#27 cover.Avengers vs. X-Men is just one month away — as the banner at the top of multiple Marvel titles this week will inform you — and with it comes tie-in issues to many series of both the Avengers and the X-Men variety.
Christos Gage happens to be writing one of each — Avengers Academy and X-Men: Legacy. Both series are tying in to AvX as of May, each showing a different aspect of the conflict — the Generation Hope cast brought to the Avengers Academy as prisoners, and a team of Avengers working to "secure" the Jean Grey School of Higher Learning.
In the first half of a two-part interview with Gage, we talk to the writer about the latest developments with his cast of Avengers-in-training, and how the series will be affected by both Avengers vs. X-Men and the two-issue arc guest-starring the Runaways, starting with this week's Avengers Academy #27 (preview here). Plus, courtesy of Marvel, we're debuting exclusive interior pages from Avengers Academy #28 by artist Karl Moline.
Newsarama: Christos, let's start with the latest in Avengers Academy — the Avengers vs. X-Men tie-in issues solicited for May. First, the Generation Hope kids are coming to Avengers Academy (though evidently against their will). What's it like bringing even more Marvel teen heroes into the book?
Christos Gage: I love comparing the Academy kids to other young Marvel characters, from the Runaways to the Generation Hope kids. It's fun to see the different philosophies between them, the different ways they approach their lives. I think it really shows that these are not interchangeable super-powered teens; they all have their own reasons for being who they are and doing what they do.
#29 cover.Nrama: Can we expect a major role for X-23 in these issues, given her obvious connection the X-Men?
Gage: X-23 will definitely have a major role in the AvX issues of Academy. She has one foot in each camp. She joined the Academy in part because she didn't like the Schism going on in the X-Men's world, but now she's caught up in a whole new conflict, and this time she's going to have to take a side. She'll encounter some of her former New X-Men classmates and really have to examine how she feels about what's going on as well as her place in it. I've really enjoyed building on what Marjorie Liu has done so well in Laura's own book.
Nrama: The Avengers Academy #26 letter column was a notable one, where you responded to a reader upset over Striker coming out. Though I'm sure it's not the goal, how does it feel to be able to inspire that kind of thoughtful dialogue about a serious issue through a superhero comic book?
Gage: It feels good. We live in an era when discourse between people holding opposing viewpoints all too often quickly degenerates into name-calling and personal attacks. In this case, the topic was certainly a highly charged one — whether the story of a teen character coming out as gay belongs in a mainstream superhero comic — but across the board, from the original letter to every response we've received, people have been polite, courteous and respectful. And they've expressed appreciation at being able to be part of a conversation like that. We live in a wonderful, diverse country. We may not agree, but we can treat each other with respect. I feel privileged to be able to provide a place where that can happen.
#30 cover.Nrama: Avengers Academy #26 was also an intriguing issue for how what was essentially a conversation between two sides was executed as a visually interesting comic book. Though Jeremy Briggs certainly doesn't seem to be a real altruist, his side certainly had some points, and in a lot of ways seemed more logical than Hank Pym. How important was it to construct the debate in a way where both sides seemed viable?
Gage: It was important because regardless of whether Jeremy Briggs is a good guy or not, Veil and the other young heroes who joined with him, like Cloud 9, are indeed good people, and they wouldn't buy into an arrangement that didn't allow them to truly and meaningfully help people. That's one of the questions I think is interesting to explore: if you are offered a chance to do something good by someone whose motives may be less than selfless, does that absolutely mean you shouldn't do it? Can you do it without compromising yourself? And can Jeremy be somewhat self-interested and want to make a positive change in the world? Stay tuned.Interior art from
#28.And by the way I think all credit goes to our art team, Tom Grummett, Cory Hamscher and Chris Sotomayor, for making what is definitely a talky issue visually interesting… to say nothing of Joe Caramagna fitting all those words in so artfully. Thanks for pointing that out!
Nrama: Hawkeye joined the book-semi recently as an instructor, but given how many series he's in right now, will he continue to be part of the book long-term? (Not that there aren't any a few other similarly busy Marvel characters, like Wolverine for the past 30 years or so.)
Gage: Well, that's presuming there won't be some big shake-up after AvX. But in theory I don't see why he can't keep doing it. Hank Pym is also on Hawkeye's Secret Avengers team. All the teachers don't have to be there all the time. That's the great thing; we can have guest teachers like Hercules in #29-31! But Hawkeye will probably receive less focus than other teachers by virtue of his exposure elsewhere.
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Avengers Academy #28.Nrama: Finally, the Avengers Academy/Runaways two-parter is nearly here. We talked at length about the story in the past, but with the first issue out this week, is there anything you'd like to tease about the arc at this point?
Gage: Two words: Old Lace. Two more: Devil Dinosaur. If you still don't want this book, you may be happier getting your comics in The New Yorker.Check back with Newsarama on Wednesday for more with Christos Gage, talking X-Men: Legacy! More from Newsarama on Avengers Academy:
- AVENGERS ACADEMY WEEK: Gage on the Series So Far, Part 2
- AVENGERS ACADEMY WEEK: Gage on the Series So Far, Part 1
- NYCC 2011: Gage Introduces the RUNAWAYS to AVENGERS ACADEMY