Get the scoop on the new Funko Pop! line and Episode 4, out now!

This week, we returned to our favorite ragtag group of galaxy savers and their struggle with the Eternity Forge in “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series.” In the latest episode—Who Needs You?—the team must overcome their own fractured relationships and in-fighting to escape the Sacred Shrine alive. Players will help Star-Lord lead the team to safety while exploring the past of another team member—Drax the Destroyer.

Not only are the Guardians of this story gracing phone screens, televisions, and PC monitors around the world—but soon they’ll appear in vinyl as Funko releases a new set of Marvel Gamerverse Pop! collectibles. Gamora, Rocket, Lylla, and Hala the Accuser will all appear in this latest set—created in collaboration between Telltale and Funko!

We sat down with Justin Lambros—Executive Producer on “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series”—to learn what we could about the series’ penultimate episode and about the developer’s work with Funko on this new set of collectibles.

Marvel.com: Episode 3—More Than a Feeling—left players with a serious decision about what to do with the Eternity Forge. With the artifact either empowered or destroyed, what state is the team in when we pick up here in Episode 4: Who Needs You?

Justin Lambros: This was our biggest choice of the season so far, and as per usual, the various Guardians had very different ideas of what to do with the Forge. Groot and Gamora sided pretty heavily with destroying it, while Rocket and Drax were very interested in using its power to bring back loved ones. Combine that with two very different versions of Hala to deal with, and you’ve got the Guardians in the middle of a crisis. I don’t want to spoil anything, but pretty quickly in the episode this will come to a head, and you’ll have to start picking up the pieces as Peter. Some of your team will support you, and others, well let’s just say will be less than helpful. This episode is really about trying to keep these cracks in the group from being full fractures.

Marvel.com: The fate of the Eternity Forge also has an impact on Hala. What threat does she now pose to the Guardians and the galaxy at large—either with or without the ancient artifact?

Justin Lambros: One of the things that’s so fun (and challenging) about creating Telltale games is having branched states for characters, and we’ve done a whopper with Hala. You’ll either be facing her as the leader of a resurrected Kree empire with a fully operational armada of ships, or a living grim reaper/undead Kree Accuser who has nothing left to lose. Neither of these things seems like a good place for our heroes to be, but it has very different potential solutions to figure out how to save the galaxy.

Marvel.com: What lurks in these caverns that the team will have to contend with as they make their escape? Hala is one problem, but it sounds like there are many more hiding in the shadows.

Justin Lambros: An early decision we made with episode 4 was to really focus on the characters of the Guardians themselves to help make the current state of the galaxy a more personal issue for the team and the player. So, we’ve got an story here that puts even more internal pressure on the team directly before they can even begin to address the “saving of the galaxy” that they are supposed to be doing. Our creative team came up with a new and exciting set of problems, which will keep the pressure on the Guardians while they are sorting out their differences. It’s one of the great things of the IP that we wanted to show off in this episode: new space creatures and fantastical environments.

Marvel.com: We’ve seen glimpses of the past for Star-Lord, Rocket, and Gamora so far, with Drax up next this episode. What element of Drax the Destroyer’s backstory will we explore?

Justin Lambros: What we’ve talked about from the earlier creative meetings for this project was to dig into a different side of Drax in his flashback. His backstory in the comics is quite different from the movie, but we wanted to merge them a bit, trying to show Drax in a more normal family life, rather than digging into his history as a fierce warrior. I’m hoping players find it as compelling as we did in making it.

Again, one of the real goals of this project was to round out a more complex version of each of these amazing characters from the Guardians, and Drax is surprisingly complex when you start to dig into his past and what he has done to deal with it. We hope it makes some of the big choices later in the episode very challenging for the player.

Marvel.com: There’s just one episode remaining, what can you tell us about the upcoming finale? Is there any one part of the story’s conclusion that you’re most excited to share with players?

Justin Lambros: I couldn’t be more excited about the final episode. The team building it worked on the early episodes of the project, so they’re carrying a lot of passion and knowledge for what’s come before in the series. It’s a very complex, branched episode that really aims to pay off on the character choices and consequences from the series in a big way. And without spoiling anything, I’m most excited about how we’ve kept the big final choice that we had planned from the early stages of pre-production and also added some more branched content and new moments that we didn’t even conceive of at the earliest points. So, I’m hoping that whatever content the players get, they feel a strong emotional attachment to what they’ve decided for these characters, and, hopefully they get to save the galaxy as well.

Marvel.com: We teased last month that the Guardians as we know them here in “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series” are getting the Pop! vinyl treatment from Funko soon. What has the collaboration been like with Marvel and the folks at Funko to help bring Telltale’s game designs to life?

Justin Lambros: This has been an amazing collaboration for the team and me personally. Not just because I’ve been collecting Funko Pop! vinyl for years and have a ridiculous collection of Marvel Super Heroes (and especially the Guardians), but also they’ve done an amazing job of representing the unique design elements that we have brought to our characters into their trademark stylization.

It’s been a blast for us to put our unique Telltale art style on the main Guardians, but it’s been in bringing the lesser known supporting characters to life in our game that we’ve really been able to shine. And Funko has put together a mix of those characters for us and really blown us away with their work. It’s a terrific mix of cute and bad ass that we couldn’t be more excited to have applied to some of our game characters.

Marvel.com: Hala and Lylla are sure to have Marvel + Funko fans excited, as these characters are joining the company’s collectible line for the first time! How do you feel about helping to bring them into the Funko fold?

Justin Lambros: I’ve had the privilege to work on a number of Marvel projects in my career and one of my favorite aspects is drilling down into the lesser known realms of the Marvel character library and bringing those characters to life in the interactive medium. And when the game version of these characters then comes to life in other ways, it’s really satisfying for the team members who work so hard on concepting, modeling, texturing, and animating these vibrant personalities to see others inspired by and adapting their creative work.

Lylla is an old comics character that has a very minor reference in the first Guardians film, so it was great to be able to have her play a major role in episode 2 of our series. And the undeniable cuteness of that Funko Pop! has really made our creative team proud, as Lylla held a special place in the hearts of our writers and designers. And Hala is a more recent comic creation, so we were happy to get some more awareness for this truly imposing character from the comics in our game and beyond.

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Two mutant birds of prey swoop down to join the Marvel mobile action!

Take to the skies with the greatest of ease and fillet your enemies with razor sharp feathers and cosmic fire as both Archangel and Angel dive into “Marvel Puzzle Quest” this week. We talked to D3 Go! Senior Producer Josh Austin about Warren Worthington III, his alter egos, and everything they bring to the MPQ table, not to mention we got a sneak peek at all the holiday fun they have lined up for players. Read on to learn more!

Marvel.com: Are we sure Scarlet Witch didn’t say “Lots more mutants”? I’m super excited to see the final member of the original X-Men lineup making it into the game. That’s gotta feel good for the team.

Josh Austin: Not only for the team, but also the fans of “Marvel Puzzle Quest”! It’s great to be able to finally bring so many sought after characters, and we aren’t done yet.

Marvel.com: Warren’s getting two different variants, a 3-Star Angel, and a 5-Star Archangel. Aside from appearance, what’s different about the two characters?

Josh Austin: 3-Star Angel (All-New X-Men) and 5-Star Archangel (Classic) have similar powers that focus on controlling the battle by stunning, removing AP, and preventing players from gaining AP, but 5-Star Archangel being the more powerful version has the ability to damage and stun characters that are airborne as well.

Marvel.com: Ok, let’s get into their abilities. What can Angel and Archangel do?

Josh Austin: Their first ability is called Angle of Attack and it costs 11 Blue AP. 5-Star Archangel deals damage and stuns the target for two turns. There is also a Passive that triggers at the start of the player’s turn, dealing damage to any airborne character and stunning that airborne character. Angel 3-Star deals damage and stuns the target.

Angel and Archangel’s second ability is called Enemy Down and it costs 10 Green AP. Archangel lets loose a flurry of razor sharp feathers that deal damage and [destroy] random AP in the enemy’s AP pools. Angel unleashes a flurry of cosmic flame feathers that deal damage while also creating Green Attack tiles.

Angel and Archangel’s last ability is called Aerial Superiority and it costs seven Black AP. Archangel soars overhead to control the battle by creating Countdown tiles of a chosen color which deals damage and blocks AP generation in that color for both teams at lower levels then only for the enemy team at higher levels. Angel soars overhead as well and creates Countdown tiles that deal damage and block AP gain from both teams.

Marvel.com: I really like that Archangel’s Angle of Attack can hit airborne opponents. Was this made to address the growing number of airborne abilities, or just to add some emphasis to Archangel’s mastery of the skies?

Josh Austin: That’s correct, Archangel will be a great character for players that do not use Vulture, but want a way to stop his onslaught and AP gain. It just makes sense for Archangel to have air superiority over Vulture; we hope players will have a fun time countering airborne characters with Archangel!

Marvel.com: What teammates are we looking at for these two?

Josh Austin: Putting a team together with Rogue (Classic) and Peggy Carter (Captain America) the player could cause the enemy team AP generation to grind to a halt! Also, it wouldn’t hurt to have someone to add to the battle in case the opponent does not have any airborne characters, like Nova or Riri that can send opponents airborne!

Marvel.com: And do you guys have any special plans for the holidays?

Josh Austin: Before I get into the specific events featuring Angel and Archangel, this year we have a couple things for the holidays, the first one an event called 12 Days of Marvel. For 12 Days of Marvel, you will need to join forces with the 12 featured Marvel families—in MPQ—in a special 12-day event. Check back each day for a new mission featuring a variety of Super Heroes and Super Villains. Play as many as you can to earn points and progression rewards including tokens that you can use on the Family Legends Store!

Also in the spirit of the holiday season, players can redeem a free gift by logging into the game between December 14 and December 26 for a Holiday Vault Token for use in the special Holiday Vault store! We plan to have a lot of fun in “Marvel Puzzle Quest” the entire holiday season, so check back frequently for fun events and news while you unwind from a busy 2017.

Marvel.com: Anything else we need to know?

Josh Austin: Yes, back to Angel and Archangel specific events and dates. They will be released December 14 and 5-Star Archangel (Classic) will be featured in the Angel of Death Legendary store. 3-Star Angel (All-New X-Men) can be found in the X-Men vs Apocalypse event that runs December 14 through December 17 and he’s a reward in early rounds, the Top round reward is an Angel of Death Legendary Token for a chance at Archangel, and final progression rewards a token for Angel of Death Legendary cover store.

The 3-Star Angel Vault is called Worthington W. III and contains one Angel of Death Legendary Token along with one of each Angel (All-New X-Men) covers—three total. Angel can be found in Thick as Thieves that is due to run December 17 through December 22. The Versus Tournament for Angel (All-New X-Men) is called Avenging Angel; it starts December 17 and runs through December 20.

There you have it folks, take part in all the angelic holiday cheer here and stay tuned to Marvel.com and follow @MarvelGames on Twitter for more “Marvel Puzzle Quest” news and interviews.

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Celebrate three years of breathtaking bouts on Battlerealm!

“Marvel Contest of Champions” turned three this past weekend, a truly epic milestone for a truly incredible game. We got together with the gang at Kabam—Creative Direction Gabriel Frizzera and Quest Designers Scott Bradford and Dominic O’Grady—to talk a little about what this anniversary means to them, share some stats about players’ brutal brawls on Battlerealm, and what they have planned to celebrate!

Marvel.com: “Contest of Champions” is another year older and I can only imagine the solar dollars the Collector’s sunk into the upkeep of Battlerealm. The place must be a mess with all the fighting going on constantly right?

Scott Bradford: It’s definitely crazy! Every month, the game changes to a whole new beast—and sometimes permanently as we’ve done with the release of “Act 5: Elder’s War” this year. We’re always working on things for veterans and new players, to keep people on their toes with exciting—and challenging!—content!

Gabriel Frizzera: It’s been three years in Earth time. In the Battlerealm, time is relative. It could be a blink of an eye; it could be the age of the universe. But, all poetics aside, “Contest” has been a [labor] of love to all of us, and it’s truly a privilege to be the custodians of this vast universe of [colorful] Marvel characters punching each other in the face. May it last forever!

Marvel.com: Actually, speaking of constant battling, how many fights have actually happened in the past three years?

Scott Bradford – More than 39 billion! That just blows my mind. We’re so fortunate to have such a great group of players who are that devoted to having these amazing Marvel characters duke it out. A fair few of those fights may have been against The Collector! We’re looking forward to few more billion fights right alongside our players!

Marvel.com: Geez oh pizza, that’s a frick ton of fights. If you had to pick your favorite matchups, favorite battles from the last three years, what would they be?

Scott Bradford: It’s been really interesting seeing how people react to all the random Buff and Champion combinations that are possible in M.O.D.O.K.’s Lab. With completely random Buffs and Enemies, it’s hard to know what you’ll end up with, but it’s really cool to see how people handle combinations that have never been seen before and form new strategies. A personal favorite is also a particular Spider-Gwen fight in “Act 5 Chapter 2” which was a bit of a joke for our players. It was really awesome to see how much of a laugh our community got out of that fight, and how deceptively hard it was!

Gabriel Frizzera: The “wildcard” characters were the best for me. Yes, people expect us to create events based on the awesome [Marvel Cinematic Universe] films and publishing events, but every time we can shine a light on somewhat unknown Marvel characters, I feel that I’ve done my job right. To have people come to us and say they love Moon Knight, or Howard the Duck, or The Hood because of the approach we took for those characters, is very rewarding. And of course our own original matchups, like Guillotine vs. Morningstar, are something that adds a special sauce to “Contest of Champions,” and helps our game keep growing even after three years.

Marvel.com: And how many people are currently partaking in the Marvelous melee you all have cooked up?

Dominic O’Grady: A small few, over 122 million of them; no big deal, right? We’re honored to have such a massive and passionate crowd of Summoners on this journey with us, and we’re all beyond excited to go into year [four]: A year with many, many more surprises waiting ahead!

Marvel.com: What about crystals, the containers of our sweet sweet champions? How many have been cracked open?

Dominic O’Grady: With over 13 Billion crystals opened so far, it’s a wonder The Collector hasn’t thrown a fit about his stock being dipped into so often. I guess that means he’s got an even bigger collection than we initially thought. The Battlerealm has a lot of space for a guy like him! Now if only he and The Grandmaster could share better…

Marvel.com: Following that, have any champions emerged as particular fan favorites? Who have Summoners chosen most for their teams?

Dominic O’Grady: There are many fan favorites! With 112 Champions now, it can be tough to figure out who the most [favorite] is, however we do have a list of the most used Champions in The Contest based on their rarity. Experienced Summoners might not be surprised to find that they’re all some of the oldest Champions in the game, too!

  • 1-Star: Spider-Man – Spidey is one of the first Champions most Summoners will acquire, no secret in The Contest, but he’s still a fan favorite at nearly every level.
  • 2-Star: Wolverine – You can’t keep a good mutant down, and Wolverine is a well-rounded character with solid damage, the ability to heal himself, and packs in some good bleed damage, too!
  • 3-Star: Colossus – Every team needs a tank, and few are better at it than Colossus. His immunity to bleeding and massive defensive potential make him a great pick for up-and-coming Summoners.
  • 4-Star: Scarlet Witch – It’s no surprise that Scarlet Witch is a favorite here. Even with a few tweaks made to her kit, she’s a character with a ton of potential and a lot of surprises in her random buff/debuff roulette.
  • 5-Star: Star-Lord – Oh Peter, whatever will we do with you? For pro players, it’s hard to beat Star-Lord’s signature skill; the longer your combo, the more damage he does! Plus he’s got a pretty cool gun.

Marvel.com: Is the team doing anything to celebrate the game’s birthday?

Gabriel Frizzera: We’ll take a month off! Just kidding, we can’t do that—The Contest never sleeps! We’ll probably have some Isosphere-shaped cake here in the office and then go back to creating awesome content for years four, five, six, and beyond. After all, there’s nothing we [would] rather do than create Marvel goodness to the millions of fans out there.

Dominic O’Grady: I think we’re all going to catch up on sleep a little.

Scott Bradford: I’m too busy playing M.O.D.O.K.’s Lab to sleep! In all seriousness, we’ve also got some really fun celebrations lined up for our players! Everyone will receive a free Howard the Duck as either a 3 or 4-Star Champion, depending on how long they’ve been participating in The Contest, and everyone will have a 20% Boost to XP, Gold, and Battlechips for the entire Anniversary week [of] December 10-1). This, paired with week-long sales on some potions and revives, Anniversary Titles for every Summoner, and a special week-long login calendar are our thank you to players for making The Contest what it is.

Marvel.com: Anything else you want us to know going into year four?

Gabriel Frizzera: Well, there’s the small matter of one Mad Titan coming to wreck the Battlerealm that can be seen in our new trailer…

And believe me when I say the Champions in The Contest are not prepared for what Thanos is going to do when he completes his Infinity Gauntlet. Since 2014 we have been building to this moment, pretty much like in the MCU, and the payoff will be grand. I mean, if there’s any Battlerealm left, it will be the stage for a very different Contest of Champions…

Happy third birthday to “Marvel Contest of Champions,” and stay tuned to Marvel.com as well as @MarvelGames on Twitter for more news and interviews!

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Learn more about what went into the biggest video game release of 2018!

Eric Monacelli, Senior Producer, Marvel Games:

Deciding to team with Insomniac Games and PlayStation to develop “Marvel’s Spider-Man” was a no-brainer. What came next, well, that took some mental gymnastics. When you have the power and responsibility to work with a beloved character whose history is so rich and so layered–a character that many feel is the world’s greatest hero, and maybe even the greatest character in fiction itself–we knew we had to thwip up something original yet familiar, and, of course, amazing and spectacular.

First, our creative teams instantly bonded when we realized we all shared a similar childhood memory of fighting pretend villains while slinging imaginary webs in Spider-Man underwear. Next, we recognized that collaborating with some of the tremendous talent working on Spider-Man comic books today would be essential. That’s when writers Dan Slott and Christos Gage swung into our Spidey Web of Trust. The teams at Insomniac Games, PlayStation, and Marvel Games have been hard at work on making the game great since then. Here’s a glimpse into our shared vision from some of our biggest Web Heads:

If you want to hear more from the Marvel writers contributing to the project, head over to the This Week in Marvel podcast to listen to Dan Slott and Christos Gage talk more in-depth about what’s it been like to write and collaborate on the game of our (and hopefully your) dreams.

“Marvel’s Spider-Man” launches in 2018. Mark your calendars and get ready for greatness!

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The prodigious savant of mnemonic talents tears up the Battlerealm.

Taskmaster brings both swords, a shield, and a whole lot of photographic reflexes to Battlrealm ready to kick hero butt. Ol’ Tasky’s not worried about being on Battlerealm, his skills let him go up against the toughest heroes the Contest has to offer. We talked to Kabam Art Director Gabriel Frizzera and Character Designer Simon Cameron about Taskmaster and what he brings to “Marvel Contest of Champions.” Read on to learn more!

Marvel.com: Firstly, let’s talk a little about what the Taskmaster is doing in the contest. He’s not really a go getter unless there’s money involved. Is someone else behind his appearance?

Gabriel Frizzera: Not that the Taskmaster had any choice. Like all of M.O.D.O.K.’s associates, he was once captured in a crystal by the Collector, but forgotten in a backroom somewhere in the Battlerealm. When M.O.D.O.K. freed him, he promised lots of units and gold, but also a regular job in a top-notch Hotel/Spa/Boot Camp for Champions. It beats being forced to fight in The Contest, he thought.

Marvel.com: Tasky looks really cool here in the white, blue, and orange. He’s always had a fairly consistent costume, what did the team do to set him up for “Contest of Champions”?

Gabriel Frizzera: We looked at different inspirations. His costume is definitely one the most iconic in the Marvel Universe, with the skull mask, hood and the orange-white-blue colour scheme. But there has been some pretty cool updates in recent years, especially from animated shows that made him more tactical and armored. We wanted to keep him as classic as possible but add some of the modernized elements, so we kept the cool palette, but removed the “pirate boots” and the cape, which in our opinion would just get in the way of some of his acrobatic moves. His mask is also more angular and less of a literal skull.

Marvel.com: Taskmaster is, in a lot of cases, defined by his foes. He can mimic their moves, allowing him to pick them to pieces at his leisure. Did you guy give any extra thought to the kind of animations Taskmaster would have at his disposal?

Gabriel Frizzera: For sure! This was a chance to pay homage to some of the other Champion’s favorite moves. We lifted some of the coolest animations in the game and blended them together, so when you see him use weapons, he’s mimicking the Punisher, or Moon Knight, for example. When he’s using martial arts, it’s most likely from Black Panther or Iron Fist, or other iconic fighters in the game. It was a lot of fun to make a “collage” of moves and see them come together in a seamless moveset.

Marvel.com: Let’s talk a little about his key abilities like Exploit Weakness, and Intuitive Pattern Recognition. What does he do?

Simon Cameron: Exploit Weakness is one of Taskmaster’s main abilities. Every few seconds the last unique attack Taskmaster’s opponent attempted is set as his target (the attack doesn’t have to have hit, just been attempted). Then to trigger Exploit Weakness, you need to land that same attack back on the opponent within a short window. Triggering Exploit Weakness does Direct Damage to the target, as well as giving Taskmaster a short window to safely trigger his Heavy Attack, instantly resetting his Exploit Weakness target. If his Signature Ability, Intuitive Pattern Recognition, is unlocked he also places Concussions Debuffs on his target when triggering Exploit Weakness.

Marvel.com: And what about Photographic Reflexes and Learn the Foe? Those sound perfectly built for Taskmaster.

Simon Cameron:  Photographic Reflexes gives Taskmaster the ability to reduce his opponent’s Offensive Ability Accuracy as he observes them performing different attacks, and reduce their Defensive Ability Accuracy by performing different attacks. While Learn the Foe gives him increasing resistance to Debuffs for each one that triggers on him in a fight

Marvel.com: What kind of characters do we want on his team?

Simon Cameron: Taskmaster loves to team up with other skill Champions. He has synergies with the likes of Crossbones, Moon Knight, Winter Soldier, and Hawkeye.

Marvel.com: And lastly, when do we get to pick him up for ourselves?

Simon Cameron: Taskmaster’s already in the game! Grab him now!

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more “Marvel Contest of Champions” news and interviews and follow us on Twitter @MarvelGames!

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Marvel’s mightiest animals take on Tiger Shark in the mobile game!

Our favorite batch of lovable critters come to “Marvel Avengers Academy”!

The villainous Tiger Shark has teamed up with Fin Fang Foom and the Lemurians to launch an attack against the school. The Pet Avengers and their human—or humanoid—counterparts need to band together if they’ll have any chance of defeating this terrifying trio.

We grabbed some time with Allen Warner, Lead Narrative Designer at TinyCo, to find out who’s joining the Academy, which heroes will see some surprising changes, and just how our team will bring the fight to Tiger Shark.

Marvel.com: The Pet Avengers are invading campus! What brings our heroes’ lovable companions to Avengers Academy?

Allen Warner: The classic villain Tiger Shark is angry about not getting accepted to Pet Avengers Academy, so he turns his frustration and rage into a revenge plot against both the Pet Avengers and Avengers. His fellow underwater villains the Lemurians have been without a leader since [the Avengers captured Attuma], so they decide to join Tiger Shark’s cause to get revenge and free their former leader. Tiger Shark knows that they’re outmatched, but he evens the odds by waking Fin Fang Foom, who is eager for his own revenge against the Avengers.

Marvel.com: Which fan-favorite animal heroes—both familiar and new—will we see as Tiger Shark wages his war against the Avengers?

Allen Warner: So many amazing animals and animal-themed heroes. New characters will include Hairball, Throg, Redwing, Firebird, Zabu, and Howard the Duck. For those counting at home, that’s a kinetic-powered cat, a frog with the powers of Thor, a telepathic bird, a sabertooth tiger, a surly alien duck, and a classic hero who was tutoring students at Pet Avengers Academy when Tiger Shark and the Lemurians attacked. I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing all of these characters look, and how fun their stories and unique animations are. This was a huge task for our animation team in particular because of all of the unique and varied body types these animal heroes have, and they absolutely knocked it out of the park. It’s such a fun lineup, and I think it’s a really great fit for a holiday event.

In addition to these new characters, we’ll be bringing back an array of awesome animal and animal-themed heroes, including Lucky, Cosmo, Lockjaw, Black Panther, Squirrel Girl, Devil Dinosaur, and many, many more.

Marvel.com: Meanwhile, the Avengers currently attending the Academy will need to gear up like their pet friends if they hope to win this battle. What new suits will we see throughout this fight?

Allen Warner: We did something a little different this time to celebrate the Pet Avengers theme. There will still be some really fun winter-themed outfits for Wasp and Loki, but there will also be some outfits that are unlike anything we’ve ever done before. For both helpful and mischievous reasons, Loki uses his sorcery to transform some of our heroes into actual animals. I can promise that no one has ever seen these heroes like this before, and our concept artists created some amazing designs. These animal “outfits” will be for Black Widow, Loki, Iron Man, Captain America, and Black Panther. There will be new stories about their adventures in their animal incarnations, and fun new animations that celebrate their classic traits and powers combined with their new animal forms.

Marvel Avengers Academy

You can also expect the return of some of our coolest animal-themed outfits from the past, including Cap-Wolf, Cat Loki, and the always awesome Penguin Falcon.

Marvel.com: Where will Tiger Shark, Fin Fang Foom, and the Lemurians set up to bring the fight to our heroes?

Allen Warner: The villains will be hanging out around the conquered Pet Avengers Academy, which is of course, designed for our animal heroes. It’s a really cool design, and feels appropriately fun and festive for the holidays. We’ll also be covering the entire playspace in snow like we did for last year’s winter A-Force event.

Marvel.com: This event will wrap up 2017 for “Marvel Avengers Academy.” Can you give us any hints as to what 2018 has to offer?

Allen Warner: As always, you can expect us to celebrate the major Marvel movie releases, including “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War,” along with plans to showcase some of the major events and characters from the comics, and other big surprises. By the end of the Pet Avengers event, it will be clear who’s coming to Avengers Academy, and it will change everything…

For all the latest news and updates on “Marvel Avengers Academy,” visit Marvel.com and follow us on Twitter @MarvelGames!

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The Runaways’ resident magic user makes her mark on the mobile game!

Can’t get enough Runaways? The new TV series on “Hulu” and the new comic series by Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka not enough to scratch your itch? Have no fear friends, “Marvel Puzzle Quest” has got you covered! Nico Minoru, the original orphaned gothic sorceress, makes her “Puzzle Quest” debut and we talked to D3 Go! Senior Producer Josh Austin about all her awesome abilities.

Marvel.com: Nico’s showing off her Staff of One in “MPQ.” Why was she the right Runaway for the game?

Josh Austin: We are super excited about “Marvel’s Runaways” [on Hulu]! Each of the Runaways have something interesting to offer, but Nico Minoru’s abilities are really intriguing for “Marvel Puzzle Quest.” She’s a fun 4-star character that will add some depth and was fun to design for the team. For this character, we had to get a list of powers approved by Marvel since her power changes names throughout the course of the match if she receives damage, which is something new for an “MPQ” character.

Marvel.com: Sister Grimm’s staff lends her some seriously sorcerous abilities that allow her to do just about anything. How did you make those powers make sense for the game?

Josh Austin: We made a special tile called the Staff of One that’s a Countdown tile; when it’s on the board the tile alters her powers. What this means for the player is Nico’s powers get more powerful whenever she uses her Staff of One and the name of each power changes. Then each power has variations and name changes but it mostly focuses on a freeze ability that stuns, a Try not to Die ability that brings out Protect tiles, and a Heal ability that’s a true heal for each Protect tile on the board [with a] max of six protect tiles. There is a Passive Purple ability that increases the power of the Attack, Strike, and Protect tiles and finally a Trifecta power that creates Attack, Strike, and Protect tiles.

Marvel.com: And just how will Nico be shaking up the board?

Josh Austin: This is going to be a little tricky, so I’m going to write it out under each color:

Her first ability is called When Blood is Shed and it’s a Passive Blue ability. Nico creates a Countdown tile when she takes damage. While the Countdown tile is active it replaces all of Nico’s powers with a new set of powers. Her second Blue ability stuns enemies, removes Countdown tiles, and also increases the stun for each Countdown tile removed.

Her Yellow ability creates Protect tiles and contains a Passive ability that increases the strength of friendly Protect tiles, but Protect tiles have no effect on Nico. Her other Yellow ability is a True Heal for each Protect tile on the board to a maximum of six.

Her first purple ability increases the power of Attack, Strike, or Protect tiles if you have more than the enemy. Her second Purple ability creates a Strike, Protect, and Attack tile. The power also has a passive component that increases the power of your Attack, Strike, or Protect tiles if you have more than the enemy.

Marvel.com: Nico feels like a true support character. From what you told us, it doesn’t appear that she does any direct damage at all.

Josh Austin: She is a great support character; the player should add anyone that creates Special tiles and she’s strong with characters that increase the strength of special tiles.

Marvel.com: And it seems she might be tricky to get the most out of; you need to hurt her so the Staff of One emerges, but she’s a little more vulnerable as Protect tiles don’t mitigate damage for her. What’s her general play pattern?

Josh Austin: She is a bit of a glass cannon, so you will want a protector to help stop her from getting damage as she boosts the team. That and adding someone that can heal with her is a good idea—someone like Medusa (Inhuman Queen) for example!

Marvel.com: Let’s talk teammates. Who does Nico fight best with?

Josh Austin: The team suggests characters that create Special tiles like Thor (Gladiator), Carnage (Cletus Kasady), and War Machine (James Rhodes). She’s also strong with characters that increase the strength of Special tiles like Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers) and Medusa (Inhuman Queen).

Marvel.com: And when does she enter the game?

Josh Austin: Nico Minoru enters the game on November 30 via rewards in S.H.I.E.L.D. Training and Honor Among Thieves. Her featured event will be Simulator starting on December 4 and you can play her Versus Tournament, Staff Appreciation Day, starting on December 3. Or you can find her in the S.H.I.E.L.D. Training Store Available on November 30 or Nico and Friends Store available on December 3.

Try out Nico’s sorcerous abilities here and stay tuned to Marvel.com for more “Marvel Puzzle Quest” news and interviews, plus follow us on Twitter @MarvelGames!

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The Asgardian Goddess of Death cuts a swath across the hit mobile game!

Slicing her way straight from the big screen’s “Thor: Ragnarok” and into “Marvel Contest of Champions” comes Hela, the Goddess of Death, and she’s got an axe to grind with her brothers and everyone else on Battlrealm. We talked to Kabam Art Director Gabriel Frizzera and Character Designer Simon Cameron to get a feel for how she fights, how much trouble the Collector’s in, and more.

Marvel.com: Hela, huh? Well that definitely doesn’t bode well for Battlerealm does it?

Gabriel Frizzera: No it doesn’t. The Goddess of Death feeds on massacre and mayhem, and The Contest has plenty of both. The Grandmaster is oblivious to the danger, and carries on with The Contest like is business as usual, but Champions who have dealt with Hela before know what she is capable of. It’s up to Loki, of all people, to warn his brother Thor and the others of her coming.

Marvel.com: She looks slick as all get out here. What did the team focus on to help players feel like they’re really unleashing the Goddess of Death?

Gabriel Frizzera: Antlers! We made sure the antlers were as intimidating as the ones in the comics and in “Thor: Ragnarok.” As usual we got really good reference ahead of time from the [Marvel Cinematic Universe] team to make sure we got every detail of her costume right. She’s also capable of creating mystical blades and other weapons from thin air, so the animation and FX teams had their hands full to create special moves that reproduce the incredible moments [where] she fills the screen with a whirlwind of sharp objects.

Marvel.com: What can you tell us about Hela’s kit? Please tell me we actually get to create the aforementioned whirlwind of sharp objects!

Simon Cameron: Hela’s kit is built primarily around building and maintaining Fury Buffs, with her Spirits of the Dead. She gains Spirits each time she lands a hit with her Summon Swords, and she drains them over time based on the number of Fury Buffs she has active. She also has abilities which scale based on the number of Fury Buffs she has active, for example her Special 3 Attack which deals bonus damage based on the amount of health her opponent has already lost. This makes Hela an excellent closer, stepping in to finish off even the toughest bosses once they’ve been weakened by her teammates. She also builds Physical Resistance against attacks that do high damage with a single hit.


Marvel.com: And it turns out her Signature Ability is Goddess of Death, how apropos. What does that do for her?

Simon Cameron: Her Signature Ability has two parts. The first grants her Spirits of the Dead at the start of the fight, based on the number of her teammates who have already been knocked out. The second part makes her Indestructible the first time she would be knocked out each fight.

Marvel.com: What kind of opponents should we be playing her against? And with what teammates at her side?

Simon Cameron: Hela has some strong synergies with the likes of Angela, Loki, Mephisto, and Dormammu, while the Missing Health Damage on her Special 3 Attack makes her great for finishing off high health opponents.

Marvel.com: And when do we get to unleash Hel ourselves?

Simon Cameron: She’s just joined The Contest so come on in and check her out!

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more “Marvel Contest of Champions” news and interviews and follow us on Twitter @MarvelGames!

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New Funkos of Howard the Duck, Venompool, King Groot and more coming in February!

The mobile fighting game “Marvel Contest of Champions:” is coming to Pop! As you assemble your ultimate team of champions look for the Funko Pop! versions of some of your favorite characters.

This series includes Cosmic Champion King Groot, the mystical Guillotine, Tech Champion Civil Warrior, and Venompool. Rounding out the series comes a 6” version of Tech Champion Howard the Duck!

Exclusives include a glow version of Civil Warrior at Hot Topic, a glow version of King Groot at Target, Venompool holding a phone at GameStop, and Punisher 2099 at Walgreens.

Check out the gallery above to see them all!

The Funko Pop! “Marvel Contest of Champions” figures will be released in February.

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A new mobile game brings the threat of Ultimus and the Kree to Earth!

Coming in 2018, Marvel and FoxNext Games team up to bring you “MARVEL Strike Force”! Heroes and villains alike will need to forget their differences and battle side-by-side against one of the biggest threats the world has ever seen: Ultimus. With the Kree Warlord’s sights set on Earth, players will take control of S.T.R.I.K.E.—our primary line of defense against threats like him—put a squad together, and take the fight to Ultimus and his armies.

We sat down with Jason Bender, Creative Director at FoxNext Games, to learn everything we could about this thrilling new adventure, including which of your favorite Marvel heroes and villains we’ll see as things get underway.

Marvel.com: What brings about the crisis at the heart of “MARVEL Strike Force?”

Jason Bender: In “MARVEL Strike Force,” war has come to Earth as Ultimus, a Kree warlord, has jumped from one dimension to another, conquering every version of Earth along the way. He has finally arrived at our doorstep, and it’s up to us to stop him. The player commands S.T.R.I.K.E., the Strategic Tactical Reserve for Interdimensional Key Events; the only line of defense against threats like Ultimus.

Marvel.com: Can you tell us more about Ultimus’ plan for world domination?

Jason Bender: “Strike Force” marks the triumphant return of the long-lost Kree Eternal, Ultimus.

Ultimus is a powerful warlord, obsessed with the survival of the interstellar Kree Empire. We’ve seen other Kree warriors, such as the zealot Ronan the Accuser and Korath the Pursuer, in comics and the first “Guardians of the Galaxy” film, but none as powerful as Ultimus. As an Eternal, he shares the same source of power as Thanos, who we’ll see a lot in the upcoming “Avengers: Infinity War.” In “Strike Force,” the Kree Empire has realized that Earth will always be a threat to their existence, and have devised a plan to deal with Earth once and for all.

Now a general of the Kree Empire, Ultimus has set out to conquer Earth, but he doesn’t stop there. He has the technology to mind control the heroes of Earth so he uses them to build a more powerful army and sets about conquering the Earths of every dimension he can reach. It doesn’t take long before he has an army of Hulks, Thors, and Groots, and finally ends up at our Earth.

That’s where S.T.R.I.K.E. comes in.

Marvel.com: What heroes and villains will players be able to add to their squads at the beta’s launch?

Jason Bender: The list is extensive. We have characters from across the board. Players can collect Defenders like Luke Cage and Jessica Jones, Guardians like Groot and Drax, and many of the Avengers. A variety of wildcards will make an appearance, such as Night Nurse, Doctor Strange, Quake, and Spider-Man.

Marvel.com: How will we manage the members of our team in battle? Is the combat system more active or turn-based?

Jason Bender: Combat controls are turn-based so players can play at their own pace. The action moves as fast as you do. In addition to their trademark super powers, characters will leap into battle with highly choreographed martial arts moves and a variety of team based combo attacks.

Marvel.com: Will our heroes be able to combine their powers or give each other a boost in any way?

Jason Bender: Team composition is crucial in “MARVEL Strike Force.” There is immense depth of strategy across characters and squads, which typically have [five] characters on the field at a time. Players will build a force of around 70 characters, with even more to be revealed, so that’s a lot of combinations! Squads can be built around iconic characters, such as Nick Fury leading a team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, or built for ideal gameplay combinations for the most competitive teams. Characters like Rocket Raccoon and Groot have unique and powerful abilities when fielded together—a vital component of making the most powerful team.

Marvel.com: In what ways will players be able to upgrade and change their squad’s abilities?

Jason Bender: Every character has to collect a variety of gear in order to grow stronger, and they have [three to four] unique abilities each. As abilities improve, new mechanics will unlock and reveal new tactical options. For example, Daredevil might start out attacking a single target at a time, but will quickly grow to chain his martial arts maneuvers to multiple enemies in a single attack. This expands your combat options quite a bit as your characters improve, leading to more and more depth of strategy over time.

Marvel.com: The game’s player-vs-enemy content is clear from the announcement trailer. Are there any plans for player-vs-player you can share with us?

Jason Bender: We want to be sure that players can put each other to the test and see who dominates, so we’re launching with player-vs-player included from the start. This is an arena that starts out friendly but can get highly competitive as you work your way to the top of the ladder. Naturally, there are some pretty excellent rewards to be earned at the top of the heap. We have plans for a wide variety of additional player-vs-player modes in the future.

Marvel.com: Outside of potential PVP, what social and multiplayer features will players be able to utilize?

Jason Bender: It’s a blast to play this with friends, so Alliances will allow people to team up and battle Ultimus together. Alliances can coordinate to conquer Raids, a cooperative game mode that provides some of the most powerful rewards in the game. The Alliances that work together most effectively will be able to conquer the toughest Raids, but the mode is tuned to be fun for more casual players, as well. Bring your friends!

Marvel.com: The announcement trailer also mentioned a bonus for players who pre-register for the beta; what rewards can we expect to receive?

Jason Bender: Players who pre-register will unlock a super-powered Daredevil and additional resources, so they will have a major advantage in the fight against Ultimus.

Stay tuned to Marvel.com and follow @MarvelGames on Twitter for the latest news and info on “MARVEL Strike Force,” debuting worldwide in 2018!

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