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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Frank Castle braves a darkened New York City with writer Becky Cloonan!

Start spreading the news…Frank Castle’s leavin’ today.

The Punisher Road Trip 2017 comes to an end in issue #14 of writer Becky Cloonan’s PUNISHER with Frank’s triumphant return home to the Big Apple as well as guest art by Kris Anka. While criminals can’t say they’ve missed his unique brand of vigilante justice, they’ve been multiplying like cockroaches in his absence and that’s something Frank can’t allow to continue.

Moreover, he’s got a citywide blackout to deal with and a key missing piece of his arsenal to find. In short, no one’s throwing a cushy homecoming party for The Punisher. We spoke with former New York resident Cloonan about Frank’s plans for shooting his way back to his rightful place as king of the hill, top of the heap.

Marvel.com: Since The Punisher is back in town, what’s his first order of business other than destroying all of the crime in NYC, that is?

Becky Cloonan: Frank is welcomed back home by a bunch of criminals, who have no doubt missed him very much! He’s no sooner back in the comfort of his own home, [when] he finds a piece from his arsenal has gone missing—and that’s how it starts. So before he does anything, he’s gotta find that gun.

Marvel.com: In that vein, what excited you most about bringing Frank back home?

Becky Cloonan: I spent 14 years living in New York, in Queens and Brooklyn respectively, before moving to Montreal and then Texas. Even though the city and I have done so much changing, I still feel like it’s a second home. So in a way, this is a homecoming for both of us. It’s been so much fun being back in the city—vicariously! [Laughs]

Marvel.com: Were you hoping to set a different tone from his time on the road? If so, can you elaborate on what that tone will feel like?

Becky Cloonan: This is The Punisher at his best, on home turf with the whole city at his disposal. He has to overcome new challenges and villains every issue, but that’s not to say he won’t see a familiar face from his time on the road…

The Punisher #14 cover by Declan Shalvey

Marvel.com: What’s changed since he’s been away? Have criminals been lulled into a false sense of security in his absence?

Becky Cloonan: Bad guys are crawling out of the woodwork! They are like cockroaches; if you see one, you can be sure there are a hundred more lurking just out of sight. Frank’s got his hands full with everything from bored teenagers to career criminals, robbers and thugs—maybe even a serial killer for good measure! There’s certainly enough crime in the Big Apple to keep Frank busy.

Marvel.com: What are the challenges Frank will face from a citywide blackout in PUNISHER #14? What are the advantages to such a situation?

Becky Cloonan: What would seem like an edge for the bad guys ends up being [an] advantage [for] Punisher. His main upper hand is the fact that the criminals think they have the upper hand. Frank uses this to his advantage. Oh, and since he wrecked his van on the last road trip, he had to get a new car. It’s a lot of fun!

Marvel.com: Are any of his experiences away from the city haunting him or impeding his ability to fight?

Becky Cloonan: One thing I love about Frank is that he’s not trying to save the world. To be honest, I don’t even think he’s trying to save the city. He doesn’t need to protect anyone or anything. Instead, The Punisher is driven by an urge to destroy. It’s this instinct that led him to chase his enemies up north and made him face his darker nature. If anything, he’s even more of a force to be reckoned with now that he’s back home. The Punisher is like a Jason Voorhees that only kills criminals, and he revels in it.

Marvel.com: Will Frank be staying in New York for the foreseeable future?

Becky Cloonan: He used all his vacation days on his trip up north, so yeah, I think he’s gonna stick around for a bit.

Lock and load with THE PUNISHER #14 by Becky Cloonan and Kris Anka, available July 26!

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Can Bobby Drake survive his most terrifying encounter yet?

Bobby Drake returns on July 26 in ICEMAN #3, written by Sina Grace with art by Alessandro Vitti, to face his scariest opponent yet: his parents.

In this new series Bobby’s life remains a bit complicated despite his desperate attempts to find both self and general acceptance, de-stress his life outside of the X-Men and have a little less icy relationship with his family. But lets face it: mutants attract drama, and in the words of a wise young prince, there’s no need to argue, parents just don’t understand.

Just how little do they understand? We caught up with Grace to find out!

Marvel.com: We know Bobby is headed home to visit his parents; what’s going through his mind? Anything he’s worried or excited about?

Sina Grace: After Bobby and Kitty’s adventure in West Covina [in ICEMAN #2], he’s feeling the urge to open up to his parents, and build a more honest relationship with [them]. He’s done dancing around the aspects of his life that he wants to celebrate—being a mutant, his sexuality, etc.

Marvel.com: What’s Bobby’s daydream scenario of how his visit plays out?

Sina Grace: In Bobby’s “best of” scenario, his parents would [sense] something was going on, and basically hand him the opportunity to feel like he can open up without shame or judgment. Basically, he’d love if they did the work for him!

Marvel.com: What’s actually in store for him at this family get together?

Sina Grace: Unfortunately for the Drake parents, their new home, and all of their nice things, the Purifiers are staging an ambush. The runt that Iceman took out in the first issue mattered a great deal to someone higher up…

Marvel.com: You can see in ICEMAN #1 that Bobby and his parents aren’t exactly on the same page; can you describe a little more in depth the dynamic of their relationship?

Sina Grace: Bobby’s relationship with his family, for me, comes from the same DNA as characters in a David O. Russell film: overpowering, Irish Catholic, and a little sassy. Bobby’s got to get his wit from somewhere!

Iceman #3 cover by Kevin Wada

Marvel.com: Briefly describe the perfect life for Bobby from his parent’s perspective.

Sina Grace: Historically speaking, Bobby’s parents are happiest when their son is living his life in bullet points they can toss around as bragging rights to friends: “Bobby’s got a degree. Bobby bought a house. Bobby proposed.” His life doesn’t follow any traditional road map, and that makes them uncomfortable.

Marvel.com: What does Bobby have in common with his parents, and where do they differ?

Sina Grace: I think the easiest way to sum up their relationship, in terms of what they have in common and how they differ, is that they love each other, but they don’t like each other.

Marvel.com: Does their relationship grow at all?

Sina Grace: Papa and Mama Drake do end up seeing their son in a different light. I’m not sure whether or not readers will expect it, but to that point: I want the reader’s relationship with Bobby’s parents to grow in a way where you see them as humans.

Marvel.com: Is there anything you can tease about what’s in store for Bobby? Any surprises?

Sina Grace: Fans should expect a few more friendly faces to pop in the book over the next few issues. In terms of surprises, I have some pretty intense stuff lined up with Bobby and his journey to understand his powers a bit more! Keep on reading!

Lightning Round!  

Marvel.com: Bobby’s biggest pet peeve with his parents? SG: Judgment. Marvel.com: His parent’s biggest pet peeve with him? SG: Unaccomplished. Marvel.com: What is their parenting style? SG: Catholic Marvel.com: If his parents had mutant powers what would they be? SG: Rock skin. Marvel.com: It’s Christmas: what does Bobby give them? SG: Personal trinket. Marvel.com: What do they give Bobby? SG: Sweater and gift certificate. Marvel.com: What are his parent’s best qualities? SG: Dedication. Marvel.com: Their worst quality? SG: Obstinate. Marvel.com: What would they say is Bobby’s best quality? SG: Intelligence. Marvel.com: His worst quality? SG: Immaturity. Marvel.com: If they could change one thing about each other what would it be? SG: Perspective. Marvel.com: Do cool jokes run in the family? SG: Sometimes.

Don’t miss a single cringe-worthy family moment in ICEMAN #3 by Sina Grace and Alessandro Vitti, out July 26!

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Learn more about this impressive initiative and see six exclusive cover GIFs!

Get ready for a new dawn True Believers—one whose rays will touch every corner of the Marvel Universe in the days to come! Get ready for the return of what you’ve been longing for—and more! Prepare for the debut of MARVEL LEGACY!

“A new initiative that will take things back to our iconic history, with a firm eye on the future, MARVEL LEGACY will present stories that remind everyone—newcomers and longtime fans alike—why Marvel stands as the premier name in fiction,” said Editor in Chief Axel Alonso. “Our titles will unearth gems from Marvel’s rich history, remind readers of connections between characters, and usher in the return of some major characters who’ve been missed.  Above all else, we want to inject our comics with a massive dose of fun!”

Kicking off this September with MARVEL LEGACY #1, an over-sized 50-page, one-shot special, Marvel Comics titles step towards a bright new future – one that harkens back to what has made Marvel a household name while looking towards tomorrow. With fun and thrilling reveals primed to excite fans, both existing and new, this fall, prepare for MARVEL LEGACY!

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

True Believers, pump it up with the latest episode of This Week in Marvel, the official Marvel podcast!

We’ve got a spectacular week of all things Marvel for you — first, Ryan and Ben take on this week’s comic releases including IRON MAN, SECRET EMPIRE, SPIDER-MAN, and more! Ben gets some Secret Empire #4 hot takes from Tom Brevoort and Alanna Smith (1:19:18). Over on the West Coast, Marc and Christine talk to Tim Hernandez, Danny Koo and Becka McIntosh on their post-E3 feelings (1:53:20). All this as well as your questions and comments (1:41:55)!

If you want more Marvel Games news, listen to a special This Week in Marvel minisode where Ryan and Christine break down everything that happened at E3 last week.

Be sure to join our #TWIMURC next week when we have both coasts tackle X-Cutioner’s Song Pt. 2! Share your thoughts with us using the hashtag #TWIMURC!

Download episode #295 of This Week in Marvel from Marvel.com, check out Marvel Podcast Centralgrab the TWiM RSS feed and subscribe to This Week in Marvel on iTunes, so you never miss an episode! We are now also on Soundcloud! Head over now to our new hub to listen to the full run of This Week in Marvel!

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

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Charles Soule and Jim Cheung launch a monumental adventure for the mighty mutants!

On July 19, Charles Soule and Jim Cheung present ASTONISHING X-MEN #1! But get your exclusive first look at pages from the issue right now!

Astonishing X-Men #1 cover by Jim Cheung

Astonishing X-Men #1 preview page by Jim Cheung

Astonishing X-Men #1 preview page by Jim Cheung

Astonishing X-Men #1 preview page by Jim Cheung

Astonishing X-Men #1 preview page by Jim Cheung

Astonishing X-Men #1 preview page by Jim Cheung

ASTONISHING X-MEN #1
Writer:
 Charles Soule
Artist/Cover: Jim Cheung
Only the X-Men can save us!
An ancient evil is attacking the world’s most powerful minds. It will have them by the time you finish this sentence, and a moment later, it will have us all. A band of X-Men discovers the truth behind the threat, but there is no time left. Psylocke, Old Man Logan, Bishop, Archangel, Fantomex, Rogue and Gambit will attempt to save a world that hates and fears them. Why? Because they are the X-Men.

From writer Charles Soule joined by a roster of superstar artists beginning with Jim Cheung. ASTONISHING X-MEN. It’s the X-book you need.

On sale July 19!

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The Living Planet clashes with Thor in his earliest incarnation!

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

In the pages of this week’s ULTIMATES 2 #8, Al Ewing and Aud Koch brought two powerful cosmic entities into conflict once again as Galactus faced off against his old foe Ego. We’re not going to spoil how that encounter ended, but we will talk about the Living Planet’s first recorded bout!

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby introduced readers—and the title Asgardian warrior—to Ego on the very last page of THOR #132 back in 1966. You might wonder what brought the God of Thunder into outer space at the time. In THOR #131, Jane Foster’s former roommate Tana Nile revealed her true identity as a Space Colonizer. Since no one else cared about the backwater planet Earth, she called dibs and took control. When Thor came to visit the missing Jane, he discovered Tana’s secret and battled the supposedly unbeatable Colonizers from Rigel. He allowed himself to get captured and easily broke free to confront the entire organization in issue #132. After a battle, the Colonizer leader told Thor of the true threat, a being living in the Black Galaxy.

Agreeing to face this unseen enemy head-on, Thor flew off in a space ship with a humanoid robot called The Recorder. The duo witnessed the Living Planet as a beautifully rendered Kirby collage at the end of #132, and then far more fully in the next issue. Upon the Thunder God’s landing on Ego’s surface, the enormous creature revealed seemingly unlimited powers like the ability to peer into minds and manipulate the molecules around them to create familiar environs. He quickly exposed his desire to use these powers to escape the Black Galaxy and take over “all of space.”

Thor (1966) #133

Thor (1966) #133

  • Published: October 10, 1966
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: September 17, 2008
  • Penciller: Jack Kirby
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Ego further explained that his plan revolved around using the Thunderer as a molecular model to create an army of powerful anti-body-based minions that would travel from the Black Galaxy to fulfill his machinations. Though the Living Planet offered plenty of obstacles for Thor and Recorder to survive, the Son of Odin called down a storm of epic proportions that allowed them to free themselves from his grievous gravitational pull. In his rage at losing, Ego swore to seal off his bio-verse and never attack an outside world again.

Flash Forward

Of course, Ego’s vow of non-violence didn’t stop another cosmic threat from threatening the Living Planet! Galactus stumbled upon Ego during one of his many searches for sustenance and the two quickly came into conflict in THOR #160. Meanwhile, Tana Nile appeared on Earth to bring Thor to the Black Galaxy to help stop this war of cosmic proportions. The Thunder God joined the fray, fighting Galactus for the very first time, in an effort to defend Ego from being devoured. Thanks to some help from the Wanderers, who provided equipment to enhance Mjolnir, the heroes drained Galactus of his life energy and sent him packing! Ego offered his thanks by giving the Wanderers a place to live on his surface.

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Go behind the masks of the Emperor’s elite in Crimson Empire!

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

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

Star Wars: Crimson Empire (1997) #1

Star Wars: Crimson Empire (1997) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Until 1997, all Star Wars comics in some way heavily featured characters you grew to love from the films, from Luke, Leia, and Han to Boba Fett and Jabba the Hutt—even Wedge Antilles. For CRIMSON EMPIRE, writers Mike Richardson and Randy Stradley dared to expand the Star Wars universe in a way no other series had to this point—with no main characters you had ever heard of. The result stands up today as perhaps the most “cult classic” Star Wars series ever published.

Every Star Wars fan remembers the striking red uniform of the Emperor’s Royal Guard, as seen in “Return of the Jedi.” But that was all we really knew about them at this point. What is happening underneath those masks? How did they earn their spot among Palpatine’s elite? Are they even men in there? Though all of the action occurs years after “Return of the Jedi,” we get our first answers to those questions—including flashbacks, one featuring an incredible Darth Vader moment— as the remnants of the Empire fight their own internal battles for political control.

If you’re not intimidated by a book starring names like Carnor Jax, Kir Kanos, and Mirith Sinn, CRIMSON EMPIRE offers a welcome and unique take on the Star Wars universe. There’s even an official Handbook to guide through the cast of characters.

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A crime war ignites and Doctor Octopus returns with fatal consequences!

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

After exposing the wily Chameleon at a gala event in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #80, Spider-Man took the bounce out of The Kangaroo before he released deadly bacteria into the city in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #81. Later, the web-slinger battled The Silver Surfer for a young boy’s life in SILVER SURFER #14, and turned the lights out for Electro on the set of a TV talk show in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #82.

A new criminal in town called The Schemer challenged The Kingpin to be the head of the city’s crime cartel in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #83, so when the battle reached the latter’s home in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #84, our hero swung in to insert himself between the two titans. In the aftermath of the tussle in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #85, he learned the Schemer’s true identity as Richard Fisk, the Kingpin’s long-lost son.

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #80

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #80

  • Published: January 10, 1970
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 13, 2007
  • Penciller: John Buscema, Jim Mooney
What is Marvel Unlimited?

The Wall Crawler started to feel sick in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #86, just in time for a challenge from Black Widow. Believing his spider-powers fading away, Peter revealed himself as the webbed wonder in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #87, but after discovering he only suffered from the flu, asked the former Prowler to masquerade as his costumed alter-ego to put his friends off the scent.

A Zodiac force-field kept Spidey from entering Manhattan in AVENGERS #82, but that didn’t stop him from going after an escaped Doctor Octopus in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #88. Ock seemed to die in a fiery plane crash, but the web-spinner refused to believe his demise and proved the eight-armed maniac still lived in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #89.

Then, the unthinkable: Gwen’s father Captain Stacy died in the fallout from the pitched battle between Spider-Man and Octopus in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #90, leaving his daughter to proclaim her hatred for the hero in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #91 and a candidate for District Attorney to build a campaign around taking Spidey once and for all.

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What’s cooking in the lab? We asked Greg Pak to spill the beans!

The various Weapon X programs have been a thorn in the side of mutantkind for decades, but new management might turn that thorn into a chainsaw. On July 26, Reverend Stryker finally releases Batch H in WEAPON X #6, and we can only imagine what writer Greg Pak and artist Greg Land have in store for us. “They’re cooking up a killer, and we’ll see if our heroes can handle it,” warns Pak.

So just what kind of killer is Batch H? Unfortunately, I can’t give you a straight answer as Pak effectively danced around my questioning like a true, seasoned comic book writer. However, I can tell you that this creation branches out from the typical mutant powered goodie bag featuring Old Man Logan, Sabretooth, Lady Deathstrike, Warpath, and Domino, to include some gifts from Totally Awesome Hulk! “That’s like a machine gun with a bazooka, some hand grenades and a bunch of knives thrown in; and then the Hulk is a nuke,” explains Pak, “He’s the strongest entity in the Marvel universe so if anyone has that power they’re a huge threat. They could wipe out all mutants.”

Now, which of Hulk’s abilities Stryker successfully melded with his freaky skin suit cyborgs remains a mystery. But, when asked what powers he would give a pro mutant operative to combat Batch H, Pak said you’d probably want something with Professor X’s mind, the ability to put people to sleep, and some kind of influence over emotion to pacify the threat.

Weapon X #6 cover by Skan

Dealing with this hodge-podge of overpowered superhumans won’t be the team’s only issue. “A key question being explored is, is the human recruit still there?” says Pak. Each cyborg starts as an average Joe, human host that Stryker recruits. And while a few arguably villainous characters on the team may be down for whatever, our usual heroes are definitely not. “They’re not murderers. They don’t want to kill anyone. So it’s very important to find out if the people are still there,” explains Pak.

“It’s chilling and it’s creepy and you’re going to want to read it,” teases Pak, “There are surprises coming, a big twist coming.” Plus, like everything else he does, there will of course be humor woven in. That includes more bickering from our favorite old married couple, Logan and Sabretooth, and more of the everyday office life characterizations Pak had a good time sneaking in. “One of the fun things in this whole series is seeing the every day life of the people in the Weapon X facility and how they deal with what they’re doing,” raves Pak, “It’s not one monolithic attitude. We get to see different ways of dealing with human atrocities,”

Get your action, horror, and office life fix on July 26 in WEAPON X #6 written by Greg Pak with art by Greg Land!

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