In the fortified and heavily-surveillance Battleworld city of the 50’s-style Metropolitia, Baron Zemo rules with iron fist, and only the Agents of Atlas can stop him.
Friday Marvel will announce a new Secret Wars: Agents of Atlas one-shot by Tom Taylor and Steve Pugh at their Comic-Con International "Marvel: Secret Wars" panel. But before that Taylor goes in-depth with Newsarama in the first interview about the series, revealing the full line-up, how the team's history is reflected in this new series, and his hopes for more past this October one-shot.
Newsarama: Tom, it's been a while since we've heard the Agents as a collective, so where are they now in Battleworld? What's in store for them?
Tom Taylor: The Agents of Atlas are in the middle of a bleak zone of Battleworld run by Baron Zemo. The people who live in the city of Metropolitia are constantly monitored and forced to work to almost breaking point. Any who refuse to work, or don’t work hard enough, are taken and experimented on. So, not exactly a nice holiday destination.
No one stands against the tyrannical rule of Zemo. Despite S.H.I.E.L.D. policing the city under Director Coulson, no one stands for the people... except the Agents of Atlas.
Nrama: How do the Agents and their secretive nature mesh with the events of Secret Wars?
Taylor: In a city with eyes and cameras everywhere, the Agents have managed to stay completely hidden from the all-reaching, all-seeing Baron Zemo. They’re effectively an underground freedom-fighting force for an oppressed people. And Jimmy Woo and his team have been very effective.
But now... Jimmy is missing.
Nrama: You're working with artist Steve Pugh on this, what is it about his style for you that fits into this world so well?
Taylor: Especially with his recent work on All-New Invaders, Steve Pugh has shown how perfect he is for the tone, and the feel of this world. He truly gets the nostalgia of a team like this. I’ve always dug his work and our editor Mark Paniccia and I are very grateful to have him on this story with us.
Nrama: What's the feel you're going to have with this story? The Agents of Atlas series with Jeff Parker from a few years back, varied from issue to issue from spy to superhero elements, but what are you wanting to nail down thematically for this?
Taylor: I wanted a pretty even mix of spy and superhero elements. There’s a little bit of heist, some rescuing, and some old-fashioned superhero punching big things until they explode. We obviously can’t show everything that makes the Agents of Atlas such a good team in a one-shot but we wanted to remind people exactly why this team should make a return in the Marvel Universe.
Nrama: You've been working in comics for a handful of years now, but before that you were a playwright and screenwriter, how do you approach each medium differently? What's your process?
Taylor: I’m still definitely writing for screen. I’m actually the co-creator and lead writer of the upcoming 26-episode CG animated series The Deep - based off our graphic novels of the same name.
I think TV, film, and the stage all have their strengths, and things I love about them, but my favorite medium is comics, without a doubt. Comics are almost limitless. There’s no budget holding you back. You can crash a car into a dragon and it costs the same as two people talking in a room. You’re not limited by the confines of a stage. The only limit is your own imagination.
Nrama: Do you have a favorite character to write out of this ensemble?
Taylor: Gorilla-Man. I don’t know why but I gravitated straight to his character. I wrote four pages of Gorilla-Man dialogue before I even figured out what happens in the rest of the story. He’s also been my phone’s lock-screen for the last month. That said, this team is fantastic. I would have loved to have spent more time with all of them. I tend to write a lot more pages than I’m supposed to and then I cull. Being a one-shot, I had to cut a lot of extra moments with Namora and Marvel Boy, in particular, that I miss.
Nrama: Lastly, are the Agents still the "team out of time" with their retro feel or are you bringing them more into the present?
Taylor: Being Battleworld, we actually decided to ‘bring the time to the team’. This is a city very much set in the original time of the Agents of Atlas. There’s a 1950s look to everything.
I really hope we see a lot more of this team soon though... in any time.