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Fearless Defenders: Fighting Fear

Fearless Defenders: Fighting Fear Pt. 2

Cullen Bunn discusses the dynamics between Valkyrie, Misty Knight, Dani Moonstar and Hippolyta!

Fearless Defenders #2 cover by Mark Brooks

By Paul Montgomery

When the All-Mother handed Valkyrie the task of rebuilding the Valkyrior, her ideal candidates proved unavailable. She must now pull from lowly Midgard, but fortunately, Earth has no shortage of able warrior women.

There’s former heroine for hire Misty Knight, a kung-fu goddess in her own right, an able lieutenant for any platoon. Also answering the call, young mutant Dani Moonstar, no stranger to the thralls of Norse magic. As for their fourth? How about a newly resurrected Amazonian queen who refused to be denied?

They will become the unlikely and unstoppable FEARLESS DEFENDERS.

We spoke to writer Cullen Bunn about the modern Valkyrior, a cast of disparate warriors with shields at the ready.

Marvel.com: You’ve been referring to Valkyrie and Misty as co-leads and not just teammates. How does that dynamic work in terms of the structure of the stories?

Cullen Bunn: Where it really comes in to play is in the first arc. In the first arc, there are fewer characters and they’re coming in slower. The most important thing for me has been to give each character their own voice and to spend a good deal of time with each. I think what you’ll see is that decisions made within the team involve a lot of back and forth between Misty and Valkyrie. They do a lot of debating with each other. Sometimes Valkyrie may decide to go off on her own or Misty might take things into her own hands, with both positive and negative results. Like the old Defenders, the team structure is a little looser. I don’t know that Valkyrie would say that she has a co-lead. She would say that the group has a leader and it’s her. There are probably other people on the team who would say the exact same thing. Misty takes the role of leadership by doing things because it’s the right thing to do. Valkyrie isn’t one to sit back and debate on what to do next. She’s about action. She wants to move and take things out. Misty is action oriented but a little more levelheaded about those types of things. Even Dani is like a third lead almost. She brings in more of human element to those three.

Fearless Defenders #1 preview art by Will Sliney

Marvel.com: It’s not just a conflict in terms of personality; there are also philosophical differences in how the team should work?

Cullen Bunn: Absolutely. So far, every character on the team and every character that will be on the team has a distinct difference of opinion of how a super hero should behave.

Marvel.com: You have a range of cosmic and street level characters on this team. The difference between Misty and Valkyrie is huge in terms of their playing field, power sets and sensibilities. Is there one particular fish out of water here or does the focus shift enough that everyone has to move in and out of their comfort zones?

Cullen Bunn: The first arc will have an Asgardian edge to it. It will be Misty feeling like the fish out of water. One of the things I like about these characters being from different backgrounds is that I can’t wait to have Valkyrie in a kung-fu, street level story. She’ll be great because she’ll be completely out of her element. The cast will rotate to some extent so that I can have the characters that make the most sense in each story. 

Marvel.com: Valkyrie is particularly fun when she’s out of her element.

Cullen Bunn: It’s a lot of fun. One of the things I wanted to do with this book was to make it a fun book. I didn’t want it to be an overly depressing and overly serious book even though they’re dealing with significant threats. I wanted to have fun with it. Valkyrie’s mannerisms and her speech patterns and how different she is from everyone else all help build into that sense of fun. In some degree, Misty Knight is the same way. They’re both kind of time-lost characters. Valkyrie’s from Asgard and Misty Knight is from a completely different era and hasn’t seemed to catch up. [Laughs]

It’s so much fun. I wasn’t sure at first with Misty; I didn’t know how it was going to work. Having Misty interact with Valkyrie is one of my greatest joys. I think they play off of each other extremely well.

Fearless Defenders #1 cover by Mark Brooks

Marvel.com: Speaking of background, to what extent does heritage, culture, and upbringing play a role? For the first three, you have an Asgardian goddess, a black character from kung-fu comics, and Dani who is a mutant and of Native American heritage. Does culture play a big role in this?

Cullen Bunn: It will, definitely. In writing this first arc, there is so much that I’m trying to tell and it’s such a big story that I don’t get to bring all of those elements to the forefront. After I put together Valkyrie, Misty Knight, and Dani, I realized that I’m putting together a pretty diverse team. Not just in their power sets. There’s a diversity angle there, except that there’s no men. [Laughs]

It wasn’t conscious. I have two lists, two teams that I made. Just in case someone says I can’t use a character. The team will be very diverse in age, personality types, cultural differences and more. It will make it a really interesting read. It will be a group of characters representing a number of different demographics.

Marvel.com: You’ve mentioned that there are some new characters that you’ve generated just for this series. Can you tease any of those or where they come from?

Cullen Bunn: I can. At the end of issue #2, beginning of issue #3, we’re introducing a relatively new character to the team. She has existed in Marvel’s continuity but she’s been dead and I’m bringing her back. I’m changing her pretty drastically and she’ll be joining the team. Bringing her back will almost be like creating a brand new character because I’m taking a new approach to her. It’s definitely the same character as I’m building off the personality traits she developed in the past. She’s kind of a blank slate character in many ways. I had a little more freedom to do what I wanted in bringing her in and developing her powers. That’s who is on the cover to #3. That’s Hippolyta. Queen of the Amazons.

Fearless Defenders #3 cover by Mark Brooks

Marvel.com: Based on the cover, she seems like kind of a scene-stealing character.

Cullen Bunn: I was saying earlier how much fun it is to write Valkyrie and Misty Knight and how I want to give each of these characters their own voice. I have to be careful because even as I’m writing it, [Hippolyta] takes over. She’s going to be a real thorn in the side of Valkyrie. 

Marvel.com: Is she the strongest member of the team?

Cullen Bunn: She is by far the strongest member of the team; more powerful than Valkyrie.

Marvel.com: Let’s talk about the setting and scope of this series. What kind of locales do you want to visit? Is there a home base at all?

Cullen Bunn: We will not have established the home base at the end of the first arc. I have an idea for the home base that I want to make sure works. There are so many things that I want to do that I have to make sure Editorial will approve. There’s a long list of ideas I hope to get approved. They will be getting a home base of sorts, but not initially. They will have a bit of a vagabond quality at first. They’ll be meeting in each other’s living rooms and in shadowy parking garages where they team up.

Marvel.com: Does Brunnhilde have a living room?

Fearless Defenders #3 variant cover by Phil Jimenez

Cullen Bunn: Brunnhilde has this otherworldly mead hall that she can go to. They’ll meet there every once in a while. It’s the same place where she keeps her sword and her horse. It’s a Viking mead hall where she can relax and let her hair down. Occasionally they’ll meet there and just get really drunk on mead. Eventually they will have a base location set in the main Marvel Universe. That will be their official operating locale; their firehouse, so to speak.

Marvel.com: Does everybody get a horse with wings?

Cullen Bunn: That’s such a great question. No, everyone does not get a horse with wings. [Laughs] Misty really wants a horse with wings.

Tomorrow, Cullen concludes our look at FEARLESS DEFENDERS with thoughts on threats, fear, and writing an all-female cast.

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