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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Celebrating the contributions of a key member of the original Marvel bullpen!

Marvel Comics salutes “Fabulous” Florence “Flo” Steinberg, one of the first two full-time employees of Marvel in the 1960s and an all-important figure in building the vast fan community the House of Ideas has enjoyed since its beginnings.

Born near Boston, Steinberg grew up with a mother and father who made sure she attended college, graduating from UMass Amherst in 1960. After some time with New England Telephone and Ted Kennedy’s first Senatorial campaign, she pulled up stakes and moved to New York City where she would quickly take her place in the history of Marvel Comics.

As Stan Lee’s secretary, Flo assumed the task of taking care of the ever increasing piles of fan mail and Marvel Merry Marching Society memberships. Although the company began to grow with some speed, she remained in charge of this for five years, crafting Marvel’s unique connection to its fans and—to hear freelancers tell it—creating a welcome atmosphere for all who came through the offices in person.

After five years, Fabulous Flo found herself ready to move on. While initially taking a brief detour to work in fossil fuels, Steinberg quickly re-entered the comics industry, working with Warren Publishing before coming back to New York City in 1975 to publish one of the cornerstones in the history of independent comics: Big Apple Comix.

Finally, in the 90s, Steinberg returned to where it all began—albeit at a different address. Gone were the days of the two-person office; Marvel had expanded exponentially in the years since she helped spark the revolution that made it one of the largest comic publishers in the United States. As a proofreader, “Fabulous Flo” remained with the company for the rest of her life, helping not only with what unfolded on the pages of Marvel Comics but, once again, brightening the days of those around her. She established a unique and profound connection with every member of the Marvel staff fortunate enough to encounter her, in particular the growing ranks of women working in the industry.

While the likes of Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and more may have been responsible for the unique sensibilities on display within the pages of the House of Ideas’ books, Steinberg helped solidify the community that those comics inspired in its readers. With San Diego Comic-Con unfolding at this moment, it takes little imagination to draw a straight line from her attitude and commitment in those early days to the vast network of comic book fans that gather at conventions and online to talk about their love of the characters and stories of Marvel Comics.

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The House of Ideas says goodbye to one of its most beloved members.

Statement from Marvel:

“We are incredibly saddened to hear of Flo Steinberg’s passing and send our deepest condolences to her friends and family. Flo has always been the heart of Marvel and a legend in her own right. She will be forever missed and always loved by all of us here at Marvel.”

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

True Believers, it’s time for a brand new episode of This Week in Marvel, the official Marvel podcast! We’re one episode away from our milestone 300th episode – can you believe it!

For those of you who aren’t at San Diego Comic-Con, and for those of you who are, catch all things Marvel happening here at www.marvel.com/SDCC2017 or Marvel’s YouTube channel.

Now, onto this episode — Alex and Cam are back at home base making sure you get the scoop on all of this week’s hottest comics including SECRET EMPIRE, ASTONISHING X-MEN, INVINCIBLE IRON MAN, and tons more! A lot can happen in a week, so head on over to the West Coast, where Ryan, Marc and Christine give you the rundown on what’s happening in the world of movies, TV and games, including what they saw last week at D23 and what they’ve seen so far at SDCC. We close everything out with your questions and comments!

Download episode #299 of This Week in Marvel from Marvel.com, check out Marvel Podcast Centralgrab the TWiM RSS feed and subscribe to This Week in Marvel on iTunes, so you never miss an episode! We are now also on Soundcloud! Head over now to our new hub to listen to the full run of This Week in Marvel!

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

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1924-2017

Marvel Comics salutes late artist Sam Glanzman, whose impeccable eye for authentic detail and fine storytelling brought to life stories for several companies and enriched comics from the Golden Age to the modern industry.

Inspired by two older brothers who tackled the comics business, Glanzman dove into their world in 1939 and after just a few short years he’d created indelible characters such as Fly-Man for Harvey Comics, as well as illustrated many other titles. When World War II broke out, he proudly served in the U.S. Navy, but took a detour after war’s end to work at different jobs. Comics remained in his blood, though, and by 1950 he’d returned to not only the industry but also the publishing arena in children’s books.

Charlton Comics published Glanzman’s first war stories in the late 1950s, a genre that would blossom into a subject he’d become known for. The artist also made a mark in the 1960s with a Hercules series for Charlton, one that he poured many of his fine art visions into and drafted into a book a cut above the rest. DC Comics later brought him onboard to shore up their own war comics line and he stayed with the company throughout the 1970s.

In the halls of Marvel Comics, Glanzman produced a stunning work called “A Sailor’s Story” in 1986 for MARVEL GRAPHIC NOVEL #30. The tale followed his own Navy career during the war and became so popular that the artist offered up a sequel, A SAILOR’S STORY: WINDS, DREAMS, AND DRAGONS.

He continued to work in the industry throughout the 1990s and into the new millennium with both webcomics and traditional projects. Glanzman also saw reprints of many of his past works from the different companies he’d drawn for.

Legendary artist Walt Simonson counts himself among the man’s admirers and sees him as a unique voice in comics over the decades since their birth.

“Sam Glanzmann was an artist who brought his signature style to everything he did,” he says. “His work was easily recognizable. Grounded in his experience, Sam drew worlds full of authenticity, in which violence was neither overstated nor sugarcoated, and the drama was always clearly presented. Although all his work was honest, he was a sailor and his stories of the sea had the tang of salt air about them and a truth that made them moving and deeply felt.”

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Speaking from the stage included Kevin Smith, Clark Gregg, Chadwick Boseman, and more.

Stan Lee became the latest Star to receive the exclusive honor of being cemented in the Iconic Forecourt at the Famous TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX (the former Grauman’s Chinese) since 1927. Take a look at the gallery above!

“Stan Lee gave us the heroes that fueled our imagination and aspirations” said Kevin Smith, Filmmaker, Actor, Writer, Comedian and Stan Lee Fan.

”Now, WE, the fans, are coming together to give this permanent monument and tribute to the man that gave us so much.”

Stan Lee, the chief creative force behind the rise of Marvel Comics, brought to life some of the world’s most famous heroes and infamous villains, including Spider-Man, The Hulk, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Thor, Daredevil, Dr. Strange, The Avengers, Loki, and Dr. Doom. His stories featured heroes and villains that were more psychologically complex than had ever been seen previously.

According to his autobiography, Excelsior, “Lee put the human in the superhuman.”

A huge supporter of fandom throughout his career, Lee was immediately drawn to Legion M’s unique model as the first fan-owned entertainment company, and has been supportive since its launch in 2016. Legion M organizing and rallying fans, celebrities, companies and anyone who has been positively impacted by Stan’s creative contributions to pay this heartfelt, historic and overdue tribute to one of the greatest storytellers of our time.

As a producer, writer, editor, publisher, actor, host and executive, and idol to many, Stan ‘the Man’ Lee has exerted his influence over the entire entertainment industry leaving an indelible mark on the comic book industry having created or co-created 90% of Marvel’s most recognized comic characters. These creations have spawned books, films, television series, video games, web series, Broadway shows and more offering a lifeline of box office success to the entertainment industry, toy industry.

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The pro football player stops by Marvel HQ to talk about comics and more!

Pro football player Martellus Bennett stops by Marvel HQ to talk comics, his favorite super heroes and much more!

Download episode #296.5 of This Week in Marvel from Marvel.com, check out Marvel Podcast Central, grab the TWiM RSS feed and subscribe to This Week in Marvel on iTunes or Soundcloud! Head over now to our new hub to listen to the full run of This Week in Marvel including our latest episode!

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

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Writer Brian Michael Bendis takes Riri Williams into the Marvel Legacy event!

Writer Brian Michael Bendis normally needs no introduction, but we’re going to make the attempt anyway.

He’s the man who this fall will take INVINCIBLE IRON MAN into the Marvel Legacy event and set the Iron Man Universe on its iron-plated ear. With Tony Stark gone, seemingly disappeared, he’s the only guy who can see Riri Williams through the next massive phase of her, and a few other important characters, development.

Marvel.com: Brian, in general, why is it important for you to highlight the concept of legacy in the Marvel Universe?

Brian Michael Bendis: Well, two things happened when Marvel started playing with this idea for the fall, and [when I heard] the theme, I just started smiling ear to ear, because it’s literally about what all my books are about at the moment. It’s just where I was at in my head. Number one, because some of the characters that I’m writing are legacy characters, they’re actually starting in someone else’s legacy and we’ll see where they end up, in great Marvel tradition. But right now, Miles Morales and Riri are two of the most spotlighted characters in this arena, and it’s just a great opportunity to zero in on what the book has been about.

Now for Iron Man, it’s not just Tony Stark’s legacy. It’s Riri Williams’ legacy, Victor Von Doom’s legacy, and Tony Stark’s legacy. It’s not just a normal person’s legacy; it’s wide, and it’s got a lot of tentacles…not to be too Hydra with the tentacles. But his reach, and the reach of his legacy, from the Avengers to the Stark Foundation, is enormous. So we’re going to get to explore some things about Tony, and about the Iron Man Universe that we haven’t seen before, and it just so happens that we’ve spent the last year and a half building up to this, like this is where I was headed.

Now, what’s cool is, all three of the main Iron Man characters will be joined by other Iron Man characters, looking for what has happened to Tony Stark. If we’re going to get Tony Stark back, what form will that be in? And how cool will the armor be? Now, there are other characters in the Iron Man universe that I’m not mentioning right now, big characters. Amanda, MJ, Friday, Tony A.I., huge characters, a lot going on and a lot of connections to the Marvel Universe, all of which will be detailed and unfolded within the storyline that starts with INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #593.

Marvel.com: How cool is it to go back to the original numbering?

Brian Michael Bendis: You know, when the very fun choice to go back to our original numbering came about, quite a few titles, IRON MAN in particular, are right there at a big anniversary issue. So we’re headed, very quickly, towards a gigantic IRON MAN #600, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Marvel.com; When this Marvel Legacy storyline starts, has Tony’s condition changed at all?

Brian Michael Bendis: Tony’s situation has changed. And that’ll be teased in the Marvel Legacy one-shot by Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic, and then I think our INVINCIBLE IRON MAN issue comes out like right after that, and you can dive right in: big, brand new, very reader-friendly Iron Man storyline.

Marvel.com: Of the big Iron Man characters that you’ve mentioned, who would you say will be most moved by Tony’s disappearance?

Brian Michael Bendis: All of them for different reasons, but I have to say, Victor is in the most unusual situation. What Riri is going through, people will identify as “Oh, I’ve looked up to someone.” This relationship is very relatable, in a way. Like, I’ve had mentors in my life, people who I was trying to figure out without directly talking to them, you know what I mean? Trying to figure out stuff about myself through their humanity. Whereas Victor is on just about the biggest, most complicated redemption story…one of the biggest villains in the history of all fiction is trying to claw himself out of the hole. How much he’s been able to do is amazing. But, the enemy list he has created in doing so is enormous, and it’s not just from this dimension. So, his involvement in Tony Stark’s legacy may become, at one point, such a struggle, that he may destroy it. And something new has to be created, or he makes a sacrifice that brings up something new as well. What’s going on with Victor is probably the most unique thing going on story-wise at Marvel.

Marvel.com: Let’s talk about Riri again. What can you say about her further development going into this storyline? Is this going to be, to date, the ultimate challenge for her?

Brian Michael Bendis: Yes.

Marvel.com: Okay! You heard it here first! Next question!

Brian Michael Bendis: Yeah, listen; we’re just eight issues into her run! The amount of attention she’s garnered from fans in just eight issues is amazing. Compared to seven years ago with Miles, and I know the whole market was different, but it took a while, until the end of the second storyline, for people to really go “Oh okay, he didn’t [bleep] it up.” So, I’ve been quite flattered, to the point of becoming emotional, about how unbelievable the support of Riri has been. There was this young woman online that has been making her own Riri armor and her dad keeps tweeting it. Literally every time we put it out, there are like 60,000 retweets and likes, it’s crazy. It’s insane.

Marvel.com: Good crazy.

Brian Michael Bendis: The best. So, the point is, Riri is at the larva state of her super hero career. She has literally gone out, I think, five times by the time that this Tony storyline starts up again. She’s had some big wins; she’s had some defeating losses. Something crazy happens in the next issue of INVINCIBLE IRON MAN that I don’t want to spoil, but people are gonna be like “What?!” We don’t know what form her version of super heroing will take, she’s still building it. We don’t know what form her technology will take. So, of all the characters, there’s a good chance—and I’m pretty much telling you it is—that she’s going to evolve past the Iron Man construct to something else, and I think that’s pretty exciting.

I look at her like imitating the amazing style of an amazing artist. Like Bill Sienkiewicz is the best example. Very early in his career, he was highly referenced and influence by Neal Adams, and Neil Adams is a very difficult thing to imitate, right? Very difficult. And he did it, and you were like “Wow, you’re an amazing artist, you can do Neil Adams!” right? That’s how I look at Riri right now. She’s amazing. She can do Tony Stark pretty good, but, like Bill Sienkiewicz, will she evolve so far past it that people won’t even remember that she was Iron Man Universe-related? You know, is she capable? And again, you can bring up many other examples in music and television and film where the influence is there, and then they don’t need it anymore, then something else happens. And that’s where Riri’s headed in the next year.

Marvel.com: You’ve got her, you have Victor, you have some other strong personalities in there. Would you characterize what’s going to happen as a violent clash?

Brian Michael Bendis: No. It’s a philosophical [clash], and I’ve already got Riri and Victor’s first meeting out of the way in INFAMOUS IRON MAN, because everybody assumes they were gonna beat each other up. And when you get there, and Victor doesn’t want to fight, there’s no fight. You can hit him all you want, he’s not gonna fight back, and Victor’s not mad at her, and Victor’s not in a crazy, manic state that he usually, or sometimes, is in. He’s calmed down. So, when she shows up in his life, this is a brilliant young woman that he can relate to, and this isn’t someone that he’d wanna fight.

Also, he’s very aware of what it feels like to be in her position, at the beginning of your studies, not even knowing what you don’t know. That’s one of my favorite things, finding something out. Oh, I didn’t even know I didn’t know that, you know? And I know, he’ll get really excited for other people discovering things. So this is the Victor we’re dealing with right now. Not the whole mad genius. Now, does he want to turn her into the whole mad genius? Who knows? And also, may I say, Riri is at a very precarious stage. She’s had a world with nothing but loss and confusion in it. Intelligent characters- intelligent people- in this world we live in right now, find themselves very frustrated. Unintelligent leadership, and science not being the forefront of the society; you can read about it all the time, this is not something that I’m making up. Intelligent children sometimes shut down because they’re like “Whoa boy, this… everything’s weird.” So that’s part of Riri’s development.

Marvel.com: Is she easily influenced?

Brian Michael Bendis: No, not easily influenced. [And] it’s not stubbornness; I don’t see it that way, but I have a person in my life who decides things before they absolutely know them. And sometimes they’re right, because their confidence and intelligence is very strong, and sometimes it’s “Oh no, I was wrong.” But their guess, their instinct is very good, right? So that’s part of where she is. So her instincts [leads to her] calling it like she sees it. Like she sees bull and calls it, and then finds herself in the middle of it.

I have a storyline going right now where she’s right in the middle of terrorist actions in Liberia and S.H.I.E.L.D being S.H.I.E.L.D, she doesn’t buy into any of it. So she’s kind of just making up her own place in it, and it’s throwing off all of the ways that people do things. Maybe in a good way, maybe in a bad way, but she’s gonna have some mistakes she makes, big, big mistakes. But there’s something really brassy and confident about the way she handles things, and that is something Victor is going to be able to talk to her on. He will be able to communicate his philosophies through that idea.

Marvel.com: So far, it doesn’t sound like the tone of INVINCIBLE IRON MAN will change with the advent of Marvel Legacy.

Brian Michael Bendis: Oh no, no. First of all, what Stefano Caselli has accomplished with Riri this year is so amazing that he sometimes gets mislabeled as the creator of the character, even though it’s Mike Deodato who co-created the character. But that’s how strong Stefano’s voice is, and how connected to the action with the character he is, it’s just amazing.

But with him in mind, just doing unbelievable work, that’s the tone of the series. That’s Riri’s worldview, her perspective…you know, we’re so often in her perspective. I know people are very curious where she is in certain spectrums—that’s been a question that people have had. She’s clearly outside of what would be considered normal, on a couple of different things. I think that’s a celebratory thing. I’m surrounded by people in different places in different spectrums, and without diving headfirst into what that is and what that means, we’re gonna explore that as well. And I think a lot of younger readers identify with that, much in the way they identified with the original Peter Parker and his struggles, I really do.

Marvel.com: When you talk about her being brassy, do you think that’s really what people are responding to, or one of the main things?

Brian Michael Bendis: It’s funny that the panels that pop up in my tumblr or Twitter feed always kind of let me know. There’s like, six or seven panels that I see every day, that people go “Yes!” or “I’m scared for her.” It’s a mixture of that, [and] it’s really cute. And I’ll get all “I’m scared for her, too!” Like they’re scared for her, and yeah, I am, too and I wrote it! I’m really scared for her.

Marvel.com: You also have something to say about MIT and Riri?

Brian Michael Bendis: I’m going to be speaking at MIT in November. I was invited by them to come speak about comics and culture. And what was amazing was that we had Riri come to MIT. It was a campus I did a lot of research on for a project that was unrelated to Marvel, an HBO thing that didn’t happen, but I had so much feeling about this place, I loved it, and I said I was definitely gonna have a character there one day. And then years later, it was like “The coolest place we can have Riri live is the MIT dorms!” So when I started putting this in, little did I know, that MIT had completely embraced this character.

They created this amazing admissions video. It was actually pretty hilarious. So in November, at MIT, we’re gonna make a pretty major announcement about Riri. So people that are invested in her, people who are supporting her, there is big stuff coming with her. MIT’s a very unique place for a character in her first year to be so well-received, not unlike what Kamala Khan and Moon Girl experienced.

It’s hard to describe to people, because no one was asking for them. That’s what I love about the Legacy characters. Nobody said “I want Miles,” or “I want Riri,” but then they got them and they were like “Thank you.” And that was the best feeling in the world.

Marvel.com: It sounds like you’re still digging this job. Has your own outlook changed on INVINCIBLE IRON MAN as you’ve gone along?

Brian Michael Bendis: No, what happens is, and this is one of the great things about a higher profile gig, is no matter what you’re writing about, you start your research and whatever you’re doing, and then people find out you’re writing about them or writing about something they know, or whatever, like the young woman who’s making her Ironheart armor in her garage. You reach out and they inspire and they share their stories.

There was a friend of mine who has a brilliant young daughter who is literally obsessed with Mae Jameson. That’s real and honest and I have to use that. There’s a scene where you see young Riri trying to get her teacher to give her something to push back against because she feels that that’s what made Mae Jameson great, right? And I know some people said, “Oh, is she asking for…?” and I was like “No, she’s trying to live up to her hero,” without realizing that her hero made it easier for her, and that’s a big lesson for her too.

Every day it’s something new, new people share their experiences, people inspire me to keep going. I can’t wait to get to MIT, I’m literally gonna go live in the dorm, live in Riri’s world, so I’m so excited. And on top this, yes, back to Marvel Legacy. Yes, these legacy characters mean the world to me. I’m very invested in them and I’m very invested in how much the audience has supported it and what we’re gonna do now. And I know when people hear “The Return of the Heroes,” they worry about the new hotnesses. You do not have to. To fans, so you know: you have made it so Riri, Miles, and Jessica Jones can sustain their own titles. It’s insane, right? So, we will never ignore that.

Marvel.com: Last question—do you miss Tony?

Brian Michael Bendis: Oh, no. ‘Cause I got Tony A.I. the whole time, which is uber-Tony, so any great Tony joke I can think of, this guy will do it.

It’s funny: Tony is the itch I never had to scratch. Literally from the moment I came in to Marvel, I’ve been writing Tony in some book. And I never did it on purpose…and everyone’s always focused on how I’m always writing Kitty Pryde in every book. But Tony made it into every book—every book had Tony Stark in it. Totally by accident! You look back and you go, “Oh, that’s funny. Even in the Guardians of the Galaxy, too.”

I never wrote a book without Tony. My love for him is obviously as strong as it can get for a creator and a character that they didn’t create.

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1940-2017

Marvel Comics pauses to reflect upon the life and career of a true American original, filmmaker and writer George A. Romero, and man who worked his way up from humble beginnings to become the leading creator of an entire pop culture movement.

Romero’s love for classic cinema took root in him at an early age and never let go. With respect and admiration for the great screenwriters, directors, and actors of more than one age of cinema, he took the reins of his own productions and at the tender age of 27 directed, produced and co-wrote an independent film that modernized the idea of the “living dead,” “Night of the Living Dead.” Released in 1968 and filmed in black-and-white with friends standing in for zombies, perhaps no one stood more surprised than Romero himself when it became the first of a cottage industry.

More films followed, but the dead continued to loom large in Romero’s visions. He sequelized his 1968 hit with 1978’s “Dawn of the Dead” and 1985’s “Day of the Dead.” His movies not only offered thrills and chills aplenty, but also sharp satirical commentary on the human condition and the evils the living perpetrate on themselves. Numerous projects flowed from Romero’s pen and lens, and he found himself eager to stretch out into other mediums, including video games, stage plays, and books.

Marvel Comics came calling in 2014 to partner with Romero on EMPIRE OF THE DEAD, a unique trilogy of limited series that sprawled over 15 issues featuring not only zombies but vampires, too. The three series featured art by Alex Maleev, Dalibor Talajic, and Andra Mutti.

Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso worked closely with the director on the comic project. “In creating the ‘Zombie Apocalypse,’ George A. Romero provided the ultimate metaphor for mankind’s inevitable fate and the perfect creative Petri dish to examine the depths of human nature,” he says. “It was an honor to help him tell a chapter of his saga.”

George Romero’s rebel spirit led to the breaking down of storytelling traditions to bring underlying ideas in the human psyche to modern audiences with a fresh take. He’ll be remembered for his passion for his projects, and for the art of tale-telling, something that seemed to come quite naturally for him.

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Jack Kirby and Stan Lee join Carrie FIsher, Mark Hamill, Oprah Winfrey and more as Disney Legends.

Every two years, at the biennial D23 Expo, The Walt Disney Company honors the most remarkable contributors to the Disney legacy, recognizing them as official Disney Legends. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Disney Legends Awards. The first Disney Legend was Fred MacMurray (The Shaggy Dog, The Absent-Minded Professor, The Happiest Millionaire), who was honored in 1987. Today Disney proudly announced the names of the nine gifted individuals who will be joining past Disney Legends such as Julie Andrews, George Lucas, Alan Menken, Dick Van Dyke, Barbara Walters and Robin Williams.

Founding fathers of the Marvel Universe Jack Kirby and Stan Lee were honored this past weekend along with the following honorees of this year’s Legends Award: Carrie Fisher, Clyde “Gerry” Geronimi, Manuel Gonzales, Mark Hamill, Garry Marshall, Julie Taymor, and Oprah Winfrey.

Pioneering comic creator Jack Kirby, known as “the King,” created new characters who leapt from the page and defined the Marvel comic style. His son, Neal, represented his late father, and said he “didn’t create super heroes or super humans. He created super people.” Neal accepted the Disney Legends Award at the D23 Expo on his father’s behalf. Watch the video above.

Stan Lee was honored for his remarkable accomplishments over his enduring career with a Disney Legends Award at D23 Expo in Anaheim, CA. Watch Stan accept his Legends Award below.

A visibly moved Stan Lee shared with the crowd how much it meant to him to save up to buy the book The Art of Walt Disney. He explained, “I loved Walt Disney. He was more than a man, he was an inspiration. He was something to reach for, to be like him. To think that today I’m standing here in the house that Disney built, that paid tribute to Jack [Kirby] and all things Disney—it is so thrilling, I can’t tell you.”

For more information about the Disney Legends and D23 Expo, visit D23expo.com.

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