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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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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Jody Houser and Nick Roche on Legacy’s leap into Peter and MJ’s future!

As the start of Marvel Legacy heralds the return of a few favorite characters, team configurations, costumes, and more, the up-and-coming heroes of the Universe continue to propel Marvel tradition forward—and no series serves as a greater example of that than AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS!

On November 22, the Spider-family swings into Legacy as writer Jody Houser and artist Nick Roche present issue #13! Eight years into the future, Peter Parker and Mary Jane’s daughter, Annie, is in high school—and fights crime alongside her mom and dad!

We caught up with RENEW YOUR VOWS creative duo Jody and Nick to learn more about the Parker family’s newest chapter. Issue #13 is called Eight Years Later. What does that mean for Spidey, MJ, and Annie?

Jody Houser: Jumping forward puts Annie in high school—and there will be more of a focus on her school life than we’ve seen before—but overall it’s still the story of the Parker family.

Nick Roche: Annie will be the focus of the biggest changes for sure—we last saw her as an eight-year-old, so nearly an entire lifetime has passed for her ahead of our run on the book. The new dynamic she has with her parents also reflects in her attitude about her super powers. But she’s not the only one in the Parker family experiencing some serious changes… Seeing Peter and Mary Jane together—and getting to know their daughter—seems like the perfect old-yet-new combination to add to Marvel Legacy.

Nick Roche: For sure! Legacy lives in the form of Annie May Parker—who’s now roughly the same age as Pete when he got his powers after being bitten by that radioactive [Note: Can you add in the correct creature that bit Peter in here? I want to say penguin? Was it a squirrel…? I’m blanking].

It’s interesting to see how Annie copes with the responsibilities associated with her abilities. But there’s something quite joyous about Peter and MJ together so far down the line, still each other’s best friend and ally. And with a super powered teenager in the house, they’ll need all the support they can get.

Jody Houser: Having a daughter who really represents the next generation of heroes feels very much in-line with Marvel Legacy. And as someone who has always been a fan of the alternate universes in Marvel, I’m excited to be contributing to that legacy as well. Annie contributes to the Spider-Man legacy and also stands out as a hero on her own—what’s it like creating the teenage version of this character?

Jody Houser: It’s a lot of fun. Having a character who is the child of a legend—but treats him like a dorky dad—adds such a great dynamic. She’s grown up with special abilities and punching villains as the norm around her house, so it’s fascinating seeing her life as a teenager.

Nick Roche: Well, I feel that [writer] Gerry Conway, [artist] Ryan Stegman, and now Jody are her real parents. Her new look has already been established ahead of my participation, so I’m more like a well-meaning uncle trying to keep up with his cool niece. Though I did feel a tingle when I drew her first appearance in comic book form. The trick is to draw the book like you don’t care about the weight of expectation, but make it look like it’s all you care about. I’m associated forever with her now—and it feels great. Now that we’re in the Legacy era, will any other classic elements of SPIDER-MAN lore show up in the book moving forward?

Jody Houser: You’ll definitely see some familiar faces from Spidey’s rogues’ gallery—as well as some of the heroes he’s come to know. We’re telling very classic, fun super hero stories in this book.

Nick Roche: Even in the RENEW YOUR VOWS-iverse, the roster of amazing Marvel characters extends in infinite directions. Issue #13 gets bookended by some bucket list guest appearances from Spidey’s rogues’ gallery. And I know for a fact that one or two of his pals poke their super sensitive (in some cases) noses around the door to see how the Parkers are getting on.

But Jody writes great “off-duty” hero scenes, so the sections where Pete, MJ, and Annie are lovingly bickering at home are just as interesting to read (and draw!) as the amazing action she’s built her story around. Anything else we can expect from the Parkers?

Jody Houser: Dad jokes! So many dad jokes.

Nick Roche: I’m worried that Marvel will bill me for having so much fun on their dime. I hope the blast we’re having on the book becomes evident on the page—and that it convinces loyal RENEW YOUR VOW readers that the book they fell in love with is as fun as it’s ever been.

Witness the Marvel Legacy launch of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: RENEW YOUR VOWS #13, by Jody Houser and Nick Roche, on November 22!

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The Kessel Run was just a warmup for the biggest race of Han Solo’s life…

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

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

As popular as Han Solo remains in the Star Wars mythos, few stories have actually centered around his personal perspective and adventures. In HAN SOLO #1, writer Marjorie Liu and artist Mark Brooks kick off a five-issue series focused squarely on our favorite rebellious scoundrel, as he and Chewbacca embark on a mission for the Rebel Alliance in the time between the Death Star’s destruction in “A New Hope” and the events of “The Empire Strikes Back.”

Han Solo (2016) #1

Han Solo (2016) #1

  • Published: June 15, 2016
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: December 19, 2016
  • Rating: Rated T
  • Writer: Marjorie Liu
  • Penciller: Mark Brooks
What is Marvel Unlimited?

It doesn’t start out as a Rebel mission, however—quite the opposite, in fact. As the story opens, we see Han Solo doing what he does best—acting as a smuggler—as he has left the Rebellion to earn the remaining credits he needs to pay off Jabba the Hutt. Soon enough, though, some forceful Rebel agents present Han with a mission from Princess Leia that demands the use of the Millennium Falcon to engage in the Dragon Void Run, described by Leia as “one of the most notorious, dangerous races in the galaxy.” Of course, Han won’t have anyone piloting the Falcon but he and Chewbacca. So by issue’s end, the race of his life has begun—even bigger than the legendary Kessel Run they legendarily ran in less than 12 parsecs.

“Remember, Han, the mission comes first,” cautions Leia. “The race is your cover. It is not your objective.” Yeah… We’ll see how that goes…

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Chad Bowers and Chris Sims reveal an epic Marvel Legacy resurrection!

22 years ago, DARKHAWK #50 marked the end of the character’s solo series. One of the most popular heroes created by Marvel in the 1990s, Darkhawk’s time as a standalone went on permanent hiatus.

Until now. On November 29, writers Chris Sims and Chad Bowers join artist Kevin Walker to revive the title with the Marvel Legacy one-shot DARKHAWK #51!

We caught up with Chris and Chad to see how they balance the ‘Hawk’s past and future without succumbing to nostalgia’s siren song. Over the course of his existence, we’ve seen a lot of different facets of Darkhawk. He’s been a street-level hero, a disillusioned part-timer, a cosmic adventurer, and, ultimately, an unwilling inheritor of the legacy of Raptors—a brutal group of aliens devoted to exerting their will on the galaxy. What version of Darkhawk do we see in issue #51?

Chad Bowers: I actually think he’s a bit of them all. I think we start off with one foot in the classic street-level Darkhawk stuff, then we blend in the cosmic elements. Our story definitely takes place in New York with [Darkhawk’s alter-ego] Chris Powell—and then something happens that pulls the cosmic stuff back into his life on Earth.

Chris Sims: Chris Powell has such a weird origin. He gets this power after he finds a magic jewel from outer space—so he’s instantly tied to something bigger than you see for, I guess, the first year of that whole comic. He doesn’t know what he’s a part of for so long in that original run of DARKHAWK. It has that air of mystery.

Chad Bowers: Definitely. He has a mysterious origin and mysterious powers; there are mysterious elements to almost everything about him. So we played up that aspect a bit in this book. That’s what I’ve always liked about Darkhawk—you didn’t know everything about him right out of the gate. Early on, he was essentially a man living inside an alien that fought corrupt cops—cops including his father.

Chad Bowers: And that kind of plays into our story, too. That legacy of law enforcement and Darkhawk’s run-ins with crooked cops. That’s definitely a part of our story. That’s as much Chris Powell’s setting as his family and his brother. Being surrounded by law enforcement serves as his version of The Daily Bugle, I think. Chris Powell has experienced quite the transition over the yearsfrom his start as a Peter Parker character, to his roles in RUNAWAYS and THE LONERS, to finding out about the Raptors. So, who is he? What’s he like now? 

Chris Sims: Chad and I are actually both huge DARKHAWK fans. I read every issue. I saw the character and really wanted to get into it.

Chad Bowers: Actually, that’s something we keep hearing. So many people are jealous they aren’t the ones bringing him back because they like him so much. That’s exciting.

Chris Sims: I think RUNAWAYS really reintroduced him—when we saw him with the Loners. At 15 years old, he should not have been fighting the Hobgoblin, getting shot at, and having to deal with space stuff because that’s a really hard life.

Chad Bowers: He wanted to protect other people from the stuff he had to deal with—that becomes an interesting part of his character and changes his relationship with his own heroic identity. He went through all that and still had to put on a Darkhawk costume and go do ANNIHILATION stuff, go do WAR OF KINGS stuff. Because, again, he’s a part of something bigger than himself.

Chris Sims: Chad and I really wanted to ask what Chris Powell wants from life. Does he want to be Darkhawk? Does he still believe in the thing he believed as a kid, because it’s been a while—he’s in his early 20s. Do you still believe the things you did when you were 15? Would you still make those decisions? How do you not allow the decisions of your youth trap you as an adult? How do they change your life as an adult? You mentioned blending genres and perspectives in your storywith Kevin Walker on board as the artist, how does he enable that? How has that collaborative process been?

Chad Bowers: We are super excited to have Kevin after seeing what he did on AVENGERS ARENA and how he draws Darkhawk. I think his art has a spooky undertone to it at times. We definitely wanted to start issue #51 off with a little bit of horror, especially in those first couple of pages. I really can’t wait to see what Kevin does with that. I think that’s probably what I’m most excited about.

Chris Sims: Chad and I are both huge, huge fans of Kev Walker. When we heard he joined, it was another one of those “dream come true” moments. I remember reading the THUNDERBOLTS issues he did with [writer] Jeff Parker and thinking, “This is just so good. This is what comics should look like.”

The way he does expressiveness and larger-than-life characters—even when he draws someone standing around, they’re still taking up space in a way that says something about who they are. Getting to see that artist tackle a design like Darkhawk—how can you not be excited about that?

Chad Bowers: Once Kevin came on board, we thought about the setting a lot—about what we’d really like to see him draw. So the characters aren’t just around buildings or just around forests. We wanted to really emphasize setting because I think Walker does a really great job at that.

In our story, Chris goes back to the Wonderland theme park we see in the first issue of DARKHAWK. So it’s really dilapidated—it was old and rundown when we saw it back then so, continuity-wise, seven or eight years later, it looks in terrible shape. With regard to Kevin’s skill set, I wrote to the setting most.

Chris Sims: The great thing about being a writer is that you can get away with writing, “Darkhawk’s armor looks even cooler than it did at the start of the story,” when Kev Walker draws your book.

Chad Bowers: And when the classic razor armor shows up, it will already have been put through the ringer—so it’s going to be pretty beat up. I like the wear and tear Kev puts on stuff. You mentioned the police corruption and Wonderland. For long-time fans, are there other elements that call back to Darkhawk’s history? Villains? Family?

Chad Bowers: When we started playing around with it and learning more about Gerry Duggan’s ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY run, it just felt natural to have him come up against a couple of the Raptors. We wanted to go towards the future while running a spotlight over the past.

Chris Sims: It was tough for us. How do you introduce DARKHAWK to new readers? How do you make people care about Chris Powell? What’s the action scene and how does it play into that?

Looking into the larger context of the Raptors in ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, it’s a lot to balance. To be honest, I think it could be a little intimidating to step up to that, but we really wanted to give people a Darkhawk that can move forward. At Marvel, you’ve done a limited series, an ongoing, an annual—but this will be your first full issue one-shot. What kind of challenges and opportunities does that present creatively?

Chris Sims: We’ve done a couple of shorter stories. [In CIVIL WAR II: CHOOSING SIDES,] we did a Damage Control story with [artist] Nick Romero and a Nick Fury story with [artists] Danilo Beyruth and Brian Level, who are all amazing collaborators, but the challenge of the one-shot is only having 20 pages to tell a narrative.

You don’t want to start something you can’t finish and you don’t want to feel super rushed, but you want to give readers something they can pick up and be satisfied with. We want to work in action and something that makes Darkhawk’s uniqueness clear.

Chad and I have a friend who loves GHOST RIDER. He gave us a piece of advice that I think we’ve both really taken to heart. He said, “Every issue of GHOST RIDER should have something that only a guy with a flaming skull on a motorcycle can do.”

So we had to figure out the one thing that only Darkhawk can do. I think we found a good solution to that. Speaking to new fans, what would you say to get them on board?

Chris Sims: Well, it’s by us. We’re pretty good.

Chad Bowers: If you are a Marvel fan, you love big characters who still have a foot in our world. I think making Chris the connective tissue for readers is the way to do that—to make him his own guy.

Plenty of people have done that before us—Brian K. Vaughn, C.B. Cebulski, Andy Lanning, Danny Fingeroth—but making Chris a modern guy who gets thrust into a situation he thought he left behind can be such an interesting thing.

Chris Sims: One of the questions we were asked is, “Do you think Darkhawk can be a major player in the Marvel Universe?” We love him, but “major player” could be the wrong title, because there’s so much cool stuff you can do with a character who exists on the edges.

But sometimes a character on the edge becomes a major player. In 2007, who would’ve thought that the Guardians of the Galaxy would be major players 10 years later? But here they are—a centerpiece—on a team with Groot and Rocket Raccoon!

We get to do cool stuff with Darkhawk that we couldn’t do with Spider-Man, or Iron Man, or Captain America. DARKHAWK is about the decisions you made in the past that maybe you regret, but they made you who you are. I think that’s the core of the adult Chris Powell. He’s on a path that he would’ve changed if he knew where he’d end up. But none of us have that choice—maybe him most of all.

Witness the epic return with DARKHAWK #51by Chris Bowers, Chris Sims, and artist Kevin Walkeron November 29!

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The Uncanny Avengers writer appreciates Kirby’s take on Bucky and more!

1917 to 2017: 100 years of Kirby.

Join us this month 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.

UNCANNY AVENGERS writer Jim Zub understood something very important about Jack Kirby’s work from the beginning: he helped build it from the ground up. That might seem obvious given how many incredibly important books Jack drew ranging from the original CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS on to FANTASTIC FOUR and AVENGERS, but still needs to be celebrated.

Zub did that when he started working on THUNDERBOLTS starring none other than Bucky Barnes. We talked with the writer about digging into Bucky’s origins, the beauty of ETERNALS and Kirby’s absolute dynamism. Was Jack Kirby a creator you were aware of when you first started reading comics or did you come to his work later on down the line?

Jim Zub: Like most comic readers, I started with a love of the characters and then started to dig into specific creators as I realized different stories struck a chord with me, visually or narratively. I started collecting Marvel comics in the early 80s, so Jack’s legacy as the “King of Comics” and key artistic figure in the creation of the Marvel Universe was already well established. As a kid, his work jumped out as “classic Marvel,” the foundation everything else was built upon. Do you remember what struck you about the way Kirby made comics when you first started seeing his art?

Jim Zub: Kirby comics always felt to me like they were barely held in check by the edge of the page: dynamic, chunky graphic shapes that wanted to break free of their panels and smash you in the face. Big, bold, and never standing still.

I remember reading the original run of ETERNALS and being amazed at the power and scope of it. Jack wasn’t holding back and, even as a kid, I could tell that this was world-shaking stuff, an operatic cosmic whirlwind. When you kicked off the latest THUNDERBOLTS volume, did you look back at any of Kirby’s Bucky issues to get a feel of the Winter Soldier’s roots? If so, did anything you saw in those older issues surprise you or inform your take on the character?

Jim Zub: I read a slew of old Captain America and Bucky stories for research, including the classic Bucky origin from CAPTAIN AMERICA ANNUAL #1 that Jack drew. It got me into the mode for flashbacks and the time traveling jaunt back to World War II we had in THUNDERBOLTS #11. I love the mixture of action and pathos Jack brought to every page. Even though the origin has gone through changes over the years, I thought it was important to channel the Kirby-flare of the original. You also worked with Baron Zemo in that book. How do you feel the original Kirby co-creation continues on in this modern version?

Jim Zub: Baron Zemo is a man driven by intense emotions and that’s held true right from the start with Jack’s hooded menace. Kirby set the mold with Zemo and dozens of other Marvel heroes and villains. It’s a thrill to add new layers to such well-defined iconic characters. A lot of that led directly into Secret Empire, which you’re also participating in as the writer on UNCANNY AVENGERS and SECRET EMPIRE: UNITED. That event puts a different spin on what Captain America means, at least for the moment, but how do you see it all connecting back to the stories that helped build the Marvel Universe?

Jim Zub: Jack wasn’t afraid to switch things up, whether that meant creating characters and altering established paradigms or trying new styles like incorporating photos into his artwork. The only way to find something fresh and exciting is to take risks and that’s exactly what Kirby did. When Marvel creators push out into strange territory and shake these characters up, it’s exciting but also a time-honored tradition.

Captain America gets put through the wringer, but through that we see his strength and the power of his ideals renewed. These icons get tested year after year with drama, pathos, and loads of action. Kirby did his own thing whenever he could in comics; do you feel like you carry that on to some extent in your own work?

Jim Zub: I think it’s important to put some of yourself into the work, absolutely. Each era of these characters is defined by strong voices, distinct artwork, and big stakes. When I pitch my stories, I want to make every issue worthy and do something readers will remember.

Stay tuned to 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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Acclaimed creator Ed Piskor takes on mutant history in a unique way!

For the last year and a half, writer and artist Ed Piskor has worked in secret on a project for Marvel, and recently, the House of Ideas revealed said secret—X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN, a trilogy of two-issue limited series that will retell the first 280 issues of the X-Men in Piskor’s unique style.

Best known for his work on Hip Hop Family Tree for Fantagraphics, another ambitious project that recounted the early history of hip hop, Piskor shared more details on his love for the X-Men and its creators, and his plans for remixing the material into something new. Ed, before getting into the project itself, obviously, you have a lot of love for the X-Men to embark on a project like this. Do you remember the first X-Men comic you read?

Ed Piskor: I do. [UNCANNY X-MEN #157], which has a cover date two months before my D.O.B. I think my dad was excited for me to be born because, even though we weren’t well off by any means, he still did what he could to spoil me, and there were always toys and comics around during my very first memories. That issue of X-Men is also responsible in a major part for me becoming a cartoonist because the credits box on the first page let me know that there are actual human beings behind these comic books. That became my goal from age four, probably. I never flip-flopped. Never wanted to be a fireman or an astronaut. Always a cartoonist, and if I got to make X-Men comics, well then, that’s just icing on the cake. What are some of your favorite moments from the X-Men’s history, and your favorite characters? Which X-Men creators really stood out to you over the years?

Ed Piskor: Some of my favorite X-Men comics are from when Chris Claremont, Marc Silvestri, and Dan Green were churning them out on a bi-weekly basis. There’s a kinetic energy to them that is really fun and inspiring to me. I, un-controversially, think that the best era was during the [John] Byrne run. It’s one of the very few cases where there is complete synergy among the talent all the way through, from [writer] Claremont, to [artist] Byrne, to [inker Terry] Austin, to Tom [Orzechowski] on lettering, and Glynis [Oliver] on color. I can count the great collaborative teams in the history of comics on one hand, and this would be on that extremely short list. Most comics feel like the creative players are competing for shine rather than working together to try and make the best comic possible.

I’m not really a character guy. I more like the idea and spirit of X-Men than I’m into it because Wolverine’s a badass or something. I guess I was a Longshot fan as a kid, but I think I just couldn’t articulate that I was a massive Art Adams fan at the moment.

My favorite Jack Kirby inker is still Chic Stone from those first bunch of issues. You can tell that’s the stuff that guys like Bruce Timm go nuts for. Those big, chunky lines. From [Jim] Steranko forward, the art of X-Men was to die for. It seemed clear at a certain point that the mandate must have been to put Marvel’s top [artists] on the book, and it shows. Steranko, [Neal] Adams, [Dave] Cockrum, Byrne, Paul Smith, Art Adams, [John Romita Jr.] C’mon, man. You can’t step to this crew. And Chris Claremont was the glue that gave X-Men its heart. This sounds like such a cool project, but at the same time it is pretty different from what people might expect from a major comics company, bringing in someone to “remix” the history of one of their biggest franchises. How did you go about pitching it, and what was the reaction?

Ed Piskor: I’m hip hop oriented with lots of bravado, and I simply tweeted one day that Marvel should just let me make whatever X-Men comic I wanted to. [Marvel Editor-in-Chief] Axel [Alonso] hit me up within an hour or two, and the ball began rolling from there. I told him that I can make the first 8,000 or so pages of X-Men work as a 300-page story. He told me to do it in 240. I accepted. What’s the format of X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN, and how will it be released?

Ed Piskor: X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN is basically a trilogy of two-issue [limited series] or arcs—your choice of nomenclature. Each issue will be 40 pages. Six issues total. Every two issues will be collected into a giant format book similar to my Hip Hop Family Tree comics. Same paper quality and design sense. Each big book will also come packaged with a classic reprint. This first book will reprint Kirby and [Stan] Lee’s [UNCANNY X-MEN #1], and I’ll be recoloring it to keep the entire volume congruent. It’s a pleasure to examine that classic work at its molecular level.

A two-issue series/arc and a book collection will come out each year for several years.

I’m basically good for 80-90 pages a year if I promise to work seven days a week. [Laughs]

X-Men: Grand Design by Ed Piskor And are you doing everything yourself—writing, art, lettering, etc.—like you did on Hip Hop Family Tree?

Ed Piskor: Yep. Could this be the first Marvel comic done completely by one person? I think it is. I just don’t know how to not do all the jobs. I’m a cartoonist. Not a writer. Not an illustrator. Not a letterer. I have to do it all so that I can be totally accountable for the quality of the piece. I don’t want to be in the position to blame someone else for the end result after I grind as relentlessly as I do. If it works, I can look in the mirror with satisfaction. If it doesn’t, then I’m totally accountable. I live for this kind of pressure. I take it very seriously and with great respect that I’m being trusted to do right by the property. So 280 issues of X-Men—minus the 20+ reprint issues that preceded the launch of the new team in issue #94, of course—condensed down to about 240 pages…how exactly are you doing that? What do you plan to cut from that material, and will you make any additions?

Ed Piskor: Well the short answer would be that you need to read it and see how it’s done rather than me explaining how the sausage is made, but I can explain a few things. There was a legendary editorial dictum from former [Marvel] editor-in-chief Jim Shooter that every comic is somebody’s first comic. This is something I can sort of get behind, though it created lots and lots of redundancy issue after issue. That’s the first stuff I stripped away. We only need Cyclops crying about his vision once. We only need Rogue lamenting that she can’t touch people once. Wolverine doesn’t need to say, “I’m the best there is at what I do…” a hundred times. From there it’s about figuring out the bigger theme of each arc and then curating events to meet those ends.

There will be some creative re-edits to get everything to work together, but I wouldn’t call them additions, per se. The raw materials are generally so good that the actual job is to just prune and reduce things down to the most crucial elements.

I’ve literally gotten well over 10,000 hours practice at this exercise on my Hip Hop Family Tree comics for four years, and it all built to prepare me for the task at hand with X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN. Issue #280 of the original series takes you right up to before the team split into the blue team and gold team, and into two X-Men books. Why did that make an ideal place to stop? 

Ed Piskor: It’s about where I left off personally. I won’t go into much detail, but you can imagine I was one of those millions of kids who followed the artists away when they decided to do their own thing. I did pick it up a little here and there. I liked [John Romita Jr.’s] second run when his style was more codified. I’m also a fan of Joe [Madureira’s] contribution. Finally, I have to ask: what’s more difficult, capturing 15 years worth of hip-hop history in roughly 400 pages, or condensing 280 X-Men comics into 240 pages?

Ed Piskor: They each come with [their] own sets of challenges, but I would never in a million years choose a project that is easy where I can coast just to collect a payday. I only work on dream projects, so the challenges are met with open arms and I don’t feel right if I don’t go to sleep completely exhausted and mentally drained each day. Both projects have rabid, passionate fans who need authenticity, and it’s no question I can meet and exceed those demands. One benefit of the X-Men comic over Hip Hop Family Tree is that Charles Xavier can’t call me at 3 AM to ask why I didn’t mention him on this or that page, and Ororo Monroe can’t yell at me because I drew her with the wrong kinds of jeans on.

Experience history in the making with Ed Piskor’s X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN, kicking off December 6!

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John Ostrander, Jan Duursema and Dan Parsons chronicle the birth of the Jedi.

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

In Star Wars lore, Jedi have become so important that they essentially make up the backbone of the entire mythos. But where did they come from and how did they get there? John Ostrander and Jan Duursema answered that in the 2012 – launching STAR WARS: DAWN OF THE JEDI and STAR WARS: DAWN OF THE JEDI – FORCE STORM series. 

The introductory #0 issue contained a handbook-style rundown of the people and places who would become very important in thisLegends continuity story ranging from Tho Yor to Xesh. 

Star Wars: Dawn Of The Jedi (2012)

Star Wars: Dawn Of The Jedi (2012)

What is Marvel Unlimited?

The line of limited series’ kicked off with the Force Storm storyline. Readers first discovered the Tho Yor, temple-like ships that visited worlds, drawing Force sensitives inside and then eventually moving on to Tython in the Deep Core. Once attuned with the Force, the Tho Yor left the main temple so the Je’Daii could hone their various skills on the danger-filled planet and achieve balance in all things.

The story itself picked up 12 years after Queen Hadiya lead some of the Je’Daii’s own children against them in the Despot War. Though she had been killed, plenty of damage had been done before her defeat.

Another threat loomed, the Infinite Empire, a group of Rakata using Force Hounds like Xesh to track down worlds they could use, so Tython immediately became a target upon sensing it in the Deep Core.

Je’Daii Journeyers Shae Koda, Tasha Ryo and Sek’nos Rath sensed a great disturbance in the Force, even seeing visions of Xesh before he crash landed right in front of them and attacked with his Forcesaber. The Je’Daii came out on top, but Xesh’s threat still loomed.

Eventually we learned that slaves on the Infinite Empire’s ship sabotaged them, leading to the crash and Xesh’s lack of memory. After facing their own pasts as manipulated by the growing Force Storm, the Je’Daii jumped in to save Xesh from an attacking beast. After tossing him his Forcesaber to help them, though, he simply walked away!

However, after watching the three Journeyers defend one another from a huge monster, Xesh broke from his years of selfish warrior programming and joined in to help Shae defeat the beast.

After quelling the storm and defeating Xesh, the Je’Daii healed the Force Hound and Tasha asked to look in his mind to help him sort out his memories. Once inside, she discovered that the Infinite Empire harnessed Force-wielders not only for space travel, but also as a planet-shaking weapon.

From the Jedi Temple Archives

STAR WARS: DAWN OF THE JEDI #0 dives deeply into the world of this series and dropped plenty of interesting tidbits about what would become the Jedi Order. Upon becoming acquainted with the Force through meditation, the Je-Daii would then travel to various temples established all over the planet dedicated to knowledge, art, science, healing, martial arts, balance and even building weapons. Furthermore, the sense of balancing the light and dark in the universe stemmed from the planet’s moons Ashla and Bogan. Respectively bright and dark, if a Je’Daii seemed leaned too far towards one side, they would be sent to the corresponding moon and told to contemplate the other. After healing, the Je’Daii masters sent Xesh to Bogan so he could better understand the light.

Return to the original STAR WARS with Archie Goodwin, Carmine Infantino and the gang as they chronicle a post-“Empire” galaxy!

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Writer Brandon Montclare dives into Marvel Legacy with Lunella Lafayette!

Lunella Lafayette, A.K.A. Moon Girl, holds a special place in the Marvel Universe. Having joined classic character Devil Dinosaur back in the action, she consistently conspires to challenge tradition—specifically in her unlikely role as the smartest person on the planet.

As Marvel Legacy gears up, we find Lunella poised to make some big moves in writer Brandon Montclare and artist Natacha Bustos’s MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR #25 on November 22!

In preparation for the Legacy initiative, we sat down with Brandon to hear a little more about what to expect from Moon Girl and her prehistoric pal. The cover for issue #25 references the classic cover of FANTASTIC FOUR #49—and the story arc is called The Fantastic Three. What can you tell us about the link between Moon Girl and the Fantastic Four?

Brandon Montclare: There’s a whole lot of background connecting Moon Girl to the Fantastic Four. It was always important to have her fit right into the Marvel Universe…and whenever you do that, you’re going to touch upon the Fantastic Four. Lunella Lafayette lives on Yancy Street—the neighborhood has changed, but it’s still the home turf of The Thing. Lunella is also the smartest person in the world, having surpassed even Mr. Fantastic.

For Legacy, we didn’t really have an older book to connect to. DEVIL DINOSAUR from the 1970s only lasted nine issues, so we can’t go back and re-do issue #10!

And as for the story: Moon Girl, The Thing, and Human Torch are not used to being alone. They’re missing “family” members, so they are going to try to fill the gaps. We’ve seen Lunella working with the SECRET WARRIORS, and now MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR jumps into Marvel Legacy. Lunella’s world continues to grow as she becomes a more significant part of the Marvel Universe—what’s that like to write?

Brandon Montclare: When Marvel approached me to do some writing, getting to be a part of the Marvel Universe appealed to me more than anything. So even though Moon Girl was only recently created, the whole point is to have her make an impact on that broader picture. Very few things make me happier than seeing her appear outside of MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR. It’s fun to see [writer] Matthew Rosenberg and [artist] Javier Garron play with her in SECRET WARRIORS because she’ll do things there that Natacha Bustos and I never dreamed of.

As for Legacy: yeah, it’s going to be fun. It’s about all the characters I loved as I grew up—and now it includes a character I created. The story will be awesome—but just seeing her on the promo poster is a blast. By positioning Lunella—a young girl—as the smartest person in the Universe, the book both honors Marvel’s traditions and moves them forward. Naturally, the book has a really interesting part to play in Marvel Legacy—what can you tell us about that?

Brandon Montclare: Marvel Comics have always been Marvel Legacy. The characters reflect the changing world around them—but they also maintain core concepts that never change. Thousands of characters and thousands of creators over decades of stories. It’s modern myth-making; it’s as much about new ideas as it’s about keeping up tradition.

So it makes sense to have a classic character give a boost to something new. But I’m very proud our book shows how the opposite can also be true; I think Moon Girl gave a big boost to Devil Dinosaur. It re-introduced him to new readers and gave him a role to play in the current continuity.

I think a character like Moon Girl brings some needed balance to the mix; when you have the opportunity to create a new character, you’re likely to think about what’s underrepresented. What else can you mention ahead of issue #25?

Brandon Montclare: In addition to being a part of Marvel Legacy, The Fantastic Three is the fifth arc of MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR. I’m lucky to work with Natacha Bustos, [colorist] Tamra Bonvillain, [letterer] Travis Lanham, [Editors] Mark Paniccia and Chris Robinson, and many others—all of us give our best to the book.

The Legacy story arc, beginning with an anniversary of sorts in issue #25, evidences that our attention to awesome storytelling has found an audience. The support and enthusiasm for readers is, in my view, the most impressive part of contributing to this comic.

Brandon Montclare and artist Natacha Bustos light up Marvel Legacy with MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR #25 on November 22!

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C-3PO gets his red arm…and an unlikely new friend.

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

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

“You probably don’t recognize me because of the red arm,” says C-3PO in “The Force Awakens.” Though most of us were probably too caught up in seeing Han and Leia together for the first time since 1983, many fans were indeed puzzled by 3PO’s differently hued appendage. The story behind it anchors the STAR WARS SPECIAL: C-3PO one-shot—and even though droids comprise almost the entire cast of “The Phantom Limb,” James Robinson delivers one of the most truly human stories in all Star Wars comics.

Star Wars Special: C-3PO (2016) #1

Star Wars Special: C-3PO (2016) #1

  • Published: April 13, 2016
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: October 17, 2016
  • Penciller: Tony Harris
  • Cover Artist: Tradd Moore
What is Marvel Unlimited?

As we find out early on, the First Order has kidnapped Admiral Ackbar, but the Resistance has managed to capture an Imperial droid named Omri that it believes knows Ackbar’s location. However, the ship carrying Omri has crashed, killing its human passengers and deserting eight droids on a dangerous planet. The seven Resistance droids declare a truce with Omri until they can get to a vessel detected by 3PO to send a distress signal.

Along the way, attacks from spice spiders, man-sized hostile insects, and tentacle monsters—one of which literally dis-arms C-3PO—dwindle the group’s numbers from eight to two…just Threepio and Omri. Their perilous trek has bonded the two enemies at a “human” level, with each pondering his own existence and lot in “life,” even relaying faint memories that should have been completely erased by memory reboots.

As C-3PO and Omri reach their destination, a deadly acid storm prevents them from delivering the distress signal. In the name of friendship, Omri relays Ackbar’s coordinates to C-3PO—then he braves the acid rain, sacrificing himself to call for help. Before destroying all of him but his arm, the acid also revealed a red primer underneath the differently colored paint job Omri had known all his life. When Poe Dameron rescues 3PO, the droid tells Poe that Omri’s remaining limb should replace the one he himself lost.

“You have no idea how this arm offends my aesthetic sensibilities,” he tells BB-9. “Nevertheless…I will keep it for a while to remember.”

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Writer Peter David gives a Ben Reilly breakdown ahead of Marvel Legacy!

When a new enemy encroaches on Ben Reilly’s turf, The Scarlet Spider decides to take drastic action. But what will the consequences be for the clone of The Amazing Spider-Man?

Discover a new beginning with the Marvel Legacy launch of BEN REILLY: SCARLET SPIDER #10! On November 15, writer Peter David and artist Will Sliney kick off a Legacy look into the world of The Scarlet Spider—and his enemies, old and new.

To learn more, we sat down with Peter to speak about the dawn of Marvel Legacy alongside Ben Reilly. How does the post-Legacy book compare to the pre-Legacy one?

Peter David: Well, there’s a difference between the two, but it’s not exactly in relation to Legacy. We’re picking up on a development from Secret Empire, in which a Hydra air ship assaulted Las Vegas. The first pages of issue #8 actually occur before Secret Empire and then we time-jump to after the Vegas attack.

Things have changed. Cassandra Mercury endeavors to help people whose lives were disrupted by the attack, Ben becomes more firmly allied with her—seeing her as something other than just a source of somewhere to live. He’s also becoming more and more determined to find a cure for Abigail. At the start of issue #1, Ben Reilly was on the run, struggling with his mental health and self-perception. How is Ben doing at the start of Legacy?

Peter David: His mental health and self-perception are still issues, but he’s not on the run anymore. He’s also feeling much better about himself because of what happens at the end of issue #7. But he’ll wind up making some mistakes—and those mistakes are going to cost him. The great Will Sliney continues as the book’s artist for the Legacy run. What’s it like working with him?

Peter David: Will is a great artist. I worked with him for years on SPIDER-MAN 2099. I know that, whatever I come up with, Will can make it happen visually. Plot-wise, what can readers expect in the first arc of the book?

Peter David: Remember the Spinners? They’re coming back. Even the dead one. Plus, an old Spidey villain will be making his return—and will wind up coming into conflict with them along the way.

BEN REILLY: SCARLET SPIDER, by Peter David and artist Will Sliney, is available on November 15!

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