We bring Jen Walters to a clinical psychologist for examination!

In the pages of HULK, Jen Walters struggles with her personal aftermath from Civil War II. A fight with Thanos left her in a coma, and thus powerless to stop her cousin Bruce Banner’s death at the hands of Hawkeye. In trying to move past these events, Jen has begun work at the Law Offices of Ryu, Barber, Zucker, & Scott. But when a new client appears to be going through many of the same struggles that Jen herself now faces, she sees an opportunity to help someone and maybe to handle her own trauma.

This story arc provides a unique look at a super hero dealing with common mental health issues. We sat down with clinical psychologist Dr. Andrea Letamendi to get a better of idea of what Jen’s going through and how her Hulk side is coloring her experience.

Marvel.com: Internal monologue is a very common device in comics, but it’s used even more in this book to highlight Jen’s fragile mental state following the events of Civil War II.

Andrea Letamendi: For this narrative, one of the reasons that it’s important for us to get her internal monologue is for us to see the two sides of her. We obviously know the two sides that this character is built on, but in these first few issues we’re seeing another duality. With the internal monologue, we see those constant worries, intrusive thoughts, the second-guessing and reminding herself that everything’s not normal. And that’s out of sync with her professional voice, the person she has to be on the outside.

I really appreciated Jen’s internal monologue that would include statements about what’s normal and not normal; how things moving forward would not be normal. Because that’s definitely a common experience for someone who’s been psychologically transformed after a traumatic event. And it underscores the idea that whether we want to label it or not, her mental health condition—her post-traumatic response—is not considered a disease, it’s a normal response to something that was abnormal. I love that this series is framing that for us, to let us know that yes, she’s questioning normality, but she is still intact. She’s acknowledging that she is still normal, and that helps readers to realize that what was crazy or abnormal, it wasn’t the person, but what happened to the person.

Marvel.com: In Jen’s previous solo series SHE-HULK, she was working at her own practice. But following her trauma, instead of returning to that work, she seeks to surround herself with people who can support her. Yet at the same time, these people provide a completely new source of stress…

Andrea Letamendi: I think it would be fair to say through these issues we’re seeing presentations of post-traumatic stress responses. The other people in the personal and professional aspects of her life are offering support, and are actually quite kind and gentle toward her and want to be around her and to connect with her. But she’s rejecting them because they are triggering her; they are sources of stress for her because she’s reminded of her loss and her memory of what happened to Bruce.

Her urge to get back into the office, and to get back to practicing law, is a very common reaction. She’s trying to establish normalcy again; she’s trying to get distracted with every day—almost mundane—activities so that she can reestablish what she thinks the world should look like. Of course, it’s not that simple and straightforward. She’s still going to be haunted by her past, and yet the yearning for those mundane activities, for the routine, is very relatable. She’s trying to grasp on to anything that feels like her pre-trauma life.

Marvel.com: Jen uses a series of online baking tutorials as a sort of stress-relief outlet. Would you say that’s reflective of the kind of thing that someone in this situation would lean on?

Andrea Letamendi: Yes, I thought it was quite realistic in the sense that she’s looking for something that is not just calming and neutral but a bit of a distraction from her world. There’s something about watching these videos that distracts Jen enough to get away from the memories of her pain and trauma. In many ways, having some sort of coping strategy in your back pocket—in your super hero toolbox, if you will—that’ll help manage the bad mood you’re in or the anxiety you feel or even just the thoughts that are stressing you out. On the other hand, I was really fascinated with her use of these videos because if she’s relying too much on this baking program to escape the memories of her trauma, over the long run she won’t give herself the opportunity to recover from it. So there’s almost a healthy dose of getting to a place where you can find balance, center yourself, and manage your own emotions so you can go back to what you’re doing and function well, but you still have to address the trauma at some point.

Marvel.com: Even over the course of these first four issues, you can see the videos starting to become a sort of crutch. Jen loses control in small doses when she feels like she needs to watch these videos and she’s so stressed that she “Hulks out” a bit and breaks part of her laptop or cracks her phone screen. The reader is left to worry about what could happen to Jen if she needs these videos and can’t get to them.

Andrea Letamendi: Absolutely. I found two things about her Hulk persona interesting. One is that she mentioned that it’s always there. I believe that she’s referring to both her trauma—in other words, she’s never going to be able to forget the complex trauma she’s experienced—and I also think she’s referring to her Hulk persona. She understands that this is a characteristic of herself that is always a part of her, and she’s trying to integrate her Jen-self with her Hulk-self and that’s where a lot of the struggle comes from. And the other thing that I think is quite wonderfully pointed out by this story is that she seems to be almost triggered by the transformation. In the past, the transformation was empowering and satisfying, but right now, the transformation is painful and chaotic. So she tries to repress it because it reminds her of her trauma.

Marvel.com: Prior to this, Jen had reached a sort of state of balance with her normal self and her Hulk self, so much so that she was almost always in her Hulk form. The issues that she’s grappling with now seem to stem from the fact that even in that form she didn’t have the power to stop these things from happening, throwing that balance into turmoil.

Andrea Letamendi: When we think of ways to cope with a traumatic experience, we often compartmentalize that way. Where we try to identify ourselves as different or separate from the trauma. So we try to maybe even think of a different part of ourselves as being traumatized and we try to hide that part of ourselves. And of course, as this comic is wonderfully depicting, that actually puts us in a position of experiencing more conflict and pain.

Marvel.com: This is what’s so interesting to me about exploring aspects of psychology through super heroes. When it comes to mental health, there are so many abstract concepts that can be difficult to understand. But demonstrating these things with a character like Jen allows for things like compartmentalization to become concrete; Jen is trying to lock away an actual part of herself.

Andrea Letamendi: Absolutely. I think that witnessing and understanding a super hero experience some of these things allows us to feel more secure or open to the idea that it could happen to us. So there’s that sense that if you are into super heroes, you look up to these characters. You know they’re not real, but you hold a level of closeness to them. So I think that when you see them go through something like this, you begin to normalize it and understand that as something that you could experience and accept as a part of yourself as well.

Marvel.com: The power of a story like this to help remove stigma from certain aspects of mental health is fascinating.

Andrea Letamendi: Yes! Apart from the arc and the narrative that Jen’s going through on a larger level, we’re seeing a pretty well-known super hero wrestling with the word “crazy” and reaching out to another person who might be going through something very similar. The value of the story is that it’s normalizing and approaching mental health in a way that’s accurate and relatable that provides a lot of validation for readers who might be experiencing something similar.

Hulk #5 cover by Jeff Dekal

Marvel.com: You brought up reaching out to someone else going through something similar, and that’s Maise Brewn, her first new client at the law firm. What are your thoughts on Maise as a foil to Jen? Experiencing something similar, but in a very different way.

Andrea Letamendi: I know Maise in her current form is intended to be seen as a little strange, but as off-putting as that character initially is, my understanding is that Jen is allowing us—through their dialogue together and through Jen’s recognition that she’s not crazy—to be brought into this connection. I do think that, even though a lot of us can relate to Jen, many people relate to Maise in that sense of no longer being a person, just being so far down or so lost following her near-death experience. So I see it as an opportunity for Jen to educate us and allow us to connect with the person whose struggle and pain is so intense that she’s not able to even reach a point of understanding. I think that’s really important for readers to see.

Marvel.com: That was what I thought of the way that we see Maise, the way that she’s drawn. We know for sure that Maise is—or at least was—human. But she appears very much like some of the other more non-human characters coming through the law firm. Something else about her has changed and it’s almost like we’re seeing that character as she now sees herself: as something less than or other than human.

Andrea Letamendi: I think it’s important to understand her backstory, once we realize that she owned this yoga studio, that she was into wellness.  To see how drastically she’s changed, I think it’s another example of that duality: because of what happened to her, she’s transformed into the opposite of the thing that she used to teach. That’s very difficult to convey, and I think how [the HULK creative team of Mariko Tamaki and Nico Leon] did this is really lovely. We’re seeing almost the death of a person. They still have a body, they’re still walking around and seeking help, but ultimately this person seems like she’s lost her soul, her meaning.

In my work, when we work with folks who have experienced a severe or intense trauma, there’s oftentimes a shift or transformation in their worldview. So in my language we’d say there’s a cognitive disturbance. These are usually in three areas: the way they think about the future, the way they think about the world, and the way they think about themselves. The way they think about the future, that’s pretty straightforward. It’s hopeless, nothing will get better—and Jen had some of these thoughts, too. “There is no normal anymore, nothing is the same.” and “I’m a failure, and I’ll continue to fail.” In terms of their view of the world around them, it’s similarly negative generalizations. Thoughts like “the world is unsafe,” “the world will harm me,” “I can’t trust people, I can’t get close to people, because if I do I might lose them and that’s too painful.” Then the thoughts about the self are incredibly damaging to the overall personhood and self-esteem. This idea that “I’m not a person anymore, I’m not valuable. The interpersonal violation against me took something away from me and so I no longer see myself as a whole person, therefore I’m not worthy of being a person or being around other people.” In a way, you see that extreme version with Maise, and you see Jen begin to wrestle and struggle with the same thoughts.

Marvel.com: One of the people that I think helps Jen a lot is her new assistant Bradley. Many people are superficially nice to Jen. They want to show that they care, they want to make her feel welcome, but there’s still sort of that distance there. But Bradley, as her assistant, not only is he helping her get back into the swing of things professionally, but he’s taking a personal interest in her well-being.

Andrea Letamendi: Bradley may be the one person that is able to see her vulnerability and still not treat her any differently. One of the important aspects of that is he’s had a recent loss, as well. So he’s able to exercise his own empathy and understand that recovery is a journey. Even though he didn’t say it in those words, I think in his assurances and the way that he supports her, we can tell that he understands she’s going to recover in her own way.

Marvel.com: To bring up another foil, the relationship that Jen’s forming with Bradley serves as a contrast to her existing relationship with Patsy Walker, aka Hellcat. We see throughout this story text messages from Patsy that go unanswered, and then the phone call that ends in the impromptu rooftop meeting. Patsy’s going through the familiar “Why are you pushing me away? I’m trying to be here for you” mentality and we get to see this other side to how people provide support when their friends are dealing with trauma.

Andrea Letamendi: It’s helpful to us as readers to see the different ways in which people extend their support. They do it in ways that they think the other person needs, so it’s ultimately very forgivable because that’s how humans work. “I know how to help you in the ways that I’ve been helped, so I’m thinking about those resources or those types of support or just even in the way that I offer support.” A lot of this is cultural, as well. In some families or communities, we ask directly “Hey, are you in pain, what can I do?” And in others, we don’t say that, but we make our appearances, we make sure to be available. That’s what Patsy does; she is insistent that she gets face to face with Jen so she can offer up herself. I like that in this story we’re seeing various ways in which people are trying to extend their support and some of them Jen can tolerate, some of them she’s very amenable to, and some of them she just rejects. So when it comes to Patsy, just because of all the emotions she brings up for Jen, she’s really unable to go to that place psychologically, so she needs to put some distance between them.

Marvel.com: As we wrap up HULK #4—having seen what her Hulk persona means for her and her mental state—we end with Jen in a position where it seems impossible that she can avoid that persona. With everything that we’ve seen, how do you think she’s going to handle that?

Andrea Letamendi: I hope there’s an element of struggle for Jen to integrate her Hulk persona again. If this is truly trying to use the parallel between “Hulk” and “trauma” and how we’re trying to preserve our personhood by integrating that trauma into our whole self, then I’d like to see that struggle there. I think it would be important for us to see that, in her transformation, she has to face some memories that are difficult to think about and feelings that are difficult to process. She may even have to face or address some of those negative, damaging thoughts about herself and her value that are now central to that persona.

Hopefully, there’s this journey where she’s able to integrate herself and her traumatic experience so she achieves what could be considered post-traumatic growth. She would be able to acknowledge that she experienced something terrifying, painful, and horrific, and that becomes a part of her whole person. Right now, Maise isn’t in a place to do a lot of things. Maybe Jen’s able to be there for her, but she has to face her own trauma to really enact that.

Mariko Tamaki and Nico Leon continue the psychological examination of Jen Walters in HULK #5 on April 26!

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As the Mojoverse invades Manhattan, Marvel.com’s resident therapist profiles the villain.

As always, evaluating a subject without ever meeting them is, at best, educated guessing. Nonetheless, given the direness of the situation and the data available, this writer felt it was ethically sound to offer this personality sketch and his attorneys have agreed. I hope it provides help with subduing the subject.

The subject, Mojo, is an apparent alien/other-dimensional being who is from a race that are born without spines and use technology to increase their mobility and ability to stand upright. He self-identifies as a male although it remains unclear if that concept is native to his race’s reality or a product of exposure to human television. The planet and universe he hails from was evidently named for him (Mojoworld, Mojoverse), not the other way around. This apparently reflects his dominance of the most important aspect of his race’s society, television.

According to a history of the universe that appears to be—as best as we can verify— accurate, his universe was bombarded by broken waves of energy that were, in fact, Earth television waves.  Exposure to the broken and, to them, inexplicable energy both caused a sort of societal psychotic break and created a universe-wide addiction. Craving content more intense than the broken waves could provide, Mojo rose into the void and created homegrown TV content. As such, he was elevated to a kind of combination dictator and program director.

Given the subject is an alien from a planet with an aggressively different social structure, it is difficult to label him a sociopath as, in terms of his society, his behavior and cognitions might be entirely in line with societal norms. However, by our standards, to our understanding, he does present with symptoms of Antisocial Personality Disorder and, possibly, Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

He is motivated, seemingly, purely by the twin desires of garnering maximum attention for himself and dominance of his enemies. He shows limited regard for the lives and comfort of those around him. He is erratic and capricious, nearly always choosing the quick jolt of short-term satisfaction over long-term planning.

This makes him defeatable—as his history with the mutant rights group the X-Men indicates—but also wildly dangerous. Because he is oriented towards the short-term, he is unpredictable and just as likely to react in violent rage as in cowardly self-preservation. Additionally, he has engendered the kind of support from those beneath we might associate with a closed state dictatorship, meaning he has a plethora of what he likely considers “cannon fodder” at his disposal to throw at his enemies.

The surest path to victory against the subject is to demonstrate to him that bigger ratings can be achieved through easier means. He is a fairly lazy creature and, as noted above, likes the quick fix. So if the ceiling to success feels like too much work and a simpler means to rating dominance exists—think the amount effort required to make a successful cheap reality show vs. a prestige drama with well-known actors—he will always take the easy way out.

For further information and analysis of the subject, this writer recommends the definitive volume on Mojo, X-MEN BLUE #15 from Doctors Marc Guggenheim and Jorge Molina, available on November 15.

Psy D. Candidate Tim Stevens is a Staff Therapist who loved TV enough growing up and bets he could’ve ruled the Mojoverse.

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Spidey's adventures included Punisher, Black Cat and Cloak & Dagger, as Hobgoblin made his debut!

For over 50 years, Spider-Man has been a sensational standout in the Marvel Universe, and this year, the web-slinger swings onto the silver screen once more in “Spider-Man: Homecoming”! In celebration of his memorable history, we present Spidey’s spectacular step-by-step story!

The mysteries surrounding Peter Parker’s friend Deb Whitman ultimately came to a head in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #74, Spidey teamed up with Tigra in MARVEL TEAM-UP #125, and avoided the Hulk in MARVEL TEAM-UP #126. The webslinger’s fellow arachnid the Tarantula perished in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #236, and the Stilt-Man leveled up in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #237.

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #237

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #237

  • Published: February 10, 1983
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: April 30, 2014
What is Marvel Unlimited?

The Black Cat crept back into Spider-Man’s life in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #75 to drag our hero into a shooting match between Doctor Octopus and the Owl. When Ock’s curiosity almost killed the kitty in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #76, Spidey found himself not only in the multi-armed villain’s sights, but also those of the Gladiator’s in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #77. Boomerang and the Punisher became involved in the ongoing drama in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #78, and the vigilante gunned for Doc Ock in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #79.

The all-seeing Watcher guest-starred in MARVEL TEAM-UP #127, and the wallcrawler and Captain America joined forces to rid the city of Vermin and his rats in MARVEL TEAM-UP #128. The Hobgoblin, a new baddie using the Green Goblin’s motifs, attacked Spidey in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #238, and ramped things up in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #239 before flying off to cackle another day.

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #238

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #238

  • Published: March 10, 1983
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: April 29, 2013
What is Marvel Unlimited?

After J. Jonah Jameson tried to prove his reporter’s instincts still rated in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #80, Spider-Man joined with the Vision to antagonize androids in MARVEL TEAM-UP #129, the Scarlet Witch to vanquish Necrodamas in MARVEL TEAM-UP #130, and Frog-Man to chase off the White Rabbit in MARVEL TEAM-UP #131.

The Vulture returned to build a new nest-egg in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #240 and AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #241, and the Mad Thinker introduced a new android of his creation in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #242. The wallcrawler got involved with Cloak and Dagger’s hunt for the Punisher in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #81, and tracked him to the Kingpin’s front door in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #82. After his capture by the police, the Punisher faced a judge and jury for his alleged crimes in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #83.

Marvel Team-Up (1972) #132

Marvel Team-Up (1972) #132

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Mr. Fantastic lent his big brain to Spidey in MARVEL TEAM-UP #132, and then the whole blamed Fantastic Four — or so it seemed — hit the scene in MARVEL TEAM-UP #133 to help close down Doctor Faustus illicit practice. Later, the webslinger met up with Jack of Hearts in MARVEL TEAM-UP #134. Mary Jane Watson reentered Peter Parker’s life in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #243 to complicate his already relationship with the Black Cat, the Hobgoblin flew in for a rematch in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #244, our hero though he’d learned the masked villain’s true identity in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #245, and the Watcher revealed divergent paths for Peter and his friends in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #246.

Following Spidey’s near-brush with joining Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in AVENGERS #236 and AVENGERS #237, the Black Cat checked out of the hospital in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #84, and attempted to go straight by helping her Spider catch the Hobgoblin in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #85. The wallcrawler met up with the mutant Kitty Pryde to hunt Morlocks in MARVEL TEAM-UP #135, and with Wonder Man to manhandle the Mauler in MARVEL TEAM-UP #136. And, at the end of the day, Spidey found his only real friend might be Frog-Man in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #247.

Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man (1976) #85

Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man (1976) #85

What is Marvel Unlimited?
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Hear how Jim Zub adapted the Japanese manga!

Transferring a universe of Marvel zombies overseas doesn’t seem like an easy job, but Jim Zub can do it—no problem.

ZOMBIES ASSEMBLE 2, the Japanese book that Zub got tasked with adapting for North American audiences, has been a skin-crawling success. And as the limited series—written and illustrated by Yusaku Komiyama—nears its final issue on November 8, we caught up with Zub to hear more about how the project came to life.

Marvel.com: How would you sum up the experience of translating a Japanese manga for American readers?

Jim Zub: I don’t know that I’d call it “translation” in the traditional sense. The raw translation from Japanese to English was already complete when I came on board the project. I had to take that raw translation and adjust the dialogue and other text so it sounded natural; so that each character had the distinctive voice readers expect from the Marvel Universe.

Marvel.com: What proved to be the most challenging part of such a task?

Jim Zub: Adapting the dialogue so that it kept the original intent from Yusaku Komiyama’s story while also making it read as seamlessly as possible in English. There’s a surprising amount of humor and pathos in the story—I tried to keep those intact, though it didn’t come easy in some spots. We have a lot of callbacks to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in ZOMBIES ASSEMBLE, so I also tried to make sure those came through properly as well.

Marvel.com: What did you enjoy most about this crazy zombie epic?

Jim Zub: There’s a scene in the first half where Zombie-Thor tears out his own eyeball and gives it to Black Widow as a gift. That whole sequence felt so out there and I knew readers would be shocked and amused, wondering where things would go from there. It just propels things to another level of zombie craziness.

Marvel.com: Would you be up for doing something like this again? Which Marvel manga have you been eyeing lately?

Jim Zub: There’s apparently a new GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY manga serializing right now in Japan called GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: GALAXY RUSH. I hope Marvel decides to bring it out here in English and that I get the chance to adapt it for them like I did here with ZOMBIES ASSEMBLE. That would be a ton of fun.

Check out ZOMBIES ASSEMBLE 2 #4, by Yusaku Komiyama with Jim Zub, on November 8!

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Writer Donny Cates conjures up mischief with our newest Sorcerer Supreme!

What would happen if Loki, the God of Mischief, became the Sorcerer Supreme? That’s exactly the question that writer Donny Cates tackles in the upcoming DOCTOR STRANGE #381. We may not know what Loki is up to yet, but we do know one thing – it won’t be boring! We caught up with Cates to find out more about what we can expect.

Marvel.com: Loki obviously doesn’t have the same altruistic leanings as Stephen Strange…as the Sorcerer Supreme, will he use his role to further his own ends?

Donny Cates: Hmmmm, yes and no. That question there is really the heart of Loki, right? He’s so much fun because you never know the rules of whatever game he’s currently playing. So yes, he probably is using his role to serve his own needs….but what if his needs are altruistic? Is he still being selfish and underhanded if the result is a net positive? I’m not saying that’s necessarily the case here, but I wouldn’t ever get too comfortable with how you perceive Loki and his intentions.

Marvel.com: Stephen has a lot of experience when it comes to sorcery, but Loki has been doing it even longer. How will that inform how he approaches being Sorcerer Supreme?

Donny Cates: Well, at the end of the day, this is still very much a book about Stephen Strange. So, it’s very interesting, because on the one hand you have this GOD who is now insanely powerful in his new role….and then we have Stephen. I can’t say much about where Stephen is in this arc, but it’s unusual, and more (ahem) low-key than anything we’ve ever seen before. So it’s a nice dichotomy between the two.

How’s that for dodging a question? 🙂

Doctor Strange #381 cover by Mike Del Mundo

Marvel.com: Loki is, of course, the god of mischief. He doesn’t have the same reverence for authority as some of the more “heroic” characters. It seems like he’d have a lot of fun in this role. He could definitely mess with people.

Donny Cates: Oh for sure! As is said in the first issue, Loki is not, nor has he ever been, overly fond of “the rules.” So he kind of bumps up against this idea of magic having limits and prices. He’s not into it. And that leads him, and us,  down some rather dark roads.  

Marvel.com: Still, Loki often chooses to do the right thing. He might not want to admit it, but he does care. So can we expect to see him using his authority for the greater good, as well?

Donny Cates: Yeah, that’s what’s so amazing about him as a character these days. Even when he WANTS to do something good, no one on Earth (or in any realm) believes him. Everyone still thinks of him as this mustache-twirling villain, but that’s not really who he is anymore, right? He’s much more complicated.

I should mention though, that whatever supposed heroic deeds Loki has planned, or how well his intentions are….the good Doctor will be having none of it. Stephen doesn’t trust Loki as far as he can throw him, and he will stop at nothing to see his home, his cloak, and his title returned to him.

The lengths Strange will go through to see his livelihood returned to him…that’s the real story here. And I promise you can’t fathom what those lengths will be.

You’ve never seen Doctor Strange like this.

Doctor Strange #382 cover by Mike Del Mundo

Marvel.com: Would you like to mention or tease anything else?

Donny Cates: If I were a betting man….I’d pay A LOT OF ATTENTION to the second issue of my run. DOCTOR STRANGE #382 is a big one folks. I’ll see you there!

DOCTOR STRANGE #381, by Donny Cates and Gabriel Hernandez Walta, hits shelves on November 15!

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Look back on the muck monster’s solo debut!

Every day this month, a new supernatural character or story from the Marvel Universe gets a spooky spotlight leading up to Halloween!

Having emerged from the swamp for the first time in 1971’s SAVAGE TALES #1, Man-Thing starred in ADVENTURES INTO FEAR from #10#19 before earning his first solo series in 1974.

MAN-THING, written by Steve Gerber and drawn by Val Mayerik with Mike Ploog, the series’ first book continued the action of the final ADVENTURES INTO FEAR issue—which also saw the first appearance of Howard the Duck!

Man-Thing (1974) #1

Man-Thing (1974) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

After the mallard tripped and fell into a void, Man-Thing, Dakimh the Enchanter, Jennifer Kale, and the barbarian prince Korrek set out to restore all realities back to order. Meanwhile, The Overmaster and the pretender gods of the Congress of Realities attacked Dakimh’s home realm, Therea. There, a battle raged between The Overmaster, his minions, and Man-Thing—resulting in the universe’s salvation from annihilation.

Though the series began with a more fantastical slant, the creative team introduced more horror elements in later issues as the Man-Thing continued to protect the Nexus of All Realities. These stories played with a range of genres and characters—from bikers and corrupt businessmen to wrecking crews and even The Foolkiller, who made his first appearance in issue #3!

Issue #5 saw the ghost of a clown, who died in a swamp, encounter the Man-Thing. Though the creature could not speak or remember his lost humanity, he moved to put the clown to rest in a proper manner.

Man-Thing (1974) #5

Man-Thing (1974) #5

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Later, Ayla—a tightrope walker from the carnival that employed the clown—gave up her job to search for him in the swamp, aided by the series’ stars Richard and Ruth. When they came upon the scene of the death, Ayla called out to her friend, who appeared in his ghostly form at the edge of the bog.

In the following issue, the ghost clown took control of Ayla, Richard, and Ruth, regaling the reader of his sad life—as three mysterious, hooded figures watched and critiqued the story.

The figures turned out to be agents of Hell, Heaven, and the In-Between. They stated that the clown’s death was unnecessary and decided to punish the clown for his ill-conceived decisions. Having witnessed these events, Man-Thing stepped in and fought the creatures off—allowing the clown to rest—perhaps not in peace, but to rest nonetheless.

Fright Fact

Man-Thing might seem like the type who doesn’t play well with others, but he’s actually been a part of more teams than one might expect. In 1972, he formed the original Legion of Monsters in MARVEL PREMIERE #28. In the 1990s, he joined Franklin Richards, Howard the Duck, Arite, Leech, and Tana Nyle in GENERATION X and then in a three issue limited series called DAYDREAMERS. And most recently, in the aftermath of Siege, when Luke Cage took over the Thunderbolts, Hank Pym used Man-Thing as a team transport! And not long after that, he also joined Phil Coulson’s Howling Commandos. Not bad for a guy who spends most of his time hanging out in swamps!

Tomorrow, Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and Michael Lopez dig into the history of the Marvel Universe’s number one monster hunter with BLOODSTONE!

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Jack helps to introduce another of Marvel’s most vile villains!

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.

Jack Kirby maybe be best known as a super hero artist, but he loved making war comics. A military man himself, “The King” put his crown aside to serve his country during World War II as an Infrantryman and put plenty of those experiences into books like SGT. FURY AND HIS HOWLING COMMANDOS with his collaborator Stan Lee.

Though still thrilling adventure stories, these issues feature some of the hard truths that came with war, like losing members of your squad as the Howlers did when Junior Junipe got injured in issue #4. They carried that sadness and anger with them into the next mission, which introduced them and the readers to a new Nazi threat: Baron Strucker! The villain debuted dueling with another man and easily winning before receiving his latest orders from Hitler: kill Nick Fury. Thinking his prey beneath him, Strucker thought of the mission as nothing more than a game.

The Wing Commander of the Fuehrer’s Death-Head Squadron flew his plane over the Allies’ post, blasting away at Dum Dum Duggan and Izzy Cohen before throwing a tube with a note down challenging Fury to a death duel on Norsehaven in the English Channel. Enraged at Strucker’s taunts, the sergeant requested transport to the Channel from Captain Sawyer, who flatly refused. After dining with his girlfriend Lady Pamely Hawley, Fury called in a few favors and snuck his way to the meeting with Strucker.

Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos (1963) #5

Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos (1963) #5

  • Published: January 10, 1964
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 13, 2007
  • Penciller: Jack Kirby
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
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Neither man wasted any time getting into the spirit of the duel itself, which they fought with plywood swords as part of Strucker’s beloved tradition dictated. However, the villain also drugged Fury’s pre-fencing drink and had his lackeys ready to literally trip Nick up. The future S.H.I.E.L.D. chief did his best to fight, but inevitably collapsed. With his opponent down, the Baron called out his photographers and videographers to record the Amerikaner’s defeat. They strapped Fury in a parachute and dropped him out of a plane near the base he had been stationed at.

Upon returning, Captain Sawyer busted Fury down to a private and dismissed him. Still a part of the Howling Commandos, Nick joined his crew as they went out for another big push. The Howlers got the drop on a tank squadron, stole their vehicle and used it to destroy a rocket base before busting into an enemy base that happened to house Strucker!

The nefarious Nazi didn’t stand a chance in a fair fight with the furious Fury who knocked him unconscious after punching him through a wall! Upon returning, Sawyer saw the error of his ways in demoting Nick—mostly because a general said how lucky he was to work with the Howlers boss—and returned him to the rank of sergeant!

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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The Odinson and a mindless Hulk throw down in NYC!

As the clock ticks down to “Thor: Ragnarok,” spend your time wisely by reading these stories plucked from the Marvel Unlimited archives!

Thor and Hulk have always had a tumultuous relationship.

In the short time they served on the Avengers together, the two didn’t get along too well…though, since then, they’ve adopted a healthy—though sometimes begrudging—respect for each other.

We can’t wait to see what happens when these two titans meet each other in “Thor: Ragnarok,” but until then, let’s scope out one of their most epic battles—in 1984’s INCREDIBLE HULK #300 by writer Bill Mantlo and artist Sal Buscema.

Incredible Hulk (1962) #300

Incredible Hulk (1962) #300

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At the time, Bruce Banner thought he’d done away with the Hulk’s rage-filled personality. However, when Nightmare decided to torment Doctor Strange, the green guy came back as Banner decided to change into the Jade Giant to stop the villain’s dark schemes.

The issue began with The Hulk rampaging across New York City. In response, the U.S. government deemed it appropriate to use any means to take him down—including the use of chemical fire bombs dropped by S.H.I.E.L.D. ships.

The chaos forced a few local New York heroes to respond to the situation as well—Daredevil saved a child from the reverberating danger, Spider-Man caught a couple of plummeting pilots as they fell from the sky, and Doctor Strange escaped Nightmare to search for an alternate dimension in which The Hulk might be contained.

Meanwhile, The Human Torch, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and the Avengers tried to handle the problem with a more confrontational approach. While none stood a chance against The Hulk, Thor stood tall and matched the might of the Giant. Despite summoning lightning and hurling Mjolnir in the battle, Thor realized that the only way to finally stop The Hulk would be the most drastic measure of all—to kill him.

The battle raged, and the two combatants flung fists and nearby cars as the fight seemed like it’d never end. As the war of attrition seemed most hopeless, however, Doctor Strange reemerged to enact his other-dimensional contingency—and sent The Hulk to another space and time.

Ragnarok and Roll

For an equally epic—though more recent—Thor and Hulk throw down, check out the 2011 event Fear Itself, in which Bruce Banner’s alter ego picked up one a personality-warping hammer and transformed into Nul: Breaker of Worlds. And joining The Hulk with an evil new ego was The Thing—who became Angrir: Breaker of Souls. In FEAR ITSELF #5, Nul and Angrir confronted Thor in a hammer-shattering encounter for the ages.

Next time: the Asgardians face Rangarok once again in Mike Avon Oeming and Andrea Di Vito’s THOR #80#85!

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Learn about the special features surrounding the new Marvel initiative!

Sometimes when you’re moving forward, it helps to take a look back at where you’ve been. With Marvel, it’s easy when you stand on a rich foundation stone of history, characters, and creators.

The Marvel Legacy event includes not only launches of all-new storylines, but also an infusion of retro atmosphere in the form of Marvel Value Stamps, a new issue of the classic FOOM magazine, and in-house ads flowing with the frenetic feeling of the 1960s and 1970s. To celebrate, we checked in with some of the Marvelites who made it all happen: David Gabriel, Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing; Tom Brevoort, Senior Vice President of Publishing; and artist Mike McKone.

Marvel.com: David, you’re up first—as all these retro projects were being worked on, what was the feeling around the offices? Excitement to be doing something fun like these? Nostalgia?

David Gabriel: There was definitely the feeling that we wanted to craft a fun promotional program around the whole idea of Marvel Legacy. From the initial call out to “Make Mine Marvel,” it seemed a perfect fit to reach back into some of the nostalgic items that helped propel Marvel to the forefront of the comics industry as far back as the 60s and recreate some of those things for a modern day. We knew there would be some fans who remembered some of these items fondly and some who would be discovering them for the first time. But the key behind everything we did was to use the past to entice all readers in the present!

Marvel.com: Tom, what about you?

Tom Brevoort: They’re certainly fun, and tap into that Marvel spirit that Stan [Lee] first established, that sense of fun and excitement and also self-effacement. But it couldn’t just be nostalgia, if for no other reason than many of the elements that we’re mimicking are long-ago enough that the readership has cycled through many times since then—so a modern day fan might have no knowledge of them. So each one had to work and be a fun piece on its own in the here and now as well.

Marvel.com: What was the general decision-making process like, as far as which things to hit for the event?

David Gabriel: We chose many of the things we all had fond memories of. The Marvel Value Stamps were pretty much on everyone’s list, at least everyone who was collecting comics in the 1970s. FOOM was a close second. That was a little less known to a wider audience. But there is a huge fondness for one of the first fandom mags that Marvel put out on a regular basis. The idea for the retro house ads just made sense as well. We all felt we’ve seen our current format for house ads for a while and they needed a boost. Many of us fondly remembered how exciting it was—before Internet—to see what was coming up in Marvel titles through the dynamic, often over the top, house ads that appeared throughout their books. So one of our designers was challenged to update them and she did a terrific job. I think the trade dress with corner boxes had already been bubbling under the surface as the X-office started this a few months earlier, and that received great praise, so we knew the trade dress having a nod to the past would definitely be a must.

Tom Brevoort: We tried to hone in on things that would play for an audience today, but that would have an additional layer of meaning to a long-time reader.

Marvel.com: Tom, for the Value Stamps, what did they mean to you personally? Did you cut yours out of the comics?

Tom Brevoort: I never did, but I certainly wound up buying many, many comics from people who did. They’re the bane of collectors of the comics of that period—something like one in every five copies have the damn stamps cut out from them, and there’s no way to tell from the outside. There’s that horrifying moment when you get your book home and crack open the plastic bag, flip through it and—AAUUGGHH!

David Gabriel: [Laughs] Yes. I think many folks have that story. I have a beautiful copy of INCREDIBLE HULK #181 with a nice square cut out of the last page, ruining the story! Those original stamps were randomly placed in Marvel comics and in order to get the entire set of 100 you really had to search far and wide without any knowledge of what books those stamps would appear in. But, that was the only way to collect them all! While they added no value to the book, they did simply add an extra element of fun. Enough so that many comic fans still remember them nearly 50 years later.

Marvel.com: Okay, for the new Stamps, why was Mike McKone the artist to handle these?

David Gabriel: Talent Management suggested Mike, and we love his work, so it was a great fit. Mike was turning these in four at a time at a terrific rate and with each one that came through, everyone was in love with them. So once we used them to promote the start of Marvel Legacy, we realized we had great images to use for corner boxes, variant covers, pins, and even the new Marvel Value Stamps. It’s really not that different from the 1970s where you would see the same likeness of heroes and villains used for a variety of different things throughout Marvel comics, ads, posters, standees, figurines, corner boxes, stickers and more. Mike did a terrific job!

Marvel.com: How were the characters chosen? And will the Value Stamps have any trade-in value going forward?

Tom Brevoort: The modern-day Value Stamps pretty well align to the books in Marvel Legacy. That was our checklist, so to speak.

David Gabriel: There is talk now of crafting a Marvel Insider program for the Value Stamps which would indeed reward those fans who collected them all. It’s a good time to mention that we are creating a free Marvel Value Stamp collectors album that we’re giving retailers as a promotional item for November. This will be a simple foldout to make collecting the stamps easier. We’ll announce how these would be redeemed soon.

We also worked out a cool digital component to the Marvel Value Stamp program. Every time you download the digital code from a print comic, you can also download a digital Marvel 1970s Remastered Value Stamp, and collect them all in a special digital collectors album. You just need to download the Quidd App, and you can get started.

Marvel.com: Mike, let’s bring you in at this point—what did you think when the project was offered to you?

Mike McKone: I was offered the project by George Beliard at Marvel. I think initially it was for 20 headshots and I didn’t know what they were going to be used for. I grew up reading Marvel books that had the headshots in the top corner box of the covers so I thought it was a great idea to revisit that type of imagery.

Marvel.com: How long did each piece take you to illustrate on average?

Mike McKone: Not too long. Maybe a couple of hours for a simple one, and four hours for a more complex one such as Medusa.

Marvel.com: Were there characters that didn;t make the cut that you would have liked to have done?

Mike McKone: I would have happily and contentedly drawn every Marvel character, but I do wish Colossus and Nightcrawler could have been included.

Marvel.com: What is your favorite of the images of the ones you did?

Mike McKone: Fin Fang Foom! One of the [most fun] characters and trickiest to draw, at least for me.

Marvel.com: Back to David and Tom now for the rest of the Marvel Legacy cool stuff—what was the tone you were going for with the retro ads?

David Gabriel: The tone was definitely meant to bring back some of that nostalgic over-the-top marketing text that is so associated with things that Stan Lee and others from Marvel’s past would use when promoting the books. Most of the text was written by Jason Pearl who works in the Sales and Marketing group, but of course, it was all run by editorial and got a few tweaks here and there. What we ended up with are some of the most notable house ads that have been put forth in years. It’s odd that we’re even discussing them here, but others have brought these up, and I think it’s a testament to the strength of the nostalgia for Marvel that we’ve tapped in to.

Tom Brevoort: I love the retro ads. To me, they’re so much more engaging and provocative than many of the ads we’ve done in recent years. So while they’re deliberately mimicking the style of the ads of a particular era, I hope we keep them around, or adopt some of that style moving forward. They really do make me want to check out the different titles we have coming out.

Marvel.com: David, you said FOOM was very high on the bucket list; what was the attraction for you to produce a new issue?

David Gabriel: FOOM was a great way to start creating a fan club for Marvel in the 70s. It was a magazine that gave you all the insights into what was going on at Marvel at the time. You could subscribe to it and get it sent directly to you. Seemed like a fun idea to bring that back to the current day and keep the tone and the stories close to what they used to be. The crew of writers working with us and the Trades department did a terrific job of the material and the design and format. They hired a group of writers to interview folks, research stories, and craft a fantastic magazine. I’ve heard retailers and fans say “when is the next issue?” which is always a great sign.

Marvel.com: How was it decided what kinds of articles it would have?

David Gabriel: In coming up with the stories, it was a little of everything. We looked at the original stories and tried to recapture some of that flavor to give folks an inside look or an historical look at the workings of our publishing group. We naturally wanted a feature about Marvel Legacy and some of the other upcoming major titles coming up like AVENGERS: NO SURRENDER and MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE. We also talked to folks in editorial, and we were all saddened but proud to be able to pay tribute to a beloved co-worker, the one and only Flo Steinberg! I think there’s something for everyone in here. Best part too was that we were able to send these to retailers free for their customers.

To keep up on all things Marvel Legacy, be sure to visit our official hub page!

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Gerry Duggan previews the Guardians’ Infinity quest!

The Guardians’ hunt for the Infinity Stones begins.

But first, they have to join up with the Nova Corps! On November 1, “The Infinity Quest,” kicks off as writer Gerry Duggan and artist Marcus To see the team suit up with the Gold Domes. Everything, however, might not be as it seems within the Nova ranks…and Peter, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and Groot will have to figure out why in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #146!

We caught up with Gerry to hear more about the start of a new journey for the team.

Marvel.com: How do the Guardians qualify for joining the Nova Corps?

Gerry Duggan: Right now the bar sits pretty low—do you have a head to put a helmet on? If so, welcome aboard! But if the galaxy has a chance at survival, they’ll need to recapture their former glory.

Marvel.com: Do the Guardians embrace the new Corps? How will they fit into their new roles?

Gerry Duggan: Quite simply: if the new Corps fails, the Guardians have even more work to do. So this ends up being a preventative defense for them. They’re still misfits, but they’re helping root out some real problems.

Marvel.com: The Guardians have butted heads with Nova Corps before…what’s the dynamic feel like now?

Gerry Duggan: Rocket, for example, has an interesting time. You’d think he would despise it….but you’ll see why he’s enjoying himself.

Marvel.com: How has the team evolved since Rich Rider last appeared on the team?

Gerry Duggan: Groot looks pretty small now, Drax hasn’t been himself, and Gamora seems a little soulless… Everyone feels like a mess.

Marvel.com: Rich and Gamora have such a complicated historyhow do they feel about this new team-up?

Gerry Duggan: Rich and Gamora’s reunion will have to wait…she never told Quill that he returned. Issue #147 will be a very fun reunion—and also contains a discovery of huge proportions.

Marvel.com: Gerry, personally speaking, would you choose to join the Nova Corps or the Guardians? Why?

Gerry Duggan: I’d die really quickly either way, so I’d join the Guardians. It would be more fun.

Gerry Duggan and artist Marcus To’s GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #146 kicks off on November 1!

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