Brian Bendis lays bare the secrets of the former S.H.I.E.L.D. director!

Maria Hill finds herself in a difficult situation these days. Booted out of S.H.I.E.L.D., we see her out on her own, more vulnerable than ever. Forced to ask for help—not necessarily Maria’s strong suit—she has shown up in JESSICA JONES, where the two have a bit of a frigid encounter. But big things will come for these two, as Maria embarks on a very different mission from the type we’re used to seeing her undertake.

We asked Brian Michael Bendis—writer of JESSICA JONES and co-creator of both Jessica and Maria—for his insights on the history and psychology of this most mysterious character.

Marvel.com: As a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and then head of the organization, Maria seemed like one of the good guys, but you get the feeling you can never fully trust her. Even going back to the House of M days, she feels leery of the Avengers, and they feel the same way toward her.

Brian Michael Bendis: I’ve done an immense amount of research on spy training and spycraft, and not unlike a police officer or a fireman, you’re trained to only see the worst in people. You’re trained to look for that thing other people don’t look for—those tells, those chess moves that are too complicated for us normal people, going about our days. She trained her brain to play the most complicated game of chess that could ever be played, and in doing so, you’re looking at everybody like a pawn or a player, and not as a human being, because you’re not allowed to since you have to send them on missions. And with that, people learn to mistrust.

Now the mysteries of Maria Hill—where she came from, who she is—there have been little hints and bits in my books and in [other] books over the years. But we’ve never shown who she is, where she came from, what made her, how she got so deep into the center of the Marvel Universe so quickly. These are big things, and they speak to the larger landscape of the Marvel Universe, secrets we don’t know about, secrets we don’t know about S.H.I.E.L.D., how agents are made, or how people find themselves in this position. And Maria, being at the center, really, of some of the biggest events in Marvel history—to my surprise—from Civil War to Secret Invasion—that takes a massive toll on people. So now that she has been ousted from S.H.I.E.L.D., the mysteries of her life are more fragile and the keeping of those mysteries is less important to other people. As leader [of] S.H.I.E.L.D., it was in everyone’s best interest to keep her secrets secret, but once you’re out, you’re out. The mystery of her was one of her strengths, because no one had any ammo on her. But now the mysteries are unfolding, and she’s more vulnerable. And she doesn’t have the protection of S.H.I.E.L.D. anymore, so her secrets are her biggest threat, even more than who has them and what they’re trying to do with them.

I’m a big fan of John Le Carré novels about spies and what they do once they’re done being spies. And I thought, what a great opportunity now for Jessica to live in a John Le Carré novel as she discovers the history of Maria, which also is the modern history of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Marvel.com: I find Maria a really a compelling character; not lovable, like Peter Parker, but interesting. What do you think makes her so intriguing?

Brian Michael Bendis: Maria has to make some hard choices, and the super heroes don’t always make it easy for her. The X-Men, the Inhumans, everyone is messing with her stuff. So somebody has to be the mom. And if you’re in that position, you’re going to be bumming someone out, and you’re going to have to make some choices that someone doesn’t like.

I always liked how Matt Fraction wrote Maria’s relationship with Tony Stark. Now there’s a person who can understand the complexities of her decision-making policies.

And she took over for Nick Fury after decades. Everyone had an opinion about him, but no one had an opinion about her. And she doesn’t give you much verbally, so you have to base your opinion on her actions. And her comebacks—I always write her with a little wit and comeback because I think that shows her intelligence. So that was what was interesting about her introduction to the Marvel Universe, she came in like a hurricane who no one knew anything about.

Did I think she’d still be around? Did I think she’d be a movie star, a TV star? Did I think she’d be so entrenched in the movies and TV, and the comic books? No I did not. I know I’m more known for Jessica Jones and Miles Morales, but I had this unique experience of watching Maria catch on like wildfire in the mid-2000s. A lot of people started writing her. I was surprised by how much people at Marvel were interested in writing her because no one knew anything about her. As much pride as I feel about Jessica and Miles and Riri [Williams aka Ironheart], Maria being in the “Avengers” movie was a huge deal. And it reminded me of how special it is to add things to the Marvel Universe.

Marvel.com: You would call her a control freak, right? Her desire to be in control may have led her to support super hero registration in Civil War, and to create Pleasant Hill, for example. But it also seems like she feels that, in her position, she’s required to take control.

Brian Michael Bendis: It’s an interesting conversation I’ve been having in a few of the books—also maybe in my real life. You get to a certain age and control is an illusion. The more you grow and the more complicated your life gets, the more you realize this, and that all you can do is the best you can do in the moment you’re in. And for people playing a more dangerous game than the one you and I are playing every day, that’s more frustrating and scarier. And so here she is, trying to control a world she can’t control, as Tony Stark is, as Steve Rogers is. Everyone is trying to do their part—and then her part has a giant floating tank in the sky. And she’s aware of that, and how it looks. And we talk about it in JESSICA JONES, that she’s aware that she was almost sold to the American public as a boogeyman because the American public actually need one. They need to be mad at something, so it’s, “Here, be mad at the big floating tank in the sky.” She’s the taskmaster, the head nun at the school, the one who has to put the hammer down. And some people are going to be happy about it and some aren’t.

Marvel.com: I think Maria sees herself as a pragmatist; not afraid to do what she thinks she needs to.

Brian Michael Bendis: Yes. She has to be. She’s faced with factual reality, but also with the breaking of the laws of physics and gravity and time and space. Just imagine, “Oh hey, the original X-Men are here from the past, and they’re not going home, and we don’t know how to get them home. Is there a law against this?” I always kind of looked at her as editor-in-chief of Marvel the company. There are so many super heroes running around, smashing into each other, clashing. And I always try to imagine Joe Quesada or Axel Alonso, with a bird’s eye perspective of all of our stories being told at once, and all of that on their desks, and the madness that must create. And for Joe and Axel, it’s all fictional, but for Maria, it’s all real! Imagine you’re sitting in your office and the events of the biweekly X-Men or Avengers all happened at once!

Jessica Jones #8 cover by David Mack

Also, Maria has a lot of secrets about other people, and there are secrets about herself that she may not know. She may have voluntarily brainwashed herself to spare herself from some horrible memory that is coming back to haunt her—or she knows stuff about the super hero and super villain communities that they don’t even know. And those secrets will chase her. And you know, some politicians and people in government get secret service, but not everyone does, and Maria doesn’t. It’s almost like they’re being set up to be put down before they become a problem.

Marvel.com: Underneath it all, Maria does seem to care about doing the right thing. Yes, she has a lot of ambition, and she sometimes leads with an iron fist, but at the end of the day, she cares about protecting ordinary people. Do you see her that way?

Brian Michael Bendis: I do. And I’m not just saying this as her “biological father.” I think she has an enormous capacity for good and selfless behavior, and has shown it over and over and over again. And she has made tough choices in the face of insurmountable obstacles without blinking. Even if you didn’t agree with the politics, her actions were heroic and patriotic. And she has never buckled from that, no matter how tough the job got. So I consider her one of the great heroes of the Marvel Universe. I think she kept stuff together with everything was going off the rails. I think without her behavior in the original Civil War, we wouldn’t even have a Marvel Universe anymore. I think without her, Secret Invasion goes the other way, SECRET WAR goes the other way. And I know some of these are stories I’ve written, but not all of them. She has made deep, huge, giant choices that have affected the lives of Tony Stark and Peter Parker—the biggest names in the Marvel Universe. She has protected them and kept them straight. Regardless of her demeanor, I don’t think she’s done anything other than heroic actions; at least at the moment she thought they were.

I think some of the super heroes who have pushed against her have actually appreciated that there was something to push against, because some of them thrive on revolution and rebellion. They were grateful for what she does, because it kept things calmer than they would have been otherwise. As a parent, sometimes I see my older kids looking at me like, “It’s 8:30, please tell me to go to bed because I’m tired but I’m not going to go on my own.” And that’s what Maria has to do.

Marvel.com: What would you consider the top three key turning points in Maria’s history?

Brian Michael Bendis: I think we did well with her debut because it landed well. It also wasn’t pre-sold, and I liked introducing a character without any hype. I must say I’m proud of how well she landed. Let’s just say I didn’t have everything figured out back then, so when things went well with Maria, I was able to say, “Ok, that’s something that works.”

Number two, I think Civil War was a big deal for her, the first one. When I close my eyes and picture her, it’s some of [CIVIL WAR artist] Steve McNiven’s work that I see.

And this is going to sound cornball, but I’d say the third one is going to be the story we’re doing right now in JESSICA JONES because it is such an illumination of her. I think if anyone is even vaguely curious about what her deal was, it’s a grabber. And also, I kind of enjoyed how long we could keep her mystery going. People were not angry at us, they kind of liked it. They got the sense that we knew her deal and we’ll get to it when we do. I get people asking me little fill in the blank things about her, like, what S.H.I.E.L.D. class was she in. And that makes me think people are going to be excited when we finally tell the story of who she is and how she got here.

So I do believe the third one is the one that’s coming out right now. What a great sales pitch, and at the same time, completely self-serving!

Marvel.com: Can you tease anything about what we might see in Maria’s future?

Brian Michael Bendis: This new chapter in Maria’s life is exciting because she’s out of her comfort zone and into a new world in the Marvel Universe. And I can’t tell you how excited I was that this was all coming out in other stories around the same time that Jessica Jones would be there to catch her fall. It’s a perfect place to unlock this mystery of this woman who’s one of the biggest mysteries in modern comics.

She’s in a place where it’s, now you’ve got to find out who you are. You’ve done this job for a while, you’ve made your choices, now you’ve got to roll up your sleeves and say, who am I? What do I have to offer the world? What next, what now? And those are some of the scariest questions [a] person can ask, no matter where you are in your life. And anyone can relate to that.

What’s going on in this book, and in other very big books at Marvel, with S.H.I.E.L.D. and the face of that part of Marvel, is going to be altered dramatically over the course of the summer. And those players, and their place in the Marvel Universe, will all deal with this big shift. Some will succeed, some will fail, some will turn, and it’s going to spill out into other books. Particularly, a very cool story is going on in SPIDER-MAN and INVINCIBLE IRON MAN because of this. So if you’re reading all of them, you’re going to be so rewarded. And if you’re just reading one or the other, we’re going to show you some cool, new stuff because of what’s going on with Maria and the future of that part of Marvel.

The secrets of Maria Hill continue to be revealed in JESSICA JONES #9 on June 7 and JESSICA JONES #10 on July 5, both by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos!

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Take a look at exclusive AVENGERS: NO SURRENDER pages courtesy of Tom Brevoort and Alanna Smith!

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

Take an epic look at all the comics coming this week like CAPTAIN PHASMA, MIGHTY THOR, and ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, with Ryan, Ben and Tucker. Tune in for late breaking AVENGERS news from editors Tom Brevoort and Alanna Smith (1:18:38)! In fact, get an exclusive taste of AVENGERS: NO SURRENDER below! Christine and Eric dish out some TV and Film news from the West Coast (1:43:12) before tackling an old school Spider-Man classic for Ultimate Reading Club (1:51:06)!

Download episode #312 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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As Scott Lang joins the Guardians as Ant-Man we look back at how he joined the Marvel Universe!

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.

A first day on the job usually leads to some uncomfortable situations. You’re not quite sure where to park or sit for lunch. Maybe the people don’t take to you immediately or show even a remote sense of interest in your existence. And then sometimes, Wonder Man tries to punch you in the face because the Avengers Mansion security tried taking him out.

That wasn’t just Scott Lang’s first day on the job as an employee of Tony Stark’s installing the security system at the famous domicile, but also his very first appearance as seen in AVENGERS #181 by David Micheline, John Byrne and Gene Day. 

Avengers (1963) #181

Avengers (1963) #181

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Now that Lang has joined up with the team in ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, it’s the perfect time to look back at how he made his less-than-spectacular debut in 1979. In an interesting little twist of fate, Iron Man actually saw the original Guardians off after a shared adventure they had in #177.

Anyway, Lang walked away with his head intact thanks to Stark interceding on his behalf, which allowed him to show up again in MARVEL PREMIERE #4748 by Micheline, Byrne and Bob Layton. 

Marvel Premiere (1972) #47

Marvel Premiere (1972) #47

What is Marvel Unlimited?

This issue kicked off with Lang already in the Ant-Man duds thinking to himself about saving his daughter while interrupting a surgery. He held his own, but didn’t succeed in completing his mission, which gave him time to think back.

In that second appearance, Lang remembered being an inmate in a prison that helped him get a job interview with Stark International. Wanting to put his burglary days behind him and embrace his electronics background, which worked out, but only for a while. Soon, his daughter Cassie exhibited an inoperable aorta condition that seemed to leave them all with little to no hope.

Desperate, Lang broke into a an old mansion belonging to Hank Pym. He wanted cash to help pay for Cassie’s treatment, but wound up stumbling upon the Ant-Man costume and helmet, which he made off with. He soon put the duds on and found himself at eye level with the insects.

Only later did the opening scene come into focus more fully as he intended to kidnap Dr. Sondheim who was working on the procedure and force her to help Cassie. Instead, he discovered that a hulk of a man named Darren Cross had actually kidnapped Dr. Sondheim already in search of her services.

After rescuing the good doctor, she helped save Cassie’s life and things started looking up for Lang, and then Pym appeared in his Yellow Jacket costume. Instead of chewing the thief out, Hank congratulated him on a job well done and said he could keep the suit if he kept doing good with it.

Lang jumped at the chance and has been striving to stay on the right side ever since. He even did a good enough job parenting to help raise Cassie into a strong young woman who became a hero in her own right known as Stature!

Flash Forward

The MARVEL PREMIERE issues as a test to see if this new Ant-Man could shoulder his own series. The numbers didn’t quite work out for that, but he did wind up becoming an Avenger. In #181, he showed up at Yellow Jacket’s request to help the team find out what the Wasp might be doing at the Solomon Institute for the Criminally Insane. The two shrunk down to infiltrate the building and free Jan, which succeeded. Unfortunately they ran into a new foe: The Taskmaster! They put up a good enough fight to eventually earn Scott a spot on the team!

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Marc Spector discovers—and contends with—his multiple personalities!

Every day this month, a new supernatural character or story from the Marvel Universe gets a spooky spotlight leading up to Halloween!

For the 13th Halloween Spooklight, who better to focus on than one of the most unlucky heroes around—Moon Knight. The man under the hood, Marc Spector, can never seem to catch a break.

He first appeared in the pages of 1975’s WEREWOLF BY NIGHT #32#33 thanks to Doug Moench and Don Perlin. In that appearance, he played something of a bad guy—trying to hunt down Jack Russell’s hairy alter ego on behalf of a group called the Committee. By the end of the second issue, however, he decided to switch sides and helped save the werewolf hero.

Werewolf by Night (1972) #32

Werewolf by Night (1972) #32

What is Marvel Unlimited?

The mystery man then hopped around a few different titles, making another WEREWOLF BY NIGHT appearance in #37 before showing up in MARVEL SPOTLIGHT #28-#29. By the time he made his PETER PARKER, THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN debut in issues #22 and #23, Moon Knight’s identity had been firmly nailed down…in that he had no single identity.

Marc Spector existed as a former soldier and mercenary, Steven Grant appeared as a wealthy entrepreneur, and Jake Lockley fought the mean streets. And the character(s) made their solo bow in 1980’s MOON KNIGHT #1 by Doug Moench and Bill Sienkiewicz!

Years prior to the start of this story, Spector and his fellow soldier Frenchie worked as guns-for-hire in the Sudan for a boss named Bushmaster. Though after a few crazy encounters with the man, the duo decided to bail on the mission—but, in response, Bushmaster beat him and left him to die in the desert.

Moon Knight (1980) #1

Moon Knight (1980) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Not one to give up, Spector fought through the sand and heat, and eventually found himself at the site of a nearby archaeological dig. The daughter of a residing archaeologist murdered by Bushmaster, Marlene, appeared next to Marc in front of a statue of Khonshu, the god of vengeance.

Inspired, Spector grabbed a white cloak off the statue and made off to put an end to Bushmaster’s ways. As he journeyed, his alternate identities found their forms—and Spector established a partnership with Marlene and Frenchie. Having discovered all of himself, Spector made sure Bushmaster soon met a moonlit end.

Fright Fact

Moon Knight has experienced an immense amount of psychological trauma through the years. Always inspired by—though never certain of his relationship with—Khonshu, he’s persevered with the help of his partners…and his other selves.

A dark look at an already shadowy character, MOON KNIGHT by Charlie Huston and David Finch looked at a truly broken Spector slowly finding his way back to becoming a hero. Along the way, though, he struggled with the voices in his head, the bloody visage of Bushmaster, and a battle with Taskmaster.

Next week we shine the Spooklight on Gerry Conway and Mike Perkins’ CARNAGE!

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Watch out as the "Fall of Peter Parker" continues!

The infamous Parker Luck has hit Pete hard recently—and it doesn’t look like it’ll stop any time soon.

Despite his budding romance with Mockingbird, Spider-Man’s difficulties continue with “The Fall of Peter Parker, Part 3” in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #791 written by Dan Slott with art by Stuart Immonen. The odds seem up against Spidey—so will he manage to escape this tough time with his new relationship intact?

We asked Spider-Man editor Devin Lewis to fill us in on what might be in-store for the Wallcrawler.

Marvel.com: Tell us about the “Fall of Peter Parker” story arc!

Devin Lewis: It’s Peter Parker, and he’s back and worse than ever! That’s how the saying goes…uh, right?

Peter’s been living the good life as the big brain behind Parker Industries—the preeminent technology company in the Marvel Universe for several months. But that position of power came with more responsibilities than he ever anticipated, and Peter found himself faced with new kinds of challenges: keeping his employees fed, his customers happy—heck, even operating within the bounds of international law became a headache!

For weeks, Peter’s been carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, and despite all his Spider Strength, everything’s come crashing down around him! No more Baxter Building, no more gadgets, gizmos, or doohickeys. Peter Parker, heading back to square one.

I know what you might be asking yourself—will these changes impact Peter’s wall-crawling, webslinging alter ego, Spider-Man? You betcha! Am I gonna tell you how? You betchanot!

The Amazing Spider-Man (2017) #791

The Amazing Spider-Man (2017) #791

Marvel.com: How has Peter’s love life been going before this recent development with Mockingbird? It’s no secret that he’s had more than his fair share of heartache in the past…

Devin Lewis: Oh, man, hasn’t he? I can’t think of many people who have been as unlucky in love as Peter Parker (but that’s kind of what we like about him, right?).

Peter’s love life has been especially difficult ever since he came back from SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN. It’s been simmering in the background of Dan’s story—it can be hard for Peter to connect with people since getting his body back.

Before Bobbi, Peter involved himself with Lian Tang, one of his most trusted advisors at Parker Industries, who turned out to be a traitor working for the dangerous criminal organization called Zodiac. That probably didn’t help Peter’s intimacy issues…

Marvel.com: How did Peter and Mockingbird—A.K.A. Bobbi Morse—meet? Tell us about their history.

Devin Lewis: Despite running in the same super heroic circles, Mockingbird and Spider-Man never really interacted until 2015’s AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1, and we’ve been steadily building towards smooches ever since!

Initially, Peter and Bobbi had a professional relationship. Peter supplied S.H.I.E.L.D. with tech, and Bobbi served as Parker Industries’ official S.H.I.E.L.D. liaison, handling communication between the company and Nick Fury. As Mockingbird, she also trekked across the globe and helped Peter track members of Zodiac and eventually put the organization down (or so it seems!) which seems like a pretty strong foundation for any relationship.

The Amazing Spider-Man (2017) #1

The Amazing Spider-Man (2017) #1

  • Published: October 07, 2015
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: April 04, 2016
  • Writer: Dan Slott
  • Cover Artist: Alex Ross
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Marvel.com: This relationship seems a little different to Peter’s previous attempts at love. Would you agree?

Devin Lewis: To his credit, Peter really tries these days. Especially in the chaos of his company’s liquidation, Peter has been struggling to find the good in the world, but he tries nonetheless. And, fortunately, Bobbi acts as someone he can look to in order to see that there’s goodness out there.

It helps, too, that Bobbi has been trying even harder than Peter. A bombshell in the epic AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #27, it emerged that Bobbi quit her job to make sure that Parker Industries could carry out an international operation. Mockingbird put Nick Fury in his place and proved her loyalty to Spider-Man and Peter. That’s new—there haven’t been many people who have cared about Peter enough to throw their lives away.

I dunno about you, but boy, I hope he doesn’t screw it up.

Marvel.com: How does the Legacy storyline fit into all of this?

Devin Lewis: Heartache? Scraping to get buy? Punching bad guys!?

Heck, the only way this story could be Legacy-er would be if Pete ate wheatcakes!

The Amazing Spider-Man (2017) #27

The Amazing Spider-Man (2017) #27

Marvel.com: What does the legacy of Marvel mean to you, as an Editor and as a fan?

Devin Lewis: One thing we talk about a lot here at Marvel—not just now during Legacy, but always—is that we stand on the shoulders of giants.

We’re fortunate enough to tell stories about the greatest characters in the world, all taking place in an amazing, continuous science fiction universe thanks to creators like Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, and so many more I don’t have the space to list. Their influence can still be felt in Marvel Comics today.

But many creators have added their voices to the Marvel chorus in the time since Stan and Jack ran things, and all of those voices have brought their own unique life experiences to Marvel’s characters.

Through that kind of inclusivity of experience, the Marvel family has grown across the world—and you can never tell what Marvel story will bring a measure of happiness to a reader.

Speaking personally, I took great comfort in reading AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #36, the first issue of Spider-Man published after 9/11. As an 11-year-old kid at the time, I felt confused about what was going on in the country and the world. It was scary.

But when I read that issue, Spider-Man felt confused, too. He was angry, hurt, panicking. And most importantly, he was scared. Just like me. And that helped me be less afraid.

To me, that’s what Marvel’s legacy is.

The legacy continues with writer Dan Slott and artist Stuart Immonen’s AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #791 on November 15!

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Captain America faces a ferocious force in his first Avengers mission!

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.

By now, just about everyone knows what happened in AVENGERS #4 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby: After Namor threw something of a tantrum, he accidentally dislodged an iceberg holding World War II hero Captain America. While flying home from their own battle with the Sub-Mariner as well as Hulk in the previous issue, the Avengers spotted this odd shape, saw a man inside, and were shocked to find who thawed out on their ship.

At the end of that installment, Cap noted the similarities between Rick Jones and his now-deceased—or so he thought—partner Bucky Barnes and also officially became an Avenger! His first official outing among Earth’s Mightiest Heroes actually took place in yesterday’s Kirby 100 spotlight, which saw both the Avengers and Fantastic Four taking on the Hulk. Returning to their tossed headquarters in AVENGERS #5, the team cleaned the place up and then went their separate ways.

Of course, the world has a tendency to bear witness to problems springing up that need the attention of our heroes! In this case, a Transistorized Artillery Computer at a Stark factory blew up because of high-pitched sonics. Individually, the other Avengers also experienced strange sounds that caused other kinds of problems. We soon learned that the Lava Men caused the disturbance, emitted by their Living Stone weapon. One of their number had fought Thor in the pages of JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #97 and suggested against causing trouble with the surface dwellers. The rulers moved ahead anyway.

Avengers (1963) #5

Avengers (1963) #5

  • Published: May 10, 1964
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 13, 2007
  • Penciller: Jack Kirby
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

After a tussle with Iron Man, the Lava Men explained to Thor that the Living Stone exploded on impact. It had grown to such a great size, that they planned on sending it to the surface, smashing it, exploding it, and taking all the crust dwellers with it! Back up top, the Avengers did their best to keep their foes from flowing out onto the surface before heading down under themselves and joining back up with Thor. The reunion proved short-lived as the Lava Men’s witch doctor used his own magic to turn the Thunder God back to Donald Blake. Making matters worse, Hulk showed up to cause his own brand of trouble!

Luckily, Hulk’s presence gave Captain America an idea for a plan. The remaining Avengers all worked together to get the Jade Giant up on top of the Living Stone bubble and Wasp got him to punch at exactly the right spot. The resulting implosion sent the force downward instead of outward. With the threat gone, Blake turned back into Thor and sealed the Lava Men back inside the Earth, warning them not to return. Not far away, Betty Ross found Bruce Banner and took him back to the military base he worked at nearby and the Avengers went off to answer a Condition Red emergency from the Teen Brigade!

Clearly, Lee and Kirby liked the idea of building their shared universe of titles at this time. In addition to the title team, which now featured a legacy character, they also brought back the Lava Men from the earlier Thor story. Though published not even a year apart from each other, it’s fun to look at both tales and see how much the already amazing Kirby got even better as an artist!

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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Mark Waid details the tenuous team-up with the Avengers!

The High Evolutionary has set two planets—and billions of people—on a deadly collision course…and two of the most powerful super groups on Earth must come to the rescue.

Tensions have been rising for the Champions and the Avengers, but they’ll need to put aside all differences to avoid catastrophe in CHAMPIONS #14! On November 15, writer Mark Waid and artist Humberto Ramos put this team-up to the test—and reveal a secret that’ll change Viv’s life forever.

Waid dropped by to give us a few hints on what to expect from the newest issue.

Marvel.com: Catch us up on the events of the “Worlds Collide” storyline so far.

Mark Waid: It looks pretty grim for about 12 billion beings both human and Ani-Men. The High Evolutionary, for reasons as yet unrevealed, has been gearing up for something mysterious that he calls “The Ascension,” and his world and ours get set on a collision course.

Marvel.com: What made The High Evolutionary the perfect villain for this tale?

Mark Waid: He fit thematically. At the heart of the story exists a friction between the younger heroes and the older Avengers that they will someday “evolve” into. Plus, no other villains give us two planets colliding!

Marvel.com: Will the teams get along in this issue? They’ve seemed to manage it alright so far…

Mark Waid: Yeah, well, give it time. As tensions mount, so do tempers.

Marvel.com: How would you describe Humberto Ramos’ art style? How does it complement the script you wrote for this story?

Mark Waid: Everything about working with Humberto is a joy—always has been. His style feels so full of kinetic energy that it’s perfect for a story with this many characters—everyone has a distinct look and style!

Marvel.com: Describe the dynamic between Vision and Viv in this arc.

Mark Waid: I can’t say too much without tipping my hand, but let’s just say that Vision has been keeping a secret from Viv, one he’s kept since ALL-NEW, ALL-DIFFERENT AVENGERS #13. This creates more friction between them as she tries to figure out what’s going on in her father’s head.

Worlds collide in CHAMPIONS #14, by Mark Waid and artist Humberto Ramos, on November 15!

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Artist Javier Garrón brings something Sinister to the Secret Warriors!

The Inhumans continue to find themselves teetering on the edge of tomorrow, not exactly sure where they’ll fall. With the Terrigen mists destroyed in the pages of INHUMANS VS. X-MEN and the Royal Family leaving for outer space soon after, that leaves the Secret Warriors to carry on Earth-side.

That’s exactly what Matthew Rosenberg and Javier Garrón have chronicled since they launched SECRET WARRIORS earlier this year. The team fought against the Steve Rogers’ Secret Empire and now find themselves dealing with the mad geneticist Mister Sinister as they shift into the Marvel Legacy era.

We talked with Garrón about his continued familiarity with both his writer and his characters as well as what Marvel Legacy holds for his squad!

Marvel.com: With Marvel Legacy, lots of books are looking back to their roots. Many of the Secret Warriors characters are relatively new, so how does it play into your series from the art side of things?

Javier Garrón: In terms of art we’re going more into the continuity aspect of the legacy. The series began as a direct consequence of Inhumans Vs. X-Men and Secret Empire. We dealt with the latter in the first arc and epilogue and now we’re diving into exploring the consequences of the former. Legacy here comes more in terms of the Inhumans as a species and civilization than as individual characters. The Inhuman line has been stopped since there aren’t Terrigen mists anymore and that’s what we’re exploring in the second arc. The responsibility of honoring and continuing that legacy.

The story is as epic as it has been so far, quite probably even more so. Visually there’s still a lot of orchestration to be done with a lot of characters involved, many locations and some crowded action set pieces alongside the storyline. Our main heroes don’t get any redesign, but they sure look more tired and troubled with the endless series of problems they face. There’s still humor and space for some on-point visual gags, but the fatigue is starting to show visually in them.

Marvel.com: You and Matthew have been steering this ship since the beginning. How would you say your collaborative relationship has evolved in that time?

Javier Garrón: I think we’ve reached a certain point of magic, hard to achieve even intentionally. The kind of magic that is to catch what the other person is trying to convey with words in his case, or with images in mine, and pushing it further. One of my main tasks as an artist is to reflect in panels what’s in the script, so it’s understandable even without balloons, and complement it. That’s where artists put details not scripted in the character’s clothes, in the background or the lighting, for example. The magic comes when the writer notices it, those details not proposed in the script and incorporates it in following comics.

In the first arc—and this wasn’t scripted—I started a visual running joke with Inferno. Something without any kind of importance story-wise. We never even talked about it specifically, but Matt noticed it and in the second arc there’s [an] explicit reference to it, which makes the gag even greater. That sync only comes when the people involved click creatively, and I think—and hope—that’s the case.

Marvel.com: Along those same lines, do you feel like your approach to any of the characters has changed the more you’ve gotten to know them?

Javier Garrón: Undoubtedly! The more you draw, the better you are at it. And with characters it’s like with real people, you need to get to know them, at least in my case, to really, really portray them perfectly. From my perspective that has happened with Lunella and Inferno, and for two very different reasons.

The more I’ve worked with Moon Girl, the more I’ve come to realize how complex and rich that character is. A multi-layered girl, who is the smartest person in the Marvel Universe, but also an eight-year-old with a temper. That gives you serious, interesting Reed Richards kind-of-moments when she’s in genius mode, and very funny moments when she behaves more accordingly to her own age, though even then she still acts like a much older person. There’s the contrast between that hard and that soft side of her that visually is very rich, both in terms of gesticulation and design.

And then there’s Inferno, which without even having talked about it, or actively worked on it, has been kind of a comic relief, visually. In the second arc he has also a very important dramatic role, but I really love to explore his goofy side when possible. And I think I’ve gotten better at drawing his fiery flames—always in between the limits of my skill—every time I get to draw fire is even more fun than the last time I did it.

Marvel.com: Mister Sinister has also been around for a while now, messing with the Warriors and other Inhumans. Do you feel like you have a new understanding of him at this point?

Javier Garrón: I hope so! I mean, at least at some infinitesimal level, or in my interpretation of him. In comic books we’re dealing with versions, I think. This is my version of the character, which is the official one in the moment it gets published in continuity, but in two months’ time the same character can show up in another series, by another creative team, slightly different, but being then the official one at that point. So, in our version of Sinister he’s more grounded in the Marvel Universe as a whole. He’s no longer an X-Men villain, but a character that plays a larger role in the great scheme of things. Sinister’s also an even more detached being, closer to an artificial intelligence with the sole purpose of gaining knowledge than an actual living being with worries and desires. If he had them at some point, that’s gone.

I like to portray that visually in terms of design and body posture. He’s refined, but slightly outdated. He dresses elegantly, but more accordingly with the time when he was born than actual times, as if he continues to dress out of habit, not really putting his mind into it. He looks polished, but more in the way of a relic. And he always stands like a governess, strict and severe.

Marvel.com: How has it been developing new Inhumans with Matthew in this series?

Javier Garrón: It’s so much fun! Designing new characters is one of the many perks of the job and Matt is extremely collaborative when the time comes to putting our hands into it. He sets the tone, puts the foundations down, and then I have all the freedom I need to make it happen. We have lots and lots of Inhumans as background actors, and that’s when I can get as crazy as I want and time allows, because kids, in comics our budget is not money but time.

I think if we haven’t put more people into the story it’s because they can’t fit into the panels! It’s so crowded! Some characters started complaining and we had to cut the budget on this; those background Inhumans have a temper and they want to be in the shot so they can show off later with their friends! I mean, all those egos! It’s a struggle to make all our main heroes and the supporting ones happy, but that’s the comic book creator’s life!

SECRET WARRIORS continues to roll out the Earthly Inhumanity every month thanks to Matthew Rosenberg and Javier Garrón, with issue #8 hitting November 15!

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The demon declares the Spaceway Sentinel too good to live!

Every day this month, a new supernatural character or story from the Marvel Universe gets a spooky spotlight leading up to Halloween!

Occasionally, major characters make their first appearances in unexpected manners. Among those with strange debuts sits the demon known as Mephisto, who joined the Marvel Universe with 1968’s SILVER SURFER #3.

After turning against his master Galactus in the classic FANTASTIC FOUR #48#50, the Surfer found himself stuck on Earth, trying to understand the people he sacrificed so much for. To say the people of his new home planet didn’t seem overly grateful would be…an understatement.

In fact, humanity’s fear of the Surfer bothered Norrin Radd so much that, in the third issue of his first series, he threatened to punish the human race in an effort to teach them a lesson. This tale, by Stan Lee and John Buscema, saw him use his massive power to halt all of Earth’s machines, plunging the globe into darkness.

At that moment, Mephisto—an inter-dimensional demon—watched the planet, displeased. He proclaimed, “While man remains an uneducated savage, my ranks of the damned are swelled to overflowing! Thus, I have ordained that nothing shall change the unthinking masses of humanity!”

Witnessing the cosmic might of The Silver Surfer, Mephisto saw a potential enemy—and declared that he must die. To defeat his new foe, the would-be devil traveled to Zenn-La to meet Norrin Radd’s lost love Shalla Bal.

Silver Surfer (1968) #3

Silver Surfer (1968) #3

  • Published: December 01, 1968
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 13, 2007
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Back above the Earth, the Spaceway Sentinel came to see his attack on the planet as a mistake. After returning the world’s energy, he glimpsed Shalla’s approaching ship—and Mephisto accompanying it. The craft crashed into a collection of nearby mountains, though—to Radd’s relief—Shalla survived.

Mephisto then returned to his domain with Shalla Bal in tow. The Surfer followed, learning that the demon wanted to take the Surfer’s goodness, twist it, and control it for himself.

After failing to entice Norrin over to his side with offers of riches, women, and power, Mephisto began throwing waves of attacks at his enemy. Mud men, horned demons, and a dragon took on the Surfer at their master’s behest, though the cosmic being brushed them off. The demon then sapped the hero of his will, shrunk him down, and inserted the Surfer into his own head!

The Surfer’s mighty will, however, overpowered Mephisto’s and he escaped the fiery dome. In response, the dark being gave his opponent one last choice: join him and stay with Shalla Bal…or refuse and lose her forever.

Norrin Radd, heartbroken, refused Mephisto, sending Shalla Bal back—untouchable—to Zenn-La.

Fright Fact

Mephisto has tempted and tortured The Silver Surfer on more than a few occasions, including several more times in that first volume. Not content with just one super powered foe, though, Mephisto got involved with Thor and Johnny Blaze as well.

In 1987, the demon starred in his own four issue limited series called MEPHISTO VS., which pitted him against the Fantastic Four, X-Factor, the X-Men, and the Avengers. He made his greatest impact, though, in 2007, during Spider-Man’s “One More Day” storyline, when he offered Peter Parker the chance to save his Aunt May’s life—but, in exchange, he’d have to erase his marriage to Mary Jane. Spidey, heartbroken—like the Silver Surfer nearly 40 years before—agreed.

Tomorrow, uncover Marc Spector’s misunderstood madness as we explore MOON KNIGHT!

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Chase and Nico head to Murder World!

In celebration of Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka’s RUNAWAYS and “Marvel’s Runaways” heading to Hulu on November 21, take a look at the team’s major adventures as seen on Marvel Unlimited!

When the third RUNAWAYS volume ended in 2009, fans didn’t know what the future held for their favorite teen heroes. Though they certainly didn’t expect Chase and Nico to show up in an Avengers book packed with other young heroes—old and new alike—all fighting for survival!

In 2013, Dennis Hopeless, Kev Walker, Alessandro Vitti, Riccardo Burchielli, Karl Moline, and others launched AVENGERS ARENA. The book found death trap builder Arcade selecting 16 kids from the Runaways, Avengers Academy, X-Men, and  Braddock Academy to spend 30 days on a gigantic version of Murder World. The catch? Only one of them would be allowed to leave.

Avengers Arena (2012) #1

Avengers Arena (2012) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

When they first arrived, Chase and Nico set out on their own, found a nice patch of forest, and tried defending it—but soon realized that wouldn’t work. Unlike the other contestants, Chase worried not about dying—but about surviving. He thought that, especially in recent years, he’d been surrounded by smarter, more skilled people who’d met their demise while, inexplicably to him, he kept on living.

As the series progressed, plenty of alliances developed and came crashing down as the kids worried about who would survive and how. It didn’t help that a few of their fellow contestants had no problem killing or manipulating the others.

Over the course of the month, the Runaways underwent some intense changes. Chase utilized the Darkhawk gem, allowing him to briefly turn into the armored space hero. Nico’s power-up, however, came at a higher cost…during one of the many betrayals in Murder World, a fellow captive took control of Chase in his Darkhawk form and used his powers to attack Nico with an energy blast. She lost an arm, the Staff of One got obliterated, and she nearly died—until the Staff reformed and supercharged her mystical powers.

At the end of AVENGERS ARENA, Arcade released online videos of the kids during their time in Murder World. And by the time the follow-up series, AVENGERS UNDERCOVER, began, only Chase embraced the resulting fame. Cullen Bloodstone, however, wanted to track down the villain and kill him for his deeds, which brought the young man to Bagalia, the underground super villain society run by Baron Zemo and his Masters of Evil.

Avengers Undercover (2014) #1

Avengers Undercover (2014) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

This 10 issue series—by Hopeless, Walker, Timothy Green II, and Tigh Walker—saw Chase, Nico, Cammi, Anachronism, Hazmat, and Death Locket follow Cullen to discover a hedonistic world that appealed to their base instincts in exchange for an occasional favor. Most of the group united to stick around in an effort to infiltrate the organization. Eventually, they succeeded in their mission—but not without experiencing a few dark moments along the way.

LOST & FOUND

One more volume of RUNAWAYS exists, though it’s very different from the others. Part of Secret War’s Battleworld initiative, this four issue series by writer Noelle Stevenson and artist Sanford Greene started with a bunch of students at the Victor von Doom Institute for Gifted Youths. Once they realized their exams involved death, however, the kids attempted to escape. Molly represented the only pre-existing Runaway in the group, but the rest of the squad included Amadeus Cho, Cloak, Dagger, Skaar, Pixie, Jubilee, Frostbite, and Delphyne Gorgon.

That’s a wrap on Get Ready to Run! Now find your fix with Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka’s RUNAWAYS and “Marvel’s Runaways” on Hulu this November 21!

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