Though she has a long legacy with Marvel Comics, Peggy Carter has remained something of a cipher for much of her history. But now, writer Kathryn Immonen is capitalizing on Carter’s newfound popularity in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – where she’s played a role in numerous films, and even anchored her own Agent Carter TV show – to help define Peggy’s character in comic books.
While she’s never technically served as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (at least not in comic books), Peggy Carter’s role as one of the greatest espionage agents in Marvel history has had her hobnob with the biggest names in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s extensive roster. In Agent Carter: S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th Anniversary Special #1, Peggy teams up with old ally - and S.H.I.E.L.D. stalwart -- Dum Dum Dugan, along with Lady Sif.
To tell this untold tale of S.H.I.E.L.D. history, Immonen is rejoined by artist Rich Ellis, her collaborator on Operation S.I.N., which explored Carter’s relationship with Howard Stark. We spoke to Immonen ahead of Agent Carter’s September 16 release date to find out what it’s like to help define a character who has become a modern icon, what to expect from the S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th Anniversary one-shot, and how fans can let Marvel in on their hunger for more Agent Carter.
Newsarama: Kathryn, you’re no stranger to Peggy Carter, having just written her as part of Operation S.I.N. What makes her such a compelling character to write?
Kathryn Immonen: I think the job is fundamentally to make which ever character you're writing, compelling or at least interesting. (Sometimes you just have to settle for 'useful', though.) Peg's lived through interesting and complicated times and it makes sense that the way she deals with events (and their aftermath) is equally complex. And while she's not technically super-powered, the way she goes about her business is her cape and mask analogue. Beyond that, what's not to like about a slightly world-weary crack shot with an over-developed sense of responsibility and the uncanny ability to keep a hat on her head?
Nrama: Peggy Carter was a relatively minor character until she started appearing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where she’s become a major player. What’s it like helping to define who she is in comic books?
Immonen: It's a privilege. Regardless of how much of what we've done ends up sticking, it's been delightful to take a character that, in many ways, occupies a lot of real estate which is largely unbroken ground. Having said that, because she's an historical character, it's a particular challenge finding ways to write in and around existing (and changing) continuity but not get bogged down by it.
Nrama: Where does the Agent Carter: S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th Anniversary one-shot find Peggy in her relationship with Marvel’s premiere spy organization?
Immonen: She's not so impressed, I don't think. S.H.I.E.L.D. is probably operating a little too far outside of jurisdictional oversight for her taste. She's a renegade but she will always remember how to wear the uniform.
Nrama: Solicitations mention that Dum Dum Dugan reaches out to Peggy trying to recruit her in the issue. Is there a deeper conflict that drives him to reach out to his old ally?
Immonen: Dum Dum's asked Peggy to come in to advise on a potential new recruit, which is not her. As you can imagine, all is not what it seems. Additionally, nothing blows up and there are no hard feelings.
Nrama: You’re reuniting with your Operation S.I.N. co-creator Rich Ellis for the Agent Carter special. What does Rich bring to the table that makes him such an ideal collaborator for these cold war, spy-fi stories?
Immonen: Yay, Rich! He's got such a great touch for the kind of adventure comic we're doing. The visual details are a priority for him and the way he's choreographing the mechanics of the action is pretty wonderful.
Nrama: The history of S.H.I.E.L.D. is an important part of Marvel canon, and you’re fast becoming one of the go-to writers to explore this particular corner of it. What are you hoping to bring to the legacy of S.H.I.E.L.D. as part of Marvel?
Immonen: Inconveniently, Peg was never actually an agent but I hope that what we've done here is fill in a very fun moment of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s very early history. Also, flying cars and vanity plates.
Nrama: Peggy Carter has a growing army of fans thanks to the Agent Carter television show, and her growing role in Marvel Comics. What’s your message to everyone who can’t get enough of her?
Immonen: Buy the comics, watch the show, and let Marvel know directly. It's the only way.