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!

Read More

Spidey teams with Howard the Duck, Doctor Strange, and many more, and makes a Spectacular debut!

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 his memorable history, we present Spidey’s spectacular step-by-step story!

Following a wild encounter with a certain web-footed fowl in HOWARD THE DUCK #1, Spider-Man stumbled into an even wilder adventure in MARVEL TEAM-UP #41 when he trailed the Scarlet Witch and found himself flung through time to Salem in the year 1692 where he fought alongside the Vision in MARVEL TEAM-UP #42, Doctor Doom in MARVEL TEAM-UP #43, and the mysterious Moondragon in MARVEL TEAM-UP #44.

Having wrapped up his Salem side-trip, the webslinger traveled to an alternate future in MARVEL TEAM-UP #45 to aid Killraven against Martian invaders, and to yet another divergent future to meet Deathlok in MARVEL TEAM-UP #46. When he finally landed feet-first in his own time in MARVEL TEAM-UP #47, a volcano brought him and The Thing together to battle the Basilisk in MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #17.

Marvel Team-Up (1972) #46

Marvel Team-Up (1972) #46

What is Marvel Unlimited?

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #152 revived the Shocker for a tussle with Spidey, and a returned Sandman engrained his fists on the wallcrawler’s face in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #153. Our hero shook it off to dig deep into a locked-room mystery in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #154, and attend Betty Brant and Ned Leeds’ wedding in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #155.

The dreaded Doctor Octopus popped up in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #156, but when it appeared that the ghost of his arch-rival Hammerhead haunted him in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #157, it took Spider-Man to dope out the details and discover the flat-topped thug’s out-of-phase existence in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #158. When things seemed darkest in the war between Doc Ock and Hammerhead, they blew each other up all over again in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #159.

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #159

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #159

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Spidey teamed with Iron Man in MARVEL TEAM-UP #48 to investigate a new menace called the Wraith, a conundrum that spilled over into MARVEL TEAM-UP #49, and a visit from Doctor Strange in MARVEL TEAM-UP #50. Finally, in MARVEL TEAM-UP #51, the wallcrawler saw justice done and the Wraith redeemed in a courtroom clash that made the history books.

The Terrible Tinkerer restarted the Spider-Mobile in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #160 to drive home his point to the webbed wonder. Later, Spidey swung into a tangled web with the mutant Nightcrawler in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #161, but it fell to the Punisher to really confuse the issue between the two in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #162 before the return of the Kingpin himself in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #163.

Our hero barely found time to breathe after a demon heated things up for him and Captain America in MARVEL TEAM-UP #52 and the Tarantula crawled back out from under a rock in PETER PARKER, THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #1.

Read More

After discovering their king is a Skrull impostor, the Inhumans take to the stars!

Bred by an alien race to be a warrior caste and possessing alien DNA, the Inhumans exist as humans possessed of incredible and otherworldly powers when exposed to the substance known as Terrigen. Living secretly, for the most part, among their fellow man, the Inhumans forge their own destiny as a separate society. Dig into the history of the Inhumans with these Marvel Unlimited comics in preparation for “Marvel’s Inhumans” heading to IMAX and ABC this fall! 

For some, space might represent a place of limitless wonder and opportunity, but not for the Inhumans. The species felt two major setbacks coming from the stars in 2007’s WORLD WAR HULK #1, the Green King proved his strength and rage by easily beating the Inhuman one unconscious and using his limp body as proof of his might. The next year’s ILLUMINATI #5 revealed that Black Bolt himself had been replaced by a Super Skrull. Namor killed the interloper and Iron Man delivered the body to Medusa in SECRET INVASION: INHUMANS by Joe Pokaski and Tom Raney. 

Secret Invasion: Inhumans (2008) #1

Secret Invasion: Inhumans (2008) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

That series continued by showing the Inhumans trying to deal with the revelation that their king had been replaced while a Skrull scientist experimented on Blackagar. While Attilan defended itself against an invasion of Super Skrulls, the Royal Family headed out to get their true leader back. Medusa turned to Ronan and the Kree for help, he agreed as long as Crystal married him.

Eventually reunited, the Royal Family returned to Attilan where they made peace with Maximus and announced the Kree alliance. In SECRET INVASION: WAR OF KINGS, one event gave way to another as the Inhumans took to space in Attilan itself, now a city-ship powered by Black Bolt’s voice. 

Secret Invasion: War of Kings One-Shot (2009) #1

Secret Invasion: War of Kings One-Shot (2009) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Seeing as how the Kree played with Earth genes to create the initial wave of Inhumans, the current group saw that their evolutionary prowess actually put them above the blue-skinned space cases. In other words, the Inhumans called dibs on leading the Kree Empire!

In the WAR OF KINGS six issue series, the Inhumans found themselves thrust into intergalactic politics and all the fighting that came with it thanks to a conflict with the Shi’Ar and their maniacal leader Vulcan.

The war itself ended when Black Bolt attempted to create an equal genetic foundation by releasing the Terrigen Mists into the cosmos. Instead, Vulcan showed up to kill the king. While Crystal and Lockjaw escaped, giving the former time to suppress the mist’s release, but not the massive explosion which seemingly killed Black Bolt after he blasted Vulcan with a “No.”

The Inhumans’ cosmic adventures continued in the Realm of Kings event which found various space heroes trying to stop the Cancerverse’s incursion on reality. In REALM OF KINGS: INHUMANS, Medusa carried on where her husband left off as both the leader of her people as well as the Shi’Ar. 

Realm of Kings: Inhumans (2009) #1

Realm of Kings: Inhumans (2009) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

An attack from Devos the Devastator happened to bring the Mighty Avengers back to the Inhumans, including Silent War instigator Quicksilver. He claimed that a Skrull actually committed the acts, but lied. Still, he returned the missing crystals as an act of good faith.

After THE THANOS IMPERATIVE, a far more important return took place in FF #6 when Black Bolt made a triumphant one thanks to Jonathan Hickman and Greg Tocchini. He awoke in The Fault where Lockjaw appeared to bring him back to his people. The Inhumans then responded to a summons, gave Kree control back to Ronan and returned to Earth where Black Bolt found himself a husband four more times over! For even more Hickman Inhuman action, come back next time! 

FF (2010) #6

FF (2010) #6

What is Marvel Unlimited?

THE INHUMAN CONDITION

Wondering when exactly the Skrulls nabbed Black Bolt and replaced him with one of their own? As explained in SECRET INVASION: INHUMANS #3, they got him after Secret War when Blackagar Boltagon snuck out for one of his Illuminati meetings. They feared that the replacement’s defeat at the hands of Hulk would result in the humans uncovering the invasion plot, but Medusa swung in to nurse her presumed husband back to health.

Jonathan Hickman take the Inhumans – and the rest of the Marvel Universe – to Infinity and beyond!

Read More

Lando Calrissian wasn’t always the “respectable leader” we see in the films…

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.

LANDO #1 begins just the way a limited series starring Lando Calrissian should—with the loveable scoundrel wooing a beautiful woman. In the same scene, Charles Soule elegantly provides a full understanding of Lando’s current place in the galaxy—and he’s not exactly the administrator of a profitable tibanna gas mining facility yet. Rather, he lives a life much like the one lived by his old friend Han Solo, constantly on the run. And in massive debt.

Lando (2015) #1

Lando (2015) #1

  • Published: July 08, 2015
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: January 04, 2016
  • Writer: Charles Soule
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Just as Han has Jabba the Hutt, Lando owes his fair share of credits a soft-spoken crime lord named Papa Toren, who’s got just the operation in mind for Lando to wipe that debt away. It’s a simple robbery involving the theft of a ship full of priceless art from “some rich Imperial.” By issue’s end we learn that said rich Imperial is none other than Emperor Palpatine. Oops…

As a whole, LANDO is worth your time not only for Soule’s spot-on characterization of someone we love from the films despite limited screen time, but also for “buddy film” vibe between Lando and his closest friend, Lobot. Yeah, that’s right—the silent bald guy in “The Empire Strikes Back” with a huge cybernetic implant going around his head. He’s not so silent here, asking intelligent questions in the face of Lando’s unorthodox line of thinking…but by the end of the series, we’ll learn why he’s not so chatty by the time Episode V comes around.

Read More

Speculate on what’s been stunting Groot’s growth with Gerry Duggan!

Since the start of ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, Groot’s been stuck in a small state and True Believers across the galaxy have been attempting to guess why.

Normally a giant, the talkin’ tree has been relegated to sapling status—but on September 6 that all changes with ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #9! Guest artist Mike Hawthorne joins series writer Gerry Duggan to reveal the source of Groot’s problem and where the one-line wonder goes from here.

But before issue #9 officially answers the question, we asked Gerry to give us his thoughts on a few of our reasonable (and unreasonable) theories about the cause of Groot’s perpetually-slight stature.

Marvel.com: Our first guess: there’s a unique frequency in every Electric Light Orchestra song that keeps his species from growing any biggerand he’s just danced to one too many. 

Gerry Duggan: Or fans keep breaking pieces off of him.

Marvel.com: Maybe he got in the way of one of Rocket’s mad science experiments and got blasted, poisoned, or shot into permanent-baby form. 

Gerry Duggan: Well, Groot’s not exactly a baby in All New—he’s just physically diminished. He’s banzai Groot.

Marvel.com: What if Rocket made such a snarky quip that it degraded Groot down to his current state?

Gerry Duggan: No comment is too salty for this team.

Marvel.com: Perhaps, before the start of this series, the Guardians fought some powerful cosmic gardener/Edward Scissor Hands-esque entity that wanted to trim Groot into a beautiful and delicate lawn feature. 

Gerry Duggan: That would be quite a gardener/mohel.

Uncover the mystery at last with ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #9, by Gerry Duggan and artist Mike Hawthorne, on September 6!

Read More

Mark Waid looks back upon a classic Thor/Hercules tussle from The King!

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.

A few days ago, we talked about how it can take some time to get used to an artist as dynamic and bold as Jack Kirby. By his own admission, AVENGERS writer Mark Waid didn’t take to “The King” when he first experienced some of his comics at the Distinguished Competition as a kid. If you’re wondering what made him change his mind about the artist, it came in the pages of JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #125 and THOR #126130.

“One of my all-time favorite Kirby stories is the ‘Verdict of Zeus’ epic, which I read at age 12 and was my introduction to Marvel Kirby,” Waid said. “The sheer drama in that Thor/Hercules saga, with all its grandeur and all its humanity, was an education for me.”

These issues contain many amazing moments bound to convert anyone to Camp Kirby. The first issue kicks off with a battle between Thor and a Norn Stone-enhanced Witch Doctor for several pages before shifting focus to a napping Hercules who helped move a downed tree from the train tracks.

After returning the Norn Stone to his father on Asgard, Thor attempts to tell his father that he revealed his secret identity to Jane Foster, but the elder god already knew! In his rage, Odin demands the other warriors present attack his son in “the Ritual of Steel.” The Odinson fights valiantly and earns his trip across the Rainbow Bridge back to Midgard where he finds his beloved at a soda parlor with Hercules!

Journey Into Mystery (1952) #125

Journey Into Mystery (1952) #125

What is Marvel Unlimited?

A wonderfully epic, titanic battle erupts between the two gods in the very first issue of THOR! How epic, you wonder? Well in addition to wielding enchanted uru hammers and Power Staffs, the two use trailer trucks, streets, heavy machinery, buildings, and bare fists to knock each other silly.

Hercules not only wins that battle, but also parlays the victory into a gig working on a gorgeous movie set overseen by mysterious supernatural figures disguised as humans. Meanwhile, Thor returns to Asgard where he stops an interloper from stealing Odin’s power, but nearly at the cost of his own life.

Eventually, Thor heals up, which gives him the strength to help Hercules get out of a boneheaded deal he made to become ruler of the Netherworld, thus cementing a camaraderie that continues to this day.

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.

Read More

Writer Peter David examines Kaine and Ben Reilly’s relationship!

It’s been in the air since even before issue #1, but on September 13, the animosity between Kaine and Ben Reilly reaches its boiling point in BEN REILLY: SCARLET SPIDER #7!

Written by Peter David and penciled by Will Sliney—featuring a cover by Mark Bagley—Ben and Kaine’s turbulent past forever alters their shared future in this latest chapter. To understand how these two characters reached this moment—and where Reilly may go from here—we talked to series writer David about these extremely unusual “brothers.”

Marvel.com: Prior to The Clone Conspiracy, how would you describe Ben’s attitude towards Kaineand vice versa?

Peter David: Initially, Kaine hated Ben; he felt that Ben represented everything that he, Kaine, could not have and could not be. Kaine was an earlier—and somewhat failed—attempt to clone Peter Parker, but Ben proved to be the version that got it right. So he resented the hell out of Ben for that.

I think Ben would’ve been perfectly happy to live in concert with his brother, but he constantly had to defend himself against Kaine’s plans and assaults.

Eventually, Kaine managed to grow past his hatred and morphed into someone who respected Ben—although I’m not sure that he ever really liked him.

Marvel.com: How have their respective attitudes changed in the wake of both Conspiracy and the events of issues #1-6 of BEN REILLY?

Peter David: Ben’s evil reawakened all of Kaine’s old hostility for him—but now Kaine feels that it was all justified. That’s why he’s out to kill Ben rather than simply capture him. He firmly believes that Ben has no right to exist—that there should not be an evil version of Peter Parker running around.

Marvel.com: How would you summarize each character at this point in their lives?

Peter David: Kaine believes that he’s the good guy and so does Ben. He wants to kill Ben, and Ben simply wants to survive.

Ben Reilly: Scarlet Spider (2017) #7

Ben Reilly: Scarlet Spider (2017) #7

  • Published: September 13, 2017
  • Cover Artist: Mark Bagley

Marvel.com: During the writing process, were there any specific turning points that uniquely informed who Ben and Kaine are now?

Peter David: The Clone Conspiracy, obviously—the story that revealed Ben as still alive and crystallized their personalities in relation to each other.

Marvel.com: How does Will Sliney’s approach to drawing Kaine and the Scarlet Spider aid their written characterizations? What about their individual physicalities did you accentuate to highlight their differences?

Peter David: In terms of their physicality, they are both pretty much the same guy, so they are going to move pretty similarly—except that Ben has Spider-Sense and Kaine just has superb reflexes. So that difference factors into choreographing the fight scenes.

Marvel.com: What makes issue #7 such a vital piece of Ben and Kaine’s story?

Peter David: It’s been tough to root for Ben considering how skewed his personality was after The Clone Conspiracy. That difficulty is one of this story’s core components, and we know how desperately fans want to be on Ben’s side in terms of pulling for the book’s title character. Fans know he’s still in there somewhere, and part of his journey is digging his true self up. Will he succeed? Will he fall deeper in to madness? All I’ll say is that there is no way you will get to the last page of issue #7 and not be on Ben’s side.

BEN REILLY: SCARLET SPIDER #7, by Peter David and artist Will Sliney, hits shelves on September 13!

Read More

Star Wars comics reveal how Darth Vader learned his son blew up the Death Star.

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.

We’ve all seen “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back”—and we all know that Darth Vader was aiming to capture Luke in Episode V despite not knowing his identity during the Death Star trench run. So…how did that happen? How did Vader learn that he almost gunned down his own son? Shared between both STAR WARS #6 and DARTH VADER # 6, one of the greatest moments in Star Wars comic book history reveals this crucial moment in Star Wars lore.

Darth Vader (2015) #6

Darth Vader (2015) #6

What is Marvel Unlimited?

STAR WARS #6 made headlines when it was released for revealing that Han Solo may have a wife, but the arguable bigger revelation is the one Boba Fett conveys to Vader in the issue’s final pages. The bounty hunter had learned of Luke’s identity in STAR WARS #5, and issue #6 kicks off with him encountering Luke—the rare instance of Fett’s prey successfully fleeing. The issue concludes with the revelation. Vader does not take it well…

DARTH VADER #6 ends similarly, but with a more introspective look at the news from the Dark Lord’s perspective. We see thoughts of Padme go through his mind—as well as Palpatine’s lie to him that he killed her. Then, four simple words that should pack a huge emotional wallop to fans: “I have a son.” We know what happens from there.

Read More

The King helps usher in Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and much more!

In celebration of Jack “King” Kirby’s 100th birthday, we’re reviewing the man’s legendary creations with a year-by-year examination of his unparalleled career at Marvel Comics. Read on and witness the work that made him comic book royalty.

Although he’d already knocked the socks off of comic book fans the previous year with a collection of incredible debuts, Jack Kirby teamed once again with Marvel editor and writer Stan Lee to ensure that 1963 offered up as many if not more fantastic firsts.

Perhaps supreme among that year’s debuts stood AVENGERS #1. Lee and Kirby took their biggest stars to that point—Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk, Ant-Man, and The Wasp—and brought them together in a single dream team. Kirby’s proficiency at juggling multiple characters paid off in spades in a story that gave equal time to all the heroes, plus included the villainy of Thor’s half-brother Loki just for good measure. Fans responded enthusiastically, and the creative duo notched their belts with another hit on their hands.

Not content with just one new team of super heroes, Jack designed another set to be launched not as guest-stars or back-ups in another title, but in a book of their own right out of the starting gate. X-MEN #1 introduced teen champions with a little “x-tra” going for them: mutant powers. The mysterious Professor X brought in Cyclops, Beast, Angel, Iceman, and Marvel Girl to battle Lee and Kirby’s newest criminal creation, Magneto, and the world of comics would never be the same again.

Jack, a veteran of combat in World War II, found much to dig into when he helped kick off a new war series called SGT. FURY AND HIS HOWLING COMMANDOS in 1963. Just like with  their super hero teams, Kirby and Lee endowed the platoon of soldiers and their commander who populated the book with duffel bags full of personality, and their stories with all the action and pathos Marvel fans began to demand.

Over in the world of the Fantastic Four, the duo’s superstars from the year before received their very first Annual issue, an immense tome illustrated solely by Jack. The volume included a sprawling battle between the FF and the Sub-Mariner, several pages of pinups of the foursome’s fearsome foes, and an expansion of the scuffle between our heroes and Spider-Man from the webslinger’s first issue of his own new title—all this for a mere 25 cents cover price.

In their regular book, Marvel’s first family enjoyed Jack’s art for the very first crossover story from the House of Ideas, the Hulk-FF clash in FANTASTIC FOUR #12, the debut of The Watcher and his exotic moon base in FANTASTIC FOUR #13, and the Super-Skrull’s arrival in FANTASTIC FOUR #18. All these amazing new characters benefited from Kirby’s sense of design and wonder, cementing their role in the ever-growing Marvel Universe.

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.

Read More

Writer Robbie Thompson summons a retrospective look as the series powers to a close!

Even magic has its limits.

On September 13, the Sorcerers will have to accept that reality in DOCTOR STRANGE AND THE SORCERERS SUPREME #12, as writer Robbie Thompson and artist Nathan Stockman conjure up an intense conclusion for the supernatural crew.

As he dusted off his magic artifacts for the last time, we caught up with Robbie to ask about his stellar work on the book—and what’s still to come.

Marvel.com: As we reach the end, how are you feeling about the DOCTOR STRANGE AND THE SORCERERS SUPREME series as a whole?

Robbie Thompson: I’m feeling sad! This book was so much fun to work on—Editor Nick Lowe assembled a murderer’s row of all-star talent and I learned a ton on this book. Every collaborator has brought their A-game on every page.

But I also feel satisfied, and thanks again to Nick for that, too. We had time to wrap the story up the way we wanted to—with a satisfying conclusion to the story we set out to tell.

Marvel.com: How does the art for that last issue look? What was the artistic collaboration like over the course of the whole title?

Robbie Thompson: Thanks to Nate Stockman, [artist] Jim Campbell, and [letterer] Joe Caramagna, the last issue of the series looks stunning.

I’m so happy with how this book turned out—it’s been bittersweet, but also fun, to see the pages, colors, and lettering on this final issue. We decided to do something different for this one, inspired by FANTASTIC FOUR #252, by having this final issue be horizontal. It made for some fun and crazy layouts from Nate—and helped keep us on our toes right to the end of the run.

Marvel.com: As you wrote the characters, did any surprises emerge throughout the run? How would you characterize their emotional journeys over the course of the bookespecially Strange’s?

Robbie Thompson: I think the character that surprised me the most was Mindful One. We knew going in that Sir Isaac Newton was going to turn on the group—and that some characters would leave sooner rather than later—but I wasn’t expecting Mindful to be such an emotional character. His friendship with Kushala came out of the way that Javier Rodriguez drew them both, and based on that, we would all pitch moments for Mindful in each issue and he started to grow as a character. It was cool to see him become more of an emotional part of the team.

As for the rest of the team, typically, Sorcerers Supreme work alone—not with other Supremes. But because of the time travel, we had a chance for each of them to see that they were a part of a much larger story than they knew, which made for some emotional moments, especially for Doctor Strange. He gets to talk to someone in issue #11 that I wasn’t initially planning on him even meeting when we first set out to tell this story. But because this is a time travel story, we had the unique opportunity to say something a little more emotional in that exchange. And because we’re talking about Sorcerers Supreme throughout time, including Stephen Strange’s mentor Yao, we had a chance to have Strange see his own legacy—to have him understand the impact he’s had on magic and history.

Marvel.com: I’m sure you’ve had a few favorite moments over the course of the series. Looking back, which ones stand out?

Robbie Thompson: For me, the moments I love looking back on are where the collaborative nature of the story shined through; a moment where Nick or Editor Darren Shan had a great fix for a story or character beat, a moment where Javier Rodriguez took a page and completely made it his own, getting to watch Nate Stockman create his versions of future X-Men battling in Dublin, getting to watch colorist Jordie Bellaire take a two-page spread and work her magic.

Then there’s our letterer, Joe Caramagna—he’d come up with the perfect creation every time. Comics work best when everyone contributes, and I think the book’s best moments came from when everyone pitched in and brought their own spin to the story being told.

Marvel.com: How did it feel to sit down and write the final issue? How did it feel to finish the script?

Robbie Thompson: To be honest, I kept putting it off! We were ahead because I started writing out of order to help the schedule, so I just kept dragging my feet! I wrote a draft of the last script, which wasn’t bad or anything, but when Javier handed in his cover for the last issue, I threw my work in the trash. The image Javier sent in was so inspiring that I had to rewrite what I had—and it made for a much, much better ending. So I’m glad I waited and dragged my feet, because I like this ending much more than what I originally wrote.

Marvel.com: What can fans expect in the last issue?

Robbie Thompson: When readers see who shows up at the end of issue #11, they’ll want to see how this all ends in #12. It pays off something we set up all the way back in the first story. Again, Nick was awesome about giving us time to wind everything down the way we wanted—we’ve been able to wrap up every detail.

Witness the mystical end with DOCTOR STRANGE AND THE SORCERERS SUPREME #12, by Robbie Thompson and artist Nathan Stockman, on September 13!

Read More