So you think you know the origin of Marvel's premiere spy organization S.H.I.E.L.D.? Well, according to Mark Waid you only know the half of it.
Mark Waid, who writes the ongoing series S.H.I.E.L.D. series is prepping for a special story in August's #9 titled "Man Called D.E.A.T.H." which uses a loose end from the organization's debut appearance back in 1965 to uncover new secrets behind one of the most secretive organizations in superhero comic books. And if that wasn't enough, Waid is getting help from Jack Kirby and Jim Steranko.
Want to know more? Let's talk to Mark Waid about this special issue and the series as a whole.
Newsarama: Mark, big things are promised with the 50th Anniversary of S.H.I.E.L.D. and particularly S.H.I.E.L.D. #9. What can you say about that?
Mark Waid: I think everyone’s really stepped up to the plate. When Tom Brevoort informed me that this would be the fiftieth anniversary issue, I worked hard and long on a story that would do justice to S.H.I.E.L.D.’s history.
Nrama: So -- can you say anything about this secret origin of S.H.I.E.L.D. solicited for S.H.I.E.L.D. #9? Do you loop in what was revealed from Original Sin or Secret Warriors at all?
Waid: Absolutely. My friend Tom Peyer reminded me that there’s a character in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s very first appearance, way back in Strange Tales #135, that has never been seen or referred to again--and in this story, we learn how he threads back through everything Jonathan Hickman and others built into S.H.I.E.L.D.’s history, how he figures into the organization’s future--and how and why he’s offering Phil Coulson a promotion.
Nrama: The story is titled “Man called D.E.A.T.H.” -- I know you can't spoil the mystery too much here. But what kind of parents name their kid D.E.A.T.H.?
Waid: The same kind of parents who would name their kid Victor von Doom, T.O. Morrow, E. Nigma, or Zaxton Regulus and not expect them to turn to crime.
Nrama: Getting a bit more serious, Marvel says this issue will incorporate a never before seen set of comics pages by Jack Kirby and Jim Steranko. Tell me about this, and how you're handling it.
Waid: I knew these pages existed--they were penciled by Kirby as his original pitch for what became S.H.I.E.L.D. and later inked by Jim Steranko as a try-out--and Tom Brevoort worked his magic to clear their use once I found a seamless way to work them into the narrative as a flashback. Now I get to say I worked “with” Jack and Jim. How cool is that? Neal Adams, you’re next.
Nrama: Big picture here with S.H.I.E.L.D. here, one of the big selling points of this series is incorporating some of the characters from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in this -- but your Daisy Johnson is very different from the one on TV -- and I don't just mean the haircut. What's it like with her, writing the comic version of the character with that slightly out-of-tune version on TV out there?
Waid: I’m trying to straddle the line so that neither comics fans nor TV fans are alienated. Coming into the series, I was told about Daisy’s role in the show, but since it hadn’t yet been revealed, I had to wait to put Skye in the book (and she’s there in S.H.I.E.L.D. #7, and there’s an in-Marvel-continuity reason Coulson nicknames her “Skye”). I got a lot of heat from fans for not using Ward early on, but there was no way I could have done so without revealing the heel-turn he was going to take on TV. Largely, though, Marvel’s been great about helping me serve both the cinematic universe and the Marvel comics universe. (I do wish, however, someone had told me Coulson was from Wisconsin before S.H.I.E.L.D. #1 went to press! Brevoort--fix it in the trade!)
Nrama: Are there other characters from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. yet to debut in comics you've got your eye on?
Waid: Koenig! Fingers crossed we can get that cleared.
Nrama: One of the thrilling things about your S.H.I.E.L.D. series is the largely done-in-one stories and the a-list artists joining you. Was that concept baked in when you joined, or was it something you helped Marvel come up with? And how has it turned out, from your perspective?
Waid: I’m really, really happy with the way it’s gone because it allows me to work with some sensational artists who aren’t available on a monthly basis (including two all-stars yet to be announced).
As the editor who gave Chris Sprouse his first work, I’ve been waiting nearly 25 years to work with him as a writer, and that Sue Richards issue is one of the best things I’ve ever written.
Nrama: Could you see yourself transitioning to longer-form storytelling with an arc with one artist, or is done-in-one the mission for S.H.I.E.L.D. going forward?
Waid: It’s entirely possible. Wait--this just in--I’m being told that Everything Dies In Secret Wars. Oh, well.
Nrama: Jury’s still out on that one. Can you say if you'll be sticking with this book after Secret Wars ends?
Waid: Dude, I don’t even know if *I* exist after Secret Wars.