Charles Soule and Jim Cheung launch a monumental adventure for the mighty mutants!

On July 19, Charles Soule and Jim Cheung present ASTONISHING X-MEN #1! But get your exclusive first look at pages from the issue right now!

Astonishing X-Men #1 cover by Jim Cheung

Astonishing X-Men #1 preview page by Jim Cheung

Astonishing X-Men #1 preview page by Jim Cheung

Astonishing X-Men #1 preview page by Jim Cheung

Astonishing X-Men #1 preview page by Jim Cheung

Astonishing X-Men #1 preview page by Jim Cheung

ASTONISHING X-MEN #1
Writer:
 Charles Soule
Artist/Cover: Jim Cheung
Only the X-Men can save us!
An ancient evil is attacking the world’s most powerful minds. It will have them by the time you finish this sentence, and a moment later, it will have us all. A band of X-Men discovers the truth behind the threat, but there is no time left. Psylocke, Old Man Logan, Bishop, Archangel, Fantomex, Rogue and Gambit will attempt to save a world that hates and fears them. Why? Because they are the X-Men.

From writer Charles Soule joined by a roster of superstar artists beginning with Jim Cheung. ASTONISHING X-MEN. It’s the X-book you need.

On sale July 19!

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Charles Soule gives us the inside scoop on his new series roster!

A surprising rag-tag group of X-Men bands together to save our world from a new threat with results—dare we say—astonishing.

Writer Charles Soule’s new series, ASTONISHING X-MEN, hits on July 19 and it boasts double the drama, triple the mutant action, and a roster of artists to rival that of the characters. But let’s get one thing straight; you won’t find a typical X-Men story within the pages of this book. Why, you ask? We talked to Charles Soule to find out just what makes this title so different.

Marvel.com: Can you set the scene for us? What’s going on as this book kicks off?

Charles Soule: ASTONISHING X-MEN begins with an attack on the world’s psychics, both super hero-types and not. It’s vicious, and quick, and things are looking terrible from page one. We pick up the main thread of the story in London, where one of these attacks is taking place. Psylocke is at ground zero, and sends out sort of a psychic distress call to anyone nearby who might be able to help. A group of X-Men arrives to see what they can do…and we’re off.

Marvel.com: How does this book differ from other “team” books?

Charles Soule: Well, it’s not a team, really. This isn’t a group of X-Men with a mission statement and headquarters. It’s a cast of super-powered people, all of whom have been involved in questionable things in their past, coming together to try to solve a problem. Mostly, I’m writing it like a novel, or maybe a TV show; different characters have different arcs, and are more or less prominent at different times. The whole book is something like a puzzle box, with many layers of reveals; it’s not a “villain of the week” thing, really. It’s one huge story, with a lot of pieces that are all moving quickly, which start to link up or latch together as the story continues. It’s just…intense, I’d say. Focused and fast.

Marvel.com: Roll call! Give us a run down of the cast and what each member brings to the table.

Charles Soule: Psylocke, Logan—Old Man version—Rogue, Gambit, Fantomex, Mystique, Bishop, Angel. They all have their strengths as characters, but what I like about them is that they’re all sort of compromised, in a way. They all have dark moments in their past, secrets, strange interactions with the rest of the cast. Makes for some fantastic soap opera, which in turn gives real emotion and stakes to the action beats—that’s what you want, I think.

Astonishing X-Men #1 cover by Jim Cheung

Marvel.com: What brought this mismatched group together and what’s the chemistry like? Any tension to deal with?

Charles Soule: The chemistry is interesting. Psylocke had relationships with both Fantomex and Angel. Fantomex has gotten together with Mystique before. Rogue is—sort of—Mystique’s daughter. Gambit and Rogue are one of the biggest romantic couples in X-land. Angel has a dark alter ego that he’s trying to work to deal with, the Archangel. Bishop was once a genocidal murderer—he was redeemed, but you know, still. And of course, back in his home dimension, Old Man Logan killed every last one of them. So yeah…there’s some tension.

Marvel.com: What is the biggest hurdle facing our heroes and what might they do to clear it?

Charles Soule: The main villain when we begin the story is a longtime X-Men foe: Amahl Farouk, aka The Shadow King. He’s an incarnation of evil and darkness that lives primarily on another dimension called the astral plane. He does manifest in our world from time to time, and he tends to do nasty things like possess people and use their bodies, or drive people mad. He’s a true X-Men “Big Bad;” the first “dark” mutant Charles Xavier ever met, back in the day, and the reason he started the Xavier Institute, to train up mutants to fight similar threats. The astral plane is sort of the Shadow King’s domain, and it’s a place where reality can warp and shift depending on the whims of the people inside it. Amahl Farouk tends to use that quality of the astral plane as a weapon, throwing people into their worst fears. He’s a tough foe.

Marvel.com: Where are the rest of the X-Men?

Charles Soule: As I’ve mentioned, the book moves very, very fast, and most of the events in the book take place before the other X-Men have a chance to get involved, or even get to where things are taking place.

Marvel.com: Do you have any favorite moments in the series so far?

Charles Soule: Every issue is being drawn by a different superstar artist, from Jim Cheung on #1, to Mike Deodato on #2, to Ed McGuinness, [to] Carlos Pacheco, and many more. I’m writing to each artist’s strengths, and making sure that they each get to do something sort of self-contained. Issue #3 is sort of a Wolverine-centered story, for example. They all delve into a lot of X-Men history and legacy, too—so that’s been fantastic, just seeing how all these artists approach this stuff. As far as specific moments, there’s a double-spread in issue #5 that I cannot wait to see. Should be incredible.

Marvel.com: Is there anything else you can tease about what’s in store for our heroes? Any surprises headed our way?

Charles Soule: Absolutely: there’s something big about this series that I haven’t discussed anywhere at all yet—and Marvel’s been great about working with me to make sure we keep a lid on it. There’s a key element to this book that I think will have people very excited, but I think it’ll be best for fans to discover it in the book itself. My Twitter feed should be interesting that day, for sure.

Start watching all the awkward group tension and surprise battles unfold in ASTONISHING X-MEN #1, written by Charles Soule with art by Jim Cheung, out July 19.

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The Sith Lord carries out his deadly mission under the pen of Charles Soule!

Many Star Wars fans cite the instant in “Revenge of the Sith” when the clone armies turn on their Jedi comrades and mow them down as one of the most heart-breaking moments in the films. Thanks to the insidious Darth Sidious, the Jedi fell swiftly in order to give birth to his galactic empire. And that, in turn, gave us one of the greatest villains in all of pop culture: Darth Vader!

This week, Charles Soule joins up with all-star artist Guiseppe Camuncoli to bring readers to that moment in time with the new DARTH VADER series out now. But before you get your copy, read on and find out why fans find this new series to be…most impressive.

Marvel.com: Last we spoke, Charles, you mentioned your interest in Emperor Palpatine, most notably that while he may be complete evil, you didn’t find there to be a lack of complexity with him as a character. Can you explain that a little further?

Charles Soule: Palpatine has an uncomplicated goal—ultimate power!—but he goes about it in an extremely complex, subtle way. His greatest power is his ability to manipulate, and you can’t manipulate without—and this word will seem strange when describing Palpatine—empathy. You have to truly understand what makes a person tick in order to move them in the direction you want without them realizing it, and The Emperor is a master.

Marvel.com: Now, as you know from all of the stories that have emerged in the years since “Revenge of the Sith,” Order 66 didn’t exactly kill off all of the Jedi. Do you see it as a one-time initiative or more like a standing executive order?

Charles Soule: I think it was a hard-coded part of the Clone Troopers’ “operating instructions,” if that makes sense. That said, it’s certainly emblematic of the Empire’s policy towards Jedi, which is basically: kill ‘em all. Whether the few Jedi survivors end up going from a literal application of Order 66 or another way—such as a certain brand new Sith with a grudge—the end result is the same.

Marvel.com: Aside from his immense power, what else do you think positions Darth Vader to be so effective at hunting Jedi?

Charles Soule: Well, he was one, which means he knows their tactics, their weak spots, their training. He has a thorough understanding of the Jedi mindset; always useful when hunting them.

Marvel.com: I’m always finding myself struck at the difference between the two identities of Anakin Skywalker: the powerful Jedi Knight and the Sith Lord. Do you think Vader’s armored and robotic self makes him more deadly or less so? Maybe put another way: which version do you think a Jedi on the run would want to face?

Charles Soule: No one wants to face Darth Vader in any guise. If I had to choose, though, probably the armored suit would be scarier, because it has various abilities and enhancements that allow Vader to be even more terrifying than he already was. Vader’s suit can take enormous damage and keep on ticking; he’s basically a Terminator.

Darth Vader #3 cover by Olivier Coipel

Marvel.com: Just for fun, let’s say you were a young Jedi on the run from the Empire, targeted by Order 66. What methods would you employ to remain off the radar?

Charles Soule: I would never use the Force again, for one thing. But what’s the point, then? If you’re a Jedi, you are a living vessel for the Force. This might sound harsh, but I think most Jedi would rather die fighting than renounce the Force forever.

Marvel.com: Darth Vader clearly stands at the forefront of the Emperor’s arsenal to extinguish the Light Side; however, one does not become Emperor through betting on only one horse. What other resources does Palpatine have at his disposal to continue the hunt for the Jedi?

Charles Soule: Well, the massive Imperial military, for one thing; and I’m sure he’s put bounties out and all sorts of things. But his primary tool other than Vader is a group of skilled dark-side adepts called the Inquisitorius, which was introduced in the “Star Wars: Rebels” TV series. We’ll see them in the DARTH VADER comic as well—maybe even their beginnings!

Marvel.com: We come to understand that, unlike Anakin Skywalker, the clones didn’t really have a choice when Emperor Palpatine gave the command to execute Order 66. Once the effects of the programming chip cleared, how do you suppose the clones who served alongside their Jedi compatriots felt upon discovering the genocidal tragedy they helped enact?

Charles Soule: The “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” TV show did a great job of establishing that clones were somewhat individual emotionally and mentally despite their identical physiologies. So, I’d guess they had a wide variety of actions. Still, like many regular galactic citizens, they were told that the Jedi were traitors. Some probably believed that, some didn’t; I don’t think it was uniform.

Marvel.com: Ultimately, we know that Order 66 wasn’t entirely successful with Jedi such as Yoda, Obi-Wan, Kannan Jarus, and others having survived the culling. Despite the tragedy of it all, do you think there was any good that came of it? Can we find any silver lining in such wanton loss?

Charles Soule: That’s a hard no on that one. Order 66 was heartbreaking. Despite the flaws of the Jedi Order—and I think there are a bunch—it was ultimately a force for freedom, generosity and good, which was brought down by a force dedicated to selfishness and the accumulation of personal power. Just a darn shame, really.

You can get DARTH VADER #1 by Charles Soule and Giuseppe Camuncoli right now, and look for more Order 66 aftermath in issue #3 on July 12!

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Charles Soule crafts a new villain for the Star Wars galaxy!

STAR WARS: POE DAMERON #16 hits on June 28, and writer Charles Soule looks to introduce readers to Malarus, a new villain whom the Resistance’s greatest pilot will need to contend with as he and Black Squadron continue in their struggle against the First Order.

Given the strength of the villains of the Star Wars universe, we spoke with Soule about what goes into creating the right kind of scum to pit against the galaxy’s finest.

Marvel.com: The fact that the First Order consists of a massive federation with many, many people willingly supporting it rarely gets addressed. Do you see everyone in the First Order as completely evil and in need of a boltcaster shot? Or can readers can empathize with these villainous characters?

Charles Soule: The First Order is a pretty monstrous group, I think. As I see it, they’re not just a powerful military force, but they think they’re better. They’re inculcated from birth to believe that they are destined to rule the galaxy by virtue of their strength and superiority in all sorts of ways—and I think that goes from the lowest Stormtrooper all the way to the top with General Hux and Kylo Ren. That’s a recipe for all sorts of terrible acts, as we’ve seen in the films, comics, etc. They think they’re justified. That said, if you make the bad guys too one-sided they become less interesting. So, the trick is to stay true to the somewhat ravenous nature of the First Order’s ideology while also populating their ranks with people that are a bit relatable. You might not agree with what they do—hopefully—but you can see how a person can get there.

Marvel.com: We’ve seen the rise of different types of villains in the Star Wars universe; from more nuanced, complicated characters like Darth Vader and Kylo Ren to those like the completely corrupted Emperor Palpatine. Which type do you find more compelling as both a fan and as a writer?

Charles Soule: It’s interesting that you consider Palpatine less complex, and I can see that; he has one goal, and he’s going to get there no matter what: ultimate power. But, he’s just so skilled and subtle in the way he achieves that goal; evil is his instrument, and he is an absolute virtuoso. He’s one of my all-time favorite characters to write in all of Star Wars. That said, Vader and Kylo are very cool too, and it is that slight underpinning of moral complexity that gets us there. Obviously they’re all a blast to write—but something in Palpatine just speaks to me. I’m not sure what that says about me, though.

Marvel.com: Now, from a more conceptual standpoint, can you share a little of the challenges you face in fleshing out this still-new terrain surrounding the “Force Awakens” era?

Charles Soule: The biggest challenge is really that the story here isn’t done yet. There are still many questions yet to be answered about the First Order, the nature of the Force in this era, Luke’s deal, the Knights of Ren, even basic stuff like the logistics for the Resistance and the government of the New Republic. We’ve gotten bits and pieces of that from “The Force Awakens” and various additional stories—novels, comics, etc.—but the story’s still being written. In the original trilogy and prequel era stuff, most of those questions are settled, and have been for decades. Sometimes, writing in the new trilogy is like sailing through a fog-covered sea—but it’s awesome nevertheless because it’s uncharted territory. Many times, if a question hasn’t been answered yet, I get to answer it. That’s a really great thing.

Star Wars: Poe Dameron #16 cover by Phil Noto

Marvel.com: Of course, with new territory comes new characters: heroes and villains. Can you unpack the process of creating a villain to go toe-to-toe with the Resistance’s best, Poe Dameron?

Charles Soule: I’ve made up two significant bad guys to face Poe so far. One is Agent Terex, an officer in the First Order Security Bureau—sort of like their Gestapo/intelligence-gathering arm—who has a rich, layered history that goes all the way back to the days of the Empire. I’ve had 15 issues to build him up, and he’s one of my favorite creations period. He’s a monster, but he’s tragic at the same time. Then, we have Commander Malarus, who we’ve only just started to get to know. She’s pretty unique, sort of like a sadistic bodybuilder type. I asked [series artist] Phil Noto to model her after Brigitte Nielsen in “Rocky IV,” and he came through perfectly as always. She’s physically very imposing, sadistic in a very direct way, which is unlike Terex, who’s perhaps a bit more subtle in his manipulations. If Terex is a rapier, Malarus is a big two-handed claymore. In both cases, the idea is to present someone who’s a good foil both for Poe’s skill set and his personality, who you really want to see get a comeuppance. Villains are always fun.

Marvel.com: Let’s pretend for a moment that you aren’t really a mild-mannered lawyer-turned-comic writer, and instead, you’re nefarious evildoer from a galaxy far, far away. How would you go about taking down Poe Dameron?

Charles Soule: I’d hit Poe right where he lives. I’d go after BB-8. And maybe his jacket.

Marvel.com: To wrap things up, can you give us any hints as to how you think Poe will escape the plans you’ve hatched for him?

Charles Soule: There’s a certain plotline we started the series with, related to a certain galactic explorer who possesses a key portion of a map leading to a certain lost Jedi warrior, and—I’m talking about Lor San Tekka. I haven’t forgotten about that story, and while Poe’s been on a million adventures since we last saw him dealing with all of that, we’ll be getting back to it soon. I can’t wait; I love exploring the weirder, Force-related corners of the galaxy. Should be a blast!

See more of Commander Malarus in STAR WARS: POE DAMERON #16, due out June 28 from Charles Soule and Angel Unzueta!

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Charles Soule gets set to revisit the dark lord of the Sith!

One of the most iconic villains of all time gets his second, epic ongoing comic at Marvel, this time from writer Charles Soule and artist Giuseppe Camuncoli. In DARTH VADERissue #1 out June 7—things pick up right after the last shot of “Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.” The Jedi are no more and Lord Vader finds himself lightsaber-less. What comes next? A deep dive into the Dark Side, the fledgling Galactic Empire, and a man who must now hide his humanity away from the terrible pain of reality.

Soule fills you in on the hottest Star Wars event to hit shelves since the twin suns of Tatooine came into existence or that time the lava of Mustafar burned Anakin to a crisp…

Too soon?

Marvel.com: So how did you feel when you found out you’d be writing a comic series for not only the most iconic villain in the Star Wars universe, but one of the most iconic villains in pop culture in general?

Charles Soule: You really can’t put something like that into words, and yet it’s a sensation I’ve felt a number of times while working for Marvel; not just on the Star Wars books, but on all their icons in general. Vader, though…it’s pretty special. He’s loomed large in my imagination since I was a little kid, which is something I share with people all over the world. So, getting to tell a big story about him, especially with the iconic elements I’ll be adding to his mythology—it’s still kind of hard to believe. I’m lucky.

Marvel.com: What were some of the preparations/challenges needed in writing for this particular Star Wars character that weren’t involved for, say, Poe, Obi-Wan, or Lando?

Charles Soule: I had to think quite a bit about what it would mean to write a character who has no heroic qualities whatsoever. Vader isn’t an antihero; he’s an evil character who does evil things and feels no remorse. So, I had to adjust my instincts a bit; virtually every other character I write, even the “scoundrels,” have heroic elements. Vader has none. Every time I wanted to maybe lighten things up for him a bit I just decided to do the opposite. It’s been working fairly well so far.

Marvel.com: This series takes place immediately after the events of “Revenge of the Sith”. Did you have “Episode III” playing on repeat in the planning stages of this comic?

Charles Soule: “Episode III” is probably my favorite of the prequels; there’s a lot to love about it, as far as I’m concerned. So, I’d already watched it a number of times, but I did watch it again prior to getting started. I also read a number of the tie-in novels that feature Vader, re-read Kieron Gillen’s wonderful series, and watched “Rogue One” a few times as well. Lots of “homework,” if you can call something so enjoyable anything like work.

Marvel.com: Did you hear James Earl Jones’s voice in your head during the writing process? If so, what was he saying?

Charles Soule: I absolutely do hear Vader’s voice as I write the series, although Vader doesn’t talk very much, which is by design. He’s deep in his own head here, and unless there’s a reason to talk, he doesn’t. I also hear Palpatine’s voice pretty clearly when I write his scenes, and often read his dialogue aloud in my approximation of Ian McDiarmid’s wonderful performance—always a good time.

Darth Vader #1 cover by Jim Cheung

Marvel.com: That shot of Vader screaming “NOOOOOOOOOOOO!” near the end gets a lot of flack online, but I always found it a really powerful moment about the realization of immense personal loss—the real death of Padme and the alleged death of his progeny—especially with John Williams’ musical accompaniment. Can you talk a little bit about how that theme will play into his motivations in this series?

Charles Soule: That moment is where this series begins, and you’re right: Vader has lost everything. His mentor, the Jedi Order, the love of his life, his physical body, even his lightsaber. That “NOOOO!” moment is him realizing that, and then he immediately locks himself down. He gave himself that one moment to consider what he’d lost, but then he’ll never think about it again—or that’s his plan, anyway. In other words, he decides to become a machine-like killer in that moment, almost as a defense mechanism. Vader needs to dive as deeply as he can into darkness, because being in the light would let him see his own monstrous deeds a bit too clearly.

Marvel.com: Who will he turn to in these troubling times to assuage his grief and anger?

Charles Soule: No one. Vader is alone.

Marvel.com: This is obviously a much fresher Vader who isn’t as seasoned as we see him in the original trilogy. What’s going through this newly-created Sith Lord’s helmeted head? How does his mindset here differ from the one we recently saw in Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larocca’s run on the character between “A New Hope” and “Empire”? Is he a little more naive?

Charles Soule: I wouldn’t say naïve, but he definitely has some work to do before he builds up to really being able to use his new suit and dark side skills to the degree we see in “Rogue One” or “Rebels,” for example. That said, he’s still one of the most powerful Force-users in the galaxy, so he’s pretty amazing at what he does, even at the start.

Marvel.com: In the first arc we’ll see the origin of Vader’s infamous red lightsaber, which we all saw in that epic final scene in “Rogue One.” How did you decide for this to be the first storyline of this series?

Charles Soule: It was right there waiting to be picked up, honestly. We know that Obi-Wan Kenobi took Anakin’s blue saber at the end of “Episode III,” which means Vader doesn’t have his primary weapon as we start this series. I didn’t want to write a Vader book where he doesn’t have a lightsaber, so I thought that was a problem to be remedied—and fortunately Lucasfilm agreed that it was the way to go!

Marvel.com: What teasers can you provide about this lightsaber plot line and lightsaber lore overall? Will we be taking a field trip to the kyber crystal mines on Jedha?

Charles Soule: We won’t see Jedha, but we may see some other iconic locations from the Star Wars mythos. Turns out there’s a whole process for getting a red lightsaber, and it involves some significant trials for Lord Vader; it’s a great place to start the series, I think.

Marvel.com: What thing are you most looking forward to elucidating with this comic that Vader fans may not have considered before?

Charles Soule: This may sound counter-intuitive because it’s not strictly about Vader, but I’m interested and excited to show Palpatine’s young Empire. It’s really just been established as of “Episode III,” so there’s a lot of iconography and infrastructure that needs to be put in place. Should be fun to tell some stories based around that idea.

Join Charles Soule and Giuseppe Camuncoli for an all-new DARTH VADER #1 on June 7!

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Charles Soule shares some intel on the major mutant milestone coming in July!

Ready to be astonished?!

This July, Charles Soule joins a series of the industry’s best artists as they prepare to unleash ASTONISHING X-MEN! Last month, we spoke with the writer about his upcoming work on the series relaunch after its four-year hiatus, and now we return to try and pry some extra details from him about what he and his collaborators have in store for not only readers but also this brand new configuration of the X-Men.

Marvel.com: Charles, last month the news broke that you’d be spearheading the re-launch of ASTONISHING X-MEN. From those early news releases, we learned you’d be taking readers to “all corners of the X-Men mythology” according to Editor-in-Chief, Axel Alonso. Can you shed a little light on what this means for both new and long-time fans of mutantkind?

Charles Soule: I don’t want to give away too much of the story yet, because ASTONISHING X-MEN is designed to work as a series of reveals. Every time you think you know what’s happening, the script gets flipped a bit, usually around the last page of each issue. It’s like a puzzle box: part of the fun is figuring it all out. That said the book does do a lot with what I think of as X-Men touchstones—significant events in the lore, characters new and old—but rarely the way you think. I call it “weaponized nostalgia.” It’s all explained and laid out, though. Even if you’ve never read an X-Men comic before, it’ll just work as a fun adventure.

Marvel.com: I understand you’re looking to make this book just as much of an “entry-point” title for newer readers as it will be a satisfying experience for long-time fans of these characters. How do you strike that balance between seemingly opposite readerships?

Charles Soule: Not easily! But really, it’s about making sure that (a) each character’s powers are clearly noted or explained when they first appear, (b) writing them like real people who act towards each other the way they should based on their respective histories, and (c) having “nostalgia” or “homage” bits work in and of themselves. Like, if you see someone look at a photo of another character and get sad, that works for someone who knows exactly why they’re sad, but also someone who doesn’t, if it’s written correctly. I’m spending a lot of time on this specific aspect of the book. I don’t think you should need a degree in X-Men-ology to enjoy X-Men comics, but I think having that degree should enhance your enjoyment.

Marvel.com: If we don’t talk about the art, then we’re not talking comics! And this particular series will be taking a rather unique approach to the visuals. Can you walk us through the genesis behind the choice to introduce a new artist with each issue and why you and Marvel as a whole felt this was the strongest way to tell the story you’ll be sharing in ASTONISHING X-MEN?

Charles Soule: Well, again, there’s a story conceit I don’t really want to spoil yet, but I think it will work really well, in part because Marvel is staffing the series with an incredible batch of artists. We start off with Jim Cheung and just go from there, all amazing—or…astonishing, even. I’m tailoring each script to each artist’s strengths, to the extent I can. It’s pretty exciting for me, sort of a high-wire act, to make sure each artist gets what they need to draw a great issue but the overarching story gets served as well. Again, not easy, but fun.

Marvel.com: Although this is a series that you’re structuring to appeal to both new and old readers, I understand you’re dipping deep into the archives of the X-Men’s rogues’ gallery in raising The Shadow King to the forefront as the initial “Big Bad,” and someone who fans could even credit as being the original inspiration for Xavier’s creation of the team.

What made him the right choice for you when it came to launching this new series?

Charles Soule: The Shadow King was the first “evil” mutant Charles Xavier ever encountered, and as we saw way back in UNCANNY X-MEN #117 in 1979, he’s essentially the reason Xavier decided to train up other mutants to fight emerging threats in the world. The nice thing about The Shadow King is that he resides in a place called the astral plane, which is sort of a dream dimension where anything anyone imagines can become real. So, battles there tend to be about willpower; the person who can impose their reality on their opponents, force them to believe in whatever situation they’re projecting onto them, tends to win. In ASTONISHING, we’ll see some fantastic set pieces built around that idea, some of which will tie into signature past events from X-Men history. It’s not all backwards-looking, though. This is a story that moves the X-Men forward in a huge way.

Marvel.com: Although you’ve certainly worked with your fair share of mutants in your time at Marvel, Charles, I believe your time with this particular group is more limited, no? What aspects of these characters made them the right ones to engage in this journey?

Charles Soule: That’s correct. Except for Mystique, I’ve never really written any of this group to any real degree, unless you count Old Man Logan and Wolverine as the same character; they’re not, although of course there are similarities. I like this cast because it gives me an immense amount to work with as far as their interpersonal relationships. Rogue and Gambit have a long history together, romantic and otherwise. Mystique raised Rogue for a while. Fantomex and Angel have both been linked with Psylocke. Old Man Logan probably killed all of these folks back in his own universe. And on and on it goes. The power set is varied, they’re all super cool in different ways—it’s a rich stew, and I feel like I can do a ton with it. I should also say that the eight characters on the cover of ASTONISHING X-MEN #1 are not the only X-Men that will appear in the series, but they’re definitely the leads.

Marvel.com: Before we wrap up, I want to lob one “fastball special” your way. There’s always a concern among comic book fans about consequences. With a new series launch, we expect a certain amount of bombast, but what sort of consequences have you baked into the story you’re preparing to launch? In what ways does this story not only matter, but why is it one that’s going to be a “must read” for X-Men fans of all kinds and varieties?

Charles Soule: I think that will all be made clear on the last page of ASTONISHING X-MEN #1. I think I’m known for writing a certain kind of X-book, after DEATH OF WOLVERINE, DEATH OF X and IVX. ASTONISHING X-MEN is no exception. If people want consequences, they’ll get ‘em.

Charles Soule and the top artistic talent in the comics industry bring you ASTONISHING X-MEN, beginning in July!

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Announcing Cheung, Garney, ACO, Noto, Land, Rosanas and more bringing the story to life!

It shouldn’t be too astonishing that the X-Men are as popular as they are. After all, their collection of diverse of mutants offers a never-ending grab bag of super powered mayhem that usually goes toward saving the day–when they’re not too busy butting heads with the Inhumans, that is. Simply put, there is no shortage of classic “X-Men” content and one particular title is about to re-enter the limelight.

After a four-year hiatus, Marvel is bringing back the “Astonishing X-Men” series this summer under the confident pen of writer, Charles Soule who’s not too worried that he’s got some big shoes to fill. We’re also excited to announce that Jim Cheung, Ron Garney, ACO, Phil Noto, Greg Land, Ramon Rosanas and more will be bringing the serialized, ongoing story to life with some incredible artwork.

Get pumped for the returning title by checking out our interview with Charles who discusses the book’s iconic cast, its use of the entirety of Marvel history and how the series will mutate under his skilled direction.

Marvel.com: “Astonishing X-Men” is a title whose original run spanned from the mid-1990s to 2013. What was the most exciting part about being the person responsible for relaunching it?

Charles Soule: “Astonishing” is one of the fundamental “X”-titles for me, especially the Whedon/Cassaday run. It’s some of the best “X-Men” storytelling of all time. So, exciting, yes – also somewhat terrifying. But like any book I take on, I’ll do my best.

Marvel.com: Over the years, the series was written by a litany of big Marvel creative minds like Joss Whedon, Warren Ellis, Marjorie Liu and Greg Pak. How were you hoping to approach it differently than these writers did in the past? How did you pour your own heart and, forgive me, soul into the writing?

Charles Soule: I’d like to think that any story I do will be different from the other incredible talents who have worked under this banner in the past, just because I’m not them. This sort of “Murderer’s Row” legacy isn’t anything new to me, though – from my very first Marvel project (“Thunderbolts”) to Daredevil to pretty much everything I’ve done, I’ve been working on titles that have superstar creators in their past. You just put your head down and write your story and hope that it can stand next to the other books in the line.

Marvel.com: Going off that, can you talk a little bit about the artistic vision you had for the look and feel of the series?

Charles Soule: I mostly want it to feel epic. I’m trying to go as big as I can both for character moments and “page-feel,” if that’s a term I can coin. I remember when Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch were working in what was termed “widescreen” back on their “Ultimates” project. I’d say it’s something like that, but within every massive beat there’s a character moment (or ten) to back it up. Mostly, I wanted to anchor “Astonishing X-Men” in the real world, so-to-speak. Many times the big superhero stories take place away from population centers, especially mutant stories. I get it – a superhero slugfest with a bunch of civilians around complicates things immensely. I’ve done it myself many times. Setting your battle scene on a remote glacier solves a lot of storytelling problems. However, I think the X-Men are at their best story-wise when they’re not only fighting super-villains, but their activities are seen through the lens of the human world. So, we’ll get a lot of that here – a lot of the action takes place in the heart of London, with all the attendant repercussions. Good times all around.

Marvel.com: We know the series will feature a veritable Who’s Who of fan favorite X-Men (i.e. Old Man Logan, Archangel, Mystique, Rogue, Gambit, Psylocke and Fantomex), but what can you tell us about the villains being featured in the story?

Charles Soule: Not too much just yet… but we’ll get there! I want it to feel like a nice reveal, but the way the story is designed I can pull in bad guys from literally any era of Marvel history. The book is built like a bit of a puzzle box, with multiple layers of reveals. Part of the fun of certain “X”-stories is speculating about what’s really going on, and this is definitely one of those.

Marvel.com: Now onto the heroes. What was the decision process behind choosing these specific characters to make up this team other than being adored by fans and veterans of the original run?

Charles Soule: It’s a mix of characters who I really wanted to write and characters who hadn’t been seen in a bit, or both! I wanted a bunch of people I knew I could write well, but who also had lots of history with each other. All of these people have been “bad guys” at one point or another – checkered pasts all around. Many of them have dated each other, or have been in love triangles… it’s just a feast of drama, and the soap opera stuff is part of what makes the X-Men great. It’s fun to write all these folks, especially in a really focused story like I’m telling in Astonishing. The book has a specific point, story and end goal… which you’ll see soon enough!

Marvel.com: Will we be seeing a different team dynamic than we’ve seen in the past and were there any specific characters you had a blast writing?

Charles Soule: I’ve said this before, but this book doesn’t have a team. It has a cast. It doesn’t have a leader, either. It’s like a novel, or a film, or a TV series. There are characters who are more or less prominent from scene to scene, but this isn’t a story about superheroes coming together with a shared goal to fight bad guys, with a base, and cool coordinated costumes and so on. This is a bunch of flawed, extremely powerful individuals who find themselves in the same place at the same time as something very intense and potentially world-ending happens. Then, we see what they do next. It’s a pretty cool ride, I think.

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Charles Soule guides the Man Without Fear through the legal system!

It may be a cliché that not all heroes wear capes, but can super heroes still be champions for good when they’re not running around in costume saving the day? That’s exactly what Matt Murdock seeks to prove in the upcoming “Supreme” arc of DAREDEVIL from writer Charles Soule. He’s foregoing the usual red, skin tight number in favor of a simple suit and tie as part of a plan to take care of crime in New York with the legitimate fists of the legal system.

However, Matt’s tour de force of lawyerly prowess could prove to be the undoing of not only the bad guys, but all of New York’s vigilantes as well. Even his recently recovered secret identity stands at stake in this story, which promises to be an explosive courtroom drama chock full of surprises, exciting cameos, and homages to classic sitcom tropes.

Since Charles practices as an attorney, we asked him to make a few opening statements on behalf of “Supreme.” He’s far from resting his case, your honor. In fact, it’s just waking up.

Marvel.com: In this story arc, Matt has a plan to take care of crime in Manhattan via the legal system as opposed to his vigilante work as Daredevil. As a practicing lawyer and fellow Columbia Law graduate, were the specifics for this arc drawn from your own experiences as an attorney? If so, can you go into detail about your inspirations without breaching attorney-client privilege?

Charles Soule: I’ve been building to this story since I first started thinking about my run [on DAREDEVIL]. This has been what it’s all been about, from the start. This is why Matt joined the DA’s office, it’s what he decided to do with his secret identity, all of it. He has a plan based on a particular area of criminal law that I came up with when I was doing my initial research, talking to people who’ve worked in the Manhattan DA’s office, etc. The funny thing—while I am a practicing attorney, I don’t work in this particular area, and so I am sure I’m screwing stuff up as far as the specifics. That’s okay, though, I have a wonderful crutch to rely on for that stuff: “Law is a little different in the Marvel Universe.”

Marvel.com: Are there any holdover repercussions from the “Purple” arc that centers around Matt trying to hold onto his secret identity?

Charles Soule: The whole “Supreme” arc is all about it. We learned in “Purple” what Matt did to put his identity as Daredevil back in the bottle, and in “Supreme” all of that is put at risk. We understand the stakes.

Marvel.com: What is the climate like in New York City to allow Matt to take this route rather than just beat the snot out of bad guys as Daredevil?

Charles Soule: Beating up bad guys is great, but it’s a one-at-a-time sort of solution. Every once in a while maybe you can take down a big player like an Owl or even a Kingpin, but just because you beat someone up doesn’t mean they will actually get convicted of a crime and go to prison. Matt’s plan here is designed to bring his vigilante work and his legal work closer together—and not just for him, but for everyone like him. The Spider-Mans, the Blindspots, the Ms. Marvels— everyone with a secret identity working in New York as a vigilante could be affected by what he’s doing.



Marvel.com:  Moreover, how does he feel about the possibility that the city may not need the hero after this case is over?

Charles Soule: He’s not worried about that at all. New York will always need heroes.

Marvel.com:  The criminal underworld can’t be happy about this trial. What action will they be taking to stop Matt?

Charles Soule: Stay tuned. That’s a huge part of the story. We’ll see some great bad guy appearances here, including the return of a fun Z-lister from the 90s, another long-demanded character from my SHE-HULK run with Javier Pulido, and another massive Daredevil bad guy I haven’t used yet.

Marvel.com: The irony of Daredevil needing to take the stand and testify is a bit of a two-dates-to-the-prom—or courtroom in this case—situation for Matt. How will he go about handling that particular dilemma?

Charles Soule: That’s issue #22—and man, it’s fun to write that stuff. Classic silly sitcom with super heroes material.

Marvel.com: Luke Cage and Echo will be guest starring in this arc. What will their roles be in this case? Will they be taking to the stand and should we prepare for any other cameos?

Charles Soule: They show up early, but we shift away from them to allow for some other folks to appear. I’m trying to get in a bunch of cool cameos here; don’t want to spoil it, but I had Daredevil appear in a big three-part story in my SHE-HULK run. It might be time to return that favor…

Charles Soule kicks off “Supreme” in DAREDEVIL #21, coming this June!

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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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Charles Soule investigates the early years of the Star Wars legend!

Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father, but Charles Soule will!

This June, the writer teams with artist Giuseppe Camuncoli to take the lead on Marvel’s new Star Wars series, DARTH VADER. With the news out and fan interest on the rise, we sat down with Soule to take an in-depth look at what readers will encounter in his and Camuncoli’s take on Palpatine’s last and greatest apprentice.

Marvel.com: Before digging into all things Sith, I have to ask: How do you get yourself mentally in the game to begin writing something in the world of Star Wars?

Charles Soule: At any given moment since I was about five years old, Star Wars has occupied a non-insignificant portion of my mental game as it is—so writing Star Wars stories is really just about ratcheting that up a little bit. I do like to watch the movies/shows relevant to the time period I’m exploring, and I’ve done my best to read all of the novels that have been released since the start of the new canon period; and of course the comics, which are all pretty darn fantastic.

Marvel.com: Does it ever worry you when you think about the fact you’re writing Star Wars canon? What sort of pressures does that create for you?

Charles Soule: I was nervous at first, when I got my first gig to write the LANDO [limited series]. You don’t want to screw things up, you know? But the truth is, Star Wars is broad and deep, and it was really about realizing that nothing I could do was going to break it. That’s especially true because of the great people at the Lucasfilm Story Group, whose job it is to make sure I can’t break Star Wars. Really, it’s just a blast, even the really high-canon things like [STAR WARS: POE DAMERON] or this new DARTH VADER series. It’s a privilege, not a burden.

Marvel.com: Charles, you’ve written OBI-WAN AND ANAKIN as well as POE DAMERON and LANDO. Now, you’ll be taking on the Dark Lord of the Sith himself in his second series, DARTH VADER, alongside Giuseppe Camuncoli this June. How did this opportunity come about? 

Charles Soule: They asked and I said yes! This time period, set immediately after Star Wars: Episode III, is very fertile ground for Star Wars, and it’s largely unexplored. Lucasfilm and Marvel wanted to do more with Darth Vader, especially after his prominent appearances in Rogue One and Rebels, and I’m just the lucky jerk who got the call.

Marvel.com: Why was placing your story in the context of that period just after Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith the best starting point for you?

Charles Soule: In any story, comics or otherwise, you want drama and conflict, and you want your protagonist to have a compelling goal or challenge to overcome. By setting the VADER series in this part of the timeline – when he’s just gotten into the armor after his defeat at Obi-Wan’s hands, we get all of that. Darth Vader has lost everything, including—basically—his body and face. He’s trying to discover, at a basic level, what he is. It’s a fantastic story to be able to tell: a terrifyingly powerful dark wizard with absolutely nothing left to lose, and a galaxy to subjugate. Doesn’t get much more epic than that.

Marvel.com: Given the starting point of the series, we’ll no doubt see a young Darth Vader seek to prove himself to his new master, Emperor Palpatine, as he hunts down any remaining Jedi still alive after Order 66. Is there any lingering doubt about his master’s trustworthiness or does Vader remain “all in” at this point?

Charles Soule: Vader’s all in. I mean, what else does he have, from a psychological perspective? Palpatine is all he’s got left to cling to; he offers him a role, a place, power. This is Darth Vader at a very low point, really. All he wants is what Palpatine will give him: the excuse to immerse himself in rage and pain. Why question it?

Marvel.com: One area that often goes unexplored is the relationship between Vader and Sidious: Will we see the type of training Vader experiences under the tutelage of his master?

Charles Soule: Some; there are things Vader hasn’t yet had time to learn about Sith mythology and techniques. Really, though, Darth Vader is already a Dark Lord of the Sith. He knows everything he needs to know, and he’s got incredibly high-level skills. That’s part of why Palpatine took him as his apprentice in the first place. There’s a reason he’s called “Lord Vader” in Episode III, though. He might need to get used to the suit, but he’s pretty fully formed here.

Marvel.com: Looking at his mission—to seek and destroy the remaining Jedi—are there any well-known Jedi knights or masters left that we might encounter?

Charles Soule: Maybe! But if so, there’s no way I would spoil that here!

Marvel.com: Naturally, one needs the right tools to kill a Jedi, namely, a lightsaber. The journey to construct a lightsaber was often one of the final stages for a youngling before they would be graduated to the rank of padawan. How then does Vader go about completing this journey on his path to becoming a Sith lord?

Charles Soule: This is the first arc, and it’s a doozy. Like—as far as we can tell—almost everything about being a Sith, it’s about anger and pain. It’s exciting, though; it’s not easy for Vader to accomplish his goal here, not by a long shot.

Marvel.com: If you look at the fighting style of Anakin in Revenge of the Sith and then compare it to his new form as Darth Vader, there are some clear differences no doubt resulting from the addition of the heavy, robotic armor. What other adjustments to his life as a man and warrior do you explore?

Charles Soule: I would say that the first arc—and to a degree further into the series—is about Vader taking ownership of his new identity. He’s Vader physically, and mostly psychologically as well, but we might get some fine-tuning happening here. I don’t want to dwell too much on angst, though. Other than the first page of the series, for example, we won’t have any “thought captions” for him. Everything we learn about Vader comes from what he does, and to a lesser extent, what he says; although he doesn’t talk much either. I’m writing him something like Jason in “Friday the 13th”: just an unstoppable force, the last thing you ever want to see—and if you do, it’s most likely the last thing you’ll ever see.

Marvel.com: One thing that struck me about the current Star Wars: Rebels television series is how established the Inquisitor program was and how closely it seemed to resemble a sort of apprentice breeding ground. Is this something you’ll be exploring in your series, and if so, what role will Darth Vader play in its development?

Charles Soule: Yes…but I don’t want to say much more than that at this point. The Inquisitors are definitely part of the book, and we’ll learn much more about the entire Inqusitorius program and how Vader fits into it—in time.

Marvel.com: Final question! Although the setting will be different from the previous DARTH VADER series, what else do you think separates this particular story about Darth Vader from those which preceded it?

Charles Soule: I’m writing it! Giuseppe Camuncoli is drawing it—and doing an incredible job, by the way! Beyond that, we’ll let the readers decide.

DARTH VADER dives into the early years of the Sith Lord beginning this June from Charles Soule and Giuseppe Camuncoli!

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