Brian Michael Bendis lists his favorite moments from nearly five years with the team!

Stuck on Earth and scattered across the planet, if there’s one thing that can bring the Guardians of the Galaxy back together, it’s a common enemy. On April 12, “Grounded” reaches its conclusion with the final issue by writer Brian Michael Bendis in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #19!

After close to five years of wandering around the universe and sometimes saving the day, it’s time for the Guardians to part ways with one of Marvel’s most prolific writers. An era of Guardians history comes to a close in this special doubled-sized issue, featuring work from Valerio Schiti and an all-star team of guest artists.

To celebrate the achievement, Brian gave us a retrospective look at his favorite moments alongside the most dysfunctional super group in the galaxy.

Marvel.com: Let’s start with the best of the worst: favorite villain?

Brian Michael Bendis: Peter’s father. It was one of the reasons I wanted to write this book, having done the research working with the Marvel Cinematic Creative Committee. They were debating whether or not Guardians was a movie franchise—this was when Guardians was as cult as it gets. They sent me some material and some things they were thinking about and I started reading—and I had read it as a fan—but to read it considering its global potential was an interesting thing to do. And then reading Peter’s origin story was so exciting to me because, if you read it, it’s as good as Spider-Man or Superman, it’s just not as well known. The purity of narrative is beautiful. This king crash-lands on Earth in the middle of a space war, falls in love with an Earth person, knocks her up, goes back to his space war, and she’s left on Earth with a half-alien baby—and the boy will never know. This is phenomenal stuff. And then he grows up to find out who he is and “Oh my god, your father’s an a-hole across the galaxy!” Most kings of anything are not known for their warmth. So, to dive into that and cover that for almost the first entire volume was very fun and something I was dying to write.

Marvel.com: Favorite guest star?

Brian Michael Bendis: Just last night, I wrote my goodbye to Guardians, so it’s all fresh on my mind. I think having Tony Stark up in space for as long as we did in the middle of golden run as a movie star was pretty exciting. Also, we had a lot of fun with him—what a great field trip for Tony to go on. And then, hilariously, him and Gamora hooking up, which shows up on my Tumblr feed every three days. It’s going down well as one of the great super hero hookups.

Marvel.com: Favorite event or tie-in?

Brian Michael Bendis: I’m very, very fond of “The Trial of Jean Grey,” even though that was a self-executed mini-crossover. I love when the X-Men go off into space, I love the weird X-Men stories. And the idea of bringing Jean Grey into the present and Jean Grey being a gigantic cosmic serial killer, as far as most people are concerned, a genocidal maniac. To put her on trial and be actively writing both books, making sure the trial happened organically in both books, was very exciting. It was like, “Ooo, you know what’s never been told before, this story. And I’m writing both books!? And, oh my god, Kitty and Peter fall in love in the process!” So everything about that, I really enjoyed and I hear from a lot of people about that. That’s probably everyone’s favorite story from my run? That’s the one I hear about the most.

But the one I think is my favorite tie-in stuff is probably the Black Vortex stuff, which is Sam Humphries’ storyline, but I thought it spoke well to what we, as a group of writers and artists, added to the galactic books over the course of the last couple years. There were interesting interactions between all the characters. We were just way into it.

But I also gotta say, for as weird as it is, the Guardians were always kind of in their own little world, and I know people like that about them as well. One of my mandates was to bring them more to a centered position in the Marvel Universe, so I added them into Infinity, which was the first time they crossed over in one of my books. Just having them show up in the event was so surprising because they’d never shown up in anything before. So that moment was really exciting for me.

Marvel.com: Favorite fight?

Brian Michael Bendis: Kevin Maguire is one of my favorite comic book artists of all time and we got him to do a couple of issues. And it was an issue with a Gamora and Angela team-up, [GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #10], I thought he did an outstanding job with that issue. It was a big, big fight, breaking into a planet, and I thought he did an exceptional job.

Marvel.com: Favorite Groot quote?

Brian Michael Bendis: I actually have a very funny story about that. We were making the “Powers” TV show last year and I was on set, because I wrote episodes. And I’d be in the video village and I had a little desk where I’d sit and literally write Marvel comics while they were setting up the lights and stuff. There were sometimes hours where I literally had nothing to do, so I’d sit and type. So I was sitting in the corner, typing. And one of the actors, whose name is Sharlto Copley, he’s in the show—he keeps looking over, thinking I’m writing the TV show. And I’m writing GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. Sharlto comes up behind me and just out of nowhere, reads what he sees on my screen, and yells “I am Groot!?” And it turns out, Sharlto has no idea who the Guardians of the Galaxy are, he never saw the movie, he has no idea what “I am Groot” means. And it was one of the pages where Groot keeps interrupting, that’s the joke, he’s just saying “I am Groot, I am Groot,” so Sharlto looks at it and thinks I’m crazy. He yells, “I am Groot,” everyone else in the video village jumps because they’re like, “Why is he yelling ‘I am Groot,’” because they get the reference. It was a totally unique, once-in-a-lifetime, hilarious moment where he’s yelling “I am Groot, I am Groot” and has no idea why people are laughing.

But one of my favorite moments of writing the entire series was the variant cover that Dale Keown did where the joke is that Jean Grey is talking to him and she can translate “I am Groot” into his actual words and his words are very poetic—and I probably worked harder on those words than anything I worked on that year. You got a little taste of what goes on in Groot’s head for real and I heard from a lot of people on that, so that went well.

Marvel.com: And favorite Guardian?

Brian Michael Bendis: Ahh! See, having written other team books, it’s never about “favorite Guardian,” it’s really “favorite relationship.” We knew that Rocket and Groot are the relationship. But when you discover friendships, or antagonisms, or a new type of relationship within the group of friends, that’s always my favorite stuff. So when something like Angela and Gamora—they really like each other. I think Angela just adores Gamora, and they fight well together and are happy to know each other—that kind of stuff I really like. And I liked writing Tony and Rocket, because Tony is sometimes like Rocket, but in the Avengers. He’s kind of caustic and like “I know everything and everyone’s gonna do what I say.” So for him to [be] faced with this little animal version of his own ego, on a ship—it’s really fun to write. On Avengers, it was discovering that Luke Cage and Spider-Man were hilarious together. That was a surprise, it wasn’t planned. The same thing happens here, where the characters start to gravitate towards each other or away from each other, and the towards each other is always the most fun stuff. And you can’t force it.

I also like this—and I know people really like this and it’s the thing that I’m [guiltiest] of—but, if Kitty Pryde’s not busy, I will grab her and put her in my book. And the most outlandish incident of me doing this is putting her in outer space for a while. I thought Kitty’s no-nonsense, once-a-teacher, strong-Jewish-woman-up-in-space was a ton of fun. And her juxtaposition to Gamora was a great bit of fun. I think her presence on the team, with Tony’s, was very different. What I wanted, and liked, was adding this element that wasn’t in the movies. Just to see what shakes out differently—and with Tony and with Carol [Danvers] and with Kitty and Venom and Ben Grimm, I thought we were able to do that every time.

Marvel.com: What about the team dynamic did you enjoy writing most? How did you approach the characters differently as time went on?

Brian Michael Bendis: I kind of got it in my head that they’re kind of on a road trip that never ends. They’re in a big RV, or on a tour bus, and the tour never ends—the dynamic of a tour. Traveling with family or traveling with friends—you ever go on a long trip with friends? It’s unique. So I wanted that dynamic to be constant, fighting over food and chairs and where we’re gonna stop and where we’re gonna eat. Just making sure that the life seemed like it was being lived inside that ship in a way that most people can relate to—you get on each other’s nerves, you laugh at stupid stuff, you get the giggles. Just normal traveling stuff. I also like that they all go away from each other for a while too.

It’s a very unique book in how they interact with each other. They are as close to family as anything in comics, but they also have their adventures. Always making sure that it felt like they were living together. There’s a lot of detail in the scripts about what’s in their rooms; Peter’s room is messy, Gamora’s room is perfect—how their lives interact with their environment. It’s a fun part for me.

Marvel.com: And finally, what are your overall thoughts looking back on nearly five years with the Guardians of the Galaxy?

Brian Michael Bendis: When I got the job, I originally came into comics as a crime fiction writer, and the things I was most known for, Daredevil or Jessica Jones, real-world crime fiction, that is what’s been my additive element to comics—my love of this and where my strengths are. So I found myself, just a few years later, writing a talking raccoon book—and dying to do it. That’s the other thing: I wasn’t doing it just to see if I could; I really wanted to do it. And when I got the call to do it, I was so excited because the challenge is enormous. Because, we haven’t mentioned, when I got the book, the book hadn’t been produced for a while. The last volume [before] was considered one of the great standards of Marvel Comics and one of the great runs of all time. The reason that there’s a movie is because of them. Stepping into a book that was already so well-loved among the core fanbase, no matter what I had accomplished in comics, I knew I was going to have to prove myself over time. So I was grateful that I was allowed the chance to do so.

The other thing that has to be mentioned is that there wasn’t one issue of any Guardians book that I had my name on that wasn’t drawn by one of the great talents of this generation of comics. From Steve McNiven, to Sara [Pichelli], to Frank Cho, to Kevin Maguire, and finally with Valerio Schiti—every annual, every special, every tie-in, everything we did had these great artists, including our finale, which is packed full of these awesome artists that I love so much. People just love these characters so much and they love drawing them, so every time you call up anybody in comics and say “Hey, you wanna draw raccoons and trees and spaceships for an issue?” the answer is “Yes I do!” So I was, and will forever be grateful, that the book was so beautiful, and exciting, and poppy on every single page. This book was gorgeous.

I also became very aware, of all the books that I write—and I write some very mainstream books that people have heard of—from the moment that I took the book, all the way through to this weekend at a sleepover that my kids had, if you tell kids that you’re the writer of Guardians of the Galaxy, they crap their pants. And I write Spider-Man and Avengers and Iron Man, but Guardians—my children’s friends stare at me like Rocket Raccoon actually just walked in the door. So, of all the books that are out there right now, I think Guardians is the one that has the most gateway potential. Kids are going to be seeing this and I’m so proud that when they see our stuff, they’re going to be seeing such beautiful comics—because on top of the characters, that’s how people fall in love with the medium. And I hope, when people see Valerio’s work or Steve’s work—and how exciting a visual and inspiring for the imagination it is—that people will find a way to stay with us. So my takeaway is that I’m very happy that the movie took off and that I bet right—because I bet on this a year before the movie came out and I was very happy that it did. But I’m also immensely proud to have put my name on such beautifully illustrated books.

Witness the end of an era with GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #19, by Brian Michael Bendis and artist Valerio Schiti, on April 12!

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

We’ve got a brand new episode of This Week in Marvel, presented by Loot Crate, to help you kick off the weekend!

Ben and Ryan give you the rundown on this week’s hottest comics releases, including CAPTAIN AMERICA, IRON FIST, and more. The editors behind Secret Empire share their secrets (58:31), MSG’s Arda Ocal stops by (1:25:33), plus all the news from the West Coast (1:12:03), reviews, and more (1:33:29) that you expect from the official Marvel podcast!

For the next This Week in Marvel Unlimited Reading Club, tackle alternate realities with the West Coast and PUNISHER NOIR. Be sure to share your thoughts with us using the hashtag #TWIMURC!

Loot Crate has assembled the Marvel Gear and Goods crate for the ultimate Marvel fan. This crate features official Marvel items like collectible home goods, apparel and more every other month! So you just stopped Thanos from undoing reality (again) and Nova Prime is probably going to spend weeks on the paperwork alone. Here’s an Infinity Gem of an idea: let’s kick off the space boots, head to the backyard and have a COSMIC PARTY! We’re inviting a motley crew of galactic greats and they’re bringing essential party items featuring the Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain Marvel herself and the Nova Corps! Order by 5/15 at 9pm PT by heading to lootcrate.com/MarvelGear and use promo code “MARVELPOD” to save $3 on your subscription today.

Download episode #282 of This Week in Marvel from Marvel.com, check out Marvel Podcast Centralgrab the TWiM RSS feed and subscribe to This Week in Marvel on iTunes, so you never miss an episode! We are now also on Soundcloud! Head over now to our new hub to listen to the full run of This Week in Marvel!

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

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Danny Rand journeys from the mystic village of K'un Lun to Netflix!

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

Considering Danny Rand not only just debuted his own Netflix series, but also starred in a new comic by Ed Brisson and Mike Perkins, it couldn’t be a better time to take a glance back at his debut in the pages of MARVEL PREMIERE #15.

The issue, which dropped in 1974, came from the minds of Roy Thomas and Gil Kane. It opened with Iron Fist taking on a quartet of trained attackers for an audience that included Yu-Ti – otherwise known as the August Personage of Jade – and the four hooded Dragon Kings.

Having defeated his opponents, Iron Fist looked up to Yu-Ti asking about The Challenge of the One when the elder asked him to think back on his past. This filled in the reader about a 9-year-old boy who scaled a mountain with his parents Wendell and Heather as well as his dad’s business partner a decade prior in search of K’un Lun.

That journey ended for his father, when Meacham, the business partner, took advantage of a minor accident to distract them from his true intent: murdering Danny’s dad. Remembering the focus he and his mother had in trying to climb down to safety, Iron Fist used that in his battle with the silent, deadly and huge Shu-Hu.

Danny failed to gain the upper hand with this challenge and soon found himself being battered around. In an effort to regain his focus, he dug even deeper into the memory of surviving with his mother in the unforgiving mountains, hiding in caves and avoiding wolves. While the hungry pack chased them, Danny and his mother saw the bridge to K’un Lun, but Heather didn’t think they’d make it so she thrust her son ahead and then ran back, offering herself to their pursuers.

The memory of his mother’s bravery spurred Danny on to battle his enemy more fiercely than before, actually spilling over into a berserker rage. Fully back in the fight, he won the match upon funneling his will to his fist which “becomes like unto a thing of iron!” Of course, this would be just the first of many fights we’d see Iron Fist take on as he’d travel through the Marvel Universe joining groups like the Heroes for Hire, New Avengers and even The Defenders.

During his run on PREMIERE, which went until #25, other luminaries like Larry Hama, Chris Claremont, Len Wein and John Byrne worked on the character. Danny then starred in his own ongoing series for 15 issues though the final story carried over to MARVEL TEAM-UP #63-64.

And then true comic book magic happened when the powers that be teamed Rand with Luke Cage in POWER MAN & IRON FIST, a partnership that continues to give readers a thrill to this day. In fact, a series of that same name can be found on shelves right now even as the new IRON FIST series kicks off.

Flash Forward

In the pages of IMMORTAL IRON FIST, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, David Aja and others expanded upon the mythology of Iron Fist. They not only chronicled the adventures of other, previous bearers of the name, but also expanded on the idea of K’un Lun as one of many mystical cities with their own warriors. Readers met the likes of Fat Cobra, Dog Brother #1, Bride of Nine Spiders, Prince of Orphans, Tiger’s Beautiful Daughter and Steel Phoenix.

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Artist ACO opens his secret files for a your eyes only sneak peek!

Don’t tell HYDRA, but Nick Fury’s about to make his presence felt much more starting April 19. The new self-titled series, NICK FURY, by writer James Robinson and artist ACO, promises to send the junior Fury on a series of adventures that will continue the long tradition of espionage-filled stories against the backdrop of the Marvel Universe!

NICK FURY promises to move the title hero along at a whip-fast clip in a series of assignments each taking up just a single issue. Some of the adventures will be confined to a train while others dive deep into Atlantis or glitter in the French Riviera. Fury will also find himself up against a new foe: Frankie Noble, Agent of HYDRA.

We talk with ACO about playing with all of the best spy-related toys like exotic locales and sleek gadgets, as well as working on a character with such iconic ties to a master artist.

Marvel.com: Nick Fury comics have had a history of incorporating some pretty innovative artistic approaches from the likes of Jack Kirby, Jim Steranko, and others. Did you look back at any of those artists for inspiration while thinking about your take on this character?

ACO: Absolutely, as soon as I received the proposal I reviewed the whole stage of Steranko with the character. His comics were an explosion of creativity, narrative, and design that continue to influence hundreds of artists. A milestone in the history of the comic book. Also, it is impossible to separate Nick Fury from Jim Steranko.

For this collection I also had in mind his comic book adaptation of the movie “Outland.” The way he manipulates the page and plays with the reader is something unique.

I have tried to filter all those works and look for my own voice for this specific title. I hope the reader could be able to notice it. Emulating the brilliance of Steranko is something impossible, only David Ajá approaches him in genius.

Marvel.com: You’ve become well known for your intricate panel and page designs, which looks like it’s carrying through to NICK FURY. Does James write those into the script or do you develop them from what’s on the page?

ACO: James is very open with art and page composition. He indicates which panels are important and adds the dialogue for me. Then, he allows me to work with complete freedom, doing things my way. That trust is something I value very much. I play a lot with composition, adding and removing scenes after having consulted with him, always trying to stay true to his original idea, and James is always very receptive and open to dialogue. It is very pleasant to work without a leash and with the scriptwriter’s trust. Being given your own space to develop the story, to me, is priceless

Marvel.com: From your perspective, what sets the younger Nick Fury apart from the elder in terms of how he carries himself and goes about his business as a spy?

ACO: I think old Nick has had stories in which world security depended solely on him. Always on the verge of the cataclysm, with great villains with plans of world domination and where he is in his element. This Nick takes care of small missions, not to the scale of his father. That helps him to take spying in a funnier and lighter way. Indeed, global security also depends on him, but this is no excuse for not having a good time while saving the day.

Marvel.com: It sounds like you and James will be putting Fury through his paces everywhere from a train to Atlantis. Was that major mix of ideas and locales a draw for you as an artist?

ACO: Having so many environments forces you to think and consider each episode in a very different way. We have to take into account many aspects; for example, how the characters are going to move depending on the setting they are in, what technology should be used, which architectural style should be the most suitable for each scenario, what costumes and equipment he should carry. Searching for meaning and functionality depending on where the story takes place is something that I love and find amusing.

Marvel.com: As you mentioned, in addition to the various locales, the book also features high tech spy gear. Do you enjoy making those items come to life on the page?

ACO: Yes, I love using gadgets and visual cues for the reader. Whether in the form of an onomatopoeia, a map, a counter or with icons, it makes the visual experience richer and brings a lot of dynamism to the page.

Marvel.com: What can you tell us about the development process for Frankie Noble, Agent of HYDRA?

ACO: I wanted to give it a retro, quirky and sexy look. Something like the Lady Gaga of HYDRA. We should give it a unique look within a uniformed organization. It was also important to give her her own “patch.” Something that made her recognizable, that’s why she wears wigs and has a mole. My initial proposal was that she could wear a different wig in each appearance, but this might end up confusing the reader, so we decided she should wear only one. The fact that she doesn’t have any hair helps to give the character a greater background. Adding the mole was Mark Paniccia’s idea, the editor, which helps to identify the character quickly.

The spy games begin on April 19 in NICK FURY #1 by James Robinson and ACO!

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Charles Soule guides the Man Without Fear through the legal system!

It may be a cliché that not all heroes wear capes, but can super heroes still be champions for good when they’re not running around in costume saving the day? That’s exactly what Matt Murdock seeks to prove in the upcoming “Supreme” arc of DAREDEVIL from writer Charles Soule. He’s foregoing the usual red, skin tight number in favor of a simple suit and tie as part of a plan to take care of crime in New York with the legitimate fists of the legal system.

However, Matt’s tour de force of lawyerly prowess could prove to be the undoing of not only the bad guys, but all of New York’s vigilantes as well. Even his recently recovered secret identity stands at stake in this story, which promises to be an explosive courtroom drama chock full of surprises, exciting cameos, and homages to classic sitcom tropes.

Since Charles practices as an attorney, we asked him to make a few opening statements on behalf of “Supreme.” He’s far from resting his case, your honor. In fact, it’s just waking up.

Marvel.com: In this story arc, Matt has a plan to take care of crime in Manhattan via the legal system as opposed to his vigilante work as Daredevil. As a practicing lawyer and fellow Columbia Law graduate, were the specifics for this arc drawn from your own experiences as an attorney? If so, can you go into detail about your inspirations without breaching attorney-client privilege?

Charles Soule: I’ve been building to this story since I first started thinking about my run [on DAREDEVIL]. This has been what it’s all been about, from the start. This is why Matt joined the DA’s office, it’s what he decided to do with his secret identity, all of it. He has a plan based on a particular area of criminal law that I came up with when I was doing my initial research, talking to people who’ve worked in the Manhattan DA’s office, etc. The funny thing—while I am a practicing attorney, I don’t work in this particular area, and so I am sure I’m screwing stuff up as far as the specifics. That’s okay, though, I have a wonderful crutch to rely on for that stuff: “Law is a little different in the Marvel Universe.”

Marvel.com: Are there any holdover repercussions from the “Purple” arc that centers around Matt trying to hold onto his secret identity?

Charles Soule: The whole “Supreme” arc is all about it. We learned in “Purple” what Matt did to put his identity as Daredevil back in the bottle, and in “Supreme” all of that is put at risk. We understand the stakes.

Marvel.com: What is the climate like in New York City to allow Matt to take this route rather than just beat the snot out of bad guys as Daredevil?

Charles Soule: Beating up bad guys is great, but it’s a one-at-a-time sort of solution. Every once in a while maybe you can take down a big player like an Owl or even a Kingpin, but just because you beat someone up doesn’t mean they will actually get convicted of a crime and go to prison. Matt’s plan here is designed to bring his vigilante work and his legal work closer together—and not just for him, but for everyone like him. The Spider-Mans, the Blindspots, the Ms. Marvels— everyone with a secret identity working in New York as a vigilante could be affected by what he’s doing.



Marvel.com:  Moreover, how does he feel about the possibility that the city may not need the hero after this case is over?

Charles Soule: He’s not worried about that at all. New York will always need heroes.

Marvel.com:  The criminal underworld can’t be happy about this trial. What action will they be taking to stop Matt?

Charles Soule: Stay tuned. That’s a huge part of the story. We’ll see some great bad guy appearances here, including the return of a fun Z-lister from the 90s, another long-demanded character from my SHE-HULK run with Javier Pulido, and another massive Daredevil bad guy I haven’t used yet.

Marvel.com: The irony of Daredevil needing to take the stand and testify is a bit of a two-dates-to-the-prom—or courtroom in this case—situation for Matt. How will he go about handling that particular dilemma?

Charles Soule: That’s issue #22—and man, it’s fun to write that stuff. Classic silly sitcom with super heroes material.

Marvel.com: Luke Cage and Echo will be guest starring in this arc. What will their roles be in this case? Will they be taking to the stand and should we prepare for any other cameos?

Charles Soule: They show up early, but we shift away from them to allow for some other folks to appear. I’m trying to get in a bunch of cool cameos here; don’t want to spoil it, but I had Daredevil appear in a big three-part story in my SHE-HULK run. It might be time to return that favor…

Charles Soule kicks off “Supreme” in DAREDEVIL #21, coming this June!

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Steve Rogers and Roberto da Costa face off about the group’s future!

Steve Rogers has arrived and his agenda shall not be ignored—well, that’s his plan, anyway.

Roberto da Costa, the former Sunspot and current Citizen V, however has different thoughts on the matter. He helped turn A.I.M. from an enclave of evil into an entity of scientific good in the world and he sees it just as the start. Why should he cede control now?

U.S.AVENGERS writer Al Ewing has studied the case and stands ready to arbitrate, but squeezed us into his docket to review the dispute.

Marvel.com: In U.S.AVENGERS #5, we’re promised what seems to be a battle between Sunspot and Steve Rogers for the direction of A.I.M. To handicap that faceoff for a moment, what advantages does each person—Steve and Roberto—bring to the situation?

Al Ewing: It’s more of a standoff than a battle. Steve, as the new big man on campus at S.H.I.E.L.D., is essentially Roberto’s boss now that A.I.M. have been absorbed by everyone’s favorite global superspy organization. Since Steve Rogers is also an agent of HYDRA after some meddling from a Cosmic Cube, and Roberto doesn’t know that…well, the situation’s a little tricky.

Steve’s goal here is to see if Roberto can be persuaded as to the rightness of his cause, and if not—and let’s face it, it’s going to be “not”—he’s going to find whatever weaknesses he can in A.I.M.’s defenses and generally get Roberto rattled enough to make an error.

Roberto’s goal, meanwhile, is to get through a particularly rough, and increasingly strange, performance evaluation.

Marvel.com: To look at the debit side of the ledger, what are each of their vulnerabilities or weaknesses?

Al Ewing: Roberto doesn’t know what’s going on with Steve. That’s a biggie—that’s everything. This is the first time Roberto’s been in a situation where he hasn’t been two steps ahead.

But from Steve’s point of view, Roberto is clever enough to figure it all out—if Steve pushes too hard. So there are a lot of subtle tactics, a lot of gentle probing, pushing and the occasional naked micro-aggression. HYDRA-fied Steve Rogers might think he’s the hero of his own story, but he’s a very nasty character, and he doesn’t mind if people don’t like him, either. He’s going to put all that to work.

Marvel.com: If we were able to speak to both of them, why would they say that control of the direction of A.I.M. should be theirs?

Al Ewing: Steve Rogers can’t have any loose cannons and general weirdos interfering with his masterplan. A.I.M. could be great allies of HYDRA if they just knocked off this goofy stuff they’ve gotten into. Steve likes the way Roberto’s rehabilitated the brand in the public eye, he just thinks he needs to straighten up at this point and fly right. As for Roberto, why would he want to quit now? He’s just gotten started. If Roberto’s going to hand A.I.M. over to anyone, it’ll be someone who gets it—in the meantime, he’s going to keep control as long as he can.

Marvel.com: This conflict leaves Sam Guthrie, Cannonball, feeling as though he is being pulled in separate directions. What about this situation is leaving him feeling as though he is stuck in the middle? What does each party represent and mean to him?

Al Ewing: Sam is actually on leave this issue—he’s being pulled in separate directions because he’s on his new home planet with his space family. Except Earth is his home planet, isn’t it?

Readers have been asking what the status of Izzy—aka Smasher—and their son Joshua is, and whether the marriage is going to turn up in the book; well, this issue, it does. It’s been mentioned before that Sam commutes to the team from space, but this is the first time we’ve seen him on weekends, or seen how nice the Shi’ar colony planets can be. Sam’s got a lot to think about.

Marvel.com: Within A.I.M. is there a dominant opinion amongst the employees about the direction the organization should go and who should be in charge of it?

Al Ewing: At this point, Roberto’s pruned the organization pretty effectively; anyone with a hankering for the bad old days of evil science and world takeover has been pretty much kicked out. But there are always one or two who are nostalgic for the good old days of bad against good, and Roberto might find traitors in the ranks where he least expects them.

See how the situation between Steve and Roberto plays out in U.S.AVENGERS #5 by Al Ewing and artist Paco Diaz, coming April 19!

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Writer Rembert Browne shares the inspirations for his Black Panther tale!

Mentored by T’Challa and Erik Killmonger, Kasper Cole once spent his time striking across New York City in the name of what’s right. But time has passed, failure and frustration have taken their toll, and the man once known as The White Tiger stands by as Wakanda burns.

But on April 19, writers Rembert Browne and Ta-Nehisi Coates join artist Joe Bennett to bring Kasper Cole back to the fight in BLACK PANTHER: WORLD OF WAKANDA #6. The White Tiger returns for what may be the final encounter with his city and the world he once knew.

We caught up with Rembert to talk about super heroes and football, his collaboration with Ta-Nehisi Coates, and the real-life relevance of the world of Wakanda.

Marvel.com: I know you’re a big Atlanta Falcons fan, so if you could choose one Marvel hero to play for the team, who would it be?

Rembert Browne: The Falcons are cursed, so unfortunately there is no hero that could undo such evil. I’m still not ready to talk about this.

Marvel.com: Understood. So maybe a trade the other way: what Falcons player do you think would fit in as a Marvel hero?

Rembert Browne: Devonta Freeman as Ant-Man.

Marvel.com: What were the conversations you and Ta-Nehisi had about what you wanted to do with this issue? Was it all about narrative? Was it about a broader vision for the story?

Rembert Browne: We knew each other before I got the ask for this very out-of-the-blue, amazing opportunity. We chatted in the beginning and then he very much let me do my thing. I think he wanted me to feel like it was my project, even if I am creating this thing that exists and needs to make sense within this story he’s been telling. But yes, he’s a good man, that Ta-Nehisi Coates, very exciting up-and-coming writer.

Marvel.com: What most intrigued you about writing Kasper Cole?

Rembert Browne: There [are] few things I identify with more than feeling like you’re making a difference and still being very broke. So yes, when I saw that aspect of his bio, my recession Spidey-sense went off and I assumed I could do a half-decent job telling his story.

Marvel.com: There are few more socially relevant stories in the Marvel Universe than this one, so what excited you about writing with that in mind?

Rembert Browne: I think there’s a beautiful moment happening in art right now, stories being told that are true mixtures of the serious and the fun. Look at a show like “Atlanta,” or a movie like “Get Out.” In one moment you’re hit with the real and the next moment you’re crying laughing. It’s how real life is.

I was attracted to this story because he’s a young black man and by virtue of that reality, there will be excitement, action, disappointment, unfair treatment, pain, and redemption. Kasper’s a dude that in one day whoops ass and gets his ass whooped. To me, that’s pretty socially relevant.

Not every black story needs to be about a freedom fighter. But I also can’t imagine a story where that black person isn’t looking to be free, and doesn’t have to fight.

Also, he’s jacked, so that’s aspirational.

BLACK PANTHER: WORLD OF WAKANDA #6, by Rembert Browne, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and artist Joe Bennett, is available on April 19!

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Get familiar with some of Star Wars’ most elite pilots!

The newest bad guy network set on controlling the galaxy is on the rise and it’s up to the Black Squadron to outsmart them in STAR WARS: POE DAMERON #13, written by Charles Soule with art by Phil Noto and coming out April 19. Want to know more about these selfless heroes? Let’s take a look!

Poe Dameron – This dashingly debonair pilot fearlessly leads Black Squadron with his own blend of high stakes decisions and cheeky one-liners. Following in his parents’ footsteps, Dameron left the Republic’s Starfleet to join the rebellion after General Leia Organa recruited him. He quickly became one of her most skilled and trusted operatives and assumed the task of putting together an elite team to track down Lor San Tekka and smooth talk his way to uncovering the location of Luke Skywalker, who has taken over the role of Leia’s only hope.

L’ulo – The grandfather of the group, but don’t let him catch you saying that. L’ulo is a battle warn hothead not afraid to defy orders if he thinks he knows better, which he usually does. He’s a bit of a grumpy gill but his years fighting in the Alliance have given him that right. During that time L’ulo became close with Shara Bey, Poe’s mother, and even stepped in to help raise him after her sudden death. Nothing like a somewhat endearing, semi-father-son dynamic to add a little tension to the group.

Temmin “Snap” Wexley – Poe’s right hand man and occasional comic relief, Snap, grew up on his own after Imperial forces captured his father and his mother left to join the Rebel Alliance. He learned to fend for himself working as a junk dealer on the streets of his home planet before rejoining his mother to fight against the remaining Empire forces. His combination of street smarts and fighting experience make him an invaluable member of the team. Plus he adds some adorable cheese ball moments romancing fellow squad member Karé Kun.

Oddy Muva – A classic case of a guy doing the wrong thing for the right reasons, Oddy works as the team’s mechanical tech with aspirations of becoming a pilot. Though the team might be better served finding a way to keep that mechanical genius on lock. Unfortunately, while he’s the last person Poe would suspect of being a First Order informant, it does sadly seem to be the case, as we’ve learned that the First Order officer Terex holds his wife hostage as leverage against Oddy.

Karé Kun – A seasoned Resistance fighter, Karé flew alongside Poe in the New Republic Navy as a member of Rapier Squadron and you can bet he’d trust her with his life—and has. She’s driven, remarkably talented, and one tough cookie who likes to let you know it, but don’t be surprised to hear her crack a joke with her teammates. After all, she does reserve all the teasing rights to Snap.

Jessika “Jess” Pava – The bad girl of the group, Jess likes to live on the edge and prepare herself for any situation. She has a knack for mechanics as her and Oddy like trying experimental modifications out on her ship. If it were her choice she would always have her weapons and never lose control of the situation at hand which makes for a great balance to Poe’s “make it up as you go along” attitude. And while she has an effective tactical mind and stands out as a great pilot, she also adds a needed sass to the group dynamic.

Catch the whole team back in action April 19 in STAR WARS: POE DAMERON #13 by Charles Soule and Phil Noto!   

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Trace the evolution of the former White Queen to X-Man and beyond!

This March, we celebrate Women’s History Month by spotlighting some of the most iconic characters and creators from the Marvel Universe.

Created by Chris Claremont and John Byrne in the pages of 1980’s UNCANNY X-MEN #129, Emma Frost first entered the Marvel Universe as the Hellfire Club’s telepathic powerhouse, The White Queen. At the time, the nefarious group intended to bring the X-Men to their knees, even going so far as to put a tap on Cerebro.

With information stolen from Professor X’s machine, Ms. Frost headed to Deerfield, Illinois to meet a young woman also making her first appearance: Kitty Pryde! There under the pretense of offering Ms. Pryde a place at a school in Massachusetts, Frost happened to be there when Kitty manifested her mutant phasing powers. However, the child didn’t seem convinced, which left Emma in a bad spot as Professor X, Storm, Colossus, and Wolverine appeared for their own recruitment drive.

While Kitty grabbed a malt with the students, Frost sent armored goons in to rough them up. Though the X-Men easily handled these intruders, they remained unprepared for White Queen’s telepathic force bolt which left them unconscious. However, in the fray, Kitty phased out of the building, but stowed away on the fleeing ship to save her eventual teammates.

Kitty figured out how to contact the other X-Men and they made their way to the place where Frost held their teammates as well as Professor Xavier. During the ensuing battle, Emma fought Jean Grey and her Phoenix Force for the first time, seemingly dying in the process, but really surviving to fight another day.

For years after, Emma Frost battled the X-Men as part of the Hellfire Club. She also really did run a Massachusetts school for gifted youngsters, training them and building them into a group called the Hellions. The destruction of this young team came as a result of Trevor Fitzroy unleashing the Sentinels on them. Feeling intense guilt as the only surviving member of her squad, Frost soon teamed up with Sean Cassidy to save a group of new mutants who would eventually star in GENERATION X. Emma stuck around as the team’s mentor, but murdering her own sister, a murderer herself, didn’t sit well with the kids and the team disbanded.

However, that did not directly lead back to a life of crime with the Hellfire Club. Instead, she moved to Genosha where she taught young mutants how to use their powers. That is until another Sentinel attack left her the only survivor on the entire island nation. During the NEW X-MEN series, she not only became an important member of the main mutant team, but also started a relationship with Scott Summers, aka Cyclops, that continued up to his death.

While Scott seemingly died at the hands of Black Bolt as the X-Men tried to destroy one of the mutant-killing Terrigen mists, he actually perished earlier upon exposure to the cloud. The version seen on the battle field turned out to be an illusion that Emma cast in an effort to fulfill Cyclops’ last wishes. This, of course, led directly into the pages of INHUMANS VS. X-MEN. In that series, Frost made a number of moves that have many wondering if the intensity of the past few months has left her teetering between good and evil. Only time will tell.

Over the years, Emma Frost’s unparalleled power, whip-smart wit, and incredible fortitude have allowed her to make the transition from a hated enemy to a fan-favorite X-Man, a feat that few others have actually accomplished.

The Women of Marvel

Emma Frost survived the Sentinel attack on Genosha because she exhibited one of the first known examples of secondary mutation. In her case, she turned into a being of pure diamond. In this form, she cannot use her telepathic powers, but does become almost completely impervious to harm, temperature, psychic attacks, and even the need to breathe. This alternate form also allowed for super strength, the ability to never tire, and even a numbness to emotions and pain.

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The floral colossus confronts his past and fights for the future!

Celebrate this incarnation of the Guardians of the Galaxy’s tenth anniversary while also prepping for the May 5 release of their new film with these gems from Marvel Unlimited!

Everyone loves Groot. Whether he’s blasting away bad guys with his Guardians pals or dancing in a coffee mug, only the coldest of hearts refuse to melt for this benevolent warrior. So it came as no surprise when the Flora colossi scored his own series in 2015. Written by Jeff Loveness and drawn by Brian Kesinger, the six issue run featured Groot doing everything in his power to save his pal Rocket from the clutches of the evil space pirate Eris.

In issues #25, Groot remembered meeting his raccoon-like friend in a prison, then met up with Silver Surfer and his companion Dawn, saved a planet from a cosmic storm and befriended a new group of friends including three inept Skrulls, a 90s-created robot named Mantron, and Numinus, the cosmic embodiment of chance and fate. Even without the toughest folks backing him, Groot still inspired confidence in this crew to take on Eris and save Rocket!

Groot (2015) #1

Groot (2015) #1

  • Published: June 03, 2015
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: December 07, 2015
  • Rating: Rated T
  • Writer: Jeff Loveness
  • Cover Artist: Declan Shalvey
What is Marvel Unlimited?

With that whole mess cleaned up, Rocket finally agreed to take Groot to Earth. After marking some things off of a To Do list recommended by fellow Guardians, they got down to the real business of the trip: finding an acquaintance of Groot’s. As we discover through a mental conversation between our hero and young Jean Grey, once upon a time the people of Planet X started abducting people to study. Groot knew this was wrong and helped a young girl named Hannah escape. He succeeded, but soon found himself banished from his home leading him down the path to eventually hook up with the Guardians of the Galaxy!

The series closed with Groot sitting with Hannah and a beautiful message about friendship: “Because of her, I learned the greatest truth I know. One I live be every day…Life is not about the shadow you cast on your enemies…But the shade you provide to your friends.”

Transmissions from Knowhere

Groot first appeared in 1960’s TALES TO ASTONISH #13 and only showed up a few other times between that and ANNIHILATION CONQUEST: STAR-LORD. In MARVEL MONSTERS: MONSTERS ON THE PROWL, The Collector held Groot and a variety of other creatures in his secret Canadian facility before they broke out. Later, Groot again fell into captivity, this time by the supernatural-themed team in NICK FURY’S HOWLING COMMANDOES. Sometime between the end of that series—in which he helped defeat Merlin—and STAR-LORD #1, Groot became captured again for unspecified crimes against the Kree. Since then, he’s done a pretty good job of staying out of incarceration.

Next time, Groot and his new teammates test themselves in the fires of intergalactic war in the pages of ANNIHILATION: CONQUEST.

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