After the finale of Young Avengers earlier this year, fans were left wondering if and when they’d see this next generation of Marvel heroes: but now you know. The Young Avengers are returning on June 11 for a five-part story running through the all-new Original Sins summer anthology series. Created by Marvel newcomers Ryan North and Ramon Villalobos, this serial promises to show the teen team dealing with multiple “original sins” being revealed to them; and if that wasn’t enough, they have the Hood to deal with as well.
Although Ryan North might be a new name in Marvel’s family of titles, the Eisner-winning writer is a well-known commodity outside of superhero comics with his webcomic series Dinosaur Comics and on the licensed comics title Adventure Time. Like previous Young Avengers writers Allan Heinberg and Kieron Gillen, his past is far outside the realm of the superhero genre, but as readers have learned that’s not always a bad thing.
Newsarama: Ryan, you’re making your Marvel debut next month, and bringing back the Young Avengers, in Original Sins. What can you tell us about this story running through this anthology?
Ryan North: It's about the Young Avengers getting sucked up into the action of the Original Sin event, but without many people knowing they're there. Basically, Marvel Boy decides he wants to be involved, takes some friends with him, and before they know it they're in deeper than they expected.
Nrama: In they’re facing off against the Hood, and in previous interviews you’ve showed a detailed and nuanced view of him as kind of a twisted Spider-Man. Can you talk about your views on him?
North: Sure! I think the best villains are ones that you can look at and say "Yeah, he's obviously going about this the wrong way or going too far or whatever, but I can see where he's coming from". Magneto's a great example of that, and the reason he and Charles Xavier can have such great conversations is that they can both make some good points.
So with Hood, I see him as this regular guy who is ambitious, and who wants to better himself, and then has these magical items fall into his lap. And who wouldn't be tempted to start taking shortcuts when all of a sudden you've got superpowers? Even Peter Parker didn't start out wanting to save people. He started out trying to help himself.
There's that old game, Flight or Invisibility, where you ask people which power they'd prefer and then argue over which is the best choice. Well, Hood's got both. And while Spider-Man ends up with "I can use these powers to help people out", Hood gets there too, but adds "and by 'people', I mean 'me and my friends'." And I think that's interesting.
Nrama: And why do you think the Hood makes an ideal adversary for the Young Avengers?
North: He's in his early 20’s vs. the Young Avengers’ late teens, and he's an outsider too: I like that about him. In my story it's not the full Young Avengers team, just Marvel Boy, Hulking, and Prodigy for the bulk of the action, so it's an even better fit there: Hood can be a more credible threat because he doesn't have to take down the entire team. He just has to take down three individual members. How hard could it be?
Nrama: So this focuses on three members from Young Avengers. Can you break down their roles, so to speak, in this?
North: Sure! Basically, you've got Prodigy as this newish member of the team, who has had some very awkward growing pains as he tries to fit in there. And you've got Hulkling and Marvel Boy, who have been on the team for a while. These three have never been on a mission before, so they're still kinda working out how they fit together, but with the added wrinkle that they're now in a life-or-death situation thanks to the Hood, so they can't afford to make any mistakes.
I really enjoyed how these characters worked together and wanted to see more of that, so when I got the chance to write a Young Avengers story, I got to make that dream come true!
Nrama: I feel like we’re gossiping here, but this is comics fiction – seeing Hulkling and Prodigy sharing the page while Wiccan is out looks like it might lead to some fireworks. Can you tell us about this love triangle – even though one corner of it is in the wind?
North: Yeah, it's definitely not a non-issue! Prodigy came on to Hulkling and got rebuffed and that's never easy for anyone, but they are still teammates and they are still trying to work together. But the thing is, Prodigy's smart, and he's got the memories of other people in him too. So I don't see him as being the guy who is going to cause a lot of drama: he knows how to be mature about this. So there's some tension there, but I care too much about these characters to make them have stupid fights for stupid reasons. A shot-down advance doesn't have to mean the end of a relationship, right? You can still be friends, as long as you're not dumb about it.
Nrama: The Young Avengers have an intense and devoted fanbase, both at conventions and on social media – particularly Tumblr. You’ve a veteran of working online, but what’s it like coming into this with such a fervent built-in audience?
North: It's great! Your worst enemy as a writer - especially one working online a lot of the time - is obscurity. You care a lot about these stories you're writing, and you hope that someone else will care too. With Young Avengers, that's not an issue, because the readers are so great and so invested in these people that your fear isn't "will anyone care what I write", it's "I need to bring my A-Game here because I don't want to let these people down."
It helps that Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie already did the heavy lifting by doing a run on the book that was different than the (also great) run that came before it: the fact that there can be different takes on these characters has already been established, so I don't need to work uphill on that. All I need to do is not screw it up!
How hard could it be, right??
Nrama: Each of these Original Sin connected stories seem to have to do with a secret uncovered – what’s the truth coming to light in your Young Avengers serial that ties it into Original Sin?
North: I don't want to say, but it's a big one. Or... ones??
Nrama: I’ll give you that. Let’s take the last question into your imagination; if this serial in Original Sins goes well, would you be open to doing more with the team down the road, perhaps in a relaunched new series?
North: Absolutely! It's been a dream to work on: my editor Wil Moss has been terrific and super helpful, and when you have something that's working really well, why wouldn't you want to continue?