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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Ben Reilly takes over as Spider-Man, battling Carnage, Hobgoblin, Lizard, and more.

For over 50 years, Spider-Man has been a sensational standout in the Marvel Universe and the web-slinger swung onto the silver screen once more in 2017’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and will do so again in Marvel Studios’ “Avengers: Infinity War” in 2018! In celebration of his memorable history, we present Spidey’s spectacular step-by-step story…

With Spider-Man in his past, Peter Parker moved to Portland, Oregon, only to encounter the threat called Tendril in SPIDER-MAN: THE FINAL ADVENTURE #1-4. Meanwhile, the new official Spider-Man, Ben Reilly, took a job in a coffee shop in SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #0 to make ends meet, while Mysterio planned a comeback. Later, Spidey battled Sandman in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #407, the deadly Poison returned in SPIDER-MAN #64, and a couple of eco-terrorists stirred the pot in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #230.

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #407

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #407

  • Published: January 10, 1996
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: May 20, 2013
What is Marvel Unlimited?

After a hair-raising adventure with the Black Cat in SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED #11, Ben discovered Mysterio’s new cable network in SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #1, took the fight to the master of mysteries in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #408, and won the day in SPIDER-MAN #65. Peter Parker’s other clone Kaine found himself resurrected in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #231, held off an attack by the Rhino in SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #2, and joined a cadre of villains against Spider-Man in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #409, knowing that the wallcrawler must die for him to continue to live in SPIDER-MAN #66.

Ben and Peter heard of a skeleton found in a smokestack in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #232, the Burglar’s daughter, Jessica Carradine, entered Ben’s life in SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #3, Carnage returned for a rampage in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #410, and the symbiote chose the new webslinger as a host in SPIDER-MAN #67. Spider-Carnage ran amuck in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #233 until Ben resisted the creature’s influence.

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #410

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #410

  • Published: April 10, 1996
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: May 20, 2013
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Jessica learned Spidey’s secret identity in SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #4, and Ben and Peter buried the mystery skeleton in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #411. The wallcrawler faced a new and improved Hobgoblin in SPIDER-MAN #68, fell under his assault in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #234, and turned the tables on the criminal in SPIDER-MAN #69. Ben also beat a murder rap in SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED #12, and witnessed the latest return of the Molten Man in SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #5.

Questions concerning a corporation called Multivex attracted Spidey’s curiosity in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #412, Mysterio shrunk him down to bug-size in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #413, and the deadly Delilah brought new dangers in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #414. Hammerhead vied with Don Fortunato for the Kingpin’s criminal empire in SPIDER-MAN #70, and wound up in the same hospital as a very ill Peter in SPIDER-MAN #41. The Will o’ the Wisp reappeared in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #235 to aid the webslinger versus Dragon Man in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #236.

Sensational Spider-Man (1996) #8

Sensational Spider-Man (1996) #8

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Jessica Carradine became even more conflicted over Ben in SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #6, Ben believed Peter’s sickness stemmed from clone degeneration in SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #7, and the Looter stole high-tech super villain weaponry to use for himself in SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #8. During the Onslaught event, Spidey clashed with Sentinels in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #415 and SPIDER-MAN #72, then pondered a world without its heroes in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #416.

Peter’s condition worsened in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #237, a more monstrous Lizard tore up the landscape in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #238, and the original Lizard arrived in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #239 to put an end to it all. The webslinger teamed up with Luke Cage and Iron Fist in SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED #13, mixed it up with Swarm in SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #9 and SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #10, and once again landed in the middle of battling crimelords in SPIDER-MAN #73 and SPIDER-MAN #74.

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #418

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #418

  • Published: December 10, 1996
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: April 30, 2014
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Recovered from his sickness, Peter donned a spare mask to help Ben versus the Host in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #417, put his head together with his double for a serious talk in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #240, and stood up against Gaunt while Mary Jane went into unexpected labor in SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #11. While the two heroes battled Gaunt, the baby sadly arrived stillborn in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #418, and Peter faced the real culprit behind all of his and Ben’s misery, the long thought dead Norman Osborn, in SPIDER-MAN #75. In that debacle, Peter once more took on the role of Spider-Man when Ben lost his life to Osborn’s treachery.

Later, Peter and Mary Jane dealt with not only the loss of Ben but also their child in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #241 while the Chameleon waited offstage to reveal his next scheme.

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Charles Soule and David Marquez unravel the mystery this April!

Snikt!

The sound rings across the universe…and can only mean one thing: the return of Wolverine!

He’s been popping up in some of your favorite books lately; holding an Infinity Stone, keeping his secrets close. But his return has been an unsolved mystery—until this April, when writer Charles Soule and artist David Marquez reveal the timeline of events that’ll lead to Logan’s shocking return with THE HUNT FOR WOLVERINE: ALPHA #1!

The 40-page issue, featuring a cover by Steve McNiven, begins the twisted tale of Logan’s reemergence. Then, this May, the story evolves into four different tales from different creative teams, each one containing its own distinct genre and mystery: action/adventure (Adamantium Agenda), horror (Claws of the Killer), dark romance (Mystery in Madripoor) and noir/detective (Weapon Lost.) And it’s all being orchestrated by the man that crafted the “Death of Wolverine” in the first place.

Soule recalls, “Steve McNiven and I took on the incredible task of killing Wolverine back in 2014—it was one of my earliest projects at Marvel, and such a huge opportunity. Intimidating, tricky, all of that—but ultimately, I think we created a book (alongside [inker] Jay Leisten, [colorist] Justin Ponsor and [letterer] Chris Eliopolous) that we’re all really proud of.” He continues, “There’s really only one project that could top it—being part of the story that brings Logan back! THE HUNT FOR WOLVERINE is just the opening chapters of a mystery that will reach all sorts of cool hidden corners of the Marvel Universe, and will tell a story that will hopefully have us looking at Logan in an entirely new way.”

“I’m really looking forward to seeing how fans start to put the pieces together,” says the scribe. “There’s a big payoff coming down the road, and all the interlocking parts of THE HUNT FOR WOLVERINE build to it. The more you read, the more clues you get. It’s really fun—especially since I have a bit of a reputation in X-continuity for knocking off beloved mutants. This time, it’s nice to be part of bringing someone back!”

THE HUNT FOR WOLVERINE: ALPHA #1 begins an epic story that will impact Marvel heroes and X-Men alike—and it culminates this summer in one of the most shocking, daring stories in Wolverine’s history! The journey—and the mystery—begins here, and you’re not going to want to miss your chance to take part in Wolverine’s return.

Writer Charles Soule and artist David Marquez’s THE HUNT FOR WOLVERINE: ALPHA #1 unfolds this April!

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Prep for the new series by looking back at David Haller’s first appearance!

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.

While fans have been celebrating David Haller’s return to comics in writer Peter Milligan and artist Wilfredo TorresLEGION #1 (out next week!), the character’s presence hasn’t always prompted such a positive response. In Haller’s first appearance, his arrival wasn’t cheered—it was met with dread.

The young man known as Legion debuted in 1985 on the second-to-last page of writer Chris Claremont and artist Bill Sienkiewicz’s NEW MUTANTS #25. Presented as an entry in Moira MacTaggert’s notes on the mutant subjects of Muir Island, the reveal not only gave us our first look at Haller, but a wealth of introductory information.

New Mutants (1983) #25

New Mutants (1983) #25

What is Marvel Unlimited?

He looked like a teenager. He’d been catatonic for half of his life. And he possessed telekinetic and telepathic abilities passed onto him by his father…Charles Xavier. Haller’s mother, Gabrielle, was one of Xavier’s patients when he worked as a therapist. And, despite their relationship, the Professor never knew that David was his son.

In the following issue, David lost control of his powers and blew up part of Moira’s facility. Concerned for the well-being of her mutants, MacTaggert called in Professor X for some assistance. Charles came, and brought Banshee, Warlock, Doug Ramsay, Wolfsbane, and Dani Moonstar with him.

New Mutants (1983) #26

New Mutants (1983) #26

What is Marvel Unlimited?

In his inspection of the Island, Xavier began suspecting foul play when he met Gabrielle Haller there. She explained that David was her son, but held back on telling him the father’s identity. In an attempt to quell the chaos, the world’s most prominent telepath then entered Legion’s mind—but found himself, shockingly, ousted from his mental plane.

Haller’s mindscape proved to be an expansive and potent place. When Xavier returned to Legion’s mind, he found himself in an epic Soul War with one of David’s alternate personalities that’d hijacked one of the young man’s mutant powers. During this battle, Charles also learned of his own connection to the boy.

New Mutants (1983) #27

New Mutants (1983) #27

What is Marvel Unlimited?

After resolving the fight and concluding the mindscape adventure, Charles sat down with David in the real world only to discover that three other personalities all still lived inside Haller’s head. Saddled with such a complex and fragile mental state, Legion received word from his father that he would have his support as he grew older. Despite this promise, Charles and David were set for a challenging father-son relationship in the many years ahead.

FLASH FORWARD

A decade after making his first appearance, David Haller changed all of reality in a story called “Legion Quest” that ran through X-FACTOR #109, UNCANNY X-MEN #320#321, X-MEN #40#41 and CABLE #20. In that crossover, David decided that Magneto’s madness was the source of much of the world’s trouble, so he traveled back in time to kill him. Ultimately, however, Haller ended up accidentally killing his father instead, kickstarting the “Age of Apocalypse” storyline in the process. That event eventually led to the X-Men sending Bishop back in time so that he’d stop the wrongful assassination. In the process, Bishop stabbed Legion with his own psi-blade, sending them both spinning into Limbo.

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After 10 years and 189 issues, Slott will move from the adventures of Peter Parker to Tony Stark.

The end of an era is here, as Don Slott will be ending his epic run on THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN with issue #801 – as the writer prepares to begin guiding the next chapter of Tony Stark’s life in the pages of IRON MAN.

Slott spoke to Vulture.com about this big change, saying, of his decision to leave AMAZING SPIDER-MAN after a decade of writing the series (and 189 issues!), “I could always see the next furlong, I could always see what was ahead. Like, Get this far and I’ll make it to the next wave of ‘Brand New Day’ writers, then, ‘If I make it this far I get to one out of every five issues of AMAZING [ever published]. If I get it to this far, I get to [issue No.] 700.’ And so on. So I kept having these benchmarks to hit. And then I realized, once you hit ten years and then issue 800, the next benchmarks were way too far away. [Laughs.] So I always knew that was the zone.”

He goes on to explain that he’ll likely need to adjust to not telling Spider-Man stories, because having written the book for so long, “There are days where everything gets seen through the Spider-Man filter first. If I’m walking down the streets in New York and I notice something, I’d go, ‘Oh, how would Spider-Man deal with that?’ It’s a reflex muscle in the back of your head. Or you read a news story. Something happens and you go, ‘How would Spider-Man deal with that? What is that? What if that was Mysterio?’ When you do this for ten years, that’s just the way you’re wired.”

As for his new gig on IRON MAN, Slott tells Vulture, “I’m all excited. They’d asked me to do IRON MAN a while back, but by then I was at [SILVER] SURFER and I had Spidey and I was already overcommitted, so it kept gnawing at me. Like, ‘Oh, man. I really do want to do Iron Man. This would be fun.’ And when that came around again, it was like, ‘Okay, yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I want IRON MAN. I want this. I want this really bad.'”

Regarding his thoughts on Tony Stark, Slott explained, “Reed Richards explores the universe. He wants to know everything and go everywhere. Tony Stark builds the future. It’s not that he’s not out to discover the next big thing. But he’s gonna take his own two hands and he’s gonna build where he wants to go, or what he wants to do. He looks at a challenge and goes, ‘How do I machine my way out of this?’”

Slott promises, “There will be a very unique cast in this book of characters: Iron Man characters you love and Marvel characters that you haven’t seen folded into the Iron Man cast.”

For much more of Dan Slott’s observations on wrapping up his run on AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, his favorite stories he told with the character, and moving to IRON MAN, check out the full interview at Vulture.com!

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The acclaimed writer joins the House of Ideas for new and exciting projects!

Marvel Entertainment is excited to announce that writer Kelly Thompson has joined the House of Ideas in an exclusive agreement!

Thompson’s stellar work on the HAWKEYE ongoing series, last year’s epic JOURNEY TO STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI – CAPTAIN PHASMA, and the current fan-favorite ROGUE & GAMBIT limited series has captivated readers everywhere—and now she’s set to introduce her one-of-a-kind voice to new corners of the Marvel Universe.

“Marvel was truly my first love. So to be here today, not only writing for Marvel but ‘going exclusive’ with them, is the definition of a dream come true,” says Thompson. “I remember visiting Disney World as a teen and being so consumed by an issue of X-Men that was due to come out that I was checking newsstands like a girl possessed until I located it. So yeah, this is everything I always wanted.”

Marvel Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski agrees, “From the moment she turned in her first script, Kelly has continually brought big ideas, incredible energy, and endless enthusiasm to the Marvel Universe and every comic she’s had a hand in creating for us. We’re honored to now have her as part of the family here and could not be more excited for the fans to read the amazing adventures she’ll be taking our characters on next year—and beyond!”

In the coming months and at San Diego Comic Con this summer, Marvel will reveal more of Thompson’s exciting work. Until then, stay up-to-date with all of Kelly’s books on Marvel Unlimited and Marvel.com!

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Robert Reynolds' dark alter-ego leaps into Battlerealm!

The Sentry revealed his awesome might in “Marvel Contest of Champions” a couple of weeks ago—and while it’s been fun to harness the power of a million exploding suns, one must pay a price for that kind of ability.

This week, The Void comes to collect on that debt. Revealing himself in all his shadowed glory, the unrelenting alter-ego of The Sentry fights for the soul of Robert Reynolds—and will look to plunge all of Battlerealm into darkness.

We talked to Kabam Lead Character Artist Gene Campbell and Game Designer Piero Herrera about The Void and how he aims to tear the Contest apart.

Marvel.com: Uh oh…who let The Void out?

Gene Campbell: It was an accident, we swear! But seriously, The Collector has been waiting for his powerful compatriot, Sentry, to return to him for what feels like an eternity now. For what task exactly? We don’t know…but as expected, the familiar dark force that accompanies him, The Void, still hides within, ready and waiting to reveal itself. Surely The Collector—in all of his ancient wisdom and foresight—expected this. Whatever he tasked Sentry with, he must have thought it worth the risk.

Marvel.com: How did the team decide just how The Void would manifest visually on Battlerealm?

Gene Campbell: We were considering the more monstrous form of Void early on. Early development of Sentry and Void had them switching back and forth during gameplay, but we found it very challenging and confusing to have a man morph into a big tentacle covered space creature like that. The final version also made sense with our storyline. The “Marvel Contest of Champions’” version of Sentry has been to the edge of the multiverse and back, all the while looking for something. He’s older and wiser, and has a better grip on the darkness within. So when his concentration slips, he’s able to contain it better and not let the whole monster out.

 

Marvel.com: Let’s talk a little about the abilities that Bob Reynolds’ evil alter-ego has…how does he differ from The Sentry?

Piero Herrera: Void’s abilities were built around the concept of fear. All of the Champions are vulnerable to the Void’s debuffs and they do direct damage over time—even if Void does not directly land an attack. Summoners have to remove those damaging effects by constantly fighting.

Marvel.com: It looks like his gameplay centers around his Intimidating Presence. What’s going on there?

Piero Herrera: Exactly! After a delay, Void’s Intimidating Presence becomes powerful enough to inflict a debuff onto the opponent. Those debuffs are capable of not only doing direct damage over time but also enable him to deal with the opponent’s abilities—like Regeneration, Power Gain, and Evade.

Marvel.com: Dark Stinghave we seen that ability before? Or is it unique to The Void?

Piero Herrera: Dark Sting is unique to Void. After his Special 2 Attack, he will place two Dark Stings onto the opponent that can turn into Degeneration or a Weakness debuff whenever the opponent’s activate their Special Attack. Try using Dark Sting to get Void’s huge attack increase through his Special 3.

Marvel.com: Considering that The Void is already insanely powerful, who can we team him up with to make him even stronger?

Piero Herrera: Void is great with Sentry, Hulk, and Champions that are part of the Avengers team like Black Widow, Vision, Hawkeye, and Captain America. Pair him up with those Champions and Void will become even more powerful!

Marvel.com: And when does this guy get unleashed to threaten reality as we know it?

Piero Herrera: The Void will be available today—January 18! Make sure to check in-game messaging for more information.

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more “Marvel Contest of Champions” news and interviews!

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Jason Aaron signals the end for The Mighty Thor!

Jane Foster’s body decays. The War of the Realms rages. The Mangog roars. As these events culminate, a moment of reckoning arrives for The Mighty Thor.

With Asgardia on the brink of destruction—and the other realms soon to follow—the wielder of Mjolnir needs to make a choice: will she sacrifice her own life in exchange for those at risk on the other side of the universe? On February 21, witness the beginning of the end in writer Jason Aaron and artist Russell Dauterman’s MIGHTY THOR #704!

We sat down with Aaron for a wide-ranging two-part interview about this modern classic. Read the first half of the conversation here before jumping into Part Two below.

Marvel.com: Jason, tell us about the wonderful artists you’ve worked with on this storyline.

Jason Aaron: I’m tremendously proud of what those guys have put on paper over the course of this run. What Russell Dauterman and [colorist] Matt Wilson are doing on this arc is so great. And, no hyperbole, I genuinely think Russell is doing his best work yet; he just raises the bar with every new storyline. It’s been great to have Russell come back for #702; to have Matt and Russell work together with this arc. I’ve been so blown away with what they’ve done on this series. I wanted to do this finale right and not screw the story up, so it felt good to really just sit down and write those issues all in a row, something I haven’t had the luxury of doing in eight or ten years.

[Artist] James Harren did such a great job on issue #701. I’ve been wanting to work with James for a long time on MIGHTY THOR, actually. That fight between the Mangog and the War Thor was originally going to take place at the end of #700, which would have been just a seven-page  brutal beat-down. But our scheduling changed around a little bit and then we thought, with the art being so evocative, why don’t we just make that fight an entire issue? Initially James had just signed up to draw those pages in #700 but thankfully he was able to do #701 as well and I think he’s the perfect guy to draw that fight. He loves the Mangog and I love his version of the Mangog, so that was a huge thrill.

Marvel.com: How does it feel to see this end on the horizon?

Jason Aaron: This arc is something I knew we’ve been heading towards for a long time, and something I’ve both been looking forward to and dreading. On the one hand it’s a total joy, but it’s also tinged with sadness. I mean, I’m pretty sure that this issue #705 was the first comic that ever made me cry while I was writing it.

Marvel.com: There are going to be a lot of tear-stained issues out there in a couple months.

Jason Aaron: [Laughs]

Marvel.com: As this story comes to a close, I wanted to see if you have any meditations on the concept of “worthiness.” Obviously, you’ve had years of in-depth philosophical examination on that idea in this book…

Jason Aaron: I think I still have lots of thoughts on that idea and you can still see them playing out in this storyline. This is not my last storyline on THOR, so I think you’ll continue to see those themes playing out in the comics for the foreseeable future as long as I’m on the book.

I can see where the end point is for me on this series and I’ve always known what those last few stories will be. Some of it should be obvious and some will be a bit of a surprise.

Marvel.com: Do you ever ponder the concept when thinking about yourself? (Not that you should!)

Jason Aaron: Well, I try not to think of it that way and would never presume to say I’m worthy to follow in the footsteps of people like Jack Kirby and Walt Simonson, but I think, as a creator, the worthiness of your writing is for other people to decide.

A few years ago I was the world’s biggest fan of [writer] Garth Ennis’ PUNISHER MAX run—one of my favorite comic runs of all time. And when Marvel announced that he was leaving, I thought, well, I want to be the next guy. Even though it’s incredibly intimidating to follow something that you have such tremendous respect for, I knew I could never do what Garth had done, but I wanted to carry it on and continue to tell the story of that character in my own way.

That’s how I approach every job. You can’t stop to wonder whether you’re good enough to do this. You can’t get intimidated by that prospect or let it stop you from telling your own story. I certainly don’t feel as good as those creators who I idolize, but…man, I can’t wait to throw my hat in the ring every time.

The finale nears in MIGHTY THOR #704, by Jason Aaron and artist Russell Dauterman, on February 21!

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Meet the girl formed from the shards of the Cosmic Cube!

The picturesque front lawns and friendly neighbors of a sleepy town called Pleasant Hill belied the place’s dark reality—that it was a secret prison for a collection of brainwashed super villains. Introduced in AVENGERS STANDOFF: WELCOME TO PLEASANT HILL #1, the key to maintaining the town’s facade came in the form of a young girl named Kobik.

In an attempt to manage the power of the Cosmic Cube, Maria Hill and S.H.I.E.L.D. accidentally converted the artifact into a person. Coalescing into a form that the powerful device found most comfortable, Kobik was born. As the series continued, through issues like AVENGERS STANDOFF: ASSAULT ON PLEASANT HILL ALPHA #1, Kobik developed distinct relationships with S.H.I.E.L.D. operators, villains, and, eventually, heroes.

When the super villains of Pleasant Hill rebelled against their carefully designed mental manipulation and began wreaking havoc across the landscape, the Avengers and the Uncanny Avengers came to fight. Throughout the Avengers: Standoff event, which occurred in the pages of ALL-NEW, ALL-DIFFERENT AVENGERS, CAPTAIN AMERICA: SAM WILSON, AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D., NEW AVENGERS, UNCANNY AVENGERS, as well as several other titles, a war between good and evil expanded across the Marvel Universe—with Kobik caught in the middle.

After disappearing in the wake of Standoff, Kobik reemerged in THUNDERBOLTS. As her relationships with Baron Zemo, Erik Selvig, and Bucky Barnes became strained, the sentient Cosmic Cube kicked off the events of Secret Empire. In a desperate attempt to save Steve Rogers’ life, Kobik altered the mind—and history—of Captain America, retroactively making him an agent of Hydra. Upon realizing the damage her actions caused, Kobik retreated to her own mindscape, where she encountered the real Steve Rogers, who resided there after being replaced.

As the event came to its dramatic conclusion in issues #8, #9#10, and Secret Empire: Omega #1, the living Cosmic Cube proved to be the only figure that possessed the ability to resist the might of “Stevil” Rogers. With the United States reinvented as the Hydra ideal, the real Captain America nowhere to be found, and Hydra Cap ruling uncontested, the fate of the globe rested on the shoulders of Kobik—the little girl; the master of reality.

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Jason Aaron sounds a death knell for The Mighty Thor!

As Mangog rampages through Asgardia, Thor—the last hope for the innocent lives at risk—lies dying from a cancer that has brought her body to the brink.

Jane Foster, faced with the responsibility of her heroic mantle and the sickness that it exacerbates, can see the end on the horizon. And as “The Death of the Mighty Thor” story arc continues, we can too. Today, issue #703 of writer Jason Aaron and artist Russell Dauterman’s MIGHTY THOR sets a grave course of events in action—and on February 21, issue #704 escalates the situation entirely.

We caught up with Aaron for an expansive two-part interview about the climax of this iconic series.

Marvel.com: Now that “The Death of the Mighty Thor” arc has begun, what’s going on in Jane’s head?

Jason Aaron: Well, in issue #702, we saw Odinson confront her and point blank tell her that she’s got to stop. He’s one of the few people who knows her secret and knows what being Thor is doing to her, so he directly confronted her and she seemed to understand and relent. But by the end of the book she had collapsed, so…as to what she’s facing and where her mind’s at, I think you’ll have to see issue to issue.

I will say that issue #703, directly and specifically lays out what her situation is, what her health looks like, and what that means going forward. By the next issue, the decision she faces is very clear.

Marvel.com: As a quick catch-up, what events have been leading to this moment in MIGHTY THOR?

Jason Aaron: Well, Jane Foster’s been Thor for the last two years or so and that whole time she’s been fighting some of the biggest, craziest enemies from around the various realms—most importantly Malekith the Accursed, who’s at the center of a War of the Realms that’s created chaos across the landscape.

So at the same time Thor’s been dealing with all of that, she’s had cancer as Jane Foster and the two kind of spiral together; being Thor is making her condition worse. See, every time she transforms into Thor, it neutralizes the cancer treatments she’s been receiving. And when she goes back to being Jane she’s worse than before. Jane knows all this, but she continues to pick that hammer up because somebody’s got to. Somebody has to do that job and try to stop this War of the Realms from spreading to every realm.

So she’s been dealing with all that, and then in issue #700—the beginning of this whole arc—the Mangog showed up. Mangog is one of the original Stan Lee and Jack Kirby villains and one of my favorite Thor villains.

Marvel.com: And even War Thor couldn’t stop him.

Jason Aaron: Right, he beat the crap out of War Thor. He defeated War Thor and tore the hammer apart.

Marvel.com: So what does the Mangog want?

Jason Aaron: The Mangog hates the gods and wants vengeance against them because he was born when Odin slaughtered an entire alien race. The Mangog exists as sort of the combined rage and hate of all those billion, billion beings channeled into one monster, out for justice. It’s come for revenge many times over the years and gets defeated, but always somehow comes back stronger than he was before.

We talked in issue #701 a little bit about why that is, what fuels the Mangog, and how he’s become a bigger thing than just a means of vengeance against Odin for that original sin…he’s sort of become a bigger force of nature, a cosmic judgment against all the gods. It remains ambiguous whether he’s justified in that vengeance or not, though, and very much ties into the themes going back to my first arc on the book and that initial idea: “Are the gods really worthy?”

Marvel.com: It’s so amazing that the thematic seeds of this finale were planted so long ago. Did you have the big story events planned from the very beginning or did they evolve organically over time?

Jason Aaron: Oh, I’ve known for years that the Mangog was coming. I always had plans to use him from the get-go and, if you go back over the course of my whole run, you’ll see references and teases to the Mangog going back several years. I’ve always known we were building towards that and I’ve known from the beginning of the Jane Foster Thor story that her story was building towards this very specific moment.

Marvel.com: What inspired your choice to bring the book to this point?

Jason Aaron: I mean, when I first started working on MIGHTY THOR, the first thing I did was sit back down and read those first Lee and Kirby issues from the very beginning. I think a lot of what I’ve done—the toys I’ve played with—has come from those issues. You know, I’d never read a lot of those stories before and the Mangog was one of the first things to jump out to me.

I wasn’t a huge THOR fan at first, if you can believe it.

Marvel.com: Really?!

Jason Aaron: I mean, I knew the Walter Simonson stuff, but that was my only reference, really. But when I read all the way through, I realized that the character that I was drawn towards was Mangog. And the more I read, the more I could see stuff that I really wanted to sink my teeth into.

I think the job is that, no matter the character, you don’t ever want to go into it and just preach to the choir, assuming everybody already knows why this character is cool. You want to show why this character is different from any other character in the Marvel Universe; what makes their adventures so unusual and exciting. I do try to keep that up in every new issue.

Marvel.com: Of course, this is very much Jane’s story, but I’m curious about the Odinson’s emotional reaction to all of this. If Jane dies, might he get his identity as Thor back? Does he want it back? He must be feeling a lot of conflict.

Jason Aaron: Well, he’s got a very conflicted relationship with the hammer and that idea of worthiness. But as far as his relationship with Jane goes, I think he’s just worried about his friend. Regaining that hammer isn’t even part of that equation right now—he just wants to try to save her life.

The thought about the Thor identity is definitely one of the questions going into this story. I would say most all of them will be answered by the end of it. Maybe not all of them, but a lot of them…just perhaps not in the way that you’d expect.

The end begins in Jason Aaron and artist Russell Dauterman’s MIGHTY THOR #703—available now! Then continue the tale in issue #704 on February 21!

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