Knowledge is power, which means the seemingly omniscient alien known as the Watcher is one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel Universe. This summer, readers will find out just how powerful the Watcher truly was when an unknown assailant murders the all-seeing extraterrestrial and plunges the Marvel U into chaos by revealing the Watcher’s secrets to the world.
In the main “Original Sin” event series a group of Marvel heroes will hunt for the Watcher’s killer and several tie-ins will chronicle how Marvel’s biggest guns react to the secrets the Watcher knew about them.
The sudden release of the Watcher’s secret wealth of knowledge won’t just impact the Marvel Universe’s most prominent heroes, however. Many fan-favorite characters will be drawn into the chaos of “Original Sin” as well, and some of those stories will be documented in “Original Sins,” a five-issue anthology series beginning in June that features a variety of characters. CBR News spoke with Eisner Award-winning writer Ryan North (“Dinosaur Comics,” “Adventure Time”) about his Young Avengers serial that will run through all five issues of “Original Sins” and features art by Ramon Villalobos.
CBR News: Ryan, your webcomic “Dinosaur Comics” is wildly popular, and you won an Eisner Award for your work on BOOM!’s “Adventure Time” series. This year also sees the release of your first Marvel work, a Young Avengers story running in “Original Sins.” How does it feel to be working on not just your first Marvel comic, but a comic that ties into Marvel’s big summer event?
Ryan North: It’s exciting to be working on a Marvel book for sure. I think every cartoonist imagines working with one of the big comics publishers, getting to play in their sandbox. And this is a great book to be working on: it’s got those tie-ins to Marvel’s big summer event, as you say, and the Young Avengers are an incredibly beloved team. The YA fans kinda remind me of the Homestucks from MS Paint Adventures, in that those who are into it are REALLY into it, and both groups seem preternaturally gifted at cosplay.
What made the Young Avengers a compelling group of characters for you? Which members of the team do you find most interesting and why?
I love that the YA are this team that’s like, “Okay, we’re awesome, we’re gonna go fight crime,” and they don’t ask for anyone’s permission. I feel like “you don’t have to wait for people to tell you that what you want to do is okay” is the kind of life lesson where the younger that light bulb goes off, the more rad adult you grow into. So that’s a really appealing thing for me.
This story we’re doing is only part of each issue — the anchor story for the book — so we don’t get the full issue. So while other members of the Young Avengers will be making an appearance, this story stars Marvel Boy, Hulkling and Prodigy. Hulkling’s a favorite of mine, and I’m not sure if that’s because I’ve got a soft spot for shapeshifters or because I love how he and Wiccan fit together, but the fact Wiccan’s not there on this mission — and that Prodigy is — will be part of this too.
You’re picking up the Young Avengers following a highly acclaimed and stylized run by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie. How does what you and artist Ramon Villalobos are doing with the team compare to Gillen and McKelvie’s work?
It’s funny, once this story was announced I started talking to Kieron about the Young Avengers and he’s been really supportive. But they’re different things to compare: the Gillen/McKelvie run goes for a year and is conceived of in terms of a “season,” while this is a much shorter one-shot story.
I love how Kieron and Jamie set up the YA and really let their personalities show through, and I want to continue that. It’s harder in a shorter story to fit everything you want into it, but I think I’ve found a way. This’ll be a pretty dense, high-action story, but with the same Young Avengers feel/feels you remember. Hopefully?
What sets your “Original Sins” story in motion? Does it involve the Young Avengers uncovering a dark secret about themselves? Is there anything you can share about that secret without is there anything you can tell us about that secret without tipping your hand?
Unlike probably a lot of the “Original Sin” adjacent stories, this one isn’t about a deep dark secret being discovered about our heroes. So that’s nice! Nobody has to worry about Teddy’s secret True Form being revealed to be a yellow stretchy dog. But it does involve secrets, and I think what the past few years have shown us is that who knows what — and when — can be critical. All I can say right now is that the Young Avengers have a personal reason for getting involved in the first place.
We know the primary antagonist in your “Original Sins” story will be the Hood. What do you find most interesting about the character? What makes him a good adversary for the Young Avengers?
Hood’s like this alternate Spider-Man, you know? “With great power comes great opportunity” is his phrase that I keep coming back to: here’s a guy who gets powers and thinks, “All right, I can make some money with this.” Which Spider-Man did too, actually, but then he realizes he needs to help people after he gets in trouble with that. Hood’s never made it that far along in his moral development, but it’s not like he’s evil. He wants to help people! Just the people he likes: his family, his friends, himself. I think that’s an interesting place to start with someone, and putting someone like that up against the Young Avengers should be a lot of fun.
In the past the Hood has acted both as a solo villain and as the head of his own gang of super-powered criminals. Will he have any help in “Original Sins?”
His gang of super-powered criminals didn’t work out too well for Hood, so he’s back to working with only the people he can really trust. That includes himself, obviously, but there’s some other people he’d like to have helping him, if he can get to them in time.
Let’s move on to some other elements of your “Original Sins” story. What can you tell us about tone, scope, and scale of your tale?
In one sense it’s a smaller story than what we’ve seen before, so there’s no alien invasions of Earth or mind-control parasites. But on the other hand the Young Avengers are fighting for something that could change the entire planet’s development, so the stakes are about as high as they’ve ever been!
I think the most important part of the YA is the team: the people on it and how they connect with each other. And these people like each other! They’re a team because they choose to be a team, not because they have to. I’m interested in exploring their relationships and having a good time hanging out with these people. Being a superhero is amazing (everyone should try it) — so I’m trying to make this a fun and amazing story.
Artist Ramon Villalobos will bring your story to life. What do you feel he brings to the book?
Oh, Ramon’s great! We e-mailed before we started working on the comic seriously and he’s a great guy and really interested in telling the best stories he can. I’ve seen some of his pencils and inks so far for #1 and he’s been taking what I’ve written and running with it, which is awesome. His style is so ruffled, his characters and places really have this sense of having been lived in, which makes them feel realistic — and in a superhero book, that’s exciting. I think people will be seeing the Young Avengers in this new light when they see how Ramon brings them to life.
For anyone who might be discovering your work for the first time with “Original Sins,” what else would you recommend readers check out to familiarize themselves with your work?
If you’re saying “who is this Ryan guy and what’s he gonna do to my babies, the Young Avengers” (which is, almost verbatim, one of the Tumblr posts I saw when this was announced) then I’d recommend you check out “Dinosaur Comics,” my daily strip about talking dinosaurs; “Adventure Time,” I’ve been making these comics since they launched in 2012 with Braden Lamb and Shelli Paroline on art, and we’ve won an Eisner for it, which is rad; “The Midas Flesh, a monthly comic I’ve been writing that’s more superhero-y — it’s about King Midas in space, and his dead body being used as a super weapon to destroy entire worlds by turning them into gold.
That should be enough reading for now!
“Original Sins” begins in June from Marvel Comics.
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