Christos Gage Administers AVENGERS ACADEMY's 'Final Exam'

Avengers Academy debuted in June 2010, and series writer Christos Gage has subsequently put the at-risk superpowered teens through a variety of tests, including the Thunderbolts, the Runaways, , prom, a cross-country move, and, starting this month, the ongoing conflict.

It's all leading up to the four-part "Final Exam" story starting in August's Avengers Academy #34, where tension between the students and highly suspicious industrialist Alchemist come to a head; his team against theirs. Veil has already been swayed to his thinking, and it looks like more of the book's main cast might be similarly seduced.

Four days before the US debut of the live-action Avengers film, here's an interview with Gage on what to expect from "Final Exam," where the Academy's faculty will be during the story, and keeping pace with writing a twice-monthly superhero series.

Avengers Academy

#34 cover.

Newsarama: Christos, first, just looking for some clarifications — I may very well be jumping to conclusions here, but with a story called " Exam" and the promise that this is a story that's been building since the beginning, is this Avengers Academy starting to wrap things up?

Christos Gage: It’s not the book coming to an end. But for Avengers Academy as we know it – specifically, some of the characters that have been there from the start – we are reaching a major decision point, and things may never be the same.

Nrama: "Final Exam" is the Avengers Academy versus Alchemist's team — who can we expect to see in the latter group?

Gage: Well, we have seen that Veil, Jocasta, Rocket Racer and Machine Teen, as well as some former Initiative recruits like Cloud 9 and Hardball, were working with the Alchemist. But this is less of a “Team A vs. Team B” situation than one where the kids must make some tough decisions about the direction of their lives. Although let’s face it, there will probably be punching.

Nrama: Also, does this story involve just the main Avengers Academy cast, or also the extended group introduced since the move to the west coast?

Gage: I’m stepping back a bit and focusing on our core cast of students. Finesse, Hazmat, Striker, Mettle, Reptil, White Tiger, X-23 and Lightspeed.

Avengers Academy

#35 cover.

Nrama: And while the Academy students are trapped in Alchemist's building, what kind of role will the Avengers Academy faculty have in the story?

Gage: It’s really more about the kids. Some of the adults will still be quite busy with AvX matters.

Nrama: On the story, you're joined by Tom Grummett and Andrea Di Vito — they're two very different artists, but in what ways do you think their styles complement each other well?

Gage: I think they both have what you could categorize as a “classic” superhero style… clean, dynamic storytelling, exciting action, powerful character moments… and the story comes first. Neither one of these guys feels the need to say, “Hey, look at me!” by doing flashy stuff just for the sake of doing it. They can bring the flash, for sure, but only when it’s called for. They’re consummate pros who are all about telling the story in the most effective way possible.

Nrama: Final Exam will be twice monthly, as the series has been much of the time recently. What are the advantages of working at that pace?

Gage: It kind of allows you to step up the pace, like a weekly TV show… something like or , where you can make every installment feel important, and hopefully there’s just enough time in between to make the audience really want to see what’s next, but not so much they pick up the next issue and don’t quite recall what happened in the last one. It can be hectic, but that’s part of the fun!

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