***Spoiler warning! The following article contains major revelations about Avengers: The Children's Crusade #9, released last week.***Avengers: The Children's Crusade #1 was released in July 2010, reuniting the Young Avengers creative team of writer Allan Heinberg and artist Jim Cheung. The series not only brought back the Young Avengers team of Patriot, Wiccan, Hulkling, Vision, Stature, Speed and Hawkeye (Kate Bishop) in a starring role, it also dealt directly with the lingering issue of Scarlet Witch's uncertain role in the Marvel Universe for the first time since House of M.
The nine-issue bimonthly miniseries stretched over nearly two years and saw the Avengers, X-Men and X-Factor take different positions on Wanda's level of responsibility for her role in both "Avengers: Disassembled" and the mutant "Decimation," plus revealed that Dr. Doom was manipulating things behinds the scenes in an attempt to use her power for his own means. The series also saw the return of Iron Lad — well on his way to becoming Kang the Conqueror — plus a triumphant kiss between Wiccan and Hulkling, the deaths of Stature and the Young Avengers version of the Vision, and the resurrection of Scott Lang, the Ant-Man who was killed off back in 2004 as a result of "Disassembled."
With the final issue of the series out last week, Newsarama talked with Heinberg over email to get his insight on the final issue's major developments and the series as a whole, plus word on whether or not the former Grey's Anatomy and The O.C. producer will be able to fit more comic books into his busy TV writing schedule in the near future.
Newsarama: Allan, with the last issue of Avengers: The Children's Crusade released this week, how does it feel to see the series you've lived with for quite some time now come to a close? Is there a tinge of sadness for you as you say goodbye to the Young Avengers and working with Jim Cheung (at least for now)?
Allan Heinberg: After over two years of working on the book, I felt immediate relief for a day or two after the book went off to the printer — and I've been sad ever since. I miss the characters. I miss my regular, sanity-restoring chats with Jim Cheung and our amazing editor, Tom Brevoort. I miss the pleasure of seeing new pencils from Jim every month. Honestly, if I could, I'd continue working with Jim Cheung the rest of my life. He's a great friend and creative partner.Nrama: The first issue came out in July 2010, and a lot about the Marvel Universe has changed since then. How much did your scripts change along the way? Were things pretty much set from the beginning with only cosmetic changes to reflect currents "events," or did it involve more restructuring?
Heinberg: The script definitely evolved over that two-year period, but the changes were less about conforming to the Marvel Universe than they were about refining and strengthening the storytelling. But if it were left up to me, I'd still be rewriting Crusade, trying to get the script up to the level of the art.
Nrama: Obviously the Scarlet Witch was at the center of the story. There are characters who are sympathetic with her plight throughout, and those, like Cyclops, who still see her as guilty at the end. From your perspective as writer, did you ever personally see one of those stances as the "right" position, or was it, by design, built so that both sides had reasonable, well-defined arguments?
Heinberg: We wanted the reaction to the Scarlet Witch's story to reflect as many different viewpoints as possible — to foster continued conflict and debate among the Avengers and the X-Men — and among readers, as well.My personal sympathies were obviously with Wanda, but she's certainly not blameless — even if Doom was ultimately responsible for her transgressions. Wanda was, after all, driven by grief to ask for Doom's help in the first place, leaving her and the Avengers vulnerable to his manipulations.
Nrama: The climax of the story brought two major deaths — Stature and Vision. While I can understand Vision since the original recently came back in Avengers, what can you share about the decision to kill off Cassie? Was it perhaps motivated by the inherent tragedy of having Scott Lang back, but his daughter dead?
Heinberg: Cassie's death was foreshadowed as early as Crusade #2. Her objective was always to bend or break the rules of time and space to bring her father back from the dead. The Vision and Kate each warned her that there would be a price to pay if she succeeded. And her death was the ultimate price.
I love Cassie — and I'm not a big fan of killing comic book characters in general — but it felt to all of us that there had to be high-stakes — and even tragic — consequences to the kids' actions. Just as Wanda's actions had tragic consequences. To me, that felt very much like the lesson the kids had to learn from Crusade. No matter how noble your intentions, the life of a super-hero comes with huge costs and consequences.Nrama: Speaking of Scott Lang — another big development is having him back among the living in the MU. What inspired that move?
Heinberg: To us, it seemed like a logical outgrowth of Cassie's motivation for wanting to find the Scarlet Witch in the first place. And it seemed a terrible waste to bring Scott back for an issue or two, only to kill him again. Plus, I've always been a fan of the character. Particularly Geoff Johns' take on him from his Avengers run.
Nrama: Last question — now that Children's Crusade has wrapped, is there any chance of you finding the time to do more comic book work in the near-ish future? Either way, where should fans head to check out your next work?
Heinberg: I would love to continue to write comics. At the moment, I'm developing two new television projects I'm excited about, but once those are wrapped up, I very much hope to return to the Marvel Universe.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!