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Heroic Age

Wednesday Q&A: Heroic Age Pt. 2

Jim McCann and Christos Gage talk about ENTER THE HEROIC AGE, a new one-shot series teasing their upcoming ongoing titles

By Kevin Mahadeo

With the door to the new era of the Marvel Universe opening up, all that's left to do is walk on through, a task accomplished this May with the upcoming anthology one-shot ENTER THE HEROIC AGE.

The title hits stores on May 19 and features short stories previewing some of the ongoing series spinning out of Marvel's new age of heroes. First up, Kelly Sue DeConnick and Jamie McKelvie summon their inner arachnid for a story focusing on The Black Widow. Then it's a reunion for HAWKEYE AND MOCKINGBIRD when Jim McCann and David Lopez provide a glance at their self-titled series. Meanwhile, class begins under the tutelage of Christos Gage and Mike McKone as they open the agenda for AVENGERS ACADEMY. Finally, Jeff Parker pulls double duty, teaming with Kev Walker for a lightning quick look at the THUNDERBOLTS and Gabriel Hardman for a journey into ATLAS.

Rounding out our special two-day Q&A, Marvel.com spoke with McCann and Gage about what the new age holds for their classic heroes.



Marvel.com: What can you say about the story we'll be seeing from you and David Lopez in ENTER THE HEROIC AGE?

Jim McCann: These are stories that aren't going to be reprinted. It's not the first eight pages of the comic. They're self-contained stories and you'll start to get a sense of where these ongoings are going.

Marvel.com: One of the biggest things fans will notice in this story is that Hawkeye is Hawkeye again. What's it like for you seeing this character back in his old uniform?

Jim McCann: It's so exciting. I cannot put into words how exciting it is. Seriously right now, in my living room, I'm looking at TALES OF SUSPENSE #57, which I bought years ago and which is Hawkeye's first appearance. I'm looking at it, and there's where he started and now I'm writing it. Ronin was an interesting time for him and writing him in NEW AVENGERS: THE REUNION was fun, but nothing like getting to type the words "fires net

ENTER THE HEROIC AGE #1 preview art by David Lopez
arrow" and to be able to write him where he is most comfortable. I think he wasn't very comfortable for a while and was just trying to find himself. Now, this is it. This is Hawkeye. This is what fans have loved. They get a chance to remember him just as the character himself is getting to remember how awesome it is to be Hawkeye.

Marvel.com: I guess after seeing Bullseye in that outfit, he definitely wants to take it back.

Jim McCann: We'll be dealing with that. It's not as much, "This is me; Bullseye was wearing this and I'm going to everybody what it is." It's more, "I'm going to show everybody who I am as opposed to this is who Hawkeye is." It's more Clint Barton than it is the costume, but when you put that costume on that character that is magic.

Marvel.com: How are you going to be approaching the Hawkeye and Mockingbird relationship in this story and your upcoming series? Are you going to keep that playful, fun yet ass-kicking relationship that we've seen so far?

Jim McCann: Well, as you've seen in SIEGE and the NEW AVENGERS tie-ins, Bobbi's been having a lot of nightmares and has been going out on her own a lot of times. So, she's still having a tough time adjusting to everything. When she came back, it was to a world she didn't recognize. Those were not the Avengers she recognized. There were no West Coast Avengers. So she retreated back into superspy mode. You'll see a continuation of the superspy, ex-S.H.I.E.L.D. operative putting together a new group: the W.C.A, World Counterterrorism Agency. And now Hawkeye is a part of that, and it's really fun to write that because whenever they've been on a team together, Clint has been the leader. Now, he's got to follow her lead, and as we all know, Clint Barton and authority figures don't always go together so well. So, when you have an authority figure that he's also dating, that makes for some interesting sparks.

Marvel.com: Artist David Lopez worked on the REUNION limited series with you and will be contributing pencils to both this story and the ongoing title. What can you say about his art?

Jim McCann: That it's freaking amazing. [Laughs] I have to echo that times a thousand. I'm very, very beyond thrilled that David is with me on this. I honestly don't know that it would work as well with anybody else. He and I have developed a really good working relationship and friendship through THE REUNION. In his art, he finishes sentences that I started in

ENTER THE HEROIC AGE #1 preview art by David Lopez
the script. He completes me. [Laughs] He's putting everything he has into it, just like everybody involved is. David is bringing this up to a new level. He's doing some amazing character studies and sketching and getting it all out there, which you can see on Marvel.com. He is an honest to god superstar artist.

Marvel.com: Final question: As the world enters the Heroic Age, how do you celebrate if you were in the Marvel Universe?

Jim McCann: I would go to the newly rebuilt Avengers Mansion because it's freaking cool that it exists again. Then I would try and find the W.C.A headquarters.



Marvel.com: To start things off, what does the Heroic Age mean to you?

Christos Gage: Well, for a lot of people, the Heroic Age has come to mean a transition out of Dark Reign and into a more traditionally heroic situation where the good guys are good guys and the bad guys are bad guys. What I wanted to do in my story is show the transition. We actually look at one of the characters in AVENGERS ACADEMY, Reptil, and he has actually been captured by Norman Osborn and is being held in a facility. We see what happens when the people in the facility find out that things are changing and that Norman Osborn is no longer in power. For me, it was nice because I got to do a bridge between the old way and the new way.

Marvel.com: Each of these stories serves as a lead in to the ongoing series. That said, what can you say about the direction the AVENGERS ACADEMY will be going following this lead in?

Christos Gage: Well, I can't say too much because I don't want to give it away, but I can say that part of the AVENGERS ACADEMY is that it's the Avengers of the past training the Avengers of tomorrow. They basically don't want anything like Dark Reign to ever happen again and they feel it's their duty to train the next generation of Avengers and make sure that tomorrow is in the hands of people that will carry on [their] tradition. We've already announced the core members of the faculty, and these are

ENTER THE HEROIC AGE #1 preview art by Mike McKone
some of the Avengers who have a lot of baggage. They've faced personal challenges and been through some tough times and their goal is to draw on their experiences to try and steer these young superhumans in the direction of the heroic Avengers tradition rather than the Norman Osborn tradition.

Marvel.com: You mentioned the faculty we'll be seeing. What about those characters and their emotional journey appeals to you?

Christos Gage: Like I said, I really like the fact that they have baggage and have been through some tough times. Quicksilver is the perfect example. He was a teen hero with the Avengers during their early days and he was a teen villain. He was with Magneto during the early Brotherhood of Evil Mutants era. He has really been on both sides of the coin. With Hank Pym, he's obviously had a lot of problems with his mental breakdown and getting kicked out of the Avengers. A lot of people have forgotten that Justice actually killed his father. It was an accident, but he served time in prison for it. And Speedball, of course, everyone knows what happened in the Stamford disaster and his subsequent journey of being Penance and all that. Tigra has had her issues recently with what The Hood did to her. So, they've all sort of had their difficult times and they know what it's like. But of course, it's not always easy. It's one thing to tell someone what to do and it's another for them to learn it for themselves. By the same token, teaching these kids is going to bring out a lot of the emotions from their own difficult past. For me, I really love using the Avengers who have the most baggage. To me, it gives you some of the richest possible characters and gives you some interesting places to go.

Marvel.com: Speaking of Speedball, what's it like getting the character back to his roots?

Christos Gage: When you look at where the character has gone, it's not just flipping a switch. You can't just erase everything that has happened to him. And that's what, to me, is interesting and cool about the character. He's going through this journey. He wants to try and go back to who he was, but a change of clothes doesn't change who you are inside. He'll be struggling with how he feels about everything that's happened to him, trying to pick up a life that in many ways is over because some of his friends are dead and the New Warriors are split up. It's a really interesting

ENTER THE HEROIC AGE #1 preview art by Mike McKone
opportunity. People aren't one thing or another. We are the aggregate of all our experiences. Robbie Baldwin is becoming a new person who is the culmination of all his different experiences. To me, it's very interesting to see a character going through all these changes.

Marvel.com: Mike McKone is doing the art for this story and in the ongoing series. What can you say about working with Mike on this project?

Christos Gage: I'm glad you mentioned Mike because he is doing an amazing job on this book. He actually drew my very first Marvel work, which was a story in SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED. I've just been a huge fan of his for many, many years. I just think he's been doing some career-best work on this book. I know he has been using some new techniques that involve some computer stuff, and I'm not educated about it enough to understand what it is. You'll recognize it as Mike McKone art, but it's got that extra "oomph." Mike is absolutely the co-creator of this book and he really brings the characters to life.

Marvel.com: To wrap up, suppose you're a citizen of the Marvel Universe; the Heroic Age is starting off, how do you celebrate?

Christos Gage: If I was in the Marvel Universe, I would really get into the Avengers tradition and I loved those issues where we'd get to see the Avengers interact with the civilian population. So, I would probably be down there trying to get pictures of all the Avengers and trying to get their autographs. I remember back in 1987 when AVENGERS SPOTLIGHT was first coming out and to celebrate Marvel put out Avengers priority identification cards. I got one at my comic book store and I went to one of those booths where you get your headshot taken in a strip-this is before digital, kids, we're going old school. I cut one of them out and pasted it on my Avengers card. I wasn't 11. I was 16 or 15. [Laughs] I still have that and it was a big thrill just to see it.

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