Trina Robbins and the Bowery Boys join the Women of Marvel for a special podcast!

In honor of Women’s History Month, we bring you a special packed episode of the Women of Marvel featuring comics historian Trina Robbins and Greg Young from the Bowery Boys, plus special guests!

Tune in as hosts Judy Stephens and Sana Amanat chat the history of women working in the comics industry with Trina Robbins, plus her extensive career of writing and editing. Then we welcome half of the Bowery Boys, Greg Young, to talk the importance of NYC in the comics industry and the evolution of

Listen to the Women of Marvel – Episode 139 now!

Check out all the work by Trina Robbins, including her upcoming work here.

And you can listen to episode #187 of the Bowery Boys, Super City: New York and the History of Comic Books.

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The Women of Marvel podcast assemble to chat all things Marvel and more! New episodes will be released every Thursday, co-hosted by Marvel Director, Content and Character Development Sana Amanat, Marvel.com Producer Judy Stephens, along with Marvel DMG Senior Social Media Manager Adri Cowan.

Have feedback or questions? Email us at WomenOf@marvel.com, or tweet your questions and comments to @Marvel with the hashtag #WomenOfMarvel!

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Get familiar with some of Star Wars’ most elite pilots!

The newest bad guy network set on controlling the galaxy is on the rise and it’s up to the Black Squadron to outsmart them in STAR WARS: POE DAMERON #13, written by Charles Soule with art by Phil Noto and coming out April 19. Want to know more about these selfless heroes? Let’s take a look!

Poe Dameron – This dashingly debonair pilot fearlessly leads Black Squadron with his own blend of high stakes decisions and cheeky one-liners. Following in his parents’ footsteps, Dameron left the Republic’s Starfleet to join the rebellion after General Leia Organa recruited him. He quickly became one of her most skilled and trusted operatives and assumed the task of putting together an elite team to track down Lor San Tekka and smooth talk his way to uncovering the location of Luke Skywalker, who has taken over the role of Leia’s only hope.

L’ulo – The grandfather of the group, but don’t let him catch you saying that. L’ulo is a battle warn hothead not afraid to defy orders if he thinks he knows better, which he usually does. He’s a bit of a grumpy gill but his years fighting in the Alliance have given him that right. During that time L’ulo became close with Shara Bey, Poe’s mother, and even stepped in to help raise him after her sudden death. Nothing like a somewhat endearing, semi-father-son dynamic to add a little tension to the group.

Temmin “Snap” Wexley – Poe’s right hand man and occasional comic relief, Snap, grew up on his own after Imperial forces captured his father and his mother left to join the Rebel Alliance. He learned to fend for himself working as a junk dealer on the streets of his home planet before rejoining his mother to fight against the remaining Empire forces. His combination of street smarts and fighting experience make him an invaluable member of the team. Plus he adds some adorable cheese ball moments romancing fellow squad member Karé Kun.

Oddy Muva – A classic case of a guy doing the wrong thing for the right reasons, Oddy works as the team’s mechanical tech with aspirations of becoming a pilot. Though the team might be better served finding a way to keep that mechanical genius on lock. Unfortunately, while he’s the last person Poe would suspect of being a First Order informant, it does sadly seem to be the case, as we’ve learned that the First Order officer Terex holds his wife hostage as leverage against Oddy.

Karé Kun – A seasoned Resistance fighter, Karé flew alongside Poe in the New Republic Navy as a member of Rapier Squadron and you can bet he’d trust her with his life—and has. She’s driven, remarkably talented, and one tough cookie who likes to let you know it, but don’t be surprised to hear her crack a joke with her teammates. After all, she does reserve all the teasing rights to Snap.

Jessika “Jess” Pava – The bad girl of the group, Jess likes to live on the edge and prepare herself for any situation. She has a knack for mechanics as her and Oddy like trying experimental modifications out on her ship. If it were her choice she would always have her weapons and never lose control of the situation at hand which makes for a great balance to Poe’s “make it up as you go along” attitude. And while she has an effective tactical mind and stands out as a great pilot, she also adds a needed sass to the group dynamic.

Catch the whole team back in action April 19 in STAR WARS: POE DAMERON #13 by Charles Soule and Phil Noto!   

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Trace the evolution of the former White Queen to X-Man and beyond!

This March, we celebrate Women’s History Month by spotlighting some of the most iconic characters and creators from the Marvel Universe.

Created by Chris Claremont and John Byrne in the pages of 1980’s UNCANNY X-MEN #129, Emma Frost first entered the Marvel Universe as the Hellfire Club’s telepathic powerhouse, The White Queen. At the time, the nefarious group intended to bring the X-Men to their knees, even going so far as to put a tap on Cerebro.

With information stolen from Professor X’s machine, Ms. Frost headed to Deerfield, Illinois to meet a young woman also making her first appearance: Kitty Pryde! There under the pretense of offering Ms. Pryde a place at a school in Massachusetts, Frost happened to be there when Kitty manifested her mutant phasing powers. However, the child didn’t seem convinced, which left Emma in a bad spot as Professor X, Storm, Colossus, and Wolverine appeared for their own recruitment drive.

While Kitty grabbed a malt with the students, Frost sent armored goons in to rough them up. Though the X-Men easily handled these intruders, they remained unprepared for White Queen’s telepathic force bolt which left them unconscious. However, in the fray, Kitty phased out of the building, but stowed away on the fleeing ship to save her eventual teammates.

Kitty figured out how to contact the other X-Men and they made their way to the place where Frost held their teammates as well as Professor Xavier. During the ensuing battle, Emma fought Jean Grey and her Phoenix Force for the first time, seemingly dying in the process, but really surviving to fight another day.

For years after, Emma Frost battled the X-Men as part of the Hellfire Club. She also really did run a Massachusetts school for gifted youngsters, training them and building them into a group called the Hellions. The destruction of this young team came as a result of Trevor Fitzroy unleashing the Sentinels on them. Feeling intense guilt as the only surviving member of her squad, Frost soon teamed up with Sean Cassidy to save a group of new mutants who would eventually star in GENERATION X. Emma stuck around as the team’s mentor, but murdering her own sister, a murderer herself, didn’t sit well with the kids and the team disbanded.

However, that did not directly lead back to a life of crime with the Hellfire Club. Instead, she moved to Genosha where she taught young mutants how to use their powers. That is until another Sentinel attack left her the only survivor on the entire island nation. During the NEW X-MEN series, she not only became an important member of the main mutant team, but also started a relationship with Scott Summers, aka Cyclops, that continued up to his death.

While Scott seemingly died at the hands of Black Bolt as the X-Men tried to destroy one of the mutant-killing Terrigen mists, he actually perished earlier upon exposure to the cloud. The version seen on the battle field turned out to be an illusion that Emma cast in an effort to fulfill Cyclops’ last wishes. This, of course, led directly into the pages of INHUMANS VS. X-MEN. In that series, Frost made a number of moves that have many wondering if the intensity of the past few months has left her teetering between good and evil. Only time will tell.

Over the years, Emma Frost’s unparalleled power, whip-smart wit, and incredible fortitude have allowed her to make the transition from a hated enemy to a fan-favorite X-Man, a feat that few others have actually accomplished.

The Women of Marvel

Emma Frost survived the Sentinel attack on Genosha because she exhibited one of the first known examples of secondary mutation. In her case, she turned into a being of pure diamond. In this form, she cannot use her telepathic powers, but does become almost completely impervious to harm, temperature, psychic attacks, and even the need to breathe. This alternate form also allowed for super strength, the ability to never tire, and even a numbness to emotions and pain.

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The floral colossus confronts his past and fights for the future!

Celebrate this incarnation of the Guardians of the Galaxy’s tenth anniversary while also prepping for the May 5 release of their new film with these gems from Marvel Unlimited!

Everyone loves Groot. Whether he’s blasting away bad guys with his Guardians pals or dancing in a coffee mug, only the coldest of hearts refuse to melt for this benevolent warrior. So it came as no surprise when the Flora colossi scored his own series in 2015. Written by Jeff Loveness and drawn by Brian Kesinger, the six issue run featured Groot doing everything in his power to save his pal Rocket from the clutches of the evil space pirate Eris.

In issues #25, Groot remembered meeting his raccoon-like friend in a prison, then met up with Silver Surfer and his companion Dawn, saved a planet from a cosmic storm and befriended a new group of friends including three inept Skrulls, a 90s-created robot named Mantron, and Numinus, the cosmic embodiment of chance and fate. Even without the toughest folks backing him, Groot still inspired confidence in this crew to take on Eris and save Rocket!

Groot (2015) #1

Groot (2015) #1

  • Published: June 03, 2015
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: December 07, 2015
  • Rating: Rated T
  • Writer: Jeff Loveness
  • Cover Artist: Declan Shalvey
What is Marvel Unlimited?

With that whole mess cleaned up, Rocket finally agreed to take Groot to Earth. After marking some things off of a To Do list recommended by fellow Guardians, they got down to the real business of the trip: finding an acquaintance of Groot’s. As we discover through a mental conversation between our hero and young Jean Grey, once upon a time the people of Planet X started abducting people to study. Groot knew this was wrong and helped a young girl named Hannah escape. He succeeded, but soon found himself banished from his home leading him down the path to eventually hook up with the Guardians of the Galaxy!

The series closed with Groot sitting with Hannah and a beautiful message about friendship: “Because of her, I learned the greatest truth I know. One I live be every day…Life is not about the shadow you cast on your enemies…But the shade you provide to your friends.”

Transmissions from Knowhere

Groot first appeared in 1960’s TALES TO ASTONISH #13 and only showed up a few other times between that and ANNIHILATION CONQUEST: STAR-LORD. In MARVEL MONSTERS: MONSTERS ON THE PROWL, The Collector held Groot and a variety of other creatures in his secret Canadian facility before they broke out. Later, Groot again fell into captivity, this time by the supernatural-themed team in NICK FURY’S HOWLING COMMANDOES. Sometime between the end of that series—in which he helped defeat Merlin—and STAR-LORD #1, Groot became captured again for unspecified crimes against the Kree. Since then, he’s done a pretty good job of staying out of incarceration.

Next time, Groot and his new teammates test themselves in the fires of intergalactic war in the pages of ANNIHILATION: CONQUEST.

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T’Challa joins the Illuminati in an attempt to protect the multiverse!

For 50 years, the Black Panther has stood at the forefront on the Marvel Universe. As we count down to a vision of T’Challa on the big screen coming soon, take a look back at five decades’ worth of comic book adventures…

After attending a party to welcome Janet Van Dyne back from exile in the Microverse in AVENGERS #34, The Black Panther discovered something incredible in NEW AVENGERS #1: the incursion of an entire universe upon his own, and a woman named Black Swan who seemed to be facilitating the event.

In NEW AVENGERS #2, T’Challa played host to members of the so-called “Illuminati,” high-profile heroes self-tasked to protect their world. He relayed his findings of the incursions to them, and they in turn suggested gathering the Infinity Stones to stop their progress. Despite his desire to kill Namor, a member of the Illuminati and responsible for past destruction in Wakanda, the Panther joined with his fellows to hunt for the Stones in NEW AVENGERS #3. Once assembled into the Infinity Gauntlet, Captain America used them to halt an incursion, and in doing so, shattered the Stones.

T’Challa and the others decided to seek more Infinity Stones in alternate universes in NEW AVENGERS #4, but ran afoul of a variant Galactus and his herald, Terrax. The Black Panther disagreed mightily with his companions in NEW AVENGERS #5 over their willingness to work with Black Swan, a decision that led them to Latveria to stop another incursion.

New Avengers (2013) #1

New Avengers (2013) #1

  • Published: January 02, 2013
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: July 08, 2013
  • Rating: Rated T+
  • Writer: Jonathan Hickman
  • Cover Artist: Jock
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Strange blue skies met the Illuminati in NEW AVENGERS #6, and T’Challa mourned the loss of the man he used to be as he himself pulled the trigger on the death of another universe. Back in Wakanda, Namor asked for peace between his Atlantis and the African nation in NEW AVENGERS #7, and T’Challa sought advice from his friend Reed Richards before his sister Shuri officially refused Namor’s entreaty and declared war.

In NEW AVENGERS #8, Wakanda attacked Atlantis, a preamble to the mad space tyrant Thanos’ invasion of Earth to find his lost son. While the main team of Avengers made plans to travel into outer space to stop an alien invasion in INFINITY #1, Black Panther helped his people fight off the Black Order’s invasion of his beloved country in NEW AVENGERS #9.

The Inhumans’ king, Black Bolt, summoned the Panther and the Illuminati to Attilan in INFINITY #2 to inform them of Thanos’ purpose on Earth. The heroes left to seek that individual in NEW AVENGERS #10, which put T’Challa on his trail at the Caalsberg Ridge. The quest continued in INFINITY #3, while Black Bolt tried to stop Thanos by himself.

The Black Order returned to Wakanda in NEW AVENGERS #11, while the Illuminati met the Builders, an ancient race of aliens with designs on Earth. The Black Panther witnessed Wakanda in flames in INFINITY #5, a result of the Black Order’s attack, and joined with the Illuminati to defend Necropolis and its cache of incursion-stopping bombs from Thanos’ lust for power.

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Al Ewing outlines the challenges that will change the Inhumans forever!

The Royals will be putting the jet planes, the islands, and the tigers behind them this April because they have decided to leave the world and its treats behind for the indifferent vacuum of space. Motivated by a sense of exploration and a need to find their roots, this collection of the Inhuman ruling class—and Marvel Boy—will depart terra firma for parts unknown.

It will, however, not be any easy task. Challenges await them in the cosmos and within their ranks. Difficulties that may derail them long before they even reach their first planet.

Writer Al Ewing took time off from reviewing his star charts to give us some insight on this team as we eagerly await ROYALS #1.

Marvel.com: To start, the first time we spoke about this series launch, artist Jonboy Meyers had just been assigned. Now the book is nearly arriving on shelves and you’ve worked with Meyers for a bit, how has the collaboration been? What about his work has helped you realize the tone you were seeking for the book?

Al Ewing: I like Jonboy’s stuff a lot; he’s got a lot of energy to his art that really spills off the page and gives the scenes a lot of extra crackle. He’s influenced the book in a lot of ways—for one, during the original design phase he provided a whole bunch of variant outfits for each character, and I think we’re going to end up using most of them—at least as starting points.

He keeps doing it, too. I just got some great art back with a couple of Royals in some very spiffy-looking space suits, fighting Chitauri on the hull of a speeding spaceship as it hurtles past Pluto. Also, that’s happening, we’re doing that.

Marvel.com: What about Marvel Boy’s skills or natural talents makes him the right man to act as the navigator for the Royals?

Al Ewing: He’s loaded down with natural and unnatural talent. He’s got all those cockroach genes, for a start, and his personal weapons system plugs right into the Royals’ spaceship in a way I think readers will enjoy. And also, he’s the guy who knows where they’re going and what they’re going for, heading to Hala for a secret only he knows about.

Wait, only he? No, there might be another crew member who has an understanding of it—and it’s not who we think it is.

Marvel.com: In this launching of their journey, staying away from spoilers as best as you can/want to, what are some of the immediate obstacles the Royals may encounter?

Al Ewing: Death lays a bony paw on one of the team pretty much immediately. Is this the same team member who won’t come back? Who can say? It’s all riddles from me at this point.

In terms of something we can be a bit more certain about in an interview context, I mentioned Chitauri earlier. We’re not so much tying-in with Secret Empire as glancing off it at an angle—Medusa and company fly face first into the oncoming Chitauri wave as it heads for Earth. How they get out of that one is going to be one of the big Marvel moments people remember—I’m pretty confident about that—and from there, we leap right into a look into Black Bolt’s past and the uncomfortable secret he’s been keeping. So all kinds of shenanigans.

Marvel.com: Briefly, if you would, please run down each team member and their motivations for going into space and opinion about taking the journey?

Al Ewing: This is going to be super brief, so hold onto your hat.

Black Bolt’s got a secret.

Medusa’s out of options.

Gorgon needs to fight.

Crystal has her duty.

Flint is looking.

Swain is finding.

And Marvel Boy is doing it all for his oldest friend.

Also: we’re going deep into alchemical territory. I’m doing a lot of research on a lot of pretty esoteric stuff, and everything I find makes more connections.

Al Ewing and Jonboy Meyers’ ROYALS #1 heads your way on April 5, with issue #2 nipping at its heels on April 19!

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Charles Soule examines what has dissolved the bond between Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson!

Super heroes need friends, it’s as simple as that. Fighting for ideals is nice, but fighting for those you care about is better. You can beat up as many villains as you like, expose their crimes and put them in jail, but you need someone there at the end of the day who will kick back with you at Josie’s for a couple of pints.

At the moment, the friendship of Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson lies on the rocks in the current “Purple” story arc for DAREDEVIL written by Charles Soule with art from Ron Garney. Yes, Matt has his secret identity back, but how did he achieve such a feat and will it prove worth it if his once best friend Foggy doesn’t have his back? As the arbitrator between the two parties, Charles gave us his hot take on the frail friendship and the delicate secrets threatening to tear it apart forever.

Marvel.com: We’re currently in the middle of the four-part “Purple” arc where we’re dealing with the idea of Matt Murdock restoring his secret identity and the return of a classic Marvel villain in Zebediah Killgrave aka Purple Man. And that’s not even mentioning the bounty on Daredevil’s head in the “Seventh Day” arc. With all this going on, what are the ripple effects being felt on Matt and Foggy’s friendship?

Charles Soule: The “Purple” arc is designed to pull back the curtain on why Matt’s made a lot of his recent choices; not only does it explain how he got his secret identity back, but it tells you what he decided to do with it. From Murdock’s perspective, a secret identity is a tool: it’s the first time he’s been able to work full on as an attorney in a while without people knowing that he’s also Daredevil—years, really—and he’s going to use that to its fullest extent. Unfortunately, Matt’s choices also caused him and Foggy Nelson to go “on a break”—they’ve interacted a bit in the 20 or so issues of my run so far, but it hasn’t been the full-on friendship they’re known for. Things seem very strained, very tense. It’s a shame!

Marvel.com: In anticipation of issue #19 coming April 19, can you give any hints as to what caused a rift between Matt and his best friend?

Charles Soule: Well, the real explanation comes in issue #20, but honestly, the pieces have been there since issue #1. Matt has his secret ID back and Foggy doesn’t like something about the way it happened, or what Matt’s decided to do since he got it back. Foggy’s the only person in the world who knows the truth, and he doesn’t know that he’s too excited about carrying that burden. But more to come on that…

Marvel.com: Are they coming at it from a lawyerly perspective or is emotion clouding their otherwise rational minds?

Charles Soule: This one’s 100% emotion, despite what they tell themselves. Matt Murdock is a big rationalizer; after all, the fact that he’s Daredevil at all requires being able to jump through some pretty big moral hoops, especially while being a lawyer at the same time. As an attorney myself, that was always one of the things I found most interesting about Daredevil as a character. A lawyer really can’t do what Daredevil does, not ethically—and Matt certainly knows that—but he does it anyway, because he’s compelled to. That’s great stuff.

Marvel.com: There’s no doubt that these are trying times for both Matt Murdock and his vigilante persona. It sure would help to have a friend around, but he’s out of luck. How is Matt handling things without this extra support and comfort from Foggy? In other words, what does it mean to be strained?

Charles Soule: I think we’ve seen it all through the run so far. On the surface, everything seems “fine”—Matt’s being heroic, stopping bad guys, all of that. But if you look a little deeper, the man’s barely holding it together. He can’t do it alone, but he thinks he can—also great for drama. This tension has brought him back to the Catholic Church, though, which was a nice thing to be able to return to the Daredevil mix. I always thought it was interesting that Murdock had a strong religious faith as part of his character, and it’s been a little missing from his portrayals recently. The church isn’t a substitute for a best friend, though.

Marvel.com: What is more important to Matt, saving his secret identity or his friendship?

Charles Soule: I think we’re about to find out…

Get the next hints on Matt’s secret identity and friendship woes when DAREDEVIL #19 by Charles Soule and Ron Garney hits on April 19!

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A new trade paperback collection brings this mystery man to the fore!

A new Marvel collection of comic and prose stories—available now—highlight British vigilante Night Raven and a group of creators whose later work became fan-favorites, including Alan Moore, David Lloyd, Dan Abnett, and Alan Davis.

But wait—who’s Night Raven, you ask?

British editor Dez Skinn, a key figure at Marvel UK in its seminal years, walks us through the late 1970’s creation of one of the greatest heroes you’ve never heard of…in America.

“Then Marvel President Jim Galton had given me the task of making Marvel UK more homegrown-looking,” he explains. “Sales of U.S. reprint titles [in our books] were seriously sliding in comparison with indigenous material, [which was] tailored to suit the tastes of UK readers where super heroes lost out against grittier more realistic storytelling. My role was like a publishing version of those script-fixers you hear about in movies.”

Skinn suggested HULK COMIC to capitalize on the then-popular Bill Bixby “Incredible Hulk” TV series, but owing to the fact that most UK comic series stood as anthologies, a need for an array of “interchangeable” stories became evident.

“So even though it was named HULK, this 300,000 copy launch title needed a variety of non-spandex content,” he says. “New material featuring super-spy Nick Fury and a modern day knight-in-arms, The Black Knight, were no-brainers, but I’d always loved those dark and sinister pulp heroes that had all but died out in the States [by the 1960’s]. I also figured prohibition Chicago was a natural backdrop, already teeming with miscreants and ne’er do wells.”

And so, Night Raven became a comic book reality.

“Armed with a thesaurus [and] a dictionary, I ploughed through everything that had ‘night’ as a suffix,” Skinn notes. “Amidst hilarity and absurdity, I stumbled upon John Milton’s 1645 poem, ‘L’Allegro,’ with the line ‘The Night-Raven sings’.”

The editor brought together a creative team for the vigilante’s first outing in HULK COMIC #1, and they in turn dove into the new project.

“An editor is only as good as his tried-and-tested team of creators,” says Skinn. “Both David Lloyd and Steve Parkhouse had proven themselves for me on prior projects and both seemed to have an affinity to the setting for this noir series, so having decided this character would be an old-fashioned vigilante, outside of the law but meting out justice to those seemingly untouchable wrongdoers, I briefed them on the character, his branding of villains, his Milton-based calling card and his totally faceless enigmatic identity. Then as all editors should, I let them run with it.”

“What stands out most in my mind is the furious pace at which the Night Raven stories were produced,” remembers writer Parkhouse. “Weekly schedules are a uniquely British form of torment and it’s reflected in the lack of detail in those stories. They were sketches rather than full-blown portraits, but they were also challenging and at times strangely fulfilling for a fledgling writer such as myself.”

Night Raven by Steve Parkhouse and David Lloyd

Interestingly, Parkhouse worked apart from artist Lloyd, and throughout the Night Raven’s run, never met with the man face-to-face, nor spoke with him on the phone.

“I concentrated entirely on the craft of writing a coherent narrative in the space of a few frames,” he says. “The fact that people seemed to like it was a constant source of surprise to me.”

For Lloyd, his introduction to the character also came as something of a whirlwind of development.

“I was given a rough brief and the task of visualizing [the strip], but I didn’t get to see the basic template they’d created for it till I’d submitted my concepts for the character,” he recalls. “It ended up being a blend of both. I had no contact with Steve directly except for one letter. It was all done through Dez and, later, Paul Neary, who was hired as an Art Director for Marvel UK. I’m just glad I was commissioned to help with it, and make something of the basic idea, because it gained a great following of readers, and a key following for my work, which is what every creator needs early in his career.”

Night Raven’s initial fans didn’t include some Marvel executives across the pond. But despite brief resistance to Skinn’s desire to publish the vigilante’s nocturnal adventures, he made his way onto the page and into British comics history.

“I stuck to my guns and went with it anyway and was pleasantly surprised when it won an Eagle Award for best British character and best story only a few months later,” Skinn says proudly.

“I think those stories were good value for the money,” muses Parkhouse. “They weren’t particularly sophisticated by today’s standards, but they were well-crafted and quite commercial. The character himself was pretty two-dimensional, because we had no space in which to develop a back story. We focused on atmosphere and action rather than characterization.

“The fact that a new audience will see [the stories] prompts me to make a request [to potential new readers]. And that request would be: make allowances for the time and circumstances in which they were produced. We had to turn those stories around in a few days, with next to no reward. Everything was done on a shoestring. It was basically one step up from fandom. That’s no bad thing, because everything we do in our early career will set us up for things to come. So, I look back on the experience as a learning curve mixed with a certain amount of excitement when the potential story ideas fell into place.”

David Lloyd looks upon the work as an antecedent to another, perhaps better-known project of his.

“Without Night Raven there would never have been V for Vendetta,” insists editor Skinn.

“From an entirely personal point of view, I see it as the primitive, but evocative, inspiration source for V for Vendetta, because that’s what it became—V happened because I was asked to create something similar to Night Raven for a new magazine that V was developed for,” says Lloyd. “Beyond that, I see it as a great demonstration by Steve Parkhouse of simple, minimalist, comic strip writing at its highest level. He made a lot out of a few pages, with short, sharp, and effective scripting that seems almost old-fashioned now, though it’s the kind of storytelling the whole industry grew out of. The text stories are a whole different world that I had no hand in, but all of it is great fun stuff, and I loved being part of the team that brought it about!”

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Kate Leth, Amy Reeder, and Kelly Thompson speak out on several subjects!

We continue this month’s celebration of Women’s History with a roundtable discussion consisting of some of Marvel Comics’ most talented creators: Kate Leth (PATSY WALKER, A.K.A. HELLCAT!), Amy Reeder (MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR), and Kelly Thompson (HAWKEYE). We wanted speak with these creators not only to know who influenced their work but also to get an idea as to how and where they see women affecting the industry as a whole.

Marvel.com: To kick things off, I’m curious who you think are the most significant female super heroes in the Marvel Universe and why?

Kate Leth: I think that right now, Ms. Marvel, Squirrel Girl, and America Chavez are probably the most influential, at least to the women I know. I have personal favorites, of course—She-Hulk tops the list—but I think each of those three and their respective titles—including YOUNG AVENGERS—have really pushed Marvel in a new and better direction. None of them are cookie-cutter bombshells or plot devices; they’re all fully-realized and reflective of the real world.

Amy Reeder: Historically, I’d say Storm is pretty significant; talk to any random person on the street and they’ll know who Storm is. And that’s not nothing! Something about her has clearly made a lasting impression on the world, and I’m not sure if that’s her amazing design, cool powers, or just general command of presence. I would love for her to come more to the forefront than she already is. She is a true leader.

On a current note, I’d say Ms. Marvel has kicked off a whole new era of comics at Marvel, that is focusing both on the importance of representation, and the originality of story and art. It feels like we’re experiencing a renaissance.

Kelly Thompson: I think Captain Marvel is undoubtedly one of the most important characters out there for Marvel and with good reason. Storm, She-Hulk, and Black Widow are also super iconic and powerful to me. I also think some of the more atypical super hero cult favorites like Jessica Jones and Nico Minoru of Runaways, especially with TV shows—or upcoming TV shows—have the potential to leap to the front of the line. One thing I love about all of those I just listed is the variety; there’s no type there, they’re all very different characters the same way Wolverine and Spider-Man are different and that’s both important and a big change we’ve been seeing in the last five to ten years; enough female roles to see some real variety in the characters. In the end though, I think it’s impossible to understate the importance of Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel. The impact of that character is massive. She’s a game changer, and I hope it’s a permanent change.

Marvel.com: Of course, you are all currently working on female-led titles for Marvel. I recognize it’s difficult to look at your work from a historical perspective since you are in the moment as we speak. All the same, how do you think your respective titles are affecting the shape and creative direction of the Marvel Universe?

Kate Leth: I hope HELLCAT is picked up again in years to come by people who realize just how queer it is. Not just in its characters, but its sensibility. I absolutely think straight people can write gay characters, but I think that Brittney and I, who are both queer, made this book something authentic and genuine in between all the puns and crime-fighting. As our book is ending, I look to others to pick up the glittering, rainbow torch. [Laughs]

Amy Reeder: Seeing as I created Moon Girl, it’s hard not to have high hopes on that front; I hope that she will be a solid mainstay in the [Marvel] Universe and our team has been working hard to see that happen. She is currently the smartest person in the Marvel Universe! So, it’ll be interesting to see how long she can hold onto that title. She’s now featured in three video games, and I do truly hope she can find her way into film or television, if only because this would be a great opportunity to have a young black girl hero on the screen. And past that, I hope that the success of our book sets off many more titles that keep representation in mind, and I wouldn’t mind seeing more young characters as well.

Kelly Thompson: I mean, obviously, Kate Bishop should be ruling the world, right? [Laughs] More seriously, I do think you’re right that it’s really hard to know what something you’re doing will mean to people or the market in a year, let alone five or 10 years. I’d love for Kate to not only continue being a fan favorite but to also level up to solid super-star A-list status—she’s obviously well on her way to that; and I hope we’re helping to make that happen, but she’s got a ways to go before she’s a household name like Storm or Captain Marvel or Black Widow.

More broadly I’d love to see more books like HAWKEYE that are allowed to have “smaller” stories. I love a good world ending apocalypse as much as the next guy, but sometimes I want something that stands on its own a bit and feels a little more personal. Those can be tough in this cutthroat market, but I think they’re really important stories, and also happen to be some of the best—and most critically acclaimed—stories we’ve seen in recent years.

Marvel.com: Taking things in a more personal direction, which women in comics have had a significant effect on you as comics creator?

Kate Leth: I would not be in comics if it weren’t for independent creators like Kate Beaton, Jess Fink, and Emily Carroll. That’s where I found my start and inspiration, through women who did it themselves and built a career on their own terms. There are the big names, of course—Kelly Sue [DeConnick] and Gail [Simone] have been incredibly supportive and inspirational to me—but Kate and Jess and Emily gave me the guts to just get out there and make the thing.

Amy Reeder: Ai Yazawa’s Paradise Kiss made a very early and lasting impression on me and how I think comics should be. Sophie Campbell has probably affected me more than anyone else, male or female—her love for creating unique characters echoes her passion for people in general. I’ve learned a lot from [SPIDER-MAN] artist Sara Pichelli—my sketches have gotten more life in them from looking at hers.

Also, MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR artist Natacha Bustos has been blowing me away with her art. I’m floored by her ability to draw all the crazy things we’ve asked for, and at an amazing pace. I’m learning from her how to stop myself from doing too many details, all while making panels look better and with more focus.

Kelly Thompson: Kelly Sue DeConnick. She’s not only written some fantastic and hilarious comics, super hero and otherwise, but she was certainly the driving creative force behind Captain Marvel’s book, and the character becoming a definitive A-lister at Marvel comics. And from where I’m sitting that pushed the needle forward in a really important way, both for Marvel and for female characters and super heroes more broadly. I also think not enough can be said about [editor] Sana Amanat and G. Willow Wilson’s work with MS. MARVEL; that’s some once in a lifetime magic there—a perfect pairing of creators and character. Kathryn Immonen’s WOLVERINE & JUBILEE and her JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY run are so great—wild and creative and fun and unexpected. Gail Simone is obviously a legend, she paved the way for so much, made so many things possible for those of us that have joined her in comics.

And if I start listing artists that have inspired and affected me we will literally be here all day: Becky Cloonan, Fiona Staples, Sophie Campbell, Tula Lotay, Meredith McClaren, Jordie Bellaire, Stephanie Hans, Annie Wu, Brianne Drouhard, Jillian Tamaki, Amanda Conner, Babs Tarr, Pia Guerra—so, so many.

Marvel.com: Which women working in comics today do you think are really pushing the medium and industry forward?

Kate Leth: I’m gonna get real self-serving for a second and say that the Valkyries, the group I founded years ago—that is now nearly-700 members strong and much larger than me—for women working in comics retail, are making a huge difference. As the group’s evolved, members have moved into publishing and creating, but those working on the ground in shops and libraries have made a huge difference. As a unit, they’ve got power, and influence, and their concerns are being listened to. For publishers to see this and realize they need to address it and cater to it is something that didn’t exist five, 10 years ago. That matters!

In terms of creators, I think the biggest change is coming from outside the Big Two. Nobody’s made an impact like Raina Telgemeier or Kate Beaton. I think that indie creators, people making webcomics and graphic novels, are the ones to watch. Spike Trotman, Taneka Stotts—with Sfé Monster—are publishing anthologies that traditional publishers might never have wanted to touch and are seeing huge success. I mention these names quite often, but I honestly think they’re crucial to this industry. While there are lots of indie creators I’d like to see tackle Marvel stories, I’m happy to see them flourish with their own work.

Amy Reeder: Dare I say it: I think most instances of the medium being pushed forward right now is through the work of women. We have women who are making major headway in the book market, like Kate Beaton and Raina Telgemeier. Steven Universe’s Rebecca Sugar has perhaps unintentionally inspired swaths of comics hopefuls with her art style; it’s all I see with art students. Most of the books with buzz surrounding them involve women creators and/or characters.

A lot of the up-and-comers are exciting, too. This gal Hannah Blumenreich recently did a short backup story in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #25, based on her awesome webcomic Spidey Zine. She’s someone to look at. I’m also really excited about this young writer-artist Tillie Walden—she tells stories in a way I never knew I needed, but the fact is, I do.

Kelly Thompson: Anyone that can move the needle like Kelly Sue DeConnick has and sort of permanently change the conversation, is an icon and a legend as far as I’m concerned. We’re all benefiting now from a lot of hard work she put in at Marvel and continues to put in elsewhere. Her creator-owned Bitch Planet, to me, is probably the most important book in comics right now. It also happens to be fantastic. And being both important and legitimately fantastic at the same time is no easy feat!

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Dan Slott provides a post-game of reveals and revelations for Peter Parker!

At over 90 pages, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #25 packs quite a wallop, launching a brand new storyline—“The Osborn Identity”—showcasing some new talents in two delightful backup stories, and teasing the return of a certain multi-armed superior foe.

It proved such a wallop, in fact, that we could not just talk to ourselves about it. Thankfully, AMAZING writer Dan Slott answered the phone when we gave him a call.

Marvel.com: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #25 is a massive issue.

Dan Slott: You could kill a man with this! If you rolled it up—it is kill-a-man-able size!

Marvel.com: Did it feel like a really big burden coming right after Clone Conspiracy or did you feel like you needed an issue that size, with the number of stories in it, as a kind of palate cleanser or system reboot after that last storyline?

Dan Slott: Every time I do a [Spider-Man event], by the time it’s done, I’m screaming to the heavens, “I am never doing this again. Never!”

They are huge undertakings to make sure everything works out on time, to fit everyone’s schedules, and how it ties into others books. You are laying tracks for it months in advance and it all has to come together. Oh boy…I just…oh God.

For me, the fun of this was we knew were going to come out of [Clone Conspiracy] with momentum. I mean how could we not with gorgeous Jim Cheung art.

But there’s a flip side to that, which is you always get excited about the next thing. While we are talking right now, issue #26 is leaving house, issue #27 is all drawn, issue #28 is being drawn as we speak, and issue #29 is due for plot.

Marvel.com: So you’re really in the thick of it all.

Dan Slott: Yeah. And you always get excited by the shiny piece that’s coming. So it is weird to be promoting Clone Conspiracy while I’m like, “I’m off here in ‘Osborn Identity’ and it’s great! Let’s talk about that.” That’s always the danger of this.

Marvel.com: Actually that makes for a great transition. This is the start of “Osborn Identity.” Coming off something as big in scale as Clone Conspiracy, it can be hard to decide how to maintain the momentum. Given that when people think of Spider-Man, Green Goblin is one of the first villains that come to mind, was this something of a solution. Not necessarily bigger in scale, but, deeper perhaps?

Dan Slott: Oh it’s huge! We haven’t had Norman, really, in this book. He hasn’t been around since the end, basically, of SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN and even then Peter only got to face him for an issue. Even when Peter had to deal with problems with the Goblin Army in [AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #4] Norman was far off the canvas.

It’s exciting. As a writer, the only times I’ve really had a big mano-to-mano showdown with Norman was in “New Ways to Die” and that was…Dear God…when was that?

Marvel.com: It’s longer than you think, right?

Dan Slott: That was 2008….2009?

Marvel.com: Oh God.

Dan Slott: I know.

Marvel.com: The grave draws ever closer.

Dan Slott: [Laughs] For most of the time I was coming up through “Brand New Day” we couldn’t touch Norman Osborn. He was off in THUNDERBOLTS; he was off in DARK AVENGERS. And then [writer] Brian [Michael Bendis] had stories he still wanted to tell about him in AVENGERS. We got him on loan for “New Ways to Die” and a few other stories. As a Spidey writer, I didn’t really have ownership of [Osborn] until the arc in SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN and even then I was having him go up against Otto Octavius. So this has been a long time brewing for me.

As a kid who grew up—you know, little eight-year-old me, the two Megos I had were Spider-Man and Green Goblin. So this is like, “Finally, the toy is in the toy box. I get to play with him.”

Marvel.com: Everyone, when they handle a character, makes their own unique impression on them because they all have elements they think are essential to the character. For Norman Osborn, what are your essentials?

Dan Slott: Well, this is a version of Norman we have never seen in the history of Spider-Man. At the end of “Goblin Nation,” using nanite technology developed by Doc Ock and implemented by Spidey, there’s something in Norman’s system that won’t let the Goblin formula work. He’s cured.

Even back in the day when you met him as Harry’s father in the book, he was always a little—he had Goblin serum already in him, we just didn’t know it.

This is the first time Spider-Man is going up against a cold and calculating Norman Osborn without even a hint of the madness. This is a different kind of enemy. Spider-Man may have given himself his greatest threat of all. Be careful what you wish for—you thought “The Goblin serum can never work on Osborn again, yes!” But it turns out that might have been holding him back. Now this is a Norman of undivided focus. That’s not good.

Marvel.com: Being careful what you wish for seems to be increasingly a theme of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. For a while, he was very successful. He was building up his company. Now we are starting to see the return of Ben Reilly as a villain, having to reject Uncle Ben being brought back to life, having to tank his company’s reputation to stop the possibility of the degenerative virus spreading, and now a Norman Osborn free of the Green Goblin and more dangerous than ever. So one might get the feeling that your long-term plan might be to have built him up just to take it all from him.

Dan Slott: What kind of evil, evil person would do that?! Who would do that to poor Peter Parker?

Marvel.com: Without getting that far ahead of ourselves, is that an essential feature of how you view Peter? That so-called “Parker Luck” blown up to bigger proportions because he’s been playing on a bigger scale lately? This idea that, no matter what, Parker cannot win in all aspects of his life, that he has to have a tradeoff?

Dan Slott: It’s more the tradeoff. There’s so many things you could do if you had these powers, if you had these opportunities. But then, you wouldn’t be Spider-Man.

You’re Peter Parker and you kind of wake up to find Doc Ock has rearranged your life and given you this company. And then the company becomes a worldwide hit. It’s almost as instantaneous as being bitten by that spider, like a different kind of power.

And as Peter, he still buys suits off the rack, he takes a massive paycut so he’s not making much more than his middle execs, he spends so much of the resources either helping him build tools to fight crime as Spider-Man or to ensure the Uncle Ben Foundation helps people around the world. It’s like he’s going to try and use this stuff responsibly.

But it is his own special kind of goof. He’s running this company and probably not running it the best way because he’s Peter. If he has to go to a meeting and he’s swinging his way there and he sees a woman getting her purse snatched, he’s going to stop and do that.  Because he’s Peter.

Marvel.com: We see some of that this issue with him trying to balance company business with his search for Norman. It is clear that Norman gets under his skin like no other and it gives us, in the issue, a balance of the silent, meaner, darker Spider-Man and the more jokey, typical presentation. How do you find and keep the balance without the book getting too dark or undercutting the seriousness of the Osborn threat?

Dan Slott: I’ve read comics where he and Norman, like, sit down and have a laugh. To me, that personally doesn’t work for their relationship. From the moment he kills Gwen, there’s no laugh and this is a Spider-Man who just saw Gwen again and is hurting. Then Kingpin has stepped in to offer Norman on a platter. And Spider-Man is willing to chuck it all to take that opportunity.

You can’t…you can’t just stick Spidey in a box and say he is a dark urban vigilante who swings through the night to fight crime. Or he’s a jokey super hero. There’s all these different things that make up Spider-Man and all these different ways you can tell a Spider-Man story. You see Mike Deodato draw Spider-Man and that’s a specific kind of Spider-Man and [then] Humberto Ramos draws him and that’s a different kind of Spider-Man. There’s something fun about that.

Amazing Spider-Man #25 cover by Alex Ross

It’s the same way when someone talks about you Tim or me Dan, the different people that know us might describe us completely differently. Your mom is going to give a completely different description of you than your wife than your girlfriend than your English teacher than your music teacher that thought you didn’t apply yourself.

Marvel.com: That’s a little too insightful about me there Dan.

Dan Slott: Yeah [Laughs] and Spider-Man is just the same way. You have me chasing down White Rabbit with Frog-Man and him crawling out of the grave in “Kraven’s Last Hunt.” There is a wide spectrum of Spider-Man stories you can tell. I put him in outer space. [Laughs]

For me, having been on this character for this long part of the fun of it is taking a look at those different aspects for a while and seeing where that takes me.

Marvel.com: A lot of the lighter aspects of Spidey in this issue comes from his interactions with Mockingbird. As a writer, what made her a good fit for that role?

Dan Slott: I had kind of different plans for Mockingbird long-term and then seeing Stuart Immonen’s art and the light and spark he was giving her and the way [she and Spider-Man] had chemistry on the page together made me go “I’m rethinking this.” And that’s the beauty of comics.

It’s not golf. It’s not you alone. It’s a team sport and you are going to get energy from each other. You are going to bounce ideas off each other. The way I write a script and the way Stuart draws it makes it a completely different animal then it would be with another artist.

Seeing all the gifts that Stuart gave me with them in those scenes I was like, “Oh my God, I love these guys together.” I really love the Stuart Immonen Spider-Man and the Stuart Immonen Mockingbird together. They’re fantastic. I’m shipping them.

Marvel.com: One of the things you referenced earlier was how long ago it had been since we’ve seen Norman Osborn in the book and the last time we saw another character here was very long ago and that was Silver Sable in the “Ends of the Earth” storyline which, at the time, seemed to end with her dying. As we know in #25, she is back. How long did you know you were planning to bring her back and why was the time now?

Dan Slott: From the moment we killed her—with irony quotes around the “killed”—I knew how she got out. I knew what her escape was. The hardest part was keeping Rhino also off the table that long because the moment you show Rhino, you know, “Hey if Rhino’s alive, wait a second…”

I knew we were bringing the Rhino back for Clone Conspiracy. The moment he was back it was just a ticking clock. I couldn’t wait to bring back Silver Sable.

Marvel.com: Beyond the ticking clock aspect, what made this a good time to bring her back? How is a she a puzzle piece that fits well into the larger story of the “Osborn Identity?”

Dan Slott: Umm, I don’t want to answer that question.

Marvel.com: Fair enough.

Dan Slott: [Laughs] Yes, that is a question I’d like to avoid until people read #26.

Marvel.com: So, for those interested, #26 is the issue to look for?

Dan Slott: Yes. I think we are putting off telling you how she lived until #27, but you’ll find out [how she fits] in #26.

Marvel.com: After the main story, there are some shorter stories including one that runs at the end of the book like a post-credits teaser. In that one we meet the reborn and revamped Doctor Octopus.

Dan Slott: Yes!

Marvel.com: Obviously, you’ve written him a bunch. You’re written him as Otto Octavius, as Peter Parker, and now a very different Otto, physically—

Dan Slott: I’ve written him inside a very clunky robot!

Marvel.com: Yes, that’s true too. So you clearly have some affection for him. What persuades you to return to writing him time and again?

Dan Slott: Honestly—I’m sure people who write who are reading this know that sometimes the story just starts happening and you’re along for the ride and that’s when writing is the most fun. There’s that kind of fun with Doc Ock. I just don’t know what he’s going to do sometimes. Or how he’s going to react.

The amount of time I spent in Doc Ock’s head while doing SUPERIOR—it was fun! It was just fun. Part of you goes, “I don’t want the ride to end. How am I going to save him? How am I going to bring him back?”

But this is what we’ve been building to. This is how you get a Superior Spider-Man-like character for him.

Marvel.com: One thing I noticed is that he clearly is a villain for Spider-Man and knowing who Parker is has certainly made him develop a grudge. Beyond that though, I like that we are not sure how this Otto is going to break. Is he going to be a pure villain or will he be more like his Superior Spider-Man incarnation that was arrogant and mean but still looking to do good.

Dan Slott: So when this new character Tomas picks [Otto] up and drops him off at the Auto Empire…

Marvel.com: That’s a nice touch.

Dan Slott: Thanks. Yeah, it’s where old “auto bodies” are… [Laughs] I just love that. It’s so stupid, so wonderfully comic book-y stupid. That’s just bliss.

Anyway, [editor] Nick [Lowe] was like, “Are we going to see Tomas again?”

Because when Tomas drives him Otto is like, “On the day when my plans come to fruition, you will be one of the saved, Tomas!” There’s a weird kind of honor to Otto.

But now it’s got me thinking we might see Tomas again. [Otto saying], “I have converted your pickup truck to…hover mode! You’re welcome.”

Marvel.com: That would be a nice thing to do.

Dan Slott: Oh now watch me do that.

Marvel.com: I’ll look for it.

Dan Slott: [Otto’s] fun! We’re spit balling here and he’s already going to these fun places.

Marvel.com: His new look, both in and out of costume, who created that look, that appearance?

Dan Slott: That was a team effort. There was a moment in putting together Clone Conspiracy where we thought we might have put this and because of that there was a good chance that Jim Cheung was going to be drawing it and so Cheung took stabs at the designs. So the current design is mostly Jim Cheung.

There were certain things that I wanted in, like the lenses to be Doc Ock goggle shaped and for the arms not to be like spider arms but like Doc Ock arms. It is very much a suit that is a hybrid of Doc Ock suits and Superior Spider-Man suits.

Marvel.com: With the coloring, it’s a much darker green then we are used to seeing Doctor Octopus in which I mention because when he takes back his base, HYDRA is occupying it.

Dan Slott: Huh.

Marvel.com: So was that because of what was around making that shade of green available to him or are there other reasons.

Dan Slott: Huh, it is very HYDRA-ish, isn’t it?

Marvel.com: Indeed.

Dan Slott: And it is almost like HYDRA’s logo is like an octopus.

Marvel.com: That is true. It is almost like that.

Dan Slott: How odd.

Marvel.com: I feel like this is another thing we’re going to have wait on for an answer…

Dan Slott: Sorry. I will say one of the things I really liked about that 10-pager is we just came off of evil Ben Reilly and the return of Gwen Stacey to straight on into going after Norman Osborn and next up is—bam—Doc Ock. The hits keep coming. And [there will] be something coming after that! We are not going to take our foot after the accelerator in AMAZING.

If you haven’t read AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #25 yet…what are you waiting for?! It’s available now!

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