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How Hyperion becomes Earth's top hero - an interview with Hyperion & Imperial Guard writer Ryan Cady

Hyperion and the Imperial Guard #1
(Image credit: Michele Bandini (Marvel Comics))

The Squadron Supreme of America is becoming Marvel Comics' flagship superhero team this summer as part of the alt-reality 'Heroes Reborn' crossover event, and the face of Squadron Supreme was - and is - Hyperion.

(Image credit: Chris Sprouse (Marvel Comics))

Ahead of him stepping up to be Earth's mightiest hero in this unusual 'Heroes Reborn' event, learn how he got to that place in the upcoming prequel one-shot Hyperion and the Imperial Guard going on sale May 12. That's right... before he was the square-jawed leader of the Squadron Supreme, he was a teen space hero in the Shi'ar Imperial Guard.

Writer Ryan Cady and artist Michele Bandini are telling the story of his farewell mission as part of the Imperial Guard, just as he gets the news he's been called back to Earth to be his home planet's new top hero. As Cady tells us, Hyperion and the Imperial Guard has a long, storied tenure that we're just now catching a fleeting glimpse of.

Newsarama: Ryan, Hyperion is a major player in the 'Heroes Reborn' event. How does this one-shot fit in with the larger crossover?

Ryan Cady

(Image credit: Ryan Cady)

Ryan Cady: In a lot of ways, this issue sort of sets Hyperion on the path to becoming the man we see in the main event. Not only is this his last mission with a group of comrades he's grown very close with, but it's also the last day before he's supposed to head home to Earth. Of course, he's not the only character you'll find in both this one-shot and the main story... but that's all the teasing I'll give on that front.

Nrama: Why did you want to explore Hyperion's teenage years in particular?

Cady: If this event is all about exploring a different timeline, examining where things have changed, it helps to start at the source. So, if we're zooming in to see moments in Hyperion's development, touchstone moments that helped change him (and the universe) significantly, what better than his formative years?

Nrama: How is teenage Hyperion different than adult Hyperion?

Cady: Well, he's not a wide-eyed innocent - he's been fighting all sorts of trouble alongside the Guard - but he's...adventurous. Optimistic. He doesn't view his power as a responsibility yet, and it shows. He can still have fun with superheroing, yanno? He hasn't faced a lot of loss, hasn't put up a wall between himself and other people. In that regard, he's a lot less lonely. He's got deep bonds with the Imperial Guard, and it shows.

(Image credit: Michele Bandini (Marvel Comics))

Nrama: What can you tell us about this version of the Imperial Guard?

Cady: They're mostly adolescents, which is fun. Gladiator is still their leader, as Praetor, but there's a little bit of a give and take there - almost like he's a stern older brother, or a camp counselor. They're still Shi'ar warriors, and working for Majestor D'ken means they're not always objectively 'good guys,' but they're more like passionate, determined cadets than jaded veterans. 

Hyperion may be a kind of good faith hostage, on loan from Earth, but that's not how they feel about him, or him about them. To them, this is THE good work, and their fellow Guardsmen are closer than family.

Nrama: What was your favorite interaction to write between Hyperion and the team?  

(Image credit: Michele Bandini (Marvel Comics))

Cady: From the very start of this project, I've tried to write the team as genuinely as possible. They're not just a one-off team-up - in the timeline of 'Heroes Reborn,' Hyperion and the Imperial Guard traveled through the cosmos together for dozens of story arcs worth of adventures. And I've tried to write with those deep dynamics and emotional bonds in mind. 

There are multiple romances at play - some unrequited, even - and friction, friendship drama, jealousy, and ambition along with everything else. To go back to that 'summer camp' analogy, I wrote this like the last day of camp, and digging into those teenage anxieties and longing and all of that, to bounce those moments off of Hyperion every step of the way, has been really fun.

Nrama: The solicit states that the team finds "horror and agony beyond their wildest nightmares" in the Negative Zone. What can you tease about that?

(Image credit: Michele Bandini (Marvel Comics))

Cady: I'd hate to spoil the surprise, but things are gonna get a little...Giger-esque? 

These fine young heroes are stepping into the Negative Zone expecting one last fine, swashbuckling adventure on their way back to the Shi'ar homeworld of Chandrilar. That is not at all what they're getting. Body horror, existential dread, and of course, devastating loss are all on the menu. Don't expect everyone to make it out alive...or unchanged.

Nrama: What do you enjoy the most about writing Hyperion and the rest of the characters that show up here?

(Image credit: Ben Caldwell (Marvel Comics))

Cady: I think exploring this story as a coda - an epilogue to a lot of emotional buildups that readers don't have access to - has been my favorite thing. Doing my best to get into the mindset that these heroes have been working together for a long time. Treating them as three-dimensionally as I would if I actually had access to hundreds of issues about them, and how they feel and act toward each other.

It's like stepping into a group and picking up on the social dynamics and history as you go, which is a thing I think we can all relate to... especially thinking about our own teen years. I love writing Hyperion and these people as real, true friends, comrades-in-arms. And I love even more that I'm just writing the very end of this story.

Nrama: There's also a sneak peek for a fake 'spin-off' series - Starjammers. This is a title that launches within the 'Heroes Reborn' reality. What can you tell us about the backup? Will it tie into Krakoa and the X-Men?

(Image credit: Stephen Byrne (Marvel Comics))

Cady: These Starjammers are a bit different from what you'd expect, too. Editor Wil Moss and I really wanted to take the premise of 'Heroes Reborn' to heart, and I think we've succeeded. Yes, it's still Corsair and Hepzibah in charge, yes, it's still space pirates and derring-do and cosmic adventure, but it's also a family drama. 

This is a timeline where Scott and Alex Summers aren't orphaned - they're with their father. They escaped the horrors of Shi'ar imprisonment alongside their dad and his scary alien bride, and now we get to explore that version of the Summers' family. And there are quite a few other familiar faces in unfamiliar spaces, too. The dynamic at play is almost like Venture Bros. or Lost in Space. This little sneak preview short covers a lot of ground, and I think it's just the thing to get readers hyped about these characters.

...unfortunately, the only way to read MORE than this sneak peek would be to take a trip to the 'Heroes Reborn' timeline. I have it on good authority that Starjammers launched over there in June 1992 and was very well-received! But like I said - the short is a blast, for anyone who has an affection for swaggering space buccaneers, anti-Shi'ar revolutionaries, or those crazy Summers boys. Plus, you don't have to break the space-time continuum to read it.

Hyperion & the Imperial Guard #1 goes on sale May 12 in both comic shops and digital platforms. For the best digital comics reading experience, check out our list of the best digital comics readers for Android and iOS devices.

Kat has been working in the comic book industry as a critic for over a decade with her YouTube channel, Comic Uno. She’s been writing for Newsarama since 2017 and also currently writes for DC Comics’ DC Universe - bylines include IGN, Fandom, and TV Guide. She writes her own comics with her titles Like Father, Like Daughter and They Call Her…The Dancer. Calamia has a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and minor in Journalism through Marymount Manhattan and a MFA in Writing and Producing Television from LIU Brooklyn.