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Step Up to Infinity with Fearless Defenders

Cullen Bunn previews what to expect for Valkyrie and company as Thanos invades Earth!

Fearless Defenders #5 cover by Mark Brooks

By Paul Montgomery

This October, a vanguard of warrior women braces their shields against INFINITY. As the Mad Titan Thanos launches his assault on Earth, Valkyrie, Misty Knight, Dani Moonstar and friends struggle to maintain their title in FEARLESS DEFENDERS #10.

We spoke to writer Cullen Bunn about berserker rage, unrequited love and the power of...dance?

Marvel.com: After bottling up a lot of anger and doubt over the past few months Brunnhilde’s gone full Valkyrie. Does berserker rage make for good therapy?

Cullen Bunn: It is not therapeutic in the least. It’s actually the opposite of that for her. The rage that she’s experiencing in issue #5 seems like it’s a great thing because it’s going to help them beat the bad guys. Once Valkyrie is done with the other Doom Maidens in issue #6, she cuts loose on the other heroes and they have to try to stop her.  And she’s pretty much unstoppable. Val’s going to do some things that she will come to regret a great deal and her actions will change her as a character from that day forward.

Marvel.com: Fortunately you’ve rallied a record number of Marvel’s female warriors. Can we expect a big battle royale on the horizon?

Cullen Bunn: Definitely a big battle royale. From the beginning I wanted FEARLESS DEFENDERS to be this book where these great female super heroes and, to some degree, super villains, have a showcase. Issues #5 and #6 were definitely my way of putting a fine point on the fact that FEARLESS DEFENDERS is a book where all of these characters can show up at the drop of a hat.

Fearless Defenders #5 cover by Mark Brooks

Marvel.com: This latest outing features all these female heroes together, yet out of all these women—many of them Avengers—Brunnhilde sees Valkyrior potential in Annabelle Riggs alone. Why this young woman and not someone like Storm or Captain Marvel?

Cullen Bunn: Well, there’s nothing to say that Valkyrie won’t also see that potential in, say, Storm or Captain Marvel. Annabelle has a big role to play. From a storytelling point of view I wanted to get across the idea that being a hero doesn’t necessarily mean being a super hero. When I first came up with the idea for this team and for Valkyrie to find a new group of shield maidens, I wanted at least one of them—maybe more—to be people from everyday walks of life. Now, sure, Annabelle is a spunky archaeologist who can ride rocket horses and things like that, but in the grand scheme of things—in the Marvel Universe—that still makes her pretty mundane. So I wanted her to be the first of these non-powered shield maidens; the first character that Valkyrie would see the potential in who wasn’t also a super hero. 

Valkyrie has had such a hard time. She procrastinated and just wouldn’t bother picking shield maidens because she didn’t think anyone was worthy. It’s kind of a moment for her when she realizes that this person is worthy of being a shield maiden, and it surprises her. Not only is she worthy of being a shield maiden but she’s not somebody who can call down lighting or can lift semis or something like that. And the thing that makes Annabelle this heroic figure is something that surfaces in the next issue or so.

Marvel.com: Annabelle harbors a major crush on Valkyrie. So far that infatuation remains an unrequited emotion. Does that drive her? Does that make her want to be more of a hero?

Fearless Defenders #5 cover by Mark Brooks

Cullen Bunn: Yeah, I think to some degree. I think it kind of opens the doors for her to act on things that she would maybe cower at at some point. To some degree she wants to impress Valkyrie. But in the end, I think Annabelle is the type of person that even if she wasn’t trying to impress someone, these heroic attributes are things she would do without the added incentive of impressing somebody.

Marvel.com: Valkyrie and Misty Knight are two very different leaders and two very different heroes, yet they truly co-headline this book. Why do these two need each other? Why do these two work?

Cullen Bunn: I believe that they work because they’re so different and because they’re from such different worlds. Sure, for the first arc, we’ve definitely been in more of Valkyrie’s world and it’s more of an Asgardian type of story, but I think it’s interesting to see Misty at work in that setting.  And likewise, it’ll be interesting to see Valkyrie when she’s in more of Misty’s kind of street level stories, which you’ll be seeing in the next arc. And, from a character point of view, I think it’s a similar thing. The fact that they bring these different attitudes and skill sets is what makes them work. It didn’t necessarily dawn on me when I started writing the series but very soon after I started, I hit this idea that Misty, with all her connections with her heroes for hire and know-how, could be a great resource for Valkyrie to bring these other heroes in when they’re needed.  I like that idea. One of the things about the Defenders is that they’ve always been sort of this non-team, the cast has always been able to rotate and change a little bit and Misty brings that aspect to this team in a big way. Just from how she’s been portrayed in the past and how she’s operated in the past.

Fearless Defenders #5 cover by Mark Brooks

Marvel.com: Father figures seem to play a prominent role here, from Hippolyta and Ares to Valkyrie’s complicated relationship with Odin. Did that arise out of you initial intentions or did you arrive at that motif by coincidence, just looking into the characters’ backgrounds?

Cullen Bunn: It came about just by looking into the characters’ backgrounds. Once I saw it, it became a little more interesting and I think it’ll be something that we see especially through Hippolyta and Valkyrie going forward.  But yeah, it was not something that I necessarily thought about even when I was writing the Age of Ultron tie-in—which was the big Hippolyta and Ares issue—it didn’t dawn on me even then, until I was going back and looking at some of the things. There’s a little bit of a sort of shadow of that relationship with Valkyrie.

Marvel.com: You’ve introduced Caroline Le Fay, already living up to her parents’ legacy of evil. Does a kid with a mother like Morgan Le Fay and a dad like Doom stand a chance leading a carefree life?

Cullen Bunn: I can’t imagine that she would. I wanted a villain who had this drive that is almost a drive for entropy and destruction, just for the sake of entropy and destruction. I wanted to give her this story of why she wants to see the world brought down, the world laid low. Now that I think about it, she has parent issues as well, so she fits right in there with Hippolyta and Valkyrie because her complicated relationship—or non-relationship—with her mother and father will surface and play her to some degree. But no, I don’t think she ever really had a chance. I think it’s in the blood for her.

Marvel.com: How does INFINITY impact FEARLESS DEFENDERS?

Infinity #1 cover by Adam Kubert

Cullen Bunn: The main INFINITY Crossover will be in FEARLESS DEFENDERS #10. They’re here on Earth facing the threat of Thanos’ forces trying to raze the city of New York.  The Fearless Defenders are going to be living up to their namesake: truly defending.  They’re going to be working trying to save people from the chaos that’s raining down all around them. At the same time though, not only are they going to be dealing with Thanos’ forces, they’re going to be dealing with the ever-present Caroline Le Fay who’s going to be up to no good during this event and it’s all going to center around this new character who’ll be surfacing in the issue, a new super-powered individual. Both the Fearless Defenders and Caroline will have an interest in this individual, and this issue is going to center on her.

Marvel.com: We’ve seen a few different examples in the lead up to INFINITY of villains who capitalize on this invasion. Does this event, and the chaos it inspires, represent an obstacle or a boon for Caroline Le Fay?

Cullen Bunn: She will see it as a boon. I think she’ll actually see it as kind of pretty. I think she’ll be impressed; she’ll be impressed by what’s happening but she believes that she has something even worse in store. She just has to get all her eggs in one basket.

Marvel.com: Let’s talk about this cover...

Fearless Defenders #10 cover by Mark Brooks

Cullen Bunn: I think FEARLESS DEFENDERS #10 will be a little different than what most people would probably expect of an INFINITY crossover. It will be a tie-in to the series, to the event, but this issue will actually be a dance issue of FEARLESS DEFENDERS. I’m not sure how many dance comic books are out there anyway, but definitely not dance super hero comics. I’ve tried to do different things with the book from the beginning and this issue will definitely live up to that ideal.

Marvel.com: Who steps up with the best moves?

Cullen Bunn: Well, it’s not just a dance issue for the sake of being a dance issue. This character that we’re introducing in that book will definitely have the best moves of any of the other characters [Laughs]. Although who knows. Valkyrie may give her a run for her money. I can only imagine Valkyrie doing “the robot” though.

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