By Marc Strom
Four years after concluding their initial run on YOUNG AVENGERS, the team's creators, writer Allan Heinberg and artist Jim Cheung, will return to Earth's Mightiest Teens beginning in July with the eight-issue, bi-monthly AVENGERS: THE CHILDREN'S CRUSADE.
The series, which co-stars the Avengers, Magneto, Quicksilver, and more, also heralds the return of The Scarlet Witch as each group races to find the woman responsible for wiping out most of the mutant population.
"The Young Avengers' search for the Scarlet Witch is definitely at the center of AVENGERS: THE CHILDREN'S CRUSADE," remarks Heinberg. "But the book also stars a large cast of current and past Avengers, as well. And because the story directly addresses the fate of The Scarlet Witch and her place within the Avengers-as well as in the Marvel Universe at large-the book's editor, Tom Brevoort, suggested we frame the story as an Avengers event."
Two of the Young Avengers' potential ties to the Scarlet Witch draw the rest of the team into the search, according to Heinberg.
"The question of Wiccan and Speed's true parentage has never really been answered, at least not to Wiccan's satisfaction," he reminds. "So when the Avengers wonder if Wiccan's powers pose as big a threat to reality as Wanda's did in Avengers: Disassembled and House of M, [he] decides to find out what exactly happened to Wanda and why."
Besides Wiccan and Speed, Wanda Maximoff has a number of other relatives and loved ones throughout the Marvel Universe, all of whom share a desire to discover the fate of The Scarlet Witch.
"The Avengers are still very invested in Wanda, both as a friend and colleague-and as a potential threat," notes Heinberg. "They're also still divided about what to do with her if and when they find her. After all, Wanda may in fact be the most powerful and destructive force in the Marvel Universe. Magneto and Quicksilver are obviously Wanda's family, but each is suspicious of the other's motives for trying to find her."
|AVENGERS: THE CHILDREN'S CRUSADE preview art by Jim Cheung|
"YOUNG AVENGERS was all about the kids' search for identity," explains the writer. "The Young Avengers were trying to figure out who they were as people and as super heroes, how they got their powers, and their place within the Marvel Universe. And this story, which is largely told from Wiccan's point of view, is a story we always wanted to tell. And I'm very grateful to Marvel and to the book's readers for waiting for us to be able to come back and tell it."
While Heinberg spends much of his time writing for television, he finds a great deal of satisfaction working with these characters and creators
"Coming back to these characters, and reuniting with Jim Cheung and Tom Brevoort, has been one of the most rewarding creative experiences I've ever had," insists Heinberg. "I'm the luckiest writer in Comicbookland to be writing the Young Avengers, and Cap and Iron Man and Ms. Marvel and Spider-Man again."
In the four years since Heinberg last wrote his creations, the Young Avengers have gone through a number of major battles, leaving them as slightly different characters than when the writer left them.
"The Young Avengers are definitely more seasoned," he acknowledges. "They've been through the Civil War, the Secret Invasion, Dark Reign, and Siege, and I think they've grown closer as a team as a result. But their idealism and their romantic idea of what it means to be a super hero definitely remains. It also gets them into trouble, as you'll see in the book."
Heinberg couldn't bring these characters to life on his own, however, and he promises his co-conspirator will deliver the goods once again.
"As in YOUNG AVENGERS, Jim and I have a lot of surprises in store. The book has an enormous cast-it spans the entire Marvel Universe-and Jim is delivering page after stunning page of a story that's both epic in scale, yet deeply personal and affecting at the same time. If you're an Avengers fan, you won't want to miss it."
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