SDCC '08 - Parker on The Agents of Atlas' Return

SDCC 08 - Parker Talks Agents of Atlas

Agents of Atlas is back.

And best of all, so is the talking monkey.

As announced by Marvel at San Diego Comic-Con, the stars of the acclaimed 2006 mini-series Agents of Atlas are getting their own ongoing series beginning early next year. Jeff Parker, who wrote the mini that was collected in a hardcover that's up for an Eisner Award tonight, will return to the characters.

"The series got an incredible amount of acclaim and buzz when it debuted and became an office favorite," said series editor Mark Paniccia. "We've been waiting for the right time to open fire and post-Secret Invasion events gave us just the right ammo we needed."

The Agents of Atlas team were last seen fighting Skrulls in the Secret Invasion: Who Do You Trust anthology one-shot. Based on characters from the old Atlas imprint from Timely Comics, the Golden Age precursor to Marvel, the comic featured Marvel Boy, Venus, Namora, M-11 the Human Robot and of course, the talking monkey, Gorilla Man.

The mini-series brought the characters up to date, telling the story of how a covert team from the '50s gets back together in present time to combat a newly discovered villainous group called the Atlas Foundation. By the end of the mini-series, the team had taken over the Atlas Foundation, which sets up this ongoing.

"As strange as it sounds, our cast from the past has found that the way to really do major good in the present day is to approach this brave new world-- as villains! The Atlas Foundation was already a vast criminal organization, and now it's going to be a lot less secret," Parker said.

"A few of them would like to be classic, well-known superheroes, but they keep getting more results with stealth and secrecy. Being below ground really helped them undermine several Skrull beachheads during the Secret Invasion," he said.

The new team will be made up of:

- Former FBI-then-SHIELD agent Jimmy Woo, who's in charge of the Atlas Foundation, which Parker describes as "a global collective of criminal operations that he's been working to reform with his crime-fighting team from his FBI days. As an older man, Woo was horribly burned while trying to infiltrate Atlas, and restored by alien science to himself circa 1958."

- Bob Grayson, known in the 50's as the Apollo-esque science hero Marvel Boy. "He's spent 50 years living at the core of the 7th Planet and isn't as human as he used to be, but he's still brilliant," Parker said. "He's more often referred to as The Uranian now. His Eternals-technology headband held the information needed to restore Jimmy."

- Venus, widely believed to be the actual Roman goddess, but in fact was a siren who was granted access to a soul by The Ancient One. "Her voice and presence turn most people to mush, with only amorous thoughts and the inclination to do whatever she wants of them," Parker explained. "Though responsible for scores of dead sailors in the past, she's actually quite sweet now."

- Ken Hale, the Gorilla-Man, whom Parker says is "ironically the member who knows the modern world the best . Hale was a soldier of fortune who was forced to kill an ape man and took his curse to be in the form of a Gorilla for eternity. Also worked for SHIELD's monster ops, but went renegade to rescue his old friend Jimmy."

- M-11. "A killer robot built by the Atlas Foundation, one of the Menacer series that came with a Death Ray, Extendo Arms and Voltage Blasts," Parker explained. "Thanks to a scientist who gave his life, M-11 is actually sentient, though what he's thinking is generally a mystery. He appears to be very loyal to Jimmy and the team, thank goodness."

- Namora. "The only other Atlantean with the same hybrid genetics as the Submariner, she was left in a block of ice in the deep sea for years until M-11 calculated that she was likely alive and the Agents freed her," Parker said. "The powerhouse of the team, she's a bit haughty (being Atlantean royalty) but fiercely loyal to the team that remembered her and came back for her. Her daughter died in the events that created Marvel's Civil War, so she's naturally having a hard time processing that."

- Mr. Lao, Atlas' royal advisoran ancient, who's also a manipulative -- and very big -- dragon. "Lao wants the lineage of the Khans to stay on the intended track of eventually conquering the world, and the Agent's do-gooding doesn't interest him. Yet, he's the definition of crafty, and somehow as they keep achieving their goals, they also manage to achieve Lao's as well!" Parker said.

One of the elements that made the characters in the Agents of Atlas mini-series so charming was that most of them haven't been out living among the people of earth for decades, so their unique point of view made for some hilarious reactions. Parker said that will remain part of the ongoing series as well.

"Most of them have been out of the doings of the world for a while, so you get to see the modern age fresh through their eyes," Parker said. "And they tend to see things very clear cut -- if we turn on the TV and see a network misrepresenting a subject grossly, we just grumble at the bias of corporations. Jimmy orders M-11 to shoot down the network's satellite. They're very pure in many ways.

"And yes, they cannot believe what the cost of gas is now!" he said.

While their former nemesis, The Yellow Claw, allegedly died at the end of the team's mini-series, Parker said they'll have plenty to worry about without the villain.

"I'm afraid the real nemesis, in the truest sense of that word, will be the other heroes of the Marvel Universe! The Agents are going to run afoul of Avengers, mutants, gods... and to do what they have to do, they can't blow their cover," Parker said.

Although the artist for the series has not been named, Marvel did confirm that Leonard Kirk, who helped define the characters with Parker in their mini-series, will not be available because of his work on Captain Britain & The MI-13.

Parker said he had pitched an Atlas series before, "but there was always concern about how to bring the characters into the Marvel Universe at large, working in with what's happening in the mega-story. Finally it happens that events turned just so and the water is going to be just right for them to make their splash."

"As always you need to wait for the right moment," editor Paniccia said. "We've been dying to do a sequel to the mini series but we wanted to make sure the timing was right and that we had the right hook for it to play a stronger role in the greater Marvel U. So not only does the fact that the hardcover is nominated for an Eisner help, but the landscape of post-Secret Invasion Marvel Universe makes for a great, organic way to introduce these characters to a new set of readers."

"It's not going to be like much else on the shelf," Parker said. "If you want to view the Marvel Universe from a warped and exciting perspective, this is your entry point."

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