By Kevin Mahadeo
Class will be in session once again for some of the Marvel Universe's most popular female characters this April with the launch of the brand-new limited series MARVEL HER-OES by writer Grace Randolph and artist Craig Rousseau.
"They did such a great job re-launching Spider-Man with ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN and putting him back in high school," says Randolph. "I feel this is the girl's turn to do that. And we're not dumbing down the content. I want to make it clear that this is for everybody. This isn't a book where if you're over 12 you're not going to like it."
Part of the year-long Women of Marvel celebration, the series takes place in an all-new continuity and re-imagines the heroes of Marvel as high school students. Janet Van Dyne leads the cast of HER-OES and believes herself to be the only person around with superpowers. As if high school wasn't alienating enough, Jan's desire to keep her secret makes her a bit of an underachiever and gives her a rather sarcastic sense of humor.
"I'm trying to walk that fine line where she's very funny and snarky, but she's not off-putting," explains Randolph. "I think a lot of times when people write female characters they make them really sassy. I think that works, but you don't want every female character to be that way. I give her a lot of humility. A lot of her humor is very self-deprecating."
However, despite Jan's belief, a few other students carry their own super-powered secrets, including her best friend Jenny Walters. Randolph notes that she's very excited about writing Jenny, who differs considerably from her regular Marvel Universe counterpart.
"In the regular [Marvel Universe], when Jen Walters turns into She-
|MARVEL HER-OES #1 cover by Craig Rousseau|
The powerhouse princess Namora rounds out the main players of HER-OES. As a popular exchange student from Greece, Namora stands on the opposite end of the social ladder from Jan. Randolph hints that things change between the two when it's revealed that Namora doesn't exactly hail from the "top side of Greece."
A fan of comics since childhood, Randolph expresses great appreciation for being able to work in the world she grew up reading and with such a great group of characters. She stresses that HER-OES contains something for every fan, whether male, female, older or young. However, the writer says she does hope that this project can help bring more girl and women readers in particular into comics.
"I think that Marvel Comics has a great female cast," enthuses Randolph. "From Emma Frost to Jean Grey to Spider-Woman, I just think they have really great female characters. I think there are a lot of female readers out there. I think they're unaware of the great role models and characters that there are in comics."
Randolph also says that working with artist Rousseau brings another level of excitement to the project. Rousseau worked previously on such all-ages titles as X-MEN FIRST CLASS and SPIDER-MAN LOVES MARY JANE. Randolph says that the artist's ability to convey great emotion in the simplest expression makes him an ideal choice for her style of writing.
"Janet makes faces all the time and is very sarcastic," she says. "I can write the best line, but if it's just static on the page it doesn't matter. I write stuff where a character reacts and that reaction is so crucial to getting the laugh that you need to sell the reaction. There is literally no line. You have to be able to do it and he can. He is a very versatile artist with a lot of different styles."
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