The Living Planet clashes with Thor in his earliest incarnation!

Every Friday we use the powers of Marvel Unlimited to look back at the very first appearance of a major character, place or object that made waves this week.

In the pages of this week’s ULTIMATES 2 #8, Al Ewing and Aud Koch brought two powerful cosmic entities into conflict once again as Galactus faced off against his old foe Ego. We’re not going to spoil how that encounter ended, but we will talk about the Living Planet’s first recorded bout!

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby introduced readers—and the title Asgardian warrior—to Ego on the very last page of THOR #132 back in 1966. You might wonder what brought the God of Thunder into outer space at the time. In THOR #131, Jane Foster’s former roommate Tana Nile revealed her true identity as a Space Colonizer. Since no one else cared about the backwater planet Earth, she called dibs and took control. When Thor came to visit the missing Jane, he discovered Tana’s secret and battled the supposedly unbeatable Colonizers from Rigel. He allowed himself to get captured and easily broke free to confront the entire organization in issue #132. After a battle, the Colonizer leader told Thor of the true threat, a being living in the Black Galaxy.

Agreeing to face this unseen enemy head-on, Thor flew off in a space ship with a humanoid robot called The Recorder. The duo witnessed the Living Planet as a beautifully rendered Kirby collage at the end of #132, and then far more fully in the next issue. Upon the Thunder God’s landing on Ego’s surface, the enormous creature revealed seemingly unlimited powers like the ability to peer into minds and manipulate the molecules around them to create familiar environs. He quickly exposed his desire to use these powers to escape the Black Galaxy and take over “all of space.”

Thor (1966) #133

Thor (1966) #133

  • Published: October 10, 1966
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: September 17, 2008
  • Penciller: Jack Kirby
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Ego further explained that his plan revolved around using the Thunderer as a molecular model to create an army of powerful anti-body-based minions that would travel from the Black Galaxy to fulfill his machinations. Though the Living Planet offered plenty of obstacles for Thor and Recorder to survive, the Son of Odin called down a storm of epic proportions that allowed them to free themselves from his grievous gravitational pull. In his rage at losing, Ego swore to seal off his bio-verse and never attack an outside world again.

Flash Forward

Of course, Ego’s vow of non-violence didn’t stop another cosmic threat from threatening the Living Planet! Galactus stumbled upon Ego during one of his many searches for sustenance and the two quickly came into conflict in THOR #160. Meanwhile, Tana Nile appeared on Earth to bring Thor to the Black Galaxy to help stop this war of cosmic proportions. The Thunder God joined the fray, fighting Galactus for the very first time, in an effort to defend Ego from being devoured. Thanks to some help from the Wanderers, who provided equipment to enhance Mjolnir, the heroes drained Galactus of his life energy and sent him packing! Ego offered his thanks by giving the Wanderers a place to live on his surface.

Read More

The Hulk travels to a Future Imperfect to meet his evil alter ego!

Every Friday we use the powers of Marvel Unlimited to look back at the very first appearance of a major character, place or object that made waves this week.

A blast from the past made his hulking presence felt this week as writer Ed Brisson and artist Mike Deodato launched their first issue of OLD MAN LOGAN. Ever since we first glimpsed the Deodato-drawn cover with Maestro, a future version of Hulk, throwing down with the elder incarnation of Wolverine, we’ve been waiting to see what happened and now it’s finally here! In true Flashback Friday tradition, though, it’s time to hit the rewind button and head back to 1992’s INCREDIBLE HULK: FUTURE IMPERFECT two-issue prestige format series by Peter David and George Perez.

The series kicked off by dropping us into Dystopia, a city about a century in the future in the middle of a wasteland run by the feared Maestro. Janis, however, wanted to put a stop to that, so she and her band of rebels stole Doctor Doom’s time machine and recruited a little help in the form of The Incredible Hulk! At that point, the Jade Giant spent his time running around with Bruce Banner’s intelligence and Hulk’s bulk.

After tangling with some of Maestro’s goons, Hulk met a very old Rick Jones who kept a museum celebrating all of the dead heroes. The former sidekick soon explained that a war had devastated the planet, killing many of the heroes in the process and paving the way for Maestro’s rule. All the radiation and death swirling around after the major conflict drove Hulk a bit crazy, eventually turning him into Maestro. He built some dampeners that allowed people to survive in Dystopia and then basically just used humanity to entertain himself.

Hulk: Future Imperfect (1992) #1

Hulk: Future Imperfect (1992) #1

  • Published: December 10, 1992
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: December 04, 2009
  • Writer: Peter David
  • Penciler: George Perez
What is Marvel Unlimited?

That didn’t sit well with the younger Banner. Maestro won the first battle between the titans, breaking his counterpart from the past’s neck in the process, but keeping him alive to wage further mental warfare. That all played nicely into the plan crafter by Hulk, Janis, and her people which involved tunneling into Maestro’s stronghold and getting the drop on him. The two Hulks tussled once again, this time in Jones museum, so artifacts like Captain America’s shield and Wolverine’s skeleton came into play.

Ultimately, Hulk used his smarts to lure Maestro back towards the time machine, which he used to send the tyrant back to that fateful day when Bruce Banner ran out to save Rick Jones from an exploding gamma bomb. This time, Maestro stood right next to the bomb as it exploded, seemingly killing him in the process.

Flash Forward

Of course, we know that’s not how it works in comics! Maestro first returned in the pages of 1998’s INCREDIBLE HULK #460 by David and Adam Kubert. As Bruce mentally dealt with various important people in his head, Maestro appeared to tell him that his corpse acted as a kind of beacon that kept bringing Banner back to the original bombing location. Each time, Maestro absorbed a bit more of that all-important radiation which helped him return at the end of the issue. In the following chapter, the villain sent his consciousness into a Destroyer that he used to fight Hulk. Ultimately, Bruce used his mind to battle Maestro for control of the Asgardian artifact, which lead to a victory for the good guy!

Read More

Bobby Drake slides into a new solo series—see his start as an X-Man!

Every Friday we use the powers of Marvel Unlimited to look back at the very first appearance of a major character, place or object that made waves this week.

Sina Grace and Alessandro Vitti’s ICEMAN #1 sends Bobby Drake on a journey to become the greatest hero he can be. With that in mind, let’s look back at exactly where that trek first began!

Like many of Marvel’s most popular characters, Mr. Drake came about thanks to the genius minds of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. In an effort to match the popularity of FANTASTIC FOUR, the company launched another team book, this one revolving around genetic anomalies with super powers otherwise known as mutants. UNCANNY X-MEN #1 launched in 1963 and introduced the world to Professor X, Cyclops, Beast, Angel, Marvel Girl, and the youngest of the bunch, Iceman!

Initially looking like a pile of snow in the shape of a man, Drake chaffed at how easy Professor X took it on him during Danger Room sessions. Instead of conveying a well-crafted argument, he grabbed a carrot, some buttons, a broom, and a hat to look like a snowman. That prompted the Prof. to mentally command Hank McCoy to throw a bowling ball at his youthful compatriot. Iceman used his abilities to freeze his own breath into a ramp to send the ball flying back at his assailant. An adolescent squabble between them and Cylops quickly broke out, but Charles broke it up by announcing that their newest teammate, Jean Grey, had arrived.

Uncanny X-Men (1963) #1

Uncanny X-Men (1963) #1

  • Published: September 10, 1963
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 13, 2007
  • Rating: T+
  • Penciller: Jack Kirby
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Soon after, Magneto attacked a military base, which sent the team into action. Iceman utilized his powers to freeze the soldiers’ guns and launched ice grenades at some of the unleashed missiles. Bobby even shielded his teammates in an ice dome to stop the Master of Magnetism’s explosion from roasting them, but this also allowed the villain to get away!

In the 1987-penned intro to MARVEL MASTERWORKS THE X-MEN VOLUME 1, writer Lee recounted some of his trepidation regarding the frosty teen: “I was really worried about how readers would accept him but I figured what they hey, if they dug Human Torch, why not? Once again, the gamble paid off.”

Flash Forward

In recent years, Bobby Drake has come to meet not one, but two different versions of himself. A time-displaced incarnation of the original Children of the Atom showed up in the present in the pages of ALL-NEW X-MEN. Both younger Bobby’s met a future version of themselves during the Battle of the Atom story, dubbed Ice Wizard. In fact, all three of them joined forces to battle a rampaging ice creature created by the eldest of their ranks.

Read More

Take a trip back to the time-traveling mutant’s first appearance!

Every Friday we use the powers of Marvel Unlimited to look back at the very first appearance of a major character, place or object that made waves this week.

Nathaniel Summers never stops fighting for the future, even if that means traveling to the past. Readers got a new look at that unconquerable spirit as his new series CABLE launched this week from James Robinson and Carlos Pacheco, but it’s been there since the beginning. And, of course, that start came back in 1990’s NEW MUTANTS #87 when the gun-toting soldier fully debuted in the issue created by Louise Simonson and Rob Liefeld. He literally burst onto the scene to stop the Mutant Liberation Front’s attack on a top-secret energy research station.

Readers also got to know another new character a bit better in this issue, Stryfe! He debuted in issue #86 as the leader of the MLF and sent the group to another locale, but this time Cable lied in wait! Unfortunately, the bad guys got the drop on him and left him unconscious so they could achieve their true goal of grabbing Rusty and Skids from a government facility. At the end of the installment—which also featured the title team making the long trek back from Asgard—Cable realized that he’d need a team of his own to go up against Stryfe’s. In the next issue, he escaped Freedom Force’s clutches and finally met up with the New Mutants in #89.

Cable eventually took over the team and the book morphed into X-FORCE. The militant mutant helped turn the kids into a well-oiled tactical squad that continues to influence the X-books in various ways to this day. In 1993, Cable scored his first solo series which ran until 2002. Creators like Fabian Nicieza, Art Thibert, Steve Skroce, Jeph Loeb, Ian Churchill, Joe Casey, Jose Ladronn, David Tischman and, of course, Liefeld, all lent their talents to the book in that time.

New Mutants (1983) #87

New Mutants (1983) #87

What is Marvel Unlimited?

The longer Cable stuck around, the more readers learned about him. For instance, he technically first appeared back in UNCANNY X-MEN #201 as Scott Summers and Madelyne Pryor’s son Nathan. In X-FACTOR #68, they sent the child to the future for protection. There, Mother Askani helped raise him and he also ran into his lifetimes-long enemy Apocalypse for the first time. For more even more on Cable’s youth, check out ADVENTURES OF CYCLOPS AND PHOENIX!

Flash Forward

Though he’s carried out many important missions over the years, Cable’s most important assignment came during the Messiah CompleX crossover. That story took place after Scarlet Witch decimated the homo superior population, but found one single mutant birth popping up on everyone’s radar at the same time. As the various factions fought over the baby girl, Cable swooped in, grabbed her and made off through the time stream with the savior named Hope. After the crossover ended, they moved on to a new volume of CABLE wherein he trained her as they traveled through time, avoiding enemies like fellow future mutant, Bishop! They succeeded and eventually returned to the present where they went their separate ways, but still share a strong bond.

Read More

We throw a party for Eddie Brock to celebrate his symbiotic reunion!

Every Friday we use the powers of Marvel Unlimited to look back at the very first appearance of a major character, place or object that made waves this week.

Some lives remain so intertwined that you can’t imagine them separating for too long. That’s the case with Eddie Brock and his Spider-Man-hating symbiote. Together they’ve menaced the Web-Head, played hero, and split up only to get back together in the pages of this week’s VENOM #150. With these two back together, it’s the perfect time to look back at their complicated history. The symbiote itself actually appeared first back in 1984’s SECRET WARS #8, covering Peter Parker in a black costume after his traditional one got shredded. Upon returning to Earth, the Wall-Crawler kept the alien duds for a while.

Eventually, thanks to some tests performed by Reed Richards, Peter came to understand he wore an actual living being as a costume, one that did not take kindly to being removed from its host and briefly held in Mr. Fantastic’s lab. After being broken out of the extra-terrestrial contamination containment tube, the symbiote searched for a new host and possessed Peter only to separate after being exposed to extreme sonic distress in a bell tower as seen in WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #1.

For a while after that, Spidey found himself assaulted by a mysterious assailant who did not set off his Spider Sense. The culprit came to the forefront in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #299 and #300 when Eddie Brock made the scene as the symbiote-clad Venom! Brock explained why he hated Spider-Man so much: he had been a reporter for the Daily Globe, working on a series of stories about the Sin-Eater based on the confessions of a man named Emil Gregg. Just after his last piece hit, revealing Gregg’s identity, Spidey defeated the villain and unmasked none other than…Stan Carter. Humiliated and fired, Brock developed a rage-filled opinion of our hero that attracted the symbiote and they built a partnership based on their shared hatred.

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #300

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #300

  • Published: May 10, 1988
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: May 26, 2008
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Venom became one of the most popular characters of the late 80s and early 90s, returning on many occasions to plague Spider-Man. Many years later, Brock sold off the symbiote for $100 million and eventually suffered from cancer and delusions that Venom still controlled him even though they had separated. Though the U.S. Government eventually bonded the symbiote with Flash Thompson, who would go on a series of space adventures that seemingly healed the angry alien, but when the latest VENOM series launched, it saw a new person filling the suit until Eddie Brock came back into its life!

Flash Forward

For a time, Eddie and Venom played hero together, but eventually fell off the wagon, so to speak. After selling the symbiote, Brock found himself bonded with another, this one called Anti-Venom. Not long after that, the former Lethal Protector took it upon himself to kill any and all symbiotes he came across. After succeeding with Scream and Hybrid, he failed to kill Flash Thompson and wound up attached to Toxin, Carnage’s offspring. Brock used that symbiote in his efforts to kill his own “child” over the course of the CARNAGE series. Who knows what will happen between those two now that they’re both back in symbiotic action?

Read More

She might lead Generation X today, but she got her start in a mall!

Every Friday we use the powers of Marvel Unlimited to look back at the very first appearance of a major character, place or object that made waves this week.

She’s been an X-Man, a New Warrior, a mom, and a vampire, and now Jubilation Lee serves as the leader of a group of mutant misfits in the pages of GENERATION X by Christina Strain and Amilcar Pinna. Before all that, though, she started as a homeless mall rat with mutant powers showing off to small crowds in the pages of UNCANNY X-MEN #244 by Chris Claremont and Marc Silvestri. Unlike some of her fellow mutants, she seemed to know exactly what her mutant ability entailed, namely the power to control “articulate, quasi-animate, transitory plasmoids.”

Not everyone at the Hollywood Mall enjoyed her displays, though, especially the security guards who patrolled the place. She gave them the old razzle-dazzle before announcing her code name and then tumbling her way out. Thanks to interference run by nearby skaters and some more impressive acrobatics, she got away. All of this made the head rent-a-cop so mad that he called in a group of mutant hunters called M Squad.

Uncanny X-Men (1963) #244

Uncanny X-Men (1963) #244

What is Marvel Unlimited?

At this time, the X-Men lived in the Australian outback, an arrangement that seemed to grate on more than a few members. To help alleviate the stress of devoting their entire lives to saving a world that hates and fears them, Dazzler, Storm, Rogue, and Psylocke decided to go shopping at the very same establishment that Jubilee previously parlayed her powers thanks to a portal provided by Gateway.

After a bit of shopping fun, the X-Women retired to a joint called Hotbods, which triggered an alarm on the hapless M Squad’s equipment. First, they ran into Jubilee though and fired on her, which drew the attention of our heroines. They made short work of the goons and had Gateway open up another portal home, but Jubilee jumped through to join them in the next issue!

Over the years, Jubilee went from new kid on the block—and Wolverine’s protégé—to the experienced member of the original Generation X team. Since then she’s served on her fair share of X-Squads, but lost her powers on M-Day. After trying to use tech to recreate those abilities, she got turned into a vampire by Xarus instead.

MARXMENCOL1994002025

With some help from her friends she’s gotten the vampirism under control and even adopted a baby named Shogo who will go on to become a great hero, at least in one possible future. Now she’s juggling all that while playing mentor to some of the more fringe students at the Xavier Institute for Mutant Education and Outreach located in New York City’s Central Park.

Flash Forward

Jubilee jumped onto the comic scene in 1989, making her one of the marquee teen characters of the franchise when the “X-Men” animated series launched on Fox in 1992. The show even used her as the point of view character for the audience, basing part of the first two-part episode, “Night of the Sentinels,” around her. Much like in her first comic appearance, she started out in a mall, though this time Sentinels broke in and attacked. Also, the entire X-Men team jumped in to save her. Over the course of the show’s five-season run, Jubilee became an integral part, even mirroring her comic relationship with Wolverine.

Read More

See how this Guardian took flight all the way to his new ongoing series!

Every Friday we use the powers of Marvel Unlimited to look back at the very first appearance of a major character, place or object that made waves this week.

Even an inter-galactic rapscallion like Rocket Raccoon can find himself helping out an old friend now and again. Of course, it helps if she’s a lady and he may or may not still have feelings for her. That’s what sends the cosmos’ best tactician into heist mode in the pages of Al Ewing and Mike Mayhew’s ROCKET #1, which debuted this week.

In the spirit of aiding old friends, let’s help the guy stroll down memory lane by digging into his…eclectic first few years of existence.

Rocket debuted in 1977’s MARVEL PREVIEW #7 within a back-up story by Bill Mantlo and Keith Giffen. The issue starred Prince Wayfinder, a novice inter-galactic traveler whose mentor had perished. Needing supplies, his robotic helmsman landed them on a planet called Hailailae, otherwise known as Witch-World. While out hunting game, the prince stumbled upon the future star of stage and screen, though this version talked more like a blustery British gent and went by “Rocky.”

Interestingly enough, Rocket’s first appearance revolved around a moving tree he had a relationship with, though not Groot. He noted that the tree—which attacked Wayfinder over his water source—used to get fish for him. Anyway, Rocky offered to help the Prince find food on the planet, but also failed to warn him of an impending problem with the monstrous Plagueosaur before running into the witch Kirke.

The story didn’t continue and Rocket didn’t appear again until 1982’s INCREDIBLE HULK #271. This time Mantlo teamed with artist Sal Buscema and our hero looked much more “cartoony” and palled around with Wal Russ as Guardians of the Keystone Quadrant on Halfworld. He’d also lost the British brogue. Though the duo tried saving an unconscious Hulk from a giant lawn mower, ol’ Green Jeans woke up to the sound and did the job himself. Eventually, Hulk agreed to help them fight more talking animals and some super creepy killer clowns before moving on to save Betty Ross and Rick Jones on another planet.

Incredible Hulk (1962) #271

Incredible Hulk (1962) #271

  • Published: May 10, 1982
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: August 26, 2013
  • Cover Artist: Al Milgrom
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Aside from a few pop-ups here and there, Rocket would lie dormant until 1985 when Mantlo and artist Mike Mignola created the four-issue ROCKET RACCOON limited series. This tale dug even deeper into Rocket’s past on Halfworld. Skip ahead another 20 years or so and the furry little tactical genius would be holed up in a Kree prison along with other undesirables like Groot, Mantis, and Bug. There, a guy named Peter Quill would lead them on to great things beginning with ANNIHILATION CONQUEST – STAR-LORD by Keith Giffen and Timothy Green II!

Flash Forward

For a character with only a handful of appearances in his first few decades in existence, Rocket sure has a lot of limited, solo, and ongoing series’ under his belt these days. He and Groot explored the furry one’s true Halfworld origins in the pages of  ANNIHILATORS. Skottie Young launched a fantastic series in 2014 that lasted 11 issues. Then, in 2016, Young brought the big wooden buddy along for the ROCKET RACCOON & GROOT series. In addition, earlier this year, during the “Grounded” story, writer Matthew Rosenberg and artist Jorge Coehlo created a five-issue series heaping even more reasons why Rocket disliked Earth so much.

Read More

Find out how the original Nova went from average kid to human rocket!

Every Friday we use the powers of Marvel Unlimited to look back at the very first appearance of a major character, place or object that made waves this week.

One of the best parts of long-running shared super hero universes is getting to see characters go from inexperienced newbies to universe-saving heroes. That’s been the case with Richard Rider, better known as Nova. In this week’s NOVA #6 by Jeff Loveness and Ramon K. Perez, readers found out even more about his time away in the Cancerverse; while looking back at his six years away from the spotlight, why not go all the way back to his first appearance?

Richard Rider debuted in NOVA #1—from 1976 by Marv Wolfman and John Buscema—losing a basketball game for his team behind Harry S. Truman High School. Quickly we met his friend Ginger and tormentor Mike. Feeling depressed, ineffectual, and common, Rich sat at Uncle Fudge’s with Ginger when he got zapped by a shattered Nova flying near Earth. The being transferred his power to Rider in hopes that the young man could stop the world-destroying Zorr.

After spending some time in the hospital and getting a feel for his powers, Richard fought Zorr, but ultimately the previous Nova teleported the villain to his ship to disintegrate him himself, leaving his would-be successor with more than a few questions. That first appearance set up everything from Rich’s self-described inferiority complex, to his human rocket powers, to the connection to other Nova Corps members out in space, and even his iconic catch phrase “Blue Blazes!”

That first solo series went on to pit the new hero against bad guys like Condor, Powerhouse, Diamondhead, Sphinx, and even a brainwashed Thor as his solo exploits continued until its 25th issue. Still out in space at that time, he appeared in a few other books, including ROM #24, which saw him give up his powers on Xandar after defeating invading Skrulls. He kicked around for a while, thinking his abilities really had gone until NEW WARRIORS #1, when Night Thrasher drops him off a building and they return!

Nova (1976) #1

Nova (1976) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Richard became an integral part of the New Warriors as their series ran from 1990-1996. During that time, he also gained another solo series, this one going from 1994 to 1995. Both books worked to flesh Rich out and offer even more information about his place in the universe.

After some time out of the spotlight, Richard Rider came back in a big way thanks to the Annihilation event. In the pages of ANNIHILATION: PROLOGUE and ANNIHILATION: NOVA, Rider not only defended the entire Nova Corps Worldmind, but also worked against the Annihilation Wave moving on to the main series, ANNIHILATION. Writers Andy Lanning and Dan Abnett carried through into the 2007-launching series that ran for 36 issues.

Up until this current run, Rider hadn’t been seen since he, Star-Lord. and Drax trapped themselves in the Cancerverse with the title villain at the end of THE THANOS IMPERATIVE. Readers got a little more information about how Nova helped get his friends out in the pages of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #1820. Not bad for a kid from Long Island who thought of himself as ineffectual and as far from special as possible.

Flash Forward

Did you know that Richard Rider almost had a Marvel Comic? “Sure,” you’re thinking, “He had plenty!” That’s true, but he almost got one in continuity as seen in the pages of NOVA #5. Marvel Comics existed within the 616 universe, producing books based on Captain America, the Fantastic Four, Dracula, and others. In this issue, Richard heard that the editors were looking to meet with him to pitch a book to Stan Lee! He went to the offices and even met with a couple of guys named Marv Wolfman and Sal Buscema. They wanted a demonstration of his powers, which led into a battle with a giant robot, but ultimately, Stan nixed the book in favor of something called MIDAS THE MILLION DOLLAR MOUSE.

Read More

Discover how the thought-dead clone has complicated Spider-Man’s story!

Every Friday we use the powers of Marvel Unlimited to look back at the very first appearances of a major character, place, or object that made waves this week.

They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery. If that’s true, then Peter Parker must be the most beloved person in the world. Just look at how many times he’s been cloned! This week one the most famous—and infamous—representatives from that group launched his own series with BEN REILLY: SCARLET SPIDER #1 by Peter David and Mark Bagley!

Originally created by Gerry Conway and Ross Andru in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #149 from 1975, the clone who would be Ben Reilly came about thanks to the machinations and twisted science of The Jackal. Peter first met his clone—who also sported the original’s memories and morality—at Shea Stadium, surprised first to see someone in his costume and even more so when that person shared his face!

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #149

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #149

What is Marvel Unlimited?

The copy seemed to die in an ensuing explosion and Peter dropped the body down a smoke stack to avoid answering too many questions. Aside from an appearance in WHAT IF? #30, that proved it for the unnamed clone until he made a reappearance nearly 20 years later, first as Ben Reilly in SPIDER-MAN #51, and then as the heroic Scarlet Spider WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #118.

A back-up story in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #223 explained that, after seemingly dying, the clone crawled out of the smoke stack, decided not to take over Peter Parker’s life and then went out on his own. You also see him taking the designation Ben Reilly for the first time in that story as he explained that he took his uncle’s first name and his aunt’s maiden one.

At first, Ben tried to work alongside Peter as an arachnid-themed hero. The two traded off on the Spider-Man identity as Mr. Parker found himself dealing with a series of rough times including the loss of his powers. At one point, Ben and Peter even believed that they’d switched places all those years back and that the clone had gone on to star in all the comics fans read for two decades. Eventually the truth came out that the webslinging duo had been fooled, but that still left two heroes running around New York City—until SPIDER-MAN #75 hit and Ben Reilly once again died trying to save Peter’s friends and family from The Green Goblin.

Web of Spider-Man (1985) #118

Web of Spider-Man (1985) #118

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Once again, it seemed Mr. Reilly would rest in peace until the events of the Clone Conspiracy event that wrapped up just recently. As it turned out, Jackal killed and recreated Ben Reilly so many times that he lost some of his sanity and decided to create New U Technologies and also bring back just about every dead person in Peter’s life, while masquerading as his creator. Ben survived the virus that took out most of the clones and now runs around Las Vegas in a cosplayer’s suit, charging the people he saves in his new ongoing series.

Flash Forward

If you’re curious about the Clone Saga, but don’t feel like diving into several years’ worth of stories, the original tale’s architects Howard Mackie and Tom DeFalco re-teamed in 2009 for SPIDER-MAN: THE CLONE SAGA. The six issue limited series drawn by Todd Nauck presents the story as they original intended to tell it, but distilled down into a few concise parts!

Read More

Celebrate the super spy’s new series with a look at his first appearance!

Every Friday we use the powers of Marvel Unlimited to look back at the very first appearance of a major character, place or object that made waves this week.

He might share a name with one of the most infamous people in the Marvel Universe, but Nick Fury plans on making a reputation for himself with his self-titled series launched this week by writer James Robinson and artist ACO. The new book may have sent Fury to the French Riviera and put him in direct opposition to Frankie Noble, but his comic book roots go back to the 2012 series BATTLE SCARS.

Chris Yost, Matt Fraction and Cullen Bunn collaborated to write the six-issue BATTLE SCARS with art by Scot Eaton. The series, set during the Fear Itself event, kicked off in Afghanistan with the 2nd Battalion Army Rangers trying to figure out why everyone seemed to be shooting everyone else. Here we’re introduced to Staff Sergeant Marcus Johnson who winds up in Atlanta, Georgia four days later after getting word that his mother, Nia Marie Johnson, passed away. Just as he began to realize that someone specifically wanted his mother dead, he’s pinned down by sniper fire and attacked by a wetworks squad backed up by none other than Taskmaster. Luckily, Captain America and then-Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Daisy Johnson stepped in to help Marcus.

S.H.I.E.L.D. tried keeping him safe in their rebuilt headquarters, but Marcus broke out, took down an entire group of their agents, and started his own investigation into Taskmaster along with his Ranger pal “Cheese,” otherwise known as Phil Coulson! The search not only lead to another fight with Taskmaster, but a team-up with Deadpool against the Serpent Society and the revelation that a masked man calling himself Orion stood as Johnson’s true enemy.

Battle Scars (2011) #1

Battle Scars (2011) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Another masked man soon revealed himself not only as Nick Fury, but as Marcus’ father. The elder Fury met Nia Johnson when they both worked for the CIA 30 years prior. The two hit it off and nine months later Marcus entered the world. Nia quit that job and Fury worked his spy magic to keep her safe until recently when someone uncovered the information and sold it to Leviathan leader Orion. Fury messed Orion up pretty bad and the continually-dying villain wanted some of the Infinity Formula to fix his problem, but the only real source remained in Marcus’ blood.

Soon enough, both father and son wound up in Orion’s clutches. He had his goons cut out Marcus’ left eye to make a family resemblance. Orion then received a transfusion from Fury that restored his power and youth, but a presumed dead Marcus fought his way through Orion’s goons. Johnson stalled the villain long enough to get the Avengers there to back his play and save the day, seemingly killing Orion in the process. A few weeks later, Marcus shaved his head, joined his pal Coulson and became official Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. He also decided to take on his father’s name as a way to honor him and carry on a longstanding tradition with the organization.

Flash Forward

Nick Fury Jr. may have first appeared in the Marvel Universe as Marcus Johnson in BATTLE SCARS, but the idea for an African-American take on the character debuted back in 2002 when he showed up in THE ULTIMATES #1 by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch looking an awful lot like Samuel L. Jackson. A noted comic fan, Jackson appreciated the nod and, by the time the Fury character made his big screen debut in 2008’s “Iron Man,” Jackson filled in the eye patch and long coat!

Read More