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DF Interview: Old name, new group: Frank Barbiere brings a monstrous take to Howling Commandos of SHIELD
By Byron Brewer
During World War II, Sgt. Nick Fury led a top-notch, multi-national unit known as the Howling Commandos. Over the years, the moniker has been used by a variety of other groups, but one of the original members plans to bring it back—after a fashion.
This fall will launch HOWLING COMMANDOS OF SHIELD by writer Frank Barbiere and artist Brent Schoonover. The new group includes monsters, aliens and a few other familiar faces all lead by Dum Dum Dugan.
Dynamic Forces sat down with Barbiere to get the 411 on this new yet traditional title.
Dynamic Forces: Frank, are you a fan of the SHIELD franchise?
Frank Barbiere: I’ve been reading AVENGERS and comics in the Marvel Universe my whole life, so the short answer is YES! I’ve always been intrigued by the different ways Marvel and the talent on their titles handle SHIELD, and I’m happy to see such a fun and interesting incarnation taking the reins these days, including the great take in the MCU/Agents of SHIELD television program. I think Marvel really struck gold when they introduced the superspy organization into a world of superheroes, and I’m glad to add and expand to that canon with Howling Commandos.
DF: How does it feel to bring this rather unique spin on the agency into the 21st century on the 50th anniversary of SHIELD stories from Marvel?
FB: As I mentioned, it’s a tremendous honor. We are introducing an all-new division of SHIELD called S.T.A.K.E.—as the name implies, they are tasked with hunting monsters and “extranormal” entities, as well as gathering information and getting to the bottom of supernatural occurrences in the Marvel U. We’ve referred to them as SHIELD’s “dirty little secret,” as only a select few are aware of their existence and they operate mostly in the shadows. I’m really excited to bring this fun new piece into the overall SHIELD puzzle!
DF: Now we have heard that Dum Dum Dugan, a member of Nick Fury's HCs back in WW II, is instrumental in putting this squad of aliens and monsters together. But is this a new Secret Wars Dum Dum or the Dum Dum from 616 continuity that was an LMD tricked into thinking himself human after the real Dum Dum died?
FB: This is the current, canonical Dum Dum who was revealed to be an LMD during the ORIGINAL SIN event. He’s still reeling from the news, having been convinced he was the living, breathing soldier, but the new Howling Commandos are helping him get centered and find his place. I’ve said it a few times already, but the book is really about identity and finding how you fit into the world—as well as the labels we’re given and what to do with them. We’ll see Dum Dum exploring his new existence and defining what it means for him to BE Dum Dum Dugan.
DF: Tell us a little bit about our cast please.
FB: We have an interesting and robust cast of characters and personalities! We have (deep breath): DUM DUM DUGAN, WAR WOLF, ZOMBIE JASPER SITWELL, MANPHIBIAN, ORRGO, HIT MONKEY, VAMPIRE BY NIGHT, TEEN ABOMINATION, and MAN-THING in our ranks! We’ve also got a special agent named KRAYE who is a bit like a mad scientist and oversees the division, as well as Maria Hill checking in remotely. We have some ALL-NEW characters I’ll be contributing as well, so I’m very excited to bring them in and round out the cast! Having such a big cast is letting me have a lot of fun with Dum Dum putting together different strike teams for different missions.
DF: So you have a Kirby monster, two '70s monsters, some I don’t know but ... Hit Monkey?
FB: Hit Monkey is a great character! He’s proving to be a lot of fun, and I really look forward to diving into some of the history that was laid down in his series a few years back. It’s been my personal goal to turn Hit Monkey and Man-Thing into this year’s Rocket and Groot…but time will tell, haha. Writing these characters is a blast, especially the unique ones like Hit Monkey where you can really think outside the box with their action sequences!
DF: Frank, which cast member have you enjoyed writing thus far?
FB: I think I touched on it a bit, but I’m really fond of doing crazy sequences with Hit Monkey. I think Dum Dum is really taking shape to be a unique and interesting iteration of the character; his quest for identity really drives the whole book, and permeates through to each of the characters, and I think he’s going to be the heart that brings readers back for more month after month.
DF: Can you tell us a little about the tone of the book and the initial storyline?
FB: The first issue has our whole team squaring off against a bunch of PLANT ZOMBIES on an oil tanker. We’re coming in big, getting to the cast and what makes each of them special, and having a blast while doing so! Brent’s artwork has such a great tone to it, and I think adds some excellent levity to the content that could be very “hard-boiled” if done in a different style. We are really emphasizing fun and action, as well as some humor, but it’s the characters at the heart of the book and Brent has just done such a great job with their acting and emoting on the page.
DF: Finally, what do you think about the art of Brent Schoonover?
FB: As I started to mention, Brent is absolutely wonderful. Along with colorist Nick Filiardi, I couldn’t ask for better collaborators on this book—I think they’ve really given it a visual style all its own and it will really stand out on the shelves. I have to shout out our awesome editor Jon Moisan for bringing us together—a lot of people don’t realize how instrumental editors are in bringing teams together and creating the tone of the book, but Jon has a great eye and I think we’ve really hit something special. Brent has also done such impressive and unique design work and continues to amaze me with all the crazy stuff I’m throwing at him each issue, haha! He’s a true collaborator and I can’t wait for readers to see the fruits of our labor starting in October!
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Frank Barbiere for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. Howling Commandos of SHIELD #1 from Marvel hits stores in October!
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