I recently approached Cullen Bunn with the hopes of discussing Fearless Defenders which he currently writes (along with number of other titles sprinkled between Marvel and Oni).
Fearless Defenders is the latest iteration of The Defenders which this time around features an all-female cast of characters. It shares little connection to the classic team, other than having Valkyrie on the line up.
Issues so far have been steeped in off-the-wall humor with snappy dialogue and frank character interactions with artwork complimenting this vibe. It is definitely a nice alternative to the Avengers/X-Men heavy team books being put out at the moment by Marvel. Issue 9 hits shelves on 11th September (with interior art by Willian Sliney).
Lucky for you readers then that he agreed to talk about his work on the Fearless Defenders (with a few extra questions), here is the exchange we made with Cullen;
Big Comic Page: Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions especially giving how prolific a writer you seem to be at the moment you have been of course the writer on Fearless Defenders, Deadpool Kills Deadpool and more at Marvel as well as The Sixth Gun and Helheim over at Oni. How do you find the time?
Cullen Bunn: Well, the good news is, this is my (more than) full-time job, and I write from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday. I also write a bit at night and on weekends. And I drink a lot of coffee and Diet Mountain Dew. The only thing that stops me are bathroom breaks and the inevitable kidney stone!
BCP: So speaking of Fearless Defenders, How are you finding it writing a woman character but you are writing several in the same issues so how does it differ from when you write male characters like say a Deadpool?
CB: You know, I don’t ever sit down and say, “Today I have to write some ‘strong female characters!’” I think it is much more important to try to write strong characters—period. I approach these characters as human beings with different personalities. If I approach it in that way… with every character having a different personality and voice… it gets a little easier.
BCP: You have also gave more of a spotlight to lesser used Marvel characters in the title like Hippolyta, Is this your decision or do you have carte blanch of characters you can use in the team?
CB: I don’t have completely free reign, but there is a great deal of flexibility. With this book, I wanted to focus on characters who are not appearing in a dozen other books at the moment. I wanted to show off some amazing characters that readers might not be familiar with…who don’t get the time in the spotlight that they deserve.
I also think using these lesser known characters gives the book the off-beat feel it needs.
BCP: You also gave Hippolyta the “Warrior Woman” moniker as a playful and on he nose homage to a certain other Amazon, How do you manage to keep her as her own distinct character?
CB: With Hippolyta, I wanted to counterbalance the relative seriousness of Valkyrie. We’ve seen her before in the Marvel Universe, but she died a horrible death. Now that she’s back, I wanted her to have this fun-loving attitude, similar to what we used to see with Hercules. She’s been giving a second lease on life, and she wants to savor each and every moment.
She loves being a super hero. She loves a challenge.
But she hates being called Warrior Woman.
BCP: The last issue [#8] had only showed a little of the consequences of Valkyrie being bonded to the recently deceased Dr. Annabelle Riggs. Will this come into further play in upcoming issues?
Annabelle and Valkyrie are going to have a hard time coping with these changes.
Actually, Valkyrie will have an easier time of it than Annabelle, but both of them will have some severe headaches.
BCP: What else can your readers expect in upcoming issues of Fearless Defenders?
CB: Issue 9 features the guest appearances of Venom, Dr. Strange, Hercules, Iron Fist, Werewolf By Night, X-Man, and Cannonball!
Issue 10 is an Infinity tie-in and dance-themed issue! It features the first appearance of a new character.
Issue 11 is an Amazon-focused issue.
The next several issues are all stand alone stories. But there will be an overarching thread as we see Caroline Le Fay gathering her forces—the new Doom Maidens!
BCP: How does your all female team of heroes stack against those from the current X-Men title?
CB: Do you mean who would win in a fight?
Well, come on…
Hippolyta alone could probably take out the X-Men.
And with Valkyrie, Misty, Clea, Elsa Bloodstone in tow?
Of course, I don’t think they’d fight. The Defenders are over the whole “let’s fight other super heroes” thing.
BCP: As previously mentioned you have written Deadpool Kills Deadpool and Last years Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe and lastly Deadpool Killustrated… Is there anyone left for you to have Deadpool kill?
CB: There’s always someone for him to kill!
But Deadpool Kills Deadpool definitely wraps up the Killogy that I started with Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe.
There are other stories to tell…
BCP: You have written quite extensively for Oni press especially on The Sixth Gun, Are there plans to continue this?
CB: I love working with Oni Press. I’ve done The Sixth Gun, The Damned, The Tooth, and Helheim with them. And I have more projects in the works with them. I’d love to tell you all about them, because they’re awesome! But hopefully you’ll know more soon!
BCP: And now for some less specific project specific questions but what was your first real break into comics or writing?
CB: I did some short comic strips for Futurequake years ago, but my first major break was with The Damned, the crime-meets-demons book from Oni Press. This book was actually my first collaboration with the artist on The Sixth Gun—Brian Hurtt. There’s a trade paperback out there that everyone should check out. [The Damned Volume 1: is available here on Amazon.]
BCP: Are there any writers that you attribute this to IE who does Cullen Bunn read when he isn’t writing?
CB: In comics, I have many favorites. Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis, Jason Aaron, Scott Snyder, Matt Kindt… the list goes on and on.
BCP: Which characters or titles left out there that you would like a crack at writing most?
CB: Ghost Rider is at the top of that list.
BCP: And finally, What do you have upcoming which you would like to talk about?
CB: For now, I’d tell folks to check out The Sixth Gun, Fearless Defenders, and Deadpool Kills Deadpool. Check back with me in a few months, though, because there are several projects that should be announced by then!
Big thaks to Cullen for finding the time in his packed schedule to answer those questions for you, if you wish to follow Cullen’s work then catch his tweets @cullenbunn and of course his website at Cullenbunn.com.
It should be noted I arranged the interview prior to recent developments with Venom or I may have got the lowdown on it, But It was always my intention to keep chat Defenders orientated, Perhaps next time we chat to Cullen we can chat about his work on the title.