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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Writer David F. Walker takes Luke back to his roots for Marvel Legacy!

Once upon a time, Carl Lucas got thrown into jail for a crime he didn’t commit and emerged as Luke Cage, the humbled Hero for Hire. Now, courtesy of writer David F. Walker and artist Guillermo Sanna, he’s going back in.

On October 18, Marvel Legacy begins with a trip back to the crucible that forged this future Avenger in LUKE CAGE #166! The “Caged” story arc catches Luke out of his element, at a low point in his life—and stuck in a prison he can’t escape with his fists.

We sat down with Walker to hear more about heading back to the character’s iconic roots.

Marvel.com: What can you tell us about Luke getting chucked back into prisonand the threats both inside and outside those walls?

David Walker: Well, when Marvel first announced the whole Legacy initiative and we were discussing it, we talked about bringing some of these very iconic characters back to their core and their essence. And to me, it was pretty simple—why don’t we take Luke Cage back to where he started when we first met him back in 1972? Let’s put him back in prison.

And then it became a question of getting him there. What might he be in prison for? How do you keep him in prison when he’s got super strength? We reverse engineered a certain amount. To a certain extent, this storyline that we’re doing could almost be a retelling of his origin in a weird sort of way. So then our questions were: who’s our villain going to be? Who will be his allies? And how will this story take Luke to someplace new?

For me, as a writer, there’s no point of tackling something if you don’t have the opportunity to try to get the character to someplace new—some realization about themselves that they never had.

Marvel.com: Unlike the first time he found himself in jail, Luke heads inside as an established hero. How will this new stint in jail affect him?

David Walker: That’s a really good question and it’s loaded with potential spoilers…but there are some obstacles that keep him from being the Luke Cage we know and love; that keep him from being Luke Cage that he knows he can be, if that makes sense.

A lot of it will be about him rediscovering himself and, in the process, older readers and old school fans will hopefully appreciate the trials and tribulations we’re putting him through. And new fans will jump on to see a guy really going through, essentially, discovery.

Marvel.com: You touched on this, but Luke has his powers now…so what’s stopping him form just breaking out of jail?

David Walker: Ahh, now there’s a big spoiler right there.

There will be obstacles—he’ll face a lot of obstacles and that ended up being one of the tricky things we had to try to figure out: how do you keep him from just busting out? We didn’t want it to be the standard “special prison” that has like, you know, some sort of de-powering ray gun or something like that. But how he’s kept locked up, why he’s locked up, all that stuff becomes interconnected and a lot of it gets revealed within the first issue of the arc. Then we build upon that and then it becomes about overcoming these things that are keeping him trapped.

A lot of it becomes a metaphor for the way all of us can become trapped in circumstances that may be beyond our control and seek to define us in ways that are not accurate or truthful to who we actually are.

Marvel.com: Being behind bars has always been crucial to the Luke Cage legacy because it helped transform Carl Lucas into the hero for hire. Since this kicks off Marvel Legacy, how did you want to explore the character’s history?

David Walker: I’ve been doing a lot of whispering to my editors that I’d love to do a “Luke Cage: Year One” sort of story.

In the original series, back in the ‘70s, the time he spent in prison covered, I think, one or two issues. He didn’t spend a lot of time in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. They would recall that a lot—though they didn’t spend a lot of time showing him there. We’re spending a fair amount of time showing him in this place where he actually doesn’t have the control that he thinks he has or that he’s used to having—and that’s the part of the exploitation of the character.

I really wanted to use this opportunity to tell a story that explored not just Luke Cage at his core, but who Carl Lucas at his core—because a lot of people sort of forget that before he was Luke Cage, he was Carl Lucas. What exists deep down inside? What makes him the hero that he is? That’s part of what I wanted to get into in a way—now he’s in prison with a lot of history and a lot of experience, so who Luke now feels very different than Luke then.

I don’t know if that answers the question or not. I’m worried about dropping spoilers because it seems like this whole story arc is full of spoilers.

Marvel.com: Can you talk about how you went about writing the overall narrativeand perhaps offer a few teasers about what we can expect as the “Caged” storyline begins?

David Walker: There will be more than one cliffhanger. Issues #166-#169 just keep getting worse for Luke. Issue #166 ends pretty bad, #167 feels like, “Oh, I didn’t know it could get any worse,” and then it just keeps getting worse, and worse, and worse for poor Mr. Cage.

Writing it turned into a question of finding the right beats. The first beat, in terms of cliffhanger endings, will be Luke in a situation where he’s unaware and he doesn’t know what’s going on. The second one ups the danger level and will be like, “OK, now we’re going into uncharted territory. And then life and death territory.” We’ll turn up the tension with every single issue.

LUKE CAGE #166, by David F. Walker and artist Guillermo Sanna, hits on October 18!

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Charles Soule gives us a Star Wars mission update!

Cue the recap roll! Poe Dameron and his team of elite pilots have been tasked with finding Lor San Tekka, a wise old explorer who may know the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker. Suffice it to say the gang has faced their fair share of trouble along the way, everything from fighting off a glorified bounty hunter to orchestrating a good old fashion prison break, knocking them a bit off track.

But come October 18, writer Charles Soule and artist Angel Unzueta make sure the team gets back on track. “Most of the main threads we’ve been dealing with in the series have been wrapped up, except one – the one that began the book,” says Soule. STAR WARS: POE DAMERON #20 will kick off a six issue story that is, as Soule puts it, “an epic in the great Star Wars tradition.”

So just how far out is Poe from completing his mission? Let’s check the reports!

Operative: Poe Dameron

Commanding Officer: General Leia Organa

Objective: Find Lor San Tekka and determine what he knows about the last remaining Jedi, Luke Skywalker – our only hope.

Progress: Black Squadron has made some great leaps in furthering the resistance’s agenda, most recently securing a fuel transfer for the rebel bases depleting resources and gathering footage of operatives in action to use as a way to rally support for the cause. However, progress toward the major objective has been slow going.

“Poe made progress early in, finding a list of possible locations, but it’s taken a while for the Resistance to work through it and narrow it down,” notes Soule, “C-3PO and his squad of droid operatives have been working through the list trying to see if any of the locations will bear fruit.” Time to lace up your boots and pound the space pavement as the search kicks off anew.

Poe Dameron (2016) #20

Poe Dameron (2016) #20

  • Published: October 18, 2017
  • Cover Artist: Phil Noto

Deviations: The team has encountered a few hiccups along the way, some more heartbreaking than others. However, “the biggest issue is that Poe made an enemy of an extremely versatile and deadly First Order Security Bureau named Terex,” notes Soule, “This fellow was once an Imperial Stormtrooper, and in the decades since the fall of the Empire made his way through the galaxy by being scarier than anyone else. Not a good person to have trying to hunt you down!”

So far Poe and his team have successfully thwarted the attempts of the First Order to capture them, but with Terex brainwashed into mindlessly following orders, Black Squadron finds it harder and harder to pull of their usual escape just in the knick of time antics.

Next Step: “Survive and thrive…hopefully,” suggests Soule. General Organa has planted a seed in Poe’s mind – the resistance is bigger than just one person. Why is this significant for Poe you may ask? “Poe has lost long-time companions, dealt with traitors, and has been learning the galaxy is a darker, more complex place than he realized,” explains Soule, “He’s understanding that he needs to evolve – that maybe he can’t just be a hotshot pilot anymore. The Resistance needs more – it needs a leader.”

Will Poe find Lor San Tekka and become the leader the Resistance needs? Find out on October 18 in STAR WARS: POE DAMERON #20, written by Charles Soule with art by Angel Unzueta!

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Get the exclusive NOT BRAND ECHH creative team announcement from Heather Antos!

True Believers, level up your weekend with a brand new episode of This Week in Marvel, the official Marvel podcast!

Catch up on all the latest comics news and info as Ben, Tucker and Maggie give you the rundown on all of this week’s new comics releases including AVENGERS, AMERICA, SPIDER-MAN, X-MEN, and more! Not one to rest on his laurels, Ben talks to editors Jordan D. White and Heather Antos about creative changes to the STAR WARS book, and gets the exclusive announcement on the NOT BRAND ECHH creative teams from Heather (55:25)!

Exclusive announcement on NOT BRAND ECHH creative teams, you say? Here’s the scoop:

  • SECRET EMPIRE ABRIDGED – Written by Nick Spencer and Inks by Scott Koblish
  • FORBUSH MAN RETURNS – Written/Art by Jay Fosgitt
  • GWENPOOL ABSORBS THE MARVEL UNIVERSE – Written by Christopher Hastings and Art by Gurihiru

Over on the West Coast, Christine and Eric have everything you need to know about TV, Films, Games and Themed Entertainment (1:19:35). And from there, it’s back to the east coast for your questions and comments (1:38:55)!

Download episode #308 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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Find out how Kirby cartoons inspired this artist!

1917 to 2017: 100 years of Kirby.

Join us to celebrate Jack “King” Kirby’s 100th birthday by learning about the characters and stories he created that changed comics forever. To commemorate Jack’s centennial, we’ve sat down with the modern-day creators he influenced—and the decades of work he gifted us all.

These days, you can barely flip the channels without finding Marvel-inspired shows on the air, but not back in the early 1960s! Not until the syndicated “Marvel Super-Heroes” debuted in 1966. Focusing on five heroes—Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, and Namor—the cartoon essentially took panels straight from the comics of the day and added animation embellishments.

In addition to getting Marvel’s characters out into the world in front of even more eyes, the series also introduced people all over the world to artists like Jack Kirby! In fact, that’s how Ariel Olivetti first discovered the King’s work!

With credits that include THE LAST AVENGERS STORY and various Hulk and X-Men efforts, Olivetti’s more than familiar with drawing on Jack for inspiration. We taledk with the artist about that, the cartoons, and more!

Marvel.com: Do you remember how you first encountered Jack Kirby’s comics and what did you think of it then?

Ariel Olivetti: The first thing I saw about Kirby were the Hulk, Captain America, and Thor cartoons, and they were beautiful.

Marvel.com: Can you remember any lessons or tricks you’ve learned from Kirby’s work over the years?

Ariel Olivetti: The simplification of line in function of the graphic dynamism.

Marvel.com: One of your first interior works for Marvel was THE LAST AVENGERS STORY. Did you feel any intimidation when taking on a comic that would tell the end of a tale Jack Kirby and Stan Lee started?

Ariel Olivetti: It was a great responsibility, but it was the project that I enjoyed the most.

Marvel.com: You have done a lot of work with various X-Men books. Did you ever look back to the Kirby-drawn issues from that franchise’s earliest days for reference or inspiration?

Ariel Olivetti: I always try to look at Kirby’s design for the original characters.

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more throughout Kirby Month and beyond! And join the conversation on all of our social channels with the hashtag #Kirby100.

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Writer Tom Taylor teases the Orphans of X as Marvel Legacy begins!

Coming up, things get more personal than ever for Laura Kinney.

Having returned from her Brood-killing mission alongside the Guardians of the Galaxy, Laura has no choice but to return to the place where her journey began—to fight for the family she has left.

On October 11, writer Tom Taylor and artist Juann Cabal reintroduce Laura and Daken in ALL-NEW WOLVERINE #25!

We caught up with Tom to hear more about the Marvel Legacy beginning of a complex new partnership for Laura and her long-lost “brother.”

Marvel.com: Catch us up on what’s been going on in the wonderful world of Wolverine!

Tom Taylor: At the moment, we’re just coming back from space—Laura, Gabby, and Jonathan have been off with the Guardians of the Galaxy. They dealt with a massive threat there and now they’re coming back to Earth in the hope of finding some normalcy in their new residence on Roosevelt Island. But—of course—we’re going to be turning their world upside-down.

Something very bad happens. Daken will be taken…but a piece of him will also be found.

Marvel.com: Oh no.

Tom Taylor: Yeah, right!? That will start Laura on a very big journey which will involve her past, her present, and her future. There will be an intensity in our Legacy arc that we haven’t seen before. By the end of the first issue of our Orphans of X run, everybody will want to pick this book up.

Marvel.com: Just to recap, it wasn’t so long ago that Daken and Laura were—literallyat each other’s throats. Where do we find their relationship now?

Tom Taylor: Daken and Laura are actually quite close. We saw it in Marjorie Liu’s run and we saw it in the recent Immune arc where Daken comes—not to help Roosevelt Island in the middle of their horrible infestation—but to help Laura. Daken doesn’t get close to a lot of people. But he does respect Laura and I think that becomes quite clear.

We are playing with them as brother and sister and I think that comes through in all of Orphans of X, but in the beginning of Orphans of X, Daken gets taken prisoner (I can’t say by who yet!) and Laura has to deal with that. But it feels quite traumatic, and this will be one of the most intense arcs we’ve ever done.

Marvel.com: It seems so cool to go back to Laura’s roots with Legacy—to see her challenged in such a personal way.

Tom Taylor: She’s a fantastic character—she has an incredibly traumatic past but she’s not a victim. Particularly after everything she went through in Enemy of the State arc, she has really come through it and become a hell of a hero—as I hope we saw on the moon with the hive…like, she just went to an alien moon, took on the Brood, and she saved an entire island of people! She kicks ass in every way.

Marvel.com: Generally speaking, what does the legacy of Marvel Comics mean to you?

Tom Taylor: I’m a fanboy and I always have been. I’m a fan of these great characters. And when Marvel calls you up and says, “Hey Tom, do you want to write Iron Man?” you absolutely lose it! You just do! It feels insane. Like, this stuff just doesn’t happen. My first gig in American comics was writing Star Wars. And it’s just like…you’re kidding me. You want me to write Luke and Han and Leia? What!? I’m a guy from Melbourne, Australia. This just doesn’t happen.

I think we were talking about something else with Marvel at one stage and then they were like, actually, would you like to do Wolverine? What person in the world would say no to that!? Of course I want to do Wolverine! I’ve been reading Wolverine comics my whole life, I have shelves of them—yes I want in on this. I love Laura, ever since I saw her in “X-Men: Evolution”!

It’s just exciting to be on all of this and—I think I can say this—I’ve just been offered a new project for Marvel and it’s exactly the same. I have a very packed schedule but I just thought, you know what, I’m going to immediately drop everything I’m doing to jump onto this and make it as good as I possibly can; it couldn’t be more exciting to do another incredible Marvel property and to try to do my best at it.

Marvel.com: That’s so exciting! So Legacy must be a treat to work on.

Tom Taylor: Yeah—and we’re seeing things like going back the Muramasa Blade here, which has been a huge part of Logan’s past and what that came to mean. And now that his children have to deal with that will be a really big thing. That’s the kind of Legacy thing that we’re seeing in this, and I have to say that the artwork by Juann Cabal and [colorist] Nolan Woodard together looks like nothing you’ve ever seen. The three of us are just jamming so well! We’re adding extra beats everywhere and it’s amazing to be working with these talented guys.

ALL-NEW WOLVERINE #25, by Tom Taylor and artist Juann Cabal, drops on October 11!

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His creative contemporaries and successors remember legend Len Wein!

Additional reporting by TJ Dietsch

“If you really want to tangle with someone—why not try your luck against—the Wolverine!”

Imagine: It’s the summer of 1974. You’ve just read to the end of INCREDIBLE HULK #180—the newest issue—and a brand-new character nearly leaps out of the art at you with claws extended. You’re just not sure how you’ll be able to stand the wait until the next installment to see what’s up with this new mystery man, and then you turn to the book’s credit page and wonder how this Len Wein guy keeps coming up with all this cool stuff…

“The Wolverine” moved on past his throwdown with The Hulk and Wendigo to become one of the most popular comic book characters ever when he hooked up with a certain band of merry mutants a few months later in GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1—also written by that Len Wein guy. Today, the long line of legacy from the writer through his creation to modern scribes and artists stands as a testament to the impact Wolverine’s made on the comics industry and its fans.

“In that seminal issue, Len established Wolverine’s blunt, pugnacious, take-no-prisoners voice as a character,” posits X-MEN: GOLD writer Marc Guggenheim. “Sure, Wolverine would become less verbose and chatty in future incarnations, but his blunt attitude was established in that first appearance in INCREDIBLE HULK.”

“It’s incredible how Len Wein, along with artist Herb Trimpe, shaped Wolverine perfectly from the very start,” says ULTIMATE WOLVERINE VS. HULK artist Leinil Francis Yu. “That [debut] is 40-years-old and it still reads like the Wolverine we have today, complete with the attitude and richness we all love about him.”

Mike Deodato, himself a veteran X-Men illustrator and current artist on OLD MAN LOGAN, agrees: “He is a rebel; he is rock n’ roll. He doesn’t care for anything or anybody, but at the same time he will give his life for them. He is savage, unpredictable, and that is what makes him so attractive.”

“It’s the physicality—short, hairy, like a gnarled old tree—and the indomitable spirit, I think,” ponders DEATH OF WOLVERINE writer Charles Soule when considering Wein’s mutant scrapper. “Wolverine never stops, no matter what gets thrown in his way. Because of his healing factor, it’s almost like he can’t stop. He’s very fun to write, but more importantly, very fun to read.”

Wolverine’s Canadian heritage made him something of a rarity at that time among super heroes, as well as his direct approach to problems in his path.

“In many ways, Wolverine was so unlike any character readers were really familiar with,” one-time WOLVERINE writer Cullen Bunn insists. “He was violent and vicious, but a hero, too. The mystery element was heavily ingrained in the character, which made him all the more interesting. He was working for the government, but beyond that, we didn’t know much about him. Maybe more than any character created before or since, he represented the potential for amazing stories ahead. Other creators capitalized on that potential, making Wolverine the household character he is today.”

“I think Wein created the ultimate outcast,” says Juann Cabal, the artist behind ALL-NEW WOLVERINE. “To me, Logan is the outcast among outcasts. To Wein’s credit, [he] gave him the appeal of being different, wild and mysterious without falling strictly into the antihero cliché. He might have his inner demons, but his moral compass is always pointing the right direction. In my opinion, this is what has made the character stay relevant all this time.”

Perhaps Cabal’s partner on ALL-NEW WOLVERINE, writer Tom Taylor, sums it up best when he notes that “there was something perfectly realized about that first appearance of Wolverine.”

“It was all there on the page. The attitude was there, the brash bravery. But Wolverine was also not infallible. He had a savagery, and wasn’t a perfect, untouchable hero. It was a character everyone wanted to see more of. And, clearly, the rest of the world did too. There have been so many great Wolverine stories. None would exist without Len.”

By summer of ’74, Wein’s comic career stood as relatively new, though he’d racked up a sizable number of scripts for a variety of titles. He’d taken over INCREDIBLE HULK only an issue before “the big one” but his introduction—along with artist Herb Trimpe and costume designer John Romita—of Wolverine to fight the jade giant forever cemented him into the firmament of comic book superstars.

He also, by all accounts, kept his feet firmly panted on solid ground.

“I got to meet Len a number of times in 2014 while I was writing the DEATH OF WOLVERINE story, as well as working on a long run featuring one of his other signature creations, Swamp Thing, over at DC,” says Soule. “I found him to be gracious and kind, and generous with his conversation and time. He dreamed up enormous swaths of the super hero landscape that will last for generations—a legacy most could only dream of.”

“First and foremost, Len’s creation of the ‘All-New, All-Different’ X-Men was seismic and industry-changing,” notes Guggenheim. “Without Len, there’s an excellent argument to be made that there wouldn’t be any X-Men today, and certainly not the X-Men that we’ve come to know, love, and cherish. I had the good fortune to meet Len a few years ago at San Diego Comic-Con and he truly couldn’t have been a nicer guy.  He clearly loved comics, both the industry and the medium.”

“As a creator, I think the truly incredible thing you discover writing [his] characters is just how different they are, and how human,” offers Taylor. “They have flaws. They’re complex. They struggle. Len’s characters breathe.”

Bunn takes it one step further: “Len’s work was a huge influence on me. Like many of my absolute favorite creators, he wore his imagination on his sleeve, and he didn’t let anything hold him back from putting that on the page.

“Since I owe my whole career to Wolverine, Len and Herb’s creation means a ton to me,” says Yu. “We may be divided by a few decades, but I am proud to inherit and to continue to breathe life into Wolverine and the X-Men.”

“As a fan, Len created some of my absolute favorite heroes,” concludes Taylor. “Some of these characters are the reason I’m a comics fan.

“The world would have been a far less heroic place without Len Wein.”

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Stan Lee and Steve Ditko invent The Tinkerer in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #2

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

When it comes to super geniuses per capita, no place compares to the Marvel Universe! Some use their powers to help keep the world safe while others try to rule the world. And some just want to make crazy weapons to sell to nutcases! The Tinkerer – newly returned in this week’s PETER PARKER: THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #4 – fit into that last category for most of his villainous career. 

Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man (2017) #4

Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man (2017) #4

First debuting back in 1963’s THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #2 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, The Tinkerer made quite an impression on his first page. The old man with glasses propped up on his forehead wearing a plaid sweater and green slacks might have seemed like no problem at all had he not blasted Spidey with a ray gun right then and there! 

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #2

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #2

  • Published: May 10, 1963
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 13, 2007
  • Penciller: Steve Ditko
What is Marvel Unlimited?

In the Mighty Marvel tradition of the day, the next page flashed back to Peter Parker working hard in the chemistry lab at Midtown High where his teacher introduced him to electronics expert Professor Cobbwell who needed some weekend help. Peter’s first duty included stopping to pick up a radio from The Tinkerer Repair Shop on the way over the next day.

After arriving at the business the next day, Peter’s Spidey Sense went off, but he chalked it up to electrical impulses from the nearby machines. However, we learned that he should have listened to it as the Tinkerer and his apparently alien cronies hid something sinister inside Cobbwell’s  radio!

While working in Cobbwell’s lab, Peter realized that his Spider Sense continued to react in the same way. When his new boss left to give a lecture, Peter inspected the radio and found something extra inside. To investigate, he ditched his civvies and swung his way back to the shop!

Having descended into the Tinkerer’s underground lab, our hero learned that the radios all now hide secret spy equipment so that he could learn about Earthly weaknesses and attack with his alien cohorts. After being discovered by one of the potential invaders, Spidey fought hard, but fell to the Tinkerer’s blast seen on that first page.

The Wall-Crawler used his own considerable intelligence and skill to get himself out of the Tinkerer’s death trap. In the ensuing battle, much of the equipment got destroyed and caught fire, engulfing the entire place in flames. Spider-Man tried saving The Tinkerer, but he refused to be touched and they both escaped through the smoke.

Much later on down the line, The Tinkerer returned in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #159 and 160 where he designed a Spider-Mobile to kill the Wall Crawler himself! From there he went on to update and create weapons for many a masked marauder and even played a huge part in SECRET WARS. Now he’s back to cause more trouble for Spider-Man! 

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #160

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #160

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Flash Forward

One of the most interesting parts of Tinkerer’s history remains the fact that, for the more-than-15-year gap between his first and second appearance, Spidey and the readers believed him an alien! Much of that came from Peter walking away from that first confrontation with a human mask, but also a bio published in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #1 which clearly labeled the Tinkerer as “the first, and the only alien menace Spider-Man has ever fought!” He explained the mask in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #160: “That mask I left you holding was merely a ruse – a simple ploy to deter pursuit that, I must say, worked exceptionally well!”

The aliens themselves reappeared in PETER PARKER: THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #50 and 51, but the Wall Crawler learned that are and were out of work actors posing as aliens that Tinkerer hired. One of that actually turned out to be the future Mysterio who got the gang back together for the job seen in these issues.

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Digging into the roots of everyone’s favorite tree!

Everybody loves him, but nobody really understands him…and not just what he’s saying, either! Quick—where did Groot come from? What’s the name of his species? How did he meet Rocket Raccoon? If you don’t know the answers, you’re not alone.

The history of Groot weaves a complex web. Having started as a minor character, the talking tree finally received more frequent opportunities to shine in the wake of the first “Guardians of the Galaxy” film. Now he stars alongside the Guardians, his best friend Rocket—and in his own solo series!

On September 27, writer Christopher Hastings and artist Flaviano present the conclusion of I AM GROOT with issue #5!

But before we reach that ending, let’s go back to where it all began for the character. Groot’s story has to be pieced together—and while it doesn’t come to light chronologically, it’d probably be easier to hear it in the order that it happened to him in.

Okay, are you ready? Say it with me: I! Am! Groot!

Groot’s childhood exile

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #14, written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Nick Bradshaw, explained Groot’s origins for the first time. Framed as a kind of nature documentary, the story explained that Groot originated as a Flora Colossus from Planet X. The book illuminated the social order of the planet, with the Flora Colossi ruled by a monarchy and an elite group called the “Arbor Masters.” Together, these leaders teach children—called saplings—via a method known as “Photonic Knowledge.” In this process, the accumulated knowledge and experience of generations of elders gets psychically absorbed by the young through a kind of photosynthesis; this ultra-advanced educational practice provides the Flora Colossi with genius level intelligence.

The planet’s biome gets tended to by subservient “Maintenance Mammals” (small, squirrel-like creatures) forced into slavery in service of the Arbor Masters. In his youth on Planet X, Groot finds an unlikely friendship with these oppressed animals—and even prefers their company to that of his fellow saplings; Groot doesn’t get along with his own kind, as the adult Flora Colossi regularly kidnap and perform harrowing experiments on other life forms to further their study of the universe. The moral implications of these scientific atrocities horrify a young Groot, as do his peers’ harsh and violent treatment of his Maintenance Mammal friends. Acting on his conscience leads to his banishment from his home world; an unseen narrator explains that Groot got exiled from his people for injuring another sapling as he protected a Maintenance Mammal from attack.

Later, in GROOT #6 by writer Jeff Loveness and artist Brian Kesinger, the tree communicates, via psychic link, to Jean Grey to explain that the original story of his banishment has actually been sanitized…because the mammal he protected from the other saplings proved to not be a Maintenance Mammal after all, but in fact a little Earth girl named Hannah. He reveals that he saw her trapped and terrified by his people and sent her home in a rescue pod—then came the consequences.

Doing time

While it remains unknown whether Groot got arrested for unrelated reasons or sent directly to a prison for treason against his people, we next see our heroin this chronology  locked up—in GROOT #2—where his roommate turns out to be a certain anthropomorphic raccoon. Rocket learns to understand Groot and they forge a strong friendship in the process.

Communication between the duo took some time to be established—the result of Groot’s most famous feature: seemingly only being able to say the words “I am Groot.” As explained in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #17 by Maximus the Mad, Groot’s race experiences a hardening of the larynx and vocal chords during adolescence, forcing them to make the same sound over and over.

Angst, Phalanx, and robbing banks

After spending an undisclosed amount of time together in prison, Rocket and Groot receive an offer to join a rag-tag group fighting the Phalanx in ANNIHILATION CONQUEST: STARLORD—written by Keith Giffen with art by Timothy Green. This team becomes known as the Guardians of the Galaxy. At this point in Groot’s life, he claims to be the monarch of Planet X while—surprisingly—speaking normal, if somewhat pretentious, English. During this arc, Groot also volunteers for three separate suicide missions—each time saved from a branch clipping by Rocket.

2008’s GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #2, written by Lanning and Abnett with art from Paul Pelletier and Clint Langley, sees Groot’s vocal chords re-harden and his personality settle back into what it had been in his youth: kind-hearted and goofy. The next big change in his life came in the wake of THE THANOS IMPERATIVE in 2011—in a story written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning with art by Brad Walker—when the apparent deaths of Star-Lord and Nova cause the Guardians to disband.

In 2011’s ANNIHILATORS bonus story, by writers Abnett and Lanning and artist Tan Eng Huat, Groot returns to Planet X to help liberate his oppressed Maintenance Mammal friends who ran an underground resistance operation. When Groot arrives, though, he’s arrested and tortured for returning after exile and impersonating the monarch. Luckily for Groot, he has the greatest prison breaker in the universe at his side, and Rocket saves him from incarceration. Once the two finish their tearful reunion, they re-start the Guardians alongside Drax—and try to be a force of good in the galaxy.

Rocket and Groot then embark on a road trip to Earth where Groot finds his friend Hannah, now an old woman. This story—in writer Jeff Loveness and artist Declan Shalvey’s GROOT—further delves into the tree’s mind. We hear his psychic words, “Life is not about the shadow you cast on your enemies, but the shade you provide to your friends.”

Most recently, Groot has been spending an unusual amount of time attempting to re-generate from his “baby” state—even missing out on Rocket’s bank heist team in writer Al Ewing and artist Mike Mayhew’s recent ROCKET #1 due to his vulnerable condition. As witnessed in ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, by writer Gerry Duggan and artist Aaron Kuder, the nature of this form and the unique abilities that makeit so are explored in this year’s I AM GROOT series—written by Christopher Hastings with art by Flaviano—where a tiny Groot finds himself trapped on a strange planet in another dimension where no one can understand him. And the finale of this series, issue #5, drops on September 27!

I am Groot

He certainly says an answer enough, but, really, who is Groot? Find the long answer above, but here’s the short one—proven by years of moments and stories, trials and adventures: he’s a friend.

Check out Christopher Hastings and artist Flaviano’s I AM GROOT #5 on September 27!

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