Cullen Bunn prepares to steer the creature-filled conflict to an epic conclusion!

By Josh Weiss

Even if you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, you’d still be able to feel the thunderous tremors being caused by the arrival of giant monsters in the Marvel Universe, stamping around above your subterranean home. And if the names Fin Fang Foom and Goom and Googam don’t ring familiar to you, they soon will be thanks to writer Cullen Bunn who has helped re-introduced some of Marvel’s most bloodthirsty behemoths with the Monsters Unleashed event.

In the wake of Civil War II, giant creatures mysteriously began to appear and terrorize the earth; it took the greatest heroes in the Marvel Universe to address a threat that may not be as clear cut as simply punching skyscraper-sized beasties in their faces and/or multiple heads.

For MONSTERS UNLEASHED, Bunn teamed up with a team of talented artists—Adam Kubert, Greg Land, Salvador Larroca, Steve McNiven, and Leinil Yu—to bring these monsters—some well-known and some a little more idiosyncratic—back into the colorful Marvel spotlight. With just two issues left in this limited series, we spoke with the writer about the event so far, his Atomic Age aspirations when crafting the story, and the far-flung ramifications we can expect from the end of a major crossover event that he’s been preparing to write since childhood.

Marvel.com: As we begin to wind down on this awesome and—forgive the pun—monster-sized event, can you talk about what the ride’s been like for you from the idea’s inception to its fruition?

Cullen Bunn: I grew up watching giant monster movies, reading “Famous Monsters of Filmland” magazine, and reading monster comics. When I was very, very young, I wrote my own monster-centric comic titled “Attack of the Monsters,” featuring King Kong, Godzilla, and Mothra among others attacking the Earth. When I first heard about the initial idea for the series, I thought to myself how hurt I would be if I didn’t get the chance to write it. I’ve been preparing to write a book like this all my life.

Marvel.com: Monsters Unleashed drew on a rich mythology of Marvel monsters that dates back to the days of the late 1950’s, early ‘60’s. Was there a particular creature or creatures you especially enjoyed bringing back into the pop culture spotlight?

Cullen Bunn: When I started on this series, I was given a big packet detailing all of the classic monsters that were available. There were so many awesome beasts up for grabs. Of course Fin Fang Foom is a favorite, but I also fell in love with the visuals of Monstrom and the father/son dynamic of Goom and Googam. But I brought as many of the classic monsters to the series as I could. I really enjoyed writing the interaction between these monsters and between the monsters and the Marvel heroes.

Marvel.com: Given the fact that the central character behind the arrival of these monsters has the nickname Kid Kaiju” and that there were some really cool B-movie inspired variant covers released, were you influenced by any specific tropes of the classic B-grade sci-fi monster and kaiju movies of the 1950’s and ‘60’s when writing the story?

Cullen Bunn: Definitely. I drew inspiration from those classic 50’s “atomic horror” style movies and comics. I read and re-read a ton of classic Marvel monster books, especially considering how many of those creatures had starring roles in the series. I also drew upon many of my favorite kaiju flicks, like the original Godzilla and Gamera movies. The Godzilla movies of the Heisei era and movies like “Gamera 2: Advent of Legion” were particularly influential.

Marvel.com: What were some of your goals when you excavated these creations from obscurity? Did you hope to make them re-iconic” in the minds of comic book fans?

Cullen Bunn: First and foremost, I wanted readers to have fun with the series. And I wanted to honor the legacy of [Jack] Kirby, [Don] Heck, [Steve] Ditko, [Herb] Trimpe, and the other creators who brought these monsters to the page. And—yes—I wanted to establish the giant monsters of the Marvel Universe as important and legitimate forces to be reckoned with. My hope is that these beasties—the classic Marvel monsters and the Leviathons—are mainstays in the Marvel Universe for years to come.

Monsters Unleashed #5 cover by Adam Kubert

Monsters Unleashed #5 cover by Adam Kubert

Marvel.com: Have you seen your initial goals come true in the form of fan reactions to the event?

Cullen Bunn: I’ve seen plenty of people commenting on this series as a lot of fun. I’ve also seen folks mentioning that they’ve enjoyed seeing the heroes fighting by each other’s sides after such a tumultuous time among these characters of late.

Marvel.com: This event has brought the entire Marvel Universe into the fray. What was your favorite part about leaving no stone unturned by having everyone cross over in one epic series?

Cullen Bunn: It was awesome to show so many different heroes in so many different corners of the world, but—hands down—my favorite aspects of the series—at least my favorites up until the big twist at the end—were introducing “Kid Kaiju” Kei Kawade’s ancient cosmic history and writing the team-ups between the Marvel heroes and the classic monsters.

Marvel.com: Without giving too much away, how should readers prepare themselves for the end of this event?

Cullen Bunn: A fearsome enemy—the Leviathon Mother—is heading toward Earth, and she is far too powerful, even for the combined might of Earth’s mightiest heroes and their classic monster allies. In order to defeat her, Kid Kaiju will need to draw upon a power he didn’t know he had within him. That power will introduce something completely new into the Marvel Universe and establish Kid Kaiju as a major heroic player.

Marvel.com: It was recently announced that MONSTERS UNLEASHED will be getting its own ongoing spin-off series coming this April with you at the helm. Is there anything you can tease about it, like the threats Kawade and his team of monsters may be facing?

Cullen Bunn: In the event series, Kei was concerned primarily with the hundreds of Leviathon that were falling to Earth. Some of those monsters are still out there, and Kei, Elsa Bloodstone, and a group of monstrous heroes have been tasked with facing the most gigantic threats to the world. But, Kei will soon learn that monsters are not the only threats he’ll be facing. This book is firmly rooted in the Marvel Universe, and several very recognizable super villains have taken an interest in Kei. These villains—some of the most intelligent, devious ne’er-do-wells in the world—see potential in these giant monsters and potential in Kei’s unique abilities.

Marvel.com: In what ways will it be different from the event that spawned it and what are some of the repercussions it will have within the Marvel Universe?

Cullen Bunn: With the event, the pacing was frantic. Leviathons were falling to Earth one right after another, and there was little time for anything other than trying to push them back out to the depths of space. In the aftermath of this kaiju invasion, the heroes of the Marvel Universe now know that giant monsters could pose a significant threat to society in the future. Luckily, they have a new team of allies perfectly suited to battling these threats. But even a group of heroic giant monsters need looking after. Not only is Elsa Bloodstone keeping an eye on them, but S.H.I.E.L.D. and Damage Control are also watchful eyes on Kei and company. While the ongoing series will have lots of action and adventure, it will also give us the opportunity to dig into the personalities of some of these new characters in a significant way.

Marvel.com: If you had to give Kei Kawade one piece of advice about having his own Marvel comic book series, what would it be?

Cullen Bunn: I’d tell him to be careful around underground tyrants and intergalactic monster hunters.

The mayhem continues with MONSTERS UNLEASHED #4 by Cullen Bunn and Salvador Larroca, coming March 1!

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Artist Christian Ward crafts a unique look for the Inhuman sovereign!

Over the years, Blackagar Boltagon has filled many roles: leader of the Inhumans, husband, father, intergalactic ruler—and now, prisoner! Writer Saladin Ahmed and artist Christian Ward set up quite a challenge for the one-time king when they launched BLACK BOLT a few months back: escape from an epic space prison!

Teamed up with the likes of Absorbing Man, Black Bolt continues to figure out how to flee the seemingly inescapable jail in the stars so he can find his way back to his family. We talked with Ward about designing Black Bolt’s cage, working on the silent hero, and making his mark on a childhood favorite.

Marvel.com: This book has definitely taken Black Bolt in some unexpected directions. How has it been crafting these stories with Saladin so far?

Christian Ward: I’m drawn to stories I can’t predict. I think that’s one reason why shows like “Breaking Bad” and “Game of Thrones” are so enjoyable. Reading Saladin’s scripts for BLACK BOLT [has] had those same unexpected elements and I’ve loved reading them. Bringing a story to life that you’re already enjoying in its script form is easy. I have a background in creator-owned comics; I’m used to working on books I’m personally invested in and working on BLACK BOLT with Saladin has felt no different.

I think he would agree that we’ve really clicked working on BLACK BOLT. It’s been an absolute joy and I feel very lucky to be working with Saladin. I felt like we’re telling one story together infused with all these personal elements. I definitely feel like we’re trying to say something with BLACK BOLT, whilst remembering it’s a super hero comic and it should also be a lot of fun. Even with his first comic, Saladin’s going to be [among] many peoples’ very favorite writers. He’s certainly one of mine now and hopefully this will be the first of many projects we do together.

Marvel.com: The story mixes elements from classic prison break tales with sci-fi and super heroes. Do you enjoy playing with those pieces and building new structures with them?

Christian Ward: I do! Lots of my previous projects—like ODY-C for instance—have been about clashing genres together. I love the tension you get from mixing disparate ingredients. With BLACK BOLT, as well as the genres you mentioned, I’ve been having fun approaching parts like a Gothic horror, not just with the scenery and the lighting but also trying to use page layouts to make it feel foreboding or claustrophobic.

There have been pages where I’ve tried to make the panel [borders] feel as much of the prison bars as the ones I’ve actually drawn. Becoming narrower and narrower as our characters are contained or crushed within them. It’s been fun to allow the different genres, like horror, influence how certain elements of the book look and even let each issue feel a little different. For instance, in issue #4 I’ve been playing with formal nine-panel grids and half tone textures as a way to exaggerate the old school comic book-ness of the issue. It keeps me on my toes and hopefully it keeps the [book] exciting from issue to issue for the reader.

Marvel.com: You’re setting much of the action inside of this jail. How much of it did you have designed ahead of time?

Christian Ward: Lots of great design is about tension and what Saladin had in mind for our prison was perfect to play to that idea. He had this idea that it would be equal parts Victorian gaol and [Jack] Kirby techno, so for every stone pillar there has to be this contrasting piece of insane, impossible machinery.

I read about Panopticon so I knew I wanted there to be eyes everywhere because big floating over-watching eyes are always creepy and it had to feel huge, I wanted Black Bolt to feel insignificant there. I certainly didn’t design a physical place like an architect would, rather I spent a lot of time thinking about how it would feel, or maybe how the inmates would feel being held there. I wanted the prison to feel intangible, like a monster glimpsed in the darkness, a place that was ever changing. Somewhere it would be impossible to get your footing or stay sane. An M.C. Escher drawing come to life.

Marvel.com: BLACK BOLT has incorporated some interesting characters from Absorbing Man to Death’s Head. How has it been putting your own spin on them and making them work in this story?

Christian Ward: The first thing I have to say is what a huge and continuing honor it is to be drawing these characters that so many greats have drawn before me. It’s very exciting to, as you say, put a spin on them. It’s a tricky balancing act to honor what’s come before and try to shine a different light on them. Hopefully success comes from loving the characters in the first place. For instance, when I was a teenager Death’s Head was my favorite character growing up in the UK. He was my Hulk, my Spider-Man, my X-Men. He was my number one. So when I came to design my take on him I let that love guide the design. What I love about the character—that’s what I bring to the forefront.

And oh boy, Absorbing Man! I love drawing Carl. This might be Black Bolt’s book, but I think Crusher’s the heart of it. It’s been so much fun to draw him not as a bad guy, but as a man, and try and make him feel real. Whereas I’m trying to keep Bolt at arm’s length I really want readers to feel very empathetic towards Crusher. I’ve really grown to love the guy so I hope that’s coming through.

Marvel.com: Does Black Bolt’s silence offer any particular challenges when you’re working from panel to panel?

Christian Ward: It’s a huge challenge. I remember reading about the difference between TV, movie, and stage acting and the “volume” in which actors have to project or emote in each. Unlike in theater, for instance, on a giant movie screen the smallest of facial movements can be read. I’m aiming for giant movie screen acting here. I’ve always enjoyed comic book acting and it’s huge fun to try and convey all the subtleties of Bolt’s face. I really wanted to have him feel reserved and withdrawn from us but that as the story progressed the wall that he’d built up around himself—his own personal inner prison wall—would break down and we’d see more of those emotions showing on his face and in his body language. You know, as much as I love the big cosmic moments of the book, it was the challenge of drawing Bolt that made me take the project on and I’m having the time of my life with it.

BLACK BOLT #3 breaks into stores on July 5, with issue #4 following on August 2, thanks to Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward.

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Enjoy some lighthearted hijinks in the midst of intergalactic war!

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: Tag & Bink Are Dead (2001) #1

Star Wars: Tag & Bink Are Dead (2001) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

In 1966, a play known as “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead”—later adapted to film in 1990—dared to retell “Hamlet” from the perspective of two minor characters. It offered a comedic take on key moments in Shakespeare’s masterpiece by implying that the bumbling duo in some way influenced key events.

Much along those lines, TAG AND BINK ARE DEAD delves into the background characters of “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back” to offer a little more “actual back story” to moments you’ve probably never thought twice about. Starting with the battle aboard Princess Leia’s Tantive IV that kicks off “Episode IV,” we follow two Rebels—the eponymous Tag and Bink—as they eventually escape Empire imprisonment and decide to disguise themselves as stormtroopers aboard the Death Star.

The comedic consequences result in “back stories” for moments like the lone TIE fighter that the Millennium Falcon encounters near the Death Star, the real reason Boba Fett showed up at Bespin, and how the Rebels acquired the shuttle Tyderium they’ll later use to infiltrate Endor in “Return of the Jedi.” Oh, and those two stormtroopers discussing “another drill” as Obi-Wan disarms the Death Star’s tractor beam? That’s Tag and Bink in inaction.

Writer Kevin Rubio masterminded TAG AND BINK ARE DEAD, and followed with a sequel in 2006—and this wasn’t the first time Rubio showed us “what really happened” in Star Wars movies. In 1996, he made a name for himself as the creator of “Troops,” a parody of “Cops” from a stormtrooper’s perspective largely responsible for ushering in an entire era of Star Wars fan films.

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McKeever and Miyazawa re-imagine Spidey's high school experience with Mary Jane Watson as the star!

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!

High school’s rough for anyone, whether you’re a web-slinging superhero or a teenage girl with a crush on one. Sean McKeever and Takeshi Miyazawa explored the latter with a series of books called MARY JANE, MARY JANE: HOMECOMING and two volumes of SPIDER-MAN LOVES MARY JANE, though other creators helped bring the story to a close. 

Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane (2005) #1

Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane (2005) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Set in an alternate universe in which Peter, Harry Osborn, Mary Jane, Gwen Stacy, Flash Thompson and Liz Allan all attended high school together – Peter met Harry and Gwen in college in the 616 – these stories explore Watson’s ever-changing feelings for the masked man of her dreams!

Initially launched with the four issue limited series MARY JANE in 2004, the overarching story focused on a young woman dealing with the intensity of her feelings while creating a carefree persona. Mirroring the reasons readers initially fell in love with Spider-Man, Mary Jane worried about making money and appeasing her parental units, but not to make web fluid, she wanted to go to the homecoming dance. 

Mary Jane (2004) #1

Mary Jane (2004) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

In fact, much of the drama in this series revolved around the big dance, MJ’s desire to buy the perfect dress for it and also figure out who she wanted to go with. She and Harry Osborn might have seemed perfect for each other on paper, but she had another in mind: Spider-Man.

Of course, her best friend Liz Allan thought her crazy for wanting such a thing, but she really lost her mind after seeing MJ and Flash in am apparently romantic moment!

All the while, a nerdy kid named Peter Parker started appearing more and more in Mary Jane’s life, first as a tutor and then as more of a friend. We all know how that relationship evolved in one version of the Wall-Crawler’s history, but to see what happens in this one, you’ll just have to read all of SPIDER-MAN LOVES MARY JANE which ended with a five issue limited series second season volume in 2009.

A Tangled Web

While MARY JANE and SPIDER-MAN LOVES MARY JANE didn’t see the title character become a super hero, that’s not the case with every other version of MJ from the various realities. In EXILES we met a version of Watson who not only became Spider-Woman, but also joined the Avengers as seen in EXILES #20. She and the dimension-hopping Sunfire strike up a relationship as they all battle the spreading threat of the Phalanx aided by Asgardians. Later, during a time when the team found themselves displaced on various dimensions, Sunfire and MJ got to spend six weeks together before the Exile teleported away on another adventure.

In the next installment we take a look at the all ages books SPIDER-MAN ADVENTURES!

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Take a look at the history of Kitty Pryde and Peter Rasputin's star-crossed romance.

The on-again-off-again roller-coaster romance of Kitty Pryde and Peter Rasputin’s become the stuff of legend among X-Men fans, and it’s about to receive a new wrinkle in X-MEN: GOLD #9, out August 8.

The two star-crossed lovers first met in UNCANNY X-MEN #129 when Kitty first walked into the original X-Mansion and met the man-mountain mutant called Colossus. An inauspicious beginning to such a star-crossed love story, to be sure, but by UNCANNY X-MEN #174 they’d recognized their attraction to each other and shared a kiss or three.

Uncanny X-Men (1963) #129

Uncanny X-Men (1963) #129

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Peter threw the first monkeywrench into the mix right around the time he’d returned from the first Secret Wars in UNCANNY X-MEN #183 and declared his love for the alien Zsaji to Kitty, though said Zsaji’d perished by that time. Ms. Pryde ratcheted up the anti-feels by joining Excalibur and heading into a hot-and-heavy thing with a guy named Pete Wisdom—a relationship Peter gave his “blessing” to, but also kept one metallic eye on. 

Uncanny X-Men (1963) #183

Uncanny X-Men (1963) #183

What is Marvel Unlimited?

When the Legacy Virus later tore apart the mutant population, Colossus seemingly sacrificed his life during the chaos in X-MEN #110, prompting Kitty to sort out her feelings for the big lunk and insure his ashes traveled back to Russia. Imagine her surprise when Peter turned up hale and hearty in ASTONISHING X-MEN #14, strange situation which led to a passionate reunion and a new outbreak of dating. 

X-Men (1991) #110

X-Men (1991) #110

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Alas, right around the time of the X-Men’s latest disagreement with the Juggernaut and his power source Cyttorak in UNCANNY X-MEN #543, Kitty broke it off again with Peter when she disagreed with his well-intentioned noble thoughts to die for her in battle. Sadly, that meant that she and Colossus’ couple-ness still existed in a state of suspension when Kitty got stuck in a giant bullet traveling around the solar system in GIANT-SIZE ASTONISHING X-MEN #1. Peter tried to move on with his life, but to his credit, he tattooed “Katya” in her memory on his chest in UNCANNY X-MEN #507

Uncanny X-Men (1963) #507

Uncanny X-Men (1963) #507

  • Published: March 18, 2009
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: February 11, 2011
  • Rating: T+
  • Writer: Matt Fraction
  • Penciller: Terry Dodson
What is Marvel Unlimited?

No good mutant hero ever stays lost, though, and so Kitty Pryde returned to Earth, thanks to Magneto, in UNCANNY X-MEN #522 and reclaimed her claim to the big metal guy in UNCANNY X-MEN #522…which of course hit the skids by UNCANNY X-MEN #543. The former Shadowcat struck up a few new relationships in the aftermath, in particular with Iceman in WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN #14, and with Star-Lord in X-MEN: THE TRIAL OF JEAN GREY #1-6

Wolverine & the X-Men (2011) #14

Wolverine & the X-Men (2011) #14

  • Published: July 25, 2012
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: April 08, 2013
  • Rating: Rated T+
  • Writer: Jason Aaron
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Today, Kitty’s done with star-hopping scoundrels and Peter’s, well, Peter, and the two of them, as seen in X-MEN: GOLD #1, believe they can fight alongside each other as “just friends.” But, anybody who’s ever been in their position knows that trick never really works, right?

Stay tuned…we should be finding out whether or not our beloved Kitlossus will ever be a thing again very, very soon.

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Jedi Knight Kerra Holt returns!

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.

STAR WARS: KNIGHT ERRANT introduced readers to Jedi Knight Kerra Holt, a warrior who had made powerful enemies in the form of crazy Sith Lords Daiman and Odion. With STAR WARS: KNIGHT ERRANT – DELUGE, she returned to continue fighting their evil influence in the world, but found other shades of it as well.

John Jackson Miller returned to the character he wrote in KNIGHT ERRANT, this time joined by artists Ivan Rodriguez, Iban Coello and David Daza. Like its predecessor, the 2012 five issue limited series took place 1000 years in the past before Luke Skywalker came to power. In this era both Jedi and Sith counted many members in their respective fold.

In the case of Jedi Knight Kerra Holt, she made it her life’s mission to defend the forgotten people of the galaxy from the evil of the Sith. As the story kicked off, that mission lead her to a familiar place, her home planet Aquilaris and against a familiar foe, Sith Lord Daiman.

Star Wars: Knight Errant - Deluge (2011) #1

Star Wars: Knight Errant - Deluge (2011) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Upon arriving home, Holt found more than a few surprises waiting for her. First, Zodoh the Hutt attacked the Sith’s slave camp and, even worse, her people had become so addicted to a spice called Deluge that left them wanting nothing, including their own safety.

The Jedi decided to strike back against the Hutt’s forces on her own, but discovered some fellow fighters on her side: Captain Jenn Devaad, Grace Command and the volunteer Devil Squadron.

At the same time Zodoh threatened Sith Lord Odion and Arkadia Calimondra to give him his own piece of the pie in their area, or else the attacks would increase. Meanwhile, Kerra joined up with Devil Squadron. They intended to leave Aquilaris, but then Zodoh showed up with a flew of Stormdriver ships, intent on networking them to create enough rain to drown the entire world!

As the story unfolded, we learned the truth behind Devil Squadron and their true intentions as they visit various worlds, none of which sat well with Holt. After clearing up some grievances, Jenn and Kerra focused their efforts on their true enemies: the Sith Lords.

From the Jedi Temple Archives

Consider this a major spoiler for DELUGE, but Devaad eventually admitted that the time-release boxes of supplies the Devil Squadron left behind on worlds didn’t hold food as originally stated, but instead the drug Deluge. Their plan revolved around leaving many, many samples behind in hopes that the Sith soldiers would take one hit and become hoplelessly addicted. They didn’t exactly care that regular people on the planets became addicts themselves because the people of that sector didn’t reach out to help Devaad and her people when they needed it the most. Eventually, she realized that all people can be lead towards hope and fought alongside Kerra Holt to strike an impressive blow against the Sith.

Legendary comic creators Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson tackle “Empire Strikes Back” in the pages of STAR WARS #3944.

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Darth Vader Versus Darth Maul—'Nuff Said

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 Tales (1999) #9

Star Wars Tales (1999) #9

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Of all 24 issues of STAR WARS TALES, perhaps no single story better embraced the idea of creating noncanonical stories that fans really want read better than “Resurrection” in issue #9 (2001). Here’s all you really need to know: Darth Vader versus Darth Maul.

Ron Marz’s story begins with Vader and a squad of stormtroopers landing on Kalakar Six, a Mustafar-like lava planet, where a tip has led them to tracking down Rebels said to have stolen the Death Star plans. Turns out, it’s a trap laid by a cult of Sith followers who do not believe that Vader was meant to be Palpatine’s true apprentice, and—oh, yeah—they’ve resurrected Darth Maul to do something about it. Rick Leonardi’s pencils beautifully illustrate the epic duel to follow—one of the best lightsaber fights ever written into comics.

Of course, it has since been revealed through “The Clone Wars” and “Rebels” that Maul survived his encounter with Obi-Wan, but a canonical Vader versus Maul lightsaber battle never actually occurred. Luckily, fans craving an awesome showdown between Sith Apprentices can always turn to STAR WARS TALES #9 to scratch that itch.

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The Star Wars Tales anthology offers a quartet of superb stories!

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 Tales (1999) #1

Star Wars Tales (1999) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

You have to admire the idea behind STAR WARS TALES. Though Star Wars fans can be sticklers for the importance of continuity across all media, TALES decided to eschew all that and focus one thing: fun stories. Each issue features a series of unrelated vignettes designed solely to entertain, without the burden of needing to stay in line with any canon but that of the four films released to this point.

STAR WARS TALES #1 illustrates the series’ ideals beautifully with four completely independent stories, each unique in tone and setting. For the Prequel fans, we see Master Qui-Gon Jinn instilling his wisdom to Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi as they explore the planet Arorua in the years before “Episode I.” After that, Timothy Zahn presents a Mara Jade adventure set between the events of “Return of the Jedi” and HEIR TO THE EMPIRE; Mara returns for a cameo in a Galactic Civil War-era Darth Vader story by Ron Marz.

But it’s Peter David who not only takes the idea of having fun with Star Wars and runs with it, but also delivers the most memorable story of the bunch with “Skippy the Jedi Droid.” Remember the droid that Uncle Owen almost bought, but it had a “bad motivator”? As you’ll learn in this delightfully non-canon exploit, that’s Skippy—also known as the much less fun-sounding R5-D4—and the “motivator” for that event occurring had nothing to do with malfunctioning electronics. It’s a must-read for Star Wars fans just looking to enjoy themselves—which should be all of us.

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The secret agent comes in from the cold for an evaluation!

The client, who goes by Nick Fury or Nick Fury Jr. in some circles and previously was known as Marcus Johnson, is an adult male in above average physical fitness. Although he lost one of his eyes in an incident of torture, he seems to have no long-term physical consequences from the incident beyond that loss. Additionally, he reports no further physical concerns stemming from it. The psychological toll of the incident and the series of events that have cascaded from that moment have not yet been properly accounted for, in the opinion of this writer.

In brief, as noted above, the client was known as Marcus Johnson. He, in fact, had identified as that for most of his life. However, it was revealed to him that he was actually born as Nicholas Fury Jr, the son of the former S.H.I.E.L.D. Director (amongst other accomplishments). He found this out while under attack by a series of super villains and various mercenary types and just after the death of his mother.

During this tightly packed series of episodes—each one being significant enough to change one’s perspective on their own life—Fury also met his biological father, a man he had no awareness of being related to. However, their meeting was short-lived, marked by violent confrontations with many who wished one or both of them dead, and Fury almost immediately went into hiding after and has been rumored to either have died, to be living in exile, or even, according to one particularly far-fetched sounding story, have taken up the role of some kind of cosmic nearly omniscient monitor.

Nonetheless, Fury felt motivated and/or inspired by his genetics to follow in his father’s footsteps and, alongside his best friend Phil Coulson, joined S.H.I.E.L.D. He seemed to be a natural for the work, using his military service, strong tactical mind, and natural charisma to adapt and excel despite a relative lack of training in spycraft.

Unfortunately, S.H.I.E.L.D. quickly proved to be a disappointing experience as the client was betrayed and nearly killed while on a mission by his team, a group of HYDRA infiltrators masquerading as S.H.I.E.L.D.

Now the client is operating solo and underground, looking to do what he describes as “the work of S.H.I.E.L.D., the work they should do,” in a freelance capacity.

The client, in session, seems resistant to the idea of admitting to vulnerability, perhaps understandable given the norms of the spy community and the existing pressures of masculinity. However, the amount of upheaval he has experienced in his life over the past year or so is undeniably disruptive. Even if the client would not quality for a formal PTSD diagnosis, his life has been so altered that it seems impossible that he would not be experiencing any kind of ramifications from those experiences.

Additionally, he showed up in my office of his own accord as I have reminded him. While he might be strong, while he might be traumatized, he nonetheless felt the need to seek out psychological counseling and/or support which means that neither he nor I should simply hand wave at what he has experienced as of late.

Through contacts, I have been able to acquire his S.H.I.E.L.D. mental health records done by Doctors James Robinson and ACO. They can be found in his file here on August 2 in the file marked NICK FURY #5.

Psy D. Candidate Tim Stevens is a Staff Therapist who would never suggest he has experience in spycraft, but, you know…wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

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The Conqueror encounters Earth’s Mightiest Heroes for the first time!

Since the early days of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Kang the Conqueror has agitated the Avengers and then some with his mastery of multiple eras and desire to add the Marvel Universe to his empire. On November 14, the time tyrant takes on a new role as central antagonist in the “LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2,” creating a campaign that crisscrosses all reality and space.

Before you play the game, discover the story behind this agent of chronological chaos with the History of Kang!

When one examines a being such as Kang, a master of time-travel among other incredible accomplishments, one must remember that what we perceive as a linear progression of history here in the present-day may actually not be so according to Kang himself. Slipping in and out of time along his personal chrono-line, he’s created false representations of his career to modern scholars and historians—in essence, simply because one may encounter the man at one time, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not a Kang from an earlier time in his life.

After Nathaniel Richards abandoned the guise of Pharoah Rama-Tut and adopted that of Kang the Conqueror, he entered into direct conflict with the Avengers, and thus created an enmity with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes for all time.

His first sally against the present-day Avengers came during the earliest line-up of the team, but also one of their strongest. Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Giant-Man, and The Wasp responded to a call from the Pentagon to investigate a UFO and instead met Kang in all his new-found glory. The despot explained his past persona as Rama-Tut and then proceeded to proclaim his reign over the planet. The Avengers, of course, defied him and battled until their unfortunate capture.

This first encounter ended when young Rick Jones and his so-called Teen Brigade created a diversion and freed the heroes from Kang’s holding cells, Giant-Man used a new acid-base solvent of his design to destroy much of the Conqueror’s personal equipment, and the despot escaped back to the future to lick his wounds. During the battle, the heroes found Kang to be arrogant, full of his own superiority, and disdainful of anything the present-day could offer next to his own 30th century technology.

Avengers (1963) #8

Avengers (1963) #8

  • Published: September 10, 1964
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 13, 2007
  • Penciller: Jack Kirby
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

After he realized his mistake in confronting the Avengers directly, Kang later schemed against them by remaining in the future and sending a Spider-Man robot to first lure the group into a false sense of security, and then waylay them one by one. The Conqueror’s plan worked beautifully until the real web-slinger swung in to destroy his artificial doppelganger and help the Avengers turn the tide once more against Kang.

In this second encounter versus the famous team, Kang’s superiority manifested again, but when he realized he’d been defeated, he devolved into near-hysterics, proclaiming everything he’d done “was all in vain.”

Time passed and Captain America took the reins of a smaller team of Avengers consisting of himself, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and The Scarlet Witch, sometimes referred to as “Cap’s Kooky Quartet.” Looking in on them from the future again, Kang reasoned the team’s then-current status made them ripe for his revenge and so transported them to his far-flung century. His mistake manifested in his revelation to the heroes that he’d fallen in love with a princess named Ravonna, and might err in his judgment in any dealings with her. Cap’s team helped the princess in a war between her kingdom and Kang’s immense forces, but in the end those same forces turned on the despot and he in turn allied himself with Ravonna’s people to save her.

This adventure highlighted Kang’s capability to love another human being, despite his high-minded and frankly wicked actions. Sadly, as the Avengers faded away to return to their own time, Ravonna, her eyes open to Kang’s good side, fell dead from an assassin’s cowardly strike. The Conqueror, having failed to conquer love, turned away to harden his heart for the next battle against Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

Check Out: AVENGERS (1963) #8, #11, #23, #24

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