Newsarama: Cullen, based on the title and the presence of Valkyrie, one wonders, does Fearless Defenders tie-in at least partly to the end of the Fear Itself: The Fearless miniseries?
Cullen Bunn: It does, to some degree. The basic idea of the book is that Valkyrie is choosing a new team of Valkyrior, and she's been asked to choose all these women from the heroes of Midgard, instead of from Asgard. She has completely failed in this task. [Laughs.] Valkyrie has been unable to choose anyone that she feels is worthy to be one of the hosts of the shield maidens. So she just hasn't done it. She's dropped the ball.
Because she's not done what she said she would do, nature — or supernature, as it is — abhors a vacuum. The absence of the Valkyrior has opened the door to something terrible. Something awful is waking, and Valkyrie finds that it's really her fault that she's put everything at risk.
Nrama: So of course the "Defenders" name implies that this is a team book, but it sounds like not necessarily in the conventional sense?
Bunn: It is going to be a team book. It'll be an all-female team. But I didn't want to go into issue #1 and say, "here is the team." My goal is to take my time in building this team. I want to build it slowly — even after the first arc, the team will not be formed completely.
Instead, I started looking at characters who make sense, and also can be interesting foils for Valkyrie. And that's when this idea of Misty Knight came up. I put the two of them together in the first issue, and I liked the way they interact so much, and I think they offer something completely different than what you've seen before. They became my core team. They're sort of the window characters — they're the proxies for our readers. The rest of the team will build around them.
Nrama: So Valkyrie and Misty Knight are co-leads of the book?
Bunn: Correct. They're our co-leads, and the rest of the team will build around them. I think it'll be interesting to see how the two of them see things differently. You've got Misty, who's a very street-level character. And you've got Valkyrie, who's a goddess. So you've got very different backgrounds, and I think they will see their potential teammates very differently, and I think you'll see that the two of them have some differences of opinion on who would be the right team for what they're going to be facing.
I'll tell you that Misty Knight and Valkyrie are on the team. The third member of the team, who you'll see really quickly, is going to be Dani Moonstar.
She's an awesome character. She has a fanbase. There are a lot of people who really like Dani Moonstar — I'm one of them. Even better, she has such a connection to the Valkyrie. She was on the top of my list when I started putting together who I thought would be the core roster.
I think she also represents what I'm talking about — she has a fanbase, she gets a lot of attention in New Mutants, but New Mutants just came to an end. I think she's a character who deserves some time in the spotlight, and this will be a different capacity for her as a character. I think you'll see Dani in a different light, and for so many reasons, she's a character who deserves that moment to shine.
Nrama: You're paired on Fearless Defenders with artist Will Sliney artist, who has done work at BOOM! and Image, but is new to Marvel. It's fairly early still, but how has working with him been so far?
Bunn: It's fairly early in the process, but the great thing was, I was just at New York Comic Con, and Will was there, so I was able to actually sit down with Will, and talk to him about the series, and really get his take on some things about the book, and talk to him about what I wanted to do. I always enjoy it actually being a collaboration. I don't want to just turn in a script, and then see pages. I want to work with the artist. I think you get a better result when the writer and the artist are both invested in the book. I wanted this to be [Sliney's] book, as well.
I think he's turned in 10 pages so far of the first issue, and it looks pretty great. I think it's a book that'll look unlike any of the other books coming out from Marvel NOW!, in a good way. He's giving it its own distinct feel, and its own distinct vibe.
Nrama: And there will be new villains, too, right?
Bunn: Yeah, in the first issue I'm introducing a couple of new villains. One of them is, in my mind, the nastiest villain to ever come into the Marvel Universe. She is absolutely ghastly. At her very core, she is a horrible, horrible person, and she is capable of some really deplorable things that we'll be seeing.
We're creating a new team, and I felt like it would be important to create this mastermind-type character who's coming in to be the main antagonist for the foreseeable future for the team. She's not the only villain you're going to see, and you'll some other Marvel Universe villains, but she is new, and I wanted people to believe she is a challenge for Valkyrie. Look at Valkyrie — she's a very powerful character. This woman is definitely going to be a challenge for Valkyrie, and she's going to be that challenge without having any powers whatsoever.