Today at BookExpo America in New York City, Marvel spoke about their current and upcoming books, and hosted several creators on a panel on the Uptown Stage from 12:00 to 12:30PM. Hosted by Sana Amanat, Jason Reynolds, Rainbow Rowell, R.L. Stine, and Margaret Stohl took part in the panel.
We caught up with the second part of the panel, and heard them speak about Spider-Man, specifically the upcoming book Miles Morales: Spider-Man by Jason Reynolds, and the upcoming comic series Runaways, which will be written by Rainbow Rowell and illustrated by Chris Anka. The latter creative team was announced on the highly anticipated book during the panel, live.
Discussing the Spider-Man: Miles Morales comic series, of which volumes 1, 2, and 3 currently exist, the panelists said the series is a little bit “ludicrous” and that’s “half the point of it”. This fan favorite character has been around for 8 or 9 years now, so taking him into another realm–that of prose–seemed like a great idea.
Jason Reynolds’ new book will be called Miles Morales: Spider-Man and for Reynolds, deciding to work on this book had a number of factors. Firstly, and most importantly, Morales was a character he felt he could relate to, saying, “He’s black and addressing that is good”. It “meant the world to him, since Morales “looks like my friends and my family”, Reynolds said. He also wanted to explore “what that means” since we may “like to believe” that being a person of color does not affect the story, but it does, it “changes the story, community, everything in his life”, Reynolds said.
When dealing with Spider-Man, you know you have to address the “With great power comes great responsibility” theme, but Reynolds knew that in his own neighborhood, that would be more like, “With great power comes great fun”, at least initially. In his community, superheroes were “athletes and rappers, those who were financially successful”, Reynolds said, and that was seen as a kind of super power. To translate that into this story, he knew he’d have to create a lot of “weight and pressure” around the idea of ACTUALLY having super powers, and the results that would generate, like “survivor’s guilt”.
Amanat said that in this book, Reynolds is handling a “grounded, grittier version” of the character, and Reynolds commented that this is nevertheless different from his other books in that he can “suspend reality”. For him, dealing with super powers in a story is like dealing with “magic” because of the “fantastic elements”. It allows him to “go further”, creating situations where a character is flying, has camouflage, can leap, and yet Reynolds still has to make it “feel real”. He injects scenes like Morales eating dinner and having his mother yell at him.
Moving on to a discussion of Runaways, Amanat announced that the series would be written by Rainbow Rowell and illustrated by Chris Anka. Rowell has written previous books that brought her to BookExpo three years ago, where she brought up the possibility of writing a Runaways book, she said. Discussions followed for the new series, which will arrive in September 2017 after three years of discussions.
For her, the biggest draw of this book is that “all the characters sound like real characters” and have their own “voices” which render them “funny”, and “heartbreaking”. Asked about her approach to the book, Rowell said that she wanted to bring back the book she had previously loved, and that she simply wanted to read it again. She wanted those characters back in her life in a way that was “satisfying” to her as a reader.
At the moment, the Runaways superhero team has been scattered around the marvel universe and half are dead, Rowell said. Initially, it was not like they said “let’s start a superhero team”, but it happened more by necessity. The question is, if given the chance, would they still choose that now? There’s also an upcoming show on Hulu which will feature these heroes, Amanat reminded the audience. The former series of Runaways, written by Brian K. Vaughn, currently exists in collected form, if you’d like to catch up, too.
Essentially, the Runaways are a superhero team who formed when they learned a shocking secret: that their parents were all part of a team of supervillains. After years of meeting up on the same day to have a big BBQ together, the kids learn about the connection, and decide to run away together, where in dealing with this revelation about their parents, they decide to form a superhero team. Rowell said that one of the great things about the Runaways story is that these characters are “newer” to the Marvel Universe, so entirely new readers can “catch up” easily and be ready for the new series.