The latest “Marvel NOW! Next Big Thing” conference call with the comic book press is scheduled to discuss the February-debuting Fearless Defenders, a team headlined by Valkyrie, Misty Knight and Dani Moonstar; from the creative team of writer Cullen Bunn and artist Will Sliney. Things are scheduled to get started around 4 p.m. eastern — keep refreshing, as this page will be updated continuously with the latest news. New colored pages from #1, and covers from April’s #3, are available for your perusal here.
“This is a book that is unapologetically a superhero actionfest,” Bunn says to open the call. The writer is joined on the line by Sliney, series editors Tom Brevoort and Ellie Pyle and Marvel marketing’s James Viscardi.
“The team will come together slowly over time,” Bunn says, with Valkyrie and Misty Knight as the “co-leads.” “I can not imagine more odd of a couple than Brunnhilde and Misty. They’re fun to write individually, but they’re so much fun to write when they’re interacting with each other. They bring a very interesting dynamic to this team.”
Sliney briefly discusses illustrating the two, saying Misty has a lot more “swagger” to her.
“We are introducing a new villain right off the bat, from the first issue,” Bunn says. “She’s seen an opportunity: Because there are no shieldmaidens in operation right now, there is a void in supernature, so to speak,” which gives this new character an opportunity to strike. The villain then calls up the “doommaidens,” who are “exceptional bad news.”
Brevoort speaks up, saying he doesn’t know exactly how to describe the nature of Fearless Defenders, but that it’s not a traditional “team.” “They’re not going to have a headquarters, or gather for regular meetings. There’s a whole slew of characters that well pass into and out of the book. The flavor of it is quite a bit different [from the average Marvel team],” Brevoort continues, saying that the closest antecedent is likely Power Man and Iron Fist. Pyle adds that the series thusly keeps in Defenders tradition, by being a “non-team.”
First press question, from CBR: What was Bunn’s initial pitch like? “The initial pitch goes back several months,” Bunn says. “The fact that it was such a different approach to a team, or a “non-team” as Tom said. A big part of what I wanted to show was Valkyrie trying to go through the steps of choosing who she thinks is worry to be a shieldmaiden. I started thinking how differently the challenges they’d face would be, and how much fun it could be to see these very different characters — whether they’re in the book for an extended period of time or just an issue or an arc — presenting them in different lights.”
Next press question, from us: Who is the character on the cover of #3? “She is a new member of the group,” Bunn answers. “She’s a character who we are bringing back from the dead in the Marvel Universe.” Bunn says they’re introducing her in a “bigger way,” before then revealing who it is: Hippolyta. Pyle points out that Hippolyta wasn’t necessary a heroic character when she was last seen. “She’s going to be going by the hero name ‘Warrior Woman’ whether she wants to or not,” Pyle adds.
Next press question, from iFanboy: How much will the book explore Misty Knight’s street-level world? Bunn says that the book will both explore Misty Knight in Valkyrie’s world, as well as vice versa.
Next press question, from The Beat: What was the redesign process of Hippolyta like? Pyle says that Jimenez, who drew the variant cover to #3, worked on the design, and wanted to incorporate Greek elements and “make it sassier,” with a “modern aesthetic.” “She’s coming back from the dead! She should get a new wardrobe.”
Next press question, from Marvel.com: Will there be a fixed cast beyond Misty and Valkyrie, or rotate depending on the arc? “The cast will rotate depending on the arc,” Bunn replies. “Brunnhilde has been tasked with assembling a new group of Valkyrior.” It’s a nine-person group, but Bunn is going to rotate those characters in and out of the series.
Back around, another question from CBR: What was it like for Sliney to figure out what his take on each character would be? Sliney says his design elements started to come in with the villains, and most of the main cast’s costumes have stayed with traditional looks.
Next question, from us: Since the main cast are primarily lesser-known characters, are there plans to add some of the more A-list female heroes to the book? “You will see some of the powerhouses and big names in there, whether that’s only as guest stars or new recruits as the Valkyrior, it’s wait and see with that,” Bunn says. “But you will definitely see some of the heavier hitters.” Pyle says that the series is again living up to the Defenders tradition by pulling characters from different corners of the Marvel Universe, which Sliney says is exciting for him as an artist.
Next question, from iFanboy: What more can Bunn say about the book’s villain? “She is a character who is going to be a challenge for the Defenders,” the writer says. “She has no powers whatsoever. But her resources and her mile-wide mean streak are going to make her a significant threat for some time to come.”
Next question, from The Beat: Will Valkyrie’s new lease on life, as established in Fear Itself: The Fearless, extend to the new series? “You’ll definitely see a progression of that,” Bunn answers. “Valkyrie did come out of Fearless with a newfound sense of purpose, and it quickly swallowed her up. That is one of the reasons she has not been able to choose this new group of shieldmaidens.”
Next question, from Marvel.com: Will Bunn be using Lyra or Loa? Bunn says if he can fit them in, he will.
To wrap up: Fearless Defenders #1, from Cullen Bunn and Will Sliney, is out in February. New art is here. Thanks for reading!