Marvel’s Next Big Thing is…. Fearless Defenders! Which launches in February from Cullen Bunn and Will Sliney. We’ve already given you a look at how this Valkyrie-starring book got started, and you can expect a few more insights over the next few weeks. Tease!
But tonight Marvel offered the comics press a chat with Bunn and Sliney, along with editor Ellie Pyle. They also revealed the fourth member of the team – Hippolyta. Huh? Read on.
The premise of the book is that Valkyrie is forced by circumstance/her own mistakes to assemble a team of women who can form a Valkyrior to protect Earth from an imminent threat from a new villain. Some members of the team will be chosen, some will choose themselves, and various possible candidates will float in and out of contention to help Valkyrie in her mission. It’s a book solely comprised of female characters, which Marvel haven’t attempted particularly since The Lady Liberators. So far the confirmed members include Misty Knight, Dani Moonstar… and now Hippolyta.
I know what you’re thinking, but this version of Hippolyta was not turned to stone and snakes a few months ago, leaving Wonder Woman in tears. She was instead killed a while ago by Marvel, and was a fairly obscure character in the Marvel Universe to begin with. She’ll be getting a resurrection and redesign for Fearless Defenders courtesy of Phil Jimenez, as you can see above. Pyle talked about the elements of the design Jimenez was most focused on – making sure that the armour looked authentic, and yet contemporary. You’ll see a number of allusions to Greek mythology in the design, as well. Hippolyta will be a vibrant character, which looks like it’ll probably worry Valkyrie and annoy Misty.
Revealed in today’s call was a little more detail about the surrounding atmosphere of the book, with Bunn discussing the new villain who starts everything off. A schemer, this character remains very mysterious, but it seems as though she pushes Valkyrie into making a mistake which puts everything at risk – forcing her to assemble a crew to stop things getting out of control. It looks as though a lot of the fun of the series will be seeing Valkyrie have to deal with different parts of the Marvel Universe; getting down to street level with Misty, having mutant troubles with Moonstar, and then dealing with Goddesses by issue #3.
There’s a nine-person cast who’ll ultimately form the Valkyrior, but this isn’t defined or fixed by any means. Marvel were keen to point out that this wasn’t a friendly team, who go for ice cream and sit around chatting all day. They’re together by necessity, and characters may join the team but then not bother showing up for certain missions. People will come and go, with only Valkyrie, Misty and the villainess staying fairly constant. Sliney spoke at length about his design process for the various characters. While he’s remained fairly consistent with the main characters (watch this space for more details on that, Beat-Fans!), he’s been able to experiment more openly with the villainess, and the various other foes who appear in the book.
It’s my New Year’s Resolution to not pester Marvel about Pixie or Darkstar (because frankly we’re all tired of hearing about me) so instead asked about Valkyrie’s characterisation. Bunn said he would be drawing from his previous work on the character in ‘The Fearless’, with the warrior starting off as fairly headstrong, before realising she has to curb that a little, and is now struggling with the weight of responsibility which has fallen on her. Much of her arc will be dealing with that pressure, and attempting to make good on her own potential.
It was a good call. There was a little more resolution about the book, but everybody concerned – press and publisher both – seemed to be making sure not to ask anything which might spoil the book. There seems to be a lot of goodwill towards the title (I’m certainly enjoying a Moonstar-related bias), and a general desire to see it succeed. Issue #1 is out in February.