In the Marvel Universe, Nazi Germany used a combination of military might, super powered operatives and high technology in their bid to rule the world during World War II. And while the brave men and women of the allied forces took care of the Nazi’s soldiers, Hitler’s weird and fantastic operatives were handled by an elite team of super humans known as the Invaders.
That conflict ended almost 70 years ago, but thanks to a number of circumstances and their super human natures, many of the heroes who made up the Invaders remain in their prime and continue to fight the good fight even today. In January, the old team gets back together again when writer James Robinson and artist Steve Pugh kick off the ongoing “All-New Invaders.” We spoke with Pugh about the initial arc of the series which pits the modern day incarnation of the team against the Kree Empire and flashes back to one of their World War II era adventures. Plus exclusive art!
CBR News: Let’s kick off by talking about the members of “The Invaders,” some of Marvel’s oldest and most iconic characters. What’s it like drawing these guys? Have you had a chance to depict any of them before? And are there any members that you find particularly compelling?
Steve Pugh: Technically, I have drawn Namor before, but he was bald and married to Sue Storm (“Paradise-X”) so I’m not really sure if that counts. But, no — I haven’t drawn Captain America, Winter Soldier or the Jim Hammond Torch before, and it’s a really exciting opportunity to be part of these great characters’ journey. Nothing stands still in the Marvel Universe; all these guys have moved on and evolved, so you can’t let yourself be too nostalgic and hold them back by drawing them exactly like they used to be in the books you read as a kid.
But I would be lying if I said there wasn’t a definite thrill the first time I drew Cap’s shield!
In this first arc, the Invaders are up against the intergalactic Kree Empire, which means you’re drawing an entire alien culture. Is that something you enjoy? The pages I saw from “All-New Invaders” #1 make it look like you’re really having fun with designs inspired by the co-creator of the Kree, Jack Kirby.
Yes, Jack Kirby was definitely in my mind for the Kree home world and palace, and to tie the new character designs to the same world as the established Kree. I can’t deny part of it was just for the fun of drawing those big bold solid geometric shapes, but it also was a useful visual clue. I draw quite realistically, or try to, but as soon as you see the King’s more exotic style you know your on a different planet – you can’t sing country music in a British accent. [Laughs]
While we’re on the topic of the Kree and designs, In issue #2, readers are going to meet a new female Kree character called Tanalth the Pursuer. What can you tell us about this character? Which elements of her personality did you really want to capture and emphasize in your depictions of her?
Tanalth was one of the reasons I considered riffing Kirby for the Kree scenes, actually. The brief was, “She should look like she could kick Captain America’s ass,” so I knew she couldn’t be some stick-limbed super model type. When I thought of someone who successfully brought different, powerful body types to the table for female characters, I immediately thought of Kirby. She’s a bit Kirby, a bit roller derby, a bit Space Marine, a bit Spartan. She’s commanding a squad of special operations Kree, totally committed to the success of her mission, totally dedicated to the security of her world.
Did you get a chance to design any other new characters for this story?
This first arc eases us into “All-New Invaders,” so we start with the familiar and then slide into the crazy. There are new characters coming up, but also new insights and surprising takes on old ones.
Soon, readers will learn about a long forgotten Invaders’ mission involving Nazis, dead heroes and Norse gods. Does this mean we’ll get a flashback sequence, and if so, how will the past and present day sequences differ, stylistically?
To make this a modern take on the Invaders, it was set in the present, but I think it was brilliant of James to use a story arc that spans the two eras so we see events that happen around the time of the original stories impact on the safety of our present. Stylistically, I’ve made the flashback scenes more about body language — the characters are far more sure of themselves, not arrogant, exactly, but they lived in a world with more certainties, where it was clearer who were the good guys and who was the enemy.
Overall, how does your work on this book compare to some of your more recent work?
I’m more of a painter, really, so in my comics work I use a lot of brush shadows to bring out shapes, I have a less refined mark than a penciler/inker combo, a lot of the stuff is drawn straight into inks so you can see the line finding the shape. I guess that makes it interesting, at least. [Laughs]
It’s a bolder world than the “Animal Man” book I’d done before it. In “Animal Man,” there was a sense of containment. The lead character was an everyman — you couldn’t make him too pretty, too awesome, too perfect, or you broke his essence. The Invaders guys are an elite. They’re all about being awesome. It’s taken a little while to relax into stopping from holding back, but I’m on it now.
This book is just so crazy good, I’m just inspired by being a part of it!
“All-New Invaders” #1, by James Robinson and Steve Pugh, hits stores January 22.