Greg Pak revives the infamous program, whether the X-Men like it or not!

Weapon X has returned with a new leader and a new mission. But they won’t be around much longer if Old Man Logan and Sabretooth have their way. The deadly duo has gathered Lady Deathstrike, Domino, and Warpath and formed a new team to combat the revived Weapon X before they can get too far off the ground.

WEAPON X writer Greg Pak, who will launch the series next year with artist Greg Land, sat down with us to tell how this team comes together and what kind of threats they will face in the battle against this new enemy. Weapon X is back; what’s this new reformed program’s goal?

Greg Pak: The Weapon X program is back, and it’s more deadly than ever—but this time its objective isn’t just to use mutants. Now it wants to exterminate them. And the powers and abilities of this new Weapon X threat are so terrifying that you need both heroes and villains teaming up to handle it. So get ready for a blockbuster thriller of a comic book with a brutal group of heroes and anti-heroes stretched to their limits in a battle for the survival of mutantkind. And of course, we’re going to have tons of fun as our heroes drive each other crazy along the way. Wolverine and Sabretooth have a history, but this particular Logan hasn’t really seen much of this Sabretooth. What has it been like writing these two together?

Greg Pak: It’s a blast. You’ve got an older Logan, who’s been through a whole different set of experiences teaming up with this Sabretooth he doesn’t really know. It’s always fun to have these two characters tangle with each other, particularly when they have to team up for any amount of time. But this time, you have the added dynamic of an older, wiser—well, potentially wiser, anyway—Wolverine teaming up with a younger Sabretooth. They’re a blast to write together; you can put those two characters together and fun things will just happen. They’re so similar, and yet have different ways for dealing with the world and totally different sets of morals and ethics. So for them to find common ground and fight alongside each other instead of against each other, it’s a fun challenge. And, of course, you get the chance for hugely fun conflicts of all kinds. As a writer, one of the most fun things to write is characters who behave badly. And seeing characters who hate each other be forced to work together, it’s classic! How do Logan and Sabretooth end up pulling this team together to take on Weapon X?

Greg Pak: The question is whether these heroes and anti-heroes can come together at all and work together, and whether they can handle what’s coming. This new Weapon X is bigger and badder than it’s ever been and will unleash its attacks in ways we’ve never seen before. Logan’s pulling this particular team together is because he needs a team that’s the best at what they do, and are willing to go the distance. And yet you create huge problems for yourself when you get people this dangerous in the same room together. So the stakes and potential for disaster are pretty sky high. Logan and Sabretooth have clear stakes in this as products of the previous Weapon X program, but what motivations do Domino, Warpath, and Lady Deathstrike have to join the battle?

Greg Pak: Some of these characters are more strictly heroic than others, they’re always going to stick their necks out when someone’s in danger, that’s just who they are and what they do. But Lady Deathstrike, for instance, she’s not been like that, traditionally. But Weapon X is out to exterminate everyone, so there are certain points where you set aside your qualms about the people you’re working with to fight the thing that has to be fought. These folks are going to be at that stage, but as the story goes on, you’ll see who’s willing to do what when it needs to happen, and who’s not. There will be points where the job at hand requires genuine heroism, and there may be points where the job requires something else altogether. This is a story that will test how villainous our villains are, and how heroic our heroes are. And on the flip side, it will show us how heroic these villains can be, and how villainous our heroes could become. It will push both sides to their breaking points. Our characters are going to find things out about themselves that they may not like, and that may be good or that may be terrible.

And I’ll also say, I’m thinking of this book as a series of big, blockbuster action-thrillers. It’s going to be a big satisfying series of huge emotional and physical explosions. It’s the kind of thing that I love to do, which is combine big genre action with genuine emotional story. And we’ve got great, smart, terrifying villains, so it’s going to be very satisfying to see our team take them on.

Weapon X by Greg Land

Weapon X by Greg Land Will the team come up against any familiar foes or team up with any friendly faces?

Greg Pak: I’m not quite at liberty to disclose anything beyond our team just yet, but I can say for sure there will be some familiar faces and some totally new surprises. That’s always the most fun way for me to tackle: drawing some fun stuff from classic continuity while creating new threats from new angles. But who exactly is the figure behind this new Weapon X program? That’s a big part of the ongoing mystery of the book. Dontcha dare miss a single issue! What has it been like to work with Greg Land on art again?

Greg Pak: It’s great to get to work together again; this is the first time we’ve worked together since X-MEN: PHOENIX – ENDSONG almost 11 years ago now. Greg did a tremendous job on that, and we’ve talked over the years about trying to work together again, so I’m excited to be back with him again on another X-book. He’s been working on character designs and covers, and you can just look at Old Man Logan snarling on that cover and see we’re in for some fun action already. I think he’ll bring his great energy to this project, what I loved about working together on ENDSONG was that we had a lot of quiet, intimate moments between characters, and we had a lot of big, crazy action moments, and Greg’s good at delivering on all that. I’ve promised to give him lots of nice splash pages where he can go nuts. He’s capable of all kinds of stuff, and I’m hoping we can work all his artistic muscles on this book. What about this new project that has you most excited?

Greg Pak: I’ve done a ton of X-Men books over the years, but mostly limited series and short runs on some ongoing titles. So this is a chance to really dig into an ongoing series, and I’m really excited for that. It also harkens back to the themes of my favorite X-Men books growing up, and, in a way, this might be the most classic X-Men book that I’ve had the opportunity to work on; what’s more classic X-Men than heroes and anti-heroes teaming up to battle against genocidal monsters? And even just doing a book called “Weapon X” is pretty tremendous. Back in the day, that original Weapon X series [in MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS] was huge for me. It was up there with “Daredevil: Born Again” for me as this modern classic. So I’m happy to play in all these different sandboxes, and I really love this particular group of heroes and villains we’re working with.

I’ve inherited a lot of teams on different books over the years, and the best thing is when you can get to the point where you put any two members of a team in a room together and the scene practically writes itself, just by the virtue of the dynamics of those characters, little points of sympathy and conflict just present themselves naturally. I feel like we’ve got a really fun, focused group with these five characters. Each one of them makes total sense in the team, given the mission, but they all have their own distinct ethical codes and backgrounds, even speech patterns, that are all different in very fun ways. Jeff Lemire did great stuff with Lady Deathstrike in OLD MAN LOGAN that’s going to be incredibly fun to build on. We’ve already talked about Logan and Sabretooth, but then you think about Sabretooth and Domino, or Sabretooth and Warpath, or Warpath and Domino, and the different kinds of relationships these heroes are going to have. Warpath and Sabretooth are going to have a very different dynamic than Warpath and Old Man Logan. It’s figuring out who’s going to be friends, who’s going to even feel comfortable around each other, who’s going to be watching whose back, and who might be secretly sharpening the knives. It’s going to be a blast playing with all those dynamics.

Follow and our social channels for the latest on WEAPON X and the rest of ResurrXion!

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Looking back on the terrorist group’s most dangerous female members!

In CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #14 on March 22, readers—and Steve—come face to face with Madame Hydra, a woman who has defined Cap’s life from behind the scene for years and years. In truth, women have long defined and contributed to the both the successes and failures of HYDRA and its foot soldiers.

As Rogers prepares to encounter one of the people that has crafted his destiny, we take a look at several of the ones who have formed HYDRA’s as a whole.

Valentina Allegra de Fontaine
The so-called Contessa made an incredible impression on Nick Fury when they first met, sending him tumbling in unarmed practice combat on his first day with S.H.I.E.L.D. Since that debut, Fontaine has changed allegiances multiple times being revealed as both a Skrull and then, later, an agent of HYDRA. In the end, however, it appears she remained loyal to Fury and only infiltrated the adversarial organization with his knowledge.

Jessica Drew joined HYDRA with idealism in her heart. Sold a false bill of goods by a crafty recruiter, she truly believed the group to be on the side of the angels. Over time, though, she found out the truth of HYDRA’s goals as well as what they had done to her memories and abilities. She would, in time, agree to be a mole for the terrorist group inside S.H.I.E.L.D. but quickly came over to that team’s side, becoming a triple agent. These days, Spider Woman has focused on smaller scale efforts, taking a break from espionage related machinations.

Madame Jasmine
A member of the HYDRA subdivision dealing with the occult—DOA—Jasmine spent most of her HYDRA career tangling with the Nightstalkers. The last time Jasmine appeared in the Marvel Universe, she ended up ingloriously sprawled on the ground in an alley after taking the butt of a gun to the face.

While many have taken the title “Madame Hydra”—including the Contessa—perhaps no one has laid claim to it as long as Ophelia Sarkissian aka Viper. A member of HYDRA since being taken in by the organization as an infant orphan, Viper has proven the rare true believer who has survived multiple battles, leadership coups, and arrests to return to the group again and again. While predominantly a S.H.I.E.L.D. foe she has often run aground of other heroes like the Avengers and Wolverine, the latter of whom she married. She even ruled Madripoor for a time before being overthrown by Iron Man and Tyger Tiger

Elsie Carson
When Carson’s husband got injured at work, she picked up a job to help with the slack. It turned out that she found that job with HYDRA and while her tasks initially amounted to just errands, she rapidly became more active in the organization until she achieved a promotion to section head. When she encountered Team America she reconsidered her allegiance. However, after she and her family were nearly killed by a HYDRA death squad, Carson decided to swear off all kinds of espionage and disappear off the grid with her husband and children.

Silver Fox
A former lover of Wolverine who seemingly met her end at the claws of Sabretooth, Fox nonetheless resurfaced years later as a HYDRA section leader. She seemed to spend most of her time monitoring Wolverine and other former Weapon X program graduates and derailing any attempts for them to regain accurate memories of their lives. History eventually repeated itself when Fox reached out to her one-time paramour, seeming to be heading towards putting HYDRA behind her, only to be killed by Sabretooth once again.

After Katrina Luisa Van Horn’s skiing career fell apart due to a chauvinist running her off the slope and badly injuring her, she turned to super villainy to regain control of her body and to make money. While not a major player in HYDRA, she has periodically aided the organization as a freelance hire and even spent a short time as a full agent.

Ms. Fischer
A HYDRA recruiter under the direct direction of Baron Von Stucker, Fischer played a major role in the subjugation of S.H.I.E.L.D. She predominantly posted at the HYDRA base Gehenna in New Zealand and it is believed she survived the Warriors assault on the facility.

Cassandra Romulus
Initially part of a cell marked for deletion by Baron Von Stucker, Romulus readily betrayed her team leader, killing him and earning her former hunter’s attention and desire. They became lovers for a time during which Romulus continued to impress Von Stucker with her physical skill and her boundless ruthlessness. She disappeared years ago and many expect she died, perhaps on a mission or by her lover’s hand after disappointing him, but this has never been proven.

Laura Brown
Born to a HYDRA leader, Laura quickly took to the family business with skill and zeal. However, she quickly grew disillusioned with the mission. This climaxed when Nick Fury headed a raid on the HYDRA base that Brown had been staffing. Rather than kill the S.H.I.E.L.D. Director, she protected him and he returned the favor in short order by allowing her to escape his own troops. On the run while Fury tried to get her immunity from prosecution, Brown had to repeatedly repel HYDRA attempts to murder her. When those attempts failed, her old group changed tactics and instead attempted to frame her as Supreme Hydra. While briefly successfully, this effort, too, Brown eventually overcame and Fury finally secured her immunity and a spot on S.H.I.E.L.D. as an operative.

Thasanee Rappaccini spent her early years as Camilla Black until the deaths of her adopted parents resulted in her learning her biological mother had been one of A.I.M.’s Scientists Supreme. This led her to initially join S.H.I.E.L.D. in the hopes that working with them would lead to her finding her mom. At some point, it seemed she became disillusioned with the group and jumped HYDRA instead, becoming partners and lovers with the mole in the Initiative Program, Hardball. She eventually revealed herself to still be with S.H.I.E.L.D. and just spying on HYDRA when she persuaded Hardball to turn himself in and robbed him of his powers. These days, Black seems to have gone freelance, but this may be yet another instance of her pretending on behalf of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Meet the next level of HYDRA’s woman warriors in CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #14 on March 22!

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We keep tabs on potential team-ups for Ironheart!

As Riri Williams grows into her role as Ironheart, we’ll see her meeting up with many of the heroes—and villains—of the Marvel Universe. She recently teamed up with Pepper Potts, and in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #5 on March 22, we’ll see her bumping into none other than the Merc with a Mouth—Deadpool!

What other heroes and villains would we like to see Riri encounter? A few exciting examples…

Nadia Pym/The Wasp
We’d love to see Riri meet up with Nadia Pym. While we don’t see Riri officially joining G.I.R.L., these two girl geniuses—and budding super heroes—would probably have a lot to learn from each other. Combine Nadia’s cheerful outlook with Riri’s can-do attitude and these two would be pretty unstoppable—see what we did there?

Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel
At this point in her story, we see Riri beginning to grow into her role as a super hero; not an easy thing to do, when you’ve also got to balance family and life as a teenager. Kamala definitely knows a thing or two about this, and would probably have some valuable advice for the intrepid Ironheart. And given her recent enthusiasm for helping young heroes fight for what’s right—a sentiment that contributed to the formation of the newest incarnation of the Champions—Ms. Khan would likely feel more than willing to give Riri a helping hand.

3Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel
The line between right and wrong isn’t always completely clear, a lesson Riri will need to learn as she navigates the choppy waters of super-heroism. Given the recent events of Civil War II, Carol could give our hero a glimpse into some of the difficult ethical terrain she’ll have to traverse. And what’s more, despite the challenges she has faced recently, Cap has excellent leadership skills, and could pass on what she has learned on that front.

We wouldn’t exactly describe Riri as a social butterfly. She had one close friend, who met her end in a tragic shooting. And her intelligence has always made her feel a little like an outsider. Of course, Medusa understands that feeling. As queen of the Inhumans, Medusa lives in the human world, but remains set apart from it. Yet she continues to try and approach conflicts with empathy and understanding as much as possible—even the trickiest situations, like the current battle between the Inhumans and the mutants. Medusa could serve as an example of someone who tries to become the best version of herself and taken the high road.

Steve Rogers/Captain America
Okay, so with all the crazy Hydra stuff going on, Cap’s in a bit of a weird place right now. Still, pretty much everyone sees him as a legend. The ultimate hero. Riri would probably consider meeting him, and fighting by his side, one of those landmark experiences. It would mean she had arrived as a super hero. And we want Riri to have that moment.

Like Tony Stark, Riri has the strength of the Iron Man suit at her disposal, but she also relies on her smarts when fighting baddies. Loki stands out as one of the cleverest villains out there—but he has a different kind of IQ. He knows how to read people and manipulate them. We’d like to see Ironheart’s sheer brain power go up against the God of Mischief’s quick mind. Plus, this would give us the opportunity for a Jane Foster cameo!

Red Skull
Many of the villains in the Marvel Universe have at least a couple redeeming qualities. We can relate to them on a certain level, and even empathize. Not so with Red Skull. For the most part, we see this guy as pretty much pure evil—basically, the classic super villain. For that reason, we’d definitely enjoy watching Riri kick his butt.

Granted, this guy has been taking a bit of a break from the super villain business these days. But we’d really enjoy a comeback from him, just so he could go head to giant head with Riri. Like Ironheart, M.O.D.O.K. has used science to his benefit—except what benefits him usually doesn’t end well for anyone else. During his days at A.I.M., the villain became basically the quintessential evil scientist. We’d find it pretty interesting to see Riri face off with a bad guy who uses science in this way, since she conversely strives to employ it for the greater good.

Crimson Dynamo
We’ve seen quite a few versions of the Crimson Dynamo over the years, and multiple people have carried the mantle. Some of them have even switched sides and teamed up with Tony Stark. But essentially, we see the Crimson Dynamo as the “bizzaro” Iron Man. He often has lots of new tech to try out against our hero. So what better villain for Riri to test out her powers on?

Whitney Frost/Madame Masque
Masque and Tony have a complicated history, to say the least. They even had a bit of a romance at one point. So we wouldn’t be surprised to find some of Whitney’s entanglements with Stark spilling over into Riri’s new gig. We feel pretty certain Ironheart would handle conflicts with Madam Masque differently than Tony did. She’d drop the drama and just kick butt.

Find out who Riri will be teaming with next in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #5 on March 22!

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Mariko Tamaki examines the long-term fallout for Jen Walters’ recent trials!

Civil War II had some pretty dramatic ramifications for a lot of folks across the Marvel Universe, including Jen Walters. Recently, in HULK, we’ve seen the erstwhile She-Hulk trying to recover from the loss of her cousin, Bruce Banner, and put her life back together.

We caught up with writer Mariko Tamaki in advance of HULK #4 on March 22 about how Jen will cope, and what we can expect from her story moving forward. Jen has always had a belief in the justice system, which has led her to defend people who aren’t necessarily popular in the public eye. But the way things went down with Hawkeye really affected her. Has it changed her outlook on the justice system?

Mariko Tamaki: I don’t think it has. My take on it is that, she goes back to work because she has an enduring belief in the justice system. Regardless of how she might feel about what happened to her cousin, I think she still feels everyone deserves a trial. I’d consider this one of the more complex aspects of Jen, but I think it grounds a character to have these kinds of core values. I also think that, while this is a sustaining belief of hers, it doesn’t cover over the other feelings she has around what happened to Bruce.

And I’ve always liked that we get to see Jen as a working super hero. She still goes to the office every day and does her lawyer thing, in addition to punching out bad guys in space. Bruce, a family member, could uniquely understand what Jen goes through. How has losing him changed her?

Mariko Tamaki: It’s a pretty significant loss in her life. Losing someone like that can feel life-changing. Those people help to shape your world, and when you lose them, it can feel like you now have a piece missing. I think that’s the place where we find Jen right now. It seems like Jen feels, to an extent, like Carol Danvers let her down, because her decisions in part led to Bruce’s death. So that relationship has been affected, too. How has that impacted Jen?

Mariko Tamaki: We see Jen kind of isolating herself from everybody right now. Part of this issue, and this series, entails looking [at] how she has specifically separated herself from her friends. She has made a distinction between her old life and her new life, but I see that as a false dichotomy because her old life still exists, those people go on living. At the moment, we won’t see her dealing with her specific feelings about anybody, as much as we’ll see her trying to block out whatever she feels about everything that has happened. Jen is trying to rebuild her career, and move into a new phase of her life. What do you think that will look like for her moving forward? How will it be different from the career and life she had pre-Civil War II?

Mariko Tamaki: Well, we’ll see her in a liminal space, still trying to figure that out. Of course her super hero identity is a key part of her story, but right now, she doesn’t quite know what that will look like. She’ll always find herself feeling pushed toward life as a super hero, and now she faces the question of how to respond to that. For example, she finds herself drawn to her new client, Maise, who needs more help from her than a regular client would. So even when she might consciously choose to distance herself from her super hero life, she still moves in that direction. We could imagine an alternate reality where Jen retires to Florida and everything is cool. But that’s not the interesting story. What I find interesting is how our resolutions butt up against our destinies, and I see Jen as destined to fight for justice as more than just a lawyer. In issue #4, Jen will face her client’s fear, which is so strong it becomes a force of its own. Does this in some ways parallel Jen’s own experience? She has had to face some of her own anxieties lately.

Mariko Tamaki: I wanted to put Jen in this space with this person who I see as maybe a little farther along down this path than Jen, and who has taken a similar but different route. Jen has decided that being the Hulk feels like too much and she doesn’t want to do it, and Maise sees the entire world as too overwhelming, and she just wants to close herself off from it. And I like this idea of having a manifestation of dark, psychic energy. For Jen, her anxieties and traumas manifest through her transformation, and for Maise, they manifest in a different way. Jen feels drawn to Maise’s story because she can relate to what Maise has gone through. Would you like to mention or tease anything else?

Mariko Tamaki: I’ve had a lot of fun working with artist Nico Leon, colorist Matt Milla, and editor Mark Paniccia. I’ve really considered it a privilege to work with someone who adds so much—we see so much happening in the background of this comic that could make up a complete story in and of itself, thanks to Nico. And I hope readers enjoy that part of it too, because in every scene, you’ll see the foreground, but also something really weird or interesting in the background, and I recommend people check that out as they read it.

Follow the next steps in Jen’s journey through HULK #4 on March 22!

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Return to the introduction of Riri Williams and get her full story!

Celebrate Black History Month by delving into the first appearances of Marvel’s most prominent African and African-American characters on Marvel Unlimited!

Riri Williams, the first African-American woman to wear the Iron Man armor, debuted in wildly appropriate circumstances. The 15-year-old MIT student made so much noise working on a secret Iron Man armor that she roused the floor’s RA in the pages of INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #7 by Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato.

In issue #9, Riri explained that she made the armor as a dare to herself, but took the apparent disappearance of Tony Stark as a sign that it was meant to be. She donned the suit not long after when campus security showed up to ask about some unfortunate video footage implying that she’d stolen some of the tech from the robotics lab, though she routinely stated that she simply borrowed parts that weren’t being used by anyone else.

Figuring out the whole flying tactical armor thing over time, a near crash in the pages of issue #10 made Riri realize that she needed an artificial intelligence to help keep the thing in the air. In the following issue, she lost her armor while attempting to stop a police escape and got taken in by the cops, but only briefly.imvim2015_promo

Riri and Tony Stark finally came face to face in issue #12 when the latter interrupted an argument between the former and her mother. The young woman then revealed the armor to them both. As Riri explained, she based her design on the Mark-41 but put her own touches into it.

With Stark mostly incapacitated thanks to the end of Civil War II and his battle with Captain Marvel, he passed the metallic baton over to Riri who now stars in the latest volume of INVINCIBLE IRON MAN as Ironheart!

History Lesson

Riri just appeared last year for the first time, so there’s not a lot of history available on her. However, back in September, creator Brian Michael Bendis did an interview with about the creation of the character and how the announcement lead to crazy amounts of attention, including commentary by Robert Downey, Jr. that got people thinking Riri might take over for Tony in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He explained that he started getting hate mail as well as actress headshots for the role, which only exists in the comics so far.

“It just revealed how shallow the pool is for women of color in certain roles,” Bendis said. “There’s evidence we’re on the right track, but still much more to do. You see, there are some people who just really have some difficulty with change when it comes to these characters who they’ve known for years if not decades in some cases. And I get that. But, you know, I think it was [Marvel Chief Creative Officer] Joe Quesada who was talking to Stan Lee and asked him what he thought about some of these changes, and Stan’s response was that fans wouldn’t recognize one bit of the Marvel Universe if he was still running it. ‘You guys are the ones who truly love this stuff,’ he said. ‘But we would constantly tear it up. Who knows what it’d look like now if we were still at the helm.’”

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Explore the Screaming Citadel with exclusive art and commentary!

Artist Marco Checchetto’s no stranger to Star Wars comic fans who’ve already loved his work on such books as JOURNEY TO STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS – SHATTERED EMPIRE and OBI-WAN AND ANAKIN, but it may be the plum assignment he’s just pulled in that Galaxy Far, Far Away that’ll cement him as one of the space saga’s most accomplished illustrators.

Take a look at these exclusive shots from Checchetto’s sketchbook for the upcoming STAR WARS: THE SCREAMING CITADEL, the one-shot that kicks off the newest Star Wars comic crossover. Marco, what were your very first thoughts when you were invited to join the SCREAMING CITADEL team? What excited you about it?

Marco Checchetto: I love Star Wars and I grew up with these characters, so I’m excited to draw within the classic trilogy again and also to create new characters and a new horror-planet. Another world created by me to add to the saga—it’s awesome. I’ve been instilled with trust from Marvel and Lucasfilm, one that I hope to repay one day. In Italy it was about midnight when my editors, Jordan White and Heather Antos, asked me to work on THE SCREAMING CITADEL, and I did not sleep because I could not wait until morning to begin work immediately on the pages. What did you feel the demands would be on the project, in terms of the art and what you would deliver? What was your overall sense of the design?

Marco Checchetto: Another big thing about this job is that I’ve got the chance to work with two writers, Kieron Gillen and Jason Aaron, whom I respect very much. The story and the script for my one-shot are fantastic. I hope to work with Kieron and Jason again in the future, on some super heroes also. They had very precise ideas about the setting for this story. The difficulty in what they asked of me was in bringing a classic horror design and making it an integral part of the Star Wars universe. Looking over your sketches, we see what appear to be some cool mash-ups of medieval, gothic, and Victorian influences; where did you start out with your research for this? How much did you also pull from existing Star Wars designs?

Marco Checchetto: It was not easy. I opened up a lot of concept arts books from many movies and videogames to find something that would inspire me. Two of the most beautiful books I have are definitely the art books of the last two Star Wars movies, The Force Awakens and Rogue One. Those books helped me to try something new to me, but at the same time stay close to our galaxy. What can you say about the look of the Queen? What did you want to bring to her visually?

Marco Checchetto: For the Queen, and also for other characters, I was inspired by a Francis Ford Coppola movie, “Bram Stoker’s Dracula.” The costumes and the color palette in that are amazing. My woman here is beautiful, but very scary, a sinister and elegant alien-queen. Likewise with the palace guards: how do you get them looking so bad-ass?

Marco Checchetto: For the Citadel Guards it was more complicated. I wanted a sort of new Star Wars stormtrooper, something iconic but new. The head has as a base a classic Mandalorian helmet. This helps a lot to make it immediately familiar to the Star Wars world-look. For their costumes I used a classic medieval armor, but with lights and sci-fi details. For their weapons, a classic blaster and something to help me draw cool battles with them against Luke and his lightsaber. And to make it all more credible, I added a new flag for this new faction. When designing characters like Vespinax, Bombinax, etc., what do you do to impart “villainy” beyond things like darker colors, etc.? How do you make them menacing in the visuals?

Marco Checchetto: I decided to do all these characters without irises, and with cadaveric skin. Making them menacing is something you can do with your art-style; I really love to draw dark characters. I’m a dark side guy!

Can’t wait to see versions of these new characters by the other two artists involved in this crossover, Salvador Larroca and Andrea Broccardo! The look at the Citadel itself is just so incredibly cool and bizarre—where did it come from in your imagination?

Marco Checchetto: For the Citadel I was inspired by old black and white horror movies, with these improbable castles perched on the most inaccessible mountains, but I didn’t want to go with their classic medieval look. I wanted something that would strongly evoke that particular Star Wars-type atmosphere. Just look at those covers! Do you have a favorite one that you’ve done for the series?

Marco Checchetto: The most beautiful to me at the moment is the fourth cover, for STAR WARS #32, I think, the one with Han, Luke, and the Citadel Guards. Harrison Ford is very difficult to draw, but he’s also my favorite actor. He’s in four of the five covers! I want to persuade Marvel and Lucasfilm to give me an Indiana Jones series. That’s my plan. I’m really serious! Do it guys. Do it! Finally, Marco, what’s it like working with Kieron as collaborator on this one-shot?

Marco Checchetto: Working with Kieron is a real pleasure. The script is written so very well; everything works perfectly and the story flows smoothly and naturally. He has a great attention to detail in the storytelling. I like to work with writers like him or Jason. I love the interactions with all the characters of both series involved, STAR WARS and DOCTOR APHRA. I hope that this synergy with Kieron will be clear throughout the pages of SCREAMING CITADEL and make all the readers happy. We’re having a lot of fun on this.

Discover the STAR WARS: THE SCREAMING CITADEL one-shot from Kieron Gillen and Marco Checchetto this May!

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The “Z: The Beginning of Everything" actor talks the series, super powers and more!

Actor David Hoflin joins the podcast to talk about playing F. Scott Fitzgerald in the new Amazon Prime series “Z: The Beginning of Everything,” what super power Fitzgerald would have and much more!

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How does one man’s obsession fuel his transformation into a monster?

With so many classic creatures on the loose in Monsters Unleashed, we turn to their earlier adventures thanks to Marvel Unlimited.

For centuries, man has wondered about a mysterious creature living in wintery climes that may or may not hold ill will towards humanity. Readers of 1960’s TALES TO ASTONISH #13 by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko got some answers about the elusive Abominable Snowman!

While hanging out in a Calcutta bar, Big Carl Hanson overheard a man talking about a photo he’d gotten off another bloke of the Abominable Snowman! In an attempt to alleviate the gent of his newfound responsibility and potential fortune, Carl ambushed him outside and relieved him of the supposedly cursed photo.

Carl then hopped a train to the Himalayas with big plans formulating about actually capturing the Snowman itself. Upon arrival, many natives told him that the picture would lead to his absolute ruin. Unperturbed, Carl trudged into the mountains alone in search of his quarry.

No matter how many obstacles stood in his way, Carl continued on in his search bullheadedly. He stomped through snow, assuming he could survive, only to lose himself in the process. By the end, he had turned into the Abominable Snowman himself, perfectly matching the image he carried!

Tales to Astonish (1959) #24

Tales to Astonish (1959) #24

  • Published: October 01, 1961
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: September 21, 2012
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

You might think that a version of the Abominable Snowman appeared the next year in another Kirby-Lee story found in TALES TO ASTONISH #24, but that’s not exactly the case. In this tale, TV hosts and rivals Victor Cartwright and Don Jordan raced to uncover the truth about the mysterious monster.

To get the scoop, Cartwright put on a costume and started traipsing around only for the real Snowman to reach out and snatch him up. This version of the Snowman had a drilling machine that took him back and forth between the surface and bowels of the planet. Once down there he realized that a group of lizard-like aliens donned shaggy suits to wander the surface as a way to stay warm.

Given the depth of this legend in general, a variety of other versions of the Snowman have popped up, each of them adding one more thing to go bump in the snowy nights!

Years before Victor Von Doom wreaked havoc on the Marvel Universe, the Vandoom’s Monster tore through TALES TO ASTONISH #17.

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Thrill to the adventures of Jedi Ulic Quel-Droma and Nomi Sunrider!

Each week Star Wars Spotlight combs through the digital archives of Marvel Unlimited to showcase one classic story from that distant galaxy filled with Jedi, Sith, princesses, scoundrels and droids.

4000 years before “A New Hope,” the young Republic sprung up as a way to organize many planets that had achieved space travel capabilities and wanted to interact with one another. The Jedi came together to help quell conflicts and encourage peace and justice across the galaxy. Written by Tom Veitch with artwork by Chris Gossett, Janine Johnston, and David Roach, STAR WARS: TALES OF THE JEDI chronicles the adventures of two such Jedi at different points in their education.

The first two issues zero in on Jedi Knights Ulic Quel-Droma, his brother Cay, and Tott Doneeta, a Twi’lek. After their master Arca gave them a brief history of the conflict between the citadel-dwelling denizens of Onderon and their Beast Rider counterparts, he sent the trio to the planet to deal with the situation. “They will want you to fight…” Arca said. “But remember, Ulic, the Jedi bring peace…use your weapons as a last resort.”

Though they seemed thrust into conflict immediately after entering Onderon’s atmosphere, the Jedi soon met with Queen Amanoa of Iziz. As Arca foresaw, she expected warriors to help put down the outsiders, but before that could even be fully discussed, Beast Riders exploded into the throne room and flew off with Princess Galia.

Wanting to prove to Master Arca that he could pass this test, Ulic agreed to help Amanoa’s people in recovering Galia. By trying to do so, though, the Jedi learned that Galia helped plan the abduction so she could wed Oron Kira, son of the Beast Lord. In addition to love, Galia explained that she needed out of the stronghold because the Dark Side reigned there thanks to a Jedi-turned-Sith named Freedon Nadd who landed there 400 years ago and turned them isolationist before dying and being entombed within.

With this new knowledge, the Jedi shifted allegiance and fought against Amanoa who wielded the power of the Dark Side. The war raged until Master Arca showed up and quelled the conflict by using his Jedi mental powers. He also chastised his student for not being able to sense the Dark Side immediately upon landing on the planet. Still, with the threat minimized, they counted at least a partial win.

Star Wars: Tales Of The Jedi (1993) #1

Star Wars: Tales Of The Jedi (1993) #1

  • Published: October 01, 1993
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: May 07, 2015
  • Writer: Tom Veitch
  • Cover Artist: Dave Dorman
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Shifting over to issues #3-5, set around the same time, Nomi Sunrider found herself tested more than she ever thought possible. The wife of Jedi Knight Andur Sunrider became a single mother with powerful Jedi abilities after a group of Bogga the Hutt-controlled criminals killed her husband in an effort to steal his Adegan crystals. Before joining the Force, Andur told his wife to continue their original plan and go study with Master Thon.

Using the Force to guide her, Nomi flew her daughter Vima and their droid A-3DO to Ambria where Thon dwelled along with his student Oss Wilum. Before long, the Hutt’s stooges caught up with them again and Nomi found herself struggling with whether to use a lightsaber again or not. She never wanted to pick one up again after using her husband’s to kill his murderers. To save her mentor and daughter, she broke that promise to herself and started down a path to becoming a great Jedi.

From the Jedi Temple Archives

Though the first series to be published, TALES OF THE JEDI actually marks but one portion of a larger story being told during this era. Called “The Great Sith War,” the conflict sprung from the still-dangerous spirit of Freedon Nadd and enveloped all of the characters introduced in this first limited run. The TALES OF THE JEDI heading also jumped another thousand years further back in history to show the difficulties posed to those who used relatively new methods of space travel in “The Hyperspace Wars.” To give you an idea of who took charge back then, those series’ sport the titles THE GOLDEN AGE OF THE SITH and THE FALL OF THE SITH EMPIRE.

Next time we fly through the stars with the most accomplished pilots around in STAR WARS: X-WING ROGUE SQUADRON.

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The heart of the X-Men enters crisis!

Jean Grey presents as a woman in her late adolescence/early adulthood in better than average physical fitness. The writer, having previously seen some of her compatriots, was surprised to see her looking as young as she did. However, the client explained that she was most likely not the Jean Grey he had heard about over the years prior but rather an earlier version moved forward to the future. Although this therapist finds this all very perplexing, the client’s self-reporting on the matter does seem accurate.

Since arriving in the future, Grey has found herself bombarded by information from a life yet to come, including struggles controlling the Phoenix Force—and the consequences of the times she has been unable to do so—her relationship to Scott Summers—Cyclops—including their eventual marriage, and the general increasing volatility of mutant relations.

Understandably, this knowledge has proved very distressing to the client. While she has not done any of these things yet—and is unlikely to, given her time displacement—she still feels a certain connection to these, to us, past events. Making things more complicated is that many of the other individuals she has encountered since her arrival all seem to look at her and treat her as the adult Jean Grey they’ve known for years. When she does something that “their” Jean wouldn’t she can feel them judging her. Similarly, when she doesn’t do something that they would’ve expected the adult Jean to do, she is aware of their disappointment. She feels trapped by a past and reputation that are not hers and expressed to this writer several times that it feels as though she often cannot make the right choice. If she does what they want, she betrays her own instincts; if she does what she thinks she should, many people will be confused or disappointed.Jean_grey_all_new_x-men

This has been especially on her mind as of late because of the state of mutantkind. Everything, she has explained, feels very precarious to her and she knows that mutants, especially her teammates in the X-Men, need stability. She knows that, in the past, Jean Grey was often a source of that stability. She can feel within herself the potential to be the same but knows that whatever she does to help her teammates and fellow mutants it will be different than the other Jean would’ve done and worries if that, in and of itself, will create more fear and uncertainty than if she did nothing at all or, as she has tried previously, just went off and lived her life as someone else, concealing her mutant abilities and disconnecting herself from the mutant rights movement.

Despite the enormity of the situation and how confusing it must be, this writer estimates the client’s prognosis to be good. She is thoughtful and intelligent, has a natural charisma, and is clearly a very empathetic individual. Additionally, even if they might have high expectations for her, she has a wealth of people ready and willing to support her and the X-Men are known for having a significant level of resources within their reach.

To gain a better understanding of how time travel and long term displacement might affect a person’s mental health, this writer has referred the client for an appointment with Doctors Jeff Lemire and Eric Koda on Match 22. They will make their findings available to this writer in file EXTRAORDINARY X-MEN #20 so that they can be addressed and incorporated into Jean Grey’s therapeutic sessions.

Psy D. Candidate Tim Stevens is a Staff Therapist who knows if Jean Grey read his mind, she’d find that he is a huge fan of party mix. And he is not ashamed.

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