Writer David Walker gets into the head of the original Hero for Hire!

Can’t get enough Luke Cage? The man with unbreakable skin heads down south to the bayou in his own self-titled solo series starting May 17.

Hot off his run on POWER MAN AND IRON FIST, writer David F. Walker teams with artist Nelson Blake II to take a deeper look into the toughened Hero for Hire as he revisits his past in the form of the scientist who gave him his powers.

But not everything remains as Luke remembers it, according to Walker, who spoke with us about his old school influences for this comic, using super hero action to its fullest potential, and the significance of tax season on Luke’s story.

Marvel.com: When thinking about writing your take of Luke Cage did you go back to the drawing board so-to-speak? What parts of his origin did you consider most important when crafting the story?

David F. Walker: That’s a good question. I mean, the most well-known version of his origin is, I think, the most important. The fact that there’s a guy who’s in prison for a crime he didn’t commit and then he got experimented on while he was in prison and it’s that basic nuts and bolts of it. And obviously that story itself hasn’t been told nearly as many times as Peter Parker getting bit by the radioactive spider or Bruce Banner being exposed to gamma rays, but now, with the Netflix show, his origin has become more ingrained in the public consciousness, but there’s so many details that you can fill in because it hasn’t been told a thousand times, over and over again. And so yeah, it’s that very basic nuts and bolts that I’m playing with and that I draw from and then I just start building upon that.

Marvel.com: How did you want to tell his origin story in a way that caught up newcomers to the character while keeping it fresh for longtime fans?

David F. Walker: Stuff like this has become trickier now with films and TV because someone will watch all [13] episodes of the show on Netflix or they’ll watch a movie and suddenly they’re an expert in the character, even though that character may have been around for 40 or 50 years and then you have the hardcore fans and you have the new fans or the new readers who might not be familiar in either capacity so it’s about trying to find that balance and for me, that balance lies really in the core of his character and making his personality interesting enough that people will engage with him, you know? Like if there’s people who are upset that he’s not wearing the metal headband—and it’s a headband, it’s not a tiara—then [they] didn’t really like the character. It’s like when people argue over “Who’s the best James Bond?” Is it Sean Connery? Is it Daniel Craig? Is it…most people don’t say Roger Moore, but it’s like, well, James Bond is James Bond and it’s not so much the actor who’s playing him as it’s the stories in the movies themselves. And so, it’s always about playing with that character and making sure that there’s enough to that character, to his personality that, whether someone is a long term fan going back 40 years, whether it’s someone who discovered him during NEW AVENGERS very recently, whether it’s someone who only knows him from the show—you take all of those into consideration, you throw em’ into a big pot, you make a stew, but you add just the right spices so that the flavor works for as many people as possible. But for some people, they’ll go, “Oh, there’s too much pepper” or “There’s too much salt” or whatever it is and those are the people you just kinda go, “Huh, well we tried! Maybe next issue!”

Marvel.com: Luke was very much a product of his time when he first debuted back in the early ‘70s at the height of the Blaxploitation era. Will we be getting some of these groovy old school vibes in your series?

David F. Walker: Yeah there’s some—I tried to play with some of that with POWER MAN AND IRON FIST. [There have been] a couple of interviews over the years with different creators, including, I seem to recall reading something about Archie Goodwin and what his influences were with creating Luke Cage and to me, what’s interesting is that I’m a huge Blaxploitation fan. Honestly, you’re not gonna find anyone who’s a bigger Blaxploitation fan than me; I’ve written a book about it and I made a documentary about it and I’ve given college lectures on it. I know more about that than I know about comics, actually and so the interesting [thing] to me is that Luke Cage is actually more a product of the writing of Chester Himes whose work predates Blaxploitation by 10-20 years and I’ve read enough Chester Himes that when I’m going back and re-reading the early issues of [LUKE CAGE, HERO FOR HIRE] from the ‘70s, [I say], “Oh yeah, this is total Chester Himes more than anything out of Blaxploitation” because Chester Himes created this very stylized and surreal world that almost looked like the real world, but it wasn’t like the real world and so you go back to one of the driving ideologies behind Marvel is, “The world right outside your window,” but it really isn’t the world right outside your window, right? That’s what Chester Himes did in his writing and to me, it’s so clear and it’s so obvious and in Chester Himes books, “Blind Man with a Pistol” and “A Rage in Harlem” and “For Love of Imabelle” and books like that—and his “Harlem Detective” series—they’re this weird mix of hardboiled noir thrillers and just also a dash of the surreal and comedy. That’s really what I wanted to go for with LUKE CAGE and sure, there’s some Blaxploitation elements in it.

Marvel.com: You’ve gone on record as saying the Netflix series was one of your influences for this comic. What elements of this version of Luke’s story, in terms of the show, really caught your attention?

David F. Walker: Well, the thing I like about the Netflix show a lot was that it went a long way to humanize Luke and I give all credit to the writers and the producers of that show. The original LUKE CAGE comics read like they were written by a white man who had very little experience or relationships with black folks, it’s a fact. And the thing about the TV show, as I was watching it, there were scenes where I was like, “Yeah, yeah a black person wrote this scene” or “It was written by a white person who has spent every waking moment of their life with black people” [Laughs]. And so there was obviously a huge element of the fantastic and there’s a lot of “over-the-topness” to the show and there was aspects of the show that were very much entrenched in the super hero tropes, but there’s a humanity to Luke Cage on the TV show, but honestly he didn’t start getting [humanized] in comics until sometime around the time he showed up in ALIAS or NEW AVENGERS and that’s the biggest influence that the show’s had on me and what a lot of people don’t realize is that we were developing the POWER MAN AND IRON FIST comic series before the Netflix show debuted; the Netflix show debuted October 2016 and by that point I think we were like maybe six or seven issues into our run on the comic and there was no back and forth between us and the show so how I developed that character for POWER MAN AND IRON FIST, a lot of it was just obvious like “It’s obvious!” like [show runner] Cheo Hodari Coker and the rest of the writing staff [for the TV show] had read the same books I’d read and watched the same movies I’d watched and listened to the same music that I listen to and there was a very serendipitous amount of coincidences in how that version of the character turned out and how the comic book of that character turned out and so when I saw the show, more than anything, it validated a lot of the beliefs and a lot of what I was pushing for with the comic and with the character in that [I said], “Yeah, this is gonna work, we can show him this way and that he shouldn’t be a guy who’s just about getting into fist fights” because as much as I love those original books from the ‘70s, every issue it’s, Oh, here’s in a fist fight with a D-level villain that hardly anybody knows or a Z-level villain [Laughs] specific to his world and that’s [how] we [got] like Cockroach Hamilton and Piranha Jones and people like that.

Marvel.com: You also said you want to show a Luke who’s not punching the stuffing out of people all the time. Can you talk a little more about that?

David F. Walker: Yeah, I mean I’m just old, you know? [Laughs] I grew up watching action movies before Michael Bay movies were considered action movies. So to me, an action movie is like something from the ‘70s like “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three,” the original version from 1974, or even “The French Connection” or “Bullit,” going back to the ‘60s. These are movies that I grew up on, that I love and if you were to sit down and clock out the number of minutes that are actual car chases and fights, they’re fairly brief. If you had a two-hour movie, there might’ve been 15 minutes of hardcore action whereas now, you watch a movie like “John Wick,” which I love, don’t get me wrong, but it’s mostly action and I’m more of a story guy so to me, when I read a comic, I don’t need to see, whether it’s Spider-Man or Daredevil or Hulk, I don’t need any of these characters fighting for six and seven pages out of an issue that’s only 20 pages of content. With the exception of, I’m thinking of one or two action sequences that really stand out in my mind—I’m in my late forties, so I’ve been reading comics for over 40 years and the one action sequence that stands out in my mind more than any other is [DAREDEVIL #181] where Bullseye kills Elektra. That’s the most powerful action sequence and that stands out in my mind, but when I think of all the other moments that stand out in my mind in the history of comics with all the comics that I’ve read, absolutely none of them are action moments, they’re all character-defining moments. There’s the issue of FANTASTIC FOUR where Sue Storm is pregnant and she loses the baby. There’s the trial of Galactus. A lot of that stuff was really compelling and I think for a lot of us, we think of super heroes when we think of men or women in these weird suits beating the crap out of each other and that’s cool for a little bit, but even with the movies, some of the best moments in the movies aren’t the action. And so to me, it’s like I know my dream comic would actually be boring because I’ve written my dream comic and reading over it I was like, “Well this is boring” and that was just some character sitting around talking, but it is tough, finding that balance, that right ratio of action to moving the story forward and a fight doesn’t necessarily move the story forward. Mayhem and destruction does not move the story forward.

Marvel.com: The first issue of this ongoing series revolves around the death of the scientist who helped give Luke his unbreakable skin, Doctor Noah Burstein. How does Luke feel about revisiting his past? 

David F. Walker: Obviously it’s a difficult time for him because he’s resisting his past while mourning this person who was really pivotal to him, but the story’s also about him realizing that his past isn’t exactly what he thought it was and that he isn’t exactly who he thought he was. He isn’t who he thinks he is and Burstein isn’t who [Luke] thought he was. It’s playing with the notions of what happens when, as an adult, you start to see your parents in a very different way, you start to look at them through the eyes of an adult, as opposed to the eyes of a child, which is how you saw them growing up and so it’s playing with that in a much more exaggerated, super heroic sort of way, but it’s like that moment you first get a bill from the IRS and you’re like, “Oh, this is what my mom was always freaking out about every March and April. Now I get it! Now that I’m paying the taxes I understand.” It’s all that sort of stuff; it’s what it’s like the first time that you go grocery shopping on your own with your own money or the first time you get a pay check and you look and you see how much the taxes have been taken out—I’m going back to taxes because it’s tax time right now and that’s part of what this is about for me. It’s really [Luke] looking at his own past through the eyes of an adult as an adult. What so many of us do is look at our past and we get caught up in the nostalgia. There’s no nostalgia. This is Luke having his nostalgia ripped away from him.

Marvel.com: And how does changing the setting from New York to New Orleans change that dynamic of who he is and what he does fighting or otherwise?

David F. Walker: It just puts him in a really uncomfortable, foreign environment where he doesn’t know anybody and he doesn’t necessarily know who to turn to. If I had set the story in New York, the moment something bad goes down, he can get on the phone and he can call his wife [Jessica Jones] or he can call Iron Fist or he can call Spider-Man or Daredevil or, you know, he was a member of the Avengers [Laughs], but you put him in a place that’s completely foreign to him and it throws his game off. One of my favorite movies of all time is a movie called “The Third Man,” directed by Carol Reed based on a book by Graham Greene and it’s all about a guy who’s completely out of his element and then on top of that, there’s something sinister going on and so, he shows up in Vienna for one reason and everything goes wrong and there’s nowhere to turn and even where he turns he doesn’t know, can I trust this person? Can I trust this person? I would have to say that my two single biggest influences in this first story arc of LUKE CAGE is “The Third Man” followed closely by Robert Altman’s “The Long Goodbye,” which is an adaptation of a Raymond Chandler novel so it’s really “The Third Man” and “The Long Goodbye,” those two movies, I watch them regularly anyway, and I was like, “Ok, I love the themes that they’re playing with,” the past is not exactly [as] we remember and people aren’t exactly who we think they are and if the past isn’t exactly how we remember it, then the people that we care about aren’t exactly who we think they are, then what does that say about who we are?

Marvel.com: How will this solo Luke differ from the one you portrayed in your POWER MAN AND IRON FIST run?

David F. Walker: After 17 issues of stories [with] him teamed with Iron Fist, which [had] a lot of serious stuff, but was also very light-hearted I was like, “Well, you did that. Now let’s try something different” and [Marvel] Editorial was in agreement with me and we talked about it and it was like, I don’t wanna be known as the guy who only wrote Luke Cage stories that were a little more comedic and light-hearted; I wanted to explore something different and I knew going in that what I wanted to explore with this character wasn’t gonna lend itself to a lot of the humor that we had in POWER MAN AND IRON FIST.

Marvel.com: I can’t wait to read the first issue next month!

David F. Walker: Yeah. Less than a month…I just saw a bunch of the art for issue #2 and yeah, it’s comin’ together. I’m having a fun time writing it and I hope people enjoy it. You give it your all and to me, the greatest part of writing comics is the moment you see what you’ve written translated into art. There’s nothing better than that and if that’s all I had to do, I would actually be the happiest guy in the world [Laughs].

David Walker and Nelson Blake II revisit the past and forge the future in LUKE CAGE #1 on May 17!

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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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Peter Parker picks allies like Ironheart with help from Chip Zdarsky!

There’s no place like home and for Peter Parker, that’s New York City. Thanks to writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Adam Kubert, Spider-Man’s back in town, but he can’t just put his feet up and relax; it’s the city that never sleeps after all.

As if a tech-crime ring didn’t provide enough of a challenge, Spidey will also be facing an unlikely foe in issue #2 of PETER PARKER: SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN—Riri Williams, aka Ironheart! Why would two such heroes spar with one another instead of joining forces? Luckily, you won’t have to wait for the next edition of the Daily Bugle to get the inside scoop because we already spoke with Chip about pairing up these characters for the first time in Marvel history.

Marvel.com: Peter is already facing threats from both villains and heroes, the latter being in the form of Ironheart in PETER PARKER: SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #2 on July 19. Why is she beating up on Spider-Man and more to the point, what’s driving her in this series?

Chip Zdarsky: I don’t want to spoil anything, but Riri has information Peter needs as he unravels a mystery. Unfortunately, his interrogation tactics leave a lot to be desired. So right now what’s driving her is Spider-Man: Threat or menace?

Marvel.com: I’m getting a buddy cop comedy vibe of two do-gooders with similar end games who don’t initially see eye-to-eye. Not to mention that Peter just got back to New York. What’s going through his head and how will the two complement one another once they get past their differences?

Chip Zdarsky: The beauty of writing Spider-Man is that every team-up is like a buddy cop comedy! Riri’s in a situation reminiscent of a teenaged Peter: a young super hero tech genius dealing with the loss of loved ones. But, unlike Peter, she has a maturity to her that he may still be lacking, at least superficially. I think he’s super pleased with this new batch of teen heroes, as it kind of symbolizes his position as well, not as one of the wise elders of the Marvel [Universe], but at least somewhat of an authority figure.

Peter Parker: Spectacular Spider-Man #2 cover by Adam Kubert

Marvel.com: What was it like being able to introduce these characters for the first time?

Chip Zdarsky: Great! You only get to introduce characters like these once, so I’m really happy I got to do it before [INVINCIBLE IRON MAN writer Brian Michael] Bendis did.

Marvel.com: Riri is a fairly new face to the Marvel Universe while Spidey’s been around for a while. Do you explore this dichotomy between them either literally or sub-texually?

Chip Zdarsky: A bit, yeah. Peter’s been doing this for a while so there are some things he’s forgotten about being a new hero. And it’s true that there’s over a half century gap between their first appearances, but in terms of the Marvel Universe it’s just over a dozen years, so it’s not like Spidey is ancient!

Marvel.com: How will Peter’s repartee with Ironheart be different from with Iron Man? Any jokes in particular that we should expect?

Chip Zdarsky: Luckily we also have Tony’s A.I. in the mix, so we can see how the three of them interact! Spidey can be an acquired taste for some heroes, and A.I. Tony’s had some artificial time to acquire it.

Marvel.com: How will Riri’s involvement in issue #2 set the stage for future guest appearances by other heroes?

Chip Zdarsky: Issue #2 definitely sets the stage for a whole host of heroes and villains. Things are going to get pretty complicated for Spidey really soon.

Web-swing your way into excitement with PETER PARKER: SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #2 from Chip Zdarsky and Adam Kubert, coming July 19!

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A key player from the original trilogy gets his own comic spotlight!

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: X-Wing Rogue Squadron (1995) #1

Star Wars: X-Wing Rogue Squadron (1995) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

If you ask someone to name every character who appeared in all of the first three Star Wars films, you’ll probably be answered with Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca, the droids, and Darth Vader—maybe Obi-Wan, if Force ghosts count. You know you’re talking to real fans if they also reference Wedge Antilles, who emerged as a fan favorite for his understated but key roles in the Battle of Hoth and his attacks on both Death Stars.

In fact, as Wedge himself states in STAR WARS: X-WING ROGUE SQUADRON #1—the 1995 comic that dared to feature a rather unfamiliar face as the sole character on its cover—“General Calrissian usually gets the credit, but I dropped a [proton] torpedo on the coaxial when I split, and I think that was the straw that broke the Death Star’s back.” He actually said “photon torpedo”—writer Michael A. Stackpole must have been in a Star Trek state of mind when he wrote this.

After “Return of the Jedi,” Luke bequeathed leadership of Rogue Squadron to Wedge, and beginning in the months following that film, the X-WING ROGUE SQUADRON series follows the team’s adventures. In addition to seeing Wedge as a leading man, it also shines light on characters fans really only knew as names in battles beforehand, if at all; we learn much more about these guys than “good shot, Janson!”…like the fact that Janson’s first name is Wes. Meanwhile, characters like Tycho Celchu didn’t even regist names in the films, but we get their back stories and a better sense of the camaraderie that exists in Star Wars’ most iconic military unit.

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Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale plumb the depths of Peter Parker’s sadness!

Celebrate the Wall Crawler’s return to the big screen in “Spider-Man: Homecoming” by heading back to school with these adventures available on Marvel Unlimited!

The death of Gwen Stacy might almost seem like a curious footnote to readers today. Sure, she’s popped up from time to time in recent years, usually as a clone in an effort to play with Spider-Man’s head, but beyond that, decades’ worth of readers saw Peter Parker with other women. However, Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale captured exactly what Gwen meant to Peter in the pages of SPIDER-MAN: BLUE. The six-issue limited series released in 2002 revolved around Spidey’s alter ego talking to his lost love about their time together through a tape recorder.

In the first issue we saw Spider-Man quietly leave a rose on top of the George Washington Bridge. To the recorder he said, “It’s about remembering someone who was so important to me I was going to spend the rest of my life with her. I didn’t know that meant she would only get to spend the rest of her life with me.” Peter then jumped around, recounting how a battle with The Green Goblin—who knew his secret identity at the time—seemed to leave Norman Osborn with amnesia. Not long after, Harry Osborn asked Parker to room with him.

As Peter and Gwen became friendlier, a shadowy individual began manipulating the villainous likes of Rhino, Vulture, Lizard, and others. That paled in comparison, though, to our hero feeling pulled between two awesome women in his life who both seemed interested in him: Gwen and the newly introduced Mary Jane Watson. Not only does SPIDER-MAN: BLUE capture much of the feel of these original stories from the 70s, but it also distills much of the action for readers who might not be inclined to jump into the ongoing adventures of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN from that time.

Spider-Man: Blue (2002) #1

Spider-Man: Blue (2002) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Meanwhile, Loeb and Sale also capture that thrill of youth that comes with breaking out in the world for the first time. Peter’s still in school at this point, but he’s moving away from home and hanging out with people that seem to really like him. Not bad for a kid described as a “professional wallflower” in his first appearance.

Of course, since we all know how that Peter/Gwen story ends, it makes it all the more heartbreaking to see how it began and really started to flourish. Spider-Man would deal with the trauma of losing his first love and learn to put himself out there again, but he’d never forget how Gwen Stacy changed his life.

A Tangled Web

The real Gwen Stacy returned recently in the pages of THE CLONE CONSPIRACY written by Dan Slott. In the first issue of that series, Spider-Man ran into his former girlfriend while fighting Rhino and Electro at a New U facility. In a back-up story, we flashed back to the day Green Goblin snatched Stacy from Peter’s apartment and took her to that ill-fated bridge. This tale revealed Gwen as conscious during Spider-Man’s confrontation with the masked Osborn. As they fought, she learned the Wall Crawler’s true name and felt betrayed because of his presumed involvement in her father’s death. After her fall, she awoke in a lab run by Ben Reilly in his Jackal disguise and learned that she had been reanimated from her existing DNA complete with memories along with her father. She agreed to work with Reilly in building New U.

Another important woman in Peter Parker’s life takes her turn next time as we look at SPIDER-MAN LOVES MARY JANE.

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HYDRA forces our resident therapist to profile Miles Morales!

To begin with, I must renew my objections to this report. What is happening here is very nearly coercion and while this is not an ethical violation or illegal judging by current laws, statutes, or professional codes, it also does not feel necessary or oriented towards some kind of good outcome. While it has been made clear to me that my opinion on this matter has little weight, I nonetheless strongly urge this report be destroyed without review and that this practice end here and now.

Additionally estimating factors like future dangerousness, which is similar to what you are asking, are impossible without direct meetings with the subject. In other words, the information presented below is literally guesswork and may be more muddling than helpful.

The subject in questions is one of two individuals who identifies as Spider-Man and operates as a costumed crime fighter. This particular Spider-Man wears the black costume with red web markings.

The subject presents as male and, given his size and body type, is most likely a teenager. This matches the scant information provided to this writer by your organization, so I do expect it is accurate.

In the past several months, he has worked with the Avengers, the teen pacifist and recently discredited team known as the Champions, and on his own. He has engaged in a variety of conflicts including stopping so-called street level crime, super villain crime, and interceded in civil right issues in foreign nations. From this, it seems likely the subject tends towards idealism. It is possible, as well, that he may be amoral and just seeking conflict because of some desire for violence, but this would be highly unusual.

The subject does seem to have a preference towards teams and partnerships while acting as a super hero. This may indicate that he is seeking a stability in his “career” that he is not finding at home. There may be a variety of reasons for this including absentee or abusive parents, an inability to share his secret with his family, or a recent major loss in the family. Of course, it could also mean the subject has an excellent support system in his non-costumed life and therefore is drawn to similar situations while costumed.

To speak directly to the question at hand: does this writer think the subject is capable of the murder of Steve Rogers? I do not believe he is. Physically, it does seem possible; the client obviously possesses incredible strength and agility and reports indicate he might have some kind of ability to short circuit other’s abilities for a small window of time.

Psychologically, however, it seems unlikely. The subject has no recorded instances of using lethal force at any point, no matter the danger of the situation or the state of his physical being in that moment. The subject has not sought out conflicts in any active way—for instance, as The Punisher has been known to do—and has even, at times, attempted to defuse situations before turning to violence even when initially engaged violently by someone else. Finally, all his known alliances have been with vigilantes who else do not employ lethal force, limiting the potential for him to have a sudden change of heart.

Therefore, I would suggest HYDRA’s obsession with the subject—who, I stress, is most likely an adolescent—is unnecessary and ill-informed.

I have heard some individuals suggest that whatever report I deliver here is not to be trusted given my strenuous objections to doing it at all so I would also suggest reviewing Doctors Nick Spencer and Leinil Francis Yu’s report on Spider-Man. It is available on July 26 in the file marked SECRET EMPIRE #7.

Psy D. Candidate Tim Stevens is a Staff Therapist who has never worn HYDRA green and never will.

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Danny Rand’s island adventure comes to a brutal end!

While July 4 usually marks the height of fireworks in the United States, IRON FIST #5 will have plenty more ready for you the next day.

Danny Rand, tired but resilient, will complete his violent journey to the top of the Liu-Shi fighting tournament and finally come face to face with the shadowy final opponent who has been watching him from afar all this time. While we wouldn’t dare spoil the results, we can promise the clash will be explosive.

Writer Ed Brisson gladly took a break from cleaning all the blood off of his clothes to talk to us about the end of the Immortal Weapon’s latest martial arts contest.

Marvel.com: At the start of IRON FIST, Danny found himself losing his chi. As he pulls into this final fight, he has been awarded the chi of his fallen opponents. How has that affected his abilities? His state of mind?

Ed Brisson: At first, I think it came as a bit of relief to him. He’s finally able to tap back into his power; however, as we learn through the series, it’s fleeting. The chi he absorbs is not the same and doesn’t last, so, in a lot of ways, he’s back to square one. He’s still trying to find out why he has trouble connecting with his chi. Until he knows why, he has no idea how to fix it.

He came to Liu-Shi looking for answers and while he may find some, he’s discovered new questions that he’ll need to answer.

Marvel.com: The final opponent has made an effort to keep him or herself largely in the shadows. Without spoiling anything, what can you tell us about this mysterious foe?

Ed Brisson: Oh man…I want to, but that’s one of those things that I think is better left for the reader to discover. Let’s just say that this fight is a fight that’s been in the making since the 70s.

Marvel.com: How did Mike Perkins’ art help you realize the tone and look of the final boss? How did his depiction of the character inform your writing of him and of the fight?

Ed Brisson: Going in, we had a very clear idea of who the final boss was; there’s an existing history to him that we’re building upon. Design wise, Mike came up with an incredible look for him. Something classic that doesn’t look dated. I can’t get too deep into it without risk of spoiling things, but will say that Mike nailed the design. Which is no surprise, Mike has designed some incredible characters for this series.

Iron Fist #5 cover by Jeff Dekal

In terms of Mike’s fights and choreography—after seeing the very first fight scene in issue #2, I stopped scripting fight scenes for Mike. When we get to a fight page, I’ll usually give a bare-bones run down of what happens and leave the rest to Mike. Normally, I don’t write that way, but have found that with Mike, the best thing to do is get out of his way and let him work his magic. That’s how you end up with some pages that have 22 panels of the most killer fighting you’ve ever seen in a comic.

Marvel.com: It has been clear since issue #2 that the houses of the island have no intention of playing fair with Iron Fist. Now that he stands one antagonist away from total victory, how dangerous are the schools to him even though he’s defeated their champions?

Ed Brisson: Although the island operates under one governing council, each house/school has a very distinct personality and will react to the loss in their own way. Some of the houses will accept the loss gracefully. Others, not as much. And some…well, some will not accept loss at any cost.

The long term of this is that we’re going to see Danny making pathways with new allies, while also adding a whole slew of enemies to his already bursting fight dance card.

Even though Danny may soon be done with the Liu-Shi, that doesn’t mean that Liu-Shi is done with him.

Marvel.com: In considering this last issue of your first arc on the title, what would you tell fans who think they might want to pick it up but aren’t sure? What makes this issue an important get for fans of Iron Fist?

Ed Brisson: Anyone who’s a fan of kung fu flicks should pick up the series. We’re leaning hard into that old Shaw Bros feel and I think that a lot of people have been pretty happy with it. We’re really doing our best to honor Iron Fist’s roots by telling a tale that feels classic, but also contemporary all at once.

Marvel.com: In looking beyond #5, can you tease any elements or stories that may await Danny if he can survive this last fight?

Ed Brisson: In issues #6 and #7, Danny is just trying to get back home. There’ll be some unfinished business and the tournament will have some lasting repercussions that Danny is going to have to deal with for the foreseeable future. But, in the meantime, he’s trying to get back home and…well, some folks are trying to stop him from doing even that. We’ll meet some new baddies, which I’m pretty excited about. But, I think readers will be happy to see Shang-Chi, Marvel’s other Kung Fu Master, popping up to help Danny fight against this new threat.

Catch the thrilling conclusion to the first arc of IRON FIST by Ed Brisson and Mike Perkins with July 5’s issue #5!

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Margaret Stohl talks Chitauri and the true power of Carol Danvers!

Margaret Stohl, writer of MIGHTY CAPTAIN MARVEL, has a lot to contend with in the upcoming issue #7, coming July 26! Soldier, leader, and self-appointed protector of Earth Carol Danvers has been facing a limitless, relentless wave of opposition in the Chitauri alien fleet—not to mention being walled off from her home planet due to an impenetrable force field erected by the traitorous Captain America.

Stohl talked to us about what it’s like writing Carol’s raw, reborn humanity in the face of planetary extinction, betrayal, grief—and hope.

Marvel.com: You’ve written Carol for a little while, now. How has she evolved in your time writing her and where might she be going in the future?

Margaret Stohl: I started with Carol right after CIVIL WAR II and that was a rough time for her as she transitioned out of making a lot of really difficult decisions. A lot of her readers weren’t very pleased with her and I think she has to own up to a lot of what she’d lost in that past year, which was [a lot of friends and loved ones]. It was a big tumultuous year leading into the first arc I had on Carol [and] I think she was working out a lot of the repercussions from that level of conflict.

Now with SECRET EMPIRE she’s got a Chitauri attack in space and it’s sort of Carol doing what Carol does best, which is be a leader, take on incredible odds, and fight for what she believes in. But also just fight—I mean, she is a soldier. One of the reasons I was excited to work on Captain Marvel is that I’m a big fan of space, but also military history and combat. I love putting Carol in real combat scenarios and seeing her act like the real soldier she is. Marvel doesn’t do that very often [and] has a very broad approach to heroics, so it’s been very interesting seeing her tap into the actual [military] captain side of her. I actually get a lot of mail from veterans, and veteran women in particular, who are sort of an underrepresented group.

[As for] where Carol is headed, there will be a mini-event called Generations where she’ll re-team with the original Captain Mar-Vell. That will be a return to her roots and an exploration of her origins so I’m pretty excited about that.

Marvel.com: The Chitauri attack is really all falling down on Carol more than anyone else. What is going on with her in this chaos of the waves of attack?

Margaret Stohl: It takes a lot to take someone like Carol out. She’s having to come back from something that basically nobody else could come back from. That’s the position she’s in, [having to think] “how can I get back to save Earth?” and also “what’s gonna be left of Earth by the time I get back there?” The stakes are pretty high right now, even by Marvel Universe standards.

Mighty Captain Marvel #7 cover by Elizabeth Torque

Marvel.com: And what of the Steve Rogers of it all, namely his betrayal and the toll that puts on Carol?

Margaret Stohl: Well, it’s an extinction mission [and Steve] has meant for them to die. That is a brutal calculation that he’s made because he’s not himself, he’s a different version of himself. So she’s kind of a raw open wound, [because] she’s the other captain besides Steve Rogers, right? So she sees him as a direct referendum on what she’s doing as a hero and if Steve Rogers could disappoint everyone like that, then what does that actually mean for any of them? He was part of the bedrock. So it’s definitely been a rough arc for her. She’s got one foot in space and one foot on Earth. I think you’ll definitely see her increasingly more involved with Earth heroes as this wraps up and she does get to come back down to Earth. I mean, I say this all the time, but when people get upset that Cap is Hydra, I just say that there’s more than one captain there and as he falls she rises. It becomes up to her, now, to do the job for both of them which she does.

Marvel.com: That you’d mention Steve Rogers as a counterpart is so interesting because, for me, SECRET EMPIRE is very much a story of the two captains. They’re the ones that weave this big arc together. It was almost like before they went point on Earth and the galaxy but, with Steve gone, she’s now having to shoulder that whole burden of everything.

Margaret Stohl: That’s certainly how it feels. I mean, I’m drawn to powerful women [characters] and she is definitely one of the most powerful—literally—that I’ve worked with! Carol never doesn’t rise to the call no matter what the personal price is for her, and that’s something I respect so much about her and frankly I recognize with so many of the women I know. We do hard things, we shoulder the burdens people won’t shoulder, and we make the world work. I see that in Carol and I see that in the women around me. I really relate to it and I admire it. Carol Danvers is a very powerful, very flawed character who struggles just as all of her readers do and I think that’s part of what makes her so special. I like that model being out there and I think it’s a great time for women super heroes.

[Writing Captain Marvel] is definitely more significant than any of the other characters I’ve worked with, and I think that’s why people work with Marvel because that is ground zero in culture wars. It’s world-changing for so many girls now and that’s what we’re here to do as female creators—what I’m here to do, and it’s an honor.

Enlist with Carol and company as Margaret Stohl and Michele Bandini bring us MIGHTY CAPTAIN MARVEL #7 on July 26!

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Thanos artist Germán Peralta reveals the God Quarry in exclusive pages!

They say that no one’s ever returned from the God Quarry. Then again, no one like the Mad Titan has descended into the pit before!

To see exactly how this plays out, you’ll have to pick up THANOS #9 on July 26. The story, by writer Jeff Lemire and artist Germán Peralta, marks the duo’s third issue together on the title, but they seem to be hitting it off quite well as they continue to chronicle their protagonist’s solo adventures in space.

We talked with Peralta about capturing the complexity of his title character, working with Lemire, and building the God Quarry!

Marvel.com: Given Thanos’ status as a cosmic level villain, do you approach him any differently than you might a more straight-forward hero?

Germán Peralta: Thanos is one of my favorite characters in the Marvel Universe. I drew a lot of fan art about him. I like his aesthetic as much as his personality. When I found out I was going to draw him, I started to imagine how to put my “touch” on him without leaving aside the great work Mike Deodato did in the previous issues.

The approach I use to draw a villain of these characteristics is very different from a super hero. I can play a lot with his expressions without the fear of making him look funny or grotesque, either with his face or his body language. In fact, I’ve always been more interested in the villains. I believe they’re the ones who make a hero, heroic. In this case, Jeff Lemire did excellent work with Thanos’ personality, giving him a different twist to his character, but never losing sight of who he really is. Having the chance to be a part of this character’s story is a real pleasure.

Marvel.com: Thanos is such a complicated figure. From a physicality perspective, what are the key elements that really define him?

Germán Peralta: I think that the thing that makes the Mad Titan interesting is the dichotomy between his hunger for power and the emptiness inside him. It’s like he always wanted to fill that emptiness with power but it’s never enough. It’s interesting how inside him coexists the madness and the calmness, the furious strength with the absolute intelligence. He could have everything but he always wants more and he never gets it00but he’ll destroy everything in its way to get it.

Marvel.com: This issue finds Thanos heading into the God Quarry, what can you tell us about that very intriguing location?

Germán Peralta: I really enjoyed that conclusion when I read the script. This is a place of desolation, where it doesn’t matter how powerful you are, you have absolutely no chance against the power who reigns there. It doesn’t matter your size, your strength, how important you are in the history of the universe, you’re going to feel like a scared puppy in there, surrounded by those colossi who couldn’t do anything to save themselves from being trapped between those walls and from that pit.

Marvel.com: What was the design process like for the God Quarry?

Germán Peralta: I knew this was going to be an important place in the next issues but I also imagined this was an important place for Jeff too, since he created it in his mind and I didn’t want to ruin that. I consider it really important to work alongside the writer because every page is created by both of us. And the fact of knowing what Jeff had in his mind when he imagined this scenario was as important to me as what I had at the moment of doing the sketches.

Luckily, we both had a similar image in our minds; I based my design on a mine pit but without the necessary levels to go back up. It’s a hole with unknown depth because the only thing you can see are more and more petrified bodies. It was very important for me to emphasize the lack of hope against this power; that the ones who fell there, even Thanos, think, “What do I have that they didn’t to not finish as they finished?” There are some references to see the magnitude of the beings who are, or rather who were, really powerful.

Marvel.com: How has it been working with Jeff on this series so far? Since he’s an artist as well, does that change how you two might discuss a scene?

Germán Peralta: I can’t complain about the writers I [have] worked with. Jeff is a great writer and also a great artist. Saying that, he’s someone who could say something in the creative process or about the designs every time, however he gives me a lot freedom when I draw. Everything is clear in his scripts, it’s all there, but even then, he is open if I make some changes. I believe that mutual trust between the writer and the artist is essential to make a better project.

Enter the God Quarry along with the Mad Titan, Jeff Lemire, and Germán Peralta on July 26 when THANOS #9 debuts!

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