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Fear Itself

Tuesday Q&A: Chris Yost

The Battle Scars writer talks about the biggest secret in the Marvel Universe and who wants to figure it out

By Chris Arrant

Although we saw The Serpent fall and the Worthy defeated in the finale of FEAR ITSELF, the turmoil brought about by the long-forgotten Asgardian god has not gone away.

Beginning this month, Marvel delves into the upheaval in the six-part limited series BATTLE SCARS. Written by Chris Yost in tandem with FEAR ITSELF architect Matt Fraction and Cullen Bunn, the story follows an Army Ranger named Marcus Johnson who comes back from deployment in Afghanistan to find out who killed his mother and what it has to do with the events of Fear Itself.

BATTLE SCARS #1 preview art by Scot Eaton

The lead writer of BATTLE SCARS, Chris Yost, has worked with Marvel in both animation and comics. He’s served as head writer for both the “Fantastic Four” and “Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” animated series, and boasts X-FORCE and the recently completed FEAR ITSELF: SPIDER-MAN among his comics credits. In addition, Yost counts himself a member of Marvel’s Feature Film Writers Program, developing scripts for potential films starring Marvel’s finest.

As BATTLE SCARS draws near, Marvel.com talks with Yost about this expansive project that promises to unveil the greatest secret the Marvel Universe has ever known.

Marvel.com: The title of this, BATTLE SCARS, refers in part to the consequences and aftermath of Fear Itself. What ripples from the Serpent’s actions come to this series?

Chris Yost: The series opens during the events of Fear Itself, as the world was under attack by the Serpent's forces and more importantly, a general feeling of fear and despair had the world in its grip. We saw in the main FEAR ITSELF series as well as in books like FEAR ITSELF: YOUTH IN REVOLT and the critically acclaimed, sure to be one day classic and soon available in trade paperback FEAR ITSELF: SPIDER-MAN that the world was in rough shape. People were freaking out. There were mobs, riots, all manner of panic.

BATTLE SCARS #1 preview art by Scot Eaton

And during this, a very bad person learned a very big secret. The very bad person then used the insanity of the Serpent's attacks as cover to kill a school teacher in Atlanta, Georgia. It seems like not such a big thing, but it sets everything into motion.

Marvel.com: This series shows it all from the perspective of a new character, Army Ranger Marcus Johnson. Can you tell us how a normal soldier gets involved with such a world-changing event as Fear Itself?

Chris Yost: Remember how the whole world was a mess and everyone was generally freaking out? Well, now imagine that in Afghanistan, as the Taliban is attacking. That's where we meet Marcus Johnson. He's experiencing the effects of the fear firsthand, and doing his best to survive it. Marcus doesn't have super powers, he doesn't have any super-science gadgets or jet packs; he's just a grunt on the ground, with a rifle, doing his best.

But upon surviving the madness, he learns that while he was fighting for his country and his life, his mother was killed in her home in Atlanta.

Marvel.com: How does Marcus end up being the center of BATTLE SCARS with heroes and villains alike out to get him?

Chris Yost: That's the mystery, and it's a question that Marcus will be asking as well. The murder of his mother sets Marcus on the quest to find answers and to make those responsible pay.

Marvel.com: With a new character spear-heading the series, what familiar faces can we expect to see show up?

Chris Yost: In issue #1, we've got Taskmaster and Captain America, and both of them seem to know a lot more about what's going on than Marcus does. In the coming issues, we'll see the Serpent Society, Deadpool, and S.H.I.E.L.D.; a who's who of villains and heroes all after Marcus.

Marvel.com: We just saw S.H.I.E.L.D. reconstituted in the finale of SECRET WARRIORS with Daisy Johnson at the head of it. How do they factor into this series?

Chris Yost: This is being called the greatest secret of the Marvel Universe, and that is S.H.I.E.L.D.’s wheelhouse. Check out issue #2 for Ms. Johnson—no relation to Marcus—and her new organization as they step into the battle.

Marvel.com: In many ways, this acts as a sibling title to the concurrent FEAR ITSELF: FEARLESS series, both with you, Matt Fraction and Cullen Bunn serving as the writing, but with you’re taking the lead on BATTLE SCARS. Can you tell us how they relate to one another?

Chris Yost: They're both taking place in a post-Fear Itself world; FEARLESS is a more direct continuation of the fallout of the event, following Valkyrie as she hunts down the Serpent's hammers. BATTLE SCARS really spins out from the event—that's what sets everything into motion. Both books give us a look at the Marvel Universe, like a tour. With BATTLE SCARS, it won't be as obvious how until closer to the end.

Marvel.com: Writing a book between three people might be a novel concept in comics, but you’re a veteran at this from heading up writing teams on Marvel’s animated series. How did your experience on things like “Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” play into your work here?

Chris Yost: I love it. I love working with other writers, bouncing ideas off each other. We all want the best possible product to come out of it, and Cullen and Matt have been fantastic to work with and have both offered up great ideas for BATTLE SCARS. Because both books deal with the landscape of the Marvel U, it's great to have a lot of voices involved. And yes, working on “Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” definitely helped.

Marvel.com: For this book, you’ve got artist Scot Eaton working alongside you. Eaton did the lead-in to Fear Itself, BOOK OF THE SKULL, and also worked with you on the “Endangered Species” stories in the X-Men titles. What does he bring to the team?

Chris Yost: I'm a huge fan of Scot, but I was blown away by what he's been bringing. He should be on a Taskmaster book right now. It's a tricky thing designing and introducing new characters, and Scot's been killing it. I'm so excited for people to see the book and meet Sergeant Johnson.

It sounds like hype, it sounds cliché, but no one knows how important this is going to be. Yet.

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