When the Avengers need a specialist security team, they call Black Panther and the Agents of Wakanda. And when their newly launched title needed a writer, Marvel found the man for the job in Jim Zub, who has already set up a potentially epic first mission for the newly minted stars.
Alongside artists Lan Medina and Marcio Menyz, Zub closed out September 18's Black Panther and the Agents of Wakanda #1 by bringing back the Sentry - in the "next evolution" of his apparently villainous form.
With so much on the line for the fledgling team, Newsarama spoke to Zub ahead of October 16's Black Panther and the Agents of Wakanda #2 to get the low-down on the odd collection of characters that comprise the Agents, what's up with the Sentry, and what's in store as Agents of Wakanda moves forward with a two-issue arc structure.
Newsarama: Jim, Black Panther and the Agents of Wakanda is a little different from many team books due to their specific mission. How did this book – and team – come together?
Jim Zub: Editor Wil Moss and I had been talking about working together on projects since he joined Marvel in 2014, but it never quite worked out in terms of characters or schedule until now.
When he approached me about Black Panther and the Agents of Wakanda, I was crunching on a bunch of other stuff, but it looked like it could be a ton of fun, and allow me to dig into strange parts of the Marvel Universe I find intriguing, so I carved out time to put together a pitch for how I'd approach it and, thankfully, Wil really took to it.
From there, he showed me some of Lan Medina's latest work and we both agreed that it would be great to showcase his skills here on Agents of Wakanda.
Nrama: To say your roster is eclectic would be an understatement – you’ve got Black Panther (naturally), Okoye, Wasp, Fat Cobra, Gorilla Man, Man-Wolf, Ka-Zar, American Eagle, and Roz Solomon. Did you have a hand in choosing the characters? Which ones have surprised you the most?
Zub: That's an easy one - I chose none of them! :)
The entire team was established by Jason Aaron in Avengers #12 and Thor #9. He brought in a host of interesting oddballs under T'Challa and Okoye's command and I'm building in extra characterization - who gets along, who doesn't, and how they develop as the series goes along.
Later on there may be other members rotated in or rotated out, but the initial roster was set up before this series was even a twinkle in Wil Moss' eye.
Fat Cobra amuses me, and I was really surprised at how many readers reached out online to say how excited they were to see him in the mix. Same with Man-Wolf.
Nrama: Digging a little deeper, you put a spotlight on John Jameson as Man-Wolf in the first issue. We haven’t really seen John Jameson in this light before. What’s your take on him here?
Zub: John's gone through all kinds of traumatic trials over the years, both his human side and as Man-Wolf. He's struggling to find a place where he belongs and do right by the people who are relying on him. How does that play with what's happening with him over in Absolute Carnage? Read on and you'll find out...
Nrama: You’ve also got Wasp – one of the founding Avengers. What’s her role in Agents of Wakanda?
Zub: Janet is a rock steady choice on any team. She's seen it all and bought the t-shirt. Her experience and advice is invaluable, but that doesn't mean she doesn't have her own issues that need to be dealt with.
Nrama: There’s a terrifying threat hiding at the end of Agents of Wakanda #1 – The Sentry, though he looks a bit different. Catch us up on his deal here?
Zub: Continuity scholars will note that Sentry matches the look he had at the end of Jeff Lemire and Kim Jacinto's Sentry mini-series. I'm carrying the ball forward from there.
Anyway, Sentry has always struggled with the way his powers manifest and this is just the latest iteration of that concept.
Nrama: Lan Medina and Marcio Menyz don’t skimp on the action and energy here. What makes them the perfect art team for Agents of Wakanda?
Zub: Lan has really clear storytelling, great expressions, and doesn't skip lightly on the background either. He's a powerhouse. I thought issue #1 and 2 looked great, and then he really got warmed up and blew everyone on the team away with issues 3 and 4. Just wait 'til you see them.
Nrama: What’s your favorite thing Lan’s drawn we haven’t seen yet?
Zub: Lan draws space exploration and alien plants that made my jaw hit the floor. I couldn't believe it.
Nrama: With the Sentry entering the mix, what’s coming as Agents of Wakanda rolls on?
Zub: Each "mission" the team deals with is only 2 issues so that Sentry reveal at the end of issue #1 pays off immediately in issue #2. It's a bit old school in its approach, giving people lots of material to enjoy and many chances to jump on and see what mix of members get used for each mission.
Issue #3 sets up a mission in space that's not quite like anything else I've written before. It also has quite possibly the best throwback-pun title I've ever come up with:
“God Loves, Moon Kills".
Instant buy, right?! I love comics so much.