Hi, everyone! Welcome to the Spec-Ops Team 2 Behind The Scenes Extra which takes a look at the thought process which went into making the sequel as well as the ideas behind the Spec-Ops Team: Other Lives One-Shot and a look at what's to come.
First off, when I knew I was doing another story, I knew I would have to focus on the Inhumans. Fortunately, I always had the plan to make Katie an Inhuman as well as the fact that her mother would be a classic Marvel Villainess to be a counterbalance to Calvin Zabo. I was always a fan of Princess Python and realized she had much potential for a Marvel TV Series or Netflix Series. However, I also decided to give her a bit of a modernization much like AoS gave Cal because the whole 'Circus Performer thing' might not have fit as well in this continuity. As such, my version of Zelda DuBois is a veterinarian thus explaining how she knows about snakes and taming them. Afterwards I went about on creating her motivations for protecting Katie. Most of it came from my own mother, during a time when I was really sick as a child and she did everything she could to help me which thankfully worked out in the end. Zelda in this version is the idea of a person who is willing to go to more extremes and darker places that my family would never go to, just to ensure her child was perfect which is ultimately what made me decide to make her a genetically-manipulated Inhuman, grown in the womb artificially to ensure she'd have the correct genes to become Inhuman but at the cost of other people's lives. Other influences for my take on Zelda DuBois included the late great Betsy Palmer who played Pamela Voorheese in the original Friday the Thirteenth films, and a bit of the insane lightheartedness of Christian Bale's Patrick Bateman in 'American Psycho.' While we're on the subject of inspiration, people have often asked me who should portray the Spec-Ops Team Main Cast if they were on-screen. I honestly have no answer for that, but if this version of Zelda DuBois were put on film or TV, I could see one actress playing that role; Carrie Fisher. In addition to being an instantly recognizable name, Carrie is a wonderful mother and animal lover in real-life. And if you look at her in Blues Brothers, you can see she plays a psychopath on-par with her Star Wars co-star Mark Hamill.
Another thing I thought about instantly was what Katie's powers would eventually be like. I decided on light-based powers because Katie is a big ball of light to both important parental figures in her life. To Arthur, she's the embodiment of the best that a person can become through effort and good spirit, meaning that there's a brighter future for those people. To her mother, Katie is the embodiment of the light at the end of a very long and pitch-black tunnel that she's had to travel along for years.
For Katie, "Season 1" was her triumph of greatness. Helping to save the world and learn the value of helping because it's the right thing to do was the equivalent of Luke Skywalker using the force to blow up the Death Star in Episode IV. So naturally "Season 2" was kind of a mix of "The Empire Strikes Back" and "The Dark Knight Rises." Here, Katie's life is suddenly shattered and everything is flipped on its head. She finally learns the truth of her parents and her history, but it's not at all what she wanted. Katie's Dad is dead and her mother's a very disturbed woman who believes kidnapping her daughter and forcing her into some kind of transformation is the best thing for Katie, whether she likes it or not. And that's only the tip of the iceberg for her. After learning this, Katie accidently murders and loses her friends, kills people she doesn't mean to, and is forced to accept that these powers of hers cannot be taken away permanently. However, by persevering through her life, Katie is able to rise from the darkness and regain control over her life once more. As we'll see next season, Katie will become more focused in using her abilities and actually learn to combine them with the other skills she's learned.
Arthur's story was also something I already had a plan for and knew where Arthur was going. In fact, I knew right from the get-go that after getting a promotion, finding the thrill in enjoying his job and not being so serious about it, Arthur would owe Katie everything. To me, Arthur isn't just Katie's Supervising Officer, he's sort-of like the older brother she never had and he sees her as a younger sister who he's promised to keep safe from no matter what. When introducing Katie's Mom, I realized she and Arthur would have different perspectives on Katie's current state. On Arthur's side, Katie is perfect the way she is and he feels Zelda is just some insane woman who wants Katie back for selfish reasons and doesn't deserve her since Zelda left Katie all alone and is only now coming back to her. In Zelda's eyes, Arthur is someone who took Katie without permission and did everything that Zelda could never do while she lost a husband and had to sacrifice raising Katie to avoid being detected, while Arthur arrested her and then groomed her to his idea of "perfection." However, I made sure Arthur would not be as jaded as he was previously as we can see when he forgives Katie's mom after she tells him Katie's true inhuman origins. He's more forgiving now and even admits that he always knew that despite everything he taught Katie, there was one thing he couldn't give her; her true mother. As for Arthur being the one to lose his hand, I decided to do that because I wanted Katie to come to another realization at what abandoning her team almost cost her in the end, and this felt like the best way to do it. It mirrors Coulson's near-death experience in The Avengers and as Coulson points out, he won't let someone as willing to take a bullet as Arthur die so easily ever again. Next season will see Arthur a bit more relaxed taking some time off himself, but ever as crafty and cunning as before. There will also be some emotional parts so prepare to have your tissues ready because those tears are going to flow hard by the mid-season point.
After figuring out where the real main players would go from there, it was all about finding new characters and giving the ones we knew motivation. Tyler's would be motivation from the extended hatred caused by the continued loss of his loved ones. This is coupled with the fact that because without Arthur, not only would his mother be alive, but so would Maya with a very healthy child. Tyler was going to be a godfather, or as close to a father as he could be. But once again, Arthur took something precious from him and now Tyler and Ward have a common goal; destroy S.H.I.E.L.D. to avenge the deaths of those its leaders took away from them. This will be a major turning point in the Spec-Ops Team 3, as we'll see the hatred come to a boiling point, and Arthur and Tyler will have words (and fists).
Bruce and Sabrina were also another point where their love for each other grew immensely. I wasn't going to have them as a couple in the first story, but everyone asked me if there would be a romance and the story wrote itself from there. Because of this, you can bet your ass that Bruce will be just as hell-bent (if not more) than Fitz was in trying to reclaim Sabrina from Maveth, and Sabrina might be coming back to Earth with a worse 'welcome home' than what Simmons had in cannon. I won't say anything yet, but some things might end up similar yet also very different to how we saw them on S.H.I.E.L.D. While we're on the subject of Bruce and Sabrina, I might as well give my reasons for the question I'm sure we've all asked; why did I have Sabrina get sucked up into Maveth instead of Simmons? Well, that's because the ending changed a couple of times even before I lost some of my data. Originally, I was going to have Katie fall in love and leave the team only to have her own boyfriend gunned down by some of Ward's guys as help for what Arthur's team did to Maya. However that felt too cruel and when my laptop data got screwed up, I decided to end it similarly to how I ended the Spec-Ops Team 1. Originally, I had it written so that both Sabrina and Simmons were sucked up into Maveth, but then I stopped and thought. As much as I like Simmons, I still felt like the scene with her and Will was too much for me. It was then I began thinking "what if Simmons HADN'T been sucked up? Would she and Fitz still be together? Would someone else have taken her place? Would that have made Simmons grow more apart from Fitz and cause her to become more hell-bent than he was in saving that person?" It suddenly dawned to me it would become more natural to have Sabrina be the one to make the trip rather than Simmons. Remember; the last time we saw them share a proper scene together after Katie got her powers, Simmons was explaining her concern that Katie's powers might actually be potentially high enough to match the solar levels of the sun, in response, Sabrina accused Simmons of playing 'what if' rather than trying to look at every fact and hit her with the worse insult: implying that if Fitz had those powers, Simmons might be willing to pull the plug on him as well (which I know she wouldn't personally, but it is still something to question.) As such, this is just after they've seemingly begun to patch things up, but just as Simmons is about to open that door, that's when Sabrina proves that much like Arthur, she too is ready to forgive. Without even being told, she pushes Simmons out of the way and is sucked up by the monolith instead after being in the spot where Simmons was. Fun fact also, the part where Sabrina is trying desperately to hold onto the door and pull herself back off is something I'd imagine being an homage to Army of Darkness which I referenced in the last story a number of times. If you haven't watched it, go do so now.
Jessica was a bit trickier though. I had plans to do more with her, but due to my computer problems a lot of it got lost. Fortunately, this is where Desmond came in. Sometime after I had updated the submissions guideline for the Spec-Ops Team 2 Characters, scrawlx1012 submitted an idea for a new character who could act as another pilot as well as a therapist to try and help Tyler. Surprisingly, this ended up playing well in my favor for both a replacement for Jess, and having Jessica be the reason Desmond staying after Tyler was transferred. I also have plans for Desmond next season, but I'll keep that secret until then. The only one I didn't get to do a lot with was Faye, but I have some plans I'll be sharing very soon for the Spec-Ops Team 3, so keep your eyes peeled!
Speaking of new characters, like I mentioned before, a lot of my notes for the new characters got lost, but fortunately I managed to save as many as I could so I hope I did them justice. Perhaps my favorite were actually Patrick and Lis created by memorysdaughter. Not only were they two very interesting characters to write (I have plans for them in the Spec-Ops Team 3, that might actually surprise a few of you,) but I also learned more about real-life diseases thanks to her when she explained how Lis's transformation would be her crutch by comparing her condition to that of spinal muscular atrophy. For those who are not aware, the story explains it best as a genetic muscle wasting disease that leaves some kids dead by their second birthday even with the most advance and expensive medical equipment. Those who live past that however are sadly left without the ability to breath or swallow, and preventing those who have it from learning to stand or walk, leaving them in a very uncomfortable position. Hopefully I've helped raised awareness and perhaps this will inspire others to look into it and see what can be done to help as I have.
My own Inhuman submission, Max Jerry, was meant to be an example of a character who wasn't evil but just mislead or misinformed and sadly didn't know better. If you look at a number of Golden Age comics, even writers back then realized that not all people during World War II were evil and that there were just as many victims of the war as there were those who gave their lives for America. It's something that sadly has been misinterpreted in recent years and still goes on today, but Max was made as the reminder that not everybody was following her because they had to, but because they honestly believed it was for the greater good. Patrick and Lis are the representation that people don't always have to listen, while Max is the representation of those who do listen, but want to believe it's for a noble cause.
MagatsuIza's Michael Weis and Bailey B's Adira Lester were also fun characters to use for the reasons of mind-altering and hallucinations. I originally had plans for their mind powers to present a sort-of Nightmare on Elm Street-inspired landscape for the mental world, but obviously that didn't go as planned. Still, I feel like I did them justice.
The Cloudy Lady's September Lindon was a character who unfortunately had to come in at the last second but fortunately I gave her a good reason to show up at the end becoming the first in Katie's new Inhuman Team that will work with Skye's team in future chapters of the next story.
FITZSIMMONSFAN's Kiera Smith was another character who unfortunately didn't get a lot of time here as I would've liked, but I promise to try and do more next time around. Ironically, she was only one of the two characters that were submitted for Gonzalez's team.
Speaking of which, that brings us to our favorite brothers; Jason and Thomas Steele created by Stormrunner74. He came a bit late to the OC game, but we talked and he gave me the idea of Jason that was so good I could not resist using him. Afterwards, we came up with the idea that his brother had secretly survived the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. and was onboard the Illiad when the craft went down. As a result, we ended up creating a fight scene heavily inspired by the movie Red 2, wherein a similar fight scene occurs to the one where Thomas takes down the HYDRA Agents. I was even surprised when I mentioned how my plans were for the two and how much our collaboration resulted in what seems like the perfect reason for Jason to stay onboard now. I think there was even a point where we discussed the idea of Jason dying and Thomas going on, but I think it worked out best that Jason survived and forgave his brother in the end, promising to honor him and his girlfriend by sticking with S.H.I.E.L.D. Next story Jason has a lot of changes including a bit of a new appearance that I can't say too much about. All I'll give is a hint to what I thought of when I read the character description; "I am the one who knocks."
Now for the HYDRA Baddies. I already knew this story would end with Tyler joining HYDRA, but what I did not expect was NN010 coming up with another great character to act as one of the many heads of HYDRA. Roger James Smith was an interesting villain to play with acting as the more sensible of the group to Dr. Whitehall. My own personal first OC to HYDRA, Maya, was designed as his way of getting them to lay off constantly asking for contributions instead of making his own plans. Hence the reason for his downfall, cause as Tyler points out it was really funny (for Tyler and Maya at least) to see Roger wake up and realize his goals were shattered and now he'd never achieve or even care about them anymore.
On the subject of Roger James Smith, that brings us to NN010's other creation of Nick Dylan Jones. NN010 had actually originally submitted Nick for the Spec-Ops Team 1, but when I mentioned I couldn't have a use for him here, we made him more of a character for the Spec-Ops Team 2. The idea of him being an inhuman was always NN010's idea, and when he explained that to me, I always knew he was going to be one of the ones who would help Katie transition.
And now for the main S.H.I.E.L.D. OC's. My two contributions of Abby and Tabatha had already appeared in the Spec-Ops Team 1, and when I knew Katie would become an Inhuman, I knew that she was going to accidently kill them. Their sacrifice is a reminder to Katie that as much as she loves her job, there are casualties in there and that includes people close to her as well.
Rose Anderson was another interesting choice because originally Chole999 wanted to make her start off with the Inhumans, but since she knew Donnie Gil, I felt it was best to have her with S.H.I.E.L.D. first and then have the Inhumans kidnap her and brainwash her. Don't worry though, we'll be getting more of Rose as well next story with some insight into her past.
Bamboozeled's Alice-Jane 'AJ' Worthing was another idea I decided to use since I knew there would be some darker elements, I threw her in as some comic relief and lightheartedness for the more darker parts of the story.
Then there was SayHiToNeverland's Franco Adessi. From the moment I ended Spec-Ops Team 1 with Arthur having inherited Coulson's position, I always knew that when the second story began, Arthur would have already secured a liaison for S.H.I.E.L.D. to answer to him or those he trusted much like how Coulson did with Deathlok in Season 2. SayHiToNeverland's submission was nothing short of a miracle with an interesting character and riveting backstory which I might use more of in the next story.
As for the chapters themselves, the comic con one came instantly to me as I was writing this and the San Diego convention was right around the corner. It allowed for so many pop culture references that I couldn't resist and I'm glad to see a lot of you liked it.
Perhaps the best chapter for me was writing my own Avengers: Age of Ultron tie-in. I felt the tie-in we got on TV was 'okay,' but not perfect. I felt like there should've been more involvement like how the first season had the battle taking place simultaneously with the final act of Winter Soldier. Thus, I decided to add another chapter that would include the team helping to save as many people alongside the Avengers. This was also the perfect opportunity to showcase how any of us might react to working alongside the Avengers in real life.
Now for the revelation of Katie's true Inhuman origins. Believe it or not, I was originally going to leave Katie as an Inhuman by natural birth with no problems. But when I lost some of my data, and had to rewrite, I began thinking; what if one of the reasons Zelda was being so over protective was because there was a darker secret she had hidden from everyone? It was then that I came up with the chapter explaining Katie's true origins and the ultimate reason as to why Zelda helps the team to redeem herself and put things right for all the people she's hurt through her actions. And thankfully she not only redeems herself despite having to kill one last person to do so, but "saves" Cal from becoming a full monster. As much as I liked how Cal took care of Jiaying in cannon, I felt this moment was too emotional to pass up. Zelda points out how much she cares for him despite everything and proves it by not letting Cal have to suffer alone.
So now that you know all that, I can talk about my trip to Wizard World in Portland, Oregon. Unfortunately, the Cropping isn't going so well, so I'm going to fix that for the image itself, but some of the S.H.I.E.L.D. swag I got from my journey as the fanfic cover. This includes a S.H.I.E.L.D. #1 Sketch Cover by Simon Fraser (artist of Judge Dredd and the Doctor Who: Eleventh Doctor Comics) of Arthur and Katie (I let him choose their design since like with J.K. Rowling creating Hermonie, Arthur and Katie only had a very minimalistic description in which any actor could play them,) and you might be noticing me with Simmons. I originally wanted to bring my good tux for Arthur, but it wouldn't fit in my suitcase so I just chose to cosplay with a 'training workout' costume. As mentioned, those of you who gave 'thank you notes' to her I handed in along with this story. Her reaction? Well, I'll let the autographed picture that says 'keep on writing' say it all for you. And that's also her message to all of us; keep on writing. Because the world we live in; there's a lot of sick people out there who want to censor us, but we're not gonna let it happen. Cause as the song goes, "we're not gonna take it anymore." As for her reaction to the story, when I showed her what I changed from the finale, her mouth dropped just as Simmons did when I wrote this scene in my mind and as a result, she ended up asking me when I wrote this, my inspirations for this story, etc. etc. And bear in mind, this was at an autograph signing. I was admittedly one of the first few people in line, but still. So overall, she liked it and left me with a great feeling and a big smile on my face.
So now that I've talked at length about the Spec-Ops Team 2, let's talk about the anniversary story, The Spec-Ops Team: Other Lives. Before 2016, I realized that I had the potential to do a '1-Year Anniversary Story' similar to what comics do whenever they have an annual (which isn't often now sadly especially from Marvel who keep rebooting and relaunching everything). However, because I was already working on Spec-Ops Team 2 and planning with 3, I opted to do a story set between Parts 1 & 2, as a sort-of 1.5 story. When I was planning, I was also working on a roleplaying game dealing with alternate universes and a theory that for every person in our universe, there exists at least one parallel version who is the opposite gender. Instantly, my mind began processing an idea of a universe where Arthurine Williams was a bad*** female S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent who trained Carl Sheila, street-punk-turned-super-spy, and the idea was too good to resist. Another thing that helped was I had written a story before The Spec-Ops Team 1 in which Coulson tries stopping someone who has their hands on alien technology and rips a hole to our reality where Coulson is played by an actor named Clark Gregg. Simultaneously, the show has talked about parallel worlds before, so I felt it would be natural that HYDRA might try to open the gateway (if you'll pardon the pun) to explore limitless possibilities.
And so after informing my followers of my plan, I began writing down the other gender swapped characters and thankfully this was a blast and probably will turn out better than a certain franchise that is trying to genderswap, but is really just causing true die-hard fans who have enough sense left in them to shout something that begins with 'Be' and ends with 'Trayal!' I think one of my favorite moments was when Arthur met Tyria and interrogated her. I only wish now I would've shown Arthurine's reaction to meeting Tyler and having him hit on her unaware that she's Arthur from another dimension. I can picture her gagging in her mouth and swallowing her barf.
I actually didn't know how to end this story until I realized that since this was set between spec-ops Team 1 & 2, this would be the perfect opportunity to have a 'side-story' and reveal that in both universes, Katie's Mother (and in the gender swapped world, her father) were secretly watching Katie/Carl from the sidelines along with Cal/Catherine.
So, next up for the Spec-Ops Team 3? Well, as I mentioned at the end of the 'Other Lives' story, the team's inheriting the former SSR California Division Base now modified to include new things while still retaining some of the old devices. Sabrina's stuck on Maveth and while Will does show up, things might happen slightly different than they did in-cannon. How you may ask? Well, just wait and see. But aside from that, I can confirm that Lash is not going to be the only threat they face, nor will the resurrected Grant Ward. And I'm not saying Tyler's going to be the only bad guy as well. You'll just have to see like I said.
So there you have the 'Spec-Ops Team 2: BTS Feature.' Hope you enjoyed and I'll see you in a couple of months for Part 3!