Outlawed #1 arrives in stores this week, bringing the latest significant story into the Marvel Comics universe. Spinning out of the pages of last year's Incoming one-shot, Outlawed brings a shocking new piece of legislation into the fold, after the United States passes a law that outlaws superheroes under the age of 21. This decision, which is sparked by a "devastating tragedy", will begin to have even further effects on the teen heroes of the Marvel universe, including Ms. Marvel, Miles Morales, Nova, and Viv. At the center of the event is Dr. Eve L. Ewing, who will be penning the Outlawed one-shot, as well as the new run of Champions spinning out of it.
Ewing, who is a poet, sociologist, and University of Chicago assistant professor, is no stranger to Marvel's teenage heroes, penning fan-favorite runs on Ironheart and Marvel-Team Up. But with Outlawed, her impact on the world of comics is about to get much more profound -- and we couldn't be more excited to see what that entails. We got to chat with Ewing at last month's Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo about what fans can expect from Outlawed and Champions, the responsibility of authentically representing teenagers, and why you can definitely expect more of her "director's cuts" commentaries on Twitter.
ComicBook.com: What drew you to the story of Outlawed? you've spoken in the past about how an editor pitched it to you, so what about it was really appealing to you?
Eve Ewing: Alana Smith, my editor, came to me with this idea and she was like, "I want to know what you think of this." And it was really a terrific collaborative project, because we sat down as an editorial team and had some phone conversations about "Okay, how do we want to tell this story?"
The thing that appealed to me, number one, is that Outlawed has broader repercussions for the Marvel universe. But essentially, I see it as a Champions story and I love the Champions. I love Jim [Zub's] run on it. I loved it. I've read every issue from the beginning. Part of what I love about it is -- I love writing young people. I used to be a middle school teacher, and I think for all of us, being that age, being an adolescent, is where we come into ourselves as readers. I think young people are a really important audience that actually can get overlooked in the comics world. I think mainstream society thinks comics are for teenagers, but I actually think a lot of times, from an editorial perspective, we don't think about teenagers when we're writing comics. Even as characters, some people, we write them as miniature adults than as potential audiences.
I'm always drawn to teen characters. I really loved the idea of doing this team of young people, all of whom I love so much as individuals, and just to get the chance to tell their story. And to really think about how this law would impact each of them differently was really cool for me. And, to be 120% honest, it was also a nice way to wean myself away from Riri. So the idea of "Okay, I'm going to not be writing Ironheart anymore, but I am going to get to still continue to write this character and write her in the context of an ensemble." I think, for my own emotional attachment, it's a good thing.
You've spoken previously about how Outlawed deals with privilege, and how each character will respond to the law differently given their individual circumstances. I was wondering if you could elaborate on that a little bit more.
Without giving too much away - which is always a challenge - I think part of thinking through this story is not just jumping to the obvious comic book cliches. Ideas of Acts of Congress, obviously, have been a huge part of the Marvel universe for the entirety of X-Men, for Civil War, all these previous stories. So it's going a little bit deeper into what it means for that to happen in the context of young people.
If we think about a character like Riri, who actually doesn't have a secret identity. Everybody knows that Riri Williams is Ironheart. That's really different. That means the stakes for her are going to be different than they are going to be for Nova or for Miles or for Kamala or for Viv.
The point is actually acknowledging that our teen characters are not just stand-ins for generic teamdom. What does it mean to be a dreamer, versus somebody who has documented status here in the U.S.? What does it mean to be a person of color versus a white person? One of the loopholes of the law is that they're allowed to keep super-heroing if they have a government-approved mentor. So, what does it mean to be a hero who has more ties to the adult superhero community, versus one who's on the fringe? And so all of those different aspects of different characters' identities are going to play into how they respond to the situation.
I wanted to ask about New Warriors and Power Pack and how they spin out of Outlawed. I'm so happy that Daniel Kibblesmith, in particular, is involved with New Warriors. How does it feel to be writing Outlawed, knowing that these series will launch out from there?
Oh my gosh, it's so bananas and just bonkers. When we first started I was like, "Okay, this is going to be a great story. It's going to be a cool little mini-series that we're going to do." And then, when Alana came back to me and said, "Actually, there's a lot of interest in this. We want to do more." None of us have been calling it an event, we've been calling it an "event-type thing." It's not a full-blown Marvel event, but it also does have implications for the broader Marvel universe.
For me to have that responsibility, that privilege, that opportunity is really humbling and quite frankly shocking to me. It's just funny coming out of the Ironheart experience, where I was a very much maligned and mistrusted writer, to now being handed this opportunity, where there are so many people that are excited for this "event-type thing." So it's really cool.
It's also exciting for me - speaking of weaning myself away from my emotional attachments - Luciano Vecchio, who I worked with for almost all of Ironheart, is just somebody who I love and adore so deeply as an artist and as a person. So I'm really excited that he's going to be on the New Warriors project. Also, some of the New Warriors, like Midnights Fire and Silhouette, they're in Ironheart. So just spiritually, there's this connection to be able to keep these threads going.
I actually think the New Warriors are really interesting, and I think that era of comics is really interesting. So I'm very excited that that's the direction of all the different titles that could have been impacted by this "event-type thing". I'm excited that those are the ones that are going to spin out of it. And then, of course, the stuff that Saladin Ahmed is going to be doing [with Ms. Marvel]. He's my fave. I'm just excited about all of it.
How does it feel writing Kamala in this context? Obviously, you wrote her in Marvel Team-Up, but this feels so different.
It's great. I think that with Marvel Team-Up, it's a very lighthearted goofy story. I knew I only had three issues, and so I was like, "I need to make something feel complete in three issues."
With this, Kamala is going to kind of screw up here, and it's going to be a very frustrating situation for her. I think it's been released in the previews already that this law is called "Kamala's Law." I'm not going to reveal yet why that is, but she is the namesake of a law that she really fundamentally doesn't agree with. So I think that part of allowing our heroes - especially our young heroes - a chance to grow, is allowing them space for frustration, space to make mistakes, space to screw up. As much as I love her - to me as a character, she's perfect in my eyes - but I think it's nice and complicated to give her a chance to maybe not be so perfect in this title.
What are you most excited to see readers respond to with this "event-type thing"?
Well, there's Viv. The Viv stans are out there, and they're waiting to see what's going to happen with Viv, and I'm interested to see how they're going to respond to what's going to happen with Viv. Viv is going to have a big role in the inciting incident that kicks off this law getting passed. So I'm excited about that.
Also, one thing about the Champions is there's just one million Champions. Like there's the core team that everybody knows, but there's also Snow Guard and Red Locust and Pinpoint and Bombshell and Power Man. I really think that they're really cool, and I'm trying to give them some cool stuff to do. So I'm interested in seeing how fans will respond to that.
And then, the art is just sick. It's just absurd. So I'm excited to see people's responses to that.
Your Twitter commentaries for Ironheart were amazing.
Oh, thank you. My director's cuts?
Yes! Is that going to continue with Outlawed and Champions?
Sure, why not? That's something that I've been really pleased and delighted that people respond to. And I think part of it is, I'm just really proud of the work that we've done and I want people to know how much thought and how much care and how much connective tissue we intentionally put into all of these stories. Part of why I also do those commentaries is, I'm conscious that a lot of my followers and a lot of my readers aren't people that necessarily feel welcome in comics. They don't feel like comics are for them or that they speak the language or they feel inaccessible.
So I want to show them "Hey, that close reading that you do in fiction, those connections that you see as a film fan, or as a TV fan in the area of peak TV, comics has that too." And there's a lot of little wink-and-nod things. They say about Shakespeare that every line in Shakespeare is said three times, because he would have these different kinds of audiences, some that were high-end theater people, and some that were just regular people.
Obviously, I'm not comparing myself to Shakespeare, but I do really think it's important to talk to multiple audiences. I wanted people to feel like, "Hey, if you are an old school Marvel fan, if you read New Warriors, if you understand this reference and that reference, there's something in here for you. There's a deep cut in here for you. But also, if you really don't know how to enter this space, there's also something for you as well." And it's just a lot of fun and a great way of showcasing the incredible art. So yeah, since you asked, I'm committing that I'm going to do it again.0comments
Outlawed #1 is available Wednesday, March 18th. Champions #1 will be released on April 8th.
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