This spring, the Marvel Universe undergoes a dramatic change as it enters a new Heroic Age. This era will affect virtually of all of Marvel’s characters regardless of whether they’re big name iconic types or lesser known fan favorites.
In May, readers will get a chance to see how the Heroic Age impacts many of their favorite characters with “Age of Heroes,” a four issue anthology featuring work by some of Marvel’s top and up and coming creators. CBR News spoke with editor Tom Brevoort and writer Kurt Busiek, who has a story in the series’ debut issue, about the project
CBR News: Tom, how did this project came about? What made you guys want to do an anthology style miniseries?
Tom Brevoort: It’s a big Marvel Universe out there, and there are dozens of characters and situations that are asked about by our fans, but that we don’t really have anyplace to address in print when we go through one of these seismic shifts. So this time out, seeing as how Heroic Age will impact on characters both large and small, we thought it might be fun to do an anthology to delve into some of these stories and to touch upon some of these characters.
About how many stories will be in each issue of “Age of Heroes?” Will it be formatted like the various X-Men anthologies that have been released during periods like “Manifest Destiny” and the current “Nation X?”
Brevoort: I’m not certain offhand how “Manifest Destiny” or “Nation X” were formatted, but “Age of Heroes” looks to have four stories in each issue, two longer ones and two super-short pieces, almost like little blackouts.
Break the first issue down : what can you tell us about the stories that are featured and the creators working on them?
Brevoort: The lead story is by Kurt Busiek and Marko Djurdjevic, and it really serves to frame the overall conversation about what the new Heroic Age means to the common man, framed through the perspective of New York mayor J. Jonah Jameson. After that, there’s a Doctor Voodoo story that’s
more about the human side of being Sorcerer Supreme, a short MI:13 tale that has those characters meeting with Steve Rogers, and a tiny vignette in which Spider-Man discovers what the new Heroic Age means for him.
Any teases as to other characters and creators that will be involved in in issues 2-4?
Brevoort: Among the various characters who’ll be featured in later issues are the Young Masters, Gravity, Harry Osborn, the Gauntlet, the Blue Marvel, Taskmaster, Zodiac, Cloud 9 and Squirrel Girl. Oh, and Captain America in a block of ice.
If the Age of Heroes miniseries does well, might we see another anthology like this in the future?
Brevoort: Absolutely. In a way, “Age of Heroes” is the successor to “Manifest Destiny” and “Nation X” and series such as that. So yes, we’ll certainly do more of this kind of thing if the audience seems into it.
Kurt, you’ve done a lot of work for Marvel over the years, creating the “Thunderbolts,” scripting a classic run on “Avengers” and, of course, your ground breaking miniseries “Marvels.” It seems like it’s been awhile, though, since you last worked at the House of Ideas. How long has it been, and what’s it like coming back and working for them now?
Kurt Busiek: It kind of depends how you count. I did the final revision on the dialogue to the last two pages of “Marvels: Eye of the Camera” #6 just over two weeks ago. And since I wrote my “Age of Heroes” script before that, you could say I’ve never stopped working for Marvel, since we were slowly working on that all through four years of being DC- exclusive, and then some.
Looked at another way, it’s been a while, yeah.
It’s an interesting adjustment writing something new for Marvel – especially writing something new that’s smack in the middle of big and tumultuous events. Aside from the changes in the universe itself (Jonah’s the mayor? The Avengers are who?!), there’ve been a lot of changes in the way things work at the offices, so in some ways it’s very familiar, and in others, I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.
But Lauren Sankovitch and Tom have been very good at backstopping me and getting me the reference I need to fill in what stuff I might be unaware of, so it’s gone quite smoothly.
What do you find so interesting about Marvel’s stable of characters and their Universe?
Busiek: It’s all the stuff Stan, Jack, Steve and the others brought to it, I’d say. We played with this a little in “JLA/Avengers” – but what I like about the DC Universe is that it’s this archetypal, practically mythic kind of place, giving it a great and distinct flavor, while Marvel’s universe is rougher, more human, more banged-up and bruised along the way, which gives it its own flavor and imparts a different feel to the whole thing. And, of course, it’s full of great characters and ideas, from the FF and Spider-Man to the Avengers and X-Men to the Skrulls and the Negative Zone and the Shi’Ar Empire and beyond.
How did your “Age of Heroes” assignment come about? What drew you to the book?
Busiek: It was Brevoort that did it! Tom and I talked after my exclusive was up, just a general, “What might be interesting for you to do over here” conversation, and we mostly talked about stuff that was a little removed from the thick of ongoing events, because I’ve been out of the loop for a while. And then a few days later, he called me up and said, “Hey, I’ve got this thing, and it’s completely in the thick of things, but I think you’d have fun with it and bring something interesting to it.” And he told me about “Age of Heroes” and asked if I’d write the opening story.
So I thought about it for a couple of days, and a story kind of put itself together in my brain, and I liked it, and he liked it, and Lauren liked it. So here we are.
Tom mentioned that J. Jonah Jameson appears in your story. What role does New York’s current mayor play in it, and what do you find compelling about him?
Busiek: Jonah’s the viewpoint character. Him, and the people of New York. And hey, what’s not to like about Jonah? He’s cranky, manipulative, stubborn, sneaky, cowardly, courageous, idealistic, heroic, villainous and more, sometimes all at once, and he’s got freaky hair.
I’ve always liked writing Jonah, because he’s both unpredictable and consistent – he’s a really strongly defined character who’s capable of being an enemy at one moment and an ally the next, defending the First Amendment or setting super-robots off on a “Mangle Spider-Man” mission. He’s just a treat to write. Plus, the hair.
Is there anything else that you can tell us about the plot, themes, or supporting cast of your story in “Age of Heroes?”
Busiek: It’s sort of a “Marvels” or “Astro-City”-like story, set in New York in the wake of the events of “Siege,” as the Heroic Age is dawning, but, well, if you had Jonah as your eyes into the story instead of Phil Sheldon. JJJ, as mayor of New York, wants to spin the events of “Siege” in a way that makes people scared of super-powered people and eager to embrace and champion the common man (and their natural leader, Jonah himself). But things happen with the Avengers involving earthquake faults and running around and shouting and busting things up that send things off in a different direction from what Jonah had intended. And, well, to say more would be to give too much away.
But it should make for a good street-level portrait of ordinary people in the Marvel Universe and how they’re feeling after “Siege,” and just as the Heroic Age is beginning.
I should also mention that the art for my story is being done by Marko DjurdjeviÄ‡, whose stuff I’ve loved on “Thor,” so I can’t wait to see what he does with my script. Should be gorgeous.
Do you have a Marvel assignment lined up after the “Age of Heroes” anthology, or will this story be it for awhile?
Busiek: It looks very much like I’ll be reuniting with Pat Olliffe to do a new “Untold Tales of Spider-Man” story for Steve Wacker. I say “looks very much like” because there’s a guest star we want to use, and Steve has to ask him if it’s okay. If we get the okay on that, though, we’re good to go.
Any other Marvel characters that you’re eager to get back to or try your hand at for the first time?
Busiek: There’s always a long list. We’ve talked about a wide, wide range of characters, from Iron Man and Thor to the pre-hero FF to Woodgod, Skull the Slayer and the denizens of Weirdworld, but right now, it’d be premature to say anything more than that.