Marvel’s teen superheroes are about to experience a whole different side of what it means to be a hero in the Marvel Universe, when a coalition of older heroes attempts to make it illegal to be a teen vigilante.
Starting in Outlawed by Eve L. Ewing and artist Kim Jacinto, Marvel’s teen heroes - led by the Champions - will be subject to “Kamala’s Law,” legislation designed to prevent teen crimefighting.
Newsarama spoke with Ewing ahead of Outlawed’s March 18 release to find out more about the philosophy behind the one-shot – including what it will mean for Marvel’s teen heroes, how it carries on the tradition started by Civil War without repeating any tricks, and how it leads into the next era of Champions.
Newsarama: Eve, Outlawed kicks off a whole new era of Marvel stories with big ramifications. We know there’s an incident involving Kamala Khan that leads to teen heroes being illegal. What can you tell us about that big crucial turning point?
Eve L. Ewing: Ahhh, unfortunately not much! If it were up to me we wouldn't even do previews.
The only thing I can say is that we're trying to avoid easy answers or a clear sense of what's right or what's wrong in this story, and trying to make it a little more complex than "mean government guy oppresses kid." I'm hoping for some real moral ambiguity.
Nrama: The obvious comparison here is to the original Civil War, which started with a tragedy involving young heroes leading to a fracture between Marvel’s superheroes. What’s different about this conflict and the fallout?
Ewing: Yeah, it's interesting to me that people have been making that comparison, because to me, although the inciting incident is familiar, the ramifications are so different because the people impacted are young people. In Civil War, we see adults with different moral centers, different ethics, different relationships to the government and to power, but they all are operating in a way from a place of power.
In this case, we're talking about superheroes, but they're still teens. Which means that they're sort of marginalized and disempowered by mainstream American society, and they're marginalized and disempowered by the adult superhero community. Some of the adult superheroes are sympathetic to them, but at the end of the day, they don't actually stand to lose that much from the law. It's more of a "tsk tsk, that's too bad, seems unfair" thing rather than something where they're willing to fight tooth and nail. Because why would they?
So the teens are essentially on their own. So to me the stakes are quite different. That being said, I also hope this run will appeal to some of our readers who were literally like three years old when Civil War happened, and maybe we can have some intergenerational conversations among fans about where they see similar or divergent themes.
Nrama: The law that outlaws teen vigilantes is called “Kamala’s Law” – but Kamala Khan herself seems pretty willing to break her own law. How does Kamala’s specific POV and morality inform how this story develops?
Ewing: A recurring theme in Champions and in her solo title is how Kamala wrestles with being a leader, moments where she kind of fails in her leadership and moments where she steps up to the plate even when she'd rather not. I hope to extend that in this story, and have Kamala grapple with other people - people she respects and cares about - genuinely questioning not only her leadership, but her basic sense of right and wrong, her moral compass.
The Champions position themselves as being in service of regular, vulnerable people, but what happens when those people are not a monolith, and when they have real critique of Kamala's choices?
Nrama: We know there will be a new status quo following Outlawed, and that similar to the post-Civil War Marvel Universe there will be factions. How does that affect these teen heroes who have been through so much together? Will we see friends take different sides?
Ewing: Sure, but I'm not as much interested in the whole "There are two sides! which one are you on?!" thing. I'm more interested in... let's say you have a certain political stance on something, something you believe to your core, and there's a friend with you, someone you deeply love and care for, and you want the best for them, and you see that they have a different perspective, not because they're bad or they're unintelligent or need to be convinced, but because they're actually a different human with a different life that means they'll be differently impacted by whatever happens? What do you do then?
This is less a story of the teens going to war with each other as much as trying to figure out how to care for each other across real difference in an environment of terror. So, you know, pretty chill and lighthearted!
Nrama: What are the advantages of shaking things up with this kind of a story in a one-shot, versus a longer format limited series or arc?
Ewing: A one-shot is cool because it's just action-oriented, high-stakes, we get to mix it up a little bit on the art side, and I think it provides a clear entry point for readers. Should be fun.
Nrama: You’re launching a new volume of Champions following Outlawed. The Champions originally formed with an ethos of using their powers to improve the world. How does Outlawed shake up that perspective? What’s their mantra as they move into a new era as fugitives?
Ewing: They're trying to figure that out themselves!
Nrama: Outlawed is the latest chapter in an ongoing saga of tension between the different philosophies of superheroing for Marvel’s heroes. If Civil War was about being responsible for your actions and Civil War II was about freedom of choice, what is the theme behind Outlawed? What questions are you hoping to raise for readers?
Ewing: Wow, that's an excellent question. I think the theme is that, while it's easy to call for revolution or easy to say you're fighting for something, when it comes down to it, there's rarely one clear path to get where you're going, and you have to figure out what values you really share with the person alongside you.
There's no one way to liberation, and you have to decide what allyship means, what friendship means, what camaraderie means. Because if you don't know, when it all comes down to it, you'll be ripped apart.