In the Marvel Comics universe the mythic and modern collide on a regular basis, with the arrival of monsters and apocalyptic menaces of the ancient world always on the horizon. This is exactly what happened in the opening issues of writer Cullen Bunn and artist Will Sliney’s “Fearless Defenders” series, starring Valkyrie, Misty Knight and Dani Moonstar. The threats in question are a group of powerful, malevolent and insane goddesses known as the Doom Maidens, who have reawakened because of the machinations of the vicious and wealthy woman, Caroline Le Fay. Plus, Valkyrie, an Asgardian goddess, failed to establish a new order of Shieldmaidens leading to unforeseen consequences.
Now, in order to stop the Doom Maidens and Le Fay, Valkyrie finally puts together her team which includes the newly resurrected Amazon Queen Hippolyta AKA Warrior Woman. CBR News spoke with Bunn about Warrior Woman, special guest appearances in future issues and his greater plans for “The Fearless Defenders.” Plus, exclusive art!
CBR News: Cullen, Warrior Woman, whose other alias is Hippolyta, was resurrected at the end of “Fearless Defenders” #2. She’s a real mythical figure, but in the Marvel Universe she’s a lesser known character who was killed a few years back in an issue of “Incredible Hercules.” What made you want to resurrect and reintroduce her in the pages of “Fearless Defenders” and what dynamic does she add to the book?
Cullen Bunn: My editor Ellie Pyle and I threw a lot of ideas back and forth while I was writing those early issues of “Fearless Defenders.” Some ideas were kicked to the wayside. Some, like the idea of returning a Marvel character from the dead, stuck — and ended up knocking some of my scripts on their ear. The idea surfaced when I wrote Hela would appear in the series.
I liked the thought of raising a character from the dead, but I was immediately met with a couple of problems. Firstly, the character had to fit what I was planing for the book. Secondly, when I went through all my old issues of the “Official Marvel Universe Handbook: Book of the Dead,” all the characters who were listed as deceased had already been returned to life! My short list had four characters on it, and there were a couple I was certain would be resurfacing in one way or another in other books. Ellie called me with the suggestion of Hippolyta, and I thought she could bring something interesting to the series. She presents a foil for Valkyrie and the other characters, but I can also play with her story and create some new directions for her.
Warrior Woman’s past is closely tied to a number of characters from the Hercules mythos like Herc himself, the Amazons and Delphyne Gorgon. Any chance of these characters — or the themes surrounding them — making an appearance in “Fearless Defenders?”
The Amazons are featured in the series because one of Hippolyta’s goals is to return her people to a place of glory. Herc also shows up, and I think it’ll be an interesting meeting, especially considering Hippolyta’s resurrection also came with a huge power upgrade. That being said, it’ll take a bit for me to get to those tales. Still, Delphyne Gorgon and the Amazons do show up sooner than readers might be expecting.
While we’re on the topic of Warrior Woman’s past, she’s connected to the Olympian pantheon of gods. So what is she doing with Hela? Wouldn’t Pluto, the Olympian God of the Underworld, be upset over Hela resurrecting a soul that fell under his purview?
We’ll learn more about her resurrection in the third issue, but Pluto was involved — as were a number of other death gods. Hela had to do some wheeling and dealing. The true price Hela must pay — and the ulterior motives of the death gods (because you know there are some) — are revealed in time.
Warrior Woman was brought back to help Valkyrie and Misty deal with the prophecy of the Doom Maidens whose origin were presented in issue two. The Doom Maidens feel like Asgard’s version of the rebel angels that attacked Heaven in Christian lore. Is that what you were going for with these characters?
I definitely see the correlation. To some degree, that was the base inspiration for these characters, but the Doom Maidens didn’t so much “rebel” as they were driven completely mad by something they encountered in the depths of space. In that sense, they are tragic figures.
The Doom Maidens aren’t the only lingering threat in “Fearless Defenders,” considering Caroline Le Fey’s revelation to a captive Dani Moonstar that she wants to become a Valkyrie. Why does Le Fey feel this way? Is she simply after more power and immortality, or does she want something more?
Caroline’s a fun character for me. In one sense, she is a homicidal maniac; she’s a force of destruction and entropy who could become a cardboard villain if not played carefully. My hope is you’ll soon see why Caroline wants to destroy everything she sees and rule over a kingdom of ash. When she says she wants to become a Valkyrie — she has her own personal definition of what that means.
We’re seeing more of Le Fey’s chief enforcer, Mr. Raven, who appears to be a vicious and very capable soldier. Can you tell us anything more about him?
It’s funny that Mr. Raven will remain more of an enigma over the first arc than Caroline. I am exploring his backstory — and his connection to Caroline — but not for a while.
The covers of upcoming “Fearless Defenders” issues give the implication guest stars are going to be in abundance — is this assumption correct?
Over the next few issues, Valkyrie and company learn the Doom Maidens aren’t just awakening; they’ve already awakened. Our team isn’t really ready for the challenge they present. A number of guest stars — something like 15 — show up to aid against this threat and end up encountering an enemy they don’t expect.
Talk about your working relationship with artist Will Sliney.
Will is one of those artists who starts out strong, then proceeds to get better with every issue. I think he has a knack for fun, superhero action. He’s never complained about any of the crazy stuff (or the crazy amount of guest stars) I’ve asked him to draw. I might be wrong, but I think he really enjoyed drawing Odin, who shows up in issue four.
Finally, we’ve talked about your immediate plans for “Fearless Defenders,” but can you offer up any hints or teases about what’s coming in the late summer months and early fall?
At the end of the first arc, Valkyrie defines her vision of the Fearless Defenders — and of the Shieldmaidens — and there’s a reason I’m delineating those two groups. After that, I’ll spend time really showing off the versatility of the title. We’ll get a few shorter stories in issues #7-12. Alien menaces, death cults, ninja assassins, Young Defenders, loads of new guest stars, new characters and new Shieldmaidens.
I’ve been absolutely floored by the response to “The Fearless Defenders.” I’m grateful to the fans that get what we’re trying to do with the book — stick with us! There are many crazy adventures ahead!