Marvel's Next Big Thing: Shattered Heroes

With Marvel’s big event Fear Itself wrapping up, what’s next? Turns out, it’s Shattered Heroes, a line-wide branding that deals with the fall-out from Fear Itself, as well as leading directly into the NEXT big Marvel event. To find out more, Marvel had another one of their Next Big Thing calls, with Marvel Architects Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction, and Senior VP/Executive Editor Tom Brevoort.

But first of all, those of you looking forward to Marvel’s “Battle Scars?” Stop it! Shattered Heroes is the new branding, replacing the previously announced Battle Scars… It starts in November, and kicks off with Fear Itself 7.1, 7.2, and 7.3, which focus on Cap, Iron Man, and Thor. According to Brevoort, we’ll find out where they are physically and emotionally before they head out into the world at large.

“The general tenor of it, without getting too specific about the end of Fear Itself is that Fear Itself, in every meaningful way, was a war,” said Brevoort. “And our heroes have come through this crucible with their faith tested… But still standing, and still moving forward. They’ll have to deal with the choices they made, the events that brought them to this point; and new challenges that will arise over the whole of the Marvel Universe.”

“It’s a chance to do the character stuff that Event books, by and large, don’t allow you to do,” continued Fraction.

On 7.1, Brubaker said, “Well, this is my chance to do what everyone is complaining I haven’t done yet – dealing with the loss of Bucky in a Cap book. I couldn’t deal with the end of Fear Itself four months before Fear Itself ended. I wrote this a long time ago… This is also the point where I get to set the stage for the next year of stories in Captain America, as well as secret things we can’t talk about yet.”

As for 7.2, Fraction said, “The Thor story is a chance to narrow the spotlight to Thor and his immediate circle. I was very cautious when putting together Fear Itself, where I didn’t want 1/3 of the issue be action, and 2/3 of the issue be people sitting around talking about what it all meant… In particular, all the revelations about the truth of things, the shape of their reality.”

Moving on to 7.3, Fraction continued, “With Iron Man, it was a chance to write… I really enjoyed Tony and Odin yelling at each other. It’s kind of the second half of that. It deals with Paris, and everything Tony has given up by the end of Fear Itself. The man of science standing toe to toe with the ultimate god, and asking how this could all happen.”

We then moved into a few quick hit items about titles that will be branded with Shattered Heroes:

- The new, Jason Aaron-written Incredible Hulk follows directly on the end of Fear Itself (and more info on that later on in this article, so keep readin’). Fraction talked about how he would have been concerned to follow up on Hulk after Greg Pak’s amazing run, but he’s read several issues, and it’s great.

- Defenders will also go out under the Shattered Heroes headline, as well The Avengers and Avengers Academy.

- The direct sequels will be Fear Itself: The Fearless, a bi-weekly 12 issue series dealing with the direct fallout from Fear Itself; and Battle Scars, which will be about the emergence of a “terribly important character, who comes out of the wreckage and ruin of Fear Itself,” said Brevoort.

Moving on to questions, the team was asked about accessibility for new fans, as well as why older fans would want to pick up the titles. Brevoort said that the .1, .2, and .3 titles are important because, “They’re the guys who are writing the titles.” Meaning, as Brubaker regularly writes Cap, and Fraction writes Iron Man and Thor, it, “gives them the closure [fans] want.”

“You know, all of us have been through this stuff before,” continued Brubaker. “I did Cap #25 after Civil War, and this is similar. In the first few pages, you have to explain to someone who read Cap, but not Civil War that they know everything they need to know.”

A few more quick hit items:

- Captain America, Taskmaster, Daisy Johnson, a bunch of other Marvel mercenaries will feature in Battle Scars. “They’re all the super espionage ilk,” said Fraction. “It’s almost a reverse chase,” continued Brevoort. “It starts with a murder,” and then we find out more about this character, and why he is/was important to the Marvel Universe.

- Asked about Hulk’s rockin’ ‘stache, Fraction joked that the next big event will be called, “Hulk: The Trimmening.”

- We’ll find out more about why Thor isn’t in the Shattered Heroes teaser – and who Tanarus is – in Fear Itself 7.2.

- Asked whether we’ll see what the regular citizens think about the recent events in the Marvel U, “The role of the guy on the street is major,” in the ending of Fear Itself, said Fraction.

We then asked whether Shattered Heroes will have a backbone book – like over at DC with the Brightest Day maxi-series, for example. And moreso, whether this would be like a Heroic Age branding, or more plotty, like Dark Reign.

“I don’t see very much difference between Heroic Age, and Dark Reign,” said Brevoort. “It wasn’t really designed to have a spine book – Dark Avengers kind of became that book naturally. I don’t think there is specifically a spine story to Shattered Heroes… It’s about the heroes coming out of Fear Itself. In terms of the spine, it’s Thor, Captain America, Iron Man.”

Continuing, Fraction said, “It’s the reconstruction phase. It’s the story of how the Marvel heroes get back up, after they’ve been knocked down. This is how they remain undefeated… Even some cases, in defeat. It’s the story of why our heroes are our heroes.”

Asked about the currently running X-Men Schism event, Brevoort reiterated what we’ve been hearing out of Marvel a lot lately: “I think the fall out of Schism will be playing out at the same time.” He continued that there’s no mistake they’re happening at the same time, and that all parts of the Marvel Universe are realigning to make way for the next big event.

Asked about what artist Stuart Immonen will be doing next, Brevoort said, “The very next thing that Stuart will do… First he’s going to take a break. After that, he’s going to draw the sixth of the six Warren Ellis Secret Avengers issues – issue 21.” After that, news to be announced.

Moving on, the group plugged that the new Defenders series will be picking up on a plot thread from the Fear Itself: Hulk vs. Dracula miniseries. Something happens in that series that leads to the need for a new incarnation of the Defenders. “It’s just the first tiny little thread on the sweater of the Marvel Universe that starts to unravel,” said Brevoort. “The Hulk needs a favor,” continued Fraction, “which is not easy for him to do.”

We then asked what characters to look at going forward who AREN’T Thor, Iron Man or Cap. Brevoort plugged that, “You’ll be seeing a lot more of Valkyrie, she’s very important going forward; Daisy Johnson and the proto-SHIELD Hickman introduced in Secret Warriors, the new character in Battle Scars, the faceless shadowy guy. The Forgiven are pretty important.”

Fraction continued, “It’s sort of a cop out answer, but at the end of these things we amp up the attention that all of these characters can get. We shook up the picnic blanket, so it’s an opportunity line-wide to show off almost everybody.”

Summing up, Fraction plugged that the end of Fear Itself is symmetrical to the beginning of the book, and all questions would be answered.

And Brevoort mentioned that the shadowy figure in Battle Scars is a character people would recognize, but they don’t want to tip their hands yet.

Shattered Heroes kicks off in November from Marvel Comics, at stores everywhere. And despite what you might have heard, there was no extensive discussion between Brubaker and Fraction about a new character named DogMan, who gains his powers by eating dogs. Nope, none at all.

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