A Study in Scarlett: O'Sullivan talks "GI Joe: Scarlett Declassified"

Rhett Butler may have told Scarlet O'Hara that he didn't give a damn, but if he said the same thing to Shana O'Hara he would have found himself staring down the wrong end of a crossbow. When she's working, O'Hara is also known as Scarlett. It's the code name she uses as an operative of the U.S. Military's elite G.I. Joe team. This Wednesday, readers will learn how Shana O'Hara went from an all-American girl to the tough, capable and cunning counter intelligence operative she is today in the pages of "G.I. Joe - Scarlett: Declassified" from Devil's Due Publishing by writer Mike O'Sullivan and artist Phil Noto. CBR News spoke with O'Sullivan about the special 48-page one-shot.

Some might wonder why "Scarlett: Declassified" is hitting stores this Wednesday when the book was originally solicited to hit stores in July. The project was delayed because Phil Noto needed to focus attentions on taking care of his family during a period of emergency. "I don't have a lot of information about the specifics. All I know is that something happened with Phil's daughter, and it was a scary time for him and his family." O'Sullivan told CBR News. "Thankfully, things ended well, which is what we were hoping for. Understandably so, his work on 'Scarlett' had to take a back seat for taking care of his daughter and family. We're just happy that everything is okay with them! All that being said, the book is done!"

O'Sullivan has seen Noto's finished art for "Scarlett: Declassified" and assured fans that it is well worth the wait. "I have seen everything, and it is amazing," O'Sullivan said. "Phil is a genius. He took the pictures in my mind and captured them perfectly. Scarlett looks deadly and capable, while still maintaining the girl-next-door feel. The issue covers most of Scarlett's life, from childhood until her joining G.I. Joe and it's just stunning to me how Phil managed to draw her convincingly at every age. We really do see this woman grow up from the first to last page. Stunning."

"G.I. Joe - Scarlett: Declassified" was born out of a desire to do justice to the first female and one of the original operatives of GI Joe. Devil's Due had just wrapped "Snake-Eyes: Declassified," which gave readers the definitive look into that character's origin. They followed that up with a series that focused on the original 13 agents of G.I. Joe in "G.I. Joe: Declassified," but with so many characters featured, Scarlett didn't get much on-panel time. Thus the birth of "Scarlett: Declassified."

"Scarlett is one of the most fascinating characters in G.I. Joe," said O'Sullivan. "However, we really don't know all that much about her past. We know she started studying martial arts at age 9 with her father and three brothers, had a sister, and managed to attend just about every military school possible. Most of these schools she shouldn't have been in because of her gender. Lots of questions that could use answered - a pretty sizeable story to tell there. When we found out that Phil was available, it was a no-brainer. Phil Noto drawing Scarlett? Case closed. We put it on the schedule immediately."

"Scarlett Declassified" covers a large chunk of the character's life. O'Sullivan revealed that readers will meet the character at age nine and witness most of the significant experiences in her life right up until the events of Marvel Comics "G.I. Joe" #1.

Readers expecting the Scarlett of "Declassified" to be the same ultra lethal and resourceful operative that she is today might be in for a bit of a surprise. "Scarlett's has always been fascinating," O'Sullivan said. "Sort of the all-American girl and world's deadliest femme fatale, all wrapped up together. She's always successful, always competent, always completely together. What if she wasn't always this way? What if she had some failures before she became so accomplished? Was her mind frame always so structured and defined? Did she always bend the standards of operating to accomplish her goals? Were these characteristics learned, or has she always been this way?

"Scarlett today is a woman that has been through every wringer possible," O'Sullivan continued. "She's had her life torn apart multiple times, yet she is still standing, still helping others, still defending the defenseless. In this look into her past, we learn that she wasn't always so resilient. I think of Scarlett today as a willow tree - able to bend with the wind, but still incredibly strong. Scarlett in the past was sort of an oak tree - incredibly strong, but also so rigid that if a strong enough wind hit her, she could break. That's a pretty big transition to make in life. I think we offer insight into how she made it happen over the course of her life."

One insight into Scarlett's life that O'Sullivan provides is how she acquired her code name. "The why of her code name is probably just what people thought it would be," O'Sullivan explained. "The setting and situation where she first gains the name is a scene I'm particularly fond of."

Over the course of "Scarlett: Declassified" the character will find herself in many different situations and locales."Atlanta, New England, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ireland, the Middle East, Washington, D.C., San Diego, New York City - Scarlett's life has taken her all over the world!"

As she's traveled across the world and had many adventures, Scarlett has faced many obstacles and adversaries. Readers of "Declassified" will become familiar with many of them especially Scarlett's worst enemy. "The most important adversary she faces is actually herself!" O'Sullivan explained. "As is the case with most accomplished people, she ends up being her own worst enemy, without even meaning to be, but she also faces a number of obstacles, some of them very familiar territory to G.I. Joe readers."

The supporting cast of "Scarlett Declassified" will include faces familiar to G.I. Joe fans and many new characters that readers will be meeting for the first time. "Her family all makes appearances; we meet some of her friends throughout the years, and some of her brothers-in-arms," O'Sullivan stated. "We also have cameos from all sorts of G.I. Joe characters - at least 8 familiar faces pop up over the years..."

One familiar face that readers will see in "Declassified" is fan favorite Joe team member and the love of Scarlett's life, Snake-Eyes. O'Sullivan had to be cryptic when describing the character's role in "Scarlett Declassified." "This, I'm going to have to ask you to wait to read it," he said. "This issue is sort of a crossover between 'Snake-Eyes: Declassified.' I think it worked really well to do what we ended up doing."

Since "Scarlett Declassified" details a huge chunk of the character's life, the tone of the story will reflect the ups and downs of her life. "It goes from moments of light-heartedness to dark toned moments, to hard lessons to happy times," O'Sullivan stated. "We tried to have it encapsulate the entirety of her life, covering all times on the roller coaster she's been on all these years. I really think that readers will walk away from the book with a good feeling though, and happy that they read it. That's the thing about Scarlett -- no matter what she goes through, she's still able to laugh and enjoy life. I wanted her book to reflect that, also."

O'Sullivan has enjoyed writing "GI Joe: Scarlett Declassified" and feels that anyone who's enjoyed GI Joe throughout it's 25 year history, even if they've never read a comic book, will find the one-shot a worthwhile investment of their time and money. "I just hope that people pick this one up. Anyone that's popped their head into the G.I. Joeworld for any amount of time over the last 25 years should stop by this book. I think they'd enjoy seeing how Scarlett's become who she is. Besides, Phil Noto's art is worth every cent! The guy is a genius."

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