Assemble Earth's mightiest squad with free-to-play action-RPG mobile game!

Heroes, have you heard Nick Fury’s call?

Ultimus, the Kree Warlord, and his army have made their way to Earth, and the S.H.I.E.L.D. Director is looking to recruit heroes in “MARVEL Strike Force,” now available on iOS and Android. The free-to-play squad-based Super Hero RPG set in the Marvel Universe from FoxNext Games will see heroes like Captain America, Black Panther, Wolverine, Gamora, and many others, joining forces to take on the latest threat Fury must face.

Take a look at the exclusive gameplay trailer above, and get debriefed on the mission at-hand with Jason Bender, Creative Director at FoxNext Games; Tim Hernandez, Director, Game Production at Marvel Games; and Bill Rosemann, Executive Director, Creative at Marvel Games. They’re your best bet at gathering intel on necessary alliances at S.T.R.I.K.E. and strategic combat to dominate the enemies of S.H.I.E.L.D.. The fate of the world is on you, Heroes!

Marvel.com: How did the partnership between FoxNext Games and Marvel come about?

Tim Hernandez: The FoxNext Games team immediately captured our attention with an early prototype of the gameplay that really blew us away. I guess it shouldn’t have come as a surprise, considering the experienced dev veterans on the team, and from that perspective we really wanted to collaborate from the beginning. The more we discussed their vision for the game, how they planned to push the limits of mobile gaming, and the passion they had for Marvel (we can tell the True Believers from the posers, trust us), the more we realized that we had the makings of something special, and that we had to make this game together…plus they had us at “Ultimus.”

Marvel.com: How does this game differ from other games in Marvel’s mobile portfolio?

Jason Bender: “MARVEL Strike Force” is about building the dream team. Strategy is at the core, so it’s all about creating a squad out of characters that work well together. They have to have the right combination of abilities to overcome the challenge before them, so players will need to field surprising combinations of characters, including heroes and villains that we don’t usually see working together.

Tim Hernandez: As Jason mentioned, constructing the perfect squad is where you really appreciate the depth of the game, and what really sets it apart in terms of gameplay. You can always go in and kick some Kree butt for fun or to advance through the campaign story, but strategically strengthening your roster with the right mix of teams and upgrading their abilities for a given mission, a huge wave of enemies, or to take on other players’ teams, is where this game really shines.

Bill Rosemann: Venom and Captain America! Spider-Man and Rocket Raccoon! Crossbones and Loki! It’s all of the hero/villain, hero/hero and villain/villain combos you never thought you’d get to see…but now will so desperately want to unleash!

Marvel.com: Last fall, “MARVEL Strike Force” released a teaser that showed a security breach at Stark Industries. We witnessed the Kree Warlord Ultimus challenge Earth’s mightiest heroes. Why has Ultimus come to Earth, and what made him the ultimate Super Villian for players to battle?

Jason Bender: Ultimus has traveled across parallel dimensions, subjugating one Earth after another, and is forcing their heroes and villains to join his mind-controlled army. His goal is to ensure the dominance of the Kree Empire once and for all, so he won’t stop until every possible version of Earth is conquered. He has already converted an army of super humans, so S.T.R.I.K.E. and its allies will have to find a way to stop an army of Hulks, Iron Fists, Punishers, and more from devastating our home planet.

Tim Hernandez: And also save that poor Stark Industries security guard who makes another cameo in the new gameplay trailer (above). Poor guy is having a rough day.

Bill Rosemann: Yeah, I mean he’s just trying to make it to the weekend so he can play his favorite new Marvel mobile game! Meanwhile, I gotta say that while I’m no fan of their evil intentions, you have to respect the logic and boldness of the orders that the Kree Supreme Intelligence has given Ultimus. Why endure the continued annoyance of the Earth heroes foiling your various plans for universal conquest when you can instead just target those meddling do-gooders directly and make them fight themselves? It’s ingenious…and only Nick Fury’s S.T.R.I.K.E. (Special Tactical Reserve for International Key Emergencies) Force has a chance of stopping them!

Marvel.com: For fans unfamiliar with Ultimus, is there anything else about the back story that they should know before diving into the game?

Jason Bender: Ultimus is a fascinating character who first appeared in a 1974 issue of Thor under the name of Demon Druid. In that issue, Thor’s hammer bounced right off of him and he was able to knock Thor out in a single blow. Over time it was revealed that Ultimus is a Kree warrior of exceptional strength, and also an Eternal. Eternals are rare and extremely powerful, the most notable of which is Thanos, who we’ll see rock the world in “Avengers: Infinity War” next month. When we last saw Ultimus in the comics, he was exiled to the edge of space. In “Strike Force,” he returns as a zealous and battle-scarred general at the head of a Kree war fleet who is determined to secure the dominance of the Kree Empire once and for all.

Tim Hernandez: I just want to add, that it was a stroke of genius to reimagine Ultimus, Jason. I’m sure Bill knew him but, being completely honest here, I had to do a bit of research when you first pitched him as the big bad for the game. It was so much fun working with you guys to give him a 21st century makeover!

Bill Rosemann: When Jason suggested Ultimus as our big bad we jumped at the chance to modernize him for a new audience. As our friends in Publishing, TV and Studios often do, the Marvel Games team embraces the opportunity to dig through the “toybox,” find characters from decades past that have great potential, and then reimagine them in a way that is accessible and meaningful for a new generation. It all begins with studying the source material, then discussing the necessary elements that define them, and then iterating back and forth until an awesome new story and visual is born. Ultimus has all the ingredients — an awesome name, an impressive and memorable visual, and a relatable story (a proud warrior who feels betrayed and is now seeking revenge and redemption) – that makes an authentic and awesome Marvel villain.

Marvel.com: Right out the gate with today’s launch, what characters will be available?

Jason Bender: There will be 64 collectible characters at launch, with more soon to come. You’ll be able to collect a wide variety of Super Heroes and Super Villains from across the spectrum. Marquee teams like the Avengers, Defenders, and Guardians of the Galaxy will be available, as well as classics such as Spider-Man and Punisher, and some special characters like Night Nurse and Crossbones. There will also be a number of faction characters to support your leaders, ranging from Hand ninjas and Ravagers to Hydra soldiers and S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives.

Tim Hernandez: Jason is being modest. Not only is the character roster massive, nearly every one of the incredibly detailed designs has a unique new spin that’s original to “MARVEL Strike Force;” it’s not just Ultimus.

Bill Rosemann: It was so fun working with the FoxNext Games team on the unique looks of every character. Each Hero and Villain is instantly recognizable, but their visual designs are specific to “MARVEL Strike Force.” From the uber popular like Spider-Man to the cult faves like Night Nurse (whose outfit was inspired by a short story from the Secret Wars comic book event), you’ll want to study each character to see how their detailing and overall presentation is unique to this game.

Marvel.com: Can you give us a rundown of the game mechanics? How do we factor in daily objectives, campaigns, and special in-game events?

Jason Bender: The story begins with the campaign mode, where we learn about the invasion and S.T.R.I.K.E.’s role in defending the Earth. From there, a wide variety of game modes unlock. Players can sink their teeth into tons of gameplay in Blitz mode, put their squad building skills to the test in challenges, dominate the ranks of Arena mode, and work together with their Alliance to conquer the cooperative Raids mode.

Marvel.com: What can you tell us about the Arena mode?

Jason Bender: Arena mode will put your skills to the test. With only a limited number of battles per day, it’s all about intelligent team building to counter your adversaries’ team compositions and outplay them through clever use of abilities. Anyone can play and earn rewards, but it takes strategy to dominate the top ranks.

Marvel.com: What other environments can we explore in “MARVEL Strike Force”?

Jason Bender: S.T.R.I.K.E. stands for Strategic Tactical Reserve for Interdimensional Key Events, so there’s nowhere they won’t go! In true Super Hero fashion, our story begins on the streets and rooftops of New York City. From there, the S.T.R.I.K.E. Helicarrier will take you to underground Hydra bases, A.I.M. science labs, and Hand dojos. Before long, your heroes will find themselves brawling on Kree starships and alien planets.

Tim Hernandez: Also, keep an eye out for Marvel Easter eggs! We had a lot of fun coming up with some special surprises and love how the team packed so much detail and life into each level.

Marvel.com: With the emphasis on players commanding S.T.R.I.K.E. and building their fantasy drafts among Marvel’s roster, what characters pair well together to assemble the ultimate #squadgoals?

Jason Bender: Characters can team up in a variety of ways. Out of the gates, we’ll see classic team ups, like Iron Man bouncing repulsor beams off Cap’s shield, and Groot stabilizing Rocket Raccoon’s heavy blast cannon for maximum firepower.  It’s possible for anyone to team up, though. If Crossbones uses his fist-pistons to smash a foe into the air, Punisher can knock them out of the sky with his grenade launcher. Faction leaders also enjoy special bonuses when fielded with their teams: Yondu boosts his rowdy Ravagers, Red Skull commands his loyal Hydra forces, and Ultron’s drones upgrade him during the battle. With hundreds of available ability combinations, the tactical options are myriad.

Tim Hernandez: To add to Jason’s last point about faction leaders, I probably have too much fun having Kingpin call in his merc bodyguards, or Nobu summoning a Hand horde, buffing them up, and just drowning out the battlefield. Yes, it’s fun to be the bad guy, but it’s also a really cool strategy that can turn the tide of a losing battle. And to literally let it rain money and use blood magic, I guess!

Marvel.com: In addition to assembling the dream team in-game, can you tell us more about multiplayer functions if we’re looking to build alliances with friends IRL as well?

Jason Bender: Many of the best rewards in the game come from Raids, a cooperative game mode in which players must join forces with their Alliance to conquer a map of many battles, including difficult bosses. Later raids require just the right teams in order to attain the highest score and unlock unique upgrades. Many more cooperative features are planned for the future.

Marvel.com: What does Ultimus have in his arsenal that players should account for?

Jason Bender: Ultimus is the commander of an army of Kree warriors, with ability to transport his fleet from one dimension to the next, but he’s not afraid of doing his own dirty work. As an Eternal, he contains incredible power, which he can use to generate defensive force-fields and can unleash as searing energy blasts. He is especially dangerous against characters who have acquired a large number of positive status effects, making him a tank-buster, of sorts.

Marvel.com: What stands out in all the gameplay footage are the stunning cinematics and choreographed moves. What went into the build of the game and player experience?

Jason Bender: We wanted to bring a wide variety of Marvel characters to life, so we focused on combat choreography and personality. Agile characters move quickly from foe to foe with graceful martial arts techniques, while brawlers lay down the hurt with heavy-handed punches and slams. Ranged specialists all have distinct styles, as well, from Rocket Raccoon’s hand-built blasters to Hawkeye’s signature bow. As the battle rages on, heroes pay attention to the actions of allies and enemies, brace for incoming explosions, and step aside, dodge, or counter-attack when the brawl comes their way. The camera zooms in to highlight signature moves and then seamlessly swings back to a tactical view for maximum gameplay control. With each new character, we flesh out new aspects of the combat system and develop new technology so we can express who the character is on the inside through exciting, cinematic choreography.

Tim Hernandez: When you get into the fluid combat and see the insane abilities and attack animations, you forget that you’re actually playing a mobile game. Screenshots don’t do them justice, they’re really incredible and really bring the essence of each hero—and villains—to life. We all paid special attention to making sure every single character’s personality shined through. You can see if from the beginning with Spidey’s thwip and Luke Cage’s challenge to “bring it on,” to the not so known characters like good old S.H.I.E.L.D. Medic. Plus, they only get bigger and better as you build out your roster and pull off team up attacks, combo chains and knock outs.

Marvel.com: Now that the game is officially launched and open to iOS and Android players everywhere, how often will you be adding new characters and challenges?

Jason Bender: We’re adding characters as quickly as we can, starting with around 2 per month. There’s a very long list of characters we’re eager to bring to life!

Tim Hernandez: Actually, Jason, don’t you have to get back to work on the dozens of other characters you guys have planned? Seriously, the team isn’t resting easy despite launching with that INSANE number of heroes. They set a high bar to start with, but just wait and see what else they have planned. They don’t stop!

Marvel.com: Lastly, what in-game tips can you offer fans to hit the ground running?

Jason Bender: Character abilities change radically as they advance, so be sure to play lots of Alliance Raids and get ability materials. Develop a diverse team of protectors, blasters, brawlers, controllers, and support characters so your Strike Force can handle any threat. Always keep an eye on the top Arena, Blitz, and Raid players to find out how they build their teams. Always pay attention to new characters when they come out, as they’ll add ever-expanding tactical options to your roster. And have fun!

Tim Hernandez: Yep, I follow the same strategy: start with building a deep roster, collecting both heroes and villains so you can tackle multiple campaigns at once. That will make it easier to collect the resources you’ll need later to upgrade your characters and core teams. In any case you’re going to want multiple teams with diverse abilities to have ready for the various modes. Plus you’ll be able to play a wider range of heroes and villains before picking out your favorites to really level up. You’ll be surprised, they may not be the obvious choices…cough, cough, Night Nurse.

Pick up “MARVEL Strike Force” on iOS and Android NOW! Stay tuned to Marvel.com and follow @MarvelGames on Twitter for the latest news and info on “MARVEL Strike Force.” You can also @MarvelStrikeF on Twitter and “MARVEL Strike Force” on Facebook.

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The King lets his imagination and pencil run wild with the Eternals!

1917 to 2017: 100 years of Kirby.

Join us to celebrate Jack “King” Kirby’s 100th birthday by learning about the characters and stories he created that changed comics forever. To commemorate Jack’s centennial, we’ve sat down with the modern-day creators he influenced—and the decades of work he gifted us all.

During Jack Kirby’s return to Marvel in the 1970s, he had close to free rein when it came to rejuvenating existing characters like Captain America and Black Panther while also developing brand new ones like the Eternals. A race of super-powered individuals who lived a very long time, the Eternals made it their mission to protect humanity from the evils of the Deviants. However, in the pages of ETERNALS #1416, Ikaris, Sersi, and Makkari found themselves faced with a far different challenge: The Hulk!

However, this particular Jade Giant proved a far different beast than the Green Goliath originally spawned by a gamma bomb. Instead, this one began as a robot created by some college students intending to get the crowd riled up for a football game. When the Uni-Mind—a conglomeration of all the Eternals in a floating collective brain—unleashed its power on the Earth, it unintentionally brought the artificial form to life. Though incredibly powerful in their own right, the trio of Eternals—accompanied by their human friends Margo and Professor Holden—didn’t seem capable of putting a dent in the cosmically powered being.

Eternals (1976) #14

Eternals (1976) #14

  • Published: August 10, 1977
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: October 09, 2009
What is Marvel Unlimited?

As you can imagine, the police and National Guard forces did not fare any better with the rampaging monstrosity who seemed bent solely on destruction. Just as the powered-up robot made his way to Ikaris for one final bout, the Eternals’ leader Zuras appeared out of nowhere, proclaiming, “Let my hand decide this fight!!” With but a touch, he began to release the cosmic energy from the bionic beast, but that still left Ikaris and company with a powerful robot to track down.

These events rolled right on into even more compelling ones as the pseudo Hulk blew itself up under the city after messing with gas lines. Once underground, Ikaris found himself taken over by another presence that soon made him do battle with his compatriot and friend Makkari—but that’s another story for another day!

The real fun of this arc comes from seeing these new characters take on a classic one that Kirby co-created 15 years prior. From the fisticuffs to the destruction and even the moments when the Eternals deal with the media, these issues comprise pure Kirby at what many consider his best!

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more throughout Kirby Month and beyond! And join the conversation on all of our social channels with the hashtag #Kirby100.

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The Eternals face an assortment of villains from across the eras!

1917 to 2017: 100 years of Kirby.

Join us to celebrate Jack “King” Kirby’s 100th birthday by learning about the characters and stories he created that changed comics forever. To commemorate Jack’s centennial, we’ve sat down with the modern-day creators he influenced—and the decades of work he gifted us all.

When Jack Kirby returned to Marvel in the 70s, he came back to a mix of old favorites like CAPTAIN AMERICA and BLACK PANTHER as well as all-new comics like MACHINE MAN and ETERNALS. We discussed the latter to some extent with artist Mike Allred months ago. ETERNALS, about the titular race of super-powered beings defending humanity against the evil Deviants, allowed Kirby to tell huge, sweeping stories.

In ETERNALS ANNUAL #1—which “The King” also wrote and edited—Thena and Zuras realized the threat that Deviant Zakka the Tool-Master posed. In an effort to find and stop his machinations, Thena asked for help from a pair of Deviants who switched sides in ETERNALS #11: the fierce warrior Reject and the gentle giant Karkas. As she led these unexpected heroes to the big city, we got a glimpse of Zakka’s nefarious invention, the time beam projector! To wreak havoc on humanity, he used this device to pluck individuals from their own time and bring them to the present before they would transport back to their respective eras.

Upon arriving in their temporary digs, Thena and Reject quickly encountered one of Zakka’s unwitting pawns: Jack the Ripper. Just as the infamous murderer slid his sword from his cane to attack a young woman, Reject leaped into action and held the rogue off until he returned to his own time. Karkas fared about equally as well when faced with the might of Atilla and one of his Huns. After dispatching the villains, he showed his true, monstrous form to others in the hotel and they ran in terror. He then encountered Zakka himself, but failed to overcome his ultimate foe.

Eternals Annual (1977) #1

Eternals Annual (1977) #1

  • Published: January 01, 1977
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: July 30, 2008
What is Marvel Unlimited?

However, another succeeded in taking Zakka down. Instead of a hero, though, the assailant turned out to be another Deviant bent on destruction: Tutinax! Their first meeting left Thena, Reject, and Karkas on their backs, but after regrouping, the good guys chased the living wrecking ball down to stop his rampage.

Thena teleported them to an abandoned alley before they began their battle. Though Reject proved adept at dodging his opponent’s blows, he soon realized that Tutinax would be very difficult to harm and also possessed enough strength to lift an entire building off of its foundation! Luckily for them, Thena stuck around keeping track of the villain with her Psycho-Band. Just as Reject and Karkas moved to rush their target, he disappeared! It turned out that he’d been brought to this time by Zakka’s machine, meaning he could only last a short time before heading home.

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more throughout Kirby Month and beyond! And join the conversation on all of our social channels with the hashtag #Kirby100.

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