Enjoy the latest episode of the official Marvel podcast, with comics, movies, TV, games, and more!

Hello Marvelites, get pumped because we’ve got a brand new episode of This Week in Marvel!

Get ready for “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as the official Marvel podcast takes a look back at the comics that inspired the film! Ben talks with Bill Rosemann for a special #TWIMURC where they talk GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (1:28:19). Ryan and Ben review some of this week’s comic releases including MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR and HULK. Ben talks to editors Wil Moss, Tom Brevoort, and Alanna Smith to bring you some fresh comics news (59:54). Over on the West Coast, Christine talks to Tim Hernandez and Danny Koo to get you the scoop on ‘Marvel Vs. Capcom: Infinite‘ and the latest Guardians of the Galaxy event across five Marvel games (1:15:01). And tons more!

Download episode #287 of This Week in Marvel from Marvel.com, check out Marvel Podcast Centralgrab the TWiM RSS feed and subscribe to This Week in Marvel on iTunes, so you never miss an episode! We are now also on Soundcloud! Head over now to our new hub to listen to the full run of This Week in Marvel!

This Week in Marvel will focus on delivering all the Marvel info on news and new releases–from comics to video games to toys to TV to film and beyond! New episodes will be released every Thursday (or so) and TWiM is co-hosted by Marvel VP & Executive Editor of Digital Media Ryan “Agent M” Penagos and Marvel Editorial Director of Digital Media Ben Morse, along with Marvel.com Editor Marc Strom, Marvel.com Assistant Editor Christine Dinh, and Manager of Video & Content Production Blake Garris. We also want your feedback, as well as questions for us to answer on future episodes!  Tweet your questions, comments and thoughts about TWiM to @AgentM@BenJMorse, @chrissypedia or @Marvel with the hashtag #ThisWeekinMarvel!

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Meet the men who preceded T’Challa and Shuri as protectors of Wakanda!

If there’s one perk to the job of being The Black Panther that T’Challa, king of Wakanda may value most, it’s not the wealth, its not the technology, and it’s not the special panther abilities—it’s access to all those who held the post before him.

That’s right: centuries worth of Black Panthers stand ready to advise and inspire T’Challa, Shuri, or whoever wears the mantle from the Great Beyond, and they’ll really need them in May 24’s BLACK PANTHER #14 when Wakanda’s stirred up again and danger’s on the wind. Who might answer the call this time? Let’s look at a few of the former heroes to mull over the possibilities.


T’Chaka

T’Challa’s father and the Black Panther immediately before him, T’Chaka rose to prominence when he lent his aid to none other than Captain America and Nick Fury in a battle with The Red Skull. T’Chaka continued his fight after the war and up until his murder at the hands of Klaw, when the criminal attempted to seize precious vibranium metal from Wakanda.

Check Out: FANTASTIC FOUR #53, CAPTAIN AMERICA/BLACK PANTHER: FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS #1-4


Azzari

Known as “The Wise,” T’Chaka’s father wore the mantle of the Black Panther during World War II and kept the small country neutral during the global conflict, despite helping Captain America against Nazis. Azzari’s renown also included the ability to fight with many weapons.

Check Out: BLACK PANTHER #1, CAPTAIN AMERICA/BLACK PANTHER: FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS #1-4

Chanda

King of Wakanda during World War II, Chanda welcomed Ulysses Klaue to Wakanda, unaware of the man’s Nazi ties and the evil eye he set upon the nation’s stores of vibranium. When Klaue dealt his hand, he lost it to Chanda in a fight, an event that set him upon the path to becoming the super villain Klaw. Chanda’s also known for his attempt to elevate the Panther Spirit as a god, a situation that didn’t go well for him.

Check Out: FANTASTIC FOUR UNLIMITED #1


Bashenga

The grand-daddy of all Black Panthers and an ancestor of T’Challa, Bashenga’s wisdom and fearless nature set in motion the legacy of the chieftains of Wakanda and their eternal guardianship of the nation’s vibranium mound. In the centuries that followed his life and rule, a special spear named in his honor became an invaluable weapon to all Wakandan kings.

Check Out: BLACK PANTHER #7, FANTASTIC FOUR #609

T’Challa seeks the aid of his ancestors in BLACK PANTHER #14 by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Wilfredo Torre on May 24!

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Celebrate the success of the Marvel mobile game with a Guardians of the Galaxy event!

The Guardians of the Galaxy roster expands in “Marvel Future Fight!” To celebrate the game’s second anniversary, two new heroes—Agent Venom and Mantis—join the battle while the game’s original Guardians don new uniforms inspired by the films, and finally, Whiplash adds his weapons to your arsenal. And just in time, because you’ll need new gear and fresh teammates to tackle the game’s World Boss Ultimate and Alliance Conquest modes.

We sat down with Minkyun Kim, Development Director at Netmarble Games, to see just what we could learn about the anniversary update.

Marvel.com: This update marks the second anniversary of “Marvel Future Fight;” what are you bringing to the game to celebrate this milestone?

Minkyun Kim: As a huge thank you to all the users who have shown us love, we’ve prepared a variety of events. First, players will have an opportunity to get new Guardians of the Galaxy characters and an exclusive, limited edition Comic Card. Players will also get additional opportunities for various rewards in events such as the seven day check-in.

Marvel.com: The biggest character addition has got to be Mantis; what does she bring to the table?

Minkyun Kim: Mantis, one of the new heroes appearing in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” will also be joining us this update. She mainly attacks with her hands through the use of martial arts. With her unique energy wavelength, she can attack from short or medium-range distances. You’ll be able to feel the thrilling action as you watch her acrobatic martial arts style and energy wavelength attacks.

Also, her ability to find enemy weak points and use of psychic empathy ensures that her teammates get buffs that will help in battle, the idea being that she uses her telepathic powers to communicate enemy weak points to her allies.

Her powerful mind energy and healing powers allow for resistance to debuffs. Her healing touch will be able to give teams an advantage in both team and solo battles.

Marvel.com: Alongside the new team members, players will be able to grab a few new uniforms. Who’s suiting up in new gear?

Minkyun Kim: With the opening of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” we’re introducing brand new uniforms: the [movie-versions] of Star-Lord, Rocket Raccoon, Gamora, and the new Groot everybody’s been waiting for! Also, to celebrate the second anniversary of “Marvel Future Fight,” we’ll be introducing a new uniform for our original character, Sharon Rogers.

Mavel.com: A new World Boss mode is coming to “Marvel Future Fight” with this update. What can you tell us about World Boss Ultimate?

Minkyun Kim: There is a difficulty system in Ultimate Mode. As the difficulty goes up, bosses will become stronger, and a player’s characters will be placed in disadvantageous situations. In the higher difficulties, players will be placed in extreme situations never seen before on Original Bosses.

The key to winning will be determined by how detailed and effectively a player upgrades their character. Players will be challenged to constantly reduce their clear times and become the best.

Marvel.com: Outside of increasing their rank, will there be rewards in this mode that differ from the standard World Boss mode?

Minkyun Kim: As you challenge higher difficulties, the rewards will be more gratifying as well.

Rewards will now be proportional to the difficulty level that was challenged. Also, the first time a difficulty level is cleared against a boss, you’ll get a special reward. You can only get a limited amount of rewards per day, but you can always strive for better records and try out new strategies.

Marvel.com: A new PVP feature, Conquest, is coming to Alliances. What new ways can Alliances compete, and what kinds of rewards will they unlock?

Minkyun Kim: In the past, Alliance related content was based around an individual’s fight within the Alliance; Alliance Conquests will now truly be a battle of Alliances. Alliance Conquests will require communication between Alliance members to properly coordinate characters over the map to lead your Alliance to victory. Alliances with the best characters will have an advantage. Through Alliance Conquest, players will unlock Alliance Tokens which can be used to trade for items in the Alliance Shop and to upgrade your characters. Also, depending on your score, your Alliance will also get a cool frame.

Marvel.com: The third year of “Marvel Future Fight” is just beginning. Can you give us a taste of what’s to come?

Minkyun Kim: Looking back on the last two years, we’re grateful to all the players who have supported and loved our game and we know that we’ve had our faults. We’ll work our butts off to make sure that we become a game that is loved by all. Personally, as a fan of Marvel, I’m looking forward to the lineup of Marvel content coming up. We’ll take our own excitement and hopes and endeavor to create more varied content. Through the updates this year, we hope that our players will feel at home and join us to fight the villains of the Marvel Universe.

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We pay tribute to the beauty of nature with the Flora Colossus!

Arbor Day. A day to appreciate the beauty in nature and to plant as many trees as possible so that we can continue breathing.

Mark Marvel as no stranger to the wonder of trees; in fact we have a whole loveable hero dedicated to this wonderment! We all know and love Groot, and in celebration of Arbor Day, we want to share with you some amazing moments from his comic book history that will have you planting trees all day long, hoping for your own little Flora Colossus.

Tales to Astonish (1959) #13

Tales to Astonish (1959) #13

What is Marvel Unlimited?
Monarch X (TALES TO ASTONISH #13)

What’s the first thing you think of when you think of Groot? Fun? Cuddly? Best friend? Well, boy do we have a surprise for you. The first appearance of Groot from the Atlas days of Marvel Comics proves the exact opposite. This self-proclaimed “Monarch” of Planet X, comes to take a village back to his planet to perform experiments on. A heroic villager challenges this menacing, talking Groot. In response, the extraterrestrial shows his true power and creates an army of nightmarish walking trees!

Groot (2015) #5

Groot (2015) #5

  • Published: October 07, 2015
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: April 04, 2016
  • Rating: Rated T
  • Writer: Jeff Loveness
  • Cover Artist: Declan Shalvey
What is Marvel Unlimited?
You won’t like him when he’s angry. (GROOT #5)

Just like the Incredible Hulk, it’s probably not a good idea to cross Groot. During an adventure with his best pal Rocket, baby Groot gets “handed” a solar grenade, blasting him with a hyper dose of concentrated solar energy, transforming the cute creature into a monstrous, oversized mega beast. This Groot goes on a rampage taking out a ton of baddies. Eventually Rocket calms him down, brings him back to normal size, and they share a great moment in their victory.

Yggdroot (SECRET WARS #8)

During the Battle in Doomstadt, Black Swan confronts Peter Quill in Doctor Doom’s throne room, which just happens to be below the tree of life “Yggdrasil.” Backed into a corner, Star-Lord drops just a splinter into Yggrasil, which engulfs it entirely, transforming it into a colossal Groot that destroys the castle from the inside out.

Guardians of the Galaxy (2015) #16

Guardians of the Galaxy (2015) #16

What rhymes with “Groot”? (GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #16)

In this recent issue, we see the lighter side of our cosmic woodland friend when he and his partner in crime, Rocket, have a nice day in Central Park. Unfortunately, things turn quickly when The Armadillo springs from the ground and launches Groot’s best bud through the air. Our hero springs into action—literally—and fights him off. Things take a turn for the worse when the NYPD surround Groot thinking him the monster. A little boy comes to his rescue, joined by the entire crowd at the park, who defend Groot and showing their gratitude for him rescuing them. The comic ends the way it started, with Groot and his best bud—now joined by the little boy—hanging out in the park. By the way, did we mention the entire story rhymes?


Symbi-groot
(GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #2122)

You thought Venom seemed scary with the fury of a trained U.S Army man underneath it? Well how would you feel if a talking tree that can thrash Thanos took on the symbiote? When Flash Thompson as Venom joins the Guardians as a representative of the Avengers, prolonged time in space seems to do some strange things to the symbiote making it too difficult to control. The alien suit goes rouge and attacks Gamora out of nowhere. The team subdues it and get Flash to safety, for the time being. Back at the base, Rocket tries to make a more stable holding cell for the monstrous menace, but the ravaging symbiote breaks out of its tiny cell and attaches to Groot causing the loveable space tree to morph into a powerfully savage hybrid.  This turns a friendly catchphrase sour when he belts out “I am Venom” while giving his team a serious beating.

Rocket Raccoon & Groot (2016) #5

Rocket Raccoon & Groot (2016) #5

What is Marvel Unlimited?
Groot the God (ROCKET RACCOON AND GROOT #5)

Rocket and Groot take a tropical day off at the beach relaxing and sipping some cocktails until its rudely interrupted by Gunhild of the Elmhold clan. She takes the pair back to her majesty only to discover that the king believes Groot to be a God. More specifically the very god that the clan gets its namesake from. Groot is then whisked away to be cleaned and pampered so that he can be sacrificed in an active volcano! Learning of this horrible fate, Rocket teams up with his capturer to free Groot.  During their escape, Groot sprouts a wing suit, of sorts, made of branches and leaves, and propels away with Rocket accidentally drops an atomic bomb in the volcano. The last we see of our heroes: Rocket and Groot back in the ocean with a cocktail.

Groot’s Sacrifice (ANNIHILATION CONQUEST: STAR-LORD #2)

Before the Guardians of the Galaxy, they were a rag-tag team put together to do some damage against the nasty Phalanx. When they storm a production facility creating a techno-virus, they run into some fearsome machines that cause them to retreat. However, the bad guys start to overrun the team, until the mighty monarch of Planet X steps in with his enormous stature to give the crew some time to escape. He sacrifices himself by staying behind to take out as many machines as possible in a death befitting a King.

Little Seed, Big Deed (GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: TOMORROW’S AVENGERS)

On a far away, un-named planet, a young woman named D’Vorak minds her own business, working her family farm. Preoccupied with thoughts of wars in the stars, she almost steps on a tiny Groot. Not knowing what she just plucked from the ground, she quickly plants him in soil and gives him water until interrupted by a gang of thugs called the Tribbitites. They start roughing up her family and threaten to kill her brother until a gigantic Groot steps in from out of nowhere and hammers down on the jerks. D’Vorak, ever grateful, reminisces about her previous thoughts on the galaxy, this time giving a hopeful look up into the stars.


Howling Groot
(NICK FURY’S HOWLING COMMANDOS #6)

Shifting back to the “original” monstrous Groot from 1963, this intellectual monarch grows to a colossal size to carry a team of the Howling Commandos to battle including Clone of Frankenstein, Gorilla-Man, Zombie, Living Mummy, and more, while majestic unicorns gallop past them. The group leads with an all-out attack against Merlin and his minions causing the sorcerer to retreat.


Two sides to every Groot
(GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY ANNUAL #1)

They say there are two sides to every coin, well what about Groot. In this tale, we get to see just that.  Captain Marvel starts it off by sending a video to folks at home on Earth. We get some hilarious moments as some of the Guardians interrupt including a nosey Groot. This gets disrupted further when a portal opens up revealing the Helicarrier and Nick Fury. Eventually, all hell breaks loose as members of S.H.I.E.L.D team up with Guardians of the Galaxy to fight a Skrull invasion. Groot and the rest of the team fight in outer space and crush their enemies with terrifying power. After the end of the battle, Captain Marvel goes back to give her tear-jerking video message to her family, where we get to see that other side of Groot in a sweet moment comforting her.

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Robbie Thompson and Javier Rodriguez craft a new foe for Doctor Strange and friends!

First, The Forgotten bedeviled them. Then, Newton betrayed them. But those threats pale in comparison to The Author, the baddie briefly revealed at the end of DOCTOR STRANGE AND THE SORCERERS SUPREME #7, set to fully tear onto the scene in May 24’s issue #8.

While searching for shelter from what could very well be the end of the world we came across series writer Robbie Thompson and artist Javier Rodriguez who kindly took a break from chanting incantations to tell us all about this horrifying new antagonist.

Marvel.com: Issue #8 brings the Supremes and Newton face to face with a bloody baddie who goes by The Author. What can you tell us about this deadly new danger?

Robbie Thompson: The Author is the source of the power that brought our Sorcerers together back in issue #1. This creature wrote “The Word of God,” which followers of The Forgotten used to wield unlimited power. No spoilers, but in issue #8, we’ll learn who The Author really is, and more importantly, where he comes from…

Marvel.com: What kind of risk does this antagonist pose to our titular characters? How about the world at large?

Robbie Thompson: The Author is an enormous danger to our heroes and the world at large. He created the Word of God, a book with words so powerful that they can bend reality. If the Sorcerers—and guest stars the Avengers, Howard the Duck, and Luke Cage—don’t stop him, our world will be destroyed!

Marvel.com: Creatively, how did The Author come together? What made him the right villain for this moment for you?

Robbie Thompson: When discussing the first two arcs with editors Nick Lowe and Darren Shan, we really wanted to have some big turns and reveals every issue. In fact, the first call I had with Nick, he pitched out killing Merlin as the ending of the first issue. That really set the tone from the beginning and felt like the right way to pace out our story.

We wanted to continue to put our heroes in deeper and deeper trouble, while keeping the escalation connected to the source of this story: Merlin. So, we’ve been building toward this reveal since the first issue—with Newton waiting in the wings to turn on his fellow Sorcerers, his blind ambition exposing our heroes to a being more powerful than any they’ve faced so far.

Marvel.com: The Author boasts a pretty bizarre look. Creatively, where did you draw inspiration from to realize him/it? What about the look spoke to you as the right choice for the villain?

Javier Rodriguez: I like to think that the simplest concept leads to the most effective solution. In this case, I thought about things that would disturb the reader’s perception when they are out of place. So, a creature made of hands seemed pretty awesome, and I thought it fit well with Robbie’s requirements for the story. I drew all the bad characters for this book very big, looking for a real threat to a group of Sorcerers Supremes, and more visual when all of them are fighting at the same time.

Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme #8 cover by Javier Rodriguez

Marvel.com: How did working with each other help you both to fully realize The Author?

Javier Rodriguez: Robbie and I exchange a lot of [e-mails]. Sometimes he sends me a detailed description and sometimes it’s an open field for creation. But to work with Robbie is like a dream. He leaves me a lot space to put in ideas and he doesn’t have any problem introducing those ideas, or adapting the story to fit with all the new ideas that pop up throughout the process.

Robbie Thompson: I keep saying this in interviews, but Javier really is a Sorcerer! He’s an absolute dream collaborator and master storyteller, and The Author wouldn’t exist or work at all without his work on this book.

After we briefly discussed the true nature of The Author—no spoilers!—Javier went off and designed the creature, and we were all blown away. It was perfect and was created entirely by his amazing mind. In layouts for issue #7, we were all delighted to see the “snaps” The Author uses to wield his “magic”—that’s all Javier, too, pushing the book and our story to be as visual as possible. He’s done that with every panel and every issue of the book.

I write the scripts to give him, inker Alvaro Lopez, colorist Jordie Bellaire and letter Joe Caramagna as much freedom as possible to collaborate. Every layout, design, and page from Javier is more ambitious than the last, and the whole team follows his lead, with everyone pushing the book with their talents.

Marvel.com: Newton is power mad, but he’s also pragmatic. In the face of this overwhelming threat, how does he react? How do the Supremes treat him in reaction to that?

Robbie Thompson: Unlike the rest of the Supremes, Newton knew what he was signing up for when Merlin came to him. He knew the Word of God was powering The Forgotten. And he would stop at nothing to get that book in his hands.

What he didn’t know was that the author of that book would come back to reclaim what it created! Worse, he doesn’t know where this creature hails from or how dangerous it is to magical heroes.

But, like you said, Newton is totally pragmatic—he’s going to team up with Strange to survive. And, of course, he hopes that if they defeat The Author, he can reclaim the Word of God and reshape the world as he sees fit. Strange and company are willing to team up for the time being, but they’ve been burned by this madman already, and won’t be fooled again.

Marvel.com: Without revealing too much, is there a particular moment from issue #8 of Author-inflicted devastation you can’t wait for fans to see realized on the page?

Javier Rodriguez: Well, yep, there’s a moment when we’ll see the use of pure comic language to show the power of a Sorcerer Supreme. The end of issue #8 and the first pages of #9 are some of the best pages that Robbie wrote for the series. Can’t wait to see readers’ reactions.

Robbie Thompson: Howard the Duck casts a spell! ‘nuff said!

Actually, I’ll say a bit more: there’s truly amazing work from the entire team on this issue, particularly Jordie, who finds such beautiful light and color in every issue. And it features all of our heroes, the Avengers, Luke Cage, said Duck, and more magic than you can shake a wand at!

Experience The Author in DOCTOR STRANGE AND THE SORCERERS SUPREME #8, brought to you by Robbie Thompson, Javier Rodriguez, and company on May 24!

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Follow the path that led the Ultimate Reed Richards to evil!

In the upcoming INFAMOUS IRON MAN #8 by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev—available May 24—we’ll see The Maker unleashing his master plan, and facing off against Doom. But how exactly did “Ultimate” Reed Richards go so bad? What led him to follow a course so different from the Mister Fantastic of the Marvel Universe?

Let’s look at some of the critical turning points in the Maker’s history.

With Reed in the Ultimate Universe, we saw a younger version of the brilliant scientist. A child prodigy, Richards always had a challenging relationship with his father, who never really understood him. Reed’s father wanted him to become the popular jock type, and didn’t acknowledge that his son could find another path to success. This early blow to his self-esteem sets Reed on a different path from his Marvel Universe counterpart from the outset.

Reed’s downfall really starts with Ultimatum, where Magneto shifted the Earth’s magnetic poles, creating a tidal wave in New York City that killed many of the Ultimate characters close to Richards, including Franklin Storm, whom he worked for—and who appreciated Reed’s genius in a way his father never did.

We find out that Doctor Doom had actually orchestrated Magneto’s plan, so Reed feels consumed with guilt, blaming himself for what happened and feeling like he created Doom; this messes with his metal state.

Shortly thereafter, events unfold that cause the Fantastic Four to disband. Sue rejects Reed’s marriage proposal and the two of them break up. The end of his relationship and the blow to his most important friendships leaves Richards feeling alone.

After the breakup of the FF, Reed moved back in with his parents. His dad gets up to his old patterns. Soon though, his parents both die in an explosion, and we later find out that Reed himself had orchestrated the murder of his family, as well as other attacks, spiraling downward even more, growing darker and darker as a character.

As The Maker, Reed leads the Children of Tomorrow, who have the impossible and destructive goal of trying to perfect the world. Richards, we learn, had been trapped in the Negative Zone—where time moves differently—for around a millennium, and this had understandably warped his psyche to what we see today.

The Maker confronts Doctor Doom in INFAMOUS IRON MAN #8, coming May 24 from Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev!

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Discover how the thought-dead clone has complicated Spider-Man’s story!

Every Friday we use the powers of Marvel Unlimited to look back at the very first appearances of a major character, place, or object that made waves this week.

They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery. If that’s true, then Peter Parker must be the most beloved person in the world. Just look at how many times he’s been cloned! This week one the most famous—and infamous—representatives from that group launched his own series with BEN REILLY: SCARLET SPIDER #1 by Peter David and Mark Bagley!

Originally created by Gerry Conway and Ross Andru in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #149 from 1975, the clone who would be Ben Reilly came about thanks to the machinations and twisted science of The Jackal. Peter first met his clone—who also sported the original’s memories and morality—at Shea Stadium, surprised first to see someone in his costume and even more so when that person shared his face!

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #149

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #149

What is Marvel Unlimited?

The copy seemed to die in an ensuing explosion and Peter dropped the body down a smoke stack to avoid answering too many questions. Aside from an appearance in WHAT IF? #30, that proved it for the unnamed clone until he made a reappearance nearly 20 years later, first as Ben Reilly in SPIDER-MAN #51, and then as the heroic Scarlet Spider WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #118.

A back-up story in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #223 explained that, after seemingly dying, the clone crawled out of the smoke stack, decided not to take over Peter Parker’s life and then went out on his own. You also see him taking the designation Ben Reilly for the first time in that story as he explained that he took his uncle’s first name and his aunt’s maiden one.

At first, Ben tried to work alongside Peter as an arachnid-themed hero. The two traded off on the Spider-Man identity as Mr. Parker found himself dealing with a series of rough times including the loss of his powers. At one point, Ben and Peter even believed that they’d switched places all those years back and that the clone had gone on to star in all the comics fans read for two decades. Eventually the truth came out that the webslinging duo had been fooled, but that still left two heroes running around New York City—until SPIDER-MAN #75 hit and Ben Reilly once again died trying to save Peter’s friends and family from The Green Goblin.

Web of Spider-Man (1985) #118

Web of Spider-Man (1985) #118

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Once again, it seemed Mr. Reilly would rest in peace until the events of the Clone Conspiracy event that wrapped up just recently. As it turned out, Jackal killed and recreated Ben Reilly so many times that he lost some of his sanity and decided to create New U Technologies and also bring back just about every dead person in Peter’s life, while masquerading as his creator. Ben survived the virus that took out most of the clones and now runs around Las Vegas in a cosplayer’s suit, charging the people he saves in his new ongoing series.

Flash Forward

If you’re curious about the Clone Saga, but don’t feel like diving into several years’ worth of stories, the original tale’s architects Howard Mackie and Tom DeFalco re-teamed in 2009 for SPIDER-MAN: THE CLONE SAGA. The six issue limited series drawn by Todd Nauck presents the story as they original intended to tell it, but distilled down into a few concise parts!

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The long hard road to betrayal for Steve Rogers’ closest confidante!

Each week, we use our super sleuth skills to dig into the histories of the characters fighting on both sides of Secret Empire!

To say that Sharon Carter and Steve Rogers have had a complicated relationship is tantamount to the Marvel Universe being miffed that Captain America now serves Hydra. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1966’s TALES OF SUSPENSE #75, Sharon gobsmacked Cap because of how much she looked like her great-aunt Peggy Carter, his World War II-era love.

The two had their ups and downs over the years until Carter, an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., seemingly died in CAPTAIN AMERICA #233 from 1979 in a battle between white supremacists, Harlem gangs, and the National Guard. She returned many years later in CAPTAIN AMERICA #444, helping The Red Skull save the Star-Spangled Avenger so they could team up to take out a Hitler-powered Cosmic Cube. Sharon revealed in issue #446 that S.H.I.E.L.D. used her apparent death as cover to send her into increasingly dangerous situations. The woman known as Agent 13 eventually lost contact with her handler and did whatever mercenary or wetwork jobs came her way to survive.

Sharon became a huge part of writer Ed Brubaker’s run on CAPTAIN AMERICA which launched in 2004. In addition to her relationship with Steve, Sharon also exhibited the spy skills that made her such an asset to S.H.I.E.L.D. Along the way, she found herself brainwashed by Dr. Faustus—who also controlled her just before her apparent death years before—into shooting Captain America after the events of Civil War.

With Cap out of the picture and Bucky taking over the shield, Sharon left S.H.I.E.L.D., but continued to fight the good fight alongside the new Captain America, Falcon, and Black Widow. The trauma did not end there, though, as Sharon also lost her baby while fighting with Sin for her very life. After helping bring Steve back from being displaced in time as seen in CAPTAIN AMERICA REBORN, the pair continued to work together.

By the time writer Rick Remender launched his CAPTAIN AMERICA volume in 2012, Sharon and Steve still continued both their professional and romantic relationships, though both hit a snag when she sacrificed herself to keep Arnim Zola’s massive warship in Dimension Z as seen in issue #10. She reappeared in #23 as an older warrior, having spent years fighting Zola and raising her and Cap’s adopted son. Just before that, Steve had been transformed to his actual physical age, so the two took on more administrative roles in the super hero community.

That’s where they stood when Kobik de-aged Steve during the Standoff! event which lead directly into CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS and Secret Empire. The former series even saw Sharon work as a liaison between S.H.I.E.L.D. and the U.S. Security council to help push for new laws that would make it easier for the former organization to wage war on Hydra. Steve even suggested her for the job as head of S.H.I.E.L.D. when Maria Hill got ousted, but everyone agreed that he should get the gig. In other words, everyone played directly into his plans.

Sharon’s even one of the first people to realize that Steve now leads Hydra as seen in the pages of SECRET EMPIRE #0. She’s understandably bewildered when the green-suited minions stop and listen to the man they called Supreme Leader. The last we saw of Sharon in the issue, Steve ordered her to be placed on a transport and demanded her safety. He repeatedly said that he loved her, but that probably won’t stop one of the world’s most accomplished secret agents from trying to stop the man she loved and one of history’s greatest heroes.

The Empire Strikes Back

Secret Empire might be the latest story pitting Agent Carter against a huge secret organization like Hydra, but it’s far from the first. She’s encountered the evil group many times, including as part of Steve’s Secret Avengers squad. Set during the time after REBORN when Rogers returned, but Bucky Barnes still ran around as Captain America, the series found Carter and the former Cap working with the likes of Black Widow, Valkyrie, War Machine, Moon Knight, Beast, and Ant-Man. During that period, the team came into direct conflict with the Shadow Council, a subversive set-up that also had ties to Secret Empire as revealed in SECRET AVENGERS #21!

Sharon Carter might be stuck on a Hydra-controlled ship at this moment, but don’t expect her to stay there for long!

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A different take on the floral colossus hits Battlerealm hard!

Getting psyched for “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”? Want to crush some skulls with a Groot from another reality? Look no further than “Marvel Contest of Champions” and King Groot!

We talked to Kabam Art Director Gabriel Frizzera and QA Analyst Gordon Thornton about the big bad new tree on Battlerealm.

Marvel.com: Oh man who is King Groot and why does he look so terrifying? What happened to our cute baby Groot?

Gabriel Frizzera: Sometimes, if you don’t raise your Baby Groot right, give him love, water, and sunlight, they fall in with the wrong crowd and become an angry, spiky, wasp-spewing tyrant tree. It’s sad but true.

But in all seriousness, King Groot is basically an updated version of the original “Groot, King of Planet X,” when he was an evil tree King trying to “branch out” his empire to Earth. We just shortened the name to “King Groot”.

Marvel.com: I have to give props to the team—King Groot looks incredible. What went into crafting this guy?

Gabriel Frizzera: When Marvel approached us to be part of the Monsters Unleashed event, I immediately called dibs on the original Groot, knowing we wanted to do a Guardians-related event featuring Angela. But when I looked at the original 1960s design again, I felt that it needed a bit of an upgrade to be the aggressive fighting boss we needed in the game. We didn’t want his bark to be worse than his bite.

So, inspired by the original [Jack] Kirby design, I bulked him up a bit, enlarged his “crown” and spikes. and added a mace hand. I also looked at the gnarly quality of tree barks and vines drawn by artists like Steve Bissette and John Totleben. Once approved, the design fell into the hands of our capable modeling team—which is getting pretty good at modeling alien trees. Since all our characters are carefully sculpted in Z-Brush, all the cool organic details can be created before they’re baked in the game model.

Marvel.com: If you had to guess, what would happen if King Groot ran into Groot and Rocket Raccoon in the Battlerealm?

Gabriel Frizzera: Hmm… I’ll go out on a limb and say they wouldn’t be friends. If you play our new event quest, “King Groot’s Loot,” you definitely find out more details, but what I can say is King Groot has been giving regular Groot a bad name in the Battlerealm, and Rocket isn’t happy.

Marvel.com: Ok let’s talk about how hard this guy hits! What is Unyielding Might? Is this ability as awesome as it sounds?

Gordon Thornton: King Groot’s Unyielding Might Signature Ability is definitely as awesome as it sounds! This Signature Ability gives King Groot amazing combat resilience by empowering him with regeneration while he’s waiting for his Fury Buffs to begin stacking again. This allows him to stay in the fight longer and focus on offense when he’s got Fury, and defense while he’s Regenerating, offering maximum face mashing time. Hello face, meet my new friend: Club Arm!

Marvel.com: From the looks of it, King Groot seems a little like a regenerating machine, able to bring himself back from the brink and avoid any status ailments along the way.

Gordon Thornton: King Groot has two regeneration abilities he can rely on. One will happen automatically when he switches from his Offensive to his Defensive State; the other is on command, a rarity for Regeneration abilities, when he performs his Level 3 Special Attack. It’s also possible to stack one on top of the other, to really get yourself back in the fight.

Marvel.com: In your opinions, what’s the coolest thing about King Groot?

Gordon Thornton: I think my favorite thing about King Groot is that when in his Offensive State he can instantly remove Debuffs at the cost of one of his Furies. Not only does this make King Groot very hard to shutdown with a Heal Block, it gets him out of fight ending Stuns, and has the added benefit of pushing him into his Regeneration State sooner as his Fury Buffs are removed.

Marvel.com: Anything else we need to know about the hulking brute?

Gordon Thornton: We all expect King Groot to be a strong defender with his tree-like resilience due to Regeneration and Debuff removals; Parry what Parry? Additionally, he has very high Base HP, which helps boost the strength of his Regeneration Buffs. Be sure to check him out when he comes to The Contest on April 27!

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more “Marvel Contest of Champions” news and interviews!

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Al Ewing talks about the recently revealed truth behind ‘Black Bolt’!

Never one to stand on ceremony, Mad Maximus saw a problem and decided to solve it. The dilemma? His brother, the near sainted Black Bolt had gone too far and not for the first time.

So, as revealed in ROYALS #2, Maximus seized the moment and impersonated his sibling as the Royal Family launched itself into space.

With the real Black Bolt trapped in some remote location, the family seems stuck with Maximus amongst them. However, what if he really did make the right decision for the good of the Inhumans? In advance of May 17’s ROYALS #3, Ewing helpfully dropped in on us to present the case for Maximus seizing his brother’s identity at an even earlier date.

Joins the Illuminati

“Yeah, this was just your basic autocratic stuff,” Ewing comments. “Just a king, chilling out with his fellow kings, deciding the fate of the rest of the planet, nothing to see there.”

“The world had to actually be ending before T’Challa got involved with that, but Black Bolt was there from the get-go,” he elaborates. “And he didn’t consult the Inhumans, either. How can we trust the king not to sell Attilan down the river to the super-celebrities? Why is he talking to known jerk Professor Charles Xavier before consulting his own Queen? It’s not a good look. If Maximus had swapped places with him, the Illuminati would have been dancing to Attilan’s tune, not vice versa.”

Declares war on the United States over the crystals used in Terrigen Mist

“Well, getting the crystals back from the U.S. government was a priority for the Inhumans, but the way Black Bolt went about it wasn’t exactly ideal,” argues the writer. “A lot of humans and Inhumans died, Gorgon was mutated for a while, and while Maximus was able to use the situation to his advantage, who can say he wouldn’t have done even better if he’d been in charge? He might have gone about it in a less obvious way. Or he might have built a giant ray gun that didn’t work properly, because [sometimes] he rolls that way too.”

Overthrowing the Kree government and seizing power for himself

“It’s not much of a spoiler that there are people who don’t remember this move fondly,” Ewing reveals. “Ronan is out there, remembering every detail of how he put his trust in the Inhumans—indeed, he put all his weight and power in Kree society behind their new regime—and then they just left without warning the moment Black Bolt decided they had better things to do. And after that, of course, Hala was blown to pieces and everyone on Hala died.”

“And now Ronan’s about to come face to face with the Royals as their quest takes them to the dead planet,” he continues. “Looking at it that way, maybe Maximus was wrong to swap places with Black Bolt; it might have been better to let his older brother face the music…”

The release of Terrigen Mists across the Earth that started IvX and forcibly changed many people’s lives without their consent

“Well, Maximus actually helped with that one,” admits Ewing. “And he’d probably have done the same thing himself. But the important thing is that it was Black Bolt’s idea, which means Maximus is completely blameless and it’s entirely right that Black Bolt is being shot off to a space prison in his place.”

Causing the accidental death of his parents and his brother’s traumatic brain injury through the use of his sonic voice

“And this is the big one,” insists the writer. “As we’ll see in issue #3, there was a little more going on that day than we’ve seen before; we’re going to be getting deep into the secrets of the family Boltagon, the secret origin of Maximus the Mad, and why exactly Maximus betrayed the Inhumans to the Kree that time—which was why Black Bolt used his super-voice in the first place. It’s all going to come out and once you know the full story, maybe you’ll agree with Maximus that he was right all along to do what he did. Or maybe he’ll be scarier than ever.”

Sit down with the family Boltagon for some quality time in ROYALS #3, available May 17 from Al Ewing and Jonboy Meyers!

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