Fear Itself

The Fearless: The Saga Continues

Cullen Bunn foretells the futures of Valkyrie, Sin, Crossbones and more in Fear Itself: The Fearless

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By Jim Beard

The story didn’t end with the last scene of FEAR ITSELF.

The Serpent’s mystical hammers still exist as an irresistible lure to those who would claim their power for themselves. Enter an elite group of characters to search the Marvel Universe for these baneful artifacts, guided by a top group of writers led by Cullen Bunn and including Matt Fraction and Chris Yost along with artists Mark Bagley and Paul Pelletier in FEAR ITSELF: THE FEARLESS.

FEAR ITSELF: THE FEARLESS #4 preview art by Paul Pelletier

“First of all, there’s the balancing act between the Valkyrie and Sin/Crossbones story arcs,” notes Bunn of what he’s striving for in the 12-issue limited series. “In both storylines, the players are actively pursuing goals that will, at some point, bring them face to face. Their agendas differ, but Sin’s endgame is very much a dark reflection of Valkyrie’s ultimate goal.  

“In addition, the cast of THE FEARLESS is massive! Even though Valkyrie, Sin, and Crossbones are the stars, every issue features at least a few guest stars; mostly established characters but a few new faces as well, movers and shakers who have a stake in the safekeeping of the hammers. The stage itself makes the book a little bit of a departure for me; I’ve never done anything that covered so much ground. This is a tour of many of the hotspots of the Marvel world.

“And, yeah, there’s a giant exploding shark. But that’s not a departure for me. I work one of those—and a chainsaw—into every story if I can.”

Bunn has followed Valkyrie since her DEFENDERS and NEW DEFENDERS days. But that doesn’t mean she’s past her prime—quite the contrary. THE FEARLESS brings her to the forefront of the action, a place that suits Val quite nicely.

“In an ensemble book, it’s easy for her to blend into the background or simply play the role of team bruiser,” Bunn reflects. “With THE FEARLESS, I had to showcase a little more of her personality and give the readers something to latch onto. I want readers to become invested in Valkyrie, to understand her reasons for what she’s doing, and to care whether she succeeds or fails.

“Valkyrie has to complete one final task—the collection of the hammers—and the oath she swore to Odin centuries ago is fulfilled. After ages of taking warriors to their final reward, it’s Val’s turn. The nature of Valkyrie’s quest is such that she can’t possibly come out of this series unchanged.”

FEAR ITSELF: THE FEARLESS #4 preview art by Paul Pelletier

In a darker orbit spins the seemingly-deathless duo of Sin, the Red Skull’s daughter, and Crossbones, two villains who both have much to prove to the world and themselves.

“Sin is furious over her defeat in FEAR ITSELF,” says Bunn. “Emotionally unstable, she’s throwing a tantrum. She remembers all of Skadi’s secrets and among those secrets is something that will help her get her revenge, not just on the world’s super heroes, but on everyone. To reach this goal, she’s willing to take some big risks to get what she wants. For her, it’s a case of ‘commit atrocities or die trying.’

“Reunited with Sin, Crossbones is getting back out there busting heads and he’s enjoying every second of it. But Sin is gathering a new batch of allies with tactics and methods that make Crossbones uncomfortable—and maybe even a little jealous. Sin and Crossbones have been away from each other for a little while, and Sin has gone through some pretty big changes. She’s tasted divinity, and there are those who still think she’s worthy of it. Crossbones can’t measure up to that, but he doesn’t yet realize just how far he and Sin have grown apart.”

Perhaps it’s the hammers themselves that the series truly revolves around; amazing artifacts that Bunn calls “big, nasty weapons of mass destruction” and “represent the frosty relationship between Midgard and Asgard.”

“It’s interesting to me that opposed to, say, the Infinity Gems, the hammers have been seen first-hand by everyone across the globe,” he notes. “The general populace has witnessed what these weapons can do. The hammers inspire fear by their very existence. In that way, they’re still fulfilling the Serpent’s purpose. But there are always those who desire to control such objects of terror.

FEAR ITSELF: THE FEARLESS #4 preview art by Paul Pelletier

“At the outset of THE FEARLESS, the hammers have been de-powered. Some, including Sin, feel the weapons still have a little bit of life left in them. Sin’s goal is to ‘jump start’ the mojo of the hammers so she can exact her revenge on the people who in her mind wronged her. Valkyrie, on the other hand, wants to shield the weapons from Sin and those like her. She wants to ensure that no weapon of Asgard is ever again used to wreak havoc on Earth.”

Only three issues into THE FEARLESS, Bunn looks forward to major revelations to come, some which may rock the Marvel Universe. And, of course, all those cool guest stars on their way.

“I’m excited about the upcoming appearances of Namor and The Thing,” he says. “Their roles in the story illustrate how different heroes are coping with the fallout of FEAR ITSELF. There’s a very bloody fight between Wolverine and Crossbones coming up in the near future. In issue #5 there are some surprise heroes and villains I don’t want to say much about but I love seeing in the book. There’s also a villain joining Sin’s cause soon who might be cause for some discussion.

“THE FEARLESS has been a blast for me! This series offers a chance to play around with many different genres. Because of some of the villains at work here, there will be a significant supernatural element to the story. We’ve got vampires, Lovecraftian monsters, demons, and ghostly cataclysms. Other genres at work in FEARLESS include WWII action, fantasy, espionage, sci-fi, a little giant-monster-on-the-loose insanity, and even romance.

“When I was writing some of the latter scenes, my wife asked me, ‘What do you know about romance?’ But I’ll show her! She’ll swoon when she sees how this story plays out!

Maybe I’ll add an extra exploding shark just to proclaim my love for her.”

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