Charles Soule weaves the complex web of Charles Xavier’s return!

Ever since Cyclops apparently killed Professor X back in 2012’s AVENGERS VS. X-MEN #11, Charles’s consciousness has been forced to cling to life in the astral plane. What kind of impact has this had on him? How will it affect his decisions moving forward?

On January 3, writer Charles Soule and artist Phil Noto begin to answer those queries with ASTONISHING X-MEN #7! In “A Man Called X,” the mutants finally get their reunion—but it may not be exactly what they’ve expected.

We contacted Soule via telepathy to hear more about what to expect in the new issue.

Marvel.com: How has Professor X changed since we saw him last? Will we see a different Charles when he returns?

Charles Soule: As we’ve seen in ASTONISHING X-MEN thus far, Xavier’s spirit, or soul, or life force (depending on how you want to think about it) got taken after his death by one of his oldest and most powerful adversaries—Amahl Farouk, The Shadow King. Farouk brought Xavier’s spirit to his home, in the bizarre parallel dimension called the Astral Plane, where anything you imagine becomes real. So, since his death, Xavier has been held prisoner on the Astral Plane, with The Shadow King toying with him in all sorts of terrible ways. Even worse—time runs differently in Farouk’s dimension, so even though it’s only been a few years since Cyclops killed Xavier in the AVENGERS VS. X-MEN story, for poor Professor X it feels like it’s been millennia.

Marvel.com: What can you tease about how he’ll make his comeback?

Charles Soule: When we pick up the story in ASTONISHING X-MEN, Farouk and Xavier get embroiled in a sort of psychic chess game, with a group of X-Men (Old Man Logan, Psylocke, Fantomex, Rogue, Gambit, Bishop, Angel, and Mystique) as the pieces. The Shadow King plays the game to pass the time, and also to hopefully build himself a pathway out of the Astral Plane so he can wreak havoc in our world. Xavier does his best to beat him…but The Shadow King holds all the cards. We’ll see how it goes.

Marvel.com: Charles has a plan…but it sounds like not everyone supports it. What kind of push back will he face?

Charles Soule: As the story has developed, we’ve seen that the battle on the Astral Plane has had effects that have rippled out into our world, especially in London, where the story takes place. Some sort of psychic infection has been spreading rapidly among the city’s populace (including Bishop!), and the human authorities with the British Ministry of Defence look set to take drastic action to stop it from going any further. Beyond that, Gambit and Logan have both been possessed by The Shadow King and have gone around murdering people, and Archangel looks to be on the verge of losing his mind.

So…things are bad. If Xavier might somehow fix all this, it’ll take drastic measures. We’ll see if the cure will be worse than the disease.

Marvel.com: A lot of readers consider Xavier a favorite. What have you enjoyed about bringing him into this story?

Charles Soule: I like the fact that he’s really very morally grey. He’s not Magneto, but he’s not as far from him as he’d like to think—and the stories we’ve seen with him really bear that out. Xavier is brilliant, incredibly gifted, and always 10 steps ahead. That’s the kind of character I love to write. Also, I just missed him in the stories. Professor X is cool.

Marvel.com: What else would you like to mention?

Charles Soule: We have some fantastic artists coming up on the series for its back half, including my longtime partner on the POE DAMERON series, Phil Noto, for issue #7, and someone I’ve been dying to work with on issue #10—ACO.

Issue #6 ends Act I of the series, “Life of X,” but then we move right into Act II: “A Man Called X,” which flips the story a bit and makes it about something new that will feel completely organic with what we’ve already seen. And then there’s Act III…which will be the culmination of the whole thing. It’s been a blast to construct a series like this, and I hope people enjoy seeing where it goes.

Witness the return of Charles Xavier in ASTONISHING X-MEN #7, by writer Charles Soule and artist Phil Noto, on January 3!

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Charles Soule runs down the talented squad Poe has watching his back.

Resistance pilot Poe Dameron’s embarking on a new mission in STAR WARS: POE DAMERON #21, out November 21, and he’s going to need all the help he can get to score his ultimate target, the mysterious Lor San Tekka.

Good thing Black Squadron’s got his back.

They’ve had their ups and downs over the course of the series, even lost members, but the men, women, and droid of Black Squadron also have someone to back them up, namely writer Charles Soule. He knows the ins and outs of their strengths and weaknesses, and he’s ready to tip his hand to light them up for your illumination and edification.

Snap
“Temmin ‘Snap’ Wexley has been fighting evil in the galaxy since he was a little kid, as we saw from Chuck Wendig’s great ‘Aftermath’ trilogy of Star Wars novels, set right after ‘Return of the Jedi,’” says Soule. “He fought the Empire, and knows how important it is to prevent anything like them from rising again. So, he’s got enormous strength and resolve. He can be a little impulsive, though—he’s not always in control of his emotions—and it gets him into trouble.”

Poe Dameron (2016) #21

Poe Dameron (2016) #21

Jess
“Jessika Pava is fantastic!” raves Soule. “I love writing her. She’s a gearhead, who’s always tinkering with her ship and modifying it to make everything run more powerfully, better, faster. She talks tough and fights tougher. That also lends itself to her main weakness, though, which is that she always needs to feel like she’s in control—that stems from events in her childhood. If she doesn’t, her effectiveness goes way down, to the point where she almost collapses, psychologically.”

Karé
“Karé Kun is just one of those hyper-competent badasses you want on your side in a fight” Soule offers. “She’s been flying with Poe since before the Resistance was formed, and knows her job inside and out. However, sometimes she gets too job-focused, and forgets she isn’t just part of a machine. Black Squadron is a fighting force, but it’s also sort of a family, and she’s not always sensitive to that.”

BB-8
“BB-8 has no flaws!” insists Soule. “He is all strength, and I will hear nothing different!”

Suralinda
“Suralinda Javos is extremely smart, she can handle herself in a fight and, oh yeah, she can spit venom—literally,” Soule says. “Sura was a journalist in the New Republic, and an old friend of Poe’s who has been swayed to the cause of the Resistance by the evil she’s seen committed by the First Order. She’s got a lot of strengths, but she’s also the kind of person who will move into grey areas all the time if it thinks it will help her accomplish her goal. She’s definitely an ‘end justifies the means’ gal. That’s a slippery slope—but I love her anyway.”

Poe Dameron (2016) #22

Poe Dameron (2016) #22

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Charles Soule addresses Kingpin’s campaign for Mayor of New York City!

Talk about your eye-opening moments: Wilson Fisk—the infamous Kingpin—wins the office of Mayor of New York City and Daredevil’s powerless from stopping his old enemy from running roughshod over the town he loves…right? We checked in with writer Charles Soule to see if good things truly can happen to bad people in DAREDEVIL #595—coming November 8—or if Mayor Fisk has to be blind not to see what problems the Man Without Fear can cause him.

Marvel.com: So, Charles, can you fight City Hall in the Marvel Universe?

Charles Soule: If anyone might have a chance, it’s Daredevil, aka New York District Attorney Matt Murdock. After all, he’s armed with more than just his incredible fighting skills and enhanced senses—he has what might be the strongest power of all: a thorough understanding of the legal system. That’s not to say it’ll be easy, of course—the Mayor’s office is incredibly powerful in New York City, with city agencies at its beck and call—including, of course, the NYPD. Should be a hell of a fight.

Marvel.com: To say the least! But where’s Matt’s head at as he goes into this storyline? What’s he dealing with that might complicate his approach to the Fisk administration?

Charles Soule: Matt feels, to a degree, like his city has gone insane. Either that, or much more likely, Kingpin pulled one of his trademark shenanigans and rigged the system somehow. In either case, the place he’s sworn to protect has turned against him in some ways, and he’s having a hard time understanding or dealing with it. Plus, of course, Wilson Fisk knows that the costumed heroes are a huge threat to his plans, and he’ll take immediate steps to shut them down. Should be amazing.

Beyond that, we’ll have the return of a new character I introduced back in DAREDEVIL#11,  Muse, the serial killer artist who made Murdock’s life—and that of his apprentice Sam Chung, aka the young hero Blindspot—extremely complicated a little while back. Muse alone is almost impossible to handle, and when you add the Kingpin on top of it…it’ll be something.

Marvel.com: What exactly is Fisk’s single greatest qualification for being mayor of a major metropolitan city?

Charles Soule: As he tells the city in his campaign: he loves New York as much as anyone can, and he has a clear vision for improving it. Now, the question is whether the Kingpin’s city is the city New Yorkers would want. We know it’s definitely not what Daredevil wants.

Marvel.com: So, you’re sort of saying if he weren’t a criminal, Fisk might in reality become a good mayor?

Charles Soule: That’s something we’ll definitely be exploring. Just because The Kingpin is a crime lord doesn’t mean he doesn’t know how to run a city. In fact, it might be exactly the opposite. It’ll be fun to explore.

Marvel.com: What are Matt’s greatest risks in opposing Fisk right now? Does he care what anyone in the city actually thinks of him?

Charles Soule: The biggest issue, really, is that to fight Fisk, Daredevil will have to fight the city itself, a place he loves and thought he understood. Not anymore. It’s very complicated for him morally and logistically, and he’ll have to figure out how he fits into this new puzzle. Things he took for granted, like the cops turning a blind eye—heh—to his activities, might not be so easily assumed anymore.

Marvel.com: What will New York’s criminal element do with this new status quo, in general?

Charles Soule: I’d say they’re pretty excited. One of their own has ascended to the big chair, you know? New York City’s their playground.

Marvel.com: Lastly, how its feel for you to go back to the original numbering with this issue?

Charles Soule: It’s always felt amazing to be part of the incredible Daredevil legacy, and returning to the original numbering with DAREDEVIL #595 cements that for me even more. Not only that, but I get to write DAREDEVIL #600! That will be an incredible issue; the culmination of the “Mayor Fisk story, with twists and turns I’ve been building to forever. I’m very excited for everyone to see where this is all going.

Hop on the campaign trail with Charles Soule and artist Stefano Landini with DAREDEVIL #595, arriving November 8!

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Discussing Daredevil’s Legacy with writer Charles Soule!

When it comes to the world of Matt Murdock, justice is blind. And for the last 53 years, that particular form of law has set him and his alter ego, Daredevil, apart from all other heroes in the Marvel Universe. But what happens when his life of sightless vigilantism can’t transition into legitimate authority?

Wilson Fisk runs the show in New York City in a typically sinister—but completely legal—way, which leaves Matt looking to get creative to bring down The Kingpin. And on November 8, the age of Marvel Legacy begins with scholarly scribe Charles Soule and artist Stefano Landini’s DAREDEVIL #595!

With Daredevil’s legacy of justice on the brink of disarray, we spoke with Soule about the upcoming issues and how he’d like to be remembered for his contributions to the classic character.

Marvel.com: How does the Marvel Legacy banner inform this new story? 

Charles Soule: My run so far has really been all about Matt Murdock’s legacy as a super hero. He knows he can’t be Daredevil forever, so he’s been trying to do something to make his city better permanently—whether he’s wearing the horns or not. In other words, he’s trying to leave a legacy. That extends to Blindspot, it extends to the law he’s trying to put in place during the Supreme storyline, and more. The Legacy story I’m telling—“Mayor Fisk”—is where we see whether he can make that happen, or if it will all blow away in the wind.

Marvel.com: In a sentence or two, what would you say is Daredevil’s legacy within the Marvel Universe? 

Charles Soule: Daredevil is all about resolve. His powers are sort of limited compared to some of the other marquee heroes, but it never stops him. He’ll do what has to be done in the pursuit of justice, and I think the other heroes see that.

Marvel.com: Getting into the story a bit, what can we expect NYC to look like under the control of Wilson Fisk? 

Charles Soule: It’s pretty cool stuff. Fisk has been in control of the criminal machinery of the city before, but here, he runs the legitimate side as well. So, in essence, the entire NYPD works for him—not to mention everything else in the city. Fisk can do whatever he wants without fear of reprisal, and he absolutely sees the possibilities in that. Daredevil does too, of course, and it terrifies him.

Marvel.com: What shortcomings do Matt’s abilities have against this threat—and what new strategies will he use to circumvent those shortcomings? 

Charles Soule: It’s mostly what I mentioned—Fisk is legit, which means Daredevil…isn’t. Matt Murdock has always been able to rely on his city as a safe haven, of sorts, but now it’s turned against him. It gets pretty dire for ol’ Hornhead, but I don’t think we’d want it any other way.

Marvel.com: What do you hope your own legacy to be when it comes to DAREDEVIL comics? 

Charles Soule: When you’re talking about “legacy,” it doesn’t get much more relevant than this title—with both the creative teams that have worked on the character and the stories themselves, DAREDEVIL is all about legacy. I think DD has more legendary runs than just about any other character in super hero comics.

My goal has always been to really try to stand alongside the earlier stories with my run—to not be a blip between otherwise memorable chapters in the life of Matt Murdock. I’d like to add things, and take things away, and write my DAREDEVIL—to do things that later readers can point to as signature elements of this period for the character. We’ll see!

DAREDEVIL #595, by Charles Soule and artist Stefano Landini, drops on November 8!

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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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