Weird phenomena have been part of the Marvel Universe for millions of years, but it wasn’t really until World War II that many of Earth’s governments began to recognize super science and the fantastic as strategic resources. In the aftermath of the global conflict a clandestine battle was waged as governments and criminal conspiracies battled for control of the Marvel U’s strange and otherworldly elements.
This January, writer Kathryn Immonen and artist Rich Ellis will chronicle a battle within that war as they take readers back to the 1950s in “Operation S.I.N.” a five-issue miniseries announced by Marvel yesterday at the “Women of Marvel” panel during New York Comic Con. CBR News spoke with Immonen about her cast of characters — including Peggy Carter, Howard Stark and alien hunter Woodrow McCord — the adventure they embark on and the forces of HYDRA that will stand in their way.
CBR News: Kathryn, “Operation S.I.N.” is your return to the character of Peggy Carter who you wrote back in the 2011 one-shot “Captain America & the First Thirteen.” What’s it like returning to Peggy? Did Hayley Atwell’s portrayal of the character in the “Captain America” movies and the “Agent Carter” Marvel One-Shot impact your portrayal or perception of the character?
Kathryn Immonen: I’m really nuts about Peggy and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to continue to carve out some more of her story. I think that Atwell’s Peggy has grown to kind of epic proportions in the absence of a lot of actual material and I feel like it’s the same with the comic universe’s Peggy. So clearly, there’s something about her (in both arenas) that seems to resonate with a lot of weight and simultaneously feels like some one opened a window on a breezy day. It’s exciting.
Peggy fought in World War II, but when you pick up with her in “Operation S.I.N” it’s the 1950s and WWII is over. What has Peggy been doing since the end of the War? What’s she up to when the miniseries begins?
Peggy’s always going to be serving her country in some capacity. She’s a lifer. When we start, she’s essentially “back in the office.” Howard thinks it’s a waste of her talents and goes to some length to make his point. For her part, she’s unimpressed with anyone telling her what’s good for her — even when they’re right.
Howard is of course Howard Stark, Tony’s father. Who is Howard at the point you’re picking him up? Does his role as an agent of the ancient secret organization that Jonathan Hickman created in his “S.H.I.E.L.D.” series play a part in your story?
Howard and Peggy have some history together and there’s some part of her that is always going to see the word ‘profiteer’ when she looks at him, whether it’s true or not. And Howard, while he probably sees himself somewhat as a kind of humble inventor, is really shielded in some tangible and intangible ways by unfathomable amounts of money. Here he is helping to outfit Woody in his efforts to be a first line of Earth defense. He’s generous and optimistic but then, he can literally afford to be.
Woody is Woodrow McCord, recently introduced in “Original Sin” as Earth’s alien battling “Man on the Wall” in the ’40s and ’50s. What’s it like writing McCord?
Woody’s one of these rich characters that has beautiful bones and it’s a privilege to put a little more flesh on them. He’s a guy that would probably rather be sitting in a blind with a shotgun, pissing into a plastic jug but instead he’s hunting aliens. He’s probably not comfortable in his armor and I think he may actually be made of cement in a Brian Dennehy sort of way.
What can you tell us about the adventures that Woody, Howard and Peggy embark upon in “Operation S.I.N?” What kind of scope and stakes can readers expect?
Woody is on the trail of an alien and he needs Howard’s help because he can’t kill what he can’t find and the consequences of failing could be disastrous. But when our American crew basically runs into their Soviet analogues, it becomes increasingly difficult for them all to maintain their distance from the “enemy.” We go from New York to Moscow to the wilds of Siberia to hundreds of feet underground to the middle of empty space. Our team finds themselves making decisions they’d never thought they’d make. Field decisions that aren’t going to look good at the debriefing.
One of the field decisions they’ll have to make is how best to combat the forces of HYDRA that they run afoul of. What can you tell us about HYDRA’s presence in this story? Will you be using any of their famous operatives or perhaps creating new ones?
HYDRA sort of feels like it’s living an interstitial moment at this point in their history. The war’s over for everybody but you’ve got to keep busy, don’t you? Our splinter group is holed up in Siberia and has been able to capitalize on the Russian penchant for imprisoning their brain trust.
Finally, artist Rich Ellis’ work has sort of a classic adventure feel to it. Is that how you would describe the work he’s doing for “Operation S.I.N.” or will he adapt a different style for the series?
No, you’ve hit the nail on the head. I think what he’s doing right now is a great match for the story and his Peggy is just superb. So grounded. And while Woody is a dangerous badass, he can (and will) learn more than a thing or two from her.
Peggy Carter, Howard Stark and Woodrow McCord take on a dangerous mission in Marvel’s “Operation S.I.N.” #1 in January.