In this alt-universe where the Avengers never existed, the teen heroes you know and love like Kamala Kahn, Miles Morales, and Sam Alexander don't become Ms. Marvel Spider-Man, or Nova... but they do become a team.
Kid Spectrum, Girl Power, and the all-new Falcon are their names here in 'Heroes Reborn,' and how they've changed - and what core principles have stayed the same - is the story behind the May 26 one-shot Heroes Reborn: Young Squadron.
Writing Heroes Reborn: Young Squadron is writer Jim Zub and artist Steve Cummings, who had a run together on Miles, Kamala, and Sam's usual teen superhero team the Champions.
Zub spoke with Newsarama about the transition from the Champions to Young Squadron, why these three heroes (and only these three heroes) are Young Squadron, and also how it fits into the larger storylines of 'Heroes Reborn.'
Newsarama: Jim, what made you want to return to the Champions (at least a form of the Champions) for Heroes Reborn: Young Squadron?
Jim Zub: Editor Alanna Smith reached out to let me know about the broad concept behind 'Heroes Reborn' and that they wanted to see how the Squadron Supreme taking on that Avengers role might ripple out in other directions, in this case in the lives of Kamala Khan, Miles Morales, and Sam Alexander. It was a chance to play in that Champions sandbox and work with Steven Cummings again, while also showing those characters from a different angle.
Nrama: What makes this version of the team different than their 616 counterparts?
Zub: All three of them have been influenced by completely different heroes from what we're used to in the 616. Sam helped Doctor Spectrum and received a small portion of his cosmic energy, Kamala earned the respect of Power Princess and has a Utopian artifact that grants her superpowers, and Miles is trying to prove himself to Nighthawk.
Nrama: Does this directly tie into events from the main Heroes Reborn?
Zub: Yes, but I can't really explain how without tipping my hand too much.
Nrama: How does the Squadron Supreme being this reality’s Earth’s Mightiest Heroes affect our young heroes?
Zub: Miles, Kamala, and Sam have all been inspired by members of the Squadron Supreme in this reality, so their superheroic origins and abilities are quite different, but their personalities still reflect the core traits readers know and love from Champions and their solo books.
Nrama: How did you come up with their new names/back stories?
Zub: The ideas for which Squadron members would inspire each of our young heroes was already set when I was brought on board, but their superheroic names and backstories were mine to come up with. It was fun imagining new origin stories that had nods to the past with key changes and new twists to keep things interesting.
In terms of the names - Falcon was obvious and, once readers see how he gets that name it'll make even more sense. Kid Spectrum and Girl Power hearken back to the colorful Silver Age feel I wanted them to have. They're the kinds of names that kids would unironically come up with on their own.
Nrama: Did you also help with the design choices at all?
Zub: Absolutely. Steven and I worked closely together with Alanna on the designs, generating sketches and talking about what visual elements would stick around from their 616 costumes and what would change in this 'Heroes Reborn' world.
We went back and forth on Girl Power's quite a bit and I did a bunch of different color options before we settled on the one you see in the story.
Nrama: Are there other Champion members that show up besides Sam, Miles, and Kamala?
Zub: Unfortunately, no. I wanted to make sure we kept the focus on these three so readers can get a solid sense of who they are and how their lives have changed in this new paradigm. It was tempting to bring other familiar teens into the mix, but that would have stuffed it too full and limited our ability to tell a satisfying story.
Nrama: What's their dynamic like with each another? Are they friends?
Zub: The Young Squadron hasn't been together too long at the start of this issue, so they're still figuring each other out. There's a general sense of trust as teammates, but it's not a long-term friendship and that new bond is definitely tested in this story.
Nrama: How is Deadpool involved in all of this? As one of our favorite breaking the fourth wall mercs, will we get any commentary about the differences between the regular Marvel U and Heroes Reborn?
Zub: Let's just say that the Merc With a Mouth has some twisted ties to Nighthawk and he's looking to take out some of his frustrations on his sidekick and young allies.
I really enjoy writing Deadpool and definitely peppered in some fourth-wall-breaking commentary on the event, these alternate versions of characters, and what it all means.
Nrama: Would you like to tackle the Champions or the team’s individual heroes again following this event?
Zub: Writing Champions was a thrill and it was nice to check back in with the kids here. I'm always open to building out their world and showing readers why Marvel's next generation of heroes is full of potential.
Nrama: Would you like to see more from the Young Squadron - are there more stories to be told post-Heroes Reborn?
Zub: The ending delivers on what we set out to say about these heroes, but also leaves the door open to more exploration. It would be fun to keep that momentum going, but I suspect that'll depend on how strong the Squadron's hold is on reality when things are all said and done.
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