Christos Gage Talks the First Day of School for Avengers Academy

If you've not heard of comic book writer Christos Gage by now, you certainly will by this summer. The much-anticipated start to Marvel Comics' "Heroic Age" will begin as soon as "Siege" concludes, and with this new era comes new Avengers and new Avengers books! Gage, known for his work on Avengers: Initiative, several Wildstorm series and issues, the "Secret Invasion" tie-ins of Thunderbolts, and many others, is taking the writing duties for a high-profile new project as part of the Avengers relaunch: Avengers Academy. I had the chance to speak with Gage about this project, who we might expect to see, and also why Hell is just so interesting! When issue number one of Avengers Academy lands in stores on June 2nd, it will be part of the wave of new Avengers titles on shelves, and Gage has an interesting dual view on the book, "I would hope people find it both fresh and familiar, the way books like Runaways and Young Avengers immediately sucked you in and made you feel like you'd known these characters for years. It's the Avengers' commitment to the future, to making sure something like Dark Reign never happens again. Everyone who has ever been in Avenger is a potential instructor {at the school}, passing on their shared knowledge to the next generation." The book promises to be a bridge for readers between the familiar Avengers characters they have seen before and new ones, such as Finesse, who Gage has said is "a lot of fun to write", in the hopes of establishing itself firmly in the minds of readers taking a chance on this book. Gage is also clear that the book should not be viewed as simply another "teen book", " I hope readers will pick up issue #1 to see what sets our book apart, and decide for themselves whether they want to stick around. I don't think its a rehash of other books and I don't believe Marvel thinks so, or they wouldn't publish it." This certainly comes across in our interview, as he really hopes that the big first impression readers get is that they will want to "pick up issue number two!" Gage has also promised prominent heroes and villains for the series, and quickly too, but didn't want to give away too much right away! Gage also described working with series artist Mike McKone as one full of trust and understanding, "Mike designed all the new characters and really breathed life into them. He is so talented I know I can leave things unsaid and trust him to get the emotion across on the page. I love working with Mike!" In turning our attention to a completely different style of art and writing, we discussed his work on the recent comic book adaptation of the video game Dante's Inferno. Published under the Wildstorm imprint, the book takes a deeper look at the game, something that Gage thought added a lot. He said, "I hope that it gives gamers some insight into Beatrice, making her more than a love interest, and illuminating some of the behind the scenes machinations with her and Lucifer." Looking at this latest adaptation of the classic epic poem, Gage wasn't surprised at the continued popularity of the book and its images of a ghastly afterlife, "It's really come to be our popular view of Hell...something people who may have never heard of the poem think of. I think Dante's visions of the punishments sinners suffer struck a universal chord in our collective psyche." As Dante's Inferno winds down its mini-run, Gage's full attention is squarely on Avengers Academy, a book that he no doubt hopes will become a staple of the new Avengers universe, and a vital part of the upcoming Heroic Age.