By Kiel Phegley
Some of Marvel's most deliciously retro superheroes will be tearing out of the Secret Invasion event and into their ongoing series with the announcement made yesterday at Comic-Con International in San Diego that AGENTS OF ATLAS would become an ongoing series early in 2009.
Rooted in the limited series by writer Jeff Parker and artist Leonard Kirk from 2006 and inspired by the classic issue of WHAT IF? that imagined a 1950s team of pulpy superheroes culled from the Golden Age of Atlas Comics, AGENTS OF ATLAS will focus on former S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Jimmy Woo leading a team that includes the goddess Venus, Gorilla-Man, Namora, the Human Robot and "Marvel Boy" Bob Grayson, who carts the heroes around in his flying saucer.
At the end of the original AGENTS series, Jimmy became heir to the secret criminal organization known as the Atlas Foundation, and the story potential inherent in the heroes using the Foundation for good rather than evil had fans clamoring for the Agents' story to continue on an ongoing basis.
"I had actually kind of given up on [an ongoing], and then the conditions in the Marvel Universe got just right for it...which won't make any sense for a few months, and then everybody will see why," teases Parker, who will return for the ongoing series which kicks off on the heel of the blockbuster finale of SECRET INVASION.
In fact, the team's inclusion in the SECRET INVASION: WHO DO YOU TRUST? one-shot helped propel them back into the public eye and this new series, according to Parker:
"It pretty much did exactly what we hoped. A lot of people said, 'I've never heard of this group, but I like them.' It was a good water tester right off the bat, and so we're very glad we got into that special.
AGENTS OF ATLAS
"What I liked about that story is that they dealt with it exactly the way you'd expect a bunch of characters from the '50s to act upon finding out there's little green men invading the planet," continues the writer. "Venus had a moral quandary there, and Jimmy didn't feel great about it, but he wasn't going to let that stop him from using the robot's death ray all over him...right here in my home town of Portland. Also [SECRET INVASION writer Brian Michael] Bendis' home town. They saved Bendis! God thank the Agents for that."
As for the status quo of the new series, Parker says that while the end result of the Skrull invasion will weigh heavily on what's to come, readers can expect the underground status of the Agents to remain intact.
"They're going to realize that they've got a unique opportunity with this criminal organization," he notes. "In a sense, they learned a lot about stealth fighting during Secret Invasion. They got a lot of mileage out of the fact that the Skrulls didn't know who they were. So even though a lot of them would like to be more above ground-type heroes, it keeps not working out for them. They keep having to skulk around pretty much like they did in the '50s."
And Parker will be keeping the mix of pulp paranoia and retro fun that made the first series a critical darling going strong. "You can see that the Atlas-era stories are all
The Agents of
pretty horrific," he notes. "There's a lot of hard core stuff in there like an EC comic, and that's what we try to stick to. What if this were a modern Atlas story where you could go from science fiction to horror to mystery? Because they would just jump around in genres all the time
"We will be going back into the '50s. There's room for some adventures we can revisit. And I've found some cool Marvel Boy story things that would be fun."
Between now and the book's 2009 debut, the writer has only one thing to ask of the series' die hard supporters: keep up the good work.
"That's the nice thing about putting things in trade," says Parker. "Something good can take hold. I watch on message boards, and I see people constantly recommending it, and that always made me feel really good."
For up to the minute Marvel news spinning out of the 2008 San Diego Comic-Con, visit the Marvel.com SDCC news hub. And while you're waiting in between announcements, spend some time over at Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited!