The young you often feel empowered to save the world. Some of the youth residing in the Marvel Universe don’t just feel empowered, they actually are. Saving the world is something they must do on a regular basis. In the aftermath of 2006’s superhero “Civil War,” a government training program dubbed The Initiative was established to help train them how to do that properly and then place them in government sponsored super teams in each of the fifty states.
The Initiative’s inaugural graduating class got a crash course in saving the world after the alien Skrull Empire launched a “Secret Invasion” of Earth. After they graduated, the program fell under the control of control of Norman Osborn, the former Green Goblin, who corrupted the Initiative and turned its members into his own personal army. When Osborn’s “Dark Reign” ended the program was disbanded but the heroes trained by the Initiative never forgot the lessons they learned there.
They’ll be thankful for all their training because “Fear Itself” is about to begin, and the Marvel Universe will be at the mercy of the massively powerful fear god known as the Serpent. In “Fear Itself: Youth in Revolt,” writer Sean McKeever and artist Mike Norton’s upcoming six issue miniseries, the U.S. government deputizes several Initiative graduates and one other hero and tasks them with combating the chaos caused by the Serpent’s attack on the world. CBR News spoke with McKeever about the project, which begins in May.
CBR News: Sean, you got a brief taste of writing for a Marvel event with last year’s “Siege: Young Avengers” one-shot. With “Fear Itself: Youth in Revolt” you’re writing your first Marvel event tie-in series. How does that feel? And what was it about the “Fear Itself” story line that made you want to be part of it?
Sean McKeever: It’s really quite exciting. Dating all the way back to “Secret Wars II” and “Mutant Massacre,” I’ve loved the idea of tie-ins to a major event. With “Fear Itself,” the core concept of what we fear and what our panic buttons are has always been a fascination of mine, probably because I used to suffer from occasional panic attacks. And it’s a great opportunity to delve into some darker themes, just as I recently did with “Onslaught Unleashed.”
One of the cast members of “Youth in Revolt” is Gravity, a character you created five years ago with Mike Norton. You returned to the character recently during your run on “Young Allies,” but how does it feel to bring Gravity into a big storyline like this? And how does it feel to be working on the character with Mike Norton again?
I’ve found, in writing him with the Secret Avengers in “Onslaught Unleashed,” that it’s actually pretty weird. Looking back, I think Mike and I had intended for him to be slowly introduced to the Marvel Universe at large, and here he is smack-dab in the middle of things!
Working with Mike again is really icing on the cake. He’s really become quite the star in his own right and I can’t wait to see how our collaborations evolve.
In addition to Gravity, you’re writing an interesting and eclectic bunch of characters. Let’s talk about some of them, starting with Thor Girl. It seems like she’s a fairly powerful character who’s been through some traumatic experiences as of late when she was abducted by the Skrulls and replaced by a doppelganger. Then she was severely beaten by a clone of Thor. How have these two events affected her? What’s her state of mind when this series begins?
Well, Tarene’s the sort of character who, like Thor, is pretty resilient. Her state of mind at the outset is focused more squarely on the events leading into “Fear Itself.” As an honorary Asgardian, she’s found herself in a bit of a quandary that I can’t yet get into the specifics of. She’ll be the narrative glue for #2, and is certainly front-and-center for the entire story, so her state of mind and her emotional journey are of great importance to me.
You’re also writing a couple of characters who have had a relationship full of ups and downs in Komodo and Hardball. When we last saw them together Hardball assisted Komodo in the capture of Baron Blitzschlag. How would you describe their relationship going into “Youth in Revolt?” How do you think they feel about each other?
It’s obviously a very complex relationship, and my plan is to play with that complexity. I don’t want to say much about their situation at the outset because they’re showing up in “Avengers Academy” #13 and it would be massively crappy of me to spoil Chris Gage’s story.
This team also has another seemingly awkward pairing in the form of Firestar and Ultra Girl, the former and current girlfriends of Avengers Academy Instructor Justice. Are these two characters comfortable working together or is there a little bit of tension there?
After giving Firestar and Justice closure in “I Am an Avenger” with Mike Mayhew, this is the one element left to explore. Once again, I’ll have to keep mum or Gage will come after me with a dull, rusty knife! Their meeting is a fantastic element of “Avengers Academy” #13, and I’ll be following up on it, rest assured.
Rounding out your cast of characters is Cloud 9. In her last appearance in the “Age of Heroes” anthology it looked like Cloud 9 gave up super heroics all together. Are you able to tell us why she’s back in costume for this storyline? Is she happy to be back in costume?
Well, she’s back in costume on the cover, at least. You’ll get to see her good friend Komodo try and talk her into rejoining the revived Initiative, but Cloud 9 has her own ideas about how she wants to live her life. Her perspective is a great addition to the story and cast.
Over all how would you describe the group dynamic of your cast of characters in “Youth in Revolt?”
Chaotic. Loving. Spiteful. Heartwarming. Bittersweet. Deadly. You know, like a family reunion.
In terms of plot and themes what is “Youth in Revolt” about?
We’re taking a look at what it means to be asked to serve, to keep the peace, to keep your act together when everything goes to hell; and to find out what you’re made of when the End Times come.
How important an element is setting in this story? What are some of the key locales?
Just like the Initiative, we’ll be all over the place. Surprisingly for me, none of this will take place in Wisconsin! Atlanta figures hugely in #1, New Jersey in #2, and Las Vegas in #3, to name a few.
Who are the antagonists your heroes will be butting heads with in this story?
Oh, we have antagonists. I’ll have to keep mum for now, but the cover to #3 is a doozy! And, really, who’s to say some protagonists won’t become antagonists? To me, that makes a wonderful foil: someone with the same goals and needs, but with an entirely different ideology on how those things can and should be attained.