’s he up to? I love that drama.
Marvel Boy and Miss America are people who are slightly older than the original Young Avengers, but also showing completely new ways to be a hero. Part of the book is about changing from your role models being people much older you to people who are actually your age… which is a step from you realizing you can do it all yourself and you don’t need to worry about anything else.
They’re also all prickly characters. The original YA cast are almost all sweeties. I wanted some sour with my sweet.
BF: Any more new (or old) faces in the pipe?
Gillen: Yes. That’s my answer, Yes.
BF: When readers of the first Young Avengers comic last left the group, they were 16. Now they’re all 18. How different is that headspace to write?
Gillen: It’s a headspace where you can get into bars slightly easier.
BF: The first Young Avengers series won a GLAAD award in 2006 for its portrayal of the love between Hulkling and Wiccan. Will their relationship remain a focal point?
Gillen: Hulkling and Wiccan are one of modern comics’ greatest romantic couples. It’s central.
BF: In the beginning of Issue #1, Marvel Boy is listening to Be My Baby by the Ronettes, calling them “wonderful.” Did you choose that song for any special reason?
Gillen: It’s just one of the greatest pop records of all time. I loved the image of this alien boy from an infinitely more technologically advanced culture just extolling the greatness of its drums and dancing around in his underwear.
Seriously, don’t get me talking about Be My Baby. You’ll never stop me. In some way, by referencing that immortal drum signature heralding the start of one of the greatest pop singles of all time, I was sort of doing a THIS IS WHAT THIS SCENE IS TRYING TO BE. Young Avengers is our pop concept album, to steal Brian Wilson’s line, a teenage symphony to god.
BF: Any hints on future storylines?
Gillen: The first 15 issues are basically one movement — kind of like a series of a TV show. We introduce elements and move to our conclusion and change of status quo. The arch-villain of the series is a constant threat from the first moment they appear in the last panel of the first issue. But there’s other threats, with all the past of the characters coming back to haunt them all. Issue 6 catches up with Tommy/Speed, who’s one of the characters from the original Young Avengers I wasn’t using in my main cast. There’s traveling and gigs and after-parties and everything else fired through my superheroic metaphor. It’s all very much THIS IS EVERYTHING.