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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Review the history of the Iron Spider as a new villain takes up the mantle!

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.

Young heroes often look to their older counterparts for inspiration. Sometimes they need help managing a super villain or bearing the weight of responsibility, and sometimes they just need help coming up with a codename.

Taking on an identity previously held by a hero can be an act of honoring what came before—or a convenient shortcut to earning the public’s trust. That, however, usually doesn’t end up being the case with villains—their identities and gear often wind up on the black market, which is how Miles Morales’ uncle Aaron Davis became the new Iron Spider!

Having assumed his new identity, he then gathered Spot, Bombshell, the new Electro, Hobgoblin, and Sandman to form a new Sinister Six in order to harass our hero in SPIDER-MAN, by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Oscar Bazaldua.

This Iron Spider sports a different color scheme than the original—black and gold instead of red and gold—and adds to the long journey the mantle has gone on since its full debut in 2006’s AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #529. At that point, Peter Parker had been a member of the Avengers for a while and, as a result, Tony Stark had taken an interest in the kid that he saw as a kindred spirit in the sciences. So, naturally, one technological genius gave another a bleeding edge upgrade in the costume department—and the resulting hero collaboration resulted in the Iron Spider.

Amazing Spider-Man (1999) #529

Amazing Spider-Man (1999) #529

  • Published: February 22, 2006
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 13, 2007
  • Rating: T+
  • Writer: Stan Lee
  • Penciller: Mike Deodato
What is Marvel Unlimited?

The first version of the suit featured a bullet and heat-resistant surface, built-in scanners, a heads-up display, GPS, a gas-resistant mask, and a mesh webbing that allowed the hero to glide through the air. By AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #530, Stark added even more goodies, like an invisible mode and the ability to look like other existing costumes.

As this story took place during the buildup to Civil War, Peter started to wonder if Tony only gave him the new costume as a means to convince him to support the Super-human Registration Act, though he supported it (and revealed his true identity to the world in the process) nonetheless. But as the world—and its super villains—seized on the innocent lives connected to Peter Parker, and thus Spider-Man, the Wallcrawler’s support for the SRA receded as he saw its potentially disastrous personal ramifications.

Amazing Spider-Man (1999) #530

Amazing Spider-Man (1999) #530

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Finally changing his mind on the matter, Parker threw down with Iron Man—and only narrowly escaped the fight when The Punisher stepped in to save him. After joining Captain America’s anti-Registration side, Parker ditched the Iron Spider costume, eventually switching to his classic black costume after Civil War ended with Steve Rogers’ death.

Flash Forward

The Iron Spider costume didn’t just gather cobwebs in Parker’s closet, however. It next appeared in AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE #3 on a trio of heroes referred to as the Scarlet Spiders. Read more about the arachnid triumvirate in THE INITIATIVE #7!

Even Mary Jane Watson got in on the Iron Spider action in last year’s AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #15, by Dan SlottChristos Gage, and artist Giuseppe Camuncoli with a stunning Alex Ross cover! She pulled it on while Iron Man and Spider-Man took on Regent, eventually attacking the villain herself, giving Spidey enough time to save a prison full of captured innocents and close out the climactic “Power Play” storyline.

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Writer Evan Narcisse uncovers T’Challa’s first days as king!

We’ve all come to know and love T’Challa as the King of Wakanda, but few Black Panther stories have shown us how he came to the throne—and how he evolved into a leader—in the first place.

On January 8, RISE OF THE BLACK PANTHER #1 kicks off a limited series that dives into the early days of T’Challa’s life and reign. Writers Evan Narcisse and Ta-Nehisi Coates join artist Paul Renaud to explore how the death of King T’Chaka changed both his son and the nation of Wakanda forever.

We spoke with Narcisse about his process, his collaborators, and writing an icon like Black Panther.

Marvel.com: You’re jumping from comic book journalism to writing comics themselves. How does it feel to make that transition?

Evan Narcisse: This is my first creative writing—my first published creative writing, I should say—and my first time writing comic scripts. Doing this job, I had researched what comic scripts looked like before. One of the things that was so daunting and encouraging ended up being that there’s no set format—everybody does it a little differently. Some people have really rich, florid descriptions in terms of art direction and what the characters think and feel. Some people have very lean pages. Mine probably tended more towards the former than the latter. It’s a lot harder than it looks from the outside looking in. It’s a hybrid beast that looks like a movie script but also has to do some actual storytelling in the document. You have to guide the artist but not restrict them. It’s a lot more surprising and eye opening than I thought.

Marvel.com: BLACK PANTHER writer Ta-Nehisi Coates has been working with you on this book. What’s that relationship like?

Evan Narcisse: He’s mostly consulting; the vast majority of the plot and the script come from me. I’ll run stuff by him and we’ll make sure we’re in sync in terms of whether T’Challa would do something this way or that. But, yeah, most of it comes from me. I’m a huge T’Challa fan and I have been for years, so I feel like I have a good internal sense of where I want him to be and how I want him to come across in this work.

Marvel.com: How does it feel to work with artist Paul Renaud on your first Marvel book?

Evan Narcisse: We met for the first time in New York City. I’ve seen his work around on CAPTAIN AMERICA: SAM WILSON stuff and loved it. I saw what he did on GENERATIONS: THE AMERICAS and thought it looked really great and felt super excited to find out he was going to be the guy on this book.

Marvel.com: Describe your process of creating RISE OF THE BLACK PANTHER alongside Ta-Nehisi and Paul.

Evan Narcisse: The process of honing your skills happens in installments. What I’m thinking of now is, like, wanting to do things a little bit differently in an issue means you have to work ahead to iterate to see if you actually accomplished the ambitions you set for yourself or if it’ll going to put you behind schedule. It can be a really intense learning process.

I have the advantage of talking to Ta-Nehisi every day. We’re friends so we talk about comic book stuff anyway. He told me, “In a year’s time, when you’re still doing this, you’ll look back on these scripts and see how much better they could have been.” It’s been really fun just figuring out the tools and what tools work best for me and what tools I feel like I want to try out.

Also, it can be weird. I’ve realized that your fandom comes out not just textually but mechanically. So, the kind of comic book writing I’ve enjoyed since childhood has been coming out of me organically. Which isn’t to say my stuff will read like Denny O’Neil or my favorite writers, but there are certain rhythms I feel like I’m doing my own spin on.

Marvel.com: Which writers have influenced your work? Do you count any prior BLACK PANTHER scribes among them?

Evan Narcisse:  You can’t talk about BLACK PANTHER in 2017 without talking about Christopher Priest. He gave T’Challa a really intense refocusing and reimagining that is impossible to ignore. It’s masterful. As a comic book critic, I’ve written about Priest’s work many times over the years and, even though he’s been resurgent in 2017, he’s still underappreciated. I tweeted out earlier that I reread the “Storm und Drang” storyline from BLACK PANTHER #26#29, where T’Challa brings the world to the brink of war. Magneto, Dr. Doom, Deviant Lemuria, and Namor, all heads of state, powerful heads of state, jostle around each other with all these different agendas. I think it’s one of the best examples of geopolitical storytelling and the idea of statecraft in super hero comics. So, Priest for sure.

Someone who seems unsung, not in general, but in terms of shepherding a certain vision of T’Challa, is Jonathan Hickman. He wrote T’Challa in his FANTASTIC FOUR run, setting up the King of the Dead aspect of the character. That fed into NEW AVENGERS—one of the best Avengers comics ever, but a low-key T’Challa book. That version of the Illuminati met in Wakanda. Again, his wants and needs clashed with the duty he had to do as a super hero in his rivalry with Namor.

One other thing that’s important to me about Black Panther and his creative legacy is his importance as a character that black creators could touch and leave an imprint on. I feel like every time a black writer or artist or editor has worked on a Black Panther book, the sensibilities of the characters got strengthened. You can go back to Billy Graham as the artist on that amazing Don McGregor run in JUNGLE ACTION. He was a superlative artist for his time; his draftsmanship and the tools in his storytelling are all super ambitious and genius level compared to some of the other work from the 1970s. From him, to Priest, to Reginald Hudlin and now to Ta-Nehisi…it’s important. Black Panther has always been symbolically important and I think black creators feel opportunity, responsibility, and a sense of kindred energy when working on the character. I certainly do.

Marvel.com: Do writers from outside the world of comics influence you? What other writers—or even just books or films—inform your comic writing?

Evan Narcisse: Probably my favorite movie of all time is Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil,” this really dark, satirical fable about living in a dystopian society. Unfortunately, it feels pretty relevant, in terms of the control of information and the constant battle for political narrative supremacy, to where we find ourselves nowadays.

There’s a novel from 1981 called “The Chaneysville Incident” by an author named David Bradley. A good friend in college gave it to me to read and it blew my mind. It’s this story about a black historian who goes back to his hometown in the rural South to dig into his old family history. He finds out about the way that his forbearers grew up under Jim Crow and the kind of stuff they had to endure and rebel against and the personal cost of all of that on his family. It’s a very dark book, beautifully written. It has stayed in my mind while writing RISE OF THE BLACK PANTHER because the story I’m writing is, in part, a generational one. It’s about T’Challa grappling with his own history.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wrote a book called “Half of a Yellow Sun.” She’s an amazing Nigerian writer. One of the things I have to think about when writing BLACK PANTHER is the idea of diaspora. It may seem a little counterintuitive, because Wakanda has kept to itself and not a lot of Wakandans live outside of Wakanda, but I want to explore what it’s like when that does happen. What does it mean to come from an isolationist country? It can be exceptional and aspirational, but it’s xenophobic to a certain extent, by virtue of necessity. They’re on a continent where every other country got colonized and invaded. So there ends up being a certain warrior sociopolitical mindset that they’ve had to adopt and iterate on in order to maintain their status. But also, how long can you maintain yourself as an “island”?

That’s one of the things T’Challa has to grapple with. It’s not a spoiler to say that T’Challa’s big decision in the series will be to open up the country and declare their existence to the Western world and simultaneously deal with all the repercussions that happen internally and externally as a result.

Marvel.com: How did you land on telling the story of this liminal time in T’Challa’s life? It seems to have certain parallels with the upcoming “Black Panther” film.

Evan Narcisse: My conversations with Wil Moss, my editor, early on, were about an “early years” T’Challa story and the place I landed ended up being his first year as king. The first conversations we had were about T’Chaka and I came on the idea that T’Chaka’s assassination, his death, had to be a major political event in Wakanda’s history. It’d be like JFK’s assassination—the kind of thing that changes an entire country’s mindset. It’s the kind of event where you mark off time between everything that came before it and what comes after it. In the first issue, we explore some of what came before it, with T’Chaka in his prime—something we haven’t seen much. We’ve seen flashbacks and we’ve seen him a little older and we’ve seen him as a ghost. The “after” stuff will obviously be T’Challa’s reign. It’s an established part of the character that his father being this amazing king wears heavy on him. At the same time, he deals with threats his father never dealt with. So, that informs his decision to open up Wakanda.

And I’m super excited for the “Black Panther” movie. I can’t wait—I know this sounds corny—but I can’t wait for fans everywhere to explore this character and learn about him, because I think T’Challa is one of the best super heroes ever created. I think he’s thematically rich and an exciting character to watch evolve throughout his history. And I’m so honored to be a part of that evolution.

RISE OF THE BLACK PANTHER #1, by Evan Narcisse, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and artist Paul Renaud, kicks off on January 3!

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Chronicle the history of Jean Grey ahead of Phoenix Resurrection!

From smoke and ashes, a phoenix rises.

On December 27, Jean Grey’s enigmatic connection with the Phoenix Force rears its ugly head once again in PHOENIX RESURRECTION: THE RETURN OF JEAN GREY #1, by writer Matthew Rosenberg and artist Leinil Yu.

Having covered Jean’s introduction and backstory in Part One of this two-part retrospective, we now burst into flame as she finally comes face to face with…

The Phoenix Force

One of the oldest cosmic entities in existence, The Phoenix Force represents life not yet born. Acting as the nexus of all psionic energy that does, has, and could exist in all realities of the Omniverse, the Force is known as the Guardian of Creation and a guardian of the M’Kraan Crystal—which houses a gateway to another plane of existence known as the White Hot Room.

The Phoenix Force destroys all that does not work or has become stagnant in the universe—and regrows a better, healthier version as a replacement. To intervene in worlds that voluntarily become stagnant and ease them to the way of progress, The Phoenix Force can utilize host bodies…with its most famous—and powerful—connection being to Jean Grey.

When the Force felt her mind transcend the physical realm when her powers first awoke, the cosmic entity felt a kindred bond with Jean, and used its power to save her from the brink of death. Years later, as the young mutant sacrificed herself to save her X-Men teammates by piloting a radioactive space shuttle back to Earth, the Phoenix appeared to her in a form and consciousness that resembled Jean herself. The Phoenix Force absorbed a piece of her consciousness and cast the mutant into a healing cocoon. The cocoon, with the real hero inside, sat at the bottom of Jamaica Bay for years while the Phoenix manifestation of Grey took her place on the X-Men. This version possessed all of her original memories and beliefs…though in the back of her mind rested the power and fury of the Force.

When Mastermind and the Hellfire Club attacked this Jean in an attempt to alter her psionic personality, the dormant Phoenix’s sanity broke. In UNCANNY X-MEN #134, driven mad by Mastermind’s psionic tampering, the Dark Phoenix was born. This new being devoured a star in issue #135, killing five billion people on one of its planets in the process. In a moment of lucidity, during which Grey’s consciousness realizes the destruction she’s caused, she chooses to kill herself—and the Dark Phoenix—to save her loved ones from what unspeakable horrors she might do in such a state. Scott Summers, having believed this to be the real Jean Grey, was devastated.

The Phoenix Force, now untethered from its Earthly host, recalled its nature as an ancient power, but still retained Jean’s personality and memories. Utilizing its shared consciousness with Grey, the Force used this connection in a bid to try and rouse her from her cocoon. Jean refused to awaken, however, repelled by the memories of the Dark Phoenix. Though she resisted the Phoenix’s urges, FANTASTIC FOUR #286 saw the Avengers and the FF discover her healing pod in the storyline “Like a Phoenix!”

Pulling Herselves Together

After Jean finally rose from her quasi-hibernation, her friends react with shock and confusion at the reemergence of a teammate they thought to be dead. The mutant hero chose to then keep the name “Phoenix,” even though she no longer had the powers of the fiery being.

Later, when Wolverine chose to kill Grey in a story arc crossing NEW X-MEN #146#150, The Phoenix Force sensed her death and revived her again. After this encounter, Jean experimented with the Phoenix, trusting its powers despite her better judgment. She finally allowed the Force to possess her fully, assuming control of its cosmic might. Though, in retribution, she was soon killed by a Xorn-induced aneurism.

The next resurrection of Jean Grey took place in X-MEN: PHOENIX – ENDSONG, when The Phoenix Force made its way back to reanimate the hero from her grave, despite her protests. As the Phoenix began to take on its dark energy, Jean—now an unwilling host—asked that Wolverine kill her as a measure to stop the cosmic entity. The Force, however, made her temporarily immortal, halting the potential death. At her wit’s end, Grey dove into the icy depths of the Arctic Ocean to prevent Force from getting to her, killing herself again in the process.

Enraged by the rejection, the despondent Phoenix Force turned itself into another manifestation of Jean Grey in a vengeful attempt to win Cyclops’ love. When Scott rebuffed the Phoenix Jean, the Force merged with Emma Frost instead. The real Grey, having been raised from the dead once more, drove the flaming essence out of Emma and made peace with her permanent Phoenix union—now able to harness the power of the Phoenix even as it inhabited another host. The act of the two uniting once again nearly pushed the hero’s mind into insanity, but Frost returned to psychically link Jean (and the Force inside her) to all the people who love them, lending the strength necessary to regain her sanity. This storyline proved to be the final time that readers saw the adult Jean Grey, aside from her recent time-displaced appearance in GENERATIONS: PHOENIX AND JEAN GREY #1.

Finally, later this month, Jean Grey will face the latest twist in her long and difficult history as PHOENIX RESURRECTION: THE RETURN OF JEAN GREY begins.

Open the next chapter in PHOENIX RESURRECTION: THE RETURN OF JEAN GREY #1, by writer Matthew Rosenberg and artist Leinil Yu, on December 27!

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Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. meet up with the menace of A.I.M.!

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.

With 1966’s STRANGE TALES #148, the formula for Nick Fury’s segment of the book got a bit of shake up when Jack Kirby not only drew layouts for Don Heck to finish, but also scripted the story with regular writer Stan Lee reportedly on vacation! The resulting story, called “Death Before Dishonor,” began with a bang as Marvel’s top spy waded through fire while S.H.I.E.L.D. agents—wearing protective gear—fought the blaze with a series of chemicals.

Though the others wrote Fury off as dead from exposure to the elements, Dum Dum Dugan plowed through, tossed his Howling Commandos leader over his shoulder and made way for the Vita-Fluid-filled Restora-Tank. Distraught over the potential loss of his friend, Dugan responded with appropriate shock when Fury appeared behind him and revealed that a Life Model Decoy floated before them.

Fury and Jasper Sitwell then recounted how the fire started in the prisoner holding area. The head honcho wanted to question the captured members of A.I.M. in person, but instead used an L.M.D. as his eyes, ears, and mouth. This proved a good call as Advanced Idea Mechanics somehow used a remote detonator to blow their own people up!

The action then shifted to the public face of A.I.M., Count Bornag Royale, watching his enemies deal with the fire from a secret base. While he left to manipulate the Free Nations’ Justice Department to bring Fury in front of their Board of Inquiry, an A.I.M. contingent promised to grab an L.M.D. for research purposes. After checking out an x-ray projecting gun and hearing from Sitwell how easy breaking into his office proved, Nick sat down for another nail in the coffin: the official summons to appear before the Board on Inquiry.

Nick agreed to appear, and on the day of the supposedly secret meeting, A.I.M. took advantage of the timing to raid the S.H.I.E.L.D. L.M.D. facility. After listening to many bad-mouth him, Fury got fed up, smashed through a window of the Helicarrier, and used a belt parachute to land on the ground where Dugan awaited his arrival.

In the next issue—which featured a script by Denny O’Neil along with Kirby layouts and Ogden Whitney finishes—Fury and his soldiers make an epic move to save their facility while also putting a huge dent in A.I.M.’s operation!

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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