This May, the Marvel Universe gets a major reimagining in the form of Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic’s Secret Wars miniseries, which is serving as a launchpad for numerous new projects offering different takes on familiar Marvel characters. For the series 1872, by writer Gerry Duggan and artist Evan “Doc” Shaner, Marvel’s flagship characters are reimagined in a Wild West setting, with Sheriff Steve Rogers maintaining the law in the town of Timely (the original name of Marvel Comics) as familiar heroes like Anthony Stark and Bruce Banner enter his orbit. Here’s the official solicitation info and Alex Maleev’s cover for the first issue:
Written by GERRY DUGGAN
Penciled by EVAN “DOC” SHANER
Cover by ALEX MALEEV
Variant Cover by EVAN “DOC” SHANER
REAL HEROES DIE WITH THEIR BOOTS ON
- SHERIFF STEVE ROGERS faces corruption and fear in the boom town of TIMELY.
- The only thing ANTHONY STARK seems capable of is pulling a cork, so can he pull Rogers’ fat from the fire?
- But…a stranger comes to town that will change Timely forever…for anyone left standing, that is.
Duggan and Shaner shared some insights into the development of 1872 with The A.V. Club via e-mail, detailing the book’s birth, the appeal of Marvel’s Western landscape, and what readers can expect from this new interpretation of Captain America, Iron Man, and the Hulk.
A.V. Club: How did you get involved with this project, Gerry?
Gerry Duggan: I pitched it. Marvel has bi-annual editorial retreats to discuss the publishing plan. I was fortunate enough to be in the room while we were discussing Jonathan & Esad’s event Secret Wars. It’s a great story on its own, and it creates a unique opportunity to reimagine some of the toys in the toybox. Luckily, 1872 was an idea that immediately had traction, our [Editor-In-Chief] Axel Alonso was very excited, and a bunch of my fellow writers and editors began shooting off some really wonderful ideas.
AVC: What excites you most about the Western Marvel landscape?
GD: Growing up, I loved comic books and Western films, so this a crack at something I’ve only dreamt about. 1872 is going to have fistfuls of action, suspense, drama and fun, but I hope that, like so many great Westerns, it will give us the chance to hold a mirror up to certain parts of this great country we live in. Sometimes the mirror ain’t that flattering.
AVC: Can we expect to see any other classic Western Marvel characters like Rawhide Kid or Two-Gun Kid?
GD: Yes! However, that’s not quite where our story opens. Those great Western characters are out there, and their time will come. This is not an exaggeration: I had close to 60 pages of notes and ideas on what this version of Marvel’s history contains before I began wrenching on an outline for the first arc. We’ll meet representations of many of these great characters…eventually.
AVC: What does Evan bring to the table? Was he your choice or Marvel’s?
GD: Evan was everyone’s first choice. I think [editor] Mark Paniccia blurted his name right away, and that’s where our list began and ended. Doc’s first sketches blew holes in our heads. He’s a brilliant artist and comic creator, and I’m going to try and set him up and then get the hell out of the way. See you this summer in Timely. Y’all best arm yourselves.
AVC: Evan, what are some of your visual inspirations for this title?
Evan Shaner: Most of my favorite artists have worked in this genre at one point or another: Jordi Bernet, Ivo Milazzo, Moebius, Victor De La Fuente, [Alex] Toth, [Joe] Kubert, and several others. Several of those Westerns are the books I’ll come back to again and again so I’ll certainly have them in mind. I’m using this book as an excuse to loosen up a little bit and that has me really excited.
AVC: How do you stay true to the spirit of an iconic character when designing for a new environment and time period?
ES: So many of these characters have such strong personalities built in that it’s largely a matter of filtering the details through the scope of 1870s America. That isn’t to say that they’re all just like their modern counterparts, but the reader should be able to spot who’s who right away. I’ve put a lot of thought into the clothing and hair and what they say about each character. Throwing in nods to familiar color schemes certainly helps too, but we’re trying to keep that subtle.
AVC: Have you done a lot of research into the time period for this book, both in terms of the real period and the Marvel period?
ES: Absolutely. I’ve always been interested in the time period and this book has given me a nice opportunity to dig a little deeper. We really want to make sure this world feels lived-in and authentic, but with the addition of what these great characters would bring to that time in history.
AVC: Is there anything you’re dying to draw on this title?
ES: I love drawing most everything that comes with working on a Western, but at this point I’ve been really excited about the characters. Playing with how they’re different from the ones we know has been so much fun. There have been plenty of characters who I know are only going to show up in the background, and every single one of them has been a blast. Without getting specific, there’s one in particular who I really hope we get a chance to do more with at some point.