Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Young Avengers Playlist

Here’s the long promised playlist.

You can find (most of it) on Spotify in this handy “thing”.

Notes: this is a working playlist. As in, it’s something I use, add stuff, remove stuff, delete stuff. I’ve re-arranged it a little for public presentation, and there’s a rough chronological shape to it, but I wouldn’t read too much into anything herein. Not least because that way lies madness.

As it’s a working playlist, I stress it’s about me. As in, stuff I connect to the Young Avengers, what I’m doing with Young Avengers and all that jazz. Not many of the characters would give a toss about the songs I associate to them. It’s a device for aligning my thought. Some of it is stuff I connect to the mood YA is aiming at. Some of it is stuff I specifically code to characters, and how they operate. Some of it is jokes.

Also a few songs currently aren’t on spotify, which I’ve bolded.

The Mountain Goats – Amy aka Spent Gladiator 1
Ronettes – Be My Baby
Icona Pop – I Love It
the capricorns – the new sound
Of Montreal – Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse
Kenickie – I Would Fix You
The Crystals – Then He Kissed Me
Emeli Sandé – Heaven
Azealia Banks – 212 (feat. Lazy Jay)
Ladytron – Runaway
Blood Red Shoes – I Wish I Was Someone Better
The Go! Team – Huddle Formation
CHVRCHES – The Mother We Share
The Knife – We Share Our Mother’s Health
The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster – Celebrate Your Mother
Bruce Springsteen – Born To Run
Frank Ocean – Lost
Carly Rae Jepsen – Call Me Maybe
Robyn – Be Mine!
Japandroids – Young Hearts Spark Fire
My Chemical Romance – Na Na Na [Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na]
School Of Seven Bells – The Night
Gwen Stefani – What You Waiting For?
Electric Guest – This Head I Hold
Dirty Projectors – Stillness Is The Move
T. Rex – Hot Love
Feist – I Feel It All
Kevin Rowland & Dexys Midnight Runners – Let’s Make This Precious
David Bowie – Young Americans
The Capricorns – Sunset Over Malibu
LCMDF (Le Corps Mince De Françoise) – Cool And Bored
The Detroit Cobras – Breakaway
Summer Camp – Better Off Without You
The Shoes – Time to Dance
Make Up – Born on the Floor
The Postal Service – Such Great Heights
The Style Council – Walls Come Tumbling Down
Candi Staton – Young Hearts Run Free
The Dream Academy – Life In A Northern Town
The Dresden Dolls – Girl Anachronism
Grimes – Oblivion
Shampoo – House of Love
David Bowie – Absolute Beginners
Oh My! – Dirty Dancer – feat. Scrufizzer
Mini Viva – Left My Heart In Tokyo
Lauryn Hill – Doo Wop (That Thing)
The Kills – Cheap And Cheerful
Of Montreal – The Past Is A Grotesque Animal
JAY-Z – No Church In The Wild
t.A.T.u. – All The Things She Said
Little Boots – New In Town
Prince – I Would Die 4 U
Wilson Phillips – Hold On
New Order – Bizarre Love Triangle
Pet Shop Boys – It’s a sin – 2001 – Remaster
…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – Mistakes And Regrets
Belle & Sebastian – Funny Little Frog
Prince – U Got The Look
Taylor Swift – Love Story
Neneh Cherry – Buffalo Stance
No Doubt – Don’t Speak
Manic Street Preachers – Little Baby Nothing
The Bronx – Knifeman
Sister Sledge – Lost In Music
Yelle – Je Veux Te Voir
Jessie Ware – Running
Rihanna – Umbrella
Robyn – Who’s That Girl?
Massive Attack – Unfinished Sympathy
The Only Ones – Another Girl Another Planet
Sarah Brightman – I Lost My Heart To A Starship Trooper
Sugababes – Overload – Original Edit
Crystal Castles – Not In Love
Bros – Drop The Boy
The Dresden Dolls – Missed Me
Dusty Springfield – I Only Want To Be With You
New Radicals – You Get What You Give
Japandroids – The Nights of Wine and Roses
Siobhan Donaghy – Ghosts
The Long Blondes – Guilt
Sparks – This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us
Spandau Ballet – Gold – 2003 – Remaster
Rihanna – Don’t Stop The Music
The Dears – 22: The Death Of All The Romance
The Indelicates – We Hate the Kids
The Mountain Goats – No Children

Playlist here, on spotify. If anyone does a Youtube playlist, I’ll work it in here too.

EDIT: And Polyjuiced has done it. Thanks!

(Neither of the Prince tracks, apparently due to YouTubePhobia)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Meet The Team: Hulkling

Oh man. My Image editing is amazing, innit?

Teddy is Billy’s boyfriend.

Obviously, vice versa is true as well. Teddy is Billy’s boyfriend. They’re going out. That’s how it works.

But narratively speaking, Teddy is Billy’s boyfriend.

It’s the flip of what I was talking in Billy’s essay. As he increasingly became the lead, that means Teddy’s his romantic interest. Narratively speaking, he increasingly existed to support Billy’s arc.

In other words, if Billy’s Frodo, that means Teddy is Sam.

I fucking love Sam.

When I was picking apart Young Avengers to see what emotional threads I wanted to hang onto, he was my way in. Teddy, in the first arc where he’s central has his origins explored and his mum killed in the process. You know, viewed through the prism of the genre, in most stories, that’d be the conclusion of his origin story. Spider-man didn’t become Spider-man when he got bit. He became Spider-man when Uncle Ben died, and in doing so gained the motivation to define the rest of his life. Teddy Altman discovers the truth of his existence, in the same moment of losing the woman who raised him and, etc, etc. That feels like it could be an Origin Story to me.

It’s not. Teddy sort of… carries on. We see him grieve, sure.

For a panel or two.

Imagine the woman who raised you being burned alive before you.

I mean it. For a second, just think about that. Assuming you don’t actually want your mum to be incinerated - and also assuming you’ve got one - it’s horrible and gut-churning to even conceive. Imagine that’s in your head, for real. Imagine being the sort of person who has that, and finds some way to carry on. Not even in the short term – where he engineers peace – but long term, after the adrenaline has leached away and you’re left with a hole in your chest.

I couldn’t do what Teddy has done. Not even sure I would want to.

He seems to have used that utter horror as something to focus his life. He’s lost more than anyone on the team, and knows what life and love is worth, and he holds on to it with both hands, with everything he’s got. In a way, love is all he’s got left and it’s worth fighting for. And it is, isn’t it? What could be wrong with that?

I suppose what I’m saying that it’s not his origin story, because Teddy was already a hero before his mom died and he was even more of one afterwards.

I do worry about him.

I worry about what he worries about.

I have a (jokey) theory about Lord of the Rings. The movie version rather than the book. Basically, Frodo is a big ol’ wimp and if you passed the ring to Sam, he’d have happily carried it all the way to Mordor, lobbed it in Mount Doom and then be back in Hobbiton in time to harvest the tatters.

This is unfair to Frodo. He’s a literary character. His conflicts are internal, and is served best by the novel. In the film they strive to show Frodo wrestling with the enormous burden, but it struggles by the relative weakness of the medium – at least, when the medium is also doing external-physical action. In a low-key art-house film, you’d be more likely to buy the emotional torment. When Sam’s fighting eighty orcs and kicking Shelob in her arachnid she-balls, it’s less convincing. I digress.

I also have a theory that Sam is actually a member of a secret clan of hobbit warrior ninjas who use gardeners as cover for their important missions to save Middle Earth. I digress again. And irrelevantly this time.

Point being is that I’m joking to distract. Despite all that Sam physically does, he’s not a robot. He loves with a pure intensity and serves that best. And in the end, when Frodo’s been corrupted, he just collapses, watching the man he loves be consumed by the thing he’s fought against so long. And Sam’s been thinking about that all along, every step since he realised that things were darker than he could ever suspected back in that garden, wrestling with weeds. It’s what he’s been dreading. Because he’s not an idiot. And even if he was one, idiot’s feelings are as as true and important as the greatest poet who ever lived…

Teddy’s not Sam and Billy isn’t Frodo. They’re actually having sexytimes for one thing. But I look at that kind of dynamic, and recognise just enough of it to make me raise an eyebrow. As I said, that’s the first thing I hooked onto when looking at Young Avengers. That made sense to me. Loki putting the team together made intellectual, playful sense.

But that dynamic got me in the guts. I felt for that.

I fucking love Sam.

But it’s fucking hard to be Sam.

I’m in pieces, does no one see it? 
I am stronger on the outside 
It’s easy when you know why 
This feeling sad, it’s not so bad 
I’ve got friends who lift my spirit 
I’ve got songs that no one hears 

Sometimes the sun shines on unkind people 
And some nights the spotlight’s on shy people 
People like you 
These things are hard to think out 
And you’ve been broke in two, haven’t you? 
I would fix you 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Meet The Team: Loki

Oh Heaven, I wake with good intentions.
But the day it always lasts too long.

Loki is tricky.

To state the obvious.

Will you recognise me, in the flashing lights?
I try to keep my heart clean, but I can’t get it right.

Young Avengers follows a thirty-odd issue series I wrote for Marvel called Journey Into Mystery, which starred a reincarnated Loki. It was pretty successful, and taught me much that I’m trying to bring to bear on Young Avengers.

Despite the fact Loki is in both books, I don’t consider Young Avengers its sequel. I consider it another work in the shared universe that both works are embedded in. Journey Into Mystery left no room for a sequel. Journey Into Mystery was conceived as a novel. Young Avengers is conceived as a series.

Our first “season” of  Young Avengers comes to a conclusion that leaves it open for a second season.

There was never hope for a sequel to Journey Into Mystery.

I repeat: write your own happy ending.

Will you recognise me when I’m lying on my back?
Something gone inside me and I can’t get it back.

The ending of Journey Into Mystery is an open secret. Those who want to know will know. But, as I said, it’s a new series not a sequel. There’s no way I’m going to front load an explanation of the complicated knot of everything-in-my-head that was JIM.

It’s written assuming the reader primarily knows what’s on the page.

A new reader will see Loki and see someone who looks a lot like the villain in the third-biggest movie of all time and is famed for manipulating, lying and generally being a charming shit. They will be suspicious about his motivations, and understand why the cast are suspicious.

A reader of Journey Into Mystery will know the truth. They will be suspicious about his motivations, and understand why the cast are suspicious. But even more so. Possibly to screaming THERE IS A SERIAL KILLER IN YOUR HOUSE at the book, or the local equivalent.

Both should be wondering what the hell Loki is really up to, which is exactly how I want it.

Will you recognise me when I’m stealing from the poor?
You’re not going to like me. I’m nothing like before.

There’s various mysteries in Young Avengers, but Loki’s motivations and aims are one of the big ones. What does he want? What does he need? What’s the snake doing in the garden of Eden?

And the truth about what happened to Loki at the end of JIM will eventually explicitly work its way in, which will be a surprise to those who don’t like googling stuff and/or buying my older comics, and still a revelation to those who do. As always, there’s things people don’t know.  In time, we’ll tell everyone about Loki’s guilty little secret and what it actually means for the Young Avengers. And Loki. And everyone.

In short: he’s on the team. But is he on the team’s side? We’ll see.

It will be a fun time. No-one will cry. No-one will be upset. No-one will die unmourned and unloved.


No, really.

Why do people always presume I’m lying?

Will you recognise me when I lose another friend?
Will you learn to leave me or give me one more try again?

Heaven by Emeli Sande was on JIM’s soundtrack and it’s the only one which moves onto Young Avengers. It believe it was added when I realised I’d be doing Young Avengers, and picking up there what I did with Loki and running with it to its next destination. It’s one of the tracks which came loaded with meaning and has only accumulated more as I’ve obsessed over it for hundreds of time. Of all the tracks on the playlist, it’s the one which sums up the heart of its character most precisely.

Oh Heaven, I wake with good intentions.
But the day it always lasts too long.
Then I’m gone.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Meet The Team: Wiccan


I was going to write about Billy last. He’s the character who puts our story in motion. He’s arguably the most popular character in Young Avengers, if only discerned by rough measuring tools like “amount of fanart”. It made sense, as I suspected talking about Billy would be closest to me showing more of my hand than I’d like and I’d want that moment to be as close to release as possible, to minimise the time people get a chance to reverse engineer what I’m up to. There’s already been a lot of Young Avengers preview stuff out there, and we’re getting close to me just getting you all on Skype and telling you the story one to one.

But then I realised than half the things I want to say about Teddy needed me to talk about Billy first.

So Billy goes first.

Which makes some kind of sense. In many ways, in Young Avengers, Billy Goes First is a recurring motif.

Even to the point where it confused me a little. When writing the first draft of this piece, I argued that Billy was always the lead character (in fact, the viewpoint character) and only became more so as the series progressed.

That’s nonsense. That’s just not true.

Young Avengers circa Sidekicks was a true group cast. I couldn’t select a lead from them. The original members are all kept at arms length for the first issue. The viewpoint character is Jessica Jones for the first part. If I was forced to pick a lead for the arc, I’d have to select select Iron Lad.

But as we move onwards, it is more Billy.

As we finish the conclusion of Children’s Crusade, we leave primarily with Billy’s response to how bad it got, his long and understandable depression. He’s the book’s Frodo. Yes, there’s lots of other people in there, but he’s the emotionally complicated, internally conflicted lead who carries an enormous weight which he can’t really do anything about. He’s the lead. He’s so much of the lead that it even warped my recollections of Sidekicks a little to move him forward from the group.

But Billy’s a reality warper.  You have to expect that.

We join the book after he’s recovered from his depression – however he’s still haunted by exactly how bad it went bad last time. He thinks any return to heroing is a terrible idea, and responds vehemently at the very hint of it. There’s the sense people have been avoiding the topic with him. I’d understand that. If he has a negative trait, I’d say it’s a tendency to be self-involved. Married to Teddy’s tendency for stoic self-sacrifice, I’d say that’s the least perfect part of their pretty damn perfect relationship.

There’s a beat in Ennis/Dillon’s Preacher I love, and I’ll badly paraphrase. Tulip’s best friend Amy is watching Jesse and Tulip disappear into the snow. “I wish I was them.” she muses to herself, “I wish I was either one of them.” I suspect many of Billy and Teddy’s friends have had a moment like that for themselves.

His “parentage” is tricky. Frankly, I have little interest in explicitly delving into the depths of continuity. It’s not really my style. My style is a nod to show people who know it all know that I’m not ignoring it, and then treat it in the cleanest and most accessible way I’m able. It’s what I did with the even-more-complicated Magik over in the Uncanny X-men X-men, and it’s what I’m doing here. As far as the readers need be concerned for our story, the Scarlet Witch is his other mom.

He’s as much of a powerhouse as Wanda too. Maybe moreso. He’s a powerhouse a little afraid of his own talents and potential.

I can understand that.

And as our story starts, he makes a mistake, for the very best of intentions.

And now we see whether he learns from it or not.

In Young Avengers, we have explicitly stated we’re doing little to pastiche the decades of history before us. You won’t see us doing a parody of the cover of the first issue of the Fantastic Four, for example. But the flip of that is trying to do something that speaks to the core values that resonate throughout the structure, imagine how a Marvel Universe may feel if it was created wholesale on January 23rd 2013. The relationship between Power and Responsibility is one of the core motifs of the Marvel Universe.

And for that reason, I suspect that Billy will still be considered our de facto lead.

I think that’s the strangest thing about my Young Avengers – that was the one thing I didn’t try to escape, even as I’ve changed so much other stuff. Part of me thinks is that because he became so core to Young Avengers that I couldn’t think of a worthwhile route to follow that didn’t run with that. The other part of me – the part of that hopes is correct – is that he just works a little too well for our metaphor.

He remains a dirty great geek. Just a geek who has learned how hair-gel works. Part of me wanted to say something like Wiccan is probably the Young Avenger I’m closest too. I’m not sure it’s true, though I recognise a bunch of the churning insecurities.

But I’ll give you this: he’s the one member of the Young Avengers cast who is most like McKelvie.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Meet The Team: Miss America

Mysterious Girl, our Miss America.


In the earliest prototype stages of Young Avengers, I hit the “Can’t use Eli” note and decided I’d like someone to fill that visual niche. This was before I’d nailed down entirely what I was doing, and wanted to keep at least some of the “Mirroring Niches Of Other Avengers” aspect of the team. I needed a Captain America in the red-white-and-blue.

Did anyone come to mind?

And in one of those quirks of fate that are so appealing, I’d just finished Casey/Dragota’s Vengeance mini. And right there was Miss America Chavez, who even in the group-cast and dizzying structure,  came across as the lead. Hyper-strong flying hero with lack of respect for traditional heroes and had been doing the save the world thing on the down-low for years. As she put it, you couldn’t pay her to be an Avenger.

Ah. Let’s have her. She’s great.

I didn’t even realise she was re-using the name of an old character. She’s new. She clearly bears no relation whatsoever to her forebear. I half think she doesn’t even know that anyone else used the name, which is why she’s particularly useful for the cast.

One of the themes of the book is about becoming yourself. The previous Young Avengers was all about this relationship with older people, taking on their roles in order to become what you want to be – which is fundamentally, cosplay as life-direction choice. And that’s fine. That’s just how you grow. I’ve written a lot about that transitional stage in books like Phonogram. You find your own way. Anyone who’s written has a shitload of stuff before you find your own voice which stinks of other people’s. This is just how life works.

What Miss America allows is showing someone who is as much a hero as anyone the cast has ever met, but is only a little older. And if she’s doing this, by herself, and has been for years… why not you?  She’s the cool new friend who’s just more worldly than you are, and by knowing them, you get your own expectations scrambled.

In most fiction, you’d probably make her from one of the world’s major cities and move her to the suburbs. In superhero fiction, we dramatise it through the metaphor, and make her have spent a lot of her time in other dimensions. She’s been to places you haven’t. She’s not just living in New York when we first meet her in the .1 story – she’s meeting in a platonic perfect ideal of New York, where the metropolis has swept the entire globe and there’s mountains made of statues of liberty. She’s seen things that Billy and Teddy haven’t even dreamt of. Generally speaking, she’s pretty cool. Which is tricky to write without being try-too-hard.

Mainly I think she pulls it off because she knows that being cool is bullshit.

She’s violent. Which could be seen as skirting a latina-girl-with-fiery-temper stereotype.

But she hasn’t a temper. Or, at least, none that we’ve seen on the page. She’s just terribly direct and believes that appropriate levels of violence are acceptable. She has little tolerance for games. That scene in the .1 issue, we meet her, showing her put up her defences and then start fencing with Loki… before exploding into action.

Before it kicks off, there’s two panels which Jamie renders beautifully.

1) She puts down her chopsticks, very precicely and carefully.

2) She apologises to the waitress and promises to pay for any damages.

That’s not a temper.

That’s control.

Her nailed-down-emotions is absolutely key to her.

She plays her cards close to her chest.

She’s probably swallowed her cards.

Because while everyone’s going to be looking at Loki, what’s the deal with Miss America is as big a mystery. There’s already enough in the .1 to allow people to pick over, and that only grows in her first one. The unspoken we-know-stuff-we’re-not-telling-people between America and Loki is the heart of the dynamic.

Mystery, let us Journey Into It, etc.

I’m not even 100% sure whether I’ll reveal the full extent of her background. I know them. I’ll hint at them, but part of me likes just leaving the pieces there for everyone to put together by themselves.

Or maybe I will.

Man, I’m terrible.

One more thing: the costume. Jamie killed on it. For her to fill the role, she needed to look the part. You know when Jamie hits, because the cosplayers go wild. Hell, if I had the legs, I’d be wearing it too.


(There’s probably an essay on Miss America’s thighs somewhere.)

Honestly, the exact moment when I realised this would actually turn out okay was when Jamie and Mike sent me the first panel of the .1 issue. The scale, the sense of movement and grace, the costume juxtaposed against this imaginary cityscape that offered up more detail the more you looked at it…

You get a panel like that, and you feel exhilarated. I felt I was flying. I immediately paid it the highest compliment a comic writer can give, and stripped captions. Five of them. Why say anything when the image said everything? Cut it down to “I WAS ON EARTH-212” to create the off-handed context and sense of elsewhere and roll with the Azealia Banks nod.

Not a bad job, sometimes.

Don’t Be A Hard Rock
When You Really Are A Gem.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Meet The Team: Hawkeye


The hardest thing about writing Kate Bishop is, of course, not stealing Fraction’s Lady Hawkguy gag.

This is another one with odd timing. I was planning on hitting up Kate next, and then the first three pages drops unexpectedly kind of pre-empting it. How will I write Kate? You already know.

Okay. Here’s some of the thinking

In the earliest stages of Young Avengers, even before I had officially said yes to the gig, my first task was to decide which parts of the existing cast would remain as mine. I already knew instinctive that Kid Loki would put the team back together – that was a pre-actual-work sort of thinking. This was conscious.

Children’s Crusade had reduced the scale of the decision but increased its importance. Cassie was dead. Jonas was dead. Nate had stepped back on the path to becoming Kang. I didn’t want to explicitly undermine anything that had come before, so all those three were off the table.

Since Patriot was unavailable, I was left with Teddy, Billy, Tommy and Kate.

I’ll be writing more about this later, but in cold, hard dramatic maths and team versatility, there was no way I wasn’t going to include Kate from those options. The other three are tied together by blood and love. Their stories are often each others stories, with a tendency to overlap. Kate, despite the shared experience, was her own thing. She brought a whole different perspective and options of what sort of story I could tell.

Even if I hated her, I’d have picked her.

I didn’t hate her. She was one of my favourite Young Avengers. I liked her enough that even if it didn’t make a lot of dramatic sense for her to be in the mix, I’d have tried to work out a way to work her in.


Kate hasn’t superpowers.

The concept of superheroes without superpowers is something that I think about a bit too much. A trope of the genre is how the unpowered human can stand against the power of these walking gods. It’s the Batman Always Wins line – that by force of will and preparation, you can trump anything.

Looked with cold eyes, it’s utter nonsense. You can’t trick an A-bomb by hiding in the shadows. You need to turn anyone with powers into an idiot to pull it off. And that’s putting aside the fact that all the “normal” human heroes are performing stunts that are simply beyond anything any actual member of our species can do. It doesn’t make any sense whatsoever when looked at in a literal fashion.

Which makes it lucky that it’s not a particularly literal genre. It doesn’t matter if it’s realistic or factual. It only matters if it’s true. It’s a metaphor. It’s all metaphors.

With Young Avengers, we’re firing everything about being 18-20 through a superheroic filter. As such, powers tend to come across as potential, talent, ability or whatever. And as amazing as Kate is, as hard as she’s worked – and she’s had to work harder than anyone else on the team to be who she is – she still isn’t as mercurially brilliant as everyone else. She looks around the room and knows that she lacks in a way that all her hard work can never overcome.

I’m not leaning into this that much – not least because “unpowered hero realises that being yourself is the true superpower!” - is a pretty threadbare plot by now. But it’s there, lying beneath it all. These are things that she’s come to terms with already. Kate having come to terms with stuff is a big part of her, for me. A compare and contrast with Eli is useful – where Eli was serious, Kate was sensible. She’s got a level head on her shoulders. She weighs her feelings and decides what she’s going to do about them. She doesn’t have an inferiority complex. She’s worked past that. In some ways she’s the oldest of the Young Avengers, even more than Marvel Boy and Ms. America.

This segues neatly into something several people have asked me about: Kate’s origin.

She’s doesn’t let that define her, and I won’t either.

Hmm. I’ve got some other things to say about Kate, in terms of how it was interesting that the previous YA didn’t use her as the reader-entry-point character, and why I decided to use her for that exact purpose, but that’ll wait for my notes on Issue 1.

I’ll end with some notes on how I wanted her to feel on the panel. She’s unusual in the cast, because she’s the only one who’s been in a comic recently. She’s appearing in Hawkeye every month. She’s got her separate life to the Young Avengers – in that she’s been secretly having adventures with Clint Original Hawkeye. The other Young Avengers don’t know this to start, not least because everyone realises how touchy Billy is on the issue of anyone starting up again. But, relevantly to us, she’s got another life. She’s a little more worldly, and you can tell. But worldly is grounded – she’s not otherworldly like Marvel Boy are is

She’s basically phenomenally classy without a fear of the modern. Jamie’s followed David Aja’s design to start with, but his big influence is British Singer Jessie Ware. I believe Jamie noted she manages to be simultaneously both Robert Palmer and the Robert Palmer Girls. Or he stole it from someone and didn’t tell me who. But, for once, she’s right.

Inevitably, she’s on the soundtrack.

Of all the Young Avengers, I think she’s the character I’d most like to be like. The world would be a better place if there were more people like Kate Bishop.

But no. I’m Loki. And not even the good bits of Loki. Man!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Meet The Team: Marvel Boy


That’s Noh-Varr to you.

That’s Noh-Varr to anyone.

I had to start with Marvel Boy lust because of the news that Bowie was returning to the world stage today. He remains Jamie and my primary influence on the character’s visual and mood (specifically, in the Man Who Fell To Earth period, though there’s some Ziggy too). It’s not the first and won’t be the last. When a man has the chameleon aesthetic he works like that.

(The most successful previous one was our SIEGE%3A LOKI where Bowie in glam-mode was our model for our Loki%2C all nail-varnish eyeliner and the seductive potential of they-call-it-evil-we-call-it-us. Because we were in the Loki-should-be-hot camp way before Hiddleston brought anyone with any taste whatsoever to that particular yard.)

I’ll come back to sex as it’s important with Marvel Boy.

Noh-Varr has primarily written by two people previously. Formerly Grant Morrison in the original mini playing as a Namor-esque James Dean archetype Zen-Fascist and carver of expletives by blowing down city blocks in a decorative fashion. Latterly Brian Michael Bendis who took him into the heart of the Marvel Universe acquainted him with Earth gave him the mantle of cosmic Protector and lead to him being rejected by both the Avengers and the Kree. The aim was something that created a composite of those two approaches and send it off in another direction. How to square this particular circle?

It basically was reversing the process I did with the almost-as-argumentative Hope in Uncanny. Over in Generation Hope. She spent most of my run as a is-she-a-villain-or-not. But despite all that, when she was on the big stage, she knew what time it was – and it was the time to do the job. Like someone getting into a dream job, wearing their best clothes and even ironing for the first few months, she did the job. That’s Noh-Varr and the Avengers.

So when you go through that process, and you find yourself fucked over by every adult influence and formal organisation in your life, you may figure “Fuck them all” and look after your own nihilistic pleasure for a bit.

I got this feeling on the summer day when you were gone.
I crashed my car into the bridge. I watched, I let it burn.
I threw your shit into a bag and pushed it down the stairs.
I crashed my car into the bridge.

You’re on a different road, I’m in the milky way
You want me down on earth, but I am up in space
You’re so damn hard to please, we gotta kill this switch
You’re from the 70’s, but I’m a 90’s bitch

I don’t care, I love it. I don’t care.

Noh-Varr has two saving graces. Firstly, he hasn’t collapsed completely. He’s instinctively a hero – his hedonism is almost impossible to separate from a hero. Superheroism as Point-Break Surfer-Zen, world disasters as a wave to be ridden and mastered. Everything has been taken from him, and he acts like a hero anyway, because being a hero is the only thing that has ever meant anything to him.

(Random aside: Noh-Varr was totally the Wesley Crusher of his Kree ship.)

His second saving grace?

He loves Earth. He loves it in a way which us Earth dwellers may find a little embarrassing. And we find it embarrassing just because he’s seeing it with fresh eyes and we’re covered by the tar the 21st century tries to funnel into our lungs.

But Earth is amazing. Marvel Boy realises it, and he’ll die in the hope that some of us will too.

Hell, he’d die to ensure this record lived on.

He’s also hot.

Ever since our work on Phonogram, Jamie have strove to make our comics – for want of a better phrase – slash-fic-able. If you’re working in certain heroic fantasy genres, that’s part of the emotional churn. And that part is what loses the sort of person who thinks by Jamie redesigning Ms. Marvel’s costume he’s destroying the “sex-cake”.

(Oh man. Someone really did say Jamie had removed the icing from the sex-cake. Sometimes all you can do is blink when doing this gig. Blink so hard you hope your eyes open on some kind of better world. I digress.)

Anyway – point being: characters being sexy is cool but objectification in the process is bullshit. An inability to see the difference is a fundamental weakness. My wife’s in the next room watching Lord of the Rings, and I guarantee she’s thinking sexy thoughts about Aragorn. But that works without anything which annihilates him as a character, y’know? The readers mind will latch upon this stuff.

That’s how Jamie and me work.

Generally speaking.

Oh, Noh-Varr. You are the sex-cake.

Anything else?

Oh yeah.

Drop the “Boy”.

(The playlist is a mix of stuff that absolutely is transcendentally beautiful stuff which I connect deeply with the concept of being young, stuff which evokes my own personal experience of the emotions I’m trying to reprocess and stuff I just find funny. This is mostly the latter. Mostly.)

Meet The Team: Young Avengers


With two weeks to go until Young Avengers 1 is released, I thought I better actually do this or forever hold my peace. Well, that’s unlikely. I never hold my peace.

You know what I mean.

Basically, the idea being I have a wander through the cast of opening cast of Young Avengers. Not that it’s really a team, but “Meet The Team” seems to be the lens we look at superbooks through, and who I am I to deny convention?

(Seriously? - Gillen’s Sneery Subconscious)

Anyway - I go through the cast, write some things, link to a few songs from my own personal Young Avengers playlist and talk about why they’re connected to the individual. I was going to use some of my fave fan art of the characters, but decided there’s something a little parasitic about that. Assume this is my shout-out. Mad love, etc.

I also thought it worth doing this, as from my casual watching the Young Avengers tag seems to be an exciting battleground. To my eye, it seems to primarily caused by the complete lack of NEW INPUT into the community. When you’ve got people writing big serious critiques on the amount of styling products a character is choosing to use, you know that they are absolutely pregnant with desire and are looking for anything to latch their thoughts onto. 

So I figure six random essays give people other stuff to think about. Worth stressing that I’m clearly angling whatever I’m writing to not actually spoiling the book. I’ll be talking about initial thoughts and larger concepts rather than where I ended up - or where I’m planning on taking the characters. I’d warn anyone against reading too much into them. That said, I’d warn against anyone reading too little into them.

Ask the Journey Into Mystery readers. I can be tricksy.

I also have no idea what I’m going to write. There will be very little (if any) proofreading. This will be fun.

This is the opening track of my Young Avengers soundtrack.

It’s Amy Aka Spent Gladiator 1 by The Mountain Goats.

Do every stupid thing that makes you feel alive
Do every stupid thing to try to drive the dark away
Let people call you crazy for the choices that you make
Climb limits past the limits
Jump in front of trains all day
And stay alive

Welcome to the Young Avengers. I hope you survive the experience.

(Wrong Book, Thicko - Gillen’s Sneery Subconscious)