For decades, the hammer has been a symbol of hope in the Marvel Universe. That’s because it was wielded by one of its greatest heroes, the Asgardian Thunder God, Thor. That’s all been changed though by the current Marvel event series “Fear Itself.” In the debut issue of the series, the immensely powerful Asgardian Fear God known as the Serpent was freed from his prison and began his scheme to devastate and dominate both the Earth and his fellow Asgardians.
Instrumental in the Serpent’s scheme have been eight mystical hammers. In the early issues of “Fear Itself,” the Serpent summoned these hammers to Earth where they transformed several heroes and villains into the Worthy, the Serpent’s Avatars. The Worthy then embarked on a worldwide campaign of destruction to terrorize people and cultivate the fear that powers their master.
The Serpent’s scheme comes to an end in October with “Fear Itself” #7 by writer Matt Fraction and artist Stuart Immonen, but his hammers and the destruction they have wrought will continue to haunt the heroes and villains of the Marvel U. That same month, Fraction joins writers Cullen Bunn and Chris Yost to examine the fallout from the Serpent’s reign of terror in “The Fearless,” a 12-issue, twice-monthly miniseries featuring art by Mark Bagley and Paul Pelletier. Comic Book Resources spoke with Bunn about the project, which chronicles the efforts of an all-star cast of characters to deal with the aftermath of “Fear Itself” and gain control of the hammers of the Worthy.
CBR News: “The Fearless” involves the aftermath of “Fear Itself” and the fate of the mystical hammers wielded by the Serpent’s avatars, the Worthy. Is this series a chance to further stretch the writing muscles you flexed with your “Fear Itself” tie-ins, as well as those used to write “The Sixth Gun,” your creator-owned western series which features powerful mystical weapons?
Cullen Bunn: To some degree, yes. It was interesting to see how a story about powerful, dangerous artifacts in the Marvel Universe evolved differently from the story of “The Sixth Gun.” I wanted to make doubly sure that the stories were very different, of course, both in terms of the plot and the overall tone. One of the things that I had going for me was that I’m working with a completely different cast of characters. The character interactions and the character reactions to the cataclysmic events of “Fear Itself” and the events of “The Fearless” really help define this story and set it apart.
You’re not the only one flexing writing muscles on this project. Matt Fraction and Chris Yost are co-writing “The Fearless” with you. At Comic-Con International in San Diego, Yost said you were doing most of the heavy lifting. How would you describe your collaboration with Matt and Chris? Are you scripting while they co-plot? Or is the breakdown not that clear-cut?
Basically, Matt, Chris and I spent a lot of time with our editors discussing and developing an overall plot for the series. There was a couple of months of back-and-forth regarding how the world would look, what we wanted to happen in “The Fearless” and which characters would be involved. We had a pretty solid outline before the first page of script was ever written. There are some things that have changed along the way, but the road map is pretty clear. Right now, I’m scripting each issue with input from the rest of the team. So far, I haven’t received any “What the hell were you thinking!?” responses, but it’s probably just a matter of time.
Who are some of the characters that you’ll include in “The Fearless?” Will the book have a regular core cast for all 12 issues? Or will the spotlight rotate and focus on different characters?
I don’t want to give too much away, but there is a core group of characters at play in the book. The major players are right there on the cover of the first issue if you look for them. I’m actually really excited to give some of these characters the spotlight, and I think readers are going to like what they see. Beyond the main characters, there are a ton of guest stars and cameos in the book. The story can really be seen as a tour of the Marvel Universe in the most exciting way possible.
It seems like the emotional beats of “The Fearless” will involve characters dealing with the dark, tragic things that happened to them and the people they cared about during “Fear Itself.” Without spoiling anything, how haunted and mentally scarred is your cast in “The Fearless,” and how soon does this story pick up from “Fear Itself?”
I think you’ll see a wide range of emotional reactions to the events of “Fear Itself.” There are characters who are really shaken by what they’ve experienced. There are others who have made some pretty heavy decisions in the wake of the event. Some characters are really struggling with pre-existing relationships. And there are others who have become really, really unhinged in some very dangerous ways.
In terms of plot and action, is there a central storyline involving all these characters in “The Fearless?” Or is this more of an anthology that looks at the state of the Marvel Universe and its characters after “Fear Itself?”
This is definitely a single story from start to finish. Readers will be hitching a roller-coaster ride with the few core characters toward a definite conclusion.
Let’s talk a bit about where that coaster will take readers. How important is setting in this series? What are some of the locales where the action unfolds?
Setting is pretty important in the series. We’re going to see a fair number of core Marvel locales. I don’t want to spill the beans about that because it would spoil the fun. There are also a few new sights to see along the way. One of the cool things about this series is seeing how the various locales impact the story differently.
Who and what are some of the obstacles and adversaries that await your protagonists? Is this a series that’s as much about the heroes of the Marvel U. as the villains? Or are the villains merely supporting players?
In “The Fearless” you’ll see some adversarial relationships that might surprise you. Some battle lines are drawn, and in some cases you’ll have heroic figures on opposing sides. You’re also going to see some unbalanced encounters, meaning our characters are going to face some threats that they have no business going up against. How they deal with those obstacles will go a long way toward illustrating their current frames of mind. Villain-wise, there is a central “bad guy” contingent on the rise — some “A-list” villains as well as a new take on some nasty folks you haven’t seen in a while.
All these characters are being depicted by Mark Bagley and Paul Pelletier. What’s it like working with these two veteran artists?
Mark and Paul are just amazing illustrators. I’ve always been a fan of their work, and I knew they would do a great job. But I was still wowed by how awesome their work has been. They are really bringing this story to life! What’s really nice is how well the work of one artist complements the work of the other. And they are fast! I’ve never had to work to stay this far ahead of artists before, but they are keeping me on my toes!
Ultimately, when you add the scripts with Mark and Paul’s art, what kind of book is “The Fearless?” How would you describe the tone, scope and scale of the series?
This is a pretty epic storyline. Lots of action. Lots of characters. Some very high stakes on the line.
My experience working on this book has been a pure delight. I’m working with some top-notch writers, artists and editors, so I can’t help but have a ton of fun. Every issue I’ve written at least a couple of scenes make me chuckle with evil delight and exclaim, “I can’t wait ’til the readers see this!” If readers have even half as much fun reading the series as ‘had working on it, they are in for one helluva treat!