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.

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Charles Soule gives us a Star Wars mission update!

Cue the recap roll! Poe Dameron and his team of elite pilots have been tasked with finding Lor San Tekka, a wise old explorer who may know the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker. Suffice it to say the gang has faced their fair share of trouble along the way, everything from fighting off a glorified bounty hunter to orchestrating a good old fashion prison break, knocking them a bit off track.

But come October 18, writer Charles Soule and artist Angel Unzueta make sure the team gets back on track. “Most of the main threads we’ve been dealing with in the series have been wrapped up, except one – the one that began the book,” says Soule. STAR WARS: POE DAMERON #20 will kick off a six issue story that is, as Soule puts it, “an epic in the great Star Wars tradition.”

So just how far out is Poe from completing his mission? Let’s check the reports!

Operative: Poe Dameron

Commanding Officer: General Leia Organa

Objective: Find Lor San Tekka and determine what he knows about the last remaining Jedi, Luke Skywalker – our only hope.

Progress: Black Squadron has made some great leaps in furthering the resistance’s agenda, most recently securing a fuel transfer for the rebel bases depleting resources and gathering footage of operatives in action to use as a way to rally support for the cause. However, progress toward the major objective has been slow going.

“Poe made progress early in, finding a list of possible locations, but it’s taken a while for the Resistance to work through it and narrow it down,” notes Soule, “C-3PO and his squad of droid operatives have been working through the list trying to see if any of the locations will bear fruit.” Time to lace up your boots and pound the space pavement as the search kicks off anew.

Poe Dameron (2016) #20

Poe Dameron (2016) #20

  • Published: October 18, 2017
  • Cover Artist: Phil Noto

Deviations: The team has encountered a few hiccups along the way, some more heartbreaking than others. However, “the biggest issue is that Poe made an enemy of an extremely versatile and deadly First Order Security Bureau named Terex,” notes Soule, “This fellow was once an Imperial Stormtrooper, and in the decades since the fall of the Empire made his way through the galaxy by being scarier than anyone else. Not a good person to have trying to hunt you down!”

So far Poe and his team have successfully thwarted the attempts of the First Order to capture them, but with Terex brainwashed into mindlessly following orders, Black Squadron finds it harder and harder to pull of their usual escape just in the knick of time antics.

Next Step: “Survive and thrive…hopefully,” suggests Soule. General Organa has planted a seed in Poe’s mind – the resistance is bigger than just one person. Why is this significant for Poe you may ask? “Poe has lost long-time companions, dealt with traitors, and has been learning the galaxy is a darker, more complex place than he realized,” explains Soule, “He’s understanding that he needs to evolve – that maybe he can’t just be a hotshot pilot anymore. The Resistance needs more – it needs a leader.”

Will Poe find Lor San Tekka and become the leader the Resistance needs? Find out on October 18 in STAR WARS: POE DAMERON #20, written by Charles Soule with art by Angel Unzueta!

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Get the exclusive NOT BRAND ECHH creative team announcement from Heather Antos!

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

Catch up on all the latest comics news and info as Ben, Tucker and Maggie give you the rundown on all of this week’s new comics releases including AVENGERS, AMERICA, SPIDER-MAN, X-MEN, and more! Not one to rest on his laurels, Ben talks to editors Jordan D. White and Heather Antos about creative changes to the STAR WARS book, and gets the exclusive announcement on the NOT BRAND ECHH creative teams from Heather (55:25)!

Exclusive announcement on NOT BRAND ECHH creative teams, you say? Here’s the scoop:

  • SECRET EMPIRE ABRIDGED – Written by Nick Spencer and Inks by Scott Koblish
  • FORBUSH MAN RETURNS – Written/Art by Jay Fosgitt
  • GWENPOOL ABSORBS THE MARVEL UNIVERSE – Written by Christopher Hastings and Art by Gurihiru

Over on the West Coast, Christine and Eric have everything you need to know about TV, Films, Games and Themed Entertainment (1:19:35). And from there, it’s back to the east coast for your questions and comments (1:38:55)!

Download episode #308 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 Thursday (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 Marc Strom, 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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Find out how Kirby cartoons inspired this artist!

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.

These days, you can barely flip the channels without finding Marvel-inspired shows on the air, but not back in the early 1960s! Not until the syndicated “Marvel Super-Heroes” debuted in 1966. Focusing on five heroes—Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, and Namor—the cartoon essentially took panels straight from the comics of the day and added animation embellishments.

In addition to getting Marvel’s characters out into the world in front of even more eyes, the series also introduced people all over the world to artists like Jack Kirby! In fact, that’s how Ariel Olivetti first discovered the King’s work!

With credits that include THE LAST AVENGERS STORY and various Hulk and X-Men efforts, Olivetti’s more than familiar with drawing on Jack for inspiration. We taledk with the artist about that, the cartoons, and more!

Marvel.com: Do you remember how you first encountered Jack Kirby’s comics and what did you think of it then?

Ariel Olivetti: The first thing I saw about Kirby were the Hulk, Captain America, and Thor cartoons, and they were beautiful.

Marvel.com: Can you remember any lessons or tricks you’ve learned from Kirby’s work over the years?

Ariel Olivetti: The simplification of line in function of the graphic dynamism.

Marvel.com: One of your first interior works for Marvel was THE LAST AVENGERS STORY. Did you feel any intimidation when taking on a comic that would tell the end of a tale Jack Kirby and Stan Lee started?

Ariel Olivetti: It was a great responsibility, but it was the project that I enjoyed the most.

Marvel.com: You have done a lot of work with various X-Men books. Did you ever look back to the Kirby-drawn issues from that franchise’s earliest days for reference or inspiration?

Ariel Olivetti: I always try to look at Kirby’s design for the original characters.

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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Writer Tom Taylor teases the Orphans of X as Marvel Legacy begins!

Coming up, things get more personal than ever for Laura Kinney.

Having returned from her Brood-killing mission alongside the Guardians of the Galaxy, Laura has no choice but to return to the place where her journey began—to fight for the family she has left.

On October 11, writer Tom Taylor and artist Juann Cabal reintroduce Laura and Daken in ALL-NEW WOLVERINE #25!

We caught up with Tom to hear more about the Marvel Legacy beginning of a complex new partnership for Laura and her long-lost “brother.”

Marvel.com: Catch us up on what’s been going on in the wonderful world of Wolverine!

Tom Taylor: At the moment, we’re just coming back from space—Laura, Gabby, and Jonathan have been off with the Guardians of the Galaxy. They dealt with a massive threat there and now they’re coming back to Earth in the hope of finding some normalcy in their new residence on Roosevelt Island. But—of course—we’re going to be turning their world upside-down.

Something very bad happens. Daken will be taken…but a piece of him will also be found.

Marvel.com: Oh no.

Tom Taylor: Yeah, right!? That will start Laura on a very big journey which will involve her past, her present, and her future. There will be an intensity in our Legacy arc that we haven’t seen before. By the end of the first issue of our Orphans of X run, everybody will want to pick this book up.

Marvel.com: Just to recap, it wasn’t so long ago that Daken and Laura were—literallyat each other’s throats. Where do we find their relationship now?

Tom Taylor: Daken and Laura are actually quite close. We saw it in Marjorie Liu’s run and we saw it in the recent Immune arc where Daken comes—not to help Roosevelt Island in the middle of their horrible infestation—but to help Laura. Daken doesn’t get close to a lot of people. But he does respect Laura and I think that becomes quite clear.

We are playing with them as brother and sister and I think that comes through in all of Orphans of X, but in the beginning of Orphans of X, Daken gets taken prisoner (I can’t say by who yet!) and Laura has to deal with that. But it feels quite traumatic, and this will be one of the most intense arcs we’ve ever done.

Marvel.com: It seems so cool to go back to Laura’s roots with Legacy—to see her challenged in such a personal way.

Tom Taylor: She’s a fantastic character—she has an incredibly traumatic past but she’s not a victim. Particularly after everything she went through in Enemy of the State arc, she has really come through it and become a hell of a hero—as I hope we saw on the moon with the hive…like, she just went to an alien moon, took on the Brood, and she saved an entire island of people! She kicks ass in every way.

Marvel.com: Generally speaking, what does the legacy of Marvel Comics mean to you?

Tom Taylor: I’m a fanboy and I always have been. I’m a fan of these great characters. And when Marvel calls you up and says, “Hey Tom, do you want to write Iron Man?” you absolutely lose it! You just do! It feels insane. Like, this stuff just doesn’t happen. My first gig in American comics was writing Star Wars. And it’s just like…you’re kidding me. You want me to write Luke and Han and Leia? What!? I’m a guy from Melbourne, Australia. This just doesn’t happen.

I think we were talking about something else with Marvel at one stage and then they were like, actually, would you like to do Wolverine? What person in the world would say no to that!? Of course I want to do Wolverine! I’ve been reading Wolverine comics my whole life, I have shelves of them—yes I want in on this. I love Laura, ever since I saw her in “X-Men: Evolution”!

It’s just exciting to be on all of this and—I think I can say this—I’ve just been offered a new project for Marvel and it’s exactly the same. I have a very packed schedule but I just thought, you know what, I’m going to immediately drop everything I’m doing to jump onto this and make it as good as I possibly can; it couldn’t be more exciting to do another incredible Marvel property and to try to do my best at it.

Marvel.com: That’s so exciting! So Legacy must be a treat to work on.

Tom Taylor: Yeah—and we’re seeing things like going back the Muramasa Blade here, which has been a huge part of Logan’s past and what that came to mean. And now that his children have to deal with that will be a really big thing. That’s the kind of Legacy thing that we’re seeing in this, and I have to say that the artwork by Juann Cabal and [colorist] Nolan Woodard together looks like nothing you’ve ever seen. The three of us are just jamming so well! We’re adding extra beats everywhere and it’s amazing to be working with these talented guys.

ALL-NEW WOLVERINE #25, by Tom Taylor and artist Juann Cabal, drops on October 11!

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His creative contemporaries and successors remember legend Len Wein!

Additional reporting by TJ Dietsch

“If you really want to tangle with someone—why not try your luck against—the Wolverine!”

Imagine: It’s the summer of 1974. You’ve just read to the end of INCREDIBLE HULK #180—the newest issue—and a brand-new character nearly leaps out of the art at you with claws extended. You’re just not sure how you’ll be able to stand the wait until the next installment to see what’s up with this new mystery man, and then you turn to the book’s credit page and wonder how this Len Wein guy keeps coming up with all this cool stuff…

“The Wolverine” moved on past his throwdown with The Hulk and Wendigo to become one of the most popular comic book characters ever when he hooked up with a certain band of merry mutants a few months later in GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1—also written by that Len Wein guy. Today, the long line of legacy from the writer through his creation to modern scribes and artists stands as a testament to the impact Wolverine’s made on the comics industry and its fans.

“In that seminal issue, Len established Wolverine’s blunt, pugnacious, take-no-prisoners voice as a character,” posits X-MEN: GOLD writer Marc Guggenheim. “Sure, Wolverine would become less verbose and chatty in future incarnations, but his blunt attitude was established in that first appearance in INCREDIBLE HULK.”

“It’s incredible how Len Wein, along with artist Herb Trimpe, shaped Wolverine perfectly from the very start,” says ULTIMATE WOLVERINE VS. HULK artist Leinil Francis Yu. “That [debut] is 40-years-old and it still reads like the Wolverine we have today, complete with the attitude and richness we all love about him.”

Mike Deodato, himself a veteran X-Men illustrator and current artist on OLD MAN LOGAN, agrees: “He is a rebel; he is rock n’ roll. He doesn’t care for anything or anybody, but at the same time he will give his life for them. He is savage, unpredictable, and that is what makes him so attractive.”

“It’s the physicality—short, hairy, like a gnarled old tree—and the indomitable spirit, I think,” ponders DEATH OF WOLVERINE writer Charles Soule when considering Wein’s mutant scrapper. “Wolverine never stops, no matter what gets thrown in his way. Because of his healing factor, it’s almost like he can’t stop. He’s very fun to write, but more importantly, very fun to read.”

Wolverine’s Canadian heritage made him something of a rarity at that time among super heroes, as well as his direct approach to problems in his path.

“In many ways, Wolverine was so unlike any character readers were really familiar with,” one-time WOLVERINE writer Cullen Bunn insists. “He was violent and vicious, but a hero, too. The mystery element was heavily ingrained in the character, which made him all the more interesting. He was working for the government, but beyond that, we didn’t know much about him. Maybe more than any character created before or since, he represented the potential for amazing stories ahead. Other creators capitalized on that potential, making Wolverine the household character he is today.”

“I think Wein created the ultimate outcast,” says Juann Cabal, the artist behind ALL-NEW WOLVERINE. “To me, Logan is the outcast among outcasts. To Wein’s credit, [he] gave him the appeal of being different, wild and mysterious without falling strictly into the antihero cliché. He might have his inner demons, but his moral compass is always pointing the right direction. In my opinion, this is what has made the character stay relevant all this time.”

Perhaps Cabal’s partner on ALL-NEW WOLVERINE, writer Tom Taylor, sums it up best when he notes that “there was something perfectly realized about that first appearance of Wolverine.”

“It was all there on the page. The attitude was there, the brash bravery. But Wolverine was also not infallible. He had a savagery, and wasn’t a perfect, untouchable hero. It was a character everyone wanted to see more of. And, clearly, the rest of the world did too. There have been so many great Wolverine stories. None would exist without Len.”

By summer of ’74, Wein’s comic career stood as relatively new, though he’d racked up a sizable number of scripts for a variety of titles. He’d taken over INCREDIBLE HULK only an issue before “the big one” but his introduction—along with artist Herb Trimpe and costume designer John Romita—of Wolverine to fight the jade giant forever cemented him into the firmament of comic book superstars.

He also, by all accounts, kept his feet firmly panted on solid ground.

“I got to meet Len a number of times in 2014 while I was writing the DEATH OF WOLVERINE story, as well as working on a long run featuring one of his other signature creations, Swamp Thing, over at DC,” says Soule. “I found him to be gracious and kind, and generous with his conversation and time. He dreamed up enormous swaths of the super hero landscape that will last for generations—a legacy most could only dream of.”

“First and foremost, Len’s creation of the ‘All-New, All-Different’ X-Men was seismic and industry-changing,” notes Guggenheim. “Without Len, there’s an excellent argument to be made that there wouldn’t be any X-Men today, and certainly not the X-Men that we’ve come to know, love, and cherish. I had the good fortune to meet Len a few years ago at San Diego Comic-Con and he truly couldn’t have been a nicer guy.  He clearly loved comics, both the industry and the medium.”

“As a creator, I think the truly incredible thing you discover writing [his] characters is just how different they are, and how human,” offers Taylor. “They have flaws. They’re complex. They struggle. Len’s characters breathe.”

Bunn takes it one step further: “Len’s work was a huge influence on me. Like many of my absolute favorite creators, he wore his imagination on his sleeve, and he didn’t let anything hold him back from putting that on the page.

“Since I owe my whole career to Wolverine, Len and Herb’s creation means a ton to me,” says Yu. “We may be divided by a few decades, but I am proud to inherit and to continue to breathe life into Wolverine and the X-Men.”

“As a fan, Len created some of my absolute favorite heroes,” concludes Taylor. “Some of these characters are the reason I’m a comics fan.

“The world would have been a far less heroic place without Len Wein.”

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Stan Lee and Steve Ditko invent The Tinkerer in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #2

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.

When it comes to super geniuses per capita, no place compares to the Marvel Universe! Some use their powers to help keep the world safe while others try to rule the world. And some just want to make crazy weapons to sell to nutcases! The Tinkerer – newly returned in this week’s PETER PARKER: THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #4 – fit into that last category for most of his villainous career. 

Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man (2017) #4

Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man (2017) #4

First debuting back in 1963’s THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #2 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, The Tinkerer made quite an impression on his first page. The old man with glasses propped up on his forehead wearing a plaid sweater and green slacks might have seemed like no problem at all had he not blasted Spidey with a ray gun right then and there! 

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #2

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #2

  • Published: May 10, 1963
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 13, 2007
  • Penciller: Steve Ditko
What is Marvel Unlimited?

In the Mighty Marvel tradition of the day, the next page flashed back to Peter Parker working hard in the chemistry lab at Midtown High where his teacher introduced him to electronics expert Professor Cobbwell who needed some weekend help. Peter’s first duty included stopping to pick up a radio from The Tinkerer Repair Shop on the way over the next day.

After arriving at the business the next day, Peter’s Spidey Sense went off, but he chalked it up to electrical impulses from the nearby machines. However, we learned that he should have listened to it as the Tinkerer and his apparently alien cronies hid something sinister inside Cobbwell’s  radio!

While working in Cobbwell’s lab, Peter realized that his Spider Sense continued to react in the same way. When his new boss left to give a lecture, Peter inspected the radio and found something extra inside. To investigate, he ditched his civvies and swung his way back to the shop!

Having descended into the Tinkerer’s underground lab, our hero learned that the radios all now hide secret spy equipment so that he could learn about Earthly weaknesses and attack with his alien cohorts. After being discovered by one of the potential invaders, Spidey fought hard, but fell to the Tinkerer’s blast seen on that first page.

The Wall-Crawler used his own considerable intelligence and skill to get himself out of the Tinkerer’s death trap. In the ensuing battle, much of the equipment got destroyed and caught fire, engulfing the entire place in flames. Spider-Man tried saving The Tinkerer, but he refused to be touched and they both escaped through the smoke.

Much later on down the line, The Tinkerer returned in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #159 and 160 where he designed a Spider-Mobile to kill the Wall Crawler himself! From there he went on to update and create weapons for many a masked marauder and even played a huge part in SECRET WARS. Now he’s back to cause more trouble for Spider-Man! 

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #160

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #160

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Flash Forward

One of the most interesting parts of Tinkerer’s history remains the fact that, for the more-than-15-year gap between his first and second appearance, Spidey and the readers believed him an alien! Much of that came from Peter walking away from that first confrontation with a human mask, but also a bio published in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #1 which clearly labeled the Tinkerer as “the first, and the only alien menace Spider-Man has ever fought!” He explained the mask in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #160: “That mask I left you holding was merely a ruse – a simple ploy to deter pursuit that, I must say, worked exceptionally well!”

The aliens themselves reappeared in PETER PARKER: THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #50 and 51, but the Wall Crawler learned that are and were out of work actors posing as aliens that Tinkerer hired. One of that actually turned out to be the future Mysterio who got the gang back together for the job seen in these issues.

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Digging into the roots of everyone’s favorite tree!

Everybody loves him, but nobody really understands him…and not just what he’s saying, either! Quick—where did Groot come from? What’s the name of his species? How did he meet Rocket Raccoon? If you don’t know the answers, you’re not alone.

The history of Groot weaves a complex web. Having started as a minor character, the talking tree finally received more frequent opportunities to shine in the wake of the first “Guardians of the Galaxy” film. Now he stars alongside the Guardians, his best friend Rocket—and in his own solo series!

On September 27, writer Christopher Hastings and artist Flaviano present the conclusion of I AM GROOT with issue #5!

But before we reach that ending, let’s go back to where it all began for the character. Groot’s story has to be pieced together—and while it doesn’t come to light chronologically, it’d probably be easier to hear it in the order that it happened to him in.

Okay, are you ready? Say it with me: I! Am! Groot!

Groot’s childhood exile

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #14, written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Nick Bradshaw, explained Groot’s origins for the first time. Framed as a kind of nature documentary, the story explained that Groot originated as a Flora Colossus from Planet X. The book illuminated the social order of the planet, with the Flora Colossi ruled by a monarchy and an elite group called the “Arbor Masters.” Together, these leaders teach children—called saplings—via a method known as “Photonic Knowledge.” In this process, the accumulated knowledge and experience of generations of elders gets psychically absorbed by the young through a kind of photosynthesis; this ultra-advanced educational practice provides the Flora Colossi with genius level intelligence.

The planet’s biome gets tended to by subservient “Maintenance Mammals” (small, squirrel-like creatures) forced into slavery in service of the Arbor Masters. In his youth on Planet X, Groot finds an unlikely friendship with these oppressed animals—and even prefers their company to that of his fellow saplings; Groot doesn’t get along with his own kind, as the adult Flora Colossi regularly kidnap and perform harrowing experiments on other life forms to further their study of the universe. The moral implications of these scientific atrocities horrify a young Groot, as do his peers’ harsh and violent treatment of his Maintenance Mammal friends. Acting on his conscience leads to his banishment from his home world; an unseen narrator explains that Groot got exiled from his people for injuring another sapling as he protected a Maintenance Mammal from attack.

Later, in GROOT #6 by writer Jeff Loveness and artist Brian Kesinger, the tree communicates, via psychic link, to Jean Grey to explain that the original story of his banishment has actually been sanitized…because the mammal he protected from the other saplings proved to not be a Maintenance Mammal after all, but in fact a little Earth girl named Hannah. He reveals that he saw her trapped and terrified by his people and sent her home in a rescue pod—then came the consequences.

Doing time

While it remains unknown whether Groot got arrested for unrelated reasons or sent directly to a prison for treason against his people, we next see our heroin this chronology  locked up—in GROOT #2—where his roommate turns out to be a certain anthropomorphic raccoon. Rocket learns to understand Groot and they forge a strong friendship in the process.

Communication between the duo took some time to be established—the result of Groot’s most famous feature: seemingly only being able to say the words “I am Groot.” As explained in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #17 by Maximus the Mad, Groot’s race experiences a hardening of the larynx and vocal chords during adolescence, forcing them to make the same sound over and over.

Angst, Phalanx, and robbing banks

After spending an undisclosed amount of time together in prison, Rocket and Groot receive an offer to join a rag-tag group fighting the Phalanx in ANNIHILATION CONQUEST: STARLORD—written by Keith Giffen with art by Timothy Green. This team becomes known as the Guardians of the Galaxy. At this point in Groot’s life, he claims to be the monarch of Planet X while—surprisingly—speaking normal, if somewhat pretentious, English. During this arc, Groot also volunteers for three separate suicide missions—each time saved from a branch clipping by Rocket.

2008’s GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #2, written by Lanning and Abnett with art from Paul Pelletier and Clint Langley, sees Groot’s vocal chords re-harden and his personality settle back into what it had been in his youth: kind-hearted and goofy. The next big change in his life came in the wake of THE THANOS IMPERATIVE in 2011—in a story written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning with art by Brad Walker—when the apparent deaths of Star-Lord and Nova cause the Guardians to disband.

In 2011’s ANNIHILATORS bonus story, by writers Abnett and Lanning and artist Tan Eng Huat, Groot returns to Planet X to help liberate his oppressed Maintenance Mammal friends who ran an underground resistance operation. When Groot arrives, though, he’s arrested and tortured for returning after exile and impersonating the monarch. Luckily for Groot, he has the greatest prison breaker in the universe at his side, and Rocket saves him from incarceration. Once the two finish their tearful reunion, they re-start the Guardians alongside Drax—and try to be a force of good in the galaxy.

Rocket and Groot then embark on a road trip to Earth where Groot finds his friend Hannah, now an old woman. This story—in writer Jeff Loveness and artist Declan Shalvey’s GROOT—further delves into the tree’s mind. We hear his psychic words, “Life is not about the shadow you cast on your enemies, but the shade you provide to your friends.”

Most recently, Groot has been spending an unusual amount of time attempting to re-generate from his “baby” state—even missing out on Rocket’s bank heist team in writer Al Ewing and artist Mike Mayhew’s recent ROCKET #1 due to his vulnerable condition. As witnessed in ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, by writer Gerry Duggan and artist Aaron Kuder, the nature of this form and the unique abilities that makeit so are explored in this year’s I AM GROOT series—written by Christopher Hastings with art by Flaviano—where a tiny Groot finds himself trapped on a strange planet in another dimension where no one can understand him. And the finale of this series, issue #5, drops on September 27!

I am Groot

He certainly says an answer enough, but, really, who is Groot? Find the long answer above, but here’s the short one—proven by years of moments and stories, trials and adventures: he’s a friend.

Check out Christopher Hastings and artist Flaviano’s I AM GROOT #5 on September 27!

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Spidey crosses paths with the Frightful Four, Jack O’Lantern and... the Mud-Thing!?

For over 50 years, Spider-Man has been a sensational standout in the Marvel Universe, and this year, the web-slinger swings onto the silver screen once more in “Spider-Man: Homecoming”! In celebration of his memorable history, we present Spidey’s spectacular step-by-step story!

After wading through watery warfare from Hydro-Man in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #212, and helping Nighthawk fend off an old flame who tried to kill him in MARVEL TEAM-UP #101, everyone’s favorite neighborhood Spider-Man confronted a clutch of would-be aliens and his old foe Mysterio in PETER PARKER, THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #50 and SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #51.

Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man (1976) #50

Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man (1976) #50

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Spidey devoted all his attention to an attack by the wingless Wizard in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #213, but even with the help of Namor the Sub-Mariner against the villain’s full-fledged Frightful Four in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #214, it still took the Fantastic Four themselves to turn the tide against the baddies in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #215. Later, our young hero fought alongside Doc Samson versus the Rhino and A.I.M. in MARVEL TEAM-UP #102, and with Ant-Man against Taskmaster and his school for super villains in MARVEL TEAM-UP #103.

The wallcrawler appeared alongside mutant singer Alison Blaire in DAZZLER #1, mastered Gideon Mace in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #52, tussled with the Tinkerer and his raucous robot Toy in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #53, and held his own against a swarm of samurai meted out by the Maggia in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #54.

Dazzler (1981) #1

Dazzler (1981) #1

  • Published: March 10, 1981
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: September 17, 2008
  • Writer: Tom DeFalco
  • Penciler: John Romita
What is Marvel Unlimited?

The mysterious Madame Web reappeared in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #216 to vex Spidey, but his name really became mud when Hydro-Man teamed with the Sandman in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #217 to merge into the weird wonder known as Mud-Thing, as seen in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #218. How the webslinger found the time to take on both Captain America and the Scorpion in MARVEL TEAM-UP #106, and She-Hulk and the Man-Killer in MARVEL TEAM-UP #107, the world-at-large may never know.

The nutty Nitro blew into town in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #55, as did Jack O’Lantern in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #56, but when Killer Shrike kidnapped Dr. Marla Madison, the love of J. Jonah Jameson’s life, in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #57, Spidey felt the deck stacked against him. This became quite evident the Grey Gargoyle showed his stony face in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #219, and Moon Knight seemingly wanted to kill him in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #220.

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #220

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #220

What is Marvel Unlimited?

A new criminal called Thermo frosted Spidey and Paladin’s cookies in MARVEL TEAM-UP #108, so Dazzler shed some light on the situation in MARVEL TEAM-UP #109. The dastardly debuts continued in MARVEL TEAM-UP #110 when first-time super villain Magma decided to go all molten on the wallcrawler and his pal Iron Man.

The Ringer made the webslinger jump through hoops in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #58. The Beetle crawled out of the woodwork again in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #59, but got squashed by the combined efforts of our hero and the Gibbon in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #60. Not to be outdone, Ramrod, another first-time foe, butted heads with Spidey in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #221, the Squadron Sinister’s Whizzer adopted a new and improved codename and costume as the Speed Demon in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #222, and the Red Ghost’s so-called Super-Apes monkeyed around to drive the wallcrawler bananas in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #223.

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #222

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #222

What is Marvel Unlimited?

The day grew longer and weirder in MARVEL TEAM-UP #111 when Devil-Slayer enlisted Spider-Man’s aid in slashing away at Serpent-Men and Spider-People, and the new Moonstone enacted a scheme to steal Dr. Curt Connors’ “enervator” in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #61 to re-energize her criminal pursuits.

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The team adds a new member soon—see if you have what takes!

Can you keep your cool in a sticky situation? Do you know how to turn anything into a weapon? Do you view the law as a loose guideline? Then writer Gerry Duggan and artist Rod Reis may have just the job for you!

On October 18, the Guardians begin interviewing for a brand new position on the team in ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #12! Explains Duggan, “As the Guardians conclude their adventure on Earth to free the planet from Stevil Rogers, they encounter several characters in search of an exit from this planet. One will make the trip. However, even though this issue has its feet on the ground, there will be a very important cosmic encounter that affects the quest for the Infinity Stone.”

Check out this job application for more info about the position…

Team Searching For Celestial Chaperone

Job title: Guardian of the Galaxy

Salary: Glory and a share of the score

Job summary: The Guardians of the Galaxy are a rag-tag team of assorted criminals who travel from world to world stealing from the highest level security facilities in the universe…and occasionally, saving the galaxy.

The positions of comic relief, crazed weapons specialist, former assassin, adorable mascot, and metaphorically-challenged muscle have already been filled. But don’t worry, Editor Jordan D. White details, “They tend to gather new members as they go, like a space snowball rolling downhill. And yeah, I did just say the Guardians are heading ‘downhill’—they have no idea what sort of trouble they’re in for.” Despite the foreshadowing there, the position does promise to be a great opportunity for anyone looking to get the heck off Earth and take on what White mentions could be called an “Infinite” quest…

It’s the Infinity Stone. They’re questing for the Infinity Stone. That’s the quest.

Responsibilities: You will be responsible for assisting the team on each mission while helping keep the peace between senior members. You will familiarize yourself with the targets of each mission and be ready to fill in wherever needed—that means getting comfortable in each team role and being prepared to fake it ‘till you make it when the plan inevitably falls apart.

You will follow any and all orders given to you by a senior Guardian. If you receive conflicting instructions, use your discretion to determine which will prove most profitable to the group. This position will also play a role in caring for—or “babysitting”—a recently regrown juvenile Flora Collossus. What can we say; it can’t all be gun slinging, explosions, and glamour.

Qualifications:

  • Music lover; particularly ‘60s and ‘70s Earth music
  • Mystic powers (ideal, but not required)
  • 2+ years of criminal and/or hero experience
  • Ability to regenerate a plus
  • Advanced combat and weapons capabilities
  • Experience time traveling (preferred)
  • Ability to cope in high stress situations
  • Chemical enhancements accepted
  • Willingness to follow orders but skilled improviser
  • Comfortable around talking woodland creatures and semi-communicative trees
  • Actually, if you could just be an ex-Avenger, that’d be great

So who might the candidates be? Take a look at the cover! White teases, “Any one of the five folks on there would make a fascinating addition to the team, would they not? And yeah—I did say five.” He clearly knows something we don’t—given that Dr. Strange, Deadpool, Cable, and Man-Thing seem to be the only newbies in the image…

Send your application in today! Email pquill@dangerousfuncoolguy.org or try reading your resumé to a raccoon and hope you get lucky.

Find out who clinches the job on October 18 with ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #12, by Gerry Duggan and artist Rod Reis!

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