Infinity

Thursday Q&A: Frank Tieri

The writer of Infinity Heist unveils his plans for a super villain caper in the midst of a mega event!

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Infinity Heist #1 cover by Ale Garza

By Jim Beard

Everyone loves it when the bad guys steal the spotlight from the super heroes, right? Well, in that vein, writer Frank Tieri delivers the ill-gotten goods with a story of a theft of infinite proportions in INFINITY HEIST, a four-issue limited series kicking off September 25.

The book ties into the massive INFINITY event and tells the tale of what Earth’s villains do to keep themselves occupied while Thanos invades Earth. Tieri’s got definite designs for the leads of INFINITY HEIST, so we tossed a few questions to him in this exclusive interview to uncover his links to the underworld and see what makes him—and the villains—tick.

Marvel.com: Frank, “heist” stories have become a powerful force in fiction; what do you yourself love about them and how will you utilize that in INFINITY HEIST?

Frank Tieri: I think what I like about heist stories—and really, what I think the appeal is to most people who like a good heist story, whether they'd like to admit it or not—is on some level you envision yourself pulling it off. I think we all have a little guilty fantasy about pulling off some caper, getting the girl and escaping off to some island somewhere where we spend the rest of our days drinking umbrella drinks. Of course, even though we're rooting for our heist-ers to get away in most cases, most heist stories don't end that way; something usually goes wrong in the middle of it.

And ours will be no different. Something will go very "wrong" in the middle of our story—and how everyone reacts to this event is really what our little series is all about.

Infinity Heist #2 cover by Al Barrionuevo

Marvel.com: We hear that Spymaster’s a big gun in the book; is he the leader of the villains and, if so, why?

Frank Tieri: Spymaster is absolutely the leader of our little crew; he's our Danny Ocean. He's our Joe from “Reservoir Dogs.” He's our Keaton from “The Usual Suspects.” He's the man with the plan and he's the one who pulls in these other Iron Man villains in: Blizzard. Whirlwind, Firebrand, Titanium Man, Whiplash and Unicorn.

As for why him, I've always felt he was an underutilized villain. When I was a kid growing up reading IRON MAN, he always was the guy that seemed to give Tony the most trouble. People have seemed to forget that, but INFINITY HEIST will remind them.

Marvel.com: What about their target? What’s so important about it to the characters?

Frank Tieri: Well, when we were coming up with ideas for this heist book, we knew we needed a good "get" to make the story work. And what is the ultimate "get" in the Marvel Universe?

Stark Enterprises.

With Tony preoccupied with everything going on with Thanos, Spymaster figures the time is right to strike. And if you think about it, the armors, the tech, the inventions—you can just imagine what somebody who pulled that job off could get with the right buyer for that stuff. Plenty of islands with umbrella drinks to be had there, that's for sure.

That said, of course it's not going to be easy; in addition to everything that's going on with Thanos and the Inhumans in the background, it's not like Tony's just going to leave a key under the doormat. So there's a lot to deal with getting past Stark's security—and there's a lot to deal with everyone getting past killing each other. There will be plenty of friction within our little group. Sides will be chosen and it'll certainly complicate things, to say the least.

Spymaster

Marvel.com: So, obviously the events of INFINITY figure into this. How will they most impact the proceedings?

Frank Tieri: They're prominent in that it's the reason our villains try to do the heist in the first place and it's also part of the reason things get complicated in the middle of it.

With that being said, I actually think you can read this story completely independent of the actual INFINITY book. Because while, yes, you need to know stuff like Thanos is attacking and all that, the main focus will be on our characters and their interactions. 

Think of it like if someone tried to pull off a robbery during 9/11. Beyond having to know that terrorists flew planes into the Twin Towers, you wouldn't have to know every detail of the disaster, just the finer points and how our characters are affected by them. And yeah, I realize how terrible it sounds for someone to try to take advantage of a situation like 9/11, but that's the point. It's sort of what our characters are doing in this story and at some point how they feel about doing that will be addressed.

Marvel.com: How do you kick off the story in INFINITY HEIST #1?

Frank Tieri: Issue #1 is sort of where Spymaster starts to line up the pieces on his chessboard. He gathers the crew. He pitches them the plan. He sets the wheels in motion.

And once he sets those wheels in motion, nothing will get in his way. Not Tony Stark—who will pop up at some point in the series—or Blizzard, who has some reservations about taking the job from the start.

Blizzard will actually serve as our POV character here, and yeah, it's the Donnie Gill version we're using here. Donnie is one of those guys who's flipped flopped throughout his career as far as what his place in the Marvel Universe is; he's a bad guy, he's a good guy, oh wait—he's a bad guy again. Let's just say we're very much aware of that and it definitely plays into our story in a big way.

Blizzard

Marvel.com: Overall, what’s your personal philosophy for writing villains? How do you like to use them when they’re the focus of a story like this?

Frank Tieri: Look, there's no secret I've written a lot of villain books. In fact, I think it's fair to say it's one of the things I'm best known for. I'd say the main reason I've been successful at it is I approach villains as people. They're not sitting around some secret HQ twirling their mustaches. They're in bars having a couple of pops with their friends. They're running into exes that can't stand their guts. They're busting each other's chops while at "work." Basically stuff that happens to you and me, and that's what I do: try to show they're like you and me. That they have the same hopes, dreams, problems, etc. as the rest of us.

Marvel.com: Finally, what makes artist Al Barrionuevo a great fit for this kind of a story?

Frank Tieri: Essentially, Al can do villains. Al has a history doing villain stuff, of getting down and dirty when he has to. That's what we needed. This isn't your typical super hero or even super villain comic. This is something more akin to those great heist movies like “Oceans 11” or “Heat” or “The Thomas Crown Affair” and we needed an artist that could reflect that. And Al's done a terrific job of doing that for us.

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