'Agents of SHIELD': Penultimate art offers insight into Ward's past -- EXCLUSIVE

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Image Credit: Marvel

One season, 20 episodes, and a lot of questions later, next week’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will finally answer something that’s been on our minds since that game-changing reveal a few weeks ago: What’s the deal with Grant Ward?

“Ragtag” reveals the story behind the man turned Hydra, and during the course of the hour, we’ll learn exactly how Garrett first recruited him and how he was trained. And if that’s not enough, Coulson’s team will finally rendezvous with Garrett and his group of Hydra baddies. It’s all part of setting the stage for what promises to be an exciting, explosive, and huge season finale on May 13.

The artist behind this week’s penultimate piece in “The Art of Level 7″ collection is Emma Ríos, who is most notably known for her Marvel work on “Osborn” and “Strange” as well as “Amazing Spider-Man.” She also recently received a well-deserved Eisner award nomination for her work on Image Comics’ “Pretty Deadly.” If you thought the previous pieces were out of this world, prepare to be even more amazed at the detail and depth of Ríos’ work. Depicting significant moments in Ward’s life that we’ll soon learn about, the poster also hints at some rather ominous images — FitzSimmons possibly in trouble, and Skye looming behind the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo, as if she’s a presence that Ward can’t seem to shake.

In our weekly chat, we let executive producer Jeff Bell take the reigns in order to share his thoughts on this week’s art and the upcoming final hours. As a reminder, this art — as well as all future art in the series — will be available for purchase as a limited edition high quality print exclusively through MarvelStore.com starting at 1 a.m. PST tomorrow.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I love this piece so much. And after Tuesday’s episode, it makes so much sense visually. What struck me first, aside from the logos, was that the upper half of the poster seems to be Ward alone, while the bottom half shows him surrounded by his team. It’s a great dichotomy.
JEFF BELL:
I think you know, Emma Ríos kind of knocked it out of the park. Remember when I said I liked really clean graphic posters? And this is not. And it’s so interesting and so complex. They always submit the pencils first, and when you see the pencils it’s kind of overwhelming with all the detail. And once she gets in and colors it, it becomes organized, and your eyes know where to go, and I think it’s really lovely.

I also like how the branches of the trees are entwined in the Hydra logo at the top, and then seem to stretch into his brain, as if they’re controlling him.
I agree. I love the way it goes across his face as well.

I know from previews that this episode will deal with Ward’s history, and I love that we’re going to focus on that in light of everything we’ve seen in the past few weeks.
We feel like Ward is showing all these different colors, and we thought it might be fun to show how Ward became Ward. Nothing definitive, because we’re still driving towards our conclusion with Deathlok and Raina and Garrett and Quinn and our cavalcade of bad guys, but Ward really is front and center in this episode. And showing his relationship with Garrett, and how that was shaped over the years, was really fun. [Bill] Paxton and Brett [Dalton] did an amazing job together.

And, as the poster suggests, the episode will potentially focus on other team members as well, correct?
The episode is called “ragtag” and they’ve kind of lost everything. Maria Hill has told us as much, that there’s no more S.H.I.E.L.D., and so how do we go on and how does Coulson carry forward, when the organization that he believed in more than anything is disbanded? It seems like S.H.I.E.L.D. or no S.H.I.E.L.D. our team has to try and bring Garrett and Ward to some sort of justice and conclusion, and that’s where we’re speeding towards. And that’s a lot of what this poster suggests.

That’s actually the first impression I took away when I looked at this — I think it would’ve been easy to create a poster with just Ward as the focus, given the episode, but it really goes out of its way to involve the team in his story.
I really do feel Ward is trapped between two families, or the two pulls. Because as we learned, he really does care for Skye. And I do believe he cares for Fitz and Simmons and the whole team, to a certain extent, and that he was following orders. On the other hand, he has this deathly obligation to Garrett, and I think the poster does a nice job of capturing this. On one hand, Ward is alone, and on the other, you see him with the team, and see Skye’s face behind the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo. I think the poster captured that very nicely.

“Ragtag” airs Tuesday, May 6 on ABC at 8 p.m. ET.

More coverage from EW on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The Art of Level Seven:
‘Agents of SHIELD’ first-look art teases Clairvoyant reveal — EXCLUSIVE
‘Agents of SHIELD’: New initiative art teases team divide — EXCLUSIVE
‘Agents of SHIELD’: A cellist and a villain take center stage in latest art — EXCLUSIVE
‘Agents of SHIELD': Newest art teases Deathlok return as Skye and Ward take center stage — EXCLUSIVE

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