Avengers: The Children's Crusade, a nine-issue mini-series starting in July, is the story of the search for Scarlet Witch, the heroine who has virtually disappeared since going insane and stirring up all kinds of trouble in the Marvel events Avengers: Disassembled and House of M.
Although she's been visited a couple times over the last five years, Wanda Maximoff's story is left fairly unresolved, as her memories seem wiped and her presence is mostly ignored.
Besides finding Scarlet Witch, Children's Crusade also answers some questions that Heinberg and Cheung left open-ended when their Young Avengers series ended four years ago.
During the series' 12-issue run, it was revealed that Wiccan and Speed were possibly the reincarnated twin children of Scarlet Witch. Although the two have searched unsuccessfully for their alleged mother, the nature of their relationship has been left unresolved.
Now that Heinberg and Cheung have returned, they're tackling the unanswered questions head-on in Children's Crusade – and involving most of the Marvel Universe in the quest. In a story that has been years in the making (so long, in fact, that Cap's identity hasn't changed), the future of Scarlet Witch, Wiccan and Speed will finally be revealed.
Newsarama talked with Heinberg to find out more about the mini-series and asked the writer what this means for avid fans of the one-time heroine Scarlet Witch (like me).
Newsarama: Allan, the title of this sounds like it concentrates on the Young Avengers. What's the story you'll be telling in this comic?
Allan Heinberg: Avengers: The Children's Crusade is the story of the Avengers’ – and the Young Avengers’ – quest to find the Scarlet Witch and to bring her to justice. Though, as you’ll see, each team member has a different idea about what “justice” means when it comes to the Scarlet Witch.
The Avengers and the Young Avengers share the spotlight throughout the limited series, but tonally Avengers: The Children's Crusade picks up exactly where the original Young Avengers series left off. Young Avengers was about the kids’ search for identity and their struggle to find a place in the Marvel Universe, and this book continues that search and that struggle. Particularly for Wiccan, whose entire future now depends on whether or not he and Speed are truly the twin sons of the Scarlet Witch.
Nrama: You mentioned Wiccan and Speed, but what about the other Young Avengers? Do they all get involved, including Vision?
Heinberg: Yes, all the Young Avengers are involved. Because, if Wiccan has a problem, it very quickly becomes the entire team’s problem.
Nrama: I think you and others at Marvel have said all along that you had a finish in mind for your Young Avengers story. Is this that second volume finish that you had always intended to do?
Heinberg: It wasn’t that I had a finish in mind so much as I wanted to answer the question “Who the #$&* are the Young Avengers?” for each of the characters. So far, Jim and I have told stories focusing primarily on Iron Lad, Patriot, and Hulkling. Avengers: The Children's Crusade is definitely Wiccan’s story. After Avengers: The Children's Crusade, I’d love to stick around and tell the Hawkeye, Vision, Stature and Speed stories I have in mind.
Nrama: You said tonally it picks up where your last Young Avengers story left off. Have you been following what's going on with these characters since the first volume of Young Avengers? And does the comic include those experiences?
Heinberg: Jim and I do reference the Young Avengers’ recent exploits, but readers don’t need any prior knowledge of the Young Avengers to enjoy Avengers: The Children's Crusade. The book does reference Avengers history, but we provide all the back-story you’ll need.
Nrama: You mentioned Iron Lad. Any chance we'll see him?
Heinberg: Jim and I wanted to find a way to include Iron Lad, but the end of Young Avengers #6 kind of made it impossible for us to bring him back.
Nrama: Since Scarlet Witch plays a central role, is there any chance we'll see Magneto or Quicksilver?
Heinberg: I should think Wiccan would be very interested in meeting Magneto and Quicksilver.
Nrama: What about other Marvel characters?
Heinberg: Jim and I are working with an enormous cast of both present-day and former Avengers – many of whom appeared in our Kree/Skrull war arc in Young Avengers. And, in addition to our regular cast of Avengers and Young Avengers, there’s a host of guest stars and cameos from across the Marvel Universe.
Jim and I also want to make readers aware that, because we began work on the book nearly two years ago and weren’t able to correctly predict the status of all our major characters, Steve Rogers will be wearing his Captain America uniform in Avengers: The Children's Crusade, and Iron Man will be wearing his classic red-and-gold armor. By the time we realized the book was going to be out of step with current continuity, it was too late to redraw the first several issues. But we very much appreciate our readers’ understanding and we hope the discontinuity won’t distract too much from the story itself.
Nrama: On this comic, you're also reuniting with Jim Cheung. Obviously, a lot of us have seen how he draws the Young Avengers, so I'm not sure there's much to add about what he brings to this book, but how is it to reunite with him to continue the story of these characters?
Heinberg: Working with Jim continues to be one of the most satisfying creative collaborations I’ve ever had. Every page of Jim’s pencils reminds me that I’m the luckiest writer in all of comics to be working with him again. Especially on a project that’s so personal for both of us. And each of his new pages is even more spectacular and emotionally gripping than the last. I can’t wait for readers to see the book, if only for Jim’s work on it.
And I feel particularly fortunate that Jim and I have been reunited with Avengers editor Tom Brevoort on this project. The Young Avengers would not exist – at least not in their present form – if it weren’t for the insight and brilliance of Tom Brevoort.
Nrama: A lot of fans are aware that your comics have experienced delays in the past. Are the issues of Children's Crusade completely written, or mostly written?
Heinberg: At the moment, I’m writing the sixth of nine scripts. And I’ve promised Jim and Tom that by the time Avengers: The Children's Crusade #1 hits stores in July, all nine scripts will have been completed.
Nrama: Let's talk about Scarlet Witch. Having some invested adoration for this character as a hero, and knowing how shocking it was for her to be revealed as insane and vengeful, will there be redemption for this character and therefore hope for us Scarlet Witch fans?
Heinberg: The question of redemption is at the very center of Avengers: The Children's Crusade. In the course of trying to find the Scarlet Witch – and learning about her story for the first time – the Young Avengers discover that sometimes the line between “hero” and “villain” is very thin indeed. Throughout the story, a number of the kids’ heroes don’t act very heroically. And, conversely, a number of so-called villains in the Marvel Universe behave much more compassionately than the kids ever expected, leaving the Young Avengers in a sort of moral gray zone. They’re trying to do the right thing and having to figure out what that is for themselves. Ultimately, the consequences of the their choices will have profound and far-reaching effects on the Avengers – and on the Marvel Universe itself.