The Darth Vader creative team will take over the title in November!

A long time ago, in a galaxy not so far away … STAR WARS returned to comic shops world-wide breaking records and garnering praise from fans and critics alike. Initially launched with Jason Aaron and John Cassady at the helm, the series aimed to explore the period of time falling between “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back” – an angle that continues to prove popular with comic readers of all ages.

Two years later, Jason Aaron will be stepping aside as long-time Star Wars collaborator Kieron Gillen (DARTH VADER, DOCTOR APHRA) ascends to the dark throne alongside current artist, Salvador Larocca. We spoke with Gillen about this change of the guard and what direction he and Larocca plan to take as the series moves forward.

Marvel.com: Kieron, how does it feel to be taking over the reins of the main STAR WARS title after Jason Aaron’s 37-issue run?

Kieron Gillen: Generally speaking, I like to think of myself as Palpatine, having successfully arranged a takeover of the once noble Republic and will now turn it to my evil ends. Jason has been reduced to living on a swamp world and speaking in unusual syntax. Gillen triumphant! Hail Gillen!

Er… it feels great. Jason’s run has been amazing, a piece of pop science fiction that speaks to the core wonder of Star Wars, and getting to follow him is an honor. It’s a book I’ve always felt close to, running its sister books in the time period with DARTH VADER and DOCTOR APHRA. That means it’s simultaneously familiar and intimidating, which is a really unusual feeling.

Marvel.com: You’ll be working with Salvdor Larocca again – a mainstay for Marvel’s STAR WARS comics line. How do you find having him as a collaborator helps you craft a story that rings true for fans of the Star Wars universe?

Kieron Gillen: First of all, Salva loves Star Wars. That’s true of a whole generation of artists, but every panel speaks to his love of the Star Wars universe, the research inherent to that and trying to ensure it feels like a lost frame from the movie. He does great likenesses of both characters and tech… but also is entirely capable of inventing his own things which feel like they must be a piece of design. Aphra’s ship, the Ark Angel, is a wonderful example of that – pure Star Wars, entirely new.

There’s also another aspect to Salva, in that he’s so fast it means that the book doesn’t need to flip between artists to maintain the schedule. That means that the book can have a consistent look and feel, which means you have a consistent Star Wars atmosphere.

Marvel.com: Unlike DARTH VADER, which gave you and Salvador the opportunity to explore the world of Star Wars from the perspective of the Sith Lord and the Empire, you will now have the opportunity to dig into the untold stories of our favorite Rebellion heroes. What aspects of these characters are you most interested in fleshing out that you haven’t had a chance to yet?

Kieron Gillen: With VADER, my first task was sitting down and doing a close reading and deciding what must have happened to them between the two series. They’re the same people, but there’s a host of implied experiences between the two. Jason’s backbone has been Luke’s exploring his Jedi powers, trying to find ways to become the Jedi he knows he has to be… and I think that’s gone almost as far as we can before “Empire Strikes Back.” As such, my run on the book is less about the Jedi, and more about Luke becoming increasingly prominent in the Rebellion.

I kind of see Leia as co-lead of the book, and her own route is in there – one thing which struck me is that while this period is about Luke starting the path to a Jedi, by implication, it’s also about Leia *not* following her force sensitivity. As we see in the “The Force Awakens,” she never went that way. Why? Obviously, all this impacts Han as well – that throwaway line in the opening of “Empire Strikes Back” when Han is leading, about him being a natural leader? Well, no he isn’t that in “A New Hope.” Let’s see that stuff.

So, we’re very much about the rebellion… and the rebellion’s plan in this period.

Marvel.com: I see you’ll be taking readers to Jedha? What made this a “first stop” on your Star Tour?

Kieron Gillen: In a real way, the arc is based on slamming the cast of “A New Hope” into the War-movie aesthetic of “Rogue One.” What better way of showing that than just doing it? On a character level, there’s so much for all the cast as well. Jedha and Alderaan sit next to each other on the Death Star’s hit list, and that’s core for Leia. Luke’s search for the Force leads him to a huge hole in the planet’s mantle where one of the holiest cities in the universe was. And Luke learning about all the things which led to him taking that shot on the Death Star… all that, without thinking about what happens when you rub someone like Luke against the new-generation Partisans.

Also, it just struck me when watching “Rogue One,” I wondered: “So, what happens to Jedha now?” That I’m the writer of STAR WARS, I get to answer such questions, and lo! Nuclear Winter post-apocalyptic Star Wars is go for an arc.

Marvel.com: Are there any villains that you haven’t had a chance to work with that we can expect to see at some point in your run?

Kieron Gillen: Hmm. I dare say I’ve hit most of the big ones in the period, which clearly won’t stop me from using them again. This is the period when the Executor launches with Vader at its helm, after it all. There’s a few others I’ve got my eye on, if only for a cameo.

Really, half the thrill is always working out ways to add new, interesting villains to the canon. Clearly defined enough to get instantly, but not too broad to be without nuance. I’ve a new Imperial Commander in the Jedha arc who is a joy to write. I’m also bringing back other villains we’ve introduced elsewhere – it’s very much building on all the work we’ve done in the comics. Queen Trios, from DARTH VADER, will certainly be showing her face, and rolling her eyes disdainfully.

Marvel.com: As a final question: I noticed you mentioned you’ll be charting the rise and fall of the Rebellion in order to set us up for the events of “Empire Strikes Back.” Just how low do you plan to bring the Rebellion?

Kieron Gillen: Heroism is proved in extremis. Pretty low.

This comes from almost the flip of my reading of the gap between “A New Hope” and “Empire” for doing DARTH VADER. There I saw “A New Hope” ending with the greatest military disaster of all time and the next movie starting with Vader (one of the few survivors) in a much higher position, with the Rebellion on the run, holed up at the edge of the Galaxy.

Here… the Rebels have just defeated the Empire’s 20-year plan. It’s a huge blow against them, and people now know the Empire *can* be resisted… plus they have wasted huge amounts of resources. The Rebels will be resurgent, people will probably be joining them and they almost certainly have plans based upon their experience of the Death Star… but we know that by the start of “Empire,” the Rebels are being pursued hard. Something happened between the two, and that’s the story I’m telling. The Empire *had* Struck Back by the time “The Empire Strikes Back” started. “A New Hope” is, as the title suggests, about this New Hope. My story is about moving from one to the other, and how our heroes and the rebellion navigate them.

Suffice to say, it’s a story of heroism on the galactic scale. I can’t wait to show some of the things we have planned.

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How is it to live every day seeing the flaws in everyone and everything?

The client, Karnak Mander-Azur, is a self-identified Inhuman and longtime advisor to the Royal Family. Currently he belongs to an Inhuman/S.H.I.E.L.D. collaborative organization known as the Secret Warriors, although I am unclear on whether or not this is a formal designation or a colloquial title adopted by the group. He presents as a man in above average physical health who is noticeable by the facials tattoos that indicate his membership in a religious movement known as the Tower of Wisdom.

Karnak joined the movement after his parents refused to let him undergo the Terrigenesis process due to how the Mists affected his brother Triton. Instead, Karnak studied under the Wisdom monks, learning both philosophy and a variety of martial arts. These studies are credited with his abilities — the client is a master planner who is evidently able to see the flaws in everything including people, objects, and plans — although it is unclear if this is a “power” or just a highly developed skill. It also marks him as distinctly different from the rest of the Inhuman population who undergo exposure to the Mists; while not all react to the gas and change, participation in the process is nearly 100 percent. The combination of his experiences, his skillset, and being this literal outlier often leaves him feeling very separate from others. In therapy, we have also explored if he furthers this sense of separation on his own, choosing it instead of reaching out, but so far the client is fairly resistant to this avenue of discussion.

Karnak has recently undergone some fairly significant life changes. In the first place, in response to knowledge he still has not fully articulated, he ended his own life. Through a process this writer confesses he does not wholly understand, but hinges on another Inhuman that was genetically related to Karnak that could absorb the genetic memories of dead Inhumans, Karnak was reborn. While retaining his memories, he lost his distinctive head shape. While this seems to have cost him nothing, it is worth note as it is significant change to his appearance.

Secret Warriors  (2017) #12

Secret Warriors (2017) #12

Since his rebirth, he has been far more paranoid, secretive, and withdrawn as well. While being a member of a team, he often seems to be working at odds with their goals or following a very different route without explaining or alerting his teammates to his choices.

Additionally, most of the Royal family, arguably the individuals he is closest to and calls friends and family, have left the planet and did so largely without explanation. While he largely downplays this development on his psyche, for an individual who is slow to trust and has few supports, this sudden loss of so many people from his life has undoubtedly affected him.

Due to his overall hesitance to open up, much of our therapy has been focused on daily coping skills. With his ability to see flaws everywhere, day-to-day life is a series of encounters that scream at him to solve problems that he cannot, for many reasons, starting with the fact that it is impossible to make a person perfect. For another example, it is difficult to get anyone to listen to you when you claim there is a structural flaw in a building that will cause it to collapse in 96 years. We are working on active ignoring, how to evaluate which flaws are fixable and worth focusing on now, which can be delayed, and which, ultimately, must be accepted. Along with this we are working on emotion regulation to help him connect better with others and reduce his susceptibility to anger, disappointment, etc., with normal human failings. Lastly, we have been practicing mindfulness techniques, something the client has taken to very well given his experiences in studies in the Tower of Wisdom.

As part of his therapeutic process, Karnak Mander-Azur has agreed to attend a group session as a kind of exposure therapy for managing his emotions and his reactions to the flaws of others. He will attend Doctors Matthew Rosenberg and Javi Garron’s group starting on January 10, 2018 and information on his progress with be available in file SECRET WARRIORS #12.

Psy D. Candidate Tim Stevens is a Staff Therapist who thinks you—yes, you!—are flawless.

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Guess the identity of Kamala Khan’s mystery foe!

Ms. Marvel has gone missing. And in her place, her friends have decided to take up her position as New Jersey’s finest crime stopper.

But in part two of the “Teenage Wasteland” arc, an old enemy makes their return with a few unexpected tricks set for Kamala Khan’s buddies. It all takes place on January 10 in writer G. Willow Wilson and artist Nico Leon’s MS. MARVEL #26!

One question, though: who might this mysterious big bad be?

From the moment Kamala stepped through the transformative Terrigen Mist, nefarious nincompoops started showing up to cast their villainy about town in her beloved Jersey City. Ms. Marvel’s seen everything from a Canadian Ninja Syndicate to internet fanfic trolls—and once she even fought alligators. But who might show up in issue #26?

We took a look at the rogues’ gallery of MS. MARVEL villains to get a hint at who the culprit could be.

Lockdown
Rebecca St. Jude started her career as a Carol Cadet, but the power of apprehending criminals quickly went to her head. Having gotten a taste for tasering and detaining people indefinitely, Lockdown came up against Kamala before getting arrested by the Jersey City Police Department for impersonating a law enforcement officer.

She’s got the pedigree, but does the giant robot gecko on the cover of issue #26 seem like her way of doing things? Maybe? But also maybe not.

Discord
Josh Richardson (A.K.A. the guy Rebecca St. Jude tasered) got a taste for evil and ended up joining forces with Lockdown and Chuck Worthy. Taking on the code name Discord, Josh acted as the enforcer for Worthy’s K.I.N.D. initiative, rounding up Inhumans in a detention center without cause.

Smashing up Jersey City with a giant lizard-bot doesn’t seem like something Discord would do, but his boss, the pro-gentrification Chuck Worthy, might be a little more into the idea…

Doctor Faustus
A frequent collaborator of Worthy’s, Doctor Faustus masterminded the Hope Yards Development and Relocation Association, which turned out to be a secret Hydra cell. Faustus also once used a special drink concoction to inoculate the local populace with mind-controlling nanomachines…so he knows how to effectively craft crime on a major scale.

Might Doctor Faustus turn his dastardly minded methods to a massive city-destroying machine chameleon? He seems to use subtler tricks than that, but we wouldn’t rule it out.

Hijinx
Hijinx, the leader of the Canadian Ninja Syndicate (a group Kamala scuffled with on the road to Civil War II), once planned to drive a tank through Jersey City—sort of like a lizard robot. Though, most recently, Hijinx and the Syndicate actually teamed up with Ms. Marvel to fight Lockdown. Though have they done a heel turn when Kamala least expects it? Maybe!

Kamran
Kamala’s crush-turned-nemesis seized Ms. Marvel and took her to Lineage—the leader of a radical Inhuman terrorist organization—who tried to recruit the hero in his dark campaign. She refused (obviously!) and later escaped. Then Kamran appeared again to kidnap Kamala’s brother Aamir! Even though the villain hasn’t appeared since that abduction, his under-the-radar approach might make him the perfect man for this latest assault.

Though if Kamran doesn’t seem quite convincing, consider…

The Inventor
Kamala’s first villain was a half-cockatiel, half-Thomas Edison clone created by a scientist named Knox. The bird-faced replicate, who took on the codeman “The Inventor,” immediately started experimenting as evil bioengineers; The Inventor and Knox forced young people to serve as living batteries.

Though The Inventor supposedly perished in battle against Ms. Marvel, that biomechanical lizard looks a lot like something he might put together. And remember those alligators we mentioned earlier? Those were bioengineered alligators, sent by none other than the Inventor!

Maybe he’s got a thing for taking down cities with artificial scaly beasts.

Find out the true identity of the big bad in MS. MARVEL #26, by writer G. Willow Wilson and artist Nico Leon, on January 10!

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Meet one of the most deadly and persistent super villains of all-time!

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.

How do you stop a villain from the future, who knows the past and also comes stocked with weaponry to make even Tony Stark’s head spin? Jack Kirby and Stan Lee answered that very question in 1964 with AVENGERS #8. In that issue, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes met at Stark’s mansion by request from the Pentagon who showed them a video of an unidentified flying object landing in Virginia. Unafraid of the human element, the craft’s pilot smoothed over a mile of forest to land and then used another ray to vibrate the approaching tanks to pieces!

Before long, the invader revealed himself as Kang, the Conqueror! At the government’s request, the Avengers flew off to investigate. When they arrived at the craft, they found their foe lounging on an invisible, floating chair, completely unimpressed with their appearance. The villain then very simply stated his objective of taking over the entire planet and backed that up by tossing the mighty super heroes around like paper dolls.

Once the under-secretary of defense showed up, Kang explained that he had been born in the year 3000, mastered time travel, and then visited the past as Rama-Tut, first seen in FANTASTIC FOUR #19. While trying to return to his home time, he actually went to the year 4000 where warring barbarians wielded technologically advanced weapons built in a bygone era. However, the self-styled Conqueror grew bored with the war-ravaged climes and decided to return to an earlier Earth. He ordered his minions to build him another time machine and that’s how he came face to face with the Avengers.

Avengers (1963) #8

Avengers (1963) #8

  • Published: September 10, 1964
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 13, 2007
  • Penciller: Jack Kirby
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
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Uninterested in Kang’s claims of dominance, the Avengers attacked the would-be despot, but didn’t fair well. The time traveler zapped Giant-Man, deflected Mjolnir, and foiled Wasp’s attempts at de-powering his helmet. Tired of the battle, the rogue had the male members of his opposition sucked into holding cells inside his ship and then gave the world an ultimatum: surrender or die.

Kang would soon learn the error of his ways in ignoring The Wasp and Rick Jones, though. Jones called in his Teen Brigade pals and feigned allegiance, causing all kinds of trouble along the way. They even managed to free our heroes! Meanwhile, Wasp searched Hank Pym’s lab and found a power ray she thought would tip the scales in their favor.

Reunited, the Avengers pressed their attack, which included a blast from the gun that unleashed a suit-melting acid on Kang. The invader then unleashed a Neutrino Missile, but Iron Man easily deflected it as Giant-Man sealed off the launchers on the ship. Besieged and beleaguered, The Conqueror could do nothing more than retreat to his chronal conveyance and make a hasty retreat! And that’s how you beat a time traveler!

Check out more Kang in video game form with “LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2”!

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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Luke, Leia, and Han continue making the galaxy safe five years later!

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

As we all know, the Rebel Alliance didn’t blow up the second Death Star and walk off into the sunset with the galaxy instantly eschewing the Empire and its ideas. Eventually, Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, and Han Solo helped bring about a new era of peace across the cosmos, but not instantly. In 1991, author Timothy Zahn published the first entry in the Thrawn trilogy of novels that picked up five years after the end of “Return of the Jedi.” STAR WARS: HEIR TO THE EMPIRE came out as a six-issue comic adaptation by Mike Baron, Olivier Vatine, and Fred Blanchard in 1995.

As the story began, Luke looked to rekindle the Jedi Order while the now-married Han and Leia expected twins. Still, the Alliance now had other problems, like trying to find people who would run their shipping lines. Even Han Solo had trouble finding smugglers who would go straight! At the same time, the Empire lived on through a man named Grand Admiral Thrawn. He studied a culture’s artwork to help understand its people in order to both manipulate them and predict their movements. He also teamed up with an old Jedi by the name of Jorrus C’baoth who wanted to meet Luke and Leia, regardless of their own feelings on the subject.

Meanwhile, a smuggler by the name of Captain Karrde also played into the action heavily as he worked with Luke Skywalker’s future wife Mara Jade, found himself sought by Solo to establish shipping lanes, and also sold Force-blocking creatures called Ysalamiri to Thrawn and his people. As it happened, most of the major players in the story wound up on Myrkr, Karrde’s home base planet, meaning he had to deal with a visiting Thrawn, a captive Skywalker, and an intrusive Han along with Lando Calrissian.

Star Wars: Heir To The Empire (1995) #1

Star Wars: Heir To The Empire (1995) #1

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As these things go, Luke escaped, but wound up having to work with Jade while Han and Lando eventually discovered that Karrde had held their friends captive, which did not sit well with them. While all this transpired, Leia hid out on Kashyyyk with Chewbacca because a race of aliens called the Noghri continued to hunt her down across the vastness of space at the behest of Thrawn. Originally, they served The Emperor, but with his passing sought other employment.

At the end of the day, Luke and Han reunited. They soon made their way off planet along with Lando and stumbled into a battle that Thrawn had orchestrated. Thanks to their friendship with Lando, though, they all figured out a way to stop the assault and flew off in victory, preparing for the next battle with this dangerous new enemy in the process.

From the Jedi Temple Archives

Though this particular story now finds itself categorized in the Legends universe, that doesn’t mean Grand Admiral Thrawn’s been left out in the cold. Instead, he’s been re-integrated into the current, official canon, first in episodes of “Star Wars Rebels” and then in a book published earlier this year called “Thrawn” written by none other than Timothy Zahn! A sequel called “Thrawn: Alliances” will debut next year!

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What price will Jane Foster pay in the penultimate showdown with Mangog?

The murderous Mangog has set himself on a collision course with the God of Thunder–could a story titled “The Death of the Mighty Thor” end any other way than in tragedy?

With the fate of Asgard in jeopardy, Jane Foster takes up the hammer against her formidable foe in MIGHTY THOR #705, available March 21 from the creative team of writer Jason Aaron and artist Russell Dauterman. Thor has run the gamut of her predecessor’s greatest foes since the start of this ominous arc in MIGHTY THOR #700. By the time she gets to Mangog, our truly Worthy hero may be operating low on lightning and unable to fully bring the thunder.

“This is it folks,” teases series editor Wil Moss. “The big showdown between Thor and Mangog. The penultimate chapter of ‘The Death of the Mighty Thor.’ Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman have been building to this issue for over three years, and you absolutely do not want to miss this. You may think you know where things are going, but I promise you do not.”

Jane Foster faces her most devastating foe as Mangog comes calling and the Goddess of Thunder has no option but to answer. Find out what happens when the unyielding meets the unstoppable on March 21 in MIGHTY THOR #705–and take a sneak peek at  awesome Dauterman art from issues #703–out January 17–and #704–coming February 21–as well as the cover to #705 in the pages above!

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Artist Matteo Lolli returns to scratch off Wade Wilson's bucket list!

“Killing Cable”—the murderous first arc of DESPICABLE DEADPOOL—planted a seed in Wade Wilson’s head. And when that seed grew, it became a list of all the people the Merc with a Mouth wants to kill, maim, or generally annoy. Naturally.

On January 10, artist Matteo Lolli joins writer Gerry Duggan to check a few names off DP’s hit list. So who will they be? Stevil Rogers? Rogue? Madcap? And where will Deadpool end up when his affairs have been put in order? Find out as a new storyline begins with part one of “Bucket List” in DESPICABLE DEADPOOL #292!

We caught up with Lolli to get a few answers about what those on Wade’s list might think when the Regenerating Degenerate comes knocking.

Marvel.com: You’ve worked with Gerry many times before on DEADPOOL. How has it felt to get the band back together again for “Bucket List”?

Matteo Lolli: It’s always a pleasure both working on this character and working with Gerry, probably because each time, I discover new layers of personal conflict in Deadpool. And the “Bucket List” story has been no different. When I read the scripts I felt so bad for the poor fella, having to go through all of this because Gerry has no remorse going hard on him. But that’s what a great writer does to write a great story arc. He doesn’t go easy on the main character, and oh boy, Gerry really knows how to do that.

Marvel.com: It sounds like Wade has a hankering to take care of some unfinished business. Would you like to see him cross off any names of characters that you’ve worked on before?

Matteo Lolli: I’m pretty happy because I wanted badly to see the conclusion of the main grudge with Madcap. But I’d really like to see him meet Sabretooth again. I love how they can fight and not hold back in any way.

Marvel.com: How has it been working with characters like Hydra Cap, Rogue, and Madcap in the arc so far?

Matteo Lolli: Simply great. Each one has some deep link with Deadpool and his personal story that makes each of their appearances immediately interesting, even from a creator’s point of view. I really like Rogue’s relationship with Deadpool.

Marvel.com: Bucket lists tend to imply that the list maker might not have a long time left…does that thought weigh on Wade’s mind? Does that change how he behaves at all?

Matteo Lolli: I think he doesn’t care for himself anymore. I see him in a sort of quicksand; the more he tries to get out of it, the more his efforts turn out badly and he ends up going further down. Choosing to hurt someone to save someone else, feeling used, feeling there’s no escape—I think he’s coming to the breaking point. Actually, he seems like such a train wreck that I’ve rarely seen any other character this way before, and that’s what I think is the true tragically beautiful aspect of Deadpool.

Marvel.com: Sounds like Deadpool might also flirt with taking out Apocalypse. How do you go about crafting the image of an iconic villain like that?

Matteo Lolli: I’d fear for the poor Deadpool crossing his path. You know, his mouth moves much faster than his punches. As a comic artist, working on such an iconic villain would be awesome, but also scary and exciting at the same time. I usually feel there’s never enough time to get used to such important characters, but at the same time, the deadlines and excitement make me want to tackle them as soon as possible. In any case, it’s always a blast, so bring it on.

Start the list in DESPICABLE DEADPOOL #292, by writer Gerry Duggan and artist Matteo Lolli, on January 10!

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Take a look at exclusive WORLD WAR HULK II pages courtesy of Greg Pak and Tom Brevoort!

Marvelites, 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 HAWKEYE, DOCTOR STRANGE, and CAPTAIN AMERICA, with Ryan, Ben and Tucker. Tune in for a riveting WORLD WAR HULK II chat with Ben and Greg Pak (1:05:25)! In fact, get an exclusive taste of WORLD WAR HULK II below thanks to Greg Pak and Tom Brevoort! Christine and Eric dish out some TV news from the West Coast and discuss all things Marvel Games with Tim Hernandez and Danny Koo (1:20:45). Close everything out with Ryan, Ben and Tucker answering your questions and comments (1:38:15)!

Download episode #319 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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Artist Phil Noto introduces a new take on Charles Xavier!

Series writer Charles Soule keeps throwing curveballs at his ASTONISHING X-MEN team. And they might not be ready for the latest twist heading their way.

When Part One of the new storyline “A Man Called X” begins with ASTONISHING X-MEN #7, the merry mutants must reckon with a resurgent—and slightly unfamiliar—Charles Xavier. Written by Soule with art by Phil Noto, this epic tale starts with a bang.

We caught up with Noto to discuss teaming up with his POE DAMERON partner on a different series, getting to know a few mutants better, and developing a new look for Professor X.

Marvel.com: There has been an all-star lineup of artists contributing to this run of ASTONISHING X-MEN so far. What most appealed to you about joining in on the fun?

Phil Noto: I was flattered to be included with those artists in the lineup. It’s also been awhile since I’ve worked on an X-book, so that appealed to me.

Marvel.com: This book contains a pretty eclectic group of X-Men. Did any of them offer a surprising challenge when you started digging into the issue?

Phil Noto: Well, I’ve drawn most of them in one form or another—except for Bishop. I think this might be my first official Bishop work, which has been fun because I’ve been a fan of the character since the old X-Men cartoon. Other than a few costume changes with Gambit and Rogue, I felt like I had a pretty good handle on them.

Now, creating a young Xavier definitely felt like a bit of a challenge. He’s more cocky and laid back than his future self. He’s also walking around. I just tried to make him read as X as much as I could, and I think it worked.

Marvel.com: What’s it like shining the spotlight on Professor X this way?

Phil Noto: It was fun to do a Professor-centric issue. I’ve never really spent much time drawing him. And the way Charles has written this new incarnation of Xavier is very cool!

Marvel.com: What can you tell us about the threat Professor X and his team find themselves up against as “A Man Called X” begins?

Phil Noto: After the defeat of the Shadow King, London remains swarming with psychic zombies, with Bishop being one of them. Suddenly, a young Xavier appears—dressed as Fantomex—and tells the team that it’s cool, that he’s got it under control. Next thing you know, there’s a crazy green sun, which can’t be good. Don’t want to spoil more than that!

Marvel.com: You’ve worked with Charles Soule before—how has your collaborative relationship evolved over time?

Phil Noto: Charles and I go way back. We did a THUNDERBOLTS issue together years ago. Working on POE DAMERON with him has been a delight. From planning out the initial story and characters to doing the book together, we definitely have a good rapport. It’s nice to have that kind of relationship with a writer. I usually instinctively know what he’s going for on the page. If I have any questions about something, I can just text him. I think we make a pretty good team!

Writer Charles Soule and artist Phil Noto’s ASTONISHING X-MEN #7 drops on January 3!

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The FF's fifth anniversary was marked by Doom stealing the Silver Surfer's powers.

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.

Traditionally, you celebrate a fifth anniversary with a gift of wood. The Fantastic Four would have probably appreciated a discarded piece of drywall instead of the challenges Stan Lee and Jack Kirby threw at their heroes in the pages of FANTASTIC FOUR #5760!

Fantastic Four (1961) #57

Fantastic Four (1961) #57

  • Published: December 10, 1966
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 13, 2007
  • Penciller: Jack Kirby
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

The adventure began with Reed, Sue and Ben getting duped into thinking Sandman and The Wizard planned on confessing to their crimes as a ruse to break out of prison. Sandman succeeded, which Wizard said was part of their plan, but the team felt blindsided by their efforts. Later, Sandman attacked the FF in their own home and made off with some of Mr. Fantastic’s equipment.

Meawhile, Doctor Doom worked on a scheme of his own as he invited the Silver Surfer to visit Castle Doom. Intrigued, the spaceman accepted and demonstrated his astonishing mastery of Cosmic Power to the Latverian leader. The Surfer would live to regret this display and the trust he placed in his host as Doom distracted his guest and then stole his power!

To prove himself, Doom rode the Surfer’s board to Manhattan where he crashed through the FF’s headquarters only to find the Thing there. The ensuing battle tore through the Big Apple until the villain used Vibration Rays to slow Grimm to a standstill, turning him into a temporary statue!

Fantastic Four (1961) #58

Fantastic Four (1961) #58

  • Published: January 10, 1967
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 13, 2007
  • Penciller: Jack Kirby
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

The souped up despot then made his way to the Southampton cottage the Richards’ had rented for some time away. Around this time, Lockjaw landed Johnny Storm and his pal Wyatt Wingfoot back in New York City as well. The trio had been fruitlessly searching for a way to find the Inhumans. Facing a new problem, Johnny saw the frozen Thing and then zoomed to the cottage to save his sister and brother-in-law from Doom’s attack.

Even though things got pretty hot during his fight with the Human Torch, Doom decided to simply leave the reunited Fantastic Four as they were. In his eyes, seeing Doom take over the world would prove a far worse punishment than actually killing them.

Doom’s arrogance would lead to his ultimate downfall. Richards appealed to the worlds’ governments to focus their efforts against Doom, but – after Ben gave him a walloping dose of motivation – he got to work developing a device that would weaken the villain.

Fantastic Four (1961) #59

Fantastic Four (1961) #59

  • Published: February 10, 1967
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 13, 2007
  • Penciler: Jack Kirby
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

With time running out before Doom fully took over the planet and then moved on to the stars, the Fantastic Four jumped into action against the madman. Torch did his level best to fry the bad guy to no avail. Then Thing jumped into the ring to fight the foe for a second time. That gave Mr. Fantastic enough time to unleash the Anti-Cosmic Flying Wing.

The doohickey did the job of zapping and angering Doom while absorbing some of his power. However, the real reason for its presence came as it flew up into space where the bad doctor soon lost his power! As Richards explained, when Galactus stranded the Silver Surfer on Earth, that included his Cosmic Energy. When Doom passed a certain point, he lost the power! With that, Doom returned to his usual level of power and the board made its way back to the Surfer.

Fantastic Four (1961) #60

Fantastic Four (1961) #60

  • Published: March 10, 1967
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 13, 2007
  • Penciller: Jack Kirby
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

It didn’t quite play into this particular story all that much, but Stan and Jack also finally released the Inhumans from their captivity. After Black Bolt told the citizens to hide underground tunnels, he unleashed the power of his voice to destroy the walls, and much of the city in the process. The Council of Elders then informed the Royal Family – that’s Black Bolt, Medusa, Gorgon, Crystal, Triton and Karnak – to return to the human world. Never let it be said that Lee and Kirby didn’t pack as much action and intrigue as possible into these big anniversary stories!

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more on Jack Kirby’s legacy and join the conversation on all of our social channels with the hashtag #Kirby100.

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