Danny Rand journeys from the mystic village of K'un Lun to Netflix!

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.

Considering Danny Rand not only just debuted his own Netflix series, but also starred in a new comic by Ed Brisson and Mike Perkins, it couldn’t be a better time to take a glance back at his debut in the pages of MARVEL PREMIERE #15.

The issue, which dropped in 1974, came from the minds of Roy Thomas and Gil Kane. It opened with Iron Fist taking on a quartet of trained attackers for an audience that included Yu-Ti – otherwise known as the August Personage of Jade – and the four hooded Dragon Kings.

Having defeated his opponents, Iron Fist looked up to Yu-Ti asking about The Challenge of the One when the elder asked him to think back on his past. This filled in the reader about a 9-year-old boy who scaled a mountain with his parents Wendell and Heather as well as his dad’s business partner a decade prior in search of K’un Lun.

That journey ended for his father, when Meacham, the business partner, took advantage of a minor accident to distract them from his true intent: murdering Danny’s dad. Remembering the focus he and his mother had in trying to climb down to safety, Iron Fist used that in his battle with the silent, deadly and huge Shu-Hu.

Danny failed to gain the upper hand with this challenge and soon found himself being battered around. In an effort to regain his focus, he dug even deeper into the memory of surviving with his mother in the unforgiving mountains, hiding in caves and avoiding wolves. While the hungry pack chased them, Danny and his mother saw the bridge to K’un Lun, but Heather didn’t think they’d make it so she thrust her son ahead and then ran back, offering herself to their pursuers.

The memory of his mother’s bravery spurred Danny on to battle his enemy more fiercely than before, actually spilling over into a berserker rage. Fully back in the fight, he won the match upon funneling his will to his fist which “becomes like unto a thing of iron!” Of course, this would be just the first of many fights we’d see Iron Fist take on as he’d travel through the Marvel Universe joining groups like the Heroes for Hire, New Avengers and even The Defenders.

During his run on PREMIERE, which went until #25, other luminaries like Larry Hama, Chris Claremont, Len Wein and John Byrne worked on the character. Danny then starred in his own ongoing series for 15 issues though the final story carried over to MARVEL TEAM-UP #63-64.

And then true comic book magic happened when the powers that be teamed Rand with Luke Cage in POWER MAN & IRON FIST, a partnership that continues to give readers a thrill to this day. In fact, a series of that same name can be found on shelves right now even as the new IRON FIST series kicks off.

Flash Forward

In the pages of IMMORTAL IRON FIST, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, David Aja and others expanded upon the mythology of Iron Fist. They not only chronicled the adventures of other, previous bearers of the name, but also expanded on the idea of K’un Lun as one of many mystical cities with their own warriors. Readers met the likes of Fat Cobra, Dog Brother #1, Bride of Nine Spiders, Prince of Orphans, Tiger’s Beautiful Daughter and Steel Phoenix.

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Betsy Braddock has had one weird road to being a super hero!

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.

Psylocke might be throwing down with Magneto in this week’s UNCANNY X-MEN #19, but she might not have been so bold back in her first appearance. In fact, as longtime X-fans will know, the woman known as Betsy Braddock has actually changed more than her appearance since she first showed up in the Marvel UK comic CAPTAIN BRITAIN #8 in 1976 by Chris Claremont and Herb Trimpe.

The sister of the title hero, Betsy displayed some telepathic abilities, worked with S.T.R.I.K.E., and even took over as Captain Britain for a brief adventure. She would go on to appear in other Marvel UK books like THE DAREDEVILS and SUPER SPIDER-MAN AND CAPTAIN BRITAIN before making the jump across the pond in NEW MUTANTS ANNUAL #2.

In that issue, Mojo and Spiral jumped her and used her to help dazzle the children of Earth with a new animated series. Though executing the usual evil plan, Mojo did help restore Betsy’s previously lost sight and granted her the name Psylocke. After the New Mutants rescued her, she decided to attend Xavier’s school in order to get a better handle on her powers.

After serving with the X-Men for a while, an amnesiac Psylocke wound up in the Hand’s possession where they continued to brainwash her into thinking herself the assassin Lady Mandarin. The group also altered her appearance so she would more seamlessly blend in with Hong Kong. Luckily, Wolverine restored Psylocke, as seen in the pages of UNCANNY X-MEN #256258, but Betsy retained the incredible fighting skills she learned as well as her now-iconic psychic knife.

Around this same time a ninja named Kwannon also appeared with Betsy’s old face. The case of mistaken identity bounced back and forth for a while until ultimately coming to a conclusion that left Psylocke in control once again. Braddock continued fighting the good fight, even getting a power upgrade thanks to the Crimson Dawn, but she fell in the first few issues of X-TREME X-MEN; she got better in UNCANNY X-MEN #455.

Later she helped the reality-hopping Exiles save several existences in the pages of both EXILES and NEW EXILES. She also played a big part in X-MEN: SWORD OF THE BRADDOCKS and starred in her own 2010 limited series. Upon fully returning to the Marvel Universe, Psylocke has become a big part of the X-Men again, appearing in books like UNCANNY X-FORCE, X-MEN, and UNCANNY X-MEN.

Flash Forward

The most recent volume of UNCANNY X-MEN marks just one more step in the long relationship between Psylocke and Sabretooth. They first met one another in the pages of UNCANNY X-MEN #213, not long after Betsy enrolled at the school. After quickly taking out Rogue, the then-villainous ‘Tooth entered the mansion to do the same with Betsy, but she used her powers—enhanced by Cerebro—to stun him before running away. Braddock held her own pretty well, but ultimately Sabretooth got the drop on her, but not before Storm and Wolverine showed up to pick up the slack. Later in UNCANNY X-MEN #328, Psylocke stepped in to stop an enraged Boom Boom from getting herself killed in Sabretooth’s cell, an act that led to her own evisceration. While running around with the Exiles, Psylocke actually started a relationship with the Age of Apocalypse version of her enemy. Most recently, the two came together on the same team.

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As the muck monster bubbles up in a new series, crawl back to his early appearances!

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 legendary writer officially entered the House of Ideas this week with a monster of a debut. That’s right, R.L. Stine’s MAN-THING #1 just hit, so let’s jump back to the muck monster’s earliest appearances!

Manny’s very first appearance came in 1971’s SAVAGE TALES #1. That story by Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, and Gray Morrow introduced the world to the creature formerly known as Dr. Ted Sallis who burned those who knew fear with his touch.

Len Wein and Neal Adams created a seven-page Man-Thing story that didn’t have a home after SAVAGE TALES got the axe. It was then integrated into a Ka-Zar story in 1972’s ASTONISHING TALES #12. That escapade carried over into the next issue as well and featured the two stars first getting into a tussle and then teaming up against A.I.M. agents.

Astonishing Tales (1970) #13

Astonishing Tales (1970) #13

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From there, Man-Thing transferred his tales over to ADVENTURES INTO FEAR where he anchored the book from #1019. With #11, the legendary writer Steve Gerber began his relationship with Man-Thing. That union bore glorious fruit for the creature, and also directly led to the creation of Howard the Duck who bowed in ADVENTURES INTO FEAR #19.

The feature proved popular enough to launch MAN-THING in 1974. Gerber wrote every issue of the series, joined by artists like Mike Ploog, Val Mayerik, John Buscema and others. Gerber also worked on the quarterly book GIANT-SIZE MAN-THING which racked up five huge issues along the way.

From there Man-Thing appeared in places like the first dozen issues of MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS, the Evolutionary War crossover, and a second ongoing series in the late 70’s. Gerber returned to the character with INFERNAL MAN-THING, a much-delayed project with art by Kevin Nowlan, which directly references his original run on the character.

Stine’s take on the character marks a return to the stands as the headliner, but he’s never far away, especially for those who truly know fear!

Flash Forward

Though he might not seem like much of a team player, Man-Thing has actually worked with his fair share of them over the years. He appeared alongside some of his fellow beastly characters in LEGION OF MONSTERS during the 70’s and then with Franklin Richards, Artie, Leech, Tana Nile, and Howard the Duck in DAYDREAMERS. A few years back, he agreed to act as transport for the Thunderbolts when Luke Cage ran the group. Most recently he worked with S.T.A.K.E. and the LMD Dum Dum Duggan in the pages of HOWLING COMMANDOS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.

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The kick-butt heroine kicked off her own series this week, but check out how she got her start!

Earlier this week history was made when AMERICA #1 launched by Gabby Rivera and Joe Quinones as it marked the first time an LGBT Latina headlined her own ongoing series at Marvel! To celebrate the occasion, let’s look back at her first appearance in the six issue series VENGEANCE!

The 2011 comic by Joe Casey and Nick Dragotta first fully introduced us to Miss America as she leapt into a giant missile silo on her own. She exhibited super strength and the ability to fly as she searched for her prize: an imprisoned and unconscious In-Betweener.

Later in that same issue, a new hero by the name of Ultimate Nullifier revealed that he and Ms. America belonged to a group called the Teen Brigade hearkening back to the kids in AVENGERS #1 who tried contacting the Fantastic Four, but instead their signal made its way to Thor, Ant-Man, Wasp and Iron Man and the team was born.

According to VENGEANCE, several iterations of the Teen Brigade go back to World War I and they’ve always focused on helping heroes without them knowing about it. In this first appearance, Chavez acted as one of the group’s heaviest hitters. In fact, she was still carrying the In-Betweener back to headquarters when the Braak’nhud appeared.

Though the ensuing fight proved brutal, she not only fought them off, but kept her new acquisition safe. From there it gets less and less simple to sum up the events of this series which also included the New Defenders, a group of younger villains called the Young Masters who wanted to kill their older counterparts, a WWII-era Red Skull plot, deeply buried S.H.I.E.L.D. espionage, and the like.

However, this Miss America came off as hard-edged and tough, especially when facing villains or being thrust into the Realm of Tiboro by Kid Loki. There she stood up to the creatures who attacked her before as well as the wrath of Tiboro, God of Decay. Eventually, the Defenders appeared to help finish the creature and they all made it back for the big battle.

Ms. America then remained dormant for a while until Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie launched YOUNG AVENGERS in 2013. In that series we learned more about America’s past which actually started on the Utopian Parallel located outside of normal time and space. She grew up with her two moms who sacrificed themselves to save their home from the black holes popping up thanks to the invading Demiurge.

Feeling lost and without an anchor, America started using her newfound abilities—which also included dimension-hopping—to travel around, right wrongs when and where she saw fit. Eventually she wound up with the Teen Brigade, then the Young Avengers, and even A-Force and the Ultimates in more recent times.

Flash Forward

As mentioned above, America also spends a good deal of her time hanging out in ULTIMATES. In that book, she’s helped sate Galactus’ hunger and fix some time travel troubles—among other problems—with her fellow super-smart super heroes, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Blue Marvel and Spectrum. Civil War II proved tough on the team, but they’re back together in ULTIMATES 2 as Galactus’ heralds with America in charge.

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In her first appearance, the ninja assassin bets on red!

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.

As ELEKTRA #1 bets our favorite Sai-wielding assassin’s life in a Vegas-set adventure by Matt Owens and Juan Cabal this week, it’s the best time possible to roll back the tape and check out her debut.

Created as part of Frank Miller’s epic DAREDEVIL run, Elektra first appeared in 1981’s issue #168. The writer and artist put the basics of her relationship with the Man Without Fear right on the cover in a blurb that read: “Once he loved her…now she is his most deadly enemy!”

While looking for information, Daredevil ran into some punks who preferred fisticuffs to communication. As he handled them, Elektra watched from her perch on a nearby power line. As she worried that the Man Without Fear’s presence could “ruin everything,” he completely missed her presence because of the fight.

A moment later, the warrior woman threw the handle-end of her Sai into the back of Daredevil’s head and proceeded to beat up our hero’s quarry in an effort to get the same intel. Just before passing out from injuries sustained, Matt Murdock recognized Elektra.

While unconscious, Matt’s mind drifted back to meeting the woman known as Elektra Natchios back when he and Foggy Nelson attended Columbia. They literally ran into the young lady, her father, and their body guards, which gave the future Daredevil a chance to take in her scent.

Daredevil (1964) #168

Daredevil (1964) #168

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Later, Matt used a paper airplane and less-than-subtle subterfuge to distract the bodyguard so he could briefly converse with Elektra and pass her a rose. After she said she didn’t want to go out with him, Matt spilled the beans on his secret origin, explaining his heightened senses.

The play worked and the two had a year of happiness in college. That all ended when some terrorists held Elektra and her father at gunpoint and Matt’s attempt at diffusing the situation inadvertently led to Mr. Natchios’ death. She didn’t stick around long after that, returning to Europe and a life that would eventually shape her into one of the world’s foremost assassins.

Eventually Daredevil recovered and made it to the docks in time to help save Elektra from some of the men she tried to pump for info. Before leaving, he kissed her and she knew the masked man’s true identity.

Elektra stuck around for a while, but eventually wound up on the wrong end of her own Sai thanks to an attack by Bullseye in DAREDEVIL #181. Far from her last appearance, the master of combat has spent time as the head of the Hand, a Thunderbolt and even an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Flash Forward

Much to her chagrin, Elektra fell to the invaders during Secret Invasion. As seen in MIGHTY AVENGERS #16, the assassin nearly defeated an entire squad of shapeshifters, but lost in battle to a Super Skrull sporting a combination of Invisible Woman and Colossus’ abilities called Pagon. This is the Skrull who then took over the Hand and sacrificed itself in battle with the Avengers to let the heroes know they’d been infiltrated. That story actually set off the invasion in NEW AVENGERS #31 when the dead “Elektra” turned green and Skrully. Upon escaping from her initial captors, Elektra and others found themselves incarcerated by S.H.I.E.L.D. and its follow-up organization H.A.M.M.E.R., run by Norman Osborn. Being one of the most dangerous people on the planet, though, she eventually broke out and got back to her life as can be seen in DARK REIGN: ELEKTRA.

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Get further insight into this version of Wolverine with his classic debut tale!

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.

With the end of the OLD MAN LOGAN story “Return to the Wasteland” hitting this week, it seems like just the right time to do the same ourselves and look at his first appearance!

This alternate future version of the character first debuted in 2008’s WOLVERINE #66 thanks to Mark Millar and Steve McNiven. That issue showed a take of the ol’ Canucklehead who had survived the villains’ attempt to take out the heroes and divide up the country. He’d even settled down with a woman named Maureen and they’d had a pair of kids: Scotty and Jade.

Logan had become so focused on keeping his family safe that he refused to pop his claws and take out members of the Hulk gang when they came to collect the rent he didn’t have. Instead, he took a beating in front of his kin and found their very survival threatened if he didn’t come up with the money by the next month.

As he healed, another survivor paid Logan a visit: Clint Barton. The now-blind archer proposed a delivery job to raise some capital, in which the former X-Man would help get the one-time Avenger to the east coast in two weeks. Logan agreed and the two took off in the old Spider-Mobile with Hawkeye at the wheel!

The rest of the story ran until issue #72 and concluded in the WOLVERINE: OLD MAN LOGAN GIANT-SIZE one-shot; along the way the heroic duo ran into Ghost Riders, killer Moloids, Venom-covered dinosaurs, and the massive skeleton of Hank Pym.

Of course, this being Wolverine, plenty of skeletons still rattled in the old closet. Eventually he told Hawkeye why he never wanted to pop his claws again. Back during the villain uprising, Mysterio tricked him into killing all of the X-Men. To punish himself, he put his head on the tracks where he waited until a train smashed into him.

Wolverine (2003) #66

Wolverine (2003) #66

  • Published: June 18, 2008
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: January 01, 2010
  • Rating: Parental Advisory
  • Writer: Mark Millar
  • Penciller: Steve McNiven
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Upon arriving in New Babylon, the pair soon learned that the samples of Super Soldier Serum they’d carried all across the country weren’t meant to start a new hero team, but to be given to The Red Skull—the President of the United States!

Hawkeye’s fake contacts blasted both of them, but Logan got better and dealt with President Skull by cutting his head off with Captain America’s shield before blasting off for home in part of an Iron Man armor with a briefcase full of money. Unfortunately, the Hulk gang got bored, came for the rent early and killed Logan’s family in the meantime. Enraged, Logan rechristened himself Wolverine and exacted bloody revenge on his family’s killers before moving on to the head honcho himself: Bruce Banner.

Flash Forward

Old Man Logan came back to the forefront as Secret Wars reintroduced a variety of alternate reality characters to readers before integrating a lot of them into the main Marvel Universe. Brian Michael Bendis and Andrea Sorrentino handled that five issue story which saw Logan clawing his way from one part of Battleworld to another before eventually landing naked in the Marvel U’s Times Square. The ongoing adventures have been handled by Jeff Lemire and Sorrentino, with Lemire also bringing Logan into the fold of EXTRAORDINARY X-MEN. With our version of Wolverine still in the dirt, this one helps fill the void while he also travels the world trying to ensure his world never comes about.

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Wilson Fisk takes advantage of a Spider-Man-less New York City in 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.

Wilson Fisk might be trying to go straight in the first issue of his new series KINGPIN, which launched this week from Matthew Rosenberg and Ben Torres, but he certainly didn’t start out that way.

Though mostly associated with Daredevil, Kingpin actually debuted in the book of another New York-based vigilante: Spider-Man! And in a strange way, he actually convinced Peter Parker about his important as a hero. 1969’s AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #50 not only marks the Kingpin’s first appearance as a major Marvel villain, but also the landmark story titled “Spider-Man No More!”

Written by Stan Lee and drawn by John Romita, the issue started off like many others with the Web Head taking on four would-be robbers. With the baddies firmly ensconced in a door, Spidey swung off to ruminate about how J. Jonah Jameson has completely ruined his reputation with Daily Bugle editorials.

Upon Pete returning home, his roommate Harry Osborn told him Aunt May has had another attack, so our hero rushed to her side. Once there, he wondered why he spends so much time helping people who fear him, especially when it takes him away from his loved ones. Fed up, Peter threw his Spider-Man costume in the trash, where it’s found by a kid and taken to JJJ who considered the act a victory. As the news went live, we then cut to a shot of Wilson Fisk overlooking the city telling an underling that he, The Kingpin, planned on taking over all crime in NYC!

With Kingpin taking over the mobs, crime ran wild. The man himself explained his plan: “The underworld will now be run like a business—and the chairman of the board will be – the Kingpin!”

Meanwhile, things moved along pretty nicely for Peter Parker. With Spider-Man out of his life he could focus on school, family and even dating his lady, Mary Jane Watson. Still, he heard about the crime wave and even stumbled upon an assault that he stopped. Remembering that his inaction led to the death of Uncle Ben, Peter pledged to continue fighting to help innocents. He then broke into JJJ’s office, got his old costume back and got back in on the super hero action.

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #50

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #50

  • Published: July 10, 1967
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 13, 2007
  • Penciller: John Romita
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In the following issue, after waging a one-man war on crime against the Kingpin, Spider-Man finally met his new foe leading into a multi-page fight between the two. Not only did Fisk prove faster and stronger than he looked, but also well-equipped with items like a gas-shooting pendant. Kingpin followed that up in issue #52 by tying the unconscious Spider-Man to Jameson and putting them in an air-tight room filling with water. Spidey made a protective bubble out of webbing, knocked out the goons and made his way towards another altercation with Fisk.

Once again, Kingpin used a trick—this time a secret passageway in his office—to escape from Spider-Man, but the two would cross paths many times. Not one to make friends in the hero community, Kingpin also lists Daredevil and Punisher among of his more regular adversaries.

Flash Forward

Before launching KINGPIN, writer Matthew Rosenberg wrote Fisk in the series CIVIL WAR II: KINGPIN. Upon returning from San Francisco, Kingpin learned that a former minion named Janus Jardeesh exhibited an interesting Inhuman ability: he essentially became invisible to the future-seeing Ulysses at the center of Civil War II. As you might expect, Kingpin used this to commit all kinds of crimes. With all that success, though, he attracted ill will from criminals outside his organization and even dissent from within. Fisk fought tooth and nail to save everything he’d built in a four issue series that displayed Rosenberg’s deep understanding of the character!

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Take aim at the man who never misses with a look back at his debut against Daredevil!

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 Marvel’s most menacing villains made history this week by headlining his first ever ongoing series. That’s right, with BULLSEYE #1, the man with impeccable aim jumped onto shelves thanks to Ed Brisson, Marv Wolfman, Guillermo Sanna, and Alec Morgan. As Bullseye heads down to South America for some fiendish fun and frolic, let’s look back to his very first appearance back in 1976’s DAREDEVIL #131 by Wolfman, Bob Brown and Klaus Janson.

The initial weapon wielded by the master assassin might strike you as a surprise: Bullseye’s first ever attack comes in the form of a paper airplane thrown perfectly through a high-rise window with a simple message: “Pay me $100,000 or I will kill you!!” The man on the other side of the divide, Mr. Hunnicutt, proves unlucky as he looks up to see the masked killer standing before him. With the unfortunate Hunnicutt having no money on hand, Bullseye picked up a pen from his office set and threw it into the poor guy’s neck! As we learn, the villain never had any intention of actually letting his victim live, instead intending only to bolster his murderous reputation.

Daredevil shows up to investigate and runs into a Daily Bugle reporter named Jake Conover who shares some information on the new assassin that came directly from the seeming psycho’s mouth. Turns out the unnamed man served in Vietnam where he not only relished killing the enemy but also discovered a talent for using throwing weapons. As a signed major league baseball pitcher, he could have returned after the war to that career, but instead moved to Africa where he became a mercenary.

On his way home from meeting with Conover, Daredevil finds himself in the blast zone of a lobbed grenade that sends him tumbling down into an alley where his assailant waits. Bullseye runs, DD giving chase only to wind up in another trap set at a circus!

The tale carries over into DAREDEVIL #132 where the actual big top battle takes place. Thanks to the explosion, the Man Without Fear suffers a series of other injuries that put him off his game. Unimpressed with his opponent’s skills, Bullseye escapes after blasting a pool of water with his special gun’s sonic cartridge.

Far from finished, Bullseye finds another target: a rich couple named Henry and Freda Foster. Using the same gun from before, he shoots a harpoon through the window that staples Henry’s arm to the wall. Doing his usual shtick of demanding money, Bullseye gives the Fosters a day to get the cash but warns them against calling the cops. When Henry does, he gets a sword through the hand.

At that same moment, Daredevil bursts into the room and takes on Bullseye at full power for the very first time. The assassin attempts to use everything from another pen to an umbrella to take out the hero, but ol’ Horn Head walks away the victor!

Not a fan of being bested, Bullseye continues to appear and becomes one of Daredevil’s most infamous enemies. Not long after this first appearance, he first tries to assassinate Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson and later kidnaps Matt’s girlfriend the Black Widow. Of course, he’s most well known as the man who murdered not one, but two of Murdock’s loves: Elektra and Karen Page.

Flash Forward

When it comes to deadly dynamos in the Marvel Universe, few have caused as much damage as Bullseye, but even he’s played at being a good guy. In addition to chasing down rogue heroes during Civil War as a member of the Thunderbolts, he also became Norman Osborn’s Hawkeye in the group known as the Dark Avengers. Even when trying to do good things like stopping a malfunctioning Hulkbuster or stopping three guys from attacking a woman, his temper and disregard for innocent civilians usually led to death. In other words, being anything close to a good guy might be the thing that Bullseye couldn’t hit if his life depended on it.

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Celebrate the former queen of Wakanda’s regal return with a look back at her 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.

The queen was dead, long live the queen! That’s right, the one-time ruler of Wakanda, Shuri, fully returned this week in the pages of BLACK PANTHER #10 by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Chris Sprouse. Considering how important she has become to the world of Wakanda and her brother T’Challa, it might surprise some that Shuri first appeared only 12 years ago in the pages of BLACK PANTHER #2 by Reginald Hudlin and John Romita Jr.!

Shuri passed away fighting for Wakanda during Jonathan Hickman’s NEW AVENGERS #24, but has been hanging out on spirit plane in the current series ever since Coates kicked it off right after Secret Wars. Recently, in BLACK PANTHER #9, Shuri returned to the land of the living with mysterious supernatural powers only to find her homeland going through tumultuous times.

Black Panther (2016) #9

Black Panther (2016) #9

All of this makes you wonder what might have happened had she been just a bit faster in getting to the tournament in her first appearance. In a scene narrated by Everett K. Ross as he explains the nature of the Black Panther title to a group of U.S. officials, we get a glimpse at the trials for deciding the role.

Each year, the Panther must take on any and all challengers who wish to try out for the sacred post. As the scene unfolds, the Panther holds his own against a series of competitors. At the same time, T’Challa’s sister Princess Shuri attempts to race to the ring, intending to try out herself. She had just about made it when the Panther tossed a rather large opponent out of the ring who landed on her.

In that brief amount of time, a masked challenger leaped over both, landed in the ring and bested The Black Panther. That masked man turned out to be T’Challa. That’s how he took the mantle of Black Panther from his uncle S’yan, literally leapfrogging his sister in the process.shuri-black-panther-17

Of course, Shuri did not shrink into the background. She continued her training and proved herself an able warrior time and time again. She even achieved her dream of becoming Black Panther after a confrontation with Doctor Doom nearly killed T’Challa. She served in that same capacity until her relatively brief death at the hands of Proxima Midnight.

Flash Forward

Though Shuri’s time as her country’s totem did not last long in the grand scheme of things, she still starred in three different series: BLACK PANTHER, DOOMWAR, and KLAWS OF THE PANTHER. The first sees her becoming the hero and going on missions to figure out what happened to her brother which leads directly into conflict with the Latverian leader who stole all of Wakdanda’s Vibranium. Then, in KLAWS, she learns a variety of lessons about being a hero from the likes of Shanna the She-Devil, Wolverine, Spider-Man, and others.

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Jump back over 50 years for the first appearance of Spider-Man’s lost love!

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.

Reunions with old flames usually feel strange and awkward. That goes double when you’re a super hero whose college sweetheart died in a fight with your arch enemy and has been cloned repeatedly in the ensuing years.

This week’s AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #23 by Dan Slott, Christos Gage, and Giuseppe Camuncoli features a conversation between Peter Parker and the recently returned Gwen Stacy taking place in and around THE CLONE CONSPIRACY #4. In order to truly feel the impact of this chat, it’s important to look back at the very first appearance of Gwen in the pages of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #31 from 1965 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

After a night of battling some goons, Peter Parker heads to Empire State University for registration and returns home to see Aunt May faint. Heading in for his first day at school with a lot on his mind, Peter first met Gwen as she chatted with Harry Osborn and Flash Thompson. To set the stage, this also marks Harry’s first appearance and Flash still dislikes Parker from their high school days, but Gwen’s already heard of Peter’s intelligence and seems impressed. However, Peter’s so wrapped up in his own thoughts that he doesn’t see Flash trying to introduce him to his future best friend and girlfriend.

Even without meeting him, Gwen can’t stop thinking about Parker during their first class. “He’s not as husky as Flash…but brighter…and very attractive!” she muses to herself.

Later, in chem lab, Harry and Flash want to play a trick on Peter because they think he’s a square who’s too full of himself so they send Gwen to distract him while they switch out his chemicals, causing a minor explosion. In their first meeting, Gwen Stacy tries several times to get the erstwhile Spider-Man’s attention, but he doesn’t even turn around when he finally gives her the pen she asks to borrow!104199-47500-gwen-stacy

Even after several attempts at getting his attention and failing, Gwen can’t resist the challenge and keeps after Peter, but it doesn’t work—at least in this issue. The eventual relationship between the two became strained after Gwen’s dad, Captain George Stacy, died as the result of a battle between Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus. Gwen’s growing hatred of the masked vigilante and Peter’s guilt combined to form a wedge in the romance that stopped him from proposing to her when she decided to move to England for a while.

Eventually, Gwen returned to the Big Apple and rekindled a relationship with Peter that ended when The Green Goblin captured her and threw her from atop the George Washington Bridge in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #121. The Wallcrawler tried to save her with his webbing, but failed. Gwen’s death not only added a permanent monument in Peter Parker’s garden of guilt, but also established a more serious tone in the Marvel Universe.

Flash Forward

In 1975, Gwen mysteriously reappeared in the original Clone Saga, but she turned out to be a copy created by The Jackal. Since then, a variety of different clones have popped up to play with Spider-Man’s head, but the realization that Gwen had twins with Norman Osborn before her death in the “Sins Past” storyline might take the cake as far as surprises go. In The Clone Conspiracy, Jackal explained that he grabbed Gwen’s body and brought her back to life complete with her full memories. The story also involves everyone’s favorite alternate reality version of the character, Spider-Gwen, otherwise known as Earth-65’s Spider-Woman!

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