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EXCLUSIVE: Walker Explains How “Civil War II” Tests “Power Man & Iron Fist’s” Friendship

by  in Comic News Comment
EXCLUSIVE: Walker Explains How “Civil War II” Tests “Power Man & Iron Fist’s” Friendship

Ten years ago, “Civil War” rocked the Marvel Universe, turning brothers at arms against one another. But for Luke Cage and Danny Rand, two heroes so close they were practically brothers, it only made their bond stronger. Over the next few years time and different adventures pulled them apart, but the duo have begun to renew that bond — and further solidify their friendship — in the ongoing “Power Man and Iron Fist” series by writer David F. Walker and artist Sanford Greene.

When a new ideological conflict erupts among Marvel’s heroes in this summer’s “Civil War II” event, Luke and Danny’s friendship and their fledgling partnership could be in for a profound shake up. In July’s “Power Man & Iron Fist” #6, Walker and guest artist Flaviano Armentaro kick off their exploration of how “Civil War II’s” fundamental conflict impacts their title characters with a story that begins with a case for the duo to work and a dire prediction about their fate.

RELATED: Walker Reforges the Bonds Between “Power Man & Iron Fist”

CBR News has the exclusive first interview with Walker about brining Luke Cage and Danny Rand into “Civil War II” and the writer outlined the role Cockroach Hamilton will play in his story, how Danny and Luke’s feelings about the original “Civil War” will inform their decisions in this story, and what Sanford Greene is working on while this arc is unfolding.

CBR News: “Civil War II” is coming at an interesting time for your protagonists. It seems like right as Luke and Danny are renewing the bonds of their friendship this ideological conflict will arise that threatens to pull them apart. Is that a fair description of where things are at for your heroes when this storyline begins?

David F. Walker: Yes, that’s definitely a fair description. This is coming right on the heels of their reunion. So that actually was a factor in deciding which direction to take the story, and for me, I think the obvious choice would have been to go, “Okay, Luke and Danny have just gotten back together and now there’s this thing that’s got everybody divided. So how is it going to divide them?”

I sat down and I talked to my editors. I kind of had a conversation with Luke and Danny, and what I came up with was that they’re actually going to be in agreement on what’s going here. So the split that we see in “Civil War II” doesn’t split them on an ideological level, but it does come between the two of them. I don’t want to get into more specifics than that.

So what we’re going to see is really how it affects them as a team that’s united on the same side, but the conflict takes its toll on them very quickly.

As members of Team Captain America and then comrades on the anti-registration New Avengers (a group led by Luke), Luke and Danny played a significant role in the previous “Civil War.” How do you think they look back on those experiences, and do those decisions inform some of the choices they make when this new schism arises?

Yeah, the most basic answer to that is they hated what happened in the first “Civil War,” as did a lot of other characters. That’s sort of driving the decisions that they make in this one. It’s like they both have this attitude of, “Really? Not this again! Please, anything, but this. Give us another Skrull invasion. Give us something where the good guys and the bad guys are clearly defined, and not where we’re having to fight against our best friends; the people that we love and care about.”

So, again, they’re very weary, and I don’t know what other people are doing in their books, but I think that this sort of split should make a lot of characters very weary. If you’re a super hero you want to fight the bad guys, not your best friends or your teammates. That’s the idea I was going with, and that’s what’s informing these two guys.

I understand your “Civil War II” arc begins with Luke and Danny taking a job. Is that correct?

Yeah, I wanted to keep this on a very street level. Because that’s what the book is. It’s meant to be a street book. So what I am attempting to do is show how this larger conflict that’s going on in the Marvel Universe is impacting not only everyday people on the street, but also what we’d call the “street players.” Luke and Danny are street heroes and there’s also street villains.

This story about an ideological split is an opportunity to explore how other people are using the conflict, and the bigger story, to meet their own ends or how people are being victimized by it. That’s what they get caught up in.

It’s interesting because, for me, “Civil War II” in a very weird way played into where I was planning on taking Luke and Danny in the first place. A lot of it was like, “Okay, instead of moving this Chess piece over here, now I’m going to have to move it over there.” The end goal is still the same though, and we’re still going to get to the same place. We’re only involved in “Civil War II” for three issues, but when the story is over we’re maybe one and a half issues away from where I already wanted to take the story.

Part of where I’m taking them in this story is really establishing them as the heroes of the street; the heroes of the people and what that entails. We already saw a bizarre variation of that in “Power Man and Iron Fist” #2 where Tombstone basically says, “Okay, I’m hiring you two guys to protect me.” It’s almost like a joke or a one-off, but we start to see these guys evolve more into protectors of people who really need protecting, even if it is someone that other people might look at funny, like a Tombstone, and go, “Wait a minute, why would this guy hire Luke and Danny?”

In the context of the story we’re telling right now it makes perfect sense, and from time to time, we’re going to see situations like that which makes perfect sense. We’re also going to definitely see that in “Civil War II.”

From what you’re saying it seems like this story could feel a bit like Lawrence Block’s Matt Scudder novels or what Ed Brubaker did with “Catwoman” years ago, where your protagonists are the detectives and heroes for people in need, especially ones who can’t go to the police, like criminals.

I don’t want to necessarily say criminals, but there are definitely people who don’t feel comfortable going to the cops, or the Avengers, or S.H.I.E.L.D. More importantly, they might be considered too small fry for groups like the Avengers or S.H.I.E.L.D.

Luke is one of those guys. He’s from the streets. No matter how far he tries to go from them there’s going to be these reminders that keep popping up. And Danny is really a person who is looking for a home and acceptance. He lost his family early on and was raised in K’un-Lun. He’s a guy who can thrive in an environment that other characters would feel out of place and uncomfortable in, but that’s Danny’s existence. He’s out of place and uncomfortable. That’s another thing I’m playing with and “Civil War II” allows us to do that.”

I understand one of the big fantastical elements in this story involves a prediction of the future.

Yeah, I can’t get into too many specifics about that without getting into spoilers, but there are some predictions that are going on. The main body of the predictions are what’s driving “Civil War II.” That’s what’s driving the heart and soul of the story that Brian Bendis and David Marquez are doing. Then there are the predictions that are happening in our story and how they were arrived at are very different than the ones that are informing the rest of “Civil War II.”

Again I don’t want to get into specifics, but that was the thing that came up. Editorially, there’s a real driving force behind the body of the story, and we were asked to think of innovative and interesting ways in which this ideological split of “Civil War II” can be used and manipulated within our stories in a way that makes sense. I don’t know how other writers are doing that, but with the help of editorial I really quickly came up with a way in which this made sense.

You’re still laying out your supporting cast in the current issues “Power Man & Iron Fist.” Will they be in place and be part of this when the story begins in issue #6 or will you be honing in more on Luke and Danny?

You’re going to see certain members of the supporting cast show up in issue #6. None of them are anybody you would expect. I’m not going to say who any of them are.

In issue #6 we meet all of the Z-level supporting characters and some of them are ones who probably haven’t shown up in the Marvel Universe in like a decade. Then by issue #7 we’re going to start to see some more regular faces. So in #7-8 there’s going to be a fair number of supporting characters and that’s something we’re still ironing out, because there are the characters that readers really want to see and I really want to use.

I don’t need to name names, but most of us know who they are. I can say that with a couple of them my understanding is these characters are actually playing big roles in other books. You can’t suddenly have Doc Samson show up in our book. He’s not one of the characters. I just like throwing his name out there. It’s like “Oh I really want to use Doc Samson in ‘Power Man & Iron Fist.'” And then you find out he’s in “Avengers,” “New Avengers” and “Spider-Man.” So it’s not going to work.

Issue #6 is already done and turned in, and as of right now I’m about halfway done with issue #7. In my writing style I have a tendency where if I’m not sure of a character I can use I put in a generic place holder during the first draft. Then we swap them out once we know we have a character we can use.

RELATED: “Deadpool’s” Done-in-One Crossover Unites Duggan, Soule & Walker

When it comes to supporting characters I think you earned the trust of “Power Man and Iron Fist” fans, at least ones like me, when you brought Cockroach Hamilton back into the book in issue #2.

[Laughs] This is the one spoiler you will get then. Unless editorial pulls him on me, he’s actually a major player in the “Civil War II” storyline. I’m obsessed with that character. I got that one cameo in and there are some people who went nuts over it. So I was like, “Okay, let’s see what we can do with Cockroach.”

In a way Cockroach represents to me what those street level books are about. There’s a few other characters that do that in the Marvel Universe. In “Daredevil” we always see Turk [Barrett] turning up, especially during Ed Brubaker’s run. Turk was a player. So if I can make it happen I’d like to have Cockroach kind of be our Turk; the guy who has allegiances to no one, who is fundamentally a bad guy, but once in a while steps up and does the right thing.

We’ll see if that happens, but right now he has not been cut from issue #6, and because of the way issue #6 ends he needs to show up in issue #7.

I understand you’re working with artist Flaviano Armentaro on this story. How has that been so far?.

Yes, he is the fill-in artist on issue #5 and the Civil War II tie-ins. There’s a narrative trick that I’ve been talking to editorial about that would potentially allow Sanford to draw some pages for “Civil War II,” but not the full story.

I know some people were freaked out because they saw the solicitation for issue #5 and they were like, “Oh my god! Is Sanford off the book?” I was like, “No. He’s not off the book. He’s taking a break because he’s been working really, really hard and doing an amazing job.

I feel like Sanford is the Power Man to my Iron Fist, or vice versa. We’re a team, and as long as he wants to be on the book, I want him on the book. I go to bat for him, and we talk all the time. We do events together. That’s something I want people to know. This is not him leaving the book. This is not him off the book. This is him taking a break because he’s been under a crazy schedule and he has an outside life, too.

See the difference between him and me is he’s married with kids. I’m a perpetual bachelor who has a case of arrested development. I can work all day long and not worry about ignoring my kids or anything.

From what I’ve seen of Flaviano’s style it quite a few elements with Sanford’s. It looks like he’s especially good with humor and character expressions.

Yeah, he is. The stuff of his that I’ve seen so far for issue #5 is absolutely amazing. I don’t know if Sanford has seen that stuff, but I know he’s seen some of Flaviano’s other art and he was happy with it.

That’s the other thing. I feel like I’ve been sort of vocal with editorial that I don’t want someone who looks exactly like Sanford, but I want someone who captures the flavor, style and tone that we’re trying to give the book so it’s not a jarring contrast for the readers. Because sometimes you see a fill-in artist and it feels like this was the first person they could get who could meet the deadline. That’s not the case with this book. Everybody at Marvel has really been doing their best to make sure that this is the best book it possibly can be, and that’s what we’re going to keep doing.

I originally said I planned on being on this book like three years. Now I’m thinking 20 or 30. Whoever has the longest run on a book in Marvel history, I think I want to break that. As of today, you heard it right here! Your readers are the first ones to hear it. Whoever it is who has the longest run on a single character, I’m out to break that.

In other words, you love these characters and this world enough that you could conceivably never run out of stories and ideas for “Power Man and Iron Fist.”

Yeah, I really do. Without exaggerating I have enough stuff planned out, mapped out, and random ideas to cover two and half to three years worth of stories.

My goal and desire is to be writing Danny and Luke’s adventures together for as long as I possibly can, and from a very realistic story standpoint I know that I’ve got the equivalent of 36 issues pretty much ready to go. Obviously I couldn’t write them all today, but I could do that. 36 issues covers three years.

I wouldn’t be surprised if after the Netflix shows [“Luke Cage” and “Iron Fist”] people might start reevaluating things, and asking, “Do we want to try and give these guys their own individual books? Or bring other people in on the team?” I’m open to whatever discussion happens, but I’m just having a lot of fun. I have an endgame in mind in terms of where I’d like to get both of these characters within the next 18 months; in terms of things like their personalities and character development.

Our big goals are to get them both to these very specific places and “Civil War II” is helping me get there. We’ll see what happens.

So “Civil War II” is the best kind of event, one that you can use to propel you story forward?

Yeah, because there have been some events that I’ve read in the past where it’s like, “This is great, but I don’t know how I’d ever be able to come up with a story for this.” The moment I got the first e-mail about “Civil War II” though and all the relevant information it was like, “Boom! I know exactly what to do.” It felt really good.

In fact I was so confident I had like three different ideas, but I only sent one idea in. That’s kind of a bold move. It’s like putting your fist down to editorial and saying, “It’s this or nothing.” That wasn’t what I was saying. I was saying, “I really think you guys are going to like this. Let’s not waste each other’s time with anything but my A-game right now.”

“Power Man and Iron Fist” #6 is scheduled for release in July from Marvel Comics.

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