Gleaming new villain The Golden Skull stands revealed by writer Al Ewing!

Ask any child, they will tell you: red might be a cool color but it doesn’t compare to gold.

Apparently, the newest villain of the Marvel Universe remembers those lessons of his childhood so while he shares a look with The Red Skull, he went the extra mile, sporting a bright shiny golden cranium.

Color sense, alone, however, will not conquer the modern Marvel Universe and The Golden Skull has no intention of not leaving the world tightly in his grip. U.S.AVENGERS writer Al Ewing reached out to us from his hidden bunker to let us know why the Golden Skull’s arrival may very well spell all our dooms.

Marvel.com: How does The Golden Skull differ in motivation and M.O. from the more well-known Skull, Red?

Al Ewing: In motivation…not that much. The Golden Skull’s aim is to create ruin and make money from the rubble, and the more people he can cheat, lie to, and steal from along the way, the better. It makes him feel clever. I suppose The Red Skull might actually at least pretend to himself that he believes in something—as evil and monstrous as that something may be—but I’m not sure the same is true for The Golden Skull. He believes only in himself. If the Red Skull’s soul is a bleak, shriveled lump of bile and ash, the Golden Skull’s soul is a howling void surrounded by golden mirrors that reflect it back, and there is nothing else in him.

In M.O.—I don’t think The Golden Skull uses any methods The Red Skull wouldn’t. Although I don’t think The Red Skull likes pirates as much.

Marvel.com: Without spoiling too much, can you vaguely describe Skull’s goal and why the U.S.Avengers in particular are the force set up to stop him?

Al Ewing: The Golden Skull is here to make money, and if other people have to suffer and die to make that happen, well, he’s more than happy to sneer at them about it. He’ll probably stockpile his ill-gotten gains in the form of gold, since the eventual endgame is to take his haul somewhere else and start the process over again. and gold is relatively universal among the alternate dimensions. That’s the nice thing about the Marvel Universe: there’s always another Earth somewhere if you burn this one.

As for why the U.S.Avengers are involved—Captain America 20XX, the Cap from the Skull’s future, knows and trusts them, and she’s worked with them before. All the other heroes in this timeline are up to their eyeballs in drama; Black Widow’s always got some spy stuff going on, Vision is not exactly the Vision she met last time, and her parents have all manner of things going on, as seen in their own books. Roberto, meanwhile, has just set up a giant super-spy organization. He’s the obvious choice to come to for a helping hand.

U.S.Avengers #2 cover by Paco Medina

U.S.Avengers #2 cover by Paco Medina

Marvel.com: Given that Golden Skull comes from alternate future U.S. where Manhattan periodically floods and helium is in high demand, how much shock does he experience with the Marvel U’s mainstream modern NYC?

Al Ewing: Not much at all! Anywhere he can find a mark to con, he’s happy. If anything, this timeline is a paradise for him; the future timeline he comes from [has] learned a lot of hard lessons at great cost, and they’re currently in the “won’t get fooled again” phase. The Golden Skull can’t afford to wait decades for people to forget all about that, so he’s come back—and sideways—in time, instead.

Marvel.com: The solicits for U.S.AVENGERS #2 mention the death of Captain America—although not which one. Given that the only times we’ve seen Skull to date he was fighting or being beaten by a Captain America, what has his reaction been to the hero’s death?

Al Ewing: That’s at the start of issue #2, I believe. We kill off two of them! We don’t see his reaction, though, as presumably he’d have learned about it in history class, assuming he bothered to go. That’s right: we’re taking a close look at the mysterious Zero Day that started the world of 20XX!

Marvel.com: In general, how does Skull view and react to the heroes of the mainstream Marvel U?

Al Ewing: A collection of rubes, marks, and idiots, just like the heroes of his home dimension.

The fact that they keep beating him doesn’t change his assessment.

After all, how can anyone be on his level? He’s quite similar to Doctor Doom in that, although unlike Doom, the Golden Skull doesn’t “do” book learning; not even ancient tomes of mysticism.

Marvel.com: What is the single most important thing readers should know about Skull to understand him and the threat he represents?

Al Ewing: He is capable of anything—absolutely anything—in his own service. He will never reform. He will never change. And he will burn the world before he ever admits he’s wrong.

See the Golden Skull’s schemes begin to unfold in U.S.AVENGERS #1, available on January 4, and explode in issue #2, coming January 18, both by Al Ewing and Paco Medina!

Read More

Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale plumb the depths of Peter Parker’s sadness!

Celebrate the Wall Crawler’s return to the big screen in “Spider-Man: Homecoming” by heading back to school with these adventures available on Marvel Unlimited!

The death of Gwen Stacy might almost seem like a curious footnote to readers today. Sure, she’s popped up from time to time in recent years, usually as a clone in an effort to play with Spider-Man’s head, but beyond that, decades’ worth of readers saw Peter Parker with other women. However, Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale captured exactly what Gwen meant to Peter in the pages of SPIDER-MAN: BLUE. The six-issue limited series released in 2002 revolved around Spidey’s alter ego talking to his lost love about their time together through a tape recorder.

In the first issue we saw Spider-Man quietly leave a rose on top of the George Washington Bridge. To the recorder he said, “It’s about remembering someone who was so important to me I was going to spend the rest of my life with her. I didn’t know that meant she would only get to spend the rest of her life with me.” Peter then jumped around, recounting how a battle with The Green Goblin—who knew his secret identity at the time—seemed to leave Norman Osborn with amnesia. Not long after, Harry Osborn asked Parker to room with him.

As Peter and Gwen became friendlier, a shadowy individual began manipulating the villainous likes of Rhino, Vulture, Lizard, and others. That paled in comparison, though, to our hero feeling pulled between two awesome women in his life who both seemed interested in him: Gwen and the newly introduced Mary Jane Watson. Not only does SPIDER-MAN: BLUE capture much of the feel of these original stories from the 70s, but it also distills much of the action for readers who might not be inclined to jump into the ongoing adventures of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN from that time.

Spider-Man: Blue (2002) #1

Spider-Man: Blue (2002) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Meanwhile, Loeb and Sale also capture that thrill of youth that comes with breaking out in the world for the first time. Peter’s still in school at this point, but he’s moving away from home and hanging out with people that seem to really like him. Not bad for a kid described as a “professional wallflower” in his first appearance.

Of course, since we all know how that Peter/Gwen story ends, it makes it all the more heartbreaking to see how it began and really started to flourish. Spider-Man would deal with the trauma of losing his first love and learn to put himself out there again, but he’d never forget how Gwen Stacy changed his life.

A Tangled Web

The real Gwen Stacy returned recently in the pages of THE CLONE CONSPIRACY written by Dan Slott. In the first issue of that series, Spider-Man ran into his former girlfriend while fighting Rhino and Electro at a New U facility. In a back-up story, we flashed back to the day Green Goblin snatched Stacy from Peter’s apartment and took her to that ill-fated bridge. This tale revealed Gwen as conscious during Spider-Man’s confrontation with the masked Osborn. As they fought, she learned the Wall Crawler’s true name and felt betrayed because of his presumed involvement in her father’s death. After her fall, she awoke in a lab run by Ben Reilly in his Jackal disguise and learned that she had been reanimated from her existing DNA complete with memories along with her father. She agreed to work with Reilly in building New U.

Another important woman in Peter Parker’s life takes her turn next time as we look at SPIDER-MAN LOVES MARY JANE.

Read More

HYDRA forces our resident therapist to profile Miles Morales!

To begin with, I must renew my objections to this report. What is happening here is very nearly coercion and while this is not an ethical violation or illegal judging by current laws, statutes, or professional codes, it also does not feel necessary or oriented towards some kind of good outcome. While it has been made clear to me that my opinion on this matter has little weight, I nonetheless strongly urge this report be destroyed without review and that this practice end here and now.

Additionally estimating factors like future dangerousness, which is similar to what you are asking, are impossible without direct meetings with the subject. In other words, the information presented below is literally guesswork and may be more muddling than helpful.

The subject in questions is one of two individuals who identifies as Spider-Man and operates as a costumed crime fighter. This particular Spider-Man wears the black costume with red web markings.

The subject presents as male and, given his size and body type, is most likely a teenager. This matches the scant information provided to this writer by your organization, so I do expect it is accurate.

In the past several months, he has worked with the Avengers, the teen pacifist and recently discredited team known as the Champions, and on his own. He has engaged in a variety of conflicts including stopping so-called street level crime, super villain crime, and interceded in civil right issues in foreign nations. From this, it seems likely the subject tends towards idealism. It is possible, as well, that he may be amoral and just seeking conflict because of some desire for violence, but this would be highly unusual.

The subject does seem to have a preference towards teams and partnerships while acting as a super hero. This may indicate that he is seeking a stability in his “career” that he is not finding at home. There may be a variety of reasons for this including absentee or abusive parents, an inability to share his secret with his family, or a recent major loss in the family. Of course, it could also mean the subject has an excellent support system in his non-costumed life and therefore is drawn to similar situations while costumed.

To speak directly to the question at hand: does this writer think the subject is capable of the murder of Steve Rogers? I do not believe he is. Physically, it does seem possible; the client obviously possesses incredible strength and agility and reports indicate he might have some kind of ability to short circuit other’s abilities for a small window of time.

Psychologically, however, it seems unlikely. The subject has no recorded instances of using lethal force at any point, no matter the danger of the situation or the state of his physical being in that moment. The subject has not sought out conflicts in any active way—for instance, as The Punisher has been known to do—and has even, at times, attempted to defuse situations before turning to violence even when initially engaged violently by someone else. Finally, all his known alliances have been with vigilantes who else do not employ lethal force, limiting the potential for him to have a sudden change of heart.

Therefore, I would suggest HYDRA’s obsession with the subject—who, I stress, is most likely an adolescent—is unnecessary and ill-informed.

I have heard some individuals suggest that whatever report I deliver here is not to be trusted given my strenuous objections to doing it at all so I would also suggest reviewing Doctors Nick Spencer and Leinil Francis Yu’s report on Spider-Man. It is available on July 26 in the file marked SECRET EMPIRE #7.

Psy D. Candidate Tim Stevens is a Staff Therapist who has never worn HYDRA green and never will.

Read More

Danny Rand’s island adventure comes to a brutal end!

While July 4 usually marks the height of fireworks in the United States, IRON FIST #5 will have plenty more ready for you the next day.

Danny Rand, tired but resilient, will complete his violent journey to the top of the Liu-Shi fighting tournament and finally come face to face with the shadowy final opponent who has been watching him from afar all this time. While we wouldn’t dare spoil the results, we can promise the clash will be explosive.

Writer Ed Brisson gladly took a break from cleaning all the blood off of his clothes to talk to us about the end of the Immortal Weapon’s latest martial arts contest.

Marvel.com: At the start of IRON FIST, Danny found himself losing his chi. As he pulls into this final fight, he has been awarded the chi of his fallen opponents. How has that affected his abilities? His state of mind?

Ed Brisson: At first, I think it came as a bit of relief to him. He’s finally able to tap back into his power; however, as we learn through the series, it’s fleeting. The chi he absorbs is not the same and doesn’t last, so, in a lot of ways, he’s back to square one. He’s still trying to find out why he has trouble connecting with his chi. Until he knows why, he has no idea how to fix it.

He came to Liu-Shi looking for answers and while he may find some, he’s discovered new questions that he’ll need to answer.

Marvel.com: The final opponent has made an effort to keep him or herself largely in the shadows. Without spoiling anything, what can you tell us about this mysterious foe?

Ed Brisson: Oh man…I want to, but that’s one of those things that I think is better left for the reader to discover. Let’s just say that this fight is a fight that’s been in the making since the 70s.

Marvel.com: How did Mike Perkins’ art help you realize the tone and look of the final boss? How did his depiction of the character inform your writing of him and of the fight?

Ed Brisson: Going in, we had a very clear idea of who the final boss was; there’s an existing history to him that we’re building upon. Design wise, Mike came up with an incredible look for him. Something classic that doesn’t look dated. I can’t get too deep into it without risk of spoiling things, but will say that Mike nailed the design. Which is no surprise, Mike has designed some incredible characters for this series.

Iron Fist #5 cover by Jeff Dekal

In terms of Mike’s fights and choreography—after seeing the very first fight scene in issue #2, I stopped scripting fight scenes for Mike. When we get to a fight page, I’ll usually give a bare-bones run down of what happens and leave the rest to Mike. Normally, I don’t write that way, but have found that with Mike, the best thing to do is get out of his way and let him work his magic. That’s how you end up with some pages that have 22 panels of the most killer fighting you’ve ever seen in a comic.

Marvel.com: It has been clear since issue #2 that the houses of the island have no intention of playing fair with Iron Fist. Now that he stands one antagonist away from total victory, how dangerous are the schools to him even though he’s defeated their champions?

Ed Brisson: Although the island operates under one governing council, each house/school has a very distinct personality and will react to the loss in their own way. Some of the houses will accept the loss gracefully. Others, not as much. And some…well, some will not accept loss at any cost.

The long term of this is that we’re going to see Danny making pathways with new allies, while also adding a whole slew of enemies to his already bursting fight dance card.

Even though Danny may soon be done with the Liu-Shi, that doesn’t mean that Liu-Shi is done with him.

Marvel.com: In considering this last issue of your first arc on the title, what would you tell fans who think they might want to pick it up but aren’t sure? What makes this issue an important get for fans of Iron Fist?

Ed Brisson: Anyone who’s a fan of kung fu flicks should pick up the series. We’re leaning hard into that old Shaw Bros feel and I think that a lot of people have been pretty happy with it. We’re really doing our best to honor Iron Fist’s roots by telling a tale that feels classic, but also contemporary all at once.

Marvel.com: In looking beyond #5, can you tease any elements or stories that may await Danny if he can survive this last fight?

Ed Brisson: In issues #6 and #7, Danny is just trying to get back home. There’ll be some unfinished business and the tournament will have some lasting repercussions that Danny is going to have to deal with for the foreseeable future. But, in the meantime, he’s trying to get back home and…well, some folks are trying to stop him from doing even that. We’ll meet some new baddies, which I’m pretty excited about. But, I think readers will be happy to see Shang-Chi, Marvel’s other Kung Fu Master, popping up to help Danny fight against this new threat.

Catch the thrilling conclusion to the first arc of IRON FIST by Ed Brisson and Mike Perkins with July 5’s issue #5!

Read More

Margaret Stohl talks Chitauri and the true power of Carol Danvers!

Margaret Stohl, writer of MIGHTY CAPTAIN MARVEL, has a lot to contend with in the upcoming issue #7, coming July 26! Soldier, leader, and self-appointed protector of Earth Carol Danvers has been facing a limitless, relentless wave of opposition in the Chitauri alien fleet—not to mention being walled off from her home planet due to an impenetrable force field erected by the traitorous Captain America.

Stohl talked to us about what it’s like writing Carol’s raw, reborn humanity in the face of planetary extinction, betrayal, grief—and hope.

Marvel.com: You’ve written Carol for a little while, now. How has she evolved in your time writing her and where might she be going in the future?

Margaret Stohl: I started with Carol right after CIVIL WAR II and that was a rough time for her as she transitioned out of making a lot of really difficult decisions. A lot of her readers weren’t very pleased with her and I think she has to own up to a lot of what she’d lost in that past year, which was [a lot of friends and loved ones]. It was a big tumultuous year leading into the first arc I had on Carol [and] I think she was working out a lot of the repercussions from that level of conflict.

Now with SECRET EMPIRE she’s got a Chitauri attack in space and it’s sort of Carol doing what Carol does best, which is be a leader, take on incredible odds, and fight for what she believes in. But also just fight—I mean, she is a soldier. One of the reasons I was excited to work on Captain Marvel is that I’m a big fan of space, but also military history and combat. I love putting Carol in real combat scenarios and seeing her act like the real soldier she is. Marvel doesn’t do that very often [and] has a very broad approach to heroics, so it’s been very interesting seeing her tap into the actual [military] captain side of her. I actually get a lot of mail from veterans, and veteran women in particular, who are sort of an underrepresented group.

[As for] where Carol is headed, there will be a mini-event called Generations where she’ll re-team with the original Captain Mar-Vell. That will be a return to her roots and an exploration of her origins so I’m pretty excited about that.

Marvel.com: The Chitauri attack is really all falling down on Carol more than anyone else. What is going on with her in this chaos of the waves of attack?

Margaret Stohl: It takes a lot to take someone like Carol out. She’s having to come back from something that basically nobody else could come back from. That’s the position she’s in, [having to think] “how can I get back to save Earth?” and also “what’s gonna be left of Earth by the time I get back there?” The stakes are pretty high right now, even by Marvel Universe standards.

Mighty Captain Marvel #7 cover by Elizabeth Torque

Marvel.com: And what of the Steve Rogers of it all, namely his betrayal and the toll that puts on Carol?

Margaret Stohl: Well, it’s an extinction mission [and Steve] has meant for them to die. That is a brutal calculation that he’s made because he’s not himself, he’s a different version of himself. So she’s kind of a raw open wound, [because] she’s the other captain besides Steve Rogers, right? So she sees him as a direct referendum on what she’s doing as a hero and if Steve Rogers could disappoint everyone like that, then what does that actually mean for any of them? He was part of the bedrock. So it’s definitely been a rough arc for her. She’s got one foot in space and one foot on Earth. I think you’ll definitely see her increasingly more involved with Earth heroes as this wraps up and she does get to come back down to Earth. I mean, I say this all the time, but when people get upset that Cap is Hydra, I just say that there’s more than one captain there and as he falls she rises. It becomes up to her, now, to do the job for both of them which she does.

Marvel.com: That you’d mention Steve Rogers as a counterpart is so interesting because, for me, SECRET EMPIRE is very much a story of the two captains. They’re the ones that weave this big arc together. It was almost like before they went point on Earth and the galaxy but, with Steve gone, she’s now having to shoulder that whole burden of everything.

Margaret Stohl: That’s certainly how it feels. I mean, I’m drawn to powerful women [characters] and she is definitely one of the most powerful—literally—that I’ve worked with! Carol never doesn’t rise to the call no matter what the personal price is for her, and that’s something I respect so much about her and frankly I recognize with so many of the women I know. We do hard things, we shoulder the burdens people won’t shoulder, and we make the world work. I see that in Carol and I see that in the women around me. I really relate to it and I admire it. Carol Danvers is a very powerful, very flawed character who struggles just as all of her readers do and I think that’s part of what makes her so special. I like that model being out there and I think it’s a great time for women super heroes.

[Writing Captain Marvel] is definitely more significant than any of the other characters I’ve worked with, and I think that’s why people work with Marvel because that is ground zero in culture wars. It’s world-changing for so many girls now and that’s what we’re here to do as female creators—what I’m here to do, and it’s an honor.

Enlist with Carol and company as Margaret Stohl and Michele Bandini bring us MIGHTY CAPTAIN MARVEL #7 on July 26!

Read More

Thanos artist Germán Peralta reveals the God Quarry in exclusive pages!

They say that no one’s ever returned from the God Quarry. Then again, no one like the Mad Titan has descended into the pit before!

To see exactly how this plays out, you’ll have to pick up THANOS #9 on July 26. The story, by writer Jeff Lemire and artist Germán Peralta, marks the duo’s third issue together on the title, but they seem to be hitting it off quite well as they continue to chronicle their protagonist’s solo adventures in space.

We talked with Peralta about capturing the complexity of his title character, working with Lemire, and building the God Quarry!

Marvel.com: Given Thanos’ status as a cosmic level villain, do you approach him any differently than you might a more straight-forward hero?

Germán Peralta: Thanos is one of my favorite characters in the Marvel Universe. I drew a lot of fan art about him. I like his aesthetic as much as his personality. When I found out I was going to draw him, I started to imagine how to put my “touch” on him without leaving aside the great work Mike Deodato did in the previous issues.

The approach I use to draw a villain of these characteristics is very different from a super hero. I can play a lot with his expressions without the fear of making him look funny or grotesque, either with his face or his body language. In fact, I’ve always been more interested in the villains. I believe they’re the ones who make a hero, heroic. In this case, Jeff Lemire did excellent work with Thanos’ personality, giving him a different twist to his character, but never losing sight of who he really is. Having the chance to be a part of this character’s story is a real pleasure.

Marvel.com: Thanos is such a complicated figure. From a physicality perspective, what are the key elements that really define him?

Germán Peralta: I think that the thing that makes the Mad Titan interesting is the dichotomy between his hunger for power and the emptiness inside him. It’s like he always wanted to fill that emptiness with power but it’s never enough. It’s interesting how inside him coexists the madness and the calmness, the furious strength with the absolute intelligence. He could have everything but he always wants more and he never gets it00but he’ll destroy everything in its way to get it.

Marvel.com: This issue finds Thanos heading into the God Quarry, what can you tell us about that very intriguing location?

Germán Peralta: I really enjoyed that conclusion when I read the script. This is a place of desolation, where it doesn’t matter how powerful you are, you have absolutely no chance against the power who reigns there. It doesn’t matter your size, your strength, how important you are in the history of the universe, you’re going to feel like a scared puppy in there, surrounded by those colossi who couldn’t do anything to save themselves from being trapped between those walls and from that pit.

Marvel.com: What was the design process like for the God Quarry?

Germán Peralta: I knew this was going to be an important place in the next issues but I also imagined this was an important place for Jeff too, since he created it in his mind and I didn’t want to ruin that. I consider it really important to work alongside the writer because every page is created by both of us. And the fact of knowing what Jeff had in his mind when he imagined this scenario was as important to me as what I had at the moment of doing the sketches.

Luckily, we both had a similar image in our minds; I based my design on a mine pit but without the necessary levels to go back up. It’s a hole with unknown depth because the only thing you can see are more and more petrified bodies. It was very important for me to emphasize the lack of hope against this power; that the ones who fell there, even Thanos, think, “What do I have that they didn’t to not finish as they finished?” There are some references to see the magnitude of the beings who are, or rather who were, really powerful.

Marvel.com: How has it been working with Jeff on this series so far? Since he’s an artist as well, does that change how you two might discuss a scene?

Germán Peralta: I can’t complain about the writers I [have] worked with. Jeff is a great writer and also a great artist. Saying that, he’s someone who could say something in the creative process or about the designs every time, however he gives me a lot freedom when I draw. Everything is clear in his scripts, it’s all there, but even then, he is open if I make some changes. I believe that mutual trust between the writer and the artist is essential to make a better project.

Enter the God Quarry along with the Mad Titan, Jeff Lemire, and Germán Peralta on July 26 when THANOS #9 debuts!

Read More

Mara Jade and Luke Skywalker tie the knot—and chaos ensues!

We all know that the first Star Wars film changed the face of pop culture forever when it hit theaters 40 years ago today—but it’s not just the movie that’s celebrating that milestone in 2017. Star Wars comics arrived with force in 1977, and hundreds of issues later, they’re more popular now than ever.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Star Wars, we’re looking back at our 40 favorite moments from the history of comics from a galaxy far, far away—one day at a time.

Star Wars: Union (1999) #1

Star Wars: Union (1999) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

If you’ve read past entries in this series, you’ll remember Mara Jade’s mission in both HEIR TO THE EMPIRE and MARA JADE: BY THE EMPEROR’S HAND: to kill Luke Skywalker. What a difference a few years makes! Mostly through the Star Wars novels of the 1990s, once Mara realized that maybe she had not made the best career choice serving Emperor Palpatine, she and Luke fell in love. And in STAR WARS: UNION, writer Michael A. Stackpole and artist Robert Teranishi married the former adversaries.

But naturally, much like Reed and Sue or Peter and Mary Jane, no comic book wedding can go off without a hitch. In this case, objectors allied with both the Imperial Remnant and the New Republic had their own plans on stopping the wedding in the most dramatic of ways. But in the end, the two are wed until death do they part—and you might want to read the “New Jedi Order” novels to find out how that turns out…

Read More

Find out how former Avengers feel about Captain America’s heel turn!

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

An A.I. version of a genius, a demigod, a speedy mutant, a shrinking thief, a scientist-spy, and a former Captain America might not seem like the most obvious team in the world, but they’ve joined forces to save Steve Rogers’ soul in the pages of SECRET EMPIRE: UNDERGROUND. Iron Man, Hercules, Quicksilver, Ant-Man, Mockingbird, and Sam Wilson plan on gathering up all of the Cosmic Cube pieces to restore their friend and teammate’s  personality.

The group formed in the pages of SECRET EMPIRE #2 after A.I. Tony Stark realized that, if they gathered up the Cube fragments, they might be able to return Steve Rogers to his true self. They immediately set out to get help from Sam Wilson, who we now know gave up the shield in favor of ferrying people out of the Hydra-controlled United States as seen in CAPTAIN AMERICA: SAM WILSON issues of late.

Though reluctant to help, Sam agreed to get the squad out, but didn’t realize they’d all be heading right for Alaska and Hank Pym-Ultron as unfolded in SECRET EMPIRE #4. That issue ended with the good guys getting away with the fragment. Later, while watching TV they saw Namor not only give Captain America the piece he had, but also bow in fealty to the Hydra leader! The former head of the Avengers also revealed that he also had a mole on the inside, leading to plenty of motives being questioned during UNDERGROUND.

The one-shot, which came out today, found the team traveling to the Savage Land to get another Cube piece from Sauron, but they soon discovered that the energy-sucking dinosaur man had been unseated by Whiteout, Vertigo, and Lupa. After a brutal fight, the group flew away with the fragment, but also some heavy injuries that prompted them to head back to their base.

Expect this squad to play a huge role in SECRET EMPIRE moving forward, not only because one of their number works for Captain America, but because they’re the main group trying to save Steve Rogers instead of simply defeating—and possibly ending—him like Black Widow’s recruits.

The Empire Strikes Back

Each member of this team owes Captain America their life in one way or another. At various times they have all served as Avengers under his leadership, which surely brought them out of more than a few potentially deadly battles. For Quicksilver and Ant-Man, he also helped get their lives turned around as one of the people who backed them in their shift from their previous lives of crime. Of course, we must also keep in mind that Pietro’s concerned about his sister who currently serves Hydra thanks to a demon inhabiting her body. We’d bet that comes into play down the line as well.

Read More

Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley reimagine Peter Parker!

Celebrate the Wall Crawler’s return to the big screen in “Spider-Man: Homecoming” by heading back to school with these adventures available on Marvel Unlimited!

Back in 2000, Marvel came up with this wild idea to start a new imprint with a few writers who had promise along with some established artists. Of course, that resulted in the Ultimate Universe and books like ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN by a couple of guys named Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley. The series ran for years with the same creative team.

Bendis and Bagley kicked their run off with a seven-issue take on Spider-Man’s origin that really dove in and fleshed out a lot of the details while also updating the setting and adding new threads. For instance, the spider that bit Peter actually came from one of Norman Osborn’s labs, which connected the two right from the get-go. In an effort to replicate the results found in Parker, Osborn injected himself with a similar concoction that turned him into The Green Goblin.

After facing off against the Goblin for the first time, Peter scored a gig at “The Daily Bugle” and soon found out about a mobster calling himself The Kingpin. He then took on the master criminal as well as his goons, the Enforcers, and Electro.

With that adventure out of the way and having put a wedge between him and next-door neighbor/friend Mary Jane Watson, Peter decided to have a heart-to-heart with the young lady. In a major shift away from tradition, this version of Parker revealed to MJ his secret identity as Spider-Man! Understandably skeptical, Mary Jane laughed at first and denied the admission. So, Peter did the only thing he could: he jumped onto the wall, then stuck to the ceiling. First he explained where the powers came from, then he said taking her web-swinging would be too dangerous and then explained that she could never tell anyone.

Ultimate Spider-Man (2000) #1

Ultimate Spider-Man (2000) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

He also answered another important question, namely why he told her about all of this even though he knew it could be dangerous: “Because—you know—I’ve been really hurting your feelings lately because of this. Always running away or-or not being where I say I am going to be and—and you deserve better than that—you-you-you deserve to know the truth and—I just—I needed to tell you.”

Mary Jane then admitted she thought he brought her to his room for a first kiss, which seemed like a good idea until Aunt May busted in with Mary Jane’s mom on the phone talking about hanky panky and being safe. Even with proper amounts of mortification running through him, Peter still felt enough happy to enjoy the moment afterwards.

Peter and Mary Jane’s relationship went through a lot of changes over the rest of his life, as they broke up and got back together a number of times. She mourned him when he seemingly died, but the two reunited after he resurfaced and left to travel the country while Miles Morales continued his efforts as Spider-Man.

A Tangled Web

The ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN comic book offered more than just its name to the Disney XD animated series that wrapped up with its fourth and final season back in January. “Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man” focused on a high school aged Peter Parker who went from new hero on the block to someone worthy of not just Avengers membership, but also saving time and spice with his fellow Web Warriors. The show did differ in one major respect, though: Peter attended a high school run by S.H.I.E.L.D.! This gave him a great reason to hang out with fellow student-heroes like Luke Cage, Nova, White Tiger, Iron Fist, and others!

Next, Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale explore the impact of Peter Parker’s relationship with Gwen Stacy in the pages of SPIDER-MAN: BLUE!

Read More

Relive the romantic ups and downs of Sharon Carter and Steve Rogers!

Like any on-again off-again couple, Sharon Carter and Steve Rogers have experienced more than their fair share of exhilarating highs and crushing lows. With the Sentinel of Liberty-turned-leader of HYDRA poised to be embraced by the masses in CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #19 on July 26, we turn our focus from that macro to the micro and look at the complicated history between these two lovers currently at odds.

Falling in Love with War Stories

Long before Steve ever met her, Sharon has “met” him through tales of her aunt, Peggy Carter’s thrilling exploits in World War II. Inevitably, the star-spangled hero would co-star from time to time as the elder Carter rallied freedom fighters in France during the war’s darkest days. Sharon found herself utterly taken by the stories, finding an idol in her aunt and perhaps developing a bit of a storybook crush on Steve

The Early Years

By the time Carter had grown up enough to follow in her aunt’s footsteps, joining S.H.I.E.L.D., Rogers had returned to the land of the living from his previous status as human iceberg. By this time, however, Carter had long left her crush in the rearview and their early encounters proved strictly business as they collaborated to take down the likes of A.I.M., Red Skull, and Batroc the Leaper.

Cap Is, Alas, A Man of His Time

Two attractive people, spending lots of time together, in intensely physical and dangerous jobs…perhaps becoming infatuated could not have been avoided. In any case, it did happen but things immediately became rocky because Rogers proved that even the most progressive of WWII vets have some biases that do not die easy. In this case, the problem came from Carter’s career choice: spy. While they never would have met if not for her job and his job being relatively equal if not even worse in danger level, Steve nonetheless wanted Sharon to step away from S.H.I.E.L.D., for her safety.

Death Becomes Her

Before Carter could properly carve into Rogers for gender biases, she seemed to die, on-camera, after being mind-controlled to commit an act of suicide bombing. In fact, it had been staged to put Sharon deep undercover. Unfortunately, that job seemingly went pear-shaped leading to her death so no one at S.H.I.E.L.D. ever bothered telling Steve that the first death, the one he witnessed, had not been real at all.

Not Really Dead!

Good news! Even that second death turned out to not be real! Bad news! Carter had been abandoned behind enemy lines.

Agent 13—Sharon’s codename—does not know the word quit though so she adapted. Turning to the life of a mercenary, she stayed strong, survived, and in time, flourished. Eventually, her skills put her face to face with Red Skull. In one of the most intense examples of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” Carter and Skull team-up to take on a Neo Nazi group obsessed with acquiring the Cosmic Cube. Knowing that Steve Rogers had repeatedly demonstrated no one stopped Nazis better than him, Skull swallowed his pride and gave Rogers a life-saving blood transfusion. The improbable trio then set about stopped the Kubecult and Carter and Rogers dispensed with Skull as well when he inevitably attempted to stab them in the back.

Partners Once More

Sharon being back, however, did not mean love immediately sprang anew. She had been changed by her years away and harbored lots of anger towards her former lover for never having tried to find her.

Instead, the two focused on their professional relationship with her aiding him to clear his name during a brief period of exile from the United States, teaming up to defeat Nightmare when he targeted some of the “most patriotic” Americans, and several other missions.

A Thaw Comes

Ironically, it would take The Winter Soldier to turn the relationship hot after months of cool professionalism. While tracking the man who had been Bucky, the duo finally allowed themselves to admit the strong feelings between them and re-engage in their romance.

My Lover, My Killer

Unfortunately, the relationship took a quick dive into tragedy. In the midst of the chaos of Civil War, an undercover Doctor Faustus got to Sharon and altered her perception of reality. All of this came to a head after Rogers turned himself in for his actions during the event. As he climbed the stairs to the courthouse, Cap caught a bullet in the shoulder from an unseen sniper. As the situation descended into anarchy, he took three more in the stomach, the end result of Carter’s programming by Faustus. Steve seemingly died due to his wounds on those steps.

A Resurrection and a Rest

As noted above, though, Carter has no quit in her. So she allowed herself to be caught by the likes of Norman Osborn and The Red Skull to help them bring Rogers back to life because they wished to control him. However, she sabotaged the villains at the last moment and Rogers overcame their influence. Now alive again, he embraced Sharon and they took some time off to just be people, not heroes, in love.

Not Even Dimensions Can Keep Us Apart

Of course, life never can be simple, so before long, fate interceded once again and sent Rogers to Dimension Z. There he raised a son while Carter refused to stop looking for him in the main Marvel Universe. In time, she found and rescued him, bringing him back to Earth, both aged by their experience, their bond reaffirmed.

Now

Sharon finds herself on the edge of a tremendous decision: Accept HYDRA and be with the man she loves or reject it and end up in jail or worse. Steve wants her by his side and it would be so easy. But can he really be the man she has cared about so deeply for so long?

Learn Sharon’s choice in CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGER # 19, due out July 26 from Nick Spencer and Jesus Saiz!

Read More