Today we sat in on Marvel’s latest Next Big Thing press call, this one devoted to Fearless Defenders by Cullen Bunn and artist Will Sliney. Also on the call were editors Ellie Pyle and Tom Brevoort.
There’s a lot to a title. The name Fearless Defenders suggests a couple of distinctions, each of them quite accurate. It’s a book that spins out of Bunn’s own endeavors on the Fearless mythology of the Asgardian-themed Fear Itself event. That sequence was a major showcase for the shield maiden Brunnhilde, known commonly as Valkyrie. For simplicity and an easy Django Unchained tie-in, we’ll refer to her as Brunnhilde hereafter. Also, as Pyle offers, the series is wholly in tune to that classic Defenders frequency. We’re looking at an off-kilter group of characters who don’t have a great deal in common aside from that noble drive to defend the world.
Brevoort was quick to point out that we probably shouldn’t refer to these women as being on a team. They’re more of a “non-team.” He said the closest comparison he could make was likely the Power Man and Iron Fist dynamic.
When the book was first announced last year we were aware of two primary characters, Brunnhilde and Misty Knight, and one additional ally in Dani Moonstar, who’ll appear in issue #2. Bunn explains that the group will form slowly over an extended period of time, an effort to establish these women and their relationships rather than shove the full roster at the reader all at once. It’s also unlikely we’ll see many issues, if any, that feature the full lineup together. There is no home base and, again, this aint exactly a team.
We can also confirm an additional character, seen on the cover for the third issue in the gallery below. That flaxen dread-locked goddess is the newly resurrected Hoppolyta, queen of the Amazons. Bunn describes her as full reinvention of the character seen previously in the pages of Marvel comics, and she’s back in a big way. Hippolyta looks to be a real scene-stealer, and Bunn concedes that she’s threatened to steal a few scripts right out from under Brunnhilde and Misty.
“These are characters you haven’t seen working together before and characters that readers might not be familiar with,” said Pyle in reference to the conscious lack of A-list heroines. Brevoort joked that Wolverine and Spider-Man would join the team in a few short months. The whole team expressed an especial interest in telling a story with lesser-know characters, paced and structured in an atypical fashion.
It’s certainly a diverse group, with wide-ranging powers and backgrounds. We asked Bunn if Misty’s grindhouse roots might infuse the book, even with all the Greek and Norse mythology running rampant. ”I think it’s going to be just as much fun when Valkyrie gets involved in those street-level stories we’ve seen Misty in in the past.” Sliney also spoke to the visual disparity between Misty and Brunnhilde, speaking to the former’s swagger, something that definitely translates to the characters’ individual action scenes.
So, what brings them all together? The world needs Valkyrior, that group of shield maidens tasked with collecting the spirits of fallen warriors. There’s more to it than that, but that’s the historical and mythological basis for this particular vocation. Forced to choose only from the champions of Midgard, Brunnhilde is out of her depth and at kind of a loss. The joy of the book is in mixing characters from such far-flung backgrounds, united against a pretty terrifying enemy. An enemy Bunn describes as having no actual super powers but incredible resources and one hell of a mean streak.
Fearless Defenders #1 hits shelves in February.