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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Writer David F. Walker takes Luke back to his roots for Marvel Legacy!

Once upon a time, Carl Lucas got thrown into jail for a crime he didn’t commit and emerged as Luke Cage, the humbled Hero for Hire. Now, courtesy of writer David F. Walker and artist Guillermo Sanna, he’s going back in.

On October 18, Marvel Legacy begins with a trip back to the crucible that forged this future Avenger in LUKE CAGE #166! The “Caged” story arc catches Luke out of his element, at a low point in his life—and stuck in a prison he can’t escape with his fists.

We sat down with Walker to hear more about heading back to the character’s iconic roots.

Marvel.com: What can you tell us about Luke getting chucked back into prisonand the threats both inside and outside those walls?

David Walker: Well, when Marvel first announced the whole Legacy initiative and we were discussing it, we talked about bringing some of these very iconic characters back to their core and their essence. And to me, it was pretty simple—why don’t we take Luke Cage back to where he started when we first met him back in 1972? Let’s put him back in prison.

And then it became a question of getting him there. What might he be in prison for? How do you keep him in prison when he’s got super strength? We reverse engineered a certain amount. To a certain extent, this storyline that we’re doing could almost be a retelling of his origin in a weird sort of way. So then our questions were: who’s our villain going to be? Who will be his allies? And how will this story take Luke to someplace new?

For me, as a writer, there’s no point of tackling something if you don’t have the opportunity to try to get the character to someplace new—some realization about themselves that they never had.

Marvel.com: Unlike the first time he found himself in jail, Luke heads inside as an established hero. How will this new stint in jail affect him?

David Walker: That’s a really good question and it’s loaded with potential spoilers…but there are some obstacles that keep him from being the Luke Cage we know and love; that keep him from being Luke Cage that he knows he can be, if that makes sense.

A lot of it will be about him rediscovering himself and, in the process, older readers and old school fans will hopefully appreciate the trials and tribulations we’re putting him through. And new fans will jump on to see a guy really going through, essentially, discovery.

Marvel.com: You touched on this, but Luke has his powers now…so what’s stopping him form just breaking out of jail?

David Walker: Ahh, now there’s a big spoiler right there.

There will be obstacles—he’ll face a lot of obstacles and that ended up being one of the tricky things we had to try to figure out: how do you keep him from just busting out? We didn’t want it to be the standard “special prison” that has like, you know, some sort of de-powering ray gun or something like that. But how he’s kept locked up, why he’s locked up, all that stuff becomes interconnected and a lot of it gets revealed within the first issue of the arc. Then we build upon that and then it becomes about overcoming these things that are keeping him trapped.

A lot of it becomes a metaphor for the way all of us can become trapped in circumstances that may be beyond our control and seek to define us in ways that are not accurate or truthful to who we actually are.

Marvel.com: Being behind bars has always been crucial to the Luke Cage legacy because it helped transform Carl Lucas into the hero for hire. Since this kicks off Marvel Legacy, how did you want to explore the character’s history?

David Walker: I’ve been doing a lot of whispering to my editors that I’d love to do a “Luke Cage: Year One” sort of story.

In the original series, back in the ‘70s, the time he spent in prison covered, I think, one or two issues. He didn’t spend a lot of time in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. They would recall that a lot—though they didn’t spend a lot of time showing him there. We’re spending a fair amount of time showing him in this place where he actually doesn’t have the control that he thinks he has or that he’s used to having—and that’s the part of the exploitation of the character.

I really wanted to use this opportunity to tell a story that explored not just Luke Cage at his core, but who Carl Lucas at his core—because a lot of people sort of forget that before he was Luke Cage, he was Carl Lucas. What exists deep down inside? What makes him the hero that he is? That’s part of what I wanted to get into in a way—now he’s in prison with a lot of history and a lot of experience, so who Luke now feels very different than Luke then.

I don’t know if that answers the question or not. I’m worried about dropping spoilers because it seems like this whole story arc is full of spoilers.

Marvel.com: Can you talk about how you went about writing the overall narrativeand perhaps offer a few teasers about what we can expect as the “Caged” storyline begins?

David Walker: There will be more than one cliffhanger. Issues #166-#169 just keep getting worse for Luke. Issue #166 ends pretty bad, #167 feels like, “Oh, I didn’t know it could get any worse,” and then it just keeps getting worse, and worse, and worse for poor Mr. Cage.

Writing it turned into a question of finding the right beats. The first beat, in terms of cliffhanger endings, will be Luke in a situation where he’s unaware and he doesn’t know what’s going on. The second one ups the danger level and will be like, “OK, now we’re going into uncharted territory. And then life and death territory.” We’ll turn up the tension with every single issue.

LUKE CAGE #166, by David F. Walker and artist Guillermo Sanna, hits on October 18!

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Charles Soule gives us a Star Wars mission update!

Cue the recap roll! Poe Dameron and his team of elite pilots have been tasked with finding Lor San Tekka, a wise old explorer who may know the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker. Suffice it to say the gang has faced their fair share of trouble along the way, everything from fighting off a glorified bounty hunter to orchestrating a good old fashion prison break, knocking them a bit off track.

But come October 18, writer Charles Soule and artist Angel Unzueta make sure the team gets back on track. “Most of the main threads we’ve been dealing with in the series have been wrapped up, except one – the one that began the book,” says Soule. STAR WARS: POE DAMERON #20 will kick off a six issue story that is, as Soule puts it, “an epic in the great Star Wars tradition.”

So just how far out is Poe from completing his mission? Let’s check the reports!

Operative: Poe Dameron

Commanding Officer: General Leia Organa

Objective: Find Lor San Tekka and determine what he knows about the last remaining Jedi, Luke Skywalker – our only hope.

Progress: Black Squadron has made some great leaps in furthering the resistance’s agenda, most recently securing a fuel transfer for the rebel bases depleting resources and gathering footage of operatives in action to use as a way to rally support for the cause. However, progress toward the major objective has been slow going.

“Poe made progress early in, finding a list of possible locations, but it’s taken a while for the Resistance to work through it and narrow it down,” notes Soule, “C-3PO and his squad of droid operatives have been working through the list trying to see if any of the locations will bear fruit.” Time to lace up your boots and pound the space pavement as the search kicks off anew.

Poe Dameron (2016) #20

Poe Dameron (2016) #20

  • Published: October 18, 2017
  • Cover Artist: Phil Noto

Deviations: The team has encountered a few hiccups along the way, some more heartbreaking than others. However, “the biggest issue is that Poe made an enemy of an extremely versatile and deadly First Order Security Bureau named Terex,” notes Soule, “This fellow was once an Imperial Stormtrooper, and in the decades since the fall of the Empire made his way through the galaxy by being scarier than anyone else. Not a good person to have trying to hunt you down!”

So far Poe and his team have successfully thwarted the attempts of the First Order to capture them, but with Terex brainwashed into mindlessly following orders, Black Squadron finds it harder and harder to pull of their usual escape just in the knick of time antics.

Next Step: “Survive and thrive…hopefully,” suggests Soule. General Organa has planted a seed in Poe’s mind – the resistance is bigger than just one person. Why is this significant for Poe you may ask? “Poe has lost long-time companions, dealt with traitors, and has been learning the galaxy is a darker, more complex place than he realized,” explains Soule, “He’s understanding that he needs to evolve – that maybe he can’t just be a hotshot pilot anymore. The Resistance needs more – it needs a leader.”

Will Poe find Lor San Tekka and become the leader the Resistance needs? Find out on October 18 in STAR WARS: POE DAMERON #20, written by Charles Soule with art by Angel Unzueta!

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Get the exclusive NOT BRAND ECHH creative team announcement from Heather Antos!

True Believers, level up your weekend with a brand new episode of This Week in Marvel, the official Marvel podcast!

Catch up on all the latest comics news and info as Ben, Tucker and Maggie give you the rundown on all of this week’s new comics releases including AVENGERS, AMERICA, SPIDER-MAN, X-MEN, and more! Not one to rest on his laurels, Ben talks to editors Jordan D. White and Heather Antos about creative changes to the STAR WARS book, and gets the exclusive announcement on the NOT BRAND ECHH creative teams from Heather (55:25)!

Exclusive announcement on NOT BRAND ECHH creative teams, you say? Here’s the scoop:

  • SECRET EMPIRE ABRIDGED – Written by Nick Spencer and Inks by Scott Koblish
  • FORBUSH MAN RETURNS – Written/Art by Jay Fosgitt
  • GWENPOOL ABSORBS THE MARVEL UNIVERSE – Written by Christopher Hastings and Art by Gurihiru

Over on the West Coast, Christine and Eric have everything you need to know about TV, Films, Games and Themed Entertainment (1:19:35). And from there, it’s back to the east coast for your questions and comments (1:38:55)!

Download episode #308 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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Find out how Kirby cartoons inspired this artist!

1917 to 2017: 100 years of Kirby.

Join us to celebrate Jack “King” Kirby’s 100th birthday by learning about the characters and stories he created that changed comics forever. To commemorate Jack’s centennial, we’ve sat down with the modern-day creators he influenced—and the decades of work he gifted us all.

These days, you can barely flip the channels without finding Marvel-inspired shows on the air, but not back in the early 1960s! Not until the syndicated “Marvel Super-Heroes” debuted in 1966. Focusing on five heroes—Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, and Namor—the cartoon essentially took panels straight from the comics of the day and added animation embellishments.

In addition to getting Marvel’s characters out into the world in front of even more eyes, the series also introduced people all over the world to artists like Jack Kirby! In fact, that’s how Ariel Olivetti first discovered the King’s work!

With credits that include THE LAST AVENGERS STORY and various Hulk and X-Men efforts, Olivetti’s more than familiar with drawing on Jack for inspiration. We taledk with the artist about that, the cartoons, and more!

Marvel.com: Do you remember how you first encountered Jack Kirby’s comics and what did you think of it then?

Ariel Olivetti: The first thing I saw about Kirby were the Hulk, Captain America, and Thor cartoons, and they were beautiful.

Marvel.com: Can you remember any lessons or tricks you’ve learned from Kirby’s work over the years?

Ariel Olivetti: The simplification of line in function of the graphic dynamism.

Marvel.com: One of your first interior works for Marvel was THE LAST AVENGERS STORY. Did you feel any intimidation when taking on a comic that would tell the end of a tale Jack Kirby and Stan Lee started?

Ariel Olivetti: It was a great responsibility, but it was the project that I enjoyed the most.

Marvel.com: You have done a lot of work with various X-Men books. Did you ever look back to the Kirby-drawn issues from that franchise’s earliest days for reference or inspiration?

Ariel Olivetti: I always try to look at Kirby’s design for the original characters.

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more throughout Kirby Month and beyond! And join the conversation on all of our social channels with the hashtag #Kirby100.

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Writer Tom Taylor teases the Orphans of X as Marvel Legacy begins!

Coming up, things get more personal than ever for Laura Kinney.

Having returned from her Brood-killing mission alongside the Guardians of the Galaxy, Laura has no choice but to return to the place where her journey began—to fight for the family she has left.

On October 11, writer Tom Taylor and artist Juann Cabal reintroduce Laura and Daken in ALL-NEW WOLVERINE #25!

We caught up with Tom to hear more about the Marvel Legacy beginning of a complex new partnership for Laura and her long-lost “brother.”

Marvel.com: Catch us up on what’s been going on in the wonderful world of Wolverine!

Tom Taylor: At the moment, we’re just coming back from space—Laura, Gabby, and Jonathan have been off with the Guardians of the Galaxy. They dealt with a massive threat there and now they’re coming back to Earth in the hope of finding some normalcy in their new residence on Roosevelt Island. But—of course—we’re going to be turning their world upside-down.

Something very bad happens. Daken will be taken…but a piece of him will also be found.

Marvel.com: Oh no.

Tom Taylor: Yeah, right!? That will start Laura on a very big journey which will involve her past, her present, and her future. There will be an intensity in our Legacy arc that we haven’t seen before. By the end of the first issue of our Orphans of X run, everybody will want to pick this book up.

Marvel.com: Just to recap, it wasn’t so long ago that Daken and Laura were—literallyat each other’s throats. Where do we find their relationship now?

Tom Taylor: Daken and Laura are actually quite close. We saw it in Marjorie Liu’s run and we saw it in the recent Immune arc where Daken comes—not to help Roosevelt Island in the middle of their horrible infestation—but to help Laura. Daken doesn’t get close to a lot of people. But he does respect Laura and I think that becomes quite clear.

We are playing with them as brother and sister and I think that comes through in all of Orphans of X, but in the beginning of Orphans of X, Daken gets taken prisoner (I can’t say by who yet!) and Laura has to deal with that. But it feels quite traumatic, and this will be one of the most intense arcs we’ve ever done.

Marvel.com: It seems so cool to go back to Laura’s roots with Legacy—to see her challenged in such a personal way.

Tom Taylor: She’s a fantastic character—she has an incredibly traumatic past but she’s not a victim. Particularly after everything she went through in Enemy of the State arc, she has really come through it and become a hell of a hero—as I hope we saw on the moon with the hive…like, she just went to an alien moon, took on the Brood, and she saved an entire island of people! She kicks ass in every way.

Marvel.com: Generally speaking, what does the legacy of Marvel Comics mean to you?

Tom Taylor: I’m a fanboy and I always have been. I’m a fan of these great characters. And when Marvel calls you up and says, “Hey Tom, do you want to write Iron Man?” you absolutely lose it! You just do! It feels insane. Like, this stuff just doesn’t happen. My first gig in American comics was writing Star Wars. And it’s just like…you’re kidding me. You want me to write Luke and Han and Leia? What!? I’m a guy from Melbourne, Australia. This just doesn’t happen.

I think we were talking about something else with Marvel at one stage and then they were like, actually, would you like to do Wolverine? What person in the world would say no to that!? Of course I want to do Wolverine! I’ve been reading Wolverine comics my whole life, I have shelves of them—yes I want in on this. I love Laura, ever since I saw her in “X-Men: Evolution”!

It’s just exciting to be on all of this and—I think I can say this—I’ve just been offered a new project for Marvel and it’s exactly the same. I have a very packed schedule but I just thought, you know what, I’m going to immediately drop everything I’m doing to jump onto this and make it as good as I possibly can; it couldn’t be more exciting to do another incredible Marvel property and to try to do my best at it.

Marvel.com: That’s so exciting! So Legacy must be a treat to work on.

Tom Taylor: Yeah—and we’re seeing things like going back the Muramasa Blade here, which has been a huge part of Logan’s past and what that came to mean. And now that his children have to deal with that will be a really big thing. That’s the kind of Legacy thing that we’re seeing in this, and I have to say that the artwork by Juann Cabal and [colorist] Nolan Woodard together looks like nothing you’ve ever seen. The three of us are just jamming so well! We’re adding extra beats everywhere and it’s amazing to be working with these talented guys.

ALL-NEW WOLVERINE #25, by Tom Taylor and artist Juann Cabal, drops on October 11!

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His creative contemporaries and successors remember legend Len Wein!

Additional reporting by TJ Dietsch

“If you really want to tangle with someone—why not try your luck against—the Wolverine!”

Imagine: It’s the summer of 1974. You’ve just read to the end of INCREDIBLE HULK #180—the newest issue—and a brand-new character nearly leaps out of the art at you with claws extended. You’re just not sure how you’ll be able to stand the wait until the next installment to see what’s up with this new mystery man, and then you turn to the book’s credit page and wonder how this Len Wein guy keeps coming up with all this cool stuff…

“The Wolverine” moved on past his throwdown with The Hulk and Wendigo to become one of the most popular comic book characters ever when he hooked up with a certain band of merry mutants a few months later in GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1—also written by that Len Wein guy. Today, the long line of legacy from the writer through his creation to modern scribes and artists stands as a testament to the impact Wolverine’s made on the comics industry and its fans.

“In that seminal issue, Len established Wolverine’s blunt, pugnacious, take-no-prisoners voice as a character,” posits X-MEN: GOLD writer Marc Guggenheim. “Sure, Wolverine would become less verbose and chatty in future incarnations, but his blunt attitude was established in that first appearance in INCREDIBLE HULK.”

“It’s incredible how Len Wein, along with artist Herb Trimpe, shaped Wolverine perfectly from the very start,” says ULTIMATE WOLVERINE VS. HULK artist Leinil Francis Yu. “That [debut] is 40-years-old and it still reads like the Wolverine we have today, complete with the attitude and richness we all love about him.”

Mike Deodato, himself a veteran X-Men illustrator and current artist on OLD MAN LOGAN, agrees: “He is a rebel; he is rock n’ roll. He doesn’t care for anything or anybody, but at the same time he will give his life for them. He is savage, unpredictable, and that is what makes him so attractive.”

“It’s the physicality—short, hairy, like a gnarled old tree—and the indomitable spirit, I think,” ponders DEATH OF WOLVERINE writer Charles Soule when considering Wein’s mutant scrapper. “Wolverine never stops, no matter what gets thrown in his way. Because of his healing factor, it’s almost like he can’t stop. He’s very fun to write, but more importantly, very fun to read.”

Wolverine’s Canadian heritage made him something of a rarity at that time among super heroes, as well as his direct approach to problems in his path.

“In many ways, Wolverine was so unlike any character readers were really familiar with,” one-time WOLVERINE writer Cullen Bunn insists. “He was violent and vicious, but a hero, too. The mystery element was heavily ingrained in the character, which made him all the more interesting. He was working for the government, but beyond that, we didn’t know much about him. Maybe more than any character created before or since, he represented the potential for amazing stories ahead. Other creators capitalized on that potential, making Wolverine the household character he is today.”

“I think Wein created the ultimate outcast,” says Juann Cabal, the artist behind ALL-NEW WOLVERINE. “To me, Logan is the outcast among outcasts. To Wein’s credit, [he] gave him the appeal of being different, wild and mysterious without falling strictly into the antihero cliché. He might have his inner demons, but his moral compass is always pointing the right direction. In my opinion, this is what has made the character stay relevant all this time.”

Perhaps Cabal’s partner on ALL-NEW WOLVERINE, writer Tom Taylor, sums it up best when he notes that “there was something perfectly realized about that first appearance of Wolverine.”

“It was all there on the page. The attitude was there, the brash bravery. But Wolverine was also not infallible. He had a savagery, and wasn’t a perfect, untouchable hero. It was a character everyone wanted to see more of. And, clearly, the rest of the world did too. There have been so many great Wolverine stories. None would exist without Len.”

By summer of ’74, Wein’s comic career stood as relatively new, though he’d racked up a sizable number of scripts for a variety of titles. He’d taken over INCREDIBLE HULK only an issue before “the big one” but his introduction—along with artist Herb Trimpe and costume designer John Romita—of Wolverine to fight the jade giant forever cemented him into the firmament of comic book superstars.

He also, by all accounts, kept his feet firmly panted on solid ground.

“I got to meet Len a number of times in 2014 while I was writing the DEATH OF WOLVERINE story, as well as working on a long run featuring one of his other signature creations, Swamp Thing, over at DC,” says Soule. “I found him to be gracious and kind, and generous with his conversation and time. He dreamed up enormous swaths of the super hero landscape that will last for generations—a legacy most could only dream of.”

“First and foremost, Len’s creation of the ‘All-New, All-Different’ X-Men was seismic and industry-changing,” notes Guggenheim. “Without Len, there’s an excellent argument to be made that there wouldn’t be any X-Men today, and certainly not the X-Men that we’ve come to know, love, and cherish. I had the good fortune to meet Len a few years ago at San Diego Comic-Con and he truly couldn’t have been a nicer guy.  He clearly loved comics, both the industry and the medium.”

“As a creator, I think the truly incredible thing you discover writing [his] characters is just how different they are, and how human,” offers Taylor. “They have flaws. They’re complex. They struggle. Len’s characters breathe.”

Bunn takes it one step further: “Len’s work was a huge influence on me. Like many of my absolute favorite creators, he wore his imagination on his sleeve, and he didn’t let anything hold him back from putting that on the page.

“Since I owe my whole career to Wolverine, Len and Herb’s creation means a ton to me,” says Yu. “We may be divided by a few decades, but I am proud to inherit and to continue to breathe life into Wolverine and the X-Men.”

“As a fan, Len created some of my absolute favorite heroes,” concludes Taylor. “Some of these characters are the reason I’m a comics fan.

“The world would have been a far less heroic place without Len Wein.”

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Stan Lee and Steve Ditko invent The Tinkerer in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #2

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.

When it comes to super geniuses per capita, no place compares to the Marvel Universe! Some use their powers to help keep the world safe while others try to rule the world. And some just want to make crazy weapons to sell to nutcases! The Tinkerer – newly returned in this week’s PETER PARKER: THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #4 – fit into that last category for most of his villainous career. 

Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man (2017) #4

Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man (2017) #4

First debuting back in 1963’s THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #2 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, The Tinkerer made quite an impression on his first page. The old man with glasses propped up on his forehead wearing a plaid sweater and green slacks might have seemed like no problem at all had he not blasted Spidey with a ray gun right then and there! 

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #2

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #2

  • Published: May 10, 1963
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 13, 2007
  • Penciller: Steve Ditko
What is Marvel Unlimited?

In the Mighty Marvel tradition of the day, the next page flashed back to Peter Parker working hard in the chemistry lab at Midtown High where his teacher introduced him to electronics expert Professor Cobbwell who needed some weekend help. Peter’s first duty included stopping to pick up a radio from The Tinkerer Repair Shop on the way over the next day.

After arriving at the business the next day, Peter’s Spidey Sense went off, but he chalked it up to electrical impulses from the nearby machines. However, we learned that he should have listened to it as the Tinkerer and his apparently alien cronies hid something sinister inside Cobbwell’s  radio!

While working in Cobbwell’s lab, Peter realized that his Spider Sense continued to react in the same way. When his new boss left to give a lecture, Peter inspected the radio and found something extra inside. To investigate, he ditched his civvies and swung his way back to the shop!

Having descended into the Tinkerer’s underground lab, our hero learned that the radios all now hide secret spy equipment so that he could learn about Earthly weaknesses and attack with his alien cohorts. After being discovered by one of the potential invaders, Spidey fought hard, but fell to the Tinkerer’s blast seen on that first page.

The Wall-Crawler used his own considerable intelligence and skill to get himself out of the Tinkerer’s death trap. In the ensuing battle, much of the equipment got destroyed and caught fire, engulfing the entire place in flames. Spider-Man tried saving The Tinkerer, but he refused to be touched and they both escaped through the smoke.

Much later on down the line, The Tinkerer returned in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #159 and 160 where he designed a Spider-Mobile to kill the Wall Crawler himself! From there he went on to update and create weapons for many a masked marauder and even played a huge part in SECRET WARS. Now he’s back to cause more trouble for Spider-Man! 

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #160

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #160

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Flash Forward

One of the most interesting parts of Tinkerer’s history remains the fact that, for the more-than-15-year gap between his first and second appearance, Spidey and the readers believed him an alien! Much of that came from Peter walking away from that first confrontation with a human mask, but also a bio published in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #1 which clearly labeled the Tinkerer as “the first, and the only alien menace Spider-Man has ever fought!” He explained the mask in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #160: “That mask I left you holding was merely a ruse – a simple ploy to deter pursuit that, I must say, worked exceptionally well!”

The aliens themselves reappeared in PETER PARKER: THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #50 and 51, but the Wall Crawler learned that are and were out of work actors posing as aliens that Tinkerer hired. One of that actually turned out to be the future Mysterio who got the gang back together for the job seen in these issues.

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Digging into the roots of everyone’s favorite tree!

Everybody loves him, but nobody really understands him…and not just what he’s saying, either! Quick—where did Groot come from? What’s the name of his species? How did he meet Rocket Raccoon? If you don’t know the answers, you’re not alone.

The history of Groot weaves a complex web. Having started as a minor character, the talking tree finally received more frequent opportunities to shine in the wake of the first “Guardians of the Galaxy” film. Now he stars alongside the Guardians, his best friend Rocket—and in his own solo series!

On September 27, writer Christopher Hastings and artist Flaviano present the conclusion of I AM GROOT with issue #5!

But before we reach that ending, let’s go back to where it all began for the character. Groot’s story has to be pieced together—and while it doesn’t come to light chronologically, it’d probably be easier to hear it in the order that it happened to him in.

Okay, are you ready? Say it with me: I! Am! Groot!

Groot’s childhood exile

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #14, written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Nick Bradshaw, explained Groot’s origins for the first time. Framed as a kind of nature documentary, the story explained that Groot originated as a Flora Colossus from Planet X. The book illuminated the social order of the planet, with the Flora Colossi ruled by a monarchy and an elite group called the “Arbor Masters.” Together, these leaders teach children—called saplings—via a method known as “Photonic Knowledge.” In this process, the accumulated knowledge and experience of generations of elders gets psychically absorbed by the young through a kind of photosynthesis; this ultra-advanced educational practice provides the Flora Colossi with genius level intelligence.

The planet’s biome gets tended to by subservient “Maintenance Mammals” (small, squirrel-like creatures) forced into slavery in service of the Arbor Masters. In his youth on Planet X, Groot finds an unlikely friendship with these oppressed animals—and even prefers their company to that of his fellow saplings; Groot doesn’t get along with his own kind, as the adult Flora Colossi regularly kidnap and perform harrowing experiments on other life forms to further their study of the universe. The moral implications of these scientific atrocities horrify a young Groot, as do his peers’ harsh and violent treatment of his Maintenance Mammal friends. Acting on his conscience leads to his banishment from his home world; an unseen narrator explains that Groot got exiled from his people for injuring another sapling as he protected a Maintenance Mammal from attack.

Later, in GROOT #6 by writer Jeff Loveness and artist Brian Kesinger, the tree communicates, via psychic link, to Jean Grey to explain that the original story of his banishment has actually been sanitized…because the mammal he protected from the other saplings proved to not be a Maintenance Mammal after all, but in fact a little Earth girl named Hannah. He reveals that he saw her trapped and terrified by his people and sent her home in a rescue pod—then came the consequences.

Doing time

While it remains unknown whether Groot got arrested for unrelated reasons or sent directly to a prison for treason against his people, we next see our heroin this chronology  locked up—in GROOT #2—where his roommate turns out to be a certain anthropomorphic raccoon. Rocket learns to understand Groot and they forge a strong friendship in the process.

Communication between the duo took some time to be established—the result of Groot’s most famous feature: seemingly only being able to say the words “I am Groot.” As explained in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #17 by Maximus the Mad, Groot’s race experiences a hardening of the larynx and vocal chords during adolescence, forcing them to make the same sound over and over.

Angst, Phalanx, and robbing banks

After spending an undisclosed amount of time together in prison, Rocket and Groot receive an offer to join a rag-tag group fighting the Phalanx in ANNIHILATION CONQUEST: STARLORD—written by Keith Giffen with art by Timothy Green. This team becomes known as the Guardians of the Galaxy. At this point in Groot’s life, he claims to be the monarch of Planet X while—surprisingly—speaking normal, if somewhat pretentious, English. During this arc, Groot also volunteers for three separate suicide missions—each time saved from a branch clipping by Rocket.

2008’s GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #2, written by Lanning and Abnett with art from Paul Pelletier and Clint Langley, sees Groot’s vocal chords re-harden and his personality settle back into what it had been in his youth: kind-hearted and goofy. The next big change in his life came in the wake of THE THANOS IMPERATIVE in 2011—in a story written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning with art by Brad Walker—when the apparent deaths of Star-Lord and Nova cause the Guardians to disband.

In 2011’s ANNIHILATORS bonus story, by writers Abnett and Lanning and artist Tan Eng Huat, Groot returns to Planet X to help liberate his oppressed Maintenance Mammal friends who ran an underground resistance operation. When Groot arrives, though, he’s arrested and tortured for returning after exile and impersonating the monarch. Luckily for Groot, he has the greatest prison breaker in the universe at his side, and Rocket saves him from incarceration. Once the two finish their tearful reunion, they re-start the Guardians alongside Drax—and try to be a force of good in the galaxy.

Rocket and Groot then embark on a road trip to Earth where Groot finds his friend Hannah, now an old woman. This story—in writer Jeff Loveness and artist Declan Shalvey’s GROOT—further delves into the tree’s mind. We hear his psychic words, “Life is not about the shadow you cast on your enemies, but the shade you provide to your friends.”

Most recently, Groot has been spending an unusual amount of time attempting to re-generate from his “baby” state—even missing out on Rocket’s bank heist team in writer Al Ewing and artist Mike Mayhew’s recent ROCKET #1 due to his vulnerable condition. As witnessed in ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, by writer Gerry Duggan and artist Aaron Kuder, the nature of this form and the unique abilities that makeit so are explored in this year’s I AM GROOT series—written by Christopher Hastings with art by Flaviano—where a tiny Groot finds himself trapped on a strange planet in another dimension where no one can understand him. And the finale of this series, issue #5, drops on September 27!

I am Groot

He certainly says an answer enough, but, really, who is Groot? Find the long answer above, but here’s the short one—proven by years of moments and stories, trials and adventures: he’s a friend.

Check out Christopher Hastings and artist Flaviano’s I AM GROOT #5 on September 27!

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