The Marvel Universe is a place where the fantastic and the realistic collide on a regular basis, which means that in Marvel New York there are areas that are metaphorical war zones and there are often neighborhoods that are literal ones as well. That's currently the case in "Infinity," the Marvel event that finds the armies of the intergalactic tyrant known as Thanos ravaging New York, while the Avengers are off in space fighting an entirely different battle to protect Earth.
That leaves New York's remaining heroes to protect the Big Apple from alien marauders and writer Ed Brisson and artist Luke Ross kick off a two-issue story arc in "Secret Avengers" #10 that finds the espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D. mobilizing the remaining members of the titular team to defend Brooklyn. In today's installment of the INFINITE WAR REPORT, Brisson joins CBR News for a look at the valiant defenders of Brooklyn and the alien and human challenges awaiting them as they try to keep the borough from falling to Thanos' forces.
CBR News: Ed, "Secret Avengers" #10 marks your Marvel Comics debut and the two-issue guest stint ties into Marvel's "Infinity" event. How does it feel to have your first Marvel comic see print? And what's it like writing a story like this where you're filling in for regular "Secret Avengers" writer Nick Spencer and tying into an event your first time out? It seems like you're jumping into the deep end of the pool on your first time out.
Ed Brisson: I've been a Marvel reader since forever, so it's pretty cool to get a kick at the can and to see my name on the cover of a Marvel book.
Filling in for Nick Spencer is a bit nerve-wracking. People love him. I know what it's like to be following a series because of a writer only to find some other chump stuck in there for an issue or two. Just that overwhelming, WTF?!? feeling. I just hope that I can be a chump who delivers.
Beyond that, coming in on an event book was fine by me. Having the situation already set (i.e., aliens are invading NY, what the hell you gonna do about it, S.H.I.E.L.D.?!?) gave me a nice place to start and build out from.
Let's talk a little bit about your cast of characters in these two issues. Some of the cast of "Secret Avengers" are currently in space fighting the Builders, and some others are stranded on A.I.M. Island. Which of the regular cast of characters take the field in your story? What do you find most interesting about them?
We've got Fury, Coulson, Maria Hill and Iron Patriot -- and the new "recruit" of course.
I like that, for the most part, they're not super-powered. They're regular Joes -- sort of. Sure they've got all the high-tech Stark/S.H.I.E.L.D. toys, but they don't have the usual suspects to help them in battle. For the most part, all the super-powered heroes are off-planet, so it's up to this group to defend Brooklyn with grit and as much firepower as they can muster.
I love that The Secret Avengers normally operate covertly, but thought that with everything happening here that it didn't make sense for them to not be front and center, protecting their home turf. It was a lot of fun to do that, have them just out there, guns blazing, killing some alien scumbags.
You mentioned a "new recruit." What can you tell us about them and what do they bring to your story and the dynamic of your field team characters?
I don't want to say too much about the new character and her origin. I will say that she's not someone we've seen before. She has newly acquired powers and through her, we get a bit of a look into the chaotic life of a superhero.
Given the circumstances that S.H.I.E.L.D. is dealing with in these issues (and during "Infinity" as a whole), they need all the help that they can get. During any other time, there's no way that this newbie would be on the ground, fighting alongside Fury and Co. on S.H.I.E.L.D. orders. So she brings that unknown to it. She's not battle tested and really doesn't have much of a sense of her own abilities. They hope that she can help, but they can't know for certain.
"Secret Avengers" isn't only about the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Avengers Initiative. It also regularly features S.H.I.E.L.D.'s command staff and occasionally other agents. You mentioned Maria Hill would play a role. What can you tell us about her involvement in the story? And will any other notable S.H.I.E.L.D. agents or command staff play significant roles in your story?
Maria is juggling a million things throughout these two issues. She's got her own agents taking a pummeling at the hands of extra-terrestrial dirtbags and reports from all over of new threats popping up. She's short handed, which is how the new character ends up being put into battle. She's running the whole show from aboard the Helicarrier.
Fury and Coulson are on the ground, getting their hands dirty as they battle alongside a group of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents trying to defend Brooklyn from waves of alien invaders. Fury is running things here, putting his battle experience to good use.
The solicits and art I've seen so far suggest your "Secret Avengers" is action-packed with some large scale fire fights. Is that correct? What themes are you exploring?
Oh yeah, these two issues are wall-to-wall action.
It's about the desperation of war and frustrations that surround these seemingly constant battles happening in your own backyard. Imagine living in the NY of the Marvel Universe. Sure, it'd be fantastic to see these heroes all over, but then you have to deal with the collateral damage associated with superheroing. You have to deal with the villains and the damage. The insurance rates must be crazy! Anyhow, yeah, part of it is definitely about that frustration.
It's also about the responsibility of having superpowers. If you wake up and find that you can -- I don't know, shoot lasers out of your ears (For the record: No one in these issues shoots lasers out of their ears) and are now needed to help fight off an alien invasion because Earth's mightiest heroes are off gallivanting around the universe, do you join the fight? How far do you commit yourself? What do you do when you're in that battle and have to do something that conflicts with your own moral compass?
The Secret Avengers' primary foes in your story will be the soldiers of Thanos. Just how big a threat are these adversaries to your cast? Are your protagonists dealing with waves of grunts? Some of Thanos' more elite troopers? Or might we even see a member of the Black Order?
Initially, they're dealing with an overwhelming force of grunts, but as the story progresses, a new threat presents itself. One that they couldn't have predicted. This new threat literally brings the Secret Avengers to their knees. He's not one of Thanos' crew. He hates Thanos as much as he hates our heroes. This new threat, though, is the direct result of what Thanos is up to. Just another way he indirectly makes life incredibly difficult for our heroes.
This new threat may or may not be a mysterious figure you're introducing known as the Junkman of Brooklyn. What can you tell us about this guy? From what I've read in other interviews he almost sounds like a super powered or high tech version of Travis Bickle. Is that an apt comparison?
Yep, The Junkman of Brooklyn isn't so much his name as it is his occupation. Dude is literally a sanitation worker. A sanitation worker who's gone through some "changes" recently and is very unhappy with the recent developments in his neighborhood. Well, not just recent--more like constant issues in his neighborhood. Constant issues involving superheroes and villains, where everyday Joes like himself bear the brunt of.
The Junkman of Brooklyn is an equal opportunity hater. He's mad at EVERYONE and he's going to make them all pay -- especially The Secret Avengers.
You're working with regular "Secret Avengers" artist Luke Ross. He obviously great handle on your protagonists, but what else do you feel he brings to your particular story?
Oh man, he's an amazing artist!
The thing that really struck me is that Luke does not skimp (not that I thought he would). I wrote some pretty crazily epic scenes where I was like: "Downtown Brooklyn is destroyed, one hundred thousand aliens are attacking hundreds of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Buildings are leveled. There is debris, fire and smoke everywhere. It's complete chaos," which is the kind of scene where I was like, "Man, what am I doing to this poor artist?" but, each time he just killed it.
I hope people check the book out. and dig what I'm up to. Everyone who works on the book -- Luke, Matt [Wilson, the book's colorist], Clayton [Cowles, the book's letterer] Lauren [Sankovitch] and Jon [Moisan, the book's editors] -- have been amazing and it's been a really great experience.
Finally, some readers will be exposed to your writing work for the first time with "Secret Avengers." What other works should they check out if they enjoy your work? And do you have any upcoming Marvel or creator-owned work fans of your writing should keep an eye out for?
If they dig this, then they should also check out "Sheltered" from myself and artist Johnnie Christmas. It's a story about a doomsday-prepper community who move off the grid to prepare for any sort of end-of-world situation, only to have things go so very wrong. The kids are running the compound now and the situation is not good for any involved.
I also wrote the Image miniseries "Comeback," which was illustrated by Michael Walsh. It's a time-travel/crime story that I'm incredibly proud of. People should be able to pick up the trade-paperback of that one at their local comic shop.
Lastly, if people want to check out my earlier self-published work, they certainly should! I wrote a series of short crime comics called "Murder Book." Many are available to read free online at: www.murderbookcomic.com. I'm currently working on new "Murder Book" stories and hope to have news about that soon.
Beyond that, I've got a couple books that I'm writing that have yet to be announced, so I'm not about to spoil that! Also, just got a green-light on another creator-owned series that will be debut early in 2014.
"Secret Avengers" #10 by Ed Brisson and Luke Ross goes on sale tomorrow, Oct. 23.