SPIDER-MANDATE: The Lowe-down on "Secret Wars," Tie-Ins and Stacey Lee
Marvel’s big Fear Itself crossover event last year introduced readers to Odin’s brother, the Serpent, who along with the Red Skull’s daughter, Sin, used seven divine hammers to turn several Marvel heroes and villains into his agents on Earth. Spoiler’s alert: Marvel’s heroes win, but in the wake of the event came the question of what happened to all those hammers.
Cullen Bunn, Matt Fraction, Chris Yost, Mark Bagley and Paul Pelletier answered that question in the pages of The Fearless, a miniseries that saw Sin and her boyfriend, Crossbones, in an Amazing Race-style adventure to find all the hammers. They were pitted against Valkyrie, a character ripe not only for an Asgardian-laced race against the forces of evil and some character development of her own. Over the course of the series, we learned a lot about the Valkyrie’s history, saw guest stars galore and even got a tease for a potential new series. Now that the miniseries has wrapped up, I chatted with Bunn about the comic, the characters he used and what he did with them. My thanks to him for taking the time to answer my questions.
JK: If I’m not mistaken, this was your first major project for Marvel since going “exclusive” with them. You’d done other stories for them and even other Fear Itself tie-ins, but is it safe to say this probably put you on the main stage of the Marvel Universe in a way you hadn’t experienced yet? Did you feel any pressure going into it because of the scope and the fact that it came out of a big Marvel event?
Cullen: Yeah, this was a big, intimidating undertaking. The Fearless featured most of the major Marvel superheroes in one way or another, and it spanned numerous locales. Luckily, I was working with a very supportive team who made me feel pretty comfortable going into this. They put a lot of trust in me with the series, and I didn’t want to let anyone down. Every time I sent some crazy note or suggestion for plot points, I expected them to yank me off the title, but they were pretty receptive to the idea of exploding sharks, a new team of Valkyrie, and Wolverine gutting Crossbones (among other things).
Battle Scars slipped my ever-vigilant shelf search of what to read, but it’s not terribly surprising to see why. It’s only vaguely tied into the events of Fear Itself, the title is kind of bland and the banner of “Shattered Heroes” seems kind of arbitrary. I mean, that banner hasn’t exactly pulled readers to books with the big bold words above the title, have they? All the rest of the banner-titled book have made a little more sense before; “Initiative” spun out of Civil War, “Dark Reign” spun out of Secret Invasion and so on. I know our heroes are little more fragile after facing the deified embodiment of fear itself, but I wouldn’t say “Shattered Heroes” is all that essential reading for a continuation of story. Everyone came together, had a good fight, then went home and back to their jobs, a little wiser or thoughtful from the experience. Not really worth picking up.
Back to Battle Scars: it seems a very mild book. I did read the first issue and learned about Marcus Johnson, but little else of why this books was going to be the most important book for the future of the Marvel U. Stories about intrigue and espionage are par for the course and sadly, the first issue left me with more questions than answers. Worse, Spider-Man wasn’t even in it.
Anyhow, I picked it up last week for whatever reason, something tingling the old Plot-Senses and lo and behold, issue #4 brought in a very unique development. Something so extraordinary that it had me digging into old issues and invested in Marcus Johnson’s great secret. Not only that, I was even starting to believe the hype and ruminated on how this book really could change the future of the Marvel Universe.
And we’re not even talking about Nick Fury’s shocking last page statements…
WARNING: Battle Scars, we’re talking about it! There’s only four issues out of this six-issues miniseries, so it’s a short investment for a big payoff, so go grab your copies and read along!
Hey kids, it’s time once again for What Are You Reading?, a weekly look into the reading habits of your Robot 6 bloggers. This week our special guest is Rik Offenberger, comics journalist and public relations coordinator for Archie Comics.
To see what Rik and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.
If I had $15, I’d first get the third issue of my favorite New 52 title, Batwoman #3 (DC, $2.99). Seriously, J.H. Williams III is hitting a home run on every outing here when it comes to my tastes. Although the writing isn’t up to the level of Greg Rucka’s time on the book, it’s close and only bound to get better. Next up I’d get Point One #1 (Marvel, $5.99). I think this format–an extra-size preview book for what’s coming next–is an interesting experiment, and I’m intrigued most by the Nova story, but also interested to see what the others do. Third would be Uncanny X-Force #17 (Marvel, $3.99), to get the one-two punch of Rick Remender and Jerome Opena. Iceman as a bad guy? I dig this.
As is typical, Sunday was a bit slower in terms of announcements at the San Diego Comic-Con, but there were some on the last day of the show:
• At the Fear Itself panel, Marvel made several announcements, including a new Defenders series by Matt Fraction and Terry Dodson. The team includes Dr. Strange, Iron Fist, Namor, Red She-Hulk and Silver Surfer.
• Jason Aaron and Marc Silvestri will chronicle the adventures of Bruce Banner and his alter ego starting in October, when Incredible Hulk #1 hits the stands.
• Much like Siege begot the Heroic Age, Fear Itself will bring Battle Scars, a post-event branding for the Marvel Universe titles. Several Shattered Heroes one-shots will be released, focusing on how Fear Itself impacts various Marvel heroes.
• Marvel confirmed the launch of The Fearless, a bi-weekly series by Matt Fraction, Chris Yost, Cullen Bunn, Mark Bagley and Paul Pelletier.
• DC Comics released a gallery of character designs and sketches for the New 52 launch.
• Comic-Con International released the full list of Inkpot Awards recipients from this year’s show. The list includes Steven Spielberg, Alan Davis, Chester Brown and many more.