This January, 2015 starts with a trip back to the 50’s, courtesy of writer Kathryn Immonen and artist Rich Ellis. OPERATION S.I.N. follows Peggy Carter and Howard Stark in a globe-trotting adventure into Cold War era Russia trailing an alien artifact that could upset the balance of international relations.
Even in the Marvel Universe, the 50’s felt very different than our modern world, so capturing that reality stood as the first challenge of bringing the book to life. All involved, however, found it to be something more than an obstacle.
“Period pieces are great in that there is no shortage of color,” starts Immonen. “The worst part of period pieces is that there is no shortage of color. But I remember having a long conversation with Jim Ottaviani a few years ago at [Toronto Comics Arts Festival] and we both strongly felt that you absolutely cannot graft the privilege of the panoptic view of history onto any character. You have to focus on the cares and concerns of a given individual.”
“To be honest, I actually find it more freeing to have this story set during the 50’s,” argues editor Jonathan Moisan. “While most big event [series] are confined to whatever is going on around them, I told Kathryn and Rich that they were more or less free to run wild with the characters and time period. While there were a few rules put in place, both Kathryn and Rich used the setting and time period to run with the ball.”
As the artist, Ellis viewed the time shift as an opportunity to break out of the norm.
“Setting the series in the 50’s is actually something I’m excited about,” he confesses. “I’m always finding reference for props, fashion, and setting for my work anyway. The only real difference in my workflow is that I get to draw all sorts of awesome 50’s fashion and cars.”
Perhaps because of their mutual willingness to meet the trials of the series head on, with excitement, Immonen and Ellis believe they have found the perfect partners to bounce down this storytelling time stream with.
“I have nothing but praise to say about working with Kathryn,” Ellis states, “She is one of the smartest writers I have had the pleasure of reading and we have been on the same page since day one.”
“My lucky streak continues,” enthuses the writer. “[Ellis’] Peggy is the best thing on two legs. Before we got started Rich sent me a list of things he likes to draw which, as it turns out, are all the things I like to writer. It’s like there’s an editorial hand in all of this or something.”
As the editorial hand in question, Moisan could not be more pleased with the duo.
“To me, there [was] no one else that could handle this story with as much finesse and style as Kathryn and Rich,” he asserts. “When we first decided that Peggy would be one of the leads, there was no one else in my mind that would write it as well as Kathryn. To me, she not only has an amazing handle on the character of Peggy Carter—based on her [previous] one-shot—but she also understands the time period and the pressures that Peggy is under when our story begins.
“As for Rich, he and I had worked together briefly on SUPERIOR FOES OF SPIDER-MAN and I always felt like [he] brought a very human aspect to his work. I knew that a story set during the Marvel Universe of the 50’s would need an artist that could not only handle the style and look of the period but also the bombastic action of the plot. To me, that sounds exactly like what Rich excels at.”
While the creative team might be a match made in heaven, the duo of Peggy Carter and Howard Stark seem a little more volatile.
“Peggy and Howard know each other and if she didn’t particularly like him before, he certainly shores up that position in the opening pages of the first issue,” teases Immonen.
Nonetheless, Stark pulls Carter back into the action through his belief that she very much does not belong behind the desk, an act of persuasion that sets them—and Woodrow McCord—directly in the path of a reorganizing HYDRA.
“The HYDRA in our book is a splinter group operating in a remote place co-opting a good part of the imprisoned Soviet brain trust,” reveals the writer.
HYDRA will not be the only recognizable vestige of the Marvel Universe Peggy and Howard will encounter. Immonen, however, plays those further details close to the vest.
“The sliding time line of the comics universe can make it difficult to figure out who we can use in a way that makes sense but I can tell you you’ll see two characters in their early days, just before they truly come into their powers,” she hints. “Also, I think my love for talking animals is well known. I’ll just leave it there.”
Looking over all the elements Moisan reaches the only conclusion he can:
“That’s a recipe for one amazing book in my opinion.”
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