By Jim Beard
As Dark Reign ends and Siege comes to a close, a new era dawns on the Marvel Universe: the Heroic Age. Helping to chronicle the first steps of this fledgling epoch in the AGE OF HEROES limited series will be the writing quartet of Kurt Busiek, Paul Cornell, Rick Remender and Dan Slott.
Busiek, the superstar scribe and AVENGERS legend making his grand return to Marvel, kicks off AGE OF HEROES with a tale of Earth's Mightiest Heroes-and New York's Most Annoying Mayor.
"My story starts shortly after the events of Siege, as people are still taking in what's happened," Busiek explains. "It focuses on J. Jonah Jameson, Mayor of New York, and how he's going to deal with the whole big ruckus. The people of New York play a part, as do the Avengers, who are off in the Midwest still dealing with some fallout from those events. It's about how ordinary people react to extraordinary events happening around them, but in this case, our witness to extraordinary events is irascible and manipulative J. Jonah Jameson, who'd love to use these events to tear down the heroes even further and glorify himself. But it may not be as easy as he thinks.
"It's very much a story about how the people of New York view their heroes, in the light of all that's gone on, so what's been happening and what's coming next are the subject of the story. It's a treat to be back playing with the Marvel characters again. It's nice to be back in this particular sandbox, being part of the new era."
Paul Cornell's stories check in with both youthful and seasoned heroes, and how they react to the new era.
"I'm doing two short pieces, one with the Young Masters [from DARK REIGN: YOUNG AVENGERS] and one with Captain Britain and MI-13," he notes. "The Young Masters are hiding, planning a robbery, unable to agree on what direction they should take, now the world has grown away from them. The Enchantress has got even wilder since Loki's not around to mess with her. They still don't know if they're villains or heroes or what.
"[MI-13] are attending an official reception presided over by Steve Rogers, given in their honor for being the first country in the world to get rid of the Skrulls. Cap is a natural fit, the sort of hero this age was made for. As are a few of MI-13, like the Black Knight and Excalibur. Even Pete finally has to admit that it's a better place to be, and that he should put his cynicism aside and embrace it."
"For Spidey, the Dark Reign is o-v-e-r!" he says. "This's a time for web-singing and wall-dancing. His neighborhood is finally friendly again. For Gauntlet and Cloud 9 [from AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE], they're at a very big crossroads. Their journeys got kick started by the end of the Civil War and the start of the Initiative. In this Heroic Age, they have to find a new place for themselves.
"And for Squirrel Girl? This is the world she was born to be in! For her the world used to be-pardon the phrase-nuts! Now it all makes sense."
One might assume that the Heroic Age and its brighter tone appeals to Slott on a basic level?
"Dude, I'm the guy who brought back Squirrel Girl," he boasts. "This is the Marvel Universe I've been dreaming of. Fun is not a dirty word anymore."
Though fun may be the mission statement of AGE OF HEROES, not all of its characters tend to walk the paths of light.
"Doctor Voodoo and his disembodied ghost brother Daniel have resumed trying to live normal lives while playing Sorcerer Supreme of the universe," says Rick Remender of his story. "The first thing Jericho does is to take his current love interest Alexis on a date during the wild New Orleans style celebration at the end of Siege. This isn't a life or death struggle, this is Jericho trying to enjoy a single normal human moment by enjoying diner with the company of an attractive woman. Naturally, this is impossible. However, the interdimensional trouble that ensures ends up playing out almost comically.
"The world is celebrating," notes Remender. "It's akin to the end of WWII. Jericho himself has saved the entire fabric of reality, only no one is aware of it. So it's time to unclench the fists and unwind a bit. We find Jericho involved in a new struggle: to enjoy life."
Look for more Heroic Age coverage all week long on Marvel.com!
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