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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Meet the men who preceded T’Challa and Shuri as protectors of Wakanda!

If there’s one perk to the job of being The Black Panther that T’Challa, king of Wakanda may value most, it’s not the wealth, its not the technology, and it’s not the special panther abilities—it’s access to all those who held the post before him.

That’s right: centuries worth of Black Panthers stand ready to advise and inspire T’Challa, Shuri, or whoever wears the mantle from the Great Beyond, and they’ll really need them in May 24’s BLACK PANTHER #14 when Wakanda’s stirred up again and danger’s on the wind. Who might answer the call this time? Let’s look at a few of the former heroes to mull over the possibilities.


T’Chaka

T’Challa’s father and the Black Panther immediately before him, T’Chaka rose to prominence when he lent his aid to none other than Captain America and Nick Fury in a battle with The Red Skull. T’Chaka continued his fight after the war and up until his murder at the hands of Klaw, when the criminal attempted to seize precious vibranium metal from Wakanda.

Check Out: FANTASTIC FOUR #53, CAPTAIN AMERICA/BLACK PANTHER: FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS #1-4


Azzari

Known as “The Wise,” T’Chaka’s father wore the mantle of the Black Panther during World War II and kept the small country neutral during the global conflict, despite helping Captain America against Nazis. Azzari’s renown also included the ability to fight with many weapons.

Check Out: BLACK PANTHER #1, CAPTAIN AMERICA/BLACK PANTHER: FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS #1-4

Chanda

King of Wakanda during World War II, Chanda welcomed Ulysses Klaue to Wakanda, unaware of the man’s Nazi ties and the evil eye he set upon the nation’s stores of vibranium. When Klaue dealt his hand, he lost it to Chanda in a fight, an event that set him upon the path to becoming the super villain Klaw. Chanda’s also known for his attempt to elevate the Panther Spirit as a god, a situation that didn’t go well for him.

Check Out: FANTASTIC FOUR UNLIMITED #1


Bashenga

The grand-daddy of all Black Panthers and an ancestor of T’Challa, Bashenga’s wisdom and fearless nature set in motion the legacy of the chieftains of Wakanda and their eternal guardianship of the nation’s vibranium mound. In the centuries that followed his life and rule, a special spear named in his honor became an invaluable weapon to all Wakandan kings.

Check Out: BLACK PANTHER #7, FANTASTIC FOUR #609

T’Challa seeks the aid of his ancestors in BLACK PANTHER #14 by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Wilfredo Torre on May 24!

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We pay tribute to the beauty of nature with the Flora Colossus!

Arbor Day. A day to appreciate the beauty in nature and to plant as many trees as possible so that we can continue breathing.

Mark Marvel as no stranger to the wonder of trees; in fact we have a whole loveable hero dedicated to this wonderment! We all know and love Groot, and in celebration of Arbor Day, we want to share with you some amazing moments from his comic book history that will have you planting trees all day long, hoping for your own little Flora Colossus.

Tales to Astonish (1959) #13

Tales to Astonish (1959) #13

What is Marvel Unlimited?
Monarch X (TALES TO ASTONISH #13)

What’s the first thing you think of when you think of Groot? Fun? Cuddly? Best friend? Well, boy do we have a surprise for you. The first appearance of Groot from the Atlas days of Marvel Comics proves the exact opposite. This self-proclaimed “Monarch” of Planet X, comes to take a village back to his planet to perform experiments on. A heroic villager challenges this menacing, talking Groot. In response, the extraterrestrial shows his true power and creates an army of nightmarish walking trees!

Groot (2015) #5

Groot (2015) #5

  • Published: October 07, 2015
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: April 04, 2016
  • Rating: Rated T
  • Writer: Jeff Loveness
  • Cover Artist: Declan Shalvey
What is Marvel Unlimited?
You won’t like him when he’s angry. (GROOT #5)

Just like the Incredible Hulk, it’s probably not a good idea to cross Groot. During an adventure with his best pal Rocket, baby Groot gets “handed” a solar grenade, blasting him with a hyper dose of concentrated solar energy, transforming the cute creature into a monstrous, oversized mega beast. This Groot goes on a rampage taking out a ton of baddies. Eventually Rocket calms him down, brings him back to normal size, and they share a great moment in their victory.

Yggdroot (SECRET WARS #8)

During the Battle in Doomstadt, Black Swan confronts Peter Quill in Doctor Doom’s throne room, which just happens to be below the tree of life “Yggdrasil.” Backed into a corner, Star-Lord drops just a splinter into Yggrasil, which engulfs it entirely, transforming it into a colossal Groot that destroys the castle from the inside out.

Guardians of the Galaxy (2015) #16

Guardians of the Galaxy (2015) #16

What rhymes with “Groot”? (GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #16)

In this recent issue, we see the lighter side of our cosmic woodland friend when he and his partner in crime, Rocket, have a nice day in Central Park. Unfortunately, things turn quickly when The Armadillo springs from the ground and launches Groot’s best bud through the air. Our hero springs into action—literally—and fights him off. Things take a turn for the worse when the NYPD surround Groot thinking him the monster. A little boy comes to his rescue, joined by the entire crowd at the park, who defend Groot and showing their gratitude for him rescuing them. The comic ends the way it started, with Groot and his best bud—now joined by the little boy—hanging out in the park. By the way, did we mention the entire story rhymes?


Symbi-groot
(GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #2122)

You thought Venom seemed scary with the fury of a trained U.S Army man underneath it? Well how would you feel if a talking tree that can thrash Thanos took on the symbiote? When Flash Thompson as Venom joins the Guardians as a representative of the Avengers, prolonged time in space seems to do some strange things to the symbiote making it too difficult to control. The alien suit goes rouge and attacks Gamora out of nowhere. The team subdues it and get Flash to safety, for the time being. Back at the base, Rocket tries to make a more stable holding cell for the monstrous menace, but the ravaging symbiote breaks out of its tiny cell and attaches to Groot causing the loveable space tree to morph into a powerfully savage hybrid.  This turns a friendly catchphrase sour when he belts out “I am Venom” while giving his team a serious beating.

Rocket Raccoon & Groot (2016) #5

Rocket Raccoon & Groot (2016) #5

What is Marvel Unlimited?
Groot the God (ROCKET RACCOON AND GROOT #5)

Rocket and Groot take a tropical day off at the beach relaxing and sipping some cocktails until its rudely interrupted by Gunhild of the Elmhold clan. She takes the pair back to her majesty only to discover that the king believes Groot to be a God. More specifically the very god that the clan gets its namesake from. Groot is then whisked away to be cleaned and pampered so that he can be sacrificed in an active volcano! Learning of this horrible fate, Rocket teams up with his capturer to free Groot.  During their escape, Groot sprouts a wing suit, of sorts, made of branches and leaves, and propels away with Rocket accidentally drops an atomic bomb in the volcano. The last we see of our heroes: Rocket and Groot back in the ocean with a cocktail.

Groot’s Sacrifice (ANNIHILATION CONQUEST: STAR-LORD #2)

Before the Guardians of the Galaxy, they were a rag-tag team put together to do some damage against the nasty Phalanx. When they storm a production facility creating a techno-virus, they run into some fearsome machines that cause them to retreat. However, the bad guys start to overrun the team, until the mighty monarch of Planet X steps in with his enormous stature to give the crew some time to escape. He sacrifices himself by staying behind to take out as many machines as possible in a death befitting a King.

Little Seed, Big Deed (GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: TOMORROW’S AVENGERS)

On a far away, un-named planet, a young woman named D’Vorak minds her own business, working her family farm. Preoccupied with thoughts of wars in the stars, she almost steps on a tiny Groot. Not knowing what she just plucked from the ground, she quickly plants him in soil and gives him water until interrupted by a gang of thugs called the Tribbitites. They start roughing up her family and threaten to kill her brother until a gigantic Groot steps in from out of nowhere and hammers down on the jerks. D’Vorak, ever grateful, reminisces about her previous thoughts on the galaxy, this time giving a hopeful look up into the stars.


Howling Groot
(NICK FURY’S HOWLING COMMANDOS #6)

Shifting back to the “original” monstrous Groot from 1963, this intellectual monarch grows to a colossal size to carry a team of the Howling Commandos to battle including Clone of Frankenstein, Gorilla-Man, Zombie, Living Mummy, and more, while majestic unicorns gallop past them. The group leads with an all-out attack against Merlin and his minions causing the sorcerer to retreat.


Two sides to every Groot
(GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY ANNUAL #1)

They say there are two sides to every coin, well what about Groot. In this tale, we get to see just that.  Captain Marvel starts it off by sending a video to folks at home on Earth. We get some hilarious moments as some of the Guardians interrupt including a nosey Groot. This gets disrupted further when a portal opens up revealing the Helicarrier and Nick Fury. Eventually, all hell breaks loose as members of S.H.I.E.L.D team up with Guardians of the Galaxy to fight a Skrull invasion. Groot and the rest of the team fight in outer space and crush their enemies with terrifying power. After the end of the battle, Captain Marvel goes back to give her tear-jerking video message to her family, where we get to see that other side of Groot in a sweet moment comforting her.

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Robbie Thompson and Javier Rodriguez craft a new foe for Doctor Strange and friends!

First, The Forgotten bedeviled them. Then, Newton betrayed them. But those threats pale in comparison to The Author, the baddie briefly revealed at the end of DOCTOR STRANGE AND THE SORCERERS SUPREME #7, set to fully tear onto the scene in May 24’s issue #8.

While searching for shelter from what could very well be the end of the world we came across series writer Robbie Thompson and artist Javier Rodriguez who kindly took a break from chanting incantations to tell us all about this horrifying new antagonist.

Marvel.com: Issue #8 brings the Supremes and Newton face to face with a bloody baddie who goes by The Author. What can you tell us about this deadly new danger?

Robbie Thompson: The Author is the source of the power that brought our Sorcerers together back in issue #1. This creature wrote “The Word of God,” which followers of The Forgotten used to wield unlimited power. No spoilers, but in issue #8, we’ll learn who The Author really is, and more importantly, where he comes from…

Marvel.com: What kind of risk does this antagonist pose to our titular characters? How about the world at large?

Robbie Thompson: The Author is an enormous danger to our heroes and the world at large. He created the Word of God, a book with words so powerful that they can bend reality. If the Sorcerers—and guest stars the Avengers, Howard the Duck, and Luke Cage—don’t stop him, our world will be destroyed!

Marvel.com: Creatively, how did The Author come together? What made him the right villain for this moment for you?

Robbie Thompson: When discussing the first two arcs with editors Nick Lowe and Darren Shan, we really wanted to have some big turns and reveals every issue. In fact, the first call I had with Nick, he pitched out killing Merlin as the ending of the first issue. That really set the tone from the beginning and felt like the right way to pace out our story.

We wanted to continue to put our heroes in deeper and deeper trouble, while keeping the escalation connected to the source of this story: Merlin. So, we’ve been building toward this reveal since the first issue—with Newton waiting in the wings to turn on his fellow Sorcerers, his blind ambition exposing our heroes to a being more powerful than any they’ve faced so far.

Marvel.com: The Author boasts a pretty bizarre look. Creatively, where did you draw inspiration from to realize him/it? What about the look spoke to you as the right choice for the villain?

Javier Rodriguez: I like to think that the simplest concept leads to the most effective solution. In this case, I thought about things that would disturb the reader’s perception when they are out of place. So, a creature made of hands seemed pretty awesome, and I thought it fit well with Robbie’s requirements for the story. I drew all the bad characters for this book very big, looking for a real threat to a group of Sorcerers Supremes, and more visual when all of them are fighting at the same time.

Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme #8 cover by Javier Rodriguez

Marvel.com: How did working with each other help you both to fully realize The Author?

Javier Rodriguez: Robbie and I exchange a lot of [e-mails]. Sometimes he sends me a detailed description and sometimes it’s an open field for creation. But to work with Robbie is like a dream. He leaves me a lot space to put in ideas and he doesn’t have any problem introducing those ideas, or adapting the story to fit with all the new ideas that pop up throughout the process.

Robbie Thompson: I keep saying this in interviews, but Javier really is a Sorcerer! He’s an absolute dream collaborator and master storyteller, and The Author wouldn’t exist or work at all without his work on this book.

After we briefly discussed the true nature of The Author—no spoilers!—Javier went off and designed the creature, and we were all blown away. It was perfect and was created entirely by his amazing mind. In layouts for issue #7, we were all delighted to see the “snaps” The Author uses to wield his “magic”—that’s all Javier, too, pushing the book and our story to be as visual as possible. He’s done that with every panel and every issue of the book.

I write the scripts to give him, inker Alvaro Lopez, colorist Jordie Bellaire and letter Joe Caramagna as much freedom as possible to collaborate. Every layout, design, and page from Javier is more ambitious than the last, and the whole team follows his lead, with everyone pushing the book with their talents.

Marvel.com: Newton is power mad, but he’s also pragmatic. In the face of this overwhelming threat, how does he react? How do the Supremes treat him in reaction to that?

Robbie Thompson: Unlike the rest of the Supremes, Newton knew what he was signing up for when Merlin came to him. He knew the Word of God was powering The Forgotten. And he would stop at nothing to get that book in his hands.

What he didn’t know was that the author of that book would come back to reclaim what it created! Worse, he doesn’t know where this creature hails from or how dangerous it is to magical heroes.

But, like you said, Newton is totally pragmatic—he’s going to team up with Strange to survive. And, of course, he hopes that if they defeat The Author, he can reclaim the Word of God and reshape the world as he sees fit. Strange and company are willing to team up for the time being, but they’ve been burned by this madman already, and won’t be fooled again.

Marvel.com: Without revealing too much, is there a particular moment from issue #8 of Author-inflicted devastation you can’t wait for fans to see realized on the page?

Javier Rodriguez: Well, yep, there’s a moment when we’ll see the use of pure comic language to show the power of a Sorcerer Supreme. The end of issue #8 and the first pages of #9 are some of the best pages that Robbie wrote for the series. Can’t wait to see readers’ reactions.

Robbie Thompson: Howard the Duck casts a spell! ‘nuff said!

Actually, I’ll say a bit more: there’s truly amazing work from the entire team on this issue, particularly Jordie, who finds such beautiful light and color in every issue. And it features all of our heroes, the Avengers, Luke Cage, said Duck, and more magic than you can shake a wand at!

Experience The Author in DOCTOR STRANGE AND THE SORCERERS SUPREME #8, brought to you by Robbie Thompson, Javier Rodriguez, and company on May 24!

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Follow the path that led the Ultimate Reed Richards to evil!

In the upcoming INFAMOUS IRON MAN #8 by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev—available May 24—we’ll see The Maker unleashing his master plan, and facing off against Doom. But how exactly did “Ultimate” Reed Richards go so bad? What led him to follow a course so different from the Mister Fantastic of the Marvel Universe?

Let’s look at some of the critical turning points in the Maker’s history.

With Reed in the Ultimate Universe, we saw a younger version of the brilliant scientist. A child prodigy, Richards always had a challenging relationship with his father, who never really understood him. Reed’s father wanted him to become the popular jock type, and didn’t acknowledge that his son could find another path to success. This early blow to his self-esteem sets Reed on a different path from his Marvel Universe counterpart from the outset.

Reed’s downfall really starts with Ultimatum, where Magneto shifted the Earth’s magnetic poles, creating a tidal wave in New York City that killed many of the Ultimate characters close to Richards, including Franklin Storm, whom he worked for—and who appreciated Reed’s genius in a way his father never did.

We find out that Doctor Doom had actually orchestrated Magneto’s plan, so Reed feels consumed with guilt, blaming himself for what happened and feeling like he created Doom; this messes with his metal state.

Shortly thereafter, events unfold that cause the Fantastic Four to disband. Sue rejects Reed’s marriage proposal and the two of them break up. The end of his relationship and the blow to his most important friendships leaves Richards feeling alone.

After the breakup of the FF, Reed moved back in with his parents. His dad gets up to his old patterns. Soon though, his parents both die in an explosion, and we later find out that Reed himself had orchestrated the murder of his family, as well as other attacks, spiraling downward even more, growing darker and darker as a character.

As The Maker, Reed leads the Children of Tomorrow, who have the impossible and destructive goal of trying to perfect the world. Richards, we learn, had been trapped in the Negative Zone—where time moves differently—for around a millennium, and this had understandably warped his psyche to what we see today.

The Maker confronts Doctor Doom in INFAMOUS IRON MAN #8, coming May 24 from Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev!

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Discover how the thought-dead clone has complicated Spider-Man’s story!

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

They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery. If that’s true, then Peter Parker must be the most beloved person in the world. Just look at how many times he’s been cloned! This week one the most famous—and infamous—representatives from that group launched his own series with BEN REILLY: SCARLET SPIDER #1 by Peter David and Mark Bagley!

Originally created by Gerry Conway and Ross Andru in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #149 from 1975, the clone who would be Ben Reilly came about thanks to the machinations and twisted science of The Jackal. Peter first met his clone—who also sported the original’s memories and morality—at Shea Stadium, surprised first to see someone in his costume and even more so when that person shared his face!

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #149

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #149

What is Marvel Unlimited?

The copy seemed to die in an ensuing explosion and Peter dropped the body down a smoke stack to avoid answering too many questions. Aside from an appearance in WHAT IF? #30, that proved it for the unnamed clone until he made a reappearance nearly 20 years later, first as Ben Reilly in SPIDER-MAN #51, and then as the heroic Scarlet Spider WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #118.

A back-up story in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #223 explained that, after seemingly dying, the clone crawled out of the smoke stack, decided not to take over Peter Parker’s life and then went out on his own. You also see him taking the designation Ben Reilly for the first time in that story as he explained that he took his uncle’s first name and his aunt’s maiden one.

At first, Ben tried to work alongside Peter as an arachnid-themed hero. The two traded off on the Spider-Man identity as Mr. Parker found himself dealing with a series of rough times including the loss of his powers. At one point, Ben and Peter even believed that they’d switched places all those years back and that the clone had gone on to star in all the comics fans read for two decades. Eventually the truth came out that the webslinging duo had been fooled, but that still left two heroes running around New York City—until SPIDER-MAN #75 hit and Ben Reilly once again died trying to save Peter’s friends and family from The Green Goblin.

Web of Spider-Man (1985) #118

Web of Spider-Man (1985) #118

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Once again, it seemed Mr. Reilly would rest in peace until the events of the Clone Conspiracy event that wrapped up just recently. As it turned out, Jackal killed and recreated Ben Reilly so many times that he lost some of his sanity and decided to create New U Technologies and also bring back just about every dead person in Peter’s life, while masquerading as his creator. Ben survived the virus that took out most of the clones and now runs around Las Vegas in a cosplayer’s suit, charging the people he saves in his new ongoing series.

Flash Forward

If you’re curious about the Clone Saga, but don’t feel like diving into several years’ worth of stories, the original tale’s architects Howard Mackie and Tom DeFalco re-teamed in 2009 for SPIDER-MAN: THE CLONE SAGA. The six issue limited series drawn by Todd Nauck presents the story as they original intended to tell it, but distilled down into a few concise parts!

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The long hard road to betrayal for Steve Rogers’ closest confidante!

Each week, we use our super sleuth skills to dig into the histories of the characters fighting on both sides of Secret Empire!

To say that Sharon Carter and Steve Rogers have had a complicated relationship is tantamount to the Marvel Universe being miffed that Captain America now serves Hydra. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1966’s TALES OF SUSPENSE #75, Sharon gobsmacked Cap because of how much she looked like her great-aunt Peggy Carter, his World War II-era love.

The two had their ups and downs over the years until Carter, an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., seemingly died in CAPTAIN AMERICA #233 from 1979 in a battle between white supremacists, Harlem gangs, and the National Guard. She returned many years later in CAPTAIN AMERICA #444, helping The Red Skull save the Star-Spangled Avenger so they could team up to take out a Hitler-powered Cosmic Cube. Sharon revealed in issue #446 that S.H.I.E.L.D. used her apparent death as cover to send her into increasingly dangerous situations. The woman known as Agent 13 eventually lost contact with her handler and did whatever mercenary or wetwork jobs came her way to survive.

Sharon became a huge part of writer Ed Brubaker’s run on CAPTAIN AMERICA which launched in 2004. In addition to her relationship with Steve, Sharon also exhibited the spy skills that made her such an asset to S.H.I.E.L.D. Along the way, she found herself brainwashed by Dr. Faustus—who also controlled her just before her apparent death years before—into shooting Captain America after the events of Civil War.

With Cap out of the picture and Bucky taking over the shield, Sharon left S.H.I.E.L.D., but continued to fight the good fight alongside the new Captain America, Falcon, and Black Widow. The trauma did not end there, though, as Sharon also lost her baby while fighting with Sin for her very life. After helping bring Steve back from being displaced in time as seen in CAPTAIN AMERICA REBORN, the pair continued to work together.

By the time writer Rick Remender launched his CAPTAIN AMERICA volume in 2012, Sharon and Steve still continued both their professional and romantic relationships, though both hit a snag when she sacrificed herself to keep Arnim Zola’s massive warship in Dimension Z as seen in issue #10. She reappeared in #23 as an older warrior, having spent years fighting Zola and raising her and Cap’s adopted son. Just before that, Steve had been transformed to his actual physical age, so the two took on more administrative roles in the super hero community.

That’s where they stood when Kobik de-aged Steve during the Standoff! event which lead directly into CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS and Secret Empire. The former series even saw Sharon work as a liaison between S.H.I.E.L.D. and the U.S. Security council to help push for new laws that would make it easier for the former organization to wage war on Hydra. Steve even suggested her for the job as head of S.H.I.E.L.D. when Maria Hill got ousted, but everyone agreed that he should get the gig. In other words, everyone played directly into his plans.

Sharon’s even one of the first people to realize that Steve now leads Hydra as seen in the pages of SECRET EMPIRE #0. She’s understandably bewildered when the green-suited minions stop and listen to the man they called Supreme Leader. The last we saw of Sharon in the issue, Steve ordered her to be placed on a transport and demanded her safety. He repeatedly said that he loved her, but that probably won’t stop one of the world’s most accomplished secret agents from trying to stop the man she loved and one of history’s greatest heroes.

The Empire Strikes Back

Secret Empire might be the latest story pitting Agent Carter against a huge secret organization like Hydra, but it’s far from the first. She’s encountered the evil group many times, including as part of Steve’s Secret Avengers squad. Set during the time after REBORN when Rogers returned, but Bucky Barnes still ran around as Captain America, the series found Carter and the former Cap working with the likes of Black Widow, Valkyrie, War Machine, Moon Knight, Beast, and Ant-Man. During that period, the team came into direct conflict with the Shadow Council, a subversive set-up that also had ties to Secret Empire as revealed in SECRET AVENGERS #21!

Sharon Carter might be stuck on a Hydra-controlled ship at this moment, but don’t expect her to stay there for long!

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Al Ewing talks about the recently revealed truth behind ‘Black Bolt’!

Never one to stand on ceremony, Mad Maximus saw a problem and decided to solve it. The dilemma? His brother, the near sainted Black Bolt had gone too far and not for the first time.

So, as revealed in ROYALS #2, Maximus seized the moment and impersonated his sibling as the Royal Family launched itself into space.

With the real Black Bolt trapped in some remote location, the family seems stuck with Maximus amongst them. However, what if he really did make the right decision for the good of the Inhumans? In advance of May 17’s ROYALS #3, Ewing helpfully dropped in on us to present the case for Maximus seizing his brother’s identity at an even earlier date.

Joins the Illuminati

“Yeah, this was just your basic autocratic stuff,” Ewing comments. “Just a king, chilling out with his fellow kings, deciding the fate of the rest of the planet, nothing to see there.”

“The world had to actually be ending before T’Challa got involved with that, but Black Bolt was there from the get-go,” he elaborates. “And he didn’t consult the Inhumans, either. How can we trust the king not to sell Attilan down the river to the super-celebrities? Why is he talking to known jerk Professor Charles Xavier before consulting his own Queen? It’s not a good look. If Maximus had swapped places with him, the Illuminati would have been dancing to Attilan’s tune, not vice versa.”

Declares war on the United States over the crystals used in Terrigen Mist

“Well, getting the crystals back from the U.S. government was a priority for the Inhumans, but the way Black Bolt went about it wasn’t exactly ideal,” argues the writer. “A lot of humans and Inhumans died, Gorgon was mutated for a while, and while Maximus was able to use the situation to his advantage, who can say he wouldn’t have done even better if he’d been in charge? He might have gone about it in a less obvious way. Or he might have built a giant ray gun that didn’t work properly, because [sometimes] he rolls that way too.”

Overthrowing the Kree government and seizing power for himself

“It’s not much of a spoiler that there are people who don’t remember this move fondly,” Ewing reveals. “Ronan is out there, remembering every detail of how he put his trust in the Inhumans—indeed, he put all his weight and power in Kree society behind their new regime—and then they just left without warning the moment Black Bolt decided they had better things to do. And after that, of course, Hala was blown to pieces and everyone on Hala died.”

“And now Ronan’s about to come face to face with the Royals as their quest takes them to the dead planet,” he continues. “Looking at it that way, maybe Maximus was wrong to swap places with Black Bolt; it might have been better to let his older brother face the music…”

The release of Terrigen Mists across the Earth that started IvX and forcibly changed many people’s lives without their consent

“Well, Maximus actually helped with that one,” admits Ewing. “And he’d probably have done the same thing himself. But the important thing is that it was Black Bolt’s idea, which means Maximus is completely blameless and it’s entirely right that Black Bolt is being shot off to a space prison in his place.”

Causing the accidental death of his parents and his brother’s traumatic brain injury through the use of his sonic voice

“And this is the big one,” insists the writer. “As we’ll see in issue #3, there was a little more going on that day than we’ve seen before; we’re going to be getting deep into the secrets of the family Boltagon, the secret origin of Maximus the Mad, and why exactly Maximus betrayed the Inhumans to the Kree that time—which was why Black Bolt used his super-voice in the first place. It’s all going to come out and once you know the full story, maybe you’ll agree with Maximus that he was right all along to do what he did. Or maybe he’ll be scarier than ever.”

Sit down with the family Boltagon for some quality time in ROYALS #3, available May 17 from Al Ewing and Jonboy Meyers!

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Marvel Entertainment and Pixite launch an exciting new app!

Pixite LLC, creators of award-winning entertainment apps, announced today the launch of its newest and most anticipated coloring book app, MARVEL: COLOR YOUR OWN powered by Pigment. Full of action-packed designs and exclusive Laser and Halftone coloring tools, MARVEL: COLOR YOUR OWN is a free to download app that lets users become part of the creative process and allows them to bring their own artistic choices to the Marvel Universe.

MARVEL: COLOR YOUR OWN offers 200 incredible coloring pages from Guardians of the Galaxy, Civil War, Doctor Strange, Age of Ultron, Women of Power, Young Marvel, and more. Each week, the amazing collection keeps growing as more pages are added to it. Satisfying fans of all ages, each design is hand-picked and fully vectorized, allowing the stellar line work to remain silky smooth without any pixilation even when users are fully zoomed into the pages.

Introducing Marvel: Color Your Own from Pixite Apps on Vimeo.

“Color adds a vital layer to the comic book page that brings everything to three-dimensional life,” says Axel Alonso, Marvel Editor in Chief. “MARVEL: COLOR YOUR OWN, quite literally, allows users to take control of how they want their favorite Super Heroes to appear and grants fans of all ages the ability to bring their own personal style to the Marvel Universe.”

For artists on the go, MARVEL: COLOR YOUR OWN provides five free stunning fill effects ranging from the standard fill to the ultra-realistic metallic and graphite effects. For artists who want the full-blown coloring experience, MARVEL: COLOR YOUR OWN provides five free exhilarating brushes ranging from the all-purpose marker and airbrush to the specialized laser and halftone brushes, exclusive to MARVEL: COLOR YOUR OWN. There is no limit to the creativity that users can unleash with these extraordinary coloring tools.

The Ultimate Access subscription, available as an in-app purchase, takes MARVEL: COLOR YOUR OWN to the next level by unlocking all of the premium pages, along with additional fill effects, brushes, and color palettes. Ultimate Access also removes the watermark on saved images and allows saving in high-resolution, which is fantastic for printing the finished masterpiece.

“Because coloring was such a big part of my childhood, I find myself as an adult sneaking away from my desk to color my own version of Groot or Iron Man,” says Pixite co-founder, Eugene Kaneko. “Being able to color all my favorite Marvel Super Heroes anywhere using my phone or tablet is, in one word, awesome!”

MARVEL: COLOR YOUR OWN will be available globally as a free download with in-app subscription on the App Store.

Features (some may require in-app purchase)

  • More than 200 exciting coloring pages from Guardians of the Galaxy, Civil War, Doctor Strange, Age of Ultron, Women of Power, Young Marvel, and more!
  • New exciting pages added every week
  • Tap to fill, brush with your finger, or use a stylus
  • Full pressure and tilt support for Apple Pencil with iPad Pro
  • Realistic coloring with 12 stunning brushes like oil and splatter brushes
  • Exclusive brushes like halftone and laser brushes designed specifically for comic book artwork
  • Adjust thickness and opacity of each brush
  • 8 amazing fill effects including metallic and serpentine
  • 37 striking color palettes to choose from
  • Innovative shade control to find the perfect color for your design
  • Save, print, or share your artwork on social media
  • Ultimate Access subscription unlocks all premium content and features

Device Requirements

  • iPhone, iPad, and iPhone touch
  • Requires iOS 9.3 or later

MARVEL: COLOR YOUR OWN is a free download with in-app subscription. MARVEL: COLOR YOUR OWN is available worldwide exclusively through the App Store in the Entertainment category as a universal app.

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Gerry Duggan gathers details on the eccentric cosmic being for All-New Guardians of the Galaxy!

In ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #2 on May 24, our heroes find themselves caught in a war between The Collector and The Grandmaster!

With the collection-obsessed Elder of the Universe causing trouble for Star-Lord and company, we take a look back at the character’s history. Although some may consider him just an interstellar hoarder, ALL-NEW GUARDIANS writer Gerry Duggan emphasizes the danger he poses to the team:

“His mind is operating on a plane far above our characters, and it makes ‘defeating’ a cosmic elder almost impossible, so I jumped at the chance to put our heroes between Taneleer and another cosmic entity, his brother The Grandmaster,” the writer relates.

The Collector debuted way back in 1966 with AVENGERS #28 by Stan Lee and Don Heck. That issue brought The Wasp and Hank Pym, in his Goliath identity, back to the team to join up with Captain America’s “kooky quartet.” Hank reached out to them after The Collector along with The Beetle—an oddball team-up for sure—kidnapped Wasp for his collection. Pym and the Avengers stopped the devious duo, and they escaped via a time machine.

His obsession with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes didn’t end there. He attempted to “collect ‘em all” in the years after that, running up against Iron Man, Hulk and the team as a whole. In AVENGERS #172174, we learn The Collector has once again kidnapped members of the group, past and present, in an effort to protect them from Korvac, a powerful being from the 31st century. His efforts in that story appeared altruistic, despite his devious methods.

“Well, it’s hard for us to apply our morals to a cosmic elder,” Duggan shares. “It’s not his immense collection that gives him power; it’s the knowledge he’s acquired—and that strength can be a weakness, too.”

In his upcoming GUARDIANS appearance, Duggan explains that The Collector may be willing to help the team in return for more knowledge: “Early in our first story, Gamora makes a gesture to The Collector that has unintended consequences for their relationship. It’s one of my favorite scenes that [artist] Aaron [Kuder] has drawn. I’m so grateful to have Aaron and [colorist] Ive [Svorcina] on this journey. Their work has been spectacular.”

Whatever his motives in corralling the Avengers, the Collector’s plan didn’t work as intended. His own daughter, Carina, posed as Korvac’s wife to spy on him for her father, and as The Collector tells the heroes about the threat, Korvac uses his cosmic powers to reduce him to ashes.

But that would not be the end of his story.

All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #2 cover by Aaron Kuder

In 1982, Marvel’s very first limited series, the original CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS, saw Earth’s heroes “collected” by another Elder of the Universe—The Grandmaster! The master gamesman had challenged Death herself to a competition, with the life of his Elder “brother” as his prize. Each contestant chose a team of heroes who fought three-on-three, with Grandmaster ultimately winning—and losing his own life in the process. Well, not really. Later we learned Grandmaster tricked Death in order to steal her power, resulting in the lady banishing all Elders from her realm.

The Grandmaster and The Collector would appear together over the years, sometimes as allies, sometimes at odds, like any good family.

“Family strife is the key to a lot of wonderful stories,” Duggan explains about why he chose to use both Elders in ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #2. “What do your characters want? What are they willing to do to get it? I’m speaking about both the antagonists and protagonists in this first story. The Grandmaster does seem to be the more aggressive entity. He’s also leaning on the Guardians a bit more than they would like—all in good fun, if you’re a cosmic Elder. It’s less fun to be a Guardian marching to someone else’s beat.”

The Silver Surfer and Galactus may know something about that. In the third volume of the former’s title, circa 1987, writer Steve Englehart and artist Marshall Rogers introduced several more Elders of the Universe, with Contemplator, Astronomer, and Obliterator joining the likes of The Gardener, Champion and, of course, Grandmaster and Collector. The Elders wanted to kill Galactus and recreate the universe, but the big guy doesn’t die easily. With help from Silver Surfer and the Frankie Raye version of Nova, the World Devourer consumes several Elders, including The Collector and Grandmaster. Instead of dying, though, they give him a case of cosmic indigestion and eventually escape his wrath.

The Collector would go on to run afoul of the Avengers, Silver Surfer, and Galactus again, and continued to play games with The Grandmaster. One competition saw Collector gather the original Defenders—Hulk, Doctor Strange, Silver Surfer, and Namor—and pit them against the Grandmaster’s “Offenders,” villainous counterparts to the heroes: Red Hulk, Baron Mordo, Tiger Shark, and Terrax. Following the 2015 Secret Wars event, the two Elders took over a leftover portion of Doctor Doom’s Battleworld, once again using it to collect heroes and villains, and make them fight in a new CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS.

In his most recent appearance, The Collector showed up in the pages of UNWORTHY THOR, wanting to collect the hammer of Ultimate Thor. He had already claimed Asgard itself, so why not? Odinson, Beta Ray Bill, and their allies managed to defeat him, restoring Asgard and destroying the Collector’s army.

While ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #2 will likely add another “greatest hit” to the collection, Duggan shares that another appearance by the character could possibly top the list:

“Not to redirect the conversation back to my own work, but The Collector has a pretty interesting appearance in DEADPOOL #30. That issue is an [original graphic novel] essentially—and it has very important threads coming out of it for the next year. The Collector has an important part to play. Wait until you see what [artists Mike] Hawthorne, [Terry] Pallot, and [Jordie] Bellaire have cooked up.”

ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #2, from Gerry Duggan and Aaron Kuder, reveals the Collector’s latest move on May 24!

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