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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New Jersey’s newest super hero takes a trip to the City to see a man about some therapy.

The client, requested an appointment under the name Laal Khanjeer — the apparent Erdu phrase for Red Dagger, the name he has been using as a costumed identity here in the States — but allowed the therapist to call him Kareem in session – no surname provided. He presented as a late adolescent to early young adult male in above average physical fitness. While he declined to name exactly where he came from, he did submit that he was a foreign national on American soil on a short-term basis.

He confessed that he did not intend to engage in costumed actions while abroad but a combination of the mystique of the New York City area and the inspiration of fellow super hero Ms. Marvel made the lure of doing so irresistible. He has found himself stunned, excited, and more than a little scared of how quickly the local media has embraced and elevated him. He also confesses a degree of guilt because he feels as though he has eclipsed Ms. Marvel despite all the good she has done and that she is “a real super hero, I’m just athletic.” He is especially worried his popularity might have something to do with her recent apparent disappearance.

In addition to his conflicted feelings about his costumed identity, he also indicated some difficulties transitioning to life overseas. While there have been no charged incidents that he indicated, just being away from home and in an environment that he has heard has been less than kind towards people that look and sound like him has him on edge. Also, he confessed, he is worried about making friends and fitting in with his new classmates for however long his time in the U.S. lasts.

Ms. Marvel (2015) #24

Ms. Marvel (2015) #24

This writer validated the client’s feelings extensively and reinforced how normal and natural it was to feel unmoored during a time of transition, to worry about how others might see or view him based only on his appearance and immigrant status, and to miss his home.

I also validated his concerns regarding being treated as the new, exciting costumed crime fighter in a way that might make Ms. Marvel feel slighted while also reminding him he cannot take responsibility for how others might treat the two of them. As long as he is honest about his role in activities and tries to give her credit where she is due – both to her personally and through the press should he choose to speak to them – then he is doing right by her.

Finally, I confessed to him there were some nuances of his culture I was not familiar with and did not want to make him feel unheard or misheard because any lack of cultural competency on my part. I offered him options, pledging I would strive to study up on whatever he thought important and ask questions in the moment if I did not grasp some aspect of what he was discussing, but that I could also offer him a therapist with whom he might share more commonalities.

We hit upon a compromise wherein he would do another intake style session with Doctors G. Willow Wilson and Nico Leon on December 20 and then evaluate from there. Details of that session will be found in the file labeled MS. MARVEL #25.

Psy D. Candidate Tim Stevens is a Staff Therapist who could help stop a moving train if he wanted to, but he’s super busy this week.

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Ed Piskor tackles the unprecedented uncanny project!

On December 20, X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN #1 chronicles the greatest and most important moments in X-Men history—from origins, to battles, to heroes and villains.

Written and illustrated by Eisner Award winner Ed Piskor, this monumental assignment will provide a brand new look at some of mutantkind’s most iconic moments.

We got Ed’s perspective on what to expect from X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN.

Marvel.com: Since we’re talking history here, tell us how this series came about.

Ed Piskor: I tweeted that I wanted to do this exact comic and attached a compelling illustration of the lineage of the X-Men team. The image and tweet went viral and then Marvel came calling. I’m a fully-formed cartoonist who handles all the aspects of the creation, which basically means I’m a built-in comics-making factory with a million ideas. If I’m going to do any work-for-hire, the requirement is that it has to be a dream project or else I’ll just work on my own stuff. This X-Men comic absolutely falls into the category of “dream project.”

Marvel.com: Where do you begin with a project like this? How did you start to quantify everything you needed to cover across the history of the X-Men?

Ed Piskor: The most important thing with this, or any kind of project, begins with putting things down on paper. The common misconception of the audience tends to be that what they’re looking at is the creator’s first draft or something. In truth, the end result that the public gets to see, in my case at least, is probably a fifth or sixth draft. The liberation of making stories is that it doesn’t have to be right the first time. In fact, the first draft is usually trash but what comes from that is the more fun challenge of problem-solving rather than just staring at white sheets of blank paper.

Thankfully, I have a pretty in depth knowledge of this material so it just became a matter of curating things in a certain order and retooling things to fit my narrative as needed.

Marvel.com: Do you feel there’s an overarching story or theme in this series?

Ed Piskor: Sure. The overarching theme is the basic theme that’s always been there: here stands a new form of human evolution and the bulk of the population fears them. Now, the really fun thing will be that with each issue, a very natural arc takes place—which I didn’t necessarily anticipate. I’d want the reader to pick up on those themes themselves. It’s not an X-Men comic if you don’t have the dynamics between Charles Xavier and Magneto, for instance. The Phoenix left an indelible mark on the saga. Things like this.

Marvel.com: Did any characters stand out to you over the course of this book?

Ed Piskor: The characters of my comic act as a component piece to the bigger picture, the “Grand Design,” if you will. As I’ve just reached beyond the halfway mark of my epic, I do hate to admit how much I identify with Cyclops as a character. I think of him as a Type A square with a one track mind which focuses on being an X-Man. I focus my square Type A energy on making the best comics I can, seven days a week.

Marvel.com: Likewise, did you get to highlight any X-character that maybe has gotten short-shrift over the years?

Ed Piskor: Not specifically, but I did retool some characters to get them to fit into the greater narrative a little better. Eric the Red’s first appearance in the regular series never worked for me. Introducing Alex Summers so late never worked for me. Having Changeling be human cannon fodder disguised as Professor X never worked for me. The more I talk with readers, those comics never worked will for them either.

Marvel.com: How does being both the writer and artist for X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN benefit you most?

Ed Piskor: The benefits of handling everything, including lettering and coloring, is that each page exists as a living document until the very last moment the editor takes it from my hands and presses the buttons to make the comic see print. I rewrite text throughout the process to make things better. I redraw panels and stitch them in later to make things better. I recolor things at the last minute to just add a touch of polish that the reader won’t know about, but it all makes the end product a much better experience.

Marvel.com: What parts of X-Men history does issue #1 cover?

Ed Piskor: The first issue covers the origins of the X-Men. I take all of the established origin stuff that slowly got revealed through the first 280 issues and it’s all in this first issue. Now, the second issue will cover UNCANNY X-MEN #1 through issue #64 or so—whenever the series went into reprints for a few years.

Marvel.com: Rumor has it that this will be the first in a trilogy. What will the other two series cover?

Ed Piskor: Think of X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN as a series of three two-issue arcs. This next set will include the X-Men team that includes Colossus, Nightcrawler, Storm, and Wolverine—among many others—and covers GIANT-SIZE X-MEN and way beyond, ending around the first X-MEN: LIFEDEATH story. The last arc begins with Rachel Summers introduction, the return of Jean Grey and it ends in a clever way that I won’t reveal, but I think it will create in incredibly satisfying, self-contained epic which will also inspire readers to dig deeper into X-Men lore. It’s very exciting.

X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN #1, by Ed Piskor, drops on December 20!

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Jack Kirby launches The Black Panther on another wild journey!

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.

In many ways, Jack Kirby acted as one of the best tour guides around. In addition to introducing readers to new and exciting characters, he also took us to some of the wildest places across the Marvel Universe. In the late 70s, while writing, drawing and editing BLACK PANTHER, he spirited fans to a relic-filled tomb, a new nation called Narobia, and on to the glorious Samurai City.

After returning King Solomon’s Frogs to their rightful place in the tomb, T’Challa intended to leave his new acquaintances Mr. Abner Little and Princess Zanda to pursue other adventures. However, fate—and Kirby—had other plans in mind as our hero found himself battling a Sacred Samurai at the end of BLACK PANTHER #4. Zanda and her Collector allies soon revealed all of this as a test to see if the Panther proved strong enough to go to the secret samurai city and bring back the Sacred Water-Skin.

T’Challa turned them down at first, but by issue #5 he agreed to travel to the fabled city only after Zanda threatened to fire a nuclear missile at Wakanda! With that, the king and Mr. Little ventured out in a hover-craft. As they neared the secret city, though, unknown forces blasted them out of the sky! Upon landing, they first faced the peril of a raging river and then the ferocity of a yeti! Both men attempted to take the beast on in their own way, but only walked away victorious after working together. However, that safety proved short lived as they then came face to face with a Ronin named Akiro who threatened their very lives.

Black Panther (1977) #4

Black Panther (1977) #4

  • Published: July 10, 1977
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: September 17, 2008
  • Writer: Jack Kirby
  • Penciller: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Once again, Little and T’Challa proved a resourceful duo and defeated their foe. Afterwards, Little grabbed the Ronin’s sword. Upon waking up, the warrior revealed that his defeat should lead to his death. However, Black Panther told him that the Wakandan code forbade killing an unarmed enemy. To figure out what to do next, all entered the magnificent, underground Samurai City. To make good, the Panther met with their leader Shinzu and returned the Ronin’s sword to him in hopes of restoring his one-time opponent’s honor. To do so, the mysterious overlord decreed that T’Challa must fight another in hand-to-hand combat. Abner tried arranging it so that, if our hero won, they’d get a sample of the water of immortality, but the Wakanda king declined these machinations.

Unperturbed, Mr. Little used this distraction to sneak off and grab some long life liquid for himself. This affront to the denizens of Samurai City did not sit well and lead to yet another confrontation between the outsiders and their hosts. In the final issue of the story—#7—T’Challa revealed his true title of king, returned the stolen water, and requested a peaceful exit from Samurai City which Shinzu granted. Of course, their adventures would continue from there, but that tale will have to wait for another day…

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

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Amilcar Pinna helps bring back Gen X alumni as part of Marvel Legacy!

Marvel Legacy continues to reintroduce concepts and characters that have played important parts during the House of Ideas’ storied history. When it comes to GENERATION X that means that Jubilee’s crew of outsider mutants will come face to face with their 90s namesakes.

In other words, writer Christina Strain and artist Amilcar Pinna plan to reintroduce many OG Gen Xers—like Monet, Husk, Chamber and a few other surprises—as they continue with the story began earlier this month in GENERATION X #8. As the book picks up its classic numbering with December 20’s issue #85, everyone will be dealing with M-Plate, the combined might of siblings Monet and Emplate.

We talked with Pinna about integrating the classic characters into the series, returning to work with Strain, and using the “natural approach” to drawing these characters together.

Marvel.com: You worked with Christina to launch this series, working on the first three issues. How is it returning after some time away?

Amilcar Pinna: It feels good to be back. These characters have a special place in my heart now! I love drawing those kids!

Marvel.com: As the book shifts into Marvel Legacy territory, you’ll also be dealing with members of the original Generation X team. How has it been working them into the book?

Amilcar Pinna: It’s been really fun for me to have the opportunity to draw such classic characters!

Marvel.com: The classic Generation X members have had a variety of looks over the years. What was the process like for nailing down the ones this time around?

Amilcar Pinna: I did try to stay faithful to the classic looks and at the same time give them a more “natural approach” since almost every time [we see them] they wear regular clothes instead of classic spandex uniforms.

Marvel.com: A major part of the story revolves around the bonding of Monet to Emplate. How does this new relationship between the siblings change how they carry themselves?

Amilcar Pinna: Actually, I’m getting to know Monet/Emplate as I work on GENERATION X—such cool characters! They are new to me. All that I can say is that I love to draw that type of character. Monet gives a darker mood to the series and I like that!

Marvel.com: How has it been integrating the classic Gen Xers with the new crop?

Amilcar Pinna: Christina makes it seem very natural, integrating them with her writing. The relationships between the new and the classic [characters] always [work] fine and natural for me.

Kick it old school with Christina Strain and Amilcar Pinna on GENERATION X #85, headed your way December 20!

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Tom Taylor details Laura’s return to the place where it all began!

Laura Kinney has followed the Orphans of X to the Facility—the place where, as a child, she got tortured and programmed to be an assassin. And upon her arrival, she discovered her mother…alive.

Her mother—the woman Laura thought she accidentally killed years ago. On December 13, writer Tom Taylor and artist Juann Cabal test our hero like never before in ALL-NEW WOLVERINE #28!

We spoke with Tom about what to expect from this devastating family reunion.

Marvel.com: Catch us up on what’s been going down in the “Orphans of X” storyline so far!

Tom Taylor: Daken has been blown up, taken by the mysterious Orphans of X, and then tortured for information. His arm has been found—without the rest of him attached—dangling from a bridge on Roosevelt Island. Laura and Gabby were alerted to this arm and a note attached to it brought Laura back to the Facility, where she got tortured and turned into an assassin as a child. But Laura didn’t find Daken in this place full of painful memories, she found…her mother.

But Laura’s mother, Sarah, died at Laura’s unwilling hand years ago. Now the tortured Daken, the confused Laura, and the previously thought dead Sarah Kinney have been placed on a collision course.

Marvel.com: How does artist Juann Cabal capture the complex emotional tenor of this story?

Tom Taylor: What Juann and [colorist] Nolan Woodard did with those scenes at the Facility blew me away. You see so much going on, and Juann adds to it in beautiful ways. But this can be said of the whole arc. I think, as a team, we’ve all worked to lift this story to another level, and editors Mark Paniccia and Christina Harrington are right there with us. Terry and Rachel Dodson‘s cover to issue #28 has become one of my favorites, too.

Marvel.com: How has Laura’s relationship with Daken evolved in recent times?

Tom Taylor: Laura and Daken have had a fractious and violent history, but they have grown close over the years. Logan’s death has drawn them slightly closer as well. Daken has very little respect for anyone, but he clearly respects Laura. They’ve gone from rivals to siblings.

Marvel.com: Can you tell us anything about the Orphans of X?

Tom Taylor: All I can say is they clearly hate Laura and Daken with a passion. And they have means and numbers. Issue #28 will reveal a lot more.

Marvel.com: Laura has tried so hard to put her past behind her—how does she feel about being forced to re-live it?

Tom Taylor: Laura won’t have a lot of time to think about reliving her past in this issue. Everything escalates here, and Laura and company will need to react very quickly. But this also isn’t just about Laura’s past…this is about Daken’s as well. A life of violence and death can’t simply be ignored.

Marvel.com: How does an empathetic character like Laura handle a group that has such hatred of her and her family? Will she try to reach out to them, or will this be the mission that gets her killing again?

Tom Taylor: I don’t want to spoil that just yet…but there will be a lot of challenges coming Laura’s way. And this is certainly our most violent story.

Grab ALL-NEW WOLVERINE #28, by Tom Taylor and artist Juann Cabal, on December 13!

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As Amadeus Cho arrives on Sakaar, let's look back at the planet once ruled by his predecessor!

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.

Amadeus Cho intends to avoid many of the same pitfalls that Bruce Banner fell into over the years as Hulk. However, with this week’s INCREDIBLE HULK #710 we see him fully embracing a place that meant a lot to his Jade Giant predecessor: Sakaar.

Back in 2006, the heroes of the Marvel Universe – specifically Iron Man, Reed Richards, Black Bolt and Dr. Strange – got fed up with the Hulk and decided to send him off to a planet where he couldn’t hurt anyone and he could finally get the solace he claimed to want.

Instead, as seen in INCREDIBLE HULK #92 by Greg Pak and Carlo Pagulayan, he got sucked through a strange portal and ended up on a planet called Sakaar where the locals immediately enslaved him and he soon started fighting in a gladiatorial arena. 

Incredible Hulk (1999) #92

Incredible Hulk (1999) #92

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In those battles, Hulk met a group that would become known as the Warbound, who would help him first escape from the Red King and then eventually take over as king himself. Along the way, Hulk fell in love with a Shadow warrior named Caiera, who would have borne him twins, had a catastrophic accident not seemingly killed her. 

Incredible Hulk (1999) #93

Incredible Hulk (1999) #93

What is Marvel Unlimited?

The ship that Hulk’s “friends” sent him off on exploded, apparently by accident, but not. The resulting explosion tore through Caiera and many others, leaving a large chunk of Sakaar in lava-engulfed ruins.

Feeling a rage like none other, Hulk agreed to fly off with his surviving Warbound comrades and return to the true source of his misery: Earth. That story came to fruiting in WORLD WAR HULK, but what of the planet that the Jade Giant left behind? 

World War Hulk (2007) #1

World War Hulk (2007) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Well, as seen in SKAAR: SON OF HULK – simplified to just SON OF HULK on Marvel Unlimited – the planet kept on turning, even giving birth to not one, but two sons of the Green Scar. Skaar hardened himself in battle and even harnessed the full power of the Old Strong that ran through the planet. Meanwhile, Hiro-Kala, the twin, also began experiencing his own trials and tribulations on the harsh planet.

Galactus visited this place. The Silver Surfer had been drawn in by the same portal that grabbed Hulk during the original storyline, but he brought his master there in SKAAR. Thanks to the Old Strong power that flowed through the rock, Surfer figured that its energy could sate his master’s hunger for 10,000 years. Skaar had his own plans, but so did other familiar faces who appeared in an attempt to save the planet.

Now, Amadeus Cho will see exactly how Hulk-like he can be in the place that both gave his namesake his greatest challenge and also one of his most cherished triumphs.

Flash Forward

The history of Sakaar was nicely chronicled in the pages of a one-shot called GLADIATOR GUIDE BOOK. The mostly-text issue goes into great detail about everything from the Tayo Star System that Sakaar inhabits to the geography of the planet. You also get to more fully understand the hierarchy that exists on-planet with the Imperials at the top who subjugate their own kind as well as the insectoid Natives, Shadow People and Spikes. All of these groups and ideas play important parts in Planet Hulk as well as all the ensuing stories set on Sakaar!

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

True Believers, are you watching “Marvel’s The Punisher,” streaming now exclusively on Netflix! Once you’re done binge-racing the series, get yourself cozy with a brand new episode of This Week in Marvel, the official Marvel podcast!

This week’s latest episode of This Week in Marvel is brought to you by Hasbro! Ben, Ryan and Tucker explore this week’s new comics, including DOCTOR STRANGE, HAWKEYE, THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN, and more. Catch up on the latest TV and games news with Christine, Eric and special guest Tim Hernandez (1:07:48). Enjoy another special holiday edition of the Unlimited Reading Club (1:50:46), featuring an exclusive interview with artist Reilly Brown (1:42:32)!

Download episode #316 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 Friday (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 Eric Goldman, 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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Scott Koblish on the Merc with a Mouth offing his pseudo-buddy.

On December 13, Deadpool kills Cable. Seriously, we’re talking end of the road, kick the bucket, lights out kind of dead. Sure, Stryfe made him do it, but can you really make Deadpool do something he doesn’t want to? Tune in to find out as writer Gerry Duggan, alongside artist Scott Koblish, reveal all in DESPICABLE DEADPOOL #290.

But wait, this tale packs more than just bestie drama, “I loved when the Dinosaurs poured out and attacked.  I love Dinosaurs,” teases Koblish.

Marvel.com: First off, can you give us the run down on what’s going on in #290?

Scott Koblish: Man, I don’t know if I CAN say what happens in this issue! Gerry, Nick, Joe, Jordan, Annalise, Heather and I worked really hard on this book, and while there are some really intense scenes in this arc, this issue is a particular peak.  It’s not called the DESPICABLE DEADPOOL for nothin’.

Marvel.com: Deadpool seems to jump back and forth across the line separating the morally good and bad. Murdering his buddy is safe to say a bad side move, so how is he dealing with this? Any justification for his actions?

Scott Koblish: You’ll have to make up your own mind if he’s justified in his actions. Wade has to make some really difficult decisions to be made over the next few issues, and even just as reader I am pretty shocked at where Gerry is going with this.

Marvel.com: How would you describe Deadpool and Cable’s relationship?

Scott Koblish: Homicidal.

Marvel.com: What are your 2 or 3 all-time favorite Deadpool and Cable moments, the highest points in their relationship?

Scott Koblish: Each interaction is severely complicated – if I had to pick favorites, I’d say their initial meeting in NEW MUTANTS and killing Hitler.

Marvel.com: What 2 or 3 moments across their relationship stick out to you as particularly gut wrenching, their lowest friendship moments?

Scott Koblish: I kinda feel like it’s NEVER been a good relationship.

Marvel.com: How is the tone of the book translated in the art? 

Scott Koblish: I’ve been working really hard at trying to make the book look as gritty and disturbing – this particular story demanded a rough touch in the art.

DESPICABLE DEADPOOL #290

Marvel.com: Any twists or surprises heading our way that you want to tease?

Scott Koblish: No, too much relies on surprise right now.  Mum’s the word.

Marvel.com: What can we expect for Deadpool moving forward?

Scott Koblish: Awful, awful things.

Catch the final downfall of Deadpool and Cable in DESPICABLE DEADPOOL #290 by writer Gerry Duggan and artist Scott Koblish when it hits shelves on December 13.

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A super-heroic love triangle like no other gets a fantastic start!

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.

Together, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby brought so much to the Marvel Universe, ranging from heroes and villains to iconic locales and whole races. However, they also established a great deal of relationships that remain relevant to this day. We, of course, know all about the connections between the Fantastic Four and even longtime comrades like the Avengers, but Lee and Kirby also established romantic bonds between characters, including the long and complicated one between Sue Storm and Namor!

It all began in 1962’s FANTASTIC FOUR #4 when Reed and Sue blamed Ben for chasing Johnny off in the previous issue. With one of their own flying solo, the other members of the team split up to track him down. Thing found the Torch working on a car with his buddies, but they fought, Ben changed back into his human form and Johnny ran off. After renting a bed at a men’s hotel in the Bowery, the youngest FF member met a man dealing with amnesia who also happened to be super-strong. After a flame-assisted shave, Johnny quickly realized the mystery man’s true identity: Namor, the Sub-Mariner!

To help jog his new friend’s memory, the Torch dropped Namor into the ocean, which brought all of the Golden Age stalwart’ss memories rushing back. Unfortunately for us surface-dwellers, the Sub-Mariner soon discovered that his underwater home had been ravaged by radioactivity left over from nuclear weapons testing. With that, Namor swore to have his revenge on mankind, even blaming Johnny Storm for waking him up to these atrocities. The Human Torch sent up a flare to get his partners’ attention. At that same time, the displaced ruler of Atlantis plunged the ocean’s depths to rouse a whale-like behemoth called Giganto!

Fantastic Four (1961) #4

Fantastic Four (1961) #4

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As the beast laid waste to New York City, The Thing decided to do the only thing that made sense: he strapped a nuclear bomb to his back and walked straight into Giganto’s maw! The plan worked, destroying the monster in the process. Unperturbed, Namor raised his creature-calling horn to summon more when Sue Storm used her invisibility powers to sneak up and snatch the instrument away. Upon seeing the Invisible Girl’s true form, the Sub-Mariner became instantly smitten. He even offered to spare humanity if Sue agreed to marry him. She quickly rebuked his ridiculous offer, which did not sit well with the arrogant king. At that point, Human Torch turned on the turbo jets, creating a cyclone that carried Namor back out to the ocean so he could cool off.

Far from the best meet cute in the history of comics, this initial meeting between Sue and Namor has led not just to further flirtations, but also more than a few alternate realities where the two actually got together and ruled the planet!

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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