The writer details the new iteration of Earth's Mightiest Team!

Written by Jess Harrold

The old order changeth once again—for a bold new era! And it doesn’t come much bolder than the creative team of Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness putting together one of the mightiest Avengers rosters ever seen! Here, Aaron talks about his plans for the book—including building on ideas he introduced in MARVEL LEGACY #1.

Marvel: So with you writing, the incredible Ed McGuinness on art and a spectacular lineup, there’s no doubt about it: this is one blockbuster book! What can fans expect?

Jason Aaron: Coming into this, we wanted it to feel big and epic—like a huge Marvel event, every arc. So I wanted a lineup of all big, iconic characters. Some of them you’ve seen as Avengers—like Steve Rogers, Tony Stark, and Thor Odinson—but for the first time in years, the “big three” are back together. There’s also some characters we’re not used to seeing. Ghost Rider, I guess, is the big surprise, and it’s cool for me getting back to writing Ghost Rider again.

Marvel: And Captain Marvel and Black Panther make for a big five! There’s been a lot of conflict between these characters in recent years. How well are they all going to cope with working together again?

Jason Aaron: Well it’s not necessarily a “snap your fingers, and it’s done” kind of thing. The first arc is really about the hardships of putting that band back together. It’s very much a team drawn together for very specific reasons, instead of just Steve Rogers calling people in his Rolodex. The circumstances of this threat are really what bring these characters together. They are drawn into this battle for very specific reasons, which only become evident as that arc rolls on—and then continue to play a part going forward. Some of that clearly links back to the prehistoric Avengers introduced in MARVEL LEGACY #1. You will see them again in this arc, and they will be a part of the series going forward.

Marvel: Will you be adopting a similar multi-timeline approach to the one we’ve seen in your THOR run?

Jason Aaron: Yep, absolutely. In this first arc, the roots of the Celestial threat the Avengers are facing go back to those prehistoric days with Odin. But we will come back between arcs and do issues focusing on that group and those prehistoric characters. We will learn more about them as we go forward, get to see them in action in the past and see the ways their adventures connect to the present day.

Marvel: Another stalwart Avenger on the roster is Jennifer Walters—but is she She-Hulk or Hulk? And what can fans expect from her on the team?

Jason Aaron: Yeah, I’ve just been calling her “Hulk” in the book. It is the same Jen Walters we’ve seen in recent issues of her own series so we definitely continue on from that. But this story also changes things for her and takes her in a bit of a different direction. We switch around her powers a little bit and try to differentiate her more from her cousin. What is exciting me is to see Ed McGuiness draw the Hulk again!

Marvel: As for the new guy you mentioned—we know you know a thing or two about Ghost Riders, but what do you like about Robbie Reyes?

Jason Aaron: He’s a great entry-level character for the Avengers; he is still very much a new kid on the block. He doesn’t really know these characters and has not been a part of something quite like this. You know his life has been pretty crazy in its own right since he became the Ghost Rider, but this really takes things up a notch. We get to see him level up in terms of his power. He is unlike any of the previous Ghost Riders so we will continue to explore what that means and exactly what he is capable of. Also, the more I write it, the more I love the idea of having a guy in the Avengers who drives a car. He just goes driving into battle in the Hell Charger. I love that, and I love the way Ed’s drawing him.

Marvel: Another character you have history with is Doctor Strange, who is on the team at least to begin with, right?

Jason Aaron: He pops up initially in a different sort of team-up. He and Black Panther are investigating something that pulls him into this bigger mystery. Strange plays a big part of this first arc, but you kind of have to wait and see after that who sticks around. I don’t want to specifically have a cast too large, but I think we will have at least one slot rotating—have a character join for a couple of arcs, and then somebody else takes the pledge. There’ll be some old familiar faces and some we’re not used to seeing in the pages of an Avengers comic.

Marvel: You mentioned the Celestial threat, the ominously named Final Host—they seem like a great fit for Ed’s bombastic style.

Jason Aaron: Absolutely. We see a lot of different Celestials over the course of the story—some classic ones, some all-new designed by Ed, which look amazing. Ed is also so great at conveying the feel of something like this: our Avengers against giant space gods who are thousands of feet tall. How can the Avengers go toe-to-toe with characters who are that powerful? That’s the challenge they face right there out of the gate.

Marvel: And it all begins with a Free Comic Book Day issue featuring another stellar artist, Sara Pichelli, correct?

Jason Aaron: Yes, it’s sort of a direct lead in to AVENGERS #1. It’s mostly a story about Black Panther and Odin—a meeting of the king of Wakanda and the All-Father of Asgard, which again kind of stretches back to those prehistoric Avengers and plants the seeds for the Celestial threats the Avengers will face. And it’s free!

Marvel: And from there, the main series is set to really blow everyone’s socks off.

Jason Aaron: Yeah, I want this to be a book that issue to issue gives you a look at the entire Marvel Universe. So we will travel the globe, we will cross the galaxies, we will go to all the different hot spots of the MU. If you are only reading one Marvel Comic—not that you should just read one Marvel Comic—this book will give you an idea of what the entire breadth of the Marvel Universe looks like right now at this moment in time.

AVENGERS #1 by Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness is on sale May 2!

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The Master of the Mystic Arts is coming to Disneyland Resort!

Guests will soon have the opportunity to encounter the Master of the Mystic Arts, Doctor Strange, at Disney California Adventure park!

Doctor Strange acts as an intermediary between the real world and what lies beyond, utilizing a vast array of metaphysical abilities and relics to protect the universe. Guests will soon get a glimpse into his magical, mind-bending world when he appears for the first time at the Disneyland Resort.

Doctor Strange travels great distances in an instant by opening portals between dimensions. There’s no telling where and when he might appear, so be sure to stay tuned for more information!

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It’s all been leading to April 27!

There was an idea, to bring together a group of remarkable people, to see if we could become something more.

We’re nearing the April 27 release of “Avengers: Infinity War”! Last week, Marvel Studios revealed five character posters. Now, they’re back with 22 mighty posters spotlighting each of our impressive super heroes ready to take a stand against the threat that is Thanos!

Leading the gallery above is the first Avenger (and birthday boy) himself, Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man! See the rest of the Avengers and their super allies — Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange/Doctor Strange, Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Chadwick Boseman as King T’Challa/Black Panther, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord, Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch, Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier, Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk, Letitia Wright as Shuri, Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel voicing Rocket and Groot, Paul Bettany as Vision, Danai Gurira as Okoye, Dave Bautista as Drax, Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon, Pom Klementieff as Mantis, Don Cheadle as James Rhodes/War Machine, and Benedict Wong as Wong.

“Avengers: Infinity War” opens in theaters on April 27. Get tickets on Fandango now! Stay tuned to Marvel.com, follow @Avengers on Twitter, and Like “The Avengers” on Facebook for the latest on the Avengers as it develops!

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Big announcements at WonderCon 2018!

Marvel Animation panels are always a packed house thanks to continuing storylines for our favorite heroes, and new and interesting art styles that fans love to see. This year’s WonderCon panel was no exception, as fans waited excitedly to see what would be revealed during Marvel Animation: From Pencil To Screen.

The crowded panel room were welcomed by Cort Lane, Marvel’s SVP, Animation & Family Entertainment, who lead a panel featuring Kalia Ramirez, Director, Family Entertainment – Development & Partnerships; Harrison Wilcox, Senior Director, Television, Development & Production; Eric Radomski, SVP, Production & Creative Director, Animation; Jeff Allen, Supervising Director; Mairghread Scott, writer and story consultant; and Collette Sunderman, Voice Director, “Marvel’s Spider-Man.”

First up was big news for fans of “Marvel’s Avengers,” Lane described season five as a Black Panther story and is thusly titled, “Marvel’s Avengers: Black Panther’s Quest.” Along with the addition of this new hero comes a design change that simplifies the style and conceptualizes a brand new look. The new style reflects T’Challa’s sleek fighting style that sets a new tone for the production design.

James Mathis continues to voice T’Challa and the big reveal was that his sister Shuri will be voiced by Daisy Lightfoot. Recording as an ensemble to voice the Wakandan siblings reflects the core of the season where togetherness reigns as Black Panther must battle an old foe, the Shadow Council.

Fan-favorite “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: Breakout!” integrates the Guardians with the Disney California Adventure Ride attraction and the fallout of dealing with the Collector. Scott teased this season the Guardians will quite literally get to explore the galaxy even more, including further exploration of the Symbiote storyline. Expeditions into different dimensions also brings about the possibility of changing animation styles.

Marvel Funko Shorts have always been a hit with fans, and at the panel the audience was treated to the premiere viewing of the new short, “Rooftop Rock,” which features Spider-Gwen and Marvel’s most popular villain, Venom.

The Marvel LEGO collaboration brings toys and animation together and the panel was the perfect opportunity to announce the voice cast for “LEGO Marvel Super Heroes – Black Panther: Trouble in Wakanda.” James Mathis III returns to his role as T’Challa/Black Panther, along with previously announced Daisy Lightfoot as Shuri. The cast is rounded out with Keston John (Killmonger), Yvette Nicole Brown (Okoye), Trevor Devall (Klaw), Mick Wingert (Iron Man), Travis Willingham (Thor), Roger Craig Smith (Captain America), Laura Bailey (Black Widow), Liam O’Brien (Doctor Strange), Issac C. Singleton Jr. (Thanos), and the ever popular Fred Tatasciore (Hulk).

The biggest cheer of the panel was the announcement of “Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors.” Fans were so excited, cosplayers already appeared on the show floor with fully detailed costumes, with little to no information to go on. The six four-minute digital shorts will be accompanied by a feature length animated film to be released later this year.

The content features an all-star lineup of voice talent, Dove Cameron (Ghost Spider), Chloe Bennet (Quake), Tyler Posey (Inferno), Booboo Stewart (Exile), Kathreen Kavari (Ms. Marvel), Milana Vanytrub (Squirrel Girl), Cierra Ramirez (America Chavez), Kamil McFadden (Patriot), Skai Jackson (Gloria), Kim Raver (Captain Marvel), Ming-na Wen (Hala), Steven Weber (Captain George Stacy), and Dee Bradley Baker who takes on the voices of Lockjaw & Tippy Toe.

Lane emphasized the inclusivity of Marvel, “It’s meant for all kids but we’re particularly excited to bring together these new and very exciting characters that have already sort of garnered big fan attention for years.”

“There are so many strong, interesting, and diverse female characters—body types, great personalities, individual strengths, so we’re so excited about that,” said Lane enthusiastically.

For all the Marvel Animation updates, keep it on Marvel.com. Don’t forget to subscribe to Marvel HQ on YouTube for full episodes and more: www.youtube.com/MarvelHQ

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Get a glimpse on the storytelling elements from balancing tones to collaborations and more.

How do you approach the behemoth that is Marvel Studios’ “Avengers: Infinity War” — a film with ten years of baggage with different storylines, different visions, different tones, to honor? How does a storyteller divide screen time among  40+ major players who are at different stages of their journeys and continue to engage and surprise viewers? The challenge and weight of what this film means to many is not lost on “Avengers: Infinity War” directors Anthony Russo and Joe Russo.

As we continue unveiling everything we learned during last summer’s set visit, we couldn’t think of two better people to get a look at the magnitude of the biggest cinematic production ever assembled than those who are helming the film — the Russo Brothers. Not only were the Russos tackling “Avengers: Infinity War” and the untitled fourth “Avengers” film simultaneously, they had to contend with the finishing of James Gunn’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” and Taika Watiti’s “Thor: Ragnarok,” with the concurrent production of Ryan Coogler’s “Black Panther,” start of Peyton Reed’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” and planning for “Captain Marvel.”

The Russos entered the Marvel Cinematic Universe as storytellers with “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” joined by screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. The team went on to tackle higher stakes with “Captain America: Civil War.” Not to be outdone, they’re now tackling 20-some heroes, multiple locations, six Infinity Stones, and the baddest/most powerful villain our heroes have ever encountered—Thanos, with the next “Avengers” installment. The Brothers shared insight on their approach to the characters, the complications of putting together a project of this scale, and dropped some insights during our intimate set visit.

[Note: This interview has been edited for clarity.]

How “Avengers: Infinity War” Kicks Off

“Avengers: Infinity War” is two years following “Captain America: Civil War.” According to Anthony, “Infinity War” is a “direct corollary to the end of ‘Civil War,’ and our heroes will be heading into this film “with the ramifications of that film at the forefront of this film.”

Continuing, “[‘Infinity War’] is very much about how we move forward from ‘Civil War’ in a big way, and what happens to that division between the Avengers and how does that affect them. What does that mean when the greatest threat they’ll ever face comes to them.”

Despite the two years following “Civil War,” the Russo Brothers have a storytelling philosophy where make sure to “keep any big moments of the characters’ lives on camera.”

We know Cap’s team of Avengers find their way to Wakanda seeking aid from King T’Challa. Joe explained the fortified country is the most “logical place for anyone seeking refuge.”

Meanwhile, Tony Stark has to deal with the consequences of his choice to side with the Sokovia Accords. Our directors haven’t forgotten young Peter Parker. “They basically have a unique mentor/mentee relationship that continues to evolve as they move into this film,” shared Anthony.

With the Guardians, the directors acknowledged the film picks up 5-6 years following “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.” The Guardians have had a chance to deepen their relationships with each other where the Avengers haven’t had that chance.

“They’re closer, and they’re tighter, and they’ve been doing it for a while,” said Anthony. “They’ve cemented their chemistry as a team. And they would stand in contrast with the other teams. Potentially.”

They’re thrilled at the chance to take on Thor and lean into his profound experience during “Thor: Ragnarok.” As for Hawkeye, the Russos confirmed he’s on his own journey in this film.

The Directors’ Approach to the Tone and Characters, and their Collaboration with Past Filmmakers

“It’s been a personal journey for us as filmmakers from ‘Winter Soldier,’ of a theme set in that movie that we then tried to expand upon in ‘Civil War,’ that then led to Infinity War,” shared Joe Russo. “It’s how we feel about the characters, as comic book fans, the story that we want to see.”

“It’s not only a culmination of the last ten years of Marvel storytelling, but for us, it’s a culmination of our journey as directors to the Marvel Universe,” added Joe. “Having at our disposal all of those characters and allowing ourselves to re-filter them through the way that we see the universe, the way that we feel about the characters, the themes that we really want to bring to the forefront, that’s what these two movies are for us.”

“Everything’s always got to be character based,” proclaimed Anthony. “If we’re sitting in the editing room, watch the sequences for more than 20 seconds without a character having a point of view or moving the action forward, my brain just shuts down. The action for us, it’s always character based.”

In addition to screenwriters Markus and McFeely, the Russos credited the team there were able to work with the past films, including effects supervisor Dan Deleeuw, editor Jeff Ford, DP Trent Opaloch, and stunt coordinator Sam Hargrave, to achieving the complex and ambitious nature of “Infinity War.”

It was important for the Russos to honor the journeys and approach the other MCU filmmakers took their characters on, but also make it work with the film they were creating. As Joe explained, the “Russo Brothers-execution” was filtering what others have done “through our very personal expression of them as characters.” Anthony acknowledged, “Everyone is interwoven in this plot in a way where they have an emotional connection to the story…. You can’t tell a movie with this many characters and not have each of those characters show up and honor them from the different franchises if they are not motivated to be there. If there are not in life or death circumstances. If they are not fighting to save their belief system or way of life.”

The Russos equated the MCU process as similar to how comic book stories evolve and involve several comic creators. “[We] found repeatedly that the best and only way for us to move forward is to receive that information, and keep what we like, and explore what we like, and exploit what we like, and tell the story that we want to tell. The same way you do in a comic run when you’re reading it, you go, ‘I want to see someone else’s point-of-view on that.’ That’s what Marvel’s done really well, bringing in a lot of different voices to execute the films.”

It’s safe to say everyone in the Marvel Universe had been involved. During the preparation and production of the third and fourth “Avengers” films, the Russos had the opportunity to collaborate closely with James Gunn, Taika Waititi, Scott Derrickson, Peyton Reed, Ryan Coogler, and producer Nate Moore. With the Marvel Universe progressing in different courses simultaneously and at the time, not yet completed, the Russos adopted a “real collaborative united artists approach” to ensure they were sensitive to the other stories and sharing those elements.

The Sources and Influences

Mark Ruffalo previously alluded to how THE INFINITY GAUNTLET informed the film, but there are clear deviations. Joe further elaborated on the comics source: “Certainly the Starlin book was our jumping off point. It’s a brilliant comic, and the ideas behind it are so large, it’s what pushed us to go for the scale that we’re going for on these movies.”

Joe continuing, “Anth and I love the post-modern comics. We’re also drawing from newer INFINITY stuff, and we’re kind of combining it all into…how do we see elements from each helping the story that we want to tell.”

In addition, the Russos were inspired by ensemble 90s crime films, and the two films that they look to for inspiration in relation to narrative imagery were “Two Days in the Valley” and “Out of Sight.”

“These movies are so complex you need a unifying peace, or a sense of cohesion, and that cohesion can come from a narrative construct that you can apply all the characters to,” explained Joe Russo.

Thanos (Josh Brolin)

Thanos

True Believers, you’ve never seen a more formidable antagonist in the MCU like the Mad Titan, and he’s on a destructive mission to collect all the Infinity Stones no matter the stakes.

“This movie is catalyzed by Thanos’ decision and an opportunity for him to make a very aggressive move for the stones, a more effective move for the stones than he has ever in the past,” revealed Anthony. “When Thanos decides to do it, he really goes for it. He’s one step ahead of our heroes through the movie and he puts them through a lot of pain in the process.”

“Our job with Thanos is to make him the preeminent villain in the Marvel Universe,” added Joe. “In order to be a preeminent villain, you have to do some pretty bad things.”

The Russos stressed that the Infinity Stones are the “bedrock of the film” — “the key driver.”

Prepare Your Hearts

On the subject of Thanos, several of our heroes wield/guard the Infinity Stones putting them in directly in the path of Thanos, elevating the emotional weight. When asked about the invincibility of our heroes, Joe quickly teased, “I’m sorry.”

Acknowledging that every character is someone’s favorite character, Anthony explained, “We like mature storytelling. We like dramatic storytelling. We like intense storytelling. We appreciate conflict, and we appreciate stakes. And without stakes, there really isn’t a lot of value to the story. If you look at the Marvel Universe as a whole, as a story that’s been told for 10 years, you can look at [‘Infinity War’] as the climax. The stakes will be higher in this movie than they’ve ever been, times ten.”

Once the dust settles, we can expect the Avengers to see major casualties as they protect the universe and all of existence from Thanos.

Topping the “Civil War” Airport Fight Scene

“We have an equivalent that’s like if you had a comic book, and you open it up to your double panel, and then you fold it out. And then you fold it out again and again,” said Joe Russo.

Anthony Russo adding, “And you have another comic book laid out next to it.” “So we have the equivalent of that in this movie,” continued Joe Russo.

Hinting at the Untitled Fourth “Avengers” Film

The Brothers on the new challenge of shooting two MCU films at the same time: “Our approach has always been how we look at the project. It’s simply the same thing in the way that the ‘Winter Soldier’ related to ‘Civil War,’ and the way that ‘Civil War’ relates to ‘Infinity War.’ These two movies will also relate…but at the same time, there’s an independence in terms of what the experience is or where the story goes. It isn’t a true two-parter…. It ended up being more of two singular expressions.”

“We always try to make each film different so they don’t get repetitive,” said Joe. “This kind of serialized storytelling…. You have to keep evolving who’s at the forefront, how you’re laying the story out because rigor mortis will set in very quickly. Each character…can shape and color and re-tone an entire film depending on who you’re following. We find them as exciting as complex and inspiring and heartbreaking, and we believe that there are real emotional stakes. This is exactly the kind of movies we aspire to and exactly the kind of movies we look for as film goers in a theater.”

It’s safe to say that we’ve never seen anything like “Avengers: Infinity War.” Closing out the visit, Joe remarked, “If you were to think of the Marvel Universe over the last ten years of the book, this is the ending of the book. There may be new books written, but this is certainly the ending of this book.”

“Avengers: Infinity War” opens in theaters on April 27. Stay tuned to Marvel.com, follow @Avengers on Twitter, and Like “The Avengers” on Facebook for the latest on the Avengers as it develops!

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Mark Waid and Jesus Saiz send the Sorcerer Supreme to space!

This June, writer Mark Waid and artist Jesus Saiz are set for a journey across the universe in DOCTOR STRANGE #1!

The Eye of Agamotto is closed! Doctor Stephen Strange has lost his connection to the Earth’s arcane power, and he can’t wait to recover while nightmares press against the seams of our reality. Tony Stark offers a 21st-century solution: when astral travel fails, try astronautical travel. Enter Doctor Strange: Space-Explorer Supreme!

Different spells, allies, and enemies—new and old—await Strange beyond the stars, along with corners and secrets of the Marvel Universe, seen here for the first time! Space is endless, but time is short. After years of threats, Stephen’s bill for magic-use is coming due—who will come to collect?!

“I’ve been a Strange fan forever, but I’ve never been lucky enough to write an extended run featuring the good doctor. Along with editor Nick Lowe, we’ve come up with some new and very unexpected places to take Stephen Strange in the Marvel Universe—starting with the stars. When Strange’s magic suddenly exhausts itself, he’ll have to travel off-earth to recharge his batteries,” teases Waid, “Let’s hope he survives the trip.”

And Jesus Saiz shares a similar excitement for the extraordinary adventures to come: “Working on this book is an absolute delight. I’ve always enjoyed depicting bizarre characters in fantastic settings much more than portraying the real world, and in that sense this comic really delivers! I don’t like to use photographic references, as you need to do when you are drawing a particular car, weapon, or specific New York street. I prefer to draw with inspiration directly from my head, and Doctor Strange is the perfect book for that!”

Doctor Strange #1 Cover by Jesus Saiz

The artist continues, “If I have to think about the biggest challenge while working on this book, it’d probably be giving all the different aliens and worlds a distinctive, interesting look. For inspiration, I try to have my eyes very open, because you never know where the could come from. It could be a fashion photo, an undersea creature, or a Bosch painting…everything can give you a silhouette, or a color scheme, or something to start working with. I only try to avoid actual science-fiction images because I want this book to look as fresh as possible.”

“And you know, Mark is simply fantastic,” says Saiz, “I love how, even when he writes the most crazy, outrageous, fantastic scenes, he never loses touch with the characters or the story he is telling. And he really gives you the most wonderful stuff to draw! We’re only getting started with this, and I believe we are both really trying to create a story that nobody will ever forget. We’re taking Doctor Strange from his lowest and giving him a new life, new goals. He’ll have to learn everything again to emerge a better man, a new leader. If he survives this ordeal, that is!”

Read DOCTOR STRANGE #1, by Mark Waid and Jesus Saiz, on June 6! And stay up-to-date with all the exciting announcements coming from Marvel Comics right here!

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Donny Cates and Nick Spencer set Las Vegas alight!

When Doctor Stephen Strange magically rebuilds Las Vegas from the debris it crumbled to during Secret Empire, he makes a big mistake. A demonic, Earth-threatening mistake.

On February 21, Mephisto comes to the City of Sin as writers Donny Cates and Nick Spencer join artist Rod Reis to challenge the master of mysticism in DOCTOR STRANGE: DAMNATION #1! This four-part limited series sees Strange team-up with heroes from across the Marvel Universe in an attempt to extinguish Mephisto’s blaze.

We spoke with Cates about igniting the flame.

Marvel.com: Donny, what causes Mephisto’s door to open when Strange raises Las Vegas?

Donny Cates: That’s something we’ll be exploring as we go along. But obviously, Mephisto is the sort to have plans on top of plans. It gets lonely down in Hell, and the poor guy has plenty of time to scheme! As the story unravels, we’ll see more and more of just what the demon has planned. If I was a betting man, I’d say it’s not good, though!

Marvel.com: Vegas has a reputation for being a sinful place—is that what inspires Mephisto’s takeover?

Donny Cates: One of the best bits of the series to me is this idea that, in Mephisto’s opinion, Las Vegas has always been his city. He’s not taking it over; he’s taking it back!

Doctor Strange: Damnation #1

Marvel.com: How will Doctor Strange go about confronting this villain?

Donny Cates: Poorly. [Laughs] Strange is out to prove himself in this series. After the devastating conclusion to Jason Aaron’s series, and the fallout from a certain God of Lies turning his world upside down, Stephen has had a rough year. So here we find Stephen trying to get back on the world’s stage and be a hero again. But when it all goes south on him, he just might not be up for the challenge…

Marvel.com: Does Strange possess the power necessary to defeat this embodiment of evil?

Donny Cates: Stephen’s powers have been on the fritz since the Empirkul came and killed the magic. Obviously, he’s still very powerful, but like I said, he’s still getting his head back into the game. He’s still a bit shaky. There’s also this whole idea of magic having a price, and when you do something as big as resurrecting an entire city…well, you’re going to have to pay for that. One way or another…

Marvel.com: In THANOS, we’ve seen your love of writing dark characters—so how’s it been working with a bad guy like Mephisto?

Donny Cates: Mephisto is such a blast to write—he lives in the unique little zone where he’s one of the only bad guys who are just completely fine with being evil. There are no grey areas with the devil, man! He’s evil and he loves being evil. So you get to write him as really any version you want as you move through the story. Mephisto is a character that can turn from playful and dramatic, to cruel and hardcore without skipping a beat. And with a setting like Las Vegas…well, he’s quite the showman!

Read Donny Cates, Nick Spencer, and Rod Reis’ DOCTOR STRANGE: DAMNATION #1 on February 21!

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Check out new characters and pre-order the upcoming releases now!

Hasbro is turning heads with the relaunch of Mighty Muggs this month, bringing a new spin to collectible figures. These head-spinning heroes and villains pack a mighty punch, letting fans of all ages experience a different side (or sides) of their favorite characters.

The first of the new Marvel Mighty Muggs — which feature a push-and-turn mechanism that lets fans change the figure’s facial expression by pushing down on the head — are now available for pre-order, with several additional characters having just been added.

Here at Marvel.com, we have your first look at three newly-revealed figures — Black Panther, Doctor Strange and Rocket Raccoon — which will all be part of Wave 2 of the new Marvel Mighty Muggs, available in February. Check out the gallery at the top of the page to see how all three appear in their packaging, along with photos of each of their distinct faces.

The upcoming return of Mighty Muggs (which also include new Star Wars-based characters) can be pre-ordered now at major retailers.

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Donny Cates weighs the similarities between Stephen Strange and Loki!

Ceding the title of Sorcerer Supreme to Loki never factored into Stephen Strange’s plans. But plans—like Sorcerers Supreme—change.

In response to the situation, issue #383 of DOCTOR STRANGE saw the enchanter travel to his rival’s home realm of Asgard, where he communed with the World Tree to gain strength and prepare for the journey ahead. And on January 17, writer Donny Cates and artist Gabriel Hernandez Walta continue to escalate this swelling magical storm in DOCTOR STRANGE #384!

We caught up with Cates for his insight into where Strange stands ahead of the new issue.

Marvel.com: Stephen has bound a powerful spell, “the Exile of Singhsoon,” to the souls of the people he cares about. What might he eventually use it for?

Donny Cates: Stephen talks about the Exile of Singhsoon as the kind of “break in case of emergency” spell. It’s supposed to be just for the Sorcerer Supreme, and it’s something that Stephen just hates—he doesn’t think that anyone should have that much power. And he doesn’t believe in himself enough to be able to use it.

So yeah, he’s been hiding it in the souls of people he loves. He’s confident that he could get it out if he absolutely had to, but it’s an incredibly difficult thing to. He did this because the risk of pulling it out could potentially rip someone’s soul and kill them—or at least kill their eternal soul. If push came to shove, I tend to believe that Stephen would use it if he could guarantee that he could extract it out without hurting those people. But the problem here is that Stephen doesn’t believe that Loki can do it, and doesn’t believe that the God of Mischief will have the same gentle hand that he would. He actually calls it a surgical procedure.

Stephen kind of sees Loki as this bull in a china shop, which, if you read the series, isn’t an entirely founded fear. Loki hasn’t done anything wrong outright. It’s really a failing within Stephen to see that Loki might not be what he thinks. So you find Stephen having what could be, in my personal opinion, an overreaction.

Marvel.com: In issue #381, Loki shows Jane Foster that the Frost Giants have plans to invade Earthand says he’s trying to stop them. So Stephen assumes that Loki wants access to the Exile of Singhsoon for his own selfish ends, but maybe he actually has nobler intentions?

Donny Cates: If you’re Stephen Strange, you only have history to go on. And with Loki, history’s really not on his side when it comes to trust. I mean, he’s the God of Lies! So I think Stephen has good reason in his own heart to not believe that Loki has the greatest of intentions with this thing. But, so far, Loki hasn’t given us—the audience—any reason to think that his motives are anything but pure.

But that’s the great thing about this Loki: after Kieron Gillen brought him back from the dead, he gave him a blank slate. He can kind of trick you, the audience, into trusting him as well—he’s not this mustache-twirling bad guy anymore. But we won’t know until we know!

He surprises me, too. Sometimes, I’ll be writing Loki and then, in bed that night, I’ll realize, “Oh wait, he was lying!” He was lying to me on the page, right to my face!

Marvel.com: Stephen also has something hidden in a locked room in the Sanctum Santorum. Without giving too much away…could he potentially use it against Loki?

Donny Cates: Come on! You put a big, secret room in the middle of a story about sorcerers and gods fighting each other—it’s a big deal!

Marvel.com: And Sentry has come into play too. Can you give us any hints about how he might join in?

Donny Coates: I don’t think it’s that weird that, of all the people in the Marvel Universe, Strange knows where The Sentry is; he’s Doctor Strange, he knows everything. And when you bring a character like that into this story specifically…The Sentry and The Void killed Loki last time. So that’s something that I know and something that Stephen knows. When you want to find something that can scare the crap out of a god, well, The Sentry’s a pretty good candidate.

Marvel.com: It seems like Stephen has started weaving together a bit of a sneaky plan in the same way Loki would…

Donny Cates: Yeah, that’s the interesting thing, right? That jumped out at me when I was writing this book, too. There’s a scene in issue #382 where Bats, his little talking basset hound friend, basically says, “You’ve really got to start lying to your patients, Doc.” And Stephen says, “I’m not overly fond of liars”—a fun little nod to how much he hates Loki. But then, in the next panel, Bats says, “Oh cool, do you want to hear about that super secret spy thing that you sent me on?”

Stephen doesn’t even get that he’s being as duplicitous as Loki. And the idea that he hid these things in the people he loves, without their knowledge…it makes them very similar characters. They both have their own very secret agendas. And as we go along, I think it’s quite obvious that this whole thing will lead to a pretty grand confrontation between this man and this God. And as we’ll see, these two are more alike than either of them would ever care to admit. They both keep things close to the chest in a way that continually comes back to bite them. I’m very attracted to the way that those to characters vibrate against one another.

I might have been the happiest boy in the world when I went to “Thor: Ragnarok” and saw those two guys talking to each other in the Sanctum!

Marvel.com: Would you like to tease anything else?

Donny Cates: I hope that, after reading DOCTOR STRANGE #383, people will forgive me a little bit for the death of Bats. There’s a payoff to that moment. If you thought that the emotional strangling that I was doing of you in issue #382 was over, it’s sure not!

You know, it’s always a bummer when a dog dies. But part of the reason I wanted to do that, and to make Strange a vet, was that my cat died the same month that I got the DOCTOR STRANGE gig. She was my best friend and she sat on my lap when I wrote. When she passed away, the veterinarian’s office was great and they were like my heroes. So I thought that’d be a noble choice for Stephen. Because he’s a little bit different for a Marvel character in that he was a hero, saving lives, before becoming a super hero. He was a doctor. A lot of people only know him as hero because he operated on them and saved their lives. That’s a really cool part of his character that sometimes gets glossed over. So to find Stephen now kind of dethroned but still finding a way to be people’s hero every day is, to me, very beautiful.

Donny Cates and artist Gabriel Hernandez Walta’s DOCTOR STRANGE #384 drops on January 17!

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There are a ton of familiar Marvel faces to encounter on the Disney Magic.

Brand-new to the Disney vacation experience, Black Panther joined the collection of Super Heroes aboard the Disney Magic for Marvel Day at Sea.

When he’s not showing off his mastery of unarmed combat skills during an epic battle at sea, Black Panther is inspiring young guests with his superhuman strength and intellect.

The mischievous Loki also made his debut to the Disney vacation experience during Marvel Day at Sea. He may even charm you like only the God of Mischief can. That is, when he isn’t resenting the shadow of his half-brother, Thor.

Even Spider-Man needs to relax after showing off his super strength and agility, and of course there’s no better place to do that than a Disney cruise.

You may also find Doctor Strange teaching kids how to create portals to other worlds…

Black Widow and Hawkeye inspiring them to unleash their inner super hero…

Or Captain America embodying honor, integrity, courage and trustworthiness.

Black Panther and Spider-Man are two of the Marvel heroes you are guaranteed a time to meet and take photographs with during the cruise. Before you even step onboard, you have the chance to reserve time with these characters and more under the My Disney Cruise section of www.disneycruise.com.

Marvel Day at Sea returns to the Disney Magic in January on select sailings from Miami through April. If you’re joining the fun, be sure to share photos of your heroic encounters with #MarvelDayatSea.

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