Look back on the history of Venom ahead of the new crossover event!

On December 6, Spider-Man, Eddie Brock, and Flash Thompson reunite with the one foe (or friend?) they all share in common: the Venom symbiote!

In VENOM INC. ALPHA #1, writers Dan Slott and Mike Costa join artist Ryan Stegman for a tale of multiple Venoms! The crossover event kicks off here before clinging onto AMAZING SPIDER-MAN and VENOM!

But before the symbiote dance party starts, take a retrospective look at some other stories starring the mighty ectoparasites and the hosts they bonded with.

Brand New Threads

The first—and perhaps most famous—symbiote debuted in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #252, when Spider-Man came back from the first Secret Wars sporting a new black costume. And readers soon learned that the suit represented Parker’s bond with an alien creature. Their relationship turned sour as it changed Spidey’s personality and became a bit clingy, so with the help of the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man managed to ditch the suit…though not for long.

Birth of Venom

Rejected by Parker, the symbiote went on to find a new host—Eddie Brock. The former journalist, who begrudged Spider-Man for debunking a story he once wrote, became corrupted by the alien being. The ill-will he felt for the Wall-Crawler combined with his newfound superhuman abilities, giving Spider-Man a major new villain—with an immunity to his spider-sense!

Carnage!

While Venom proved to be a thorn in Spidey’s side, Brock maintained some semblance of morality, unlike the second major symbiotic player: Carnage. When the symbiote asexually reproduced in Brock’s jail cell, its “child” bonded with his cellmate, Cletus Kasady, creating the remorseless villain. Unlike Brock, Carnage had zero interest in being a hero, leaving a trail of bodies in his wake and wreaking havoc on both Spider-Man and Venom.

The Life Foundation

The Life Foundation, a group that believed the Cold War would end in total mutual destruction, created a fallout shelter for the wealthy to live on in the event of nuclear war. Policing the shelter were five Venom clones: Agony, Lasher, Riot, Phage, and Scream. Venom and Spider-Man teamed-up to stop them as Brock became a “Lethal Protector” of the homeless population of San Francisco. Eventually, Scream killed the other four, whose remnants joined with a vault guard named Scott Washington to create a new symbiote hero called Hybrid.

Maximum Carnage

Venom and Spider-Man joined forces again as Kasady returned to unleash Carnage on New York City. This 14-part series featured a slew of heroes and villains, including Black Cat, Captain America, Morbius, Cloak and Dagger, Iron Fist, Firestar, Doppelganger, Carrion, and the debuting Shriek!

Agent Venom

While Brock and the symbiote’s on again, off again relationship led to further villainy and anti-hero shenanigans—and the creation of characters like She-Venom, Toxin, and Anti-Venom—a new host with a longtime connection to Peter Parker took the entity to new heights. Project Rebirth connected Flash Thompson with the symbiote after the former high school bully lost his legs while serving in Iraq. Flash went on to battle the likes of the U-Foes, Kraven, and Jack O’Lantern, and even joined the Secret Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy.

Venom: Space Knight

During his tenure with the Guardians, Flash went into a coma, causing the symbiote to return to its home planet. Three decades after the debut of the black costume, readers finally learned of the true origin and purpose of the symbiotes—an alien race called the Klyntar sought to bond with worthy, noble warriors. Unworthy hosts, like almost everyone they ever found on Earth, have the ability to corrupt them. With this newfound knowledge, Thompson and his Klyntar partner evolved into VENOM: SPACE KNIGHT!

The Price isn’t Right

After returning to Earth, Flash and his symbiote got separated, leading the alien to bond with a new host, a member of the Scorpion’s gang, Lee Price. The new Venom continued his villainous ways when he bonded with the creature, eventually running afoul of Eddie Brock and Spider-Man, who managed to separate the two. Price got sent to jail, but quietly vowed revenge.

Bond with VENOM INC. ALPHA #1, by Dan Slott, Mike Costa, and Ryan Stegman, on December 6!

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Saladin Ahmed comments on the Inhuman monarch’s return to the throne!

The Midnight King has long ruled the Inhumans; on December 6, in the pages of BLACK BOLT #8, however, he returns to Earth, no longer a monarch in position or in self-perception. For the Inhumans left behind, he might even be viewed as a kind of absentee ruler, a man who abandoned them at a time of their greatest need.

Writer Saladin Ahmed took a break from packing up a crown and scepter to discuss the stages of Black Bolt’s rule, writing a once again voiceless protagonist, and Christian Ward’s amazing art.

Marvel.com: With Black Bolt once again voiceless, I am wondering how you and artist Christian Ward have been adapting to losing this one avenue of communication? Have you two discussed it and made a singular plan? How has it been to deal with a wordless character again?

Saladin Ahmed: We haven’t talked about it a lot so we don’t have any particular strategy for us to approach it collaboratively.

For me, from a writerly point of view, there have been a couple of points in the book where Black Bolt has had his voice and those points where he could actually speak I tend to recede the captions. Now that we are back to voiceless Black Bolt—not only one who’s restricting his speaking but physically has lost his super powered voice; something happened in that confrontation with the Jailer which we don’t quite know yet but we will be finding out more about—he really doesn’t have a voice. I’ve been leaning back on the third person captions that are sort of inside his head trying to capture the voice that I think he thinks to himself with.

Also, he’s been accompanied by Blinky. She’s—especially when he first gets back to Earth—is going to be stepping in to kind of explain to others what they’ve been through. She acts, to a degree, as his voice. In a way, similar to what Medusa did, but in a very different way; this is someone who is more like an adopted kid than a consort and she has actually psychic powers. One of the things she’s discovering is how to cultivate empathy and establish a bridge between two people and she’ll certainly be doing that in service of Black Bolt, the character, but BLACK BOLT the book as well. She’s kind of a cheat and I’m well aware of that, but you always have to find these work arounds.

Marvel.com: Obviously Christian, in handling the look of an alien prison world had some fantastic visuals to deal in and we have spoken previously about how incredible the colors have been as well. Returning to Earth, even the Earth of the Marvel Universe, would seem to be a shift towards a more mundane setting. In terms of that, how have you two discussed portraying Earth in a way that feels real but plays to his strengths and how has Christian been meeting this new challenge.

Saladin Ahmed: I’ve just been really impressed with how he has handled this transition. Again, there was no particular strategizing between us. We talk a bit, I hand him the scripts, we do talk about how the tone is shifting and therefore his color palette is shifting, but it’s not mundane. It’s astonishing.

He brings all this attention to detail and sense of panel composition, this just absolutely blazing color to the Bronx, to New Attilan on Earth, and to some familiar characters that Black Bolt will be crossing paths with as well.

I think people are only going to more impressed with the range of Christian’s art. He does [the] space thing and the psychedelic thing and the bizarre thing so well that there’s a threat of him being typecast as an artist. What people are really going to see in this second arc is that he can do a grounded Earthly super hero book just beautifully. Some of the facial expressions on the characters in this book I’m just thrilled by.

Marvel.com: What is your feeling, your interpretation, your perception of Black Bolt as King at baseline. That is, his role as status quo king during most of his existence up until the past few years of aggression and his recent absence?

Saladin Ahmed: I think he was pretty confident. I don’t think he did a lot of questioning of himself. He was an inheritor of traditions.

Of course, we aren’t just talking about a character but also how a character has been written. And a lot of writers recently like [Christopher] Priest and his [current limited series INHUMANS: THE ONCE AND FUTURE KINGS], have taken on what Black Bolt might have been thinking then because we never really got that back in the day from [Stan] Lee and [Jack] Kirby. But I think even with that kind of revisionist take on his early history, I don’t think he had any doubt he was supposed to be a monarch. I don’t think he was used to questioning himself or the kind of traditions he came from.

I think recent years have shaken that up for him though.

Marvel.com: In terms of how the Inhumans perceived him during that early period of rule, how did they feel about him, how did they experience him?

Saladin Ahmed: Pretty idyllic. He presided over a long period—now this isn’t bringing up things like the Alpha Primitives—but [for] most of Inhumans society he presided over a long period of peace and being hidden from the outside world. So I think generally his people had a sort of old school respect and awe and love but not a fuzzy soft kind of love. A kind of feudal love for him.

It is hard to know, though, is that just what Black Bolt thought people felt or if that’s what people thought. I think with any [king] that’s beloved, if you dig a little bit there are a lot of people that are not happy with him.

Black Bolt #8 cover by Christian Ward

Marvel.com: Recently, Black Bolt took a turn towards being a much more aggressive ruler with spreading the Terrigen Mist and taking on mutantkind and attacking Atlantis, and so on. How did his attitude towards himself change, in your opinion, and how did the people’s?

Saladin Ahmed: I think rather than see himself as the king of a secluded people, he began to want to carve out a place for his people in the larger world and was aggressively pre-empting how, for instance, humanity has dealt with mutants in history. I think Black Bolt was planning to put his people in a position of strength. Probably relentlessly, without much of an eye towards the consequences of that to others or his own people; [he] pursued that agenda for the past couple years.

I think that kind of—I don’t want to say imperial—but that aggressive expansionism of Inhumanity is a lot of what he is wrangling with now; how that backfired on him and his people.

Marvel.com: He certainly experienced many doubts in the prison and possible growth and change about what his role should be, but his people were unaware of that; they only perceived him as disappearing. How do those who didn’t go to space and were in the dark about Black Bolt’s imprisonment feel about what seemed like his unexplained, unreported absence?

Saladin Ahmed: This is a lot of what we are going to be contending with in the second arc, but they felt abandoned, basically. People don’t know what situation he was in, but to their mind they had this incredibly powerful ceremonial leader—even if he was not their actual acting king and a kind of progenitor—for the new Inhumans, Black Bolt brought many of them into being by releasing the Mist. Then HYDRA came after them and the Royal Family—including Black Bolt—was nowhere to be found.

There’s a lot of resentment towards that and Black Bolt is going to come face-to-face with that very soon. Like the moment he lands on Earth.

Marvel.com: What does he hope for himself in returning to the throne? Does he have a plan or a fantasy of being a new kind of king than he’s been before?

Saladin Ahmed: I think what Black Bolt—he went through a lot. In super hero comics, we often see heroes go through astonishing traumatic things and then bounce back. That’s not what’s going to happen for Black Bolt.

So rather than returning as the kind of scheming key player in events, he’s going to be coming home licking his wounds and trying to tie up loose ends of a very personal nature.

I don’t necessarily know that he is thinking of himself as a king upon his return. So considering what kind of king he will be is kind of beyond his thoughts.

Marvel.com: Emotionally speaking, when he finds out what happened when he was gone, can you give us an idea what his reaction is and what we’ll get to see of that reaction?

Saladin Ahmed: He comes back and find out and is consumed both by guilt and a sense of impotence.

What could he have done? It’s not like he chose to leave his people behind. But rather than become defensive, he’s pretty miserable.

The question for BLACK BOLT is when you are damaged and have really pressing immediate responsibilities—he has a kid in tow—how do you do your part to help fix the world?

I think that’s the question a lot of us who want to make things better have to ask ourselves.

Marvel.com: As you enter this second stage of BLACK BOLT, what has you excited, what has you anxious, what is challenging?

Saladin Ahmed: Oh, it is intensely challenging because, for one, the timeline is just tighter. You can do a lot of building for the first arc of the book because it hasn’t come out, you can do a lot more prep. Once the train is moving, you are working at a different pace. That’s been quite intense. There’s a little bit of anxiety around that.

What has been delightful has been just to bring this character back to the mainstream Marvel world. This is still going to be a book that will be off in its own corner to a degree but the first arc was very much, intentionally, isolated and self-contained. While this won’t tie heavily into Marvel continuity, with a big “C,” it has been really fun to bring this character back to Earth to interact with people from the [Inhumans’] world, from the larger Marvel Universe. Just getting to mess with that in the same way I got to mess with him individually in the first arc.

See what Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward have planned for The Midnight King in BLACK BOLT #8, headed your way December 6!

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Miller and Andrea Mutti show what happens with the Dark Lords of the Sith rule an entire planet!

Each week Star Wars Spotlight combs through the digital archives of Marvel Unlimited to showcase one classic story from that distant galaxy filled with Jedi, Sith, princesses, scoundrels and droids. 

When you hear about a world with a strong, very old Sith population that essentially took over upon arrival, you might think the place filled with blood and red face paint, but that’s not the case in John Jackson Miller and Andrea Mutti’s STAR WARS: LOST TRIBE OF THE SITH: SPIRAL. Instead you get a multi-faceted tale of legend meeting reality and embracing the potential for great good or evil!

This Legacy story took place during the time of the Old Republic, placing it 25,000 to 1,000 years before the Battle of Yavin. The planet Kesh played the setting of this story. Over two thousand years prior to the beginning of SPIRAL, the Sith ship Omen crashed on the planet, leaving Sith Lord Naga Sadow’s minions to create a new society for themselves, taking advantage of the fact that the Keshiri worshiped them. 

Star Wars: Lost Tribe Of The Sith - Spiral (2012) #1

Star Wars: Lost Tribe Of The Sith - Spiral (2012) #1

  • Published: August 08, 2012
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: May 07, 2015
  • Writer: John Miller
  • Cover Artist: Paul Renaud
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Back in the present of the story, the Keshiri celebrated the coming of the Sith. Well, not everyone. A rebel calling himself Death Spinner ran afoul of Officer Takara who had him arrested and sent to Grand Master Hilts.

We soon learned that, even though his family came to Kesh with the other Sith, they’d been cast out by the others and made to live with the locals who were themselves treated as slaves. Hilts wound up sending Spinner off on a ship to Alanciar. Takara – Hilts’ daughter – stowed away in a failed attempt at blazing her own trail that resulted in them both attempting a mutiny in a frigid wasteland! 

Star Wars: Lost Tribe Of The Sith - Spiral (2012) #2

Star Wars: Lost Tribe Of The Sith - Spiral (2012) #2

  • Published: September 12, 2012
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: May 07, 2015
  • Writer: John Miller
  • Cover Artist: Paul Renaud
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Those plans eventually lead them to meet another group from the stars known as The Doomed. This group derived from an earlier confrontation between Light and Dark Jedi who nearly destroyed Kesh, while also establishing the myths that the later Sith used to get the Keshiri to do their bidding.

The Doomed’s leader Kaliska explained all this to Spinner and Takara, but also mentioned an ancient Dark Jedi weapon that had been buried thousands of years before. As Takara agreed to learn from Kaliska and her people, Spinner made off with the secret weapon! When the weapon turned out to be Lord Dreypa, though, everyone involved knew that trouble would befall the entire planet, if not the galaxy.  

Star Wars: Lost Tribe Of The Sith - Spiral (2012) #3

Star Wars: Lost Tribe Of The Sith - Spiral (2012) #3

  • Published: October 10, 2012
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: May 07, 2015
  • Writer: John Miller
  • Cover Artist: Paul Renaud
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Spinner allied himself with Dreypa as a way to exact revenge against the very same power structure that cast his family out while Takara now feared for the establishment. The threat level jumped up several notches, though, when the well-slept Sith Lord remembered his original mission from 4000 years prior: to awaken Dark Side-Spawn Leviathans. 

Star Wars: Lost Tribe Of The Sith - Spiral (2012) #4

Star Wars: Lost Tribe Of The Sith - Spiral (2012) #4

  • Published: November 14, 2012
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: May 07, 2015
  • Writer: John Miller
  • Cover Artist: Paul Renaud
What is Marvel Unlimited?

With the giants poised to run amok, destroying everything in their path and absorbing Force energy along the way, all of the groups joined forces to face the immediate and deadly threat. As his powers returned, he gained even more knowledge from those opposing him, including the secret fact that the Doomed hid a working Jedi starfighter under what became Takara’s home! 

Star Wars: Lost Tribe Of The Sith - Spiral (2012) #5

Star Wars: Lost Tribe Of The Sith - Spiral (2012) #5

  • Published: December 12, 2012
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: May 07, 2015
  • Writer: John Miller
  • Cover Artist: Paul Renaud
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Instead of going herself to destroy the ship, though, Takara sent Spinner to handle the task, while also return her injured mother to her home. She remained on the battlefield to hold of Dreypa and his growing number of minions. Instead of blowing the vehicle up, though, Spinner used it to take out several of the Leviathans and then also trick Dreypa into exploding himself on a mountain!

From the Jedi Temple Archives

In this story that’s already set pretty far back in the past, we also got to see even older lightsabers from 4,000 years before the events of SPIRAL. One major difference you might have noticed in the hardware – one that even Dreypa pointed out – is that the older versions used to have power packs worn on the wielder’s belt running directly to the weapon itself. As you can imagine, this made actually using the sword-like implement far more difficult, but laid the ground work for the elegant weapon first seen in “A New Hope!”

Next week we return to the classic Marvel STAR WARS series with issue #50!

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Writer Robbie Thompson teases the arrival of The Chameleon!

On December 27, The Chameleon steps into the spotlight.

His chalky skin, his hollow eyes, his arrogant disposition…all of it will be familiar to Spidey fans. And he plans to take out the Wall-Crawler and the Merc with the Mouth with one big, brilliant plan in writer Robbie Thompson and artist Chris Bachalo’s SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL #25!

We caught up with Robbie to get a peek inside the upcoming issue.

Marvel.com: Chameleon has been portrayed in a variety of ways over the years. What do you see as the key to Chameleon? How would you describe your “version” of Chameleon in this storyline?

Robbie Thompson: The Chameleon keeps you guessing. He constantly changes his appearance to get what he wants, but I think that deep down, he’s hiding from himself. He’s running from something and he’ll never escape it. That desire may be hidden, but it runs deep and in our story, and it’ll push him to try to pull off one of his biggest heists ever.

Chameleon sees what Deadpool sees in the absence of S.H.I.E.L.D.—an opportunity to steal weapons and sell them. But we learn pretty early on that this has been a disguise as well. He’s hunting for a much bigger payoff.

Marvel.com: What made Chameleon the perfect choice for this storyline? Creatively, how does having him in the story spark you as a writer?

Robbie Thompson: It’s made me paranoid! Chameleon could be anyone! He could be me! And all credit to editors Nick Lowe and Jordan D. White for suggesting Chameleon for our story. When we started talking about where Spider-Man and Deadpool would be at the beginning of the story, coming from their flagship books, we really wanted to have them go up against a familiar foe, as well as someone who could shine a light on our heroes and also mess with expectations.

He’s a classic, original Spider-Man villain and it feels great to play with that history. Chameleon was the perfect choice and really fueled our early conversations about how to shape the story we’re telling in the present, as well as the story we’ll be telling in the future, which starts with issue #26. That story features Old Man Parker and Old Man Wilson in a retirement home decades from now and it’s been ridiculous fun to work on with artist Scott Hepburn.

Marvel.com: How would you describe Chris Bachalo’s depiction of the super villain?

Robbie Thompson: Chris is a master storyteller and his work on this book has been incredible. I can’t say enough good things about his work. I’m an enormous fan of his and have been for years, and I feel really fortunate to be collaborating with him on this story.

With Chameleon, we have the opportunity to bring in a lot of different characters and looks—anyone could be Chameleon under that mask! Don’t trust us! Don’t trust me! Chris’s first reveal of Chameleon looks so fantastic and I can’t wait for folks to see what he does with the character moving forward.

Marvel.com: What about the combination of Deadpool and Spider-Man makes The Chameleon want to go for broke this way?

Robbie Thompson: Chameleon, a master manipulator, he sees a golden opportunity in the current landscape of the Marvel Universe—one that can really play to his strengths and one that has the potential to increase his strengths and powers tenfold. And also make him a ton of cash.

He’s messing with Deadpool for a very specific reason, which will be clear in issue #25, but because he studies human behavior, he’s going to detect conflict between Spider-Man and Deadpool and use it to his advantage as the story moves on. The more Spider-Man and Deadpool get at each other’s throats, the more it plays right into Chameleon’s plans.

Marvel.com: How does the Wall-Crawler view this new version of his old enemy?

Robbie Thompson: At first, it’s going to seem like Chameleon gets up to his old, thieving ways. Spider-Man feels like he knows this guy and his usual M.O. and that it should be easy.

It’s pretty clear from jump, though, that this is an amped up Chameleon. And as Spider-Man pieces together that Chameleon wants one of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s darker secrets, he’ll have to up his game and put his feud with Deadpool aside to stop Chameleon before he goes too far.

Marvel.com: Last but not least, give the readers the elevator pitch on why #25 will be a can’t-miss installment.

Robbie Thompson: SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL #25 is Part Three of “Arms Race!” Set in fabulous Tabula Rasa! Spider-Man vs. Deadpool vs. Chameleon! One of Deadpool’s crew loses their minds! Comedic dismemberment! And the next phase of Chameleon’s plan!

SPIDER-MAN VS. DEADPOOL #25, by Robbie Thompson and artist Chris Bachalo, drops on December 27!

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Greg Pak sends his team of mercenaries and monsters into the fray!

Marvel Legacy heats up in the South American country of Santo Marco with “Nuke-Clear War” part one in Greg Pak and Yildiray Cinar’s WEAPON X #12 coming December 13. With mutant genocide taking place, Weapon X’s ragtag alliance of heroes and villains may be the only ones who can stop it. There’s just one teensy, tiny problem: he goes by Frank Simpson, better known as Nuke, and he’s got a band of super-soldiers on his side. They’re all hopped up on the red, white, and blue pills, which won’t make things any easier for the mutant good guys.

Speaking with Pak, we got the low-down on the brewing conflict of his newest WEAPON X storyline.

Marvel.com: Mutant genocide is a pretty serious development. Can you give a quick summary of where this is happening and why?

Greg Pak: Our story takes place in Santo Marco, the fictional South American nation that Magneto took over way back in [UNCANNY X-MEN #4]. I’ve set stories in the country a few times over the years—in my WAR MACHINE and STORM runs—and established it as a place where dangerous leaders have periodically led anti-mutant persecutions. Most recently, the Weapon X team visited Santo Marco during the Weapons of Mutant Destruction storyline, where they investigated the murder of a mutant named Jorge. As our new story begins, the dictatorial president of Santo Marco has started a new attack on mutants and anyone related to mutants, spearheaded by a platoon of ruthless super-soldiers who wear the American flag on their faces. So yes, if you’re a fan of Frank Simpson, a.k.a. the super-soldier known as Nuke, this is the story for you.

Marvel.com: What drives Weapon X to want to put a stop to it all?

Greg Pak: Weapon X is made up of loners, mercenaries, and even borderline villains who really shouldn’t be able to work together as a team. But they’ve managed to stick together over a series of missions in order to fight shared enemies; enemies that even barely-reformed villains like Sabretooth and Lady Deathstrike see the need to take out. In this case, James Proudstar, a.k.a. Warpath, gets an emergency call from Acero, Jorge’s brother, asking for help. Warpath’s immediately committed to heading to Santo Marco to fight, but as you’ll see in the actual story, each of the other members of the team may need a little more convincing. In particular, Domino’s always got her eyes on the prize, which in her case is some kind of cash payout. And Sabretooth, as always, might have some other plan up his sleeve.

Weapon X #12 cover by Rahzzah

Marvel.com: How do these special super-soldier pills make the foreign militia an even match for Weapon X? 

Greg Pak: When Nuke was first introduced by [Frank] Miller and [David] Mazzucchelli back in the classic DAREDEVIL storyline “Born Again,” his managers used red, white, and blue pills to amp him up and cool him down. We’ll see those pills in action in this new storyline. Watch out for those red ones in particular, y’all!

Marvel.com: Will Weapon X have any mutant allies, either from the X-Men or the persecuted population they’re fighting for?

Greg Pak: Weapon X tends to work alone. They barely hold together as team—they’re not really built to play well with others. But Acero and his fellow Santo Marcans will play a role as well.

This is a great place to plug artist Yildiray Cinar, who makes his debut in the book with this storyline. He’s doing absolutely incredible work, making every one of our heroes distinctive and fun and full of character and making every new supporting character feel like a fully fleshed out, compelling, real person. And he’s totally eating up all the action. I’m loving every page he turns in, and Frank D’Armata’s colors are just gorgeous over his inks.

Track a loose Nuke in WEAPON X #12 by Greg Pak and Yildiray Cinar on December 13!

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Frank Castle's empire of violence expands!

Get fired up for the November 17 debut of “Marvel’s The Punisher” on Netflix by exploring some of Frank Castle’s darkest, deadliest moments.

A darker tone and the rise of antiheroes changed the landscape of comic books during the late 1980s and early 1990s. And no character met the demands of the new trend better than Frank Castle.

In 1987, writer Mike Baron and artist Klaus Janson launched the character’s first ongoing series with THE PUNISHER. Baron wrote the first 63 issues, joined by a host of artists including, most notably, Whilce Portacio and Erik Larsen.

The series proved popular enough that The Punisher earned a spinoff series, called PUNISHER: WAR JOURNAL, in 1988. In its early issues, Frank learned that a mobster named Hector Montoya set up the attack that led to the death of Castle’s family. During his first stay at Ryker’s Island, Frank actually fought alongside Montoya, without knowing that his orders were the ones that changed his life forever.

Punisher War Journal (1988) #1

Punisher War Journal (1988) #1

  • Published: November 10, 1988
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: September 10, 2008
  • Writer: Carl Potts
What is Marvel Unlimited?

When Montoya got released from prison, The Punisher proved his title to be true, exacting his revenge for the loss of his wife and children. The early WAR JOURNAL issues also included meet-ups with Daredevil, flashbacks to Vietnam, and even a fight-turned-team-up with Wolverine!

Chuck Dixon, John Romita Jr., and Klaus Janson then launched the third Castle-centric book with THE PUNISHER: WAR ZONE in 1992, capturing the look and feel of the era’s action films—plenty of hard-edged heroes mixing it up in gloriously choreographed, explosive violence.

The Punisher: War Zone (1992) #1

The Punisher: War Zone (1992) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Each of these three series came to their respective ends in 1995, culminating in one story called “Countdown,” running through PUNISHER #103, WAR JOURNAL #79, WAR ZONE #41, PUNISHER #104, and WAR JOURNAL #80. Dixon wrote the crossover, tearing Castle’s world apart and setting him up to be brainwashed in DOUBLE EDGE: ALPHA and DOUBLE EDGE: OMEGA, which led to him murdering Nick Fury!

War Journal

Not one to stay down for long, Castle returned later that same year in a new volume of PUNISHER, this time written by John Ostrander. In this story, rather than aiming to destroy the mob, Frank actually took charge of one himself! The series also saw The Punisher go head-to-head with Jigsaw, S.H.I.E.L.D., Daredevil, and even the X-Cutioner!

Come back next week to see how Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon relaunched The Punisher!

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Mariko Tamaki discusses the return of The Leader!

The Leader has come for Jen Walters again. And this time, he’s conscripted her biggest fan in the fight.

On December 13, writer Mariko Tamaki and artist Jahnoy Lindsay present SHE-HULK #160! Jen has barely started to deal with the trauma still lingering after Civil War II and now she finds even more difficulty coming her way. Trapped between the two most Hulk-obsessed people on the planet, Jen has to ask: what do they want from her?

Mariko stopped by to give us a couple of clues!

Marvel.com: At the start of this series, we found Jen dealing with some serious stress. How has she been progressing through that emotional journey?

Mariko Tamaki: It’s been a messed up couple of months for Jennifer Walters.

After she lost her cousin, Jen has really struggled to deal with the trauma of that and her own experiences with Thanos.

Post-Civil War II, she’s been working at a new law firm where she’s tried to focus on other people’s problems instead of her own. But you can’t treat trauma like a headache, like “Well, this sucks but it will go away.” It won’t go away! The more you avoid a thing like trauma, the more it shows up in your life. Jen wants to treat her pain like a cramp and shake it off and just focus on other people’s monsters. But no matter what she does, her monster stands there waiting all the time and it’s constantly messing with her.

Marvel.com: And so the grey state comes in.

Mariko Tamaki: Yeah, the grey state acts like a heightened version of Jen’s previous green state. Everything about grey Hulk seems bigger and angrier. And being grey kind of makes it hard to connect to Jen.

Being grey is basically like rage. Pure. Rage.

Marvel.com: Tell us a little bit about The Leader and his history with The Hulk.

Mariko Tamaki: The Leader is a brain (a very big brain, thanks to gamma radiation) and a schemer. He’s a tactician. The same way gamma radiation made Hulk and She-Hulk’s rage and anger larger than life, the Leader’s ambition, ego, and desire for domination and power, are also larger than life.

Of course, the problem with big plans tends to be that they always get foiled, and the Hulk has been a foil for The Leader time and time again. So the plans get a little more evil and a little more intricate every time…

Marvel.com: What makes him so obsessed with Jen!?

Mariko Tamaki: Aside from the ongoing backstory of Leader vs. Hulk, to paraphrase “RuPaul’s Drag Race” winner Jinkx Monsoon, I think there might be two reasons you go after a person: you go after the person who’s good at the things you’re not good at, and you go after someone who’s good at the things you are good at.

I think for The Leader, She-Hulk seems kind of a double threat in that regard. She’s smart and strong. Also, I think at some point you pick the person you want to destroy and, once you’ve committed to that, you just have to follow through.

Marvel.com: Professor Robyn Meiser Malt shows up in this arc as well! What inspires her in this story?

Mariko Tamaki: Robyn, a scientist working with The Leader, is a huge, huge fan of She-Hulk. Robyn acts as my investigation of a kind of fan. What happens when you put someone up in a place beyond being admired? What singular thing does the object of your desire become and how does that connect to your own vision of self?

Now, at the start of issue #159, she works with The Leader. Jen gets drugged and restrained in a bunker with this woman who sees Hulk as an answer—kind of the exact opposite of how Jen sees herself. Robyn has turned Jen into this fairytale, a story that (with some help) has filled up her whole brain with this singular vision…a very dangerous singular vision.

Marvel.com: If you could give Jen one piece of advice, what would it be?

Mariko Tamaki: You need to ask for advice…and I don’t think Jen would ask for advice. Fortunately, I do think Jen might be on the cusp of leaning into, instead of avoiding, her pain. I think the more you explore it, the more you understand it. But that’s just me.

Pick up Mariko Tamaki and artist Jahnoy Lindsay’s SHE-HULK #160 on December 13!

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Ryan North sends Doreen back into space for an adventure with the new Sorcerer Supreme.

On December 13, THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #27, from writer Ryan North and artist Erica Henderson, begins a new story arc titled “Forbidden Pla-Nut!” In the first issue, Doreen has to get to the other side of the galaxy to save her friends Nancy and Tippy from an alien world, so she’ll need some assistance in getting there. Naturally, she intends to recruit Dr. Strange, but finds out there’s a new Sorcerer Supreme in town, Loki!

We talked to Ryan about the new arc and how Squirrel Girl is going to get along with the mischievous trickster.

Marvel.com: In “Forbidden Pla-Nut!”, Doreen’s heading into space, but in true THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL fashion, this cosmic adventure isn’t the least bit orthodox. Can you talk a little about the impetus for this story and some of the exciting guest stars?

Ryan North: Sure!  It was part of Marvel Legacy but our book is only 3 years old, so there wasn’t much of a legacy to go back to – we’re still in the middle of making it!  So instead we thought “well, what’s the opposite of going back to basics” and the answer is clearly “shoot Squirrel Girl into space.”

So that’s what we did!  It starts with a kidnapping, features a talking cat, and ends up on the other side of the galaxy.  And that’s just the first issue!

Marvel.com: What drew you to pairing Doreen up with these new characters?

Ryan North: Doreen is of course lots of fun, but the fact that Loki becoming is Sorcerer Supreme now is crazy: it’s a bold twist for the character, and of course Squirrel Girl and Loki have a history, through their mutual friend Nancy Whitehead.  So this was a chance to explore that more, and once you go into space in a Marvel comic you run into all sorts of cosmic characters that I’m very excited to showcase.  If you look at the covers, the Silver Surfer is involved.  Squirrel Girl has a history with his ol’ pal Galactus, too.

Marvel.com: What can you tell us about the villains at play here?

Ryan North: I don’t want to spoil the reveal, but there’s actually a couple of villains appearing at the same time.  One of them is an enemy of Strange who believes (quite reasonably, as it turns out) that Loki is not quite as competent at the whole “sorcerer supreme” business as Strange used to be, and another is a new enemy who is similarly taking advantage of a fortunate (or unfortunate) situation.

It’ll be crazy fun!  IN SPAAAACE!

Marvel.com: What are some of your favorite “going into space” Marvel stories that inspired this arc?

Ryan North: I love the first appearance of Galactus and the Silver Surfer, back in the FANTASTIC FOUR#48.  But in more modern sense, there’s a lot of fun with the Guardians of the Galaxy, and that’s the same sort of fun I’m going for here: that sense of space being full of mystery, and a lot of it is insane, and you’re not going to understand everything but it’s going to be awesome.

That’s what I’m shooting for!

Marvel.com: You and artist Erica Henderson have been collaborating on this book for awhile now. What’s your favorite part of writing for her?

Ryan North: Erica takes what I write and elevates it into a better version of the script, which is terrific, because then everyone thinks I’m better than I am.  IT’S A SECRET, DON’T TELL ANYONE.  So my favourite part is getting back her pencils and seeing what she’s done.  We’ve also got a great working relationship where she feels super comfortable changing things for storytelling reasons, so she’ll sometimes tweak something or move stuff around, and then it’s not just “I get to see the story illustrated” but also “I get to see the story illustrated, and also, better.”  It’s super great!

Marvel.com: Is there anything ridiculous you managed to squeeze into this new story that you’re proudest of?

Ryan North: There is!  We managed to get a fresh take on the Silver Surfer that hasn’t been done in all of Marvel history.

I’m super proud of that but I don’t want to say what it is because it’s a spoiler, so I GUESS EVERYONE WILL JUST HAVE TO BUY THE ISSUE TO FIND OUT!

Readers can do just that on December 13, when THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #27 drops, from Ryan North and Erica Henderson!

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The time-traveling hero decides it’s time once again for a team!

Nathan Summers’ no dummy, and CABLE #152, out December 13, will prove it.

When Cable’s back’s against the wall and there’s a murder mystery to solve, he’ll forego his usual loner act and admits it’s time for a team. And what a team! Pulled from a point in Marvel mutant history around 2004, these characters represent everything your favorite cyborg warrior needs to get the job done—or so he hopes.

We asked CABLE writer Ed Brisson to comment on each timeless titan our hero pulls in:

Marvel.com: Ed, what about Longshot? How do you see his connection to Cable?

Ed Brisson: In terms of relationship, I see Longshot as being Cable’s second in command here. He’s been on this case since day one, primarily brought in for his—little used—ability to communicate with the recently dead. And, hey, dude has luck ability. Every team needs a good luck charm.

Marvel.com: Surely Shatterstar’s providing some “good ol’days” feels for Cable, right?

Ed Brisson: He and Cable are X-Force alum and so have a long history. Shatterstar is brought in for muscle. [Cable] needs a heavy-hitter who has no compunction about running headlong into battle. And, because I’ve been asked [elsewhere], it’s worth noting that at this point in time—circa 2004—Shatterstar and Longshot are unaware that they’re related.

Marvel.com: Laura Kinney’s here, but as X-23, not Wolverine…

Ed Brisson: At this point in time, X-23 is new to the scene so [she] doesn’t have much of a relationship with Cable or the rest of the crew. But, as mentioned above, they need muscle and X-23 gives them that, too.

Marvel.com: And Armor?

Ed Brisson: Similar to X-23, in 2004 Armor is relatively new to the X-Men. In fact, she’s not a member of X-Men yet; she’s a new student at Xavier Institute. Cable’s brought her aboard for abilities that he knows she has that she’s still unaware of.  There’s a bit of a mentorship happening—Cable knows Armor’s headed for great things and is giving her a bit of a push here.

Cable (2017) #150

Cable (2017) #150

Marvel.com: Then there’s Blink!

Ed Brisson: Top secret! We’re in a time where Blink isn’t supposed to be around. So, how she’s here and what she’s doing is something that people are going to have to read and discover for themselves.

Marvel.com: Okay, but how the heck will Doop be useful?

Ed Brisson: Doop is there because he’s Doop! Doop is awesome! But, also, Cable knows they’re going up against Selene, who’s a powerful telepath. They need Doop in order to shield them from her…’cause, did you know that Doop can throw up psionic shields? He can!

Marvel.com: Now, to wrap this up, we have to ask: how does big baddie Gideon figure into this?

Ed Brisson: This is another one I’m going to plead the fifth on. How Gideon comes into it and what his play is, that’s something that readers will have to discover over the next few issues.

Marvel.com: Wait! You gotta say more than that!

Ed Brisson: For me, personally, that early 90s era of New Mutants/X-Force was seminal. It was an exciting time and Gideon was a large part of that. Dude’s been off the playing board for more than two decades and I’m pretty excited to be bringing him back.

Find out what Nate and his crew get up to next in CABLE #152 by Ed Brisson and artist Jon Malin on December 13!

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Captain America locks horns once more with his arch-nemesis!

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.

Jack Kirby legendarily shouldered all of the penciling responsibilities when it came to CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #1 back in 1941. That issue not only concisely introduced the world to Cap and Bucky, but also their number one villain, The Red Skull. In CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #3, writer Joe Simon and Kirby brought the soon-to-be stalwart villain back into our heroes’ lives. Just look at that maniacal look on the Skull’s face as seen on the cover as he tied Bucky to a bomb right next to the already-trapped Betty Ross whilst Captain America valiantly busts in to free his friends!

For a quick reminder, the first Red Skull seen in the Shield-Slinger’s inaugural issue turned out to be George Maxon. He used an injection drug to scare people to death, but ultimately rolled over on his own needle, seemingly overdosing in the process. However, as CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #3 kicked off, the man rose back up, claiming that he’d basically inoculated himself against his own drug. With that, the villain set about to gain revenge on the heroes and America itself! He got right to work by stealing plans for a U.S. made power drill and also exhibiting his new Touch of Death defense which killed anyone who came in contact with his person!

The Skull continued rolling right along with his nefarious plan as he had his minions spread word of his return, causing a wave of terror, followed immediately by an attack of the power drill that bored a hole right through a major city, killing thousands. Bucky and Cap leaped right into action, even grabbing on to the massive drill, but soon fell back when the bad guys turned their guns on our champions. Meanwhile, a carnival barker decided to capitalize on the patriotic pair’s fame and had a couple of goons dress up as them. The charlatan then charged a dime for people to come in and shake hands.

Captain America Comics (1941) #3

Captain America Comics (1941) #3

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Though the real deals broke up the racket, Red Skull didn’t hear about the con and broke in with his henchmen to kidnap his supposed enemies! Unfortunately for the fill-ins, the Skull hung them just before Captain America and Bucky could get there. However, they did succeed in blowing up the mad man’s power drill with a good, old-fashioned bomb!

Kirby also drew a fun mix of anti-Nazi and horror stories called “The Hunchback of Hollywood” and “The Movie Murder,” which found our heroes investigating threats to film designed with an anti-fascist message. This one not only featured Steve Rogers dressed up as a knight in the picture, but also Cap storming a castle by way of catapult! Other issue highlights include a prose story called “Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge” written by a kid named Stan Lee, another Cap and Bucky adventure called “The Queer Case of the Murdering Butterfly and the Ancient Mummies,” and a Reed Crandall-drawn Hurricane, Master of Speed tale that Simon and Kirby wrote!

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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