The Savage Dragon creator on a decades-long appreciation of the King!

1917 to 2017: 100 years of Kirby.

Join us this month 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.

For many, Jack Kirby’s work represents the absolute pinnacle of imagination. From Captain America in the ‘40s to the Fantastic Four in the ’60s to Devil Dinosaur in the ‘70s, the King’s work illustrates an unprecedented creativity in crafting unforgettable stories and characters.

Veteran comic book creator Erik Larsen—known for his Marvel runs on AMAZING SPIDER-MAN and SPIDER-MAN—follows Jack Kirby’s grand tradition of creating dynamic stories with a mix of action and heart. To remember the King and his legacy, we spoke with Larsen about meeting the man himself, learning from his craft, and getting to ink his work!

Marvel.com: Do you remember how you came to know Jack’s art? What kind of impact did it have on you?

Erik Larsen: My dad bought comics when he was a kid and I grew up with his collection—which he shared with his children when we were far too young and we destroyed a lot of them. But my earliest encounter with Jack’s work was Boy Commandos. By the time I was old enough to buy my own comics, Jack was winding up his tenure at DC, working on Kamandi, The Demon, OMAC, and Mister Miracle. I devoured his work. I loved the energy of it all. And whenever Marvel reprinted his stuff, I snapped it up. Marvel was publishing a lot of Jack’s work in TREASURY EDITIONS and I adored those.

Marvel.com: As an up-and-coming artist, did you look to Kirby’s work for inspiration when configuring panels and pages?

Erik Larsen: Certainly. There was a lot to be learned from Jack’s work and he was a huge influence. The internal battle was to try and get some of that power and energy without aping his work so much that you looked like a second-rate Kirby. His work is very seductive in that way. Whenever I look at his work I want to become Jack Kirby—and there are times a Kirby squiggle, Kirby fist, or Kirby Krackle works its way onto my pages. I can’t help myself.

Marvel.com: Did you ever meet or get to work with Jack? If so, what do you remember most about him?

Erik Larsen: I met Jack a few times in San Diego and he was a very supportive and soft-spoken man. He was very encouraging. I wish I’d spent more time with him. I inked a couple of pages of his pencils for the Phantom Force book we published at Image and that was an absolute thrill and somewhat heartbreaking at the same time. After I erased his pencils I felt like I’d committed a crime. I erased Jack’s pencils! What was I thinking?

Marvel.com: You’ve used Kirby drawings as the basis for your own cover art in the past. Has working with a piece that way offered any new insights into the man’s brilliance?

Erik Larsen: I’ve inked over Kirby’s work on blue line numerous times and it’s always a great learning experience. It’s also frustrating that I can’t do the kind of job I’d like to do. My hat’s off to Mike Royer, Joe Sinnott, Frank Giacoia, and the others who inked his pencils so brilliantly over the years.

Marvel.com: During your early days at Marvel, you worked on Kirby co-creations like Thor and the Hulk. Knowing the history there, what was that like?

Erik Larsen: Always a thrill. My very first Marvel job was an inventory issue of THOR where he fought the Hulk. Stan Lee ended up scripting it and Vinnie Colletta inked it. It was the last issue of THOR either of them ever worked on. I was subbing for Jack in that classic creative team on my very first Marvel gig! It was all downhill from there!

Marvel.com: You went on to launch your own original stories—each jam packed with new characters and creations. Would you say Kirby inspired that work?

Erik Larsen: I’d say he inspired all of it! There’s not a day that goes by when I don’t look at Jack Kirby’s art! If it’s not a book in my hands, it’s framed art on my walls! I don’t have any of my own work on my walls—but I have Jack’s! He was, and forever will be, the King of comics!

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.

Read More

Star Wars comics reveal how Darth Vader learned his son blew up the Death Star.

We all know that the first Star Wars film changed the face of pop culture forever when it hit theaters 40 years ago—but it’s not just the movie that’s celebrating that milestone in 2017. Star Wars comics arrived with force in 1977, and hundreds of issues later, they’re more popular now than ever.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Star Wars, we’re looking back at our 40 favorite moments from the history of comics from a galaxy far, far away—one day at a time.

We’ve all seen “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back”—and we all know that Darth Vader was aiming to capture Luke in Episode V despite not knowing his identity during the Death Star trench run. So…how did that happen? How did Vader learn that he almost gunned down his own son? Shared between both STAR WARS #6 and DARTH VADER # 6, one of the greatest moments in Star Wars comic book history reveals this crucial moment in Star Wars lore.

Darth Vader (2015) #6

Darth Vader (2015) #6

What is Marvel Unlimited?

STAR WARS #6 made headlines when it was released for revealing that Han Solo may have a wife, but the arguable bigger revelation is the one Boba Fett conveys to Vader in the issue’s final pages. The bounty hunter had learned of Luke’s identity in STAR WARS #5, and issue #6 kicks off with him encountering Luke—the rare instance of Fett’s prey successfully fleeing. The issue concludes with the revelation. Vader does not take it well…

DARTH VADER #6 ends similarly, but with a more introspective look at the news from the Dark Lord’s perspective. We see thoughts of Padme go through his mind—as well as Palpatine’s lie to him that he killed her. Then, four simple words that should pack a huge emotional wallop to fans: “I have a son.” We know what happens from there.

Read More

The King helps usher in Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and much more!

In celebration of Jack “King” Kirby’s 100th birthday, we’re reviewing the man’s legendary creations with a year-by-year examination of his unparalleled career at Marvel Comics. Read on and witness the work that made him comic book royalty.

Although he’d already knocked the socks off of comic book fans the previous year with a collection of incredible debuts, Jack Kirby teamed once again with Marvel editor and writer Stan Lee to ensure that 1963 offered up as many if not more fantastic firsts.

Perhaps supreme among that year’s debuts stood AVENGERS #1. Lee and Kirby took their biggest stars to that point—Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk, Ant-Man, and The Wasp—and brought them together in a single dream team. Kirby’s proficiency at juggling multiple characters paid off in spades in a story that gave equal time to all the heroes, plus included the villainy of Thor’s half-brother Loki just for good measure. Fans responded enthusiastically, and the creative duo notched their belts with another hit on their hands.

Not content with just one new team of super heroes, Jack designed another set to be launched not as guest-stars or back-ups in another title, but in a book of their own right out of the starting gate. X-MEN #1 introduced teen champions with a little “x-tra” going for them: mutant powers. The mysterious Professor X brought in Cyclops, Beast, Angel, Iceman, and Marvel Girl to battle Lee and Kirby’s newest criminal creation, Magneto, and the world of comics would never be the same again.

Jack, a veteran of combat in World War II, found much to dig into when he helped kick off a new war series called SGT. FURY AND HIS HOWLING COMMANDOS in 1963. Just like with  their super hero teams, Kirby and Lee endowed the platoon of soldiers and their commander who populated the book with duffel bags full of personality, and their stories with all the action and pathos Marvel fans began to demand.

Over in the world of the Fantastic Four, the duo’s superstars from the year before received their very first Annual issue, an immense tome illustrated solely by Jack. The volume included a sprawling battle between the FF and the Sub-Mariner, several pages of pinups of the foursome’s fearsome foes, and an expansion of the scuffle between our heroes and Spider-Man from the webslinger’s first issue of his own new title—all this for a mere 25 cents cover price.

In their regular book, Marvel’s first family enjoyed Jack’s art for the very first crossover story from the House of Ideas, the Hulk-FF clash in FANTASTIC FOUR #12, the debut of The Watcher and his exotic moon base in FANTASTIC FOUR #13, and the Super-Skrull’s arrival in FANTASTIC FOUR #18. All these amazing new characters benefited from Kirby’s sense of design and wonder, cementing their role in the ever-growing Marvel Universe.

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.

Read More

Writer Robbie Thompson summons a retrospective look as the series powers to a close!

Even magic has its limits.

On September 13, the Sorcerers will have to accept that reality in DOCTOR STRANGE AND THE SORCERERS SUPREME #12, as writer Robbie Thompson and artist Nathan Stockman conjure up an intense conclusion for the supernatural crew.

As he dusted off his magic artifacts for the last time, we caught up with Robbie to ask about his stellar work on the book—and what’s still to come.

Marvel.com: As we reach the end, how are you feeling about the DOCTOR STRANGE AND THE SORCERERS SUPREME series as a whole?

Robbie Thompson: I’m feeling sad! This book was so much fun to work on—Editor Nick Lowe assembled a murderer’s row of all-star talent and I learned a ton on this book. Every collaborator has brought their A-game on every page.

But I also feel satisfied, and thanks again to Nick for that, too. We had time to wrap the story up the way we wanted to—with a satisfying conclusion to the story we set out to tell.

Marvel.com: How does the art for that last issue look? What was the artistic collaboration like over the course of the whole title?

Robbie Thompson: Thanks to Nate Stockman, [artist] Jim Campbell, and [letterer] Joe Caramagna, the last issue of the series looks stunning.

I’m so happy with how this book turned out—it’s been bittersweet, but also fun, to see the pages, colors, and lettering on this final issue. We decided to do something different for this one, inspired by FANTASTIC FOUR #252, by having this final issue be horizontal. It made for some fun and crazy layouts from Nate—and helped keep us on our toes right to the end of the run.

Marvel.com: As you wrote the characters, did any surprises emerge throughout the run? How would you characterize their emotional journeys over the course of the bookespecially Strange’s?

Robbie Thompson: I think the character that surprised me the most was Mindful One. We knew going in that Sir Isaac Newton was going to turn on the group—and that some characters would leave sooner rather than later—but I wasn’t expecting Mindful to be such an emotional character. His friendship with Kushala came out of the way that Javier Rodriguez drew them both, and based on that, we would all pitch moments for Mindful in each issue and he started to grow as a character. It was cool to see him become more of an emotional part of the team.

As for the rest of the team, typically, Sorcerers Supreme work alone—not with other Supremes. But because of the time travel, we had a chance for each of them to see that they were a part of a much larger story than they knew, which made for some emotional moments, especially for Doctor Strange. He gets to talk to someone in issue #11 that I wasn’t initially planning on him even meeting when we first set out to tell this story. But because this is a time travel story, we had the unique opportunity to say something a little more emotional in that exchange. And because we’re talking about Sorcerers Supreme throughout time, including Stephen Strange’s mentor Yao, we had a chance to have Strange see his own legacy—to have him understand the impact he’s had on magic and history.

Marvel.com: I’m sure you’ve had a few favorite moments over the course of the series. Looking back, which ones stand out?

Robbie Thompson: For me, the moments I love looking back on are where the collaborative nature of the story shined through; a moment where Nick or Editor Darren Shan had a great fix for a story or character beat, a moment where Javier Rodriguez took a page and completely made it his own, getting to watch Nate Stockman create his versions of future X-Men battling in Dublin, getting to watch colorist Jordie Bellaire take a two-page spread and work her magic.

Then there’s our letterer, Joe Caramagna—he’d come up with the perfect creation every time. Comics work best when everyone contributes, and I think the book’s best moments came from when everyone pitched in and brought their own spin to the story being told.

Marvel.com: How did it feel to sit down and write the final issue? How did it feel to finish the script?

Robbie Thompson: To be honest, I kept putting it off! We were ahead because I started writing out of order to help the schedule, so I just kept dragging my feet! I wrote a draft of the last script, which wasn’t bad or anything, but when Javier handed in his cover for the last issue, I threw my work in the trash. The image Javier sent in was so inspiring that I had to rewrite what I had—and it made for a much, much better ending. So I’m glad I waited and dragged my feet, because I like this ending much more than what I originally wrote.

Marvel.com: What can fans expect in the last issue?

Robbie Thompson: When readers see who shows up at the end of issue #11, they’ll want to see how this all ends in #12. It pays off something we set up all the way back in the first story. Again, Nick was awesome about giving us time to wind everything down the way we wanted—we’ve been able to wrap up every detail.

Witness the mystical end with DOCTOR STRANGE AND THE SORCERERS SUPREME #12, by Robbie Thompson and artist Nathan Stockman, on September 13!

Read More

The sea king reveals his true intents as Secret Empire barrels towards its epic conclusion!

Each week, we use our super sleuth skills to dig into the histories of the characters fighting on both sides of Secret Empire!

Ever since his first appearance back in 1939’s MARVEL COMICS #1, Namor of Atlantis has proven himself one of the most inscrutable and complicated characters around. He’s constantly talking about focusing solely on his underwater home, but also forming alliances with land-lovers and getting involved in their larger conflicts.

With Secret Empire, the sea king couldn’t help but get involved as Steve Rogers himself approached his former Invaders teammate about establishing an agreement between the Hydra-run United States and the undersea ruler.

In the first issue of BRAVE NEW WORLD, Namor admitted that he struck a deal with Rogers that would lead to Atlantis’ neutrality as long as they didn’t interfere in surface matters. Two more invaders, Human Torch and Toro, tried convincing him that, eventually, Rogers would take over the whole world. Their reward for trying? Getting locked up in jail.

SECRET EMPIRE #3 saw Hydra send Baron Zemo and their Avengers to raid Atlantis after they discovered a piece of the Cosmic Cube resided there. Upon completion of the mission, though, Rogers’ agents realized that the piece proved a fake. To show his displeasure with his one time comrade, Captain America ordered his people to destroy the entire location.

At the same time, members of the resistance traveled all over the world trying to track down their own under the supposed guidance of Artificial Intelligence Tony Stark, who turned out to be lying about being able to track the pieces.

To everyone’s surprise, Namor asked for an official, public audience with Rogers and presented him with the Cosmic Cube fragment. Even more shocking? He actually bowed to the turncoat, as seen in SECRET EMPIRE #4.

Later, after Hydra’s near-crippling attack on the resistance’s secret headquarters and Steve Rogers’ almost-death at the fists of Miles Morales, Namor returned to the fray in SECRET EMPIRE #8. After the heroes took out the Darkforce bubble around Manhattan and the planetary shield, Namor popped out of the water with help and a surprise.

Not only did he reveal that he planned on helping the heroes, but also that he had an ace up his sleeve: Bucky!

In this week’s SECRET EMPIRE: BRAVE NEW WORLD #5, we saw that, after his apparent death at the hands of Baron Zemo, Bucky had been posing as one of Namor’s advisers. He revealed himself to Human Torch and Toro and then all of the Invaders united to help their friend.

The Empire Strikes Back

Namor and Bucky have a long history of working with one another. The two, of course, fought against the Nazis during World War II, but their relationship picked right back up after Steve Rogers used a mangled Cosmic Cube to restore Bucky’s memories in the wake of his return as the Winter Soldier. When Bucky took over for Steve Rogers as Captain America, he and Namor teamed up to save the body of Jim Hammond, the Human Torch which is part of a larger story running in CAPTAIN AMERICA #4348. This tale establishes not just Namor’s deep loyalty to these people he fought alongside of, while also showing some of those original adventures. Eventually, they recovered Hammond’s body and gave him a proper burial, though he returned to active duty not long after.

Read More

Mike Allred makes the discovery of the Eternals for the first time!

1917 to 2017: 100 years of Kirby.

Join us this month 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.

A few days back, SILVER SURFER artist Mike Allred remembered how a childhood accident lead to his first exposure to Jack Kirby’s amazing creations. As time went on, he continued absorbing as much of the King’s work as possible and continues to cycle back through his comics even now.

Right now, he’s re-reading Kirby’s 1976-debuting series ETERNALS. One of Jack’s late-70s return to Marvel projects, this one introduced the world to another race of super-powered beings, this one created by the Celestials to fight against their enemies, the Deviants. Like many of Kirby’s other books from that time, ETERNALS felt like pure creativity on the page, partially because he wrote, edited, and drew the comic himself.

“So wild,” Allred recalls of his first exposure to ETERNALS. “It was the mid-to-late-80s when [I was] in Colorado Springs where [I] discovered several comic book stores there and Denver. I crash coursed spending all my disposable income and trading sculptures, my main art hobby at the time, to complete my comic collections. It was around this time I discovered ETERNALS.”

As the 19 issues of the series progressed, readers learned more and more about Ikaris, Sersi, Makkari, and the others. On further readings, Allred notes that his relationship with the characters themselves remains the same, but other interactions have changed.

Eternals (1976) #1

Eternals (1976) #1

  • Published: July 10, 1976
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 13, 2007
What is Marvel Unlimited?

“They all have a timeless consistency for me,” Allred shares. “But I certainly relate differently to Kirby the man, Kirby the creator as I contemplate and appreciate the path he carved for those who follow in this thrilling profession.”

With ETERNALS, part of Kirby’s path involved asking big questions posed on the first page of the first issue: “Is man alone in the universe? Every myth and legend to emerge from the distant past points to a strange visitation from the stars!! Beings of great power have been on this Earth—and then departed! Who were they? What did they do here? Where have the gone?”

In other words, Kirby made this series his own at all points and that same kind of feel permeates much of Allred’s work.

“You just simply know that Jack Kirby loved being in that creative space,” Allred sums up. “You just don’t put that kind of time and effort into something unless it lights you up. It’s exciting to imagine how much fun he had making comics and telling stories. It enhances the enjoyment of absorbing everything he did.”

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.

Read More

Artist Mike Deodato unleashes The Shadow King on Marvel’s mighty mutants!

Nightmares often fuel our fears even during the daytime. As the fragments float through our heads, we spin around to see something glimpsed only in the corner of our eye and then gone.

The Shadow King brings those bad dreams to life as he takes over bodies and plays with victims’ minds. In the pages of today’s ASTONISHING X-MEN #2, by Charles Soule and Mike Deodato, he plagues the newly gathered X-team consisting of Old Man Logan, Psylocke, Fantomex, Archangel, Rogue, Mystique, Bishop, and Gambit.

The first issue of ASTONISHING X-MEN featured the artistic talents of Jim Cheung and the next will see the baton tossed to Ed McGuinness, but right now we’re talking with Deodato about jumping in on this unique project, playing some of the best loved X-folks off of each other, and chronicling these adventures with Soule.

Marvel.com: This book has an interesting approach with different artists tackling each issue. Did that offer any unique challenges?

Mike Deodato: I think the bigger challenges are with the editors who have to coordinate everything and make sure we are all on the same page. Me, I just have to worry about keeping up with the quality of art of the previous artist, which in my case was a tough one to follow.

Marvel.com: The book features Psylocke, Old Man Logan, Bishop, Fantomex, Rogue, Archangel, Mystique, and Gambit. That’s an eclectic team with varying degrees of history between them; do you enjoy playing with all that on the page?

Mike Deodato: Charles did such a great job on the dialogue and interactions between them that made it quite easy for me to figure that out on paper.

Marvel.com: The villain of the piece happens to be The Shadow King. How has it been putting your spin on that classic character?

Mike Deodato: We see his astral version of himself and it is a quite scary one. My approach for the whole story was based on his visual. I wanted it all to look like a very weird and scary nightmare, so I used all that I had learned from books like Eerie and Creepy and all of those masters of horror like Ortiz, Maroto, Wrightson, Sanchez, Corben, and so forth.

Marvel.com: Your cover to issue #2 with the X-Men sitting in a theater with skull faces is very striking. Can you talk about how that may connect with the story inside?

Mike Deodato: I dunno if I can say anything without spoiling it actually. It will make sense after you read it. It was Mark Pannicia’s idea. A lot of covers I do are ideas given to me by writers or editors but I get all the credit in the end.

Marvel.com: How has it been working with Charles on this issue?

Mike Deodato: Very nice and supportive guy. It is a very complex issue to be translated for the artist but he made it look very simple. I hope we can do it again in the future.

Get your hands on Charles Soule and Mike Deodato’s ASTONISHING X-MEN #2 today!

Read More

The Sith Lord’s first ongoing series begins with one of the best single Star Wars issues ever.

We all know that the first Star Wars film changed the face of pop culture forever when it hit theaters 40 years ago—but it’s not just the movie that’s celebrating that milestone in 2017. Star Wars comics arrived with force in 1977, and hundreds of issues later, they’re more popular now than ever.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Star Wars, we’re looking back at our 40 favorite moments from the history of comics from a galaxy far, far away—one day at a time.

Though several limited series of the past had featured Darth Vader as their—for lack of a better word—protagonist, not until 2015’s Marvel relaunch of Star Wars comics did the Dark Lord of the Sith receive his own ongoing title. It was worth the wait, though—DARTH VADER ranks among the best Star Wars comic series ever, and its first issue kicks things off memorably.

Darth Vader (2015) #1

Darth Vader (2015) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Anyone who’s seen “Return of the Jedi” remembers Luke Skywalker’s dramatic entrance into Jabba’s Palace on Tatooine. Set shortly after the events of “A New Hope,” DARTH VADER #1 offers an alternate take on this scenario. Vader’s entrance closely mirrors his son’s that will occur a few years later, though with decidedly more sinister methods—mostly involving a lightsaber—used to reach the gangster. “I have only killed two [guards],” the man once known as Anakin Skywalker tells Jabba. “Do not make me reconsider my generosity.”

As the issue continues, we realize its ties to Jason Aaron’s STAR WARS, with references to Vader’s first direct altercation with Luke mentioned—and the fact that Vader’s appearance at Jabba’s Palace is “unofficial,” with the “official” one to occur in STAR WARS #4. We also experience a conversation with the Emperor in which Palpatine expresses his disgust with Vader for the destruction of the Death Star, and that now he will be taking orders from Grand General Tagge. When Palpatine asks Vader if he has anything further to report, he willfully neglects to mention important facts such as the death of Obi-Wan Kenobi.

DARTH VADER #1 proves that writer Kieron Gillen and artist Salvador Larocca absolutely get this character and this universe. And they won’t let up for the duration of the series’ 25-issue run.

Read More

Does Green Goblin or Norman Osborn pose a bigger risk to the Universe?

In AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #32—due out on September 13 from writer Dan Slott and artist Greg Smallwood—Norman Osborn has returned. Spider-Man succeeded in taking down his nemesis at the end of issue #28, but without managing to capture him, it’s only a matter of time before the two clash again.

What we didn’t know then, however, was just how dangerous Osborn had truly become. Has Norman Osborn—the man—replaced his cackling former alter-ego as the most perilous of Spidey’s enemies? Or does the Green Goblin still reign supreme?

To find an answer, we put together a list of pros and cons about Osborn losing the Goblin within.

PRO: Norman Osborn’s activities are no longer hidden behind a mask

In the past, when Osborn would commit villainous deeds, the general public had no idea who really did the crime. His sins were covered by a horror mask. Even after the murder of Gwen Stacey and returning from his faked death, only the heroic efforts of the Daily Bugle staff finally exposed Osborn for being much more than just a cutthroat business man.

Now, there’s no benefit to Osborn’s deeds being shadowed. His machinations in Symarkia occurred in broad daylight—and neither intimidation, nor murder, nor a fleet of lawyers can obscure that now.

CON: A revealed Osborn has no need to pretend

Back when Osborn had to juggle his public life and his masked life, he had to scramble to keep them separate—to keep one from derailing the other. But, as noted above, those days are gone. And with that, so too is the need to be anything but 100% himself—an unscrupulous criminal obsessed with destroying the Wallcrawler.

PRO: He’s been cured of the mental illness that haunts all Green Goblins

The Goblin gas no longer works on Osborn. He no longer suffers from the illness that made him so erratic, that cost him his corporation, that lost him leadership of the Thunderbolts, and—most devastatingly—that robbed him of his place as the head of H.A.M.M.E.R.

CON: The gas’s lack of influence doesn’t mean Osborn has morals now

Just because Norman Osborn has gained control of his mental health does not mean he’s acquired a sense of goodwill. A healthy Osborn remains hungry for power and disinterested in anything except advancing his own sinister agenda.

PRO: He no longer has super powers

Ever since the gas lost its grasp on Osborn, the former Goblin no longer boasts super strength or an increased healing factor. This means that Spider-Man has a tremendous physical edge over his old enemy—the biggest one he’s had since they first tangled.

CON: Norman Osborn is getting craftier

In their latest encounter, he proved this fact—forcing the Webslinger through a series of obstacles that slowly stripped away Spider-Man’s physical advantages, and by the time Osborn finally stepped in himself, they stood on nearly-even ground.

Now imagine that kind of cunning put to use not just to evade the Web-Head—but to strike at him. Imagine when Spidey has no idea he’s been targeted. Imagine when Norman Osborn seizes control and Spider-Man has to react?

Positively terrifying.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #32, by writer Dan Slott and artist Greg Smallwood, is available on September 13!

Read More

Writer Al Ewing discusses the raucous raccoon’s newest foe!

Rocket Raccoon’s been traveling around the galaxy for decades—and he’s come up against some formidable opponents in that time. He’s battled cosmic villains, alien races, and sometimes even himself—but he’s never had to contend with an anthropomorphic beaver that’s CEO of a mega-corporation.

Introducing Castor Gnawbarque III—a walking, talking nocturnal mammal that rivals even our hero. And in ROCKET #5, out on September 13, writer Al Ewing and artist Adam Gorham bring the two face-to-face…or snout-to-snout.

What else will we learn about this villainous semiaquatic rodent? We met up with Al Ewing in a secluded beaver dam to find out.

Marvel.com: I’ve got to ask… How exactly does one get in the headspace of a sentient animal?

Al Ewing: I haven’t really thought about it in those terms. I guess I have given Rocket some animal characteristics, in that raccoons have excellent hearing and a very good sense of touch—which ended up informing the comic a lot with Rocket being good at cracking safes. But mostly, I’m just writing an alien who happens to be Raccoonoid instead of humanoid, in a universe where a lot of alien species are some form of evolved animal. In a lot of ways, ROCKET veers into being a funny animal type of book—it’s the easiest thing in the world to describe a new alien as being like a giraffe or a warthog, and our superstar artist Adam Gorham loves to play around with what that might mean.

Marvel.com: Right! Rocket is so much more complicated than he seems. Is it difficult writing him?

Al Ewing: I think the challenge was reconciling the happy-go-lucky Rocket of my childhood with the very different character he’s become—and finding a way to make those two elements work together. And that’s the joy of it, too, because as soon as I understood that the Rocket of then and the Rocket of now are the same person, a whole chunk of his personality clicked into place. He’s a character who’s fallen a long way from what he was, which makes him very suitable for the kind of absurdist noir we’re telling.

Rocket (2017) #5

Rocket (2017) #5

  • Published: September 13, 2017
  • Cover Artist: Mike Mayhew

Marvel.com: He’s definitely grown a lot since then. What do you think of his modern pop culture presence? Did it alter how you developed him for the book?

Al Ewing: Well, I was already far along with the Rocket book when I saw “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” but one thing that struck me in the movie was that Rocket carried a lot of sadness. His arc was all about lashing out, driving people away, dealing with his pain. And, yes, the movie Rocket is a very different character to the one we’re writing, but they do share that emotional core. Rocket’s someone who carries a lot of pain around.

Marvel.com: And how does Castor Gnawbarque III fit into this story?

Al Ewing: Castor Gnawbarque is the guy behind all of Rocket’s troubles…but at the same time, as I’ve been writing him, I’ve realized that he’s not a bad guy. Or he is, but as villains go, he’s a flawed, desperate individual trying to fill a hole inside him that no amount of money can fix. Essentially, he’s quite a small, paranoid man, driven by petty little neuroses. But because he’s so rich and powerful, his desperate scrabbling around for some meaning in life affects more people than just him. Without even thinking about it, he’s causing misery for a whole planet—and Rocket can’t let that go.

Marvel.com: Sometimes villains echo experiences the heroes are going through themselves. How do you think Gnawbarque and Rocket differ—and how are they the same?

Al Ewing: Well, obviously, they’re both small furry mammals and they’re both plagued by inner pain. But where Rocket is a raccoon—a thief—Castor is a beaver—a worker. In some ways, he’s been poisoned by that; work doesn’t make him happy, his damming projects are creating an environmental disaster, but he can’t stop. He’s driven by the ghost of his father—to achieve more and more, without knowing why. In some ways, despite the fact that Rocket’s essentially a failure and a guy who lost everything that mattered to him a long time ago, he’s retained more of his soul than someone like Gnawbarque.

Marvel.com: How does this adventure influence Rocket’s difficulty grappling with his identity and past?

Al Ewing: Rocket has to deal with his identity in a lot of ways over the course of this caper. We’ll see what remains of Rocket when you take every distinguishing feature away and who he chooses to stand by when the chips are down. We’ll also get a good look at how he deals with the ghosts of his past. Frankly, I’m not sure there’ll be a dry eye in the house when this all ends.

Meet Castor Gnawbarque III in ROCKET #5, by Al Ewing and artist Adam Gorham, available on September 13!

Read More