In the first few episodes of the back half of season 2, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has dealt with Inhumans, Krees, visiting Asgardian warriors, secrets, and father-daughter conflicts—and has done so without its main Hydra antagonist. Grant Ward hasn’t been seen since the fall finale, where after being shot by Skye, he was last glimpsed teaming up with a distraught Agent 33 (Maya Stojan), someone who had also been abandoned by Whitehall’s untimely death.
Next week, however, that will all change. “Love In The Time of Hydra” not only brings about Ward’s return, but Agent 33’s return, as well. And as the art for this week teases, she’ll be keeping with the trend of wearing many different faces.
Given her penchant of bringing characters to life through expressive drawings that resonate with readers, Annie Wu was the obvious choice for this week’s art. Aside from her stellar work on Marvel’s acclaimed Hawkeye series (written by Matt Fraction), Wu also lends her talents to Adult Swim’s The Venture Bros.; currently, she’s serving as a storyboard revisionist for the show’s sixth season. She recently co-created the new Batgirl with writer Scott Peterson, and her next project will be illustrating DC Comics’ upcoming Black Canary solo series, written by Brendan Fletcher, out this June. Oh, and you might also know her from some work she’s done for EW.
In our weekly exclusive chat, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s executive producer Jeff Bell breaks down Wu’s art and teases what we can expect with Ward’s return.
EW: I’ve been a fan of Annie Wu for a long time, and her style is so perfect for this piece given what you’ve chosen to show from this episode. This art has so many layers: the double images, the fact that Skye and Agent May are represented visually, and then there’s the fun connection that Agent 33 did wear May’s face in an earlier episode. So much is represented here in an artistically fun way.
JEFF BELL: I also like how this contrasts with last week’s. Internally, we joke and talk about Agent Ward is the “best boyfriend ever!” and you’ll see that in this episode.
So this is the first time we’ve seen Ward since the show has come back. I assume we’ll find out what he’s been up to while our team has been dealing with Skye’s powers?
We call this “Love In The Time of Hydra,” and so you’re going to see what happened. At the end of “What They Become,” which was our mid-season finale, Agent 33 and Ward limp off together towards the sunset. And this episode will bring us up to date and see what that has meant. And as the poster suggests, love is in the air.
Love is in the air with who? That’s my question!
Well, what I love about the poster is he’s holding two women. And if you focus on the red you see the one, but if you focus on the blue, you see the other. And half of that goes to Agent 33, who has two faces—who doesn’t know who she is, who has no real memory of that. And it also goes to the fact that she’s been imitating other people as she did with Agent May. And so it’s sort of this dichotomy in the romantic way the red girl is looking up at him, and the way the blue one leans into him like he’s all dreamy. I mean, it’s really twisted. [Laughs]
And the red girl also is branded with the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo.
Because Agent 33 was initially a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent before Hydra took her and destroyed her. So that’s all there. And a big part of the story in episode 14 is about these two.
Speaking of the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo, I love how it’s been popping up here and also in all the previous artwork. It’s so different than from last year, when there was so much Hydra.
We’re in a Hydra-light part of the season. We started off pretty Hydra-heavy, and right now we have our hands full with more personal matters. We have Skye with her new ability, and so Hydra has been less of a threat, and it’s been nice for us to feel a little more diversity in terms of the kinds of stories we can tell by having Sif and the Kree show up and “One of Us,” which looks at Skye’s father and his band of fun folk. It’s just really bringing Ward into his own as an antagonist.
And it also helps expands the universe of the show.
There’s some fun twists and turns in the episode. There’s one act out that they’ll probably put as a teaser that I think will get a lot of people talking, and that’s all I’ll say. We love our act-outs, and there’s one where hopefully you go “What? No way!” That’s the hope.
I know it’s been mentioned that we’ll see Agent 33 continue to try on “new” faces…can you tease if anyone else on the team is getting the “double” treatment?
I think we can assume many things! [Laughs]
“Love In The Time of Hydra” airs Tuesday, March 24 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC. Be sure to check in at EW to see the exclusive reveal of next week’s art for episode 15, “One Door Closes.” The art for “Love In The Time Of Hydra” will go on sale on Friday, March 20 at www.marvelshop.com/agentsofshield as a $49.99 print (limited to 100 copies) at 12:30 a.m. PT.
More coverage from EW on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The Art of Evolution: