Published May 2, 2017

Secret Empire: Uncovering the Underground

Artist Eric Koda shares his insights into the Savage Land and more!

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War makes strange bedfellows and that might not be any clearer than in the pages of SECRET EMPIRE: UNDERGROUND by writer Jeremy Whitey and artist Eric Koda. The tie-in coming June 7 brings together the likes of Quicksilver, Hercules, Sam Wilson, and Ant-Man under the leadership of Mockingbird. This unique contingent finds themselves accepting a potentially deadly, but necessary mission to the Savage Land in the ongoing war against Hydra as led by Steve Rogers.

We talked with Koda about bringing these disparate characters together, playing them off of one another, and tweaking some designs where appropriate. You’ve drawn team books in the past, but what sets the characters in UNDERGROUND apart?

Eric Koda: The guys and gal in UNDERGROUND are less flashy than the projectile-throwing, airborne firebrands that I have drawn in the past. They obey the laws of physics a little more. Did any of the team members, or maybe the adversaries showing up give you any trouble when getting a handle on their looks and styles?

Eric Koda: I would say [villains] Vertigo and Whiteout simply because I was tasked with giving them—and Lupa—an updated look. I wish I had more time to really give them a true revamp, but deadlines. Sam Wilson obviously has a huge tie to Steve Rogers. Has he changed his look at all since Cap came out as the head of Hydra?

Eric Koda: Yes: constant brooding. Also a more basic, military-inspired costume, which I didn’t design. I was going off of the great Elizabeth Torque’s [CAPTAIN AMERICA: SAM WILSON] cover. She and I go way back to DeviantArt—she probably doesn’t remember though. In drawing these characters together, have you found any nice surprises about how they physically play off of one another?

Eric Koda: I really liked Mockingbird’s reactions to the hyper-testosterone filled environment that was constantly at play. Lotta eye-rolling. How fun is it drawing these classic heroes in the Savage Land?

Eric Koda: Crazy fun. The issues of UNCANNY X-MEN featuring the Savage Land were a huge inspiration to me growing up. First with [Chris] Claremont [and John] Byrne and then Claremont/[Jim] Lee. People still cosplay as characters in their Savage Land costumes! How has it been working with Jeremy so far?

Eric Koda: Jeremy has been great: super helpful, accessible, and supportive. His writing is on point and he has an amazing sense of humor. Hopefully this won’t be the last time we work together!

Travel to the Savage Land and join the resistance in SECRET EMPIRE: UNDERGROUND, coming June 7 from Jeremy Whitley and Eric Koda!