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'Agents of SHIELD': Coulson and Cal take center stage in exclusive 'One of Us' art

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Marvel

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has hit the ground running since its winter hiatus. Skye’s Inhuman—and she’s struggling with how to deal with that. Bobbi and Mack’s secret is getting harder to conceal—and they’re going to have to start going to some serious lengths to keep it. The team as a whole is still reeling from this week’s reveal of Skye’s powers—which has caused tensions among them. And amnesia-riddled Asgardians and Krees notwithstanding, things are about to get even more complicated.

So it’s pretty much perfect that in order to encapsulate all these storylines, Marvel would enlist Declan Shavley and Jordie Bellaire to be the creative duo behind the art for next week’s episode, “One Of Us.” Known for their incredible work on Marvel’s popular series Moon Knight (written by Warren Ellis), Shavley and Belllaire are also artist superheroes in their own right. An illustrator who has worked on Marvel’s Deadpool and Thunderbolts, Shavley will be releasing his newest book, Injection, from Image Comics this May. An Eisner-award winning colorist, Bellaire has lent her talents to popular books such as The Wake, Pretty Deadly, Hawkeye, and Magneto.

This episode will see Cal assembling his own superpower team from The Index as he prepares to go after Coulson. We’ll also see the arrival of May’s ex-husband (Blair Underwood), a psychologist who used to work with S.H.I.E.L.D., who comes to help Skye with her new powers. But as executive producer Jeff Bell hints, “One of Us” will be a bit of a different hour in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. world. Want more scoop, including teases on what this week’s poster means for the episode? Our exclusive interview with Bell is below.

EW: The first thing that struck me about this piece is how much it looks it could be the cover of a graphic novel—just very cleanly drawn with muted colors, and the way Cal’s team is assembled, you can tell they all have distinctive personalities.

JEFF BELL: It could definitely be a big spread inside, or the cover of a comic. But I just love Coulson surrounded by villains, and the giant Cal looming over, and S.H.I.E.L.D. behind him. This was a different episode for us. We’re pretty serialized, and every now and then you want to find a way to take a little detour that keeps the emotional life of your story going, but you want to explore other corners. And this one really does that. We’re spending a lot of time with Cal in this episode, and his friends

Will these “friends of Cal” be people we recognize from the comics?

I would say if you are a diehard Marvel fan, there are names that you will know. Whenever we can, we try to pull characters from the Marvel universe. And we have Drea de Matteo from The Sopranos playing the lovely lady you’re seeing there on the right, and it’s a really fun episode. And there’s a… not darker, but more of a gothic tone to it, if that makes sense.

As gorgeous as this art is, it’s also much darker than the previous pieces, both in tone and in coloring. Obviously, you’re playing to the strengths of your artists, but are we to assume this will be a bit heavier, especially compared to the first two episodes of the season?

We’ve done some dark episodes where some terrible things happen, and this is more gothic dark with Cal and his team. In a weird way there’s a lot of… I’ve never used the phrase “sprightly joy” before in my life, but there’s this odd mirth. There’s this quality of this group together that is really fun, and even though they bear ill will for Coulson and his people, they’re rendered with a lot of love. Monica Breen, who wrote the episode, really captured a nice quality for these people—Cal and his band of misfits going up against Coulson and his band of misfits. And I think this poster really captures that. But there’s also larger-than-life looking Cal, and in many ways, he looms like that for Skye’s character—sort of as the other father figure—and in many ways, the “dark dad.” And in addition to the S.H.I.E.L.D. bird, there’s another bird. There’s a reason it’s there, as you would imagine, but I love that that’s there.

And I’m guessing we’ll find out more about that in the episode.

This episode has one of my favorite act-outs ever. And all I’ll say is birds are involved. I’ll leave it at that. I mean, you see birds on the horizon there behind them. It’s one of those, when you break the story, you go “oh, I hope it’s as fun as we think it is.” And then Monica did a lovely job writing it and Kevin Tancharoen—Maurissa [Tancharoen]’s brother—directed it, and did a wonderful job. And then the guest cast was terrific, and Clark and Chloe and Ming and our team…it came together very nicely. I’m very delighted with the episode and I hope fans will be as well, because it’s a little off the beaten path. But those are frequently my favorites.

I love the image of Cal rising above Coulson, almost as if he’s watching over him. It’s a continued reminder that we might not always see him, but he’s definitely a presence. And as he said in the premiere, he’s not done with Coulson. He’s going to make Coulson’s life miserable.

He’s a big force. He’s been a great antagonist for our team and you’ll see in the episodes to come, he continues to find ways to cause havoc. [laughs]

The poster teases a football field, which I’m guessing is where a big part of the episode takes place, but can you tease anything else about that?

I don’t think it’s a super spoiler to say that the fact that they’re on a football field in the poster reflects something that happens in the episode. People love episodes for different reasons, and sometimes it’s fun to learn a little backstory about one of the characters that you wouldn’t necessarily expect to get to know, like where they’re from or if they have siblings or what they did before…just little things that help bring the characters to life over the course of a series. And this episode does some of this for one of our characters, which is sort of fun.

There’s a lot that’s going on in this episode. Cal’s got his team assembled and Coulson is obviously dealing with that, and then we have May’s ex-husband coming back to help Skye. And the vibe I get from this seems to place Coulson in the middle of everything.

It’s not Coulson on his own, but we are sort of in a couple of different teams as we’re doing this. And the poster does a nice job of making Coulson the center of it, which we like because he’s our leader. It would be easy to imagine to imagine that just off the edge of these frames, we have any of our other characters getting ready to do something cool.

“One of Us” airs Tuesday, March 17 at 9pm ET on ABC. This art will go on sale on Friday, March 13 at www.marvelshop.com/agentsofshield as a $49.99 print (limited to 100 copies) at 12:30 a.m. PT. Be sure to check in at EW to see the exclusive reveal of next week’s art for episode 14, “Love In The Time of Hydra.”  

More coverage from EW on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The Art of Evolution:

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. launches second year of art campaign, The Art of Evolution — exclusive

Marvel’s New Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. art teases the arrival of Lady Sif — exclusive

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