Heroic Age

Tuesday Q&A: The Heroic Age Pt. 1

Kurt Busiek, Paul Cornell, Rick Remender and Dan Slott discuss kicking off a new era in the Marvel Universe with AGE OF HEROE



By Kevin Mahadeo

As one age ends, another begins. So, it seems appropriate that this May sees the release of two new anthology titles celebrating the beginning of a new era in the Marvel Universe: the Heroic Age.

In a special two-part, two-day Q&A, we take a look at the two titles set to usher in the dawning of the Marvel U's new day. AGE OF HEROES-a four-issue, anthology-style limited series--features short stories by various writers highlighting what the new Heroic Age means for many of Marvel's super-powered protectors. Writers Kurt Busiek, Paul Cornell, Rick Remender and Dan Slott team with artists Marko Djurdjevic, Leonard Kirk, Chris Samnee and Ty Templeton respectively, for the first issue, which hits stores May 19.

Marvel.com spoke with all four writers about their respective tales and how they'd personally celebrate the new Heroic Age.



Marvel.com: The title is part of the kick off to the Heroic Age. As a writer, what does the Heroic Age mean to you? What are your thoughts on this new age of the Marvel U?

Kurt Busiek: I can't say all that much about the Heroic Age, because I've literally read none of it-beyond my own story, that is. I'm happy to have been a part of kicking it off, but it's in the hands of [Tom] Brevoort, [Brian] Bendis, [Ed] Brubaker and others whose names may or may not begin with "B." What it'll mean for the Marvel Universe and for the readers remains to unfold, and I'm interested in seeing what'll happen with it all. It sounds like a great time to check in on Marvel-one massive years-in-the-making story has just ended, and new things are brewing, so let's find out what they are.

Marvel.com: What can you tell us about the story you'll be writing? What about the viewpoint of the common man appeals to you as a comic writer?

Kurt Busiek: My story is set in New York City, and follows Mayor J. Jonah Jameson, dealing with the aftermath of Siege and the dawn of the Heroic Age. Jonah being Jonah, he's seeing things through his particular lens and has every intention of tuning recent developments to his advantage. But not everything's going to go the way he imagines. More than that, it's hard to say. It's an 11-page story, so if I give too much away, there won't be much left to read. As for what I like about a common-man viewpoint, ever since I was a teenager, I've been fascinated by the thought of what

AGE OF HEROES #1 preview art by Marko Djurdjevic & Jelena Kevic-Djurdjevic
life is like for the ordinary people in a super hero setting. And I've been writing about it, in one way or another, since MARVELS, and even before, since I did a couple of ordinary-guy viewpoint stories even before that. The regular, ordinary people of the world are the context for the adventures; they're who the heroes are fighting for, they're the grounding that all the stories need-"superhuman" doesn't mean anything without "human" to compare it to. They're us, really, and that's a question that's hooked me for decades. What would it be like to really be there?

Marvel.com: J. Jonah Jameson is quite the character to say the least. What are your thoughts about where he is now as mayor of New York?

Kurt Busiek: I think it's a very interesting role for him. It's familiar, in that he's still an authority figure in Spider-Man's life, in the public eye and orchestrating public opinion against Spider-Man, all of which are things he does classically. But at the same time, it's a new setting for him, a place where he's got political power, and political responsibility, instead of merely the power of the press. So it's a great way to explore him from a new angle without changing his role utterly. An inspired choice, I think.

Marvel.com: Marko Djurdjevic handles the art for the story. What do you like about his style and how do you think it fits the story you're telling?

Kurt Busiek: I think Marko's got a grounded, credible approach to the world and the people in it, but he's also wonderful at big heroic, high-impact visuals. Since this story calls for both, he was a terrific choice. He makes the New York street scenes come alive and the big Avengers action, as well. There's a loose, gestural quality to the inking that works beautifully with [his wife and colorist Jelena Kevic-Djurdjevic's] color work. I'm excited to see it in print.

Marvel.com: Last question. Supposing you were in the Marvel U. How would you celebrate this new age of heroes?

Kurt Busiek: Honestly? I hate crowds. The last place in the world I'd want to be is Times Square on New Year's Eve. But at a time like this, in the Marvel U, I'd want to get somewhere I could see the heroes in action, just to witness it, to see what it'd be like to see Thor call down a storm or Spider-Man slingshot himself along, above the city streets. The Heroic Age, at least for now, would make me feel like I wasn't likely to die trying to do that, so I'd want to be a witness. I'd want to see it. Not sure I'd want to see the X-Men in action. That still feels like it'd be pretty dangerous. But the Avengers? The Fantastic Four? Tell me where, and I'll be there.



Marvel.com: What are your thoughts on the new Heroic Age of the Marvel U? What does the Heroic Age mean to you?

Paul Cornell: It's what, for me, should be the default for super hero storytelling. Marvel has spent several years on one really interesting big story, challenging the nature of heroism, now we're back where everyone feels the moral compass should be. That return was implicit in the story. I'd enjoy writing something messy and grim like The Punisher too, but I write super heroes for the mythic stuff. I think the new age will suit me, exactly like it doesn't suit Pete Wisdom or the Young Masters.

Marvel.com: What can you tell us about the story you'll be writing? What members of MI-13 will be appearing?

Paul Cornell: Everyone but Spitfire and Blade. They're off doing something else. It's just a vignette of some politics that go down when the team are honored by Steve Rogers.

Marvel.com: Part of the story involves the team visiting America. You're British-born yourself. Do you draw on your own experiences of visiting the country for this title?

AGE OF HEROES #1 preview art by Leonard Kirk
Paul Cornell: Maybe not for this title, but, in general, all the time.  Marvel, for me, is about New York.  I love that city, much more European than say, [Los Angeles] but still something brilliant that we don't quite have, a new thing. To have Spider-Man actually swinging through it, or the FF having a building there, would seem apt.

Marvel.com: The story reunites you with the members of MI-13. What do you like about them? What about the idea and concept of this British super team appeals to you?

Paul Cornell: I like how much they allowed me to talk about Britain, through all sorts of different viewpoints. They're all my favorites in one way or the other, and I miss writing for them, particularly for Pete.

Marvel.com: Speaking of reuniting, the book also re-teams you once again with Leonard Kirk. What do you like about working with Leonard? And what makes him so perfect for these characters?

Paul Cornell: We've worked together so often that I always have an image in my head of how he'll play a scene, and, weirdly, he still manages to surprise me in good ways. He's great with the acting, with the character moments, and can also do these wonderful designs and action scenes. He's quietly one of the best comics artists alive, and a pleasure to work with.

Marvel.com: Last question. As we mentioned earlier, the Heroic Age is upon us. Celebration time: what would you and members of MI-13 do?

Paul Cornell: We've already seen them relaxing at Brian's home in the country. I think Jac could put on quite the house party. It may well be that Pete's got a girlfriend now. Unless he completely freaked her out when last we saw them. I hope I get to visit them again.



Marvel.com: What are your thoughts on the Heroic Age and what does it mean to you?

Rick Remender: I think it's a tonal issue more than anything else. In the Marvel Universe over the past few years it's been bleak and stuff's been going off the rails. Starting in Civil War or even House of M, all over these events have delivered crushing blows, one after another to the super hero community. For a bunch of folks who just want to get together to protect humanity and make sure no one gets their purse stolen on the subway, it's been a lot of hardship. I think that in Siege, the population of the country sees what these guys have done for them and the sacrifices and that having super heroes available is a cool thing. So, tonally, it's nice in that everybody is rah rah rah.

Marvel.com: What can you say about the Doctor Voodoo story you'll be telling AGE OF HEROES?

Rick Remender: It's very similar to the [DOCTOR VOODOO: AVENGER OF THE SUPERNATURAL] series we did. It's somewhat light-hearted while dealing with some serious threats. It picks up from the series, but it's also self-contained. I'm always a sucker for some of the 70's B-list guys and Brother Voodoo being one of those characters I just always loved and saw

AGE OF HEROES #1 preview art by Chris Samnee
a lot of potential in. This is a story that gives us a look into the responsibilities of being the Sorcerer Supreme and how trying to have a normal life and doing things like going out on a date are not usually going to be subsiding very well the threats you have to contend with being Sorcerer Supreme-protector of the universe! [Laughs]

Marvel.com: What about the character of Doctor Voodoo makes him ideal for a setting like the Heroic Age? How does he fit in?

Rick Remender: The character in general has a sense of optimism that I think fits tonally with the Heroic Age. He's not a killer and he's somebody who has greatly doubted his own abilities in the past and rose to the occasion and took the mantel of Sorcerer Supreme and did the best he could. He defeated Nightmare and Doctor Doom in both of their ploys to take over reality, which I think is a pretty good gold star on the forehead. Jericho [Drumm] is very glad to see things the way they are. As Sorcerer Supreme, he's happy to see a celebration. Like I said, his character is at the core an optimist, so it fits and makes him feel like there's hope.

Marvel.com: I understand you and artist Chris Samnee are actually friends. What 's it like working together on this story?

Rick Remender: Chris and I have been trying to work together going on five years now on various projects, and it was just by total coincidence that when [editor] Lauren [Sankovitch] put this together she was like, "How about Chris Samnee?" I was like, "Oh! That'd be wonderful." He's got fundamental storytelling skills and on top of that, he builds his finishes in a Toth-ian fashion. He's got a very clean style and he uses a lot of heavy blacks and shadows to define his panels. He's fluid. His storytelling is clear and dynamic when it needs to be. He doesn't squeeze out important panels in order to get giant shots of heroes. Everything gets its due. It's beautiful.

Marvel.com: One last question: If you were living in the Marvel Universe, how would you celebrate this new age of heroes?

Rick Remender: Am I me? Am I a dude who is just a writer and is all tired from writing all the time? [Laughs] I guess now that all those suckers are out having a party and feeling good about themselves I'd steal TVs out of their houses.



Marvel.com: What are your thoughts on this new era of the Marvel Universe and as a writer, what does the Heroic Age mean to you?

Dan Slott: It's a vast departure from the Dark Reign, where the villains were in control and where Norman Osborn had a tight grasp on everybody. Now it's all about getting back to what it means to be a hero.

Marvel.com: Would you say it's the happier side of comic book storytelling?

Dan Slott: I wouldn't say it's happier because the Heroic Age can still have epic struggles. Heroes still need somebody to fight. But it's about a brighter, shinier tomorrow. There's still things for heroes to do in it. It's not just everybody going "Yay!" all the time.

Marvel.com: In AGE OF HEROES #1, you're writing a Spider-Man tale. What can you say about what we'll be seeing?

Dan Slott: Well, all the stories I'm doing, unlike the other guys, are done-in-one-pagers. They're really quick. They have about as much plot and story as you would find in one of the old Hostess Twinkie ads. And that's the feel about them. The things that I'm doing are going in, telling the story, getting out really quick and saying something about the Heroic Age. So, if I blow that for you now, I think I've blown the entire story. [Laughs] "What is Spider-Man like in the Heroic Age?" Well, that is my story.

Marvel.com: As a writer, how difficult is it to tell a story in just one page? Is it much harder than writing a whole issue or story arc?

AGE OF HEROES #1 cover by Greg Tocchini
Dan Slott: Oh, it's much easier. They're all splash pages, so it took me no time at all. I'm kidding! [Laughs] It's discipline. You have to think about them as a Sunday strip or a Sunday funny. You're really going in and telling one quintessential moment, but there are a lot of things you can do in that moment. The only thing is that I think we're using a heck of a lot more panels than the other guys. Anywhere between seven-to-nine panels. I don't want to ruin any of them, but that's part of the fun. They're just quick blasts of story.

Marvel.com: Looking at Spider-Man as a character moving out of Dark Reign to the Heroic Age, you have to think that as a character that he's feeling pretty good about things with Norman Osborn now gone...

Dan Slott: One of the things that Brian Michael Bendis was saying about the Dark Reign was that it was a time when all the heroes were getting to feel what it was like to be Spider-Man, what it was like to be that underdog against insurmountable odds and with all society against you. Now the question is: with Norman gone and a return to big heroics, is that world going to change for Spider-Man as well?

Marvel.com: Well, I definitely want to hit on artist Ty Templeton. What's it like working with him and what about his style compliments your writing?

Dan Slott: Ty is a [consummate] storyteller. I think he is one of the best in the industry. When I talked to editors Tom Brevoort and Lauren Sankovitch about doing [these] one-pagers, one of things I [asked] was can I do them with Ty. It's really hard to do a seven-to-nine panel page and make it feel open and make it feel big and show a lot of character and also to pace it out right. I couldn't think of anybody but Ty to pull this off.

Marvel.com: As one last question: supposing you're in the Marvel Universe, how do you celebrate this new Age of Heroes?

Dan Slott: I think the first and most important thing I do is make sure I go and get my portrait standing on that very same platform from all the variant covers. I would get the Dan Slott variant with my name etched in the little gold thing underneath with golden rays coming out from behind. That'd be awesome. If you did stick that one a cover, I can guarantee an extra 5k sale because my mother would buy an extra 5000 copies. [Laughs]

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