Marvel Comics’ “Young Avengers” launches later this month as part of the publisher’s Marvel NOW! initiative and in anticipation of the long-awaited release, series writer Kieron Gillen has detailed his selection of the book’s cast in a series of entries on his personal blog. Although the series of mini-essays on the cast are far from concluded, Gillen has already detailed the reason for selecting Noh-Varr, Kate Bishop and Miss America as three of the major players in “Young Avengers.” While the writer is careful not to spoil anything about the book, he gives some massive insight into his selection process for the team, including a look at music he associates with each character and his collaborative process with series artist Jamie McKelvie.
Gillen’s first essay dealt with Noh-Varr, who the writer states is influenced heavily by David Bowie. In “Young Avengers,” Noh-Varr finds himself rejected by both the Kree and the Avengers — but that doesn’t stop him from being a hero.
“Noh-Varr has two saving graces,” Gillen said. “Firstly, he hasn’t collapsed completely. He’s instinctively a hero — his hedonism is almost impossible to separate from a hero. Superheroism as Point-Break Surfer-Zen, world disasters as a wave to be ridden and mastered. Everything has been taken from him, and he acts like a hero anyway, because being a hero is the only thing that has ever meant anything to him. His second saving grace? He loves Earth. He loves it in a way which us Earth dwellers may find a little embarrassing. And we find it embarrassing just because he’s seeing it with fresh eyes and we’re covered by the tar the 21st century tries to funnel into our lungs. But Earth is amazing. Marvel Boy realizes it, and he’ll die in the hope that some of us will too.”
In his second essay, Gillen discussed his rationale behind including Kate Bishop, and how the “hardest thing about writing Kate Bishop is, of course, not stealing [Matt] Fraction’s Lady Hawkguy gag.” Kate is unique in Gillen’s cast in that she is the only member without actual superpowers and she has a double life with Clint Barton in Fraction’s “Hawkeye.”
“With ‘Young Avengers,’ we’re firing everything about being 18-20 through a superheroic filter,” Gillen said. “As such, powers tend to come across as potential, talent, ability or whatever. And as amazing as Kate is, as hard as she’s worked — and she’s had to work harder than anyone else on the team to be who she is — she still isn’t as mercurially brilliant as everyone else. She looks around the room and knows that she lacks in a way that all her hard work can never overcome.
“She’s unusual in the cast, because she’s the only one who’s been in a comic recently,” he continued. “She’s appearing in ‘Hawkeye’ every month. She’s got her separate life to the Young Avengers – in that she’s been secretly having adventures with Clint Original Hawkeye. The other Young Avengers don’t know this to start, not least because everyone realises how touchy Billy is on the issue of anyone starting up again. But, relevantly to us, she’s got another life. She’s a little more worldly, and you can tell. But worldly is grounded – she’s not otherworldly like Marvel Boy is.”
Gillen’s most recent essay focuses on Miss America, who he settled on as a member of the team after discovering he wouldn’t be able to use Patriot in the book, and “decided I’d like someone to fill that visual niche” — although he admits this was before he’d finalized exactly what he wanted to do and wanted to have a Captain America analogue of sorts. The character appeared as the star of the “Young Avengers” “Marvel NOW! Point One” story alongside Kid Loki.
“What Miss America allows is showing someone who is as much a hero as anyone the cast has ever met, but is only a little older,” Gillen said of the character. “And if she’s doing this, by herself, and has been for years… why not you?Â She’s the cool new friend who’s just more worldly than you are, and by knowing them, you get your own expectations scrambled.
“In most fiction, you’d probably make her from one of the world’s major cities and move her to the suburbs,” he continued. “In superhero fiction, we dramatize it through the metaphor, and make her have spent a lot of her time in other dimensions. She’s been to places you haven’t. She’s not just living in New York when we first meet her in the .1 story – she’s meeting in a platonic perfect ideal of New York, where the metropolis has swept the entire globe and there’s mountains made of statues of liberty. She’s seen things that Billy and Teddy haven’t even dreamt of. Generally speaking, she’s pretty cool. Which is tricky to write without being try-too-hard.”
Gillen’s “Meet the Team” essays will likely continue as “Young Avengers” #1 ramps up to its January 23 release, with entries on Kid Loki, Wiccan and Hulkling — the final three members of the announced team.