While Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez chronicle the Marvel Universe's current major conflict in the pages of "Civil War II," the creators of monthly Marvel Comics titles will explore the impact of the event on the characters of their books.
During all of this, a diverse group of fan favorite Marvel heroes, most of them without books of their own, will take center stage in the anthology-style "Civil War II: Choosing Sides" miniseries. A team of talented creators kicks off the six-issue series on June 22, with writer/artist Declan Shalvey's Nick Fury serial binding the issues together.
CBR News spoke with Shalvey about his take on Fury, and the adventure the second generation super spy will become embroiled in. Editor Wil Moss also joined in on the conversation, offering a breakdown of the other stories and characters in "Choosing Sides," and the creators working on them.
CBR News: Wil, what made you want to tap Declan for the multipart serial running through each chapter of "Choosing Sides?" And what led to that serial being about Nick Fury?
Wil Moss: This new Nick Fury is a character who I don't think has gotten to stretch his wings yet very much, which seemed crazy since he's every bit as cool of a character as his father is. So when I needed a top-tier character to anchor "Choosing Sides," it didn't take me long to settle on Nick.
As for Declan, honestly, my train of thought was that I wanted to give this Nick Fury his own Steranko-esque adventure, which led me to thinking about writer/artists. And even though he's not known for his writing (yet), Declan just immediately sprung to mind for this. Anybody familiar with Declan's work knows the guy is a Grade-A storyteller, through and through, so I figured he might have the writing itch, and it turns out I was right. Luckily, it also turns out he's damn good at it! Like, you know you're in for some killer visuals here, but really, Declan has written a truly exciting spy thriller here. Buckle up!
Declan, what made Fury an interesting character for you to explore? What's your sense of Nick?
Declan Shalvey: I think the main reason I was interested in doing a Nick Fury story was that I'm a fan of that genre within superhero comics; I loved what [Ed] Brubaker and [Steve] Epting did with the "Captain America" title, and have always enjoyed various forms of "spy-fi." Covert ops, espionage, etc, but with all the advantages of telling it in the Marvel Universe, where anything can happen.
I'm a big fan of more grounded superheroics if that makes any sense, and Nick Fury lives in that world. Since he isn't one of the big headline characters, it also gave me the freedom to play around with the character a little, and not have to worry with what's happening in any other title.
Nick's been around for a few years now, but I've never really felt like I've gotten a real sense of who he is, so I wanted to try and tell a story where we really find that out. From his introduction, he's landed from one situation into the next and I felt he needed to make a decision and strike out on his own a little.
Speaking of decisions, your story is appearing in "Civil War II: Choosing Sides." So what does that mean for Nick? How easy will it be for him to choose a side in the ideological schism that is "Civil War II?"
Shalvey: To be honest, Nick isn't choosing a side in the main battle; the main battle is forcing him to deal with a conflict within himself. The events in "Civil War II" are having ripple effects, and he's very much caught up in them. Nick is going to find himself neck-deep in some serious trouble and will have to make some tough decisions. This story will force him to make a choice about who he is and who he wants to be.
S.H.I.E.L.D. receive intelligence on some of Ulysses' predictions, one of which presents a clear and present danger to S.H.I.E.L.D. It's Nick Fury's mission to stop it at any cost. As we should expect, though, things become a lot more complicated than they originally seemed. Over the course of the miniseries, we'll get to see him in different locations on different missions, bumping into a couple of other Marvel characters along the way.
If you've seen the cover for #2, you might expect a cameo from a certain "protector of those who travel by night," a character I may have previously worked on. From the cover to Issue #4, you can probably tell there may be an appearance from Black Widow. I've always wanted to draw Natasha, so since I'm on good terms with the writer, he wrote her into the story. Also, how brilliant is Chris Samnee's "Black Widow" book? Bloody hell, no pressure there, eh?
Who is opposing Fury on his various missions? What sort of antagonist is he up against?
Shalvey: There's a new threat in this story. From the preview, it's clear there's a cell within S.H.I.E.L.D. Fans of the genre will be reminded of a secret HYDRA or A.I.M. cell but this is something different. They want to protect S.H.I.E.L.D. I'd prefer not elaborate more than that, sorry!
Fair enough. Speaking of new stuff, how much design work has this story afforded you? I saw some sketches of Nick Fury with what looked like some new suits.
Shalvey: They were designed by me. I think one of the reasons Wil Moss offered me this gig was that he was hoping for a story with strong visuals. While I was tempted to redesign him, I wasn't going to push to do it. As it turned out, Marvel suggested I could do so if I wanted, so I took them up on the offer. I'm very glad I did, as Nick's identity is a big part of this story, and that being the case, I didn't want to draw him in another man's costume, which is all we've really seen him in. I wanted this story to feel new, so I gave Nick a new look that's a nice mix of his old costume, along with the Nick Fury we know from the films. I figured that if most people know Nick Fury as a trenchcoat wearing badass, lets lean into that.
The costumes you've seen are actually the one costume, just different modes. I wanted to give Fury more of an edge, in order to be able to raise the stakes a bit, so I took the opportunity to take his revamped suit and make it a super-suit. He's not Iron Man or anything, but it gives him more super-spy tricks that will come in handy on the field.
Who's coloring your work on "Choosing Sides?" Is it your frequent collaborator, Jordie Bellaire?
Shalvey: Yes, Jordie is coloring my "Choosing Sides" storyline. I'm so spoiled having her as my *cough* 2016 Eisner-nominated *cough* colorist, I'd be terrified to work without her. As with everything else we work on together, Jordie elevates my work to a degree I can't even quantify. Since I'm not rendering everything with greywash in this story, Jordie's rendering my work a lot more on this story, and it's gorgeous work to look at. She just sent me some finished pages, and I can't stop looking at them. Thankfully, I know her pet peeves when it comes to scripts, so I'm able to write a story that won't cause any problems. Yet.
We've also got Clayton Cowles lettering, which is a real treat. All the time we've both been at Marvel, this is the first time we've gotten to work on a whole story together. As expected, he's nailing it.
Wil, how did you go about selecting the other characters that would appear in "Choosing Sides?" Will some of the characters here be graduating to their own series this fall, like "Deathlok" did with "Original Sins?"
Moss: Different reasoning for every character. Chris Robinson -- who is editing a story per issue (except in #3) -- has been wanting to do more with Night Thrasher since bringing him back in "Contest of Champions," and this seemed like a good place to reintroduce him to the larger MU. Given all the destruction that occurs in the opening scene of "Civil War II" #1, doing a Damage Control story seemed like a no-brainer (plus it'd get Chad Bowers and Chris Sims to stop pitching me "Damage Control" stories for five minutes!). Tom Foster is someone Chris was interested in checking in with, plus he has a tangential connection to the first "Civil War," which is where his uncle Bill died.
Some characters were chosen because of how the main "Civil War II" series impacted them -- there's a story in #2 focusing on War Machine and how his death affects a handful of heroes; the Kate Bishop story and the J. Jonah Jameson story in #3 both stem directly from a surprise development in the main "Civil War II" series.
Other characters, we just thought it would be interesting -- for various reasons -- to see how "CWII" would affect them. How Punisher would handle this new world where crime is prevented before it happens; how this very "grown up" ordeal might be seen from the POV of the kids of Power Pack; how the heroes of Alpha Flight might feel about all this, given that their boss is Captain Marvel. And as a huge "Alias" fan, I figured this might be my one shot to edit a Jessica Jones story, so we threw her in there too! (Ironically, her story is the one that is most directly linked to the main event!)
As for whether or not any of these characters will be graduating to their own series, sorry, gonna have to give you the old "wait and see" standard. I'm definitely planning to work together again with some of the creative teams, I can tell you that much.
It's been a while since we've seen Power Pack's Jack and Katie. Have they aged some? And will this be the complete group? Because Alex went off with Reed Richards and his family at the end of "Secret Wars."
Moss: Yeah, they'll have aged some, but not much. After some time with the Loners and Avengers Academy, Julie has decided to focus on a normal education, so she's enrolled at Empire State University in New York, and this story sees Jack and Katie coming to visit her. So, yeah, no Alex here, but the story does briefly deal with his absence. Writer John Allison (of the tremendously fun "Giant Days" series) and artist Rosi Kampe are handling this story, and they've done a great job with it -- staying true to the voice of the characters and the original series, but with 2016 very much in mind.
vWhat else can you tell us about some of the other stories coming up in "Choosing Sides," and the creative teams working on them?
Moss: Well, here's the full rundown: Declan's Nick Fury story runs through all six issues! Then, writer Brandon Easton and artist Paul Davidson tell a kickass Night Thrasher story, and writers Chris Sims & Chad Bowers and artist Leonardo Romero deliver a fun Damage Control story. In #2, writer Jeremy Whitley and artist Marguerite Sauvage tell a story about how War Machine's death affects such characters as Storm, Misty Knight, Ms. America and more, plus there's the Tom Foster/Goliath story I mentioned above, written by Brandon Thomas and drawn by Marco Rudy.
The Kate Bishop story in #3 is written by Ming Doyle and drawn by Stephen Byrne (very excited to be working with both of them), and the J. Jonah Jameson story is one assistant editor Alanna Smith here put together, bringing in a terrific Irish author named Derek Landy along with artist Filipe Andrade.
All lettered, as Declan pointed out, by the one and only Clayton Cowles!
"Civil War: Choosing Sides" #1 goes on sale June 22 from Marvel Comics.