Kelly Thompson dishes on Clint Barton’s return!

In the pages of HAWKEYE, writer Kelly Thompson and artist Leonardo Romero have helped Kate Bishop grow into one of the Marvel Universe’s most fascinating characters. And in the new arc, titled “Family Reunion,” beginning with December 8’s HAWKEYE #13, her former partner Clint Barton makes his way out to Los Angeles to team-up with his old protégé!

We caught up with Kelly to explore the unique chemistry between Kate and Clint—and to see how his return may shape her future!

Marvel.com: Going into HAWKEYE #13, we’ve got a whole year’s worth of solo Kate adventures under our belt. What made you decide to bring Clint back now?

Kelly Thompson: Some of it came from the fact that I’ve wanted to get Clint into the book for a long time, but that we felt it would’ve been important to let Kate try to stand on her own first. So we’ve been building to their team-up again, almost since the beginning, putting Kate through a real emotional wringer where she really finds herself needing Clint’s help and her having grown enough that she’s actually willing to ask for that help.

Of course, a lot of books have started their Marvel Legacy arcs, so the timing ended up being perfect to get back to a Kate and Clint team up story.

Marvel.com: Where do you see their relationship standing as this new arc begins? How would you describe their chemistry and what fans can expect from this reunion?

Kelly Thompson: It’s become really overused—including by me!—but as far as I’m concerned, Kate and Clint together are magic. They have a wonderful chemistry on the page, a sort of brother and sister vibe where they love each other fiercely and would do anything for each other, but they also drive each other crazy. All of that dynamic, plus Kate and Clint sharing the classic Hawkeye traits of always getting into trouble and never giving up, leads to just really fun high-octane stories.

Our team—especially artist Leonardo Romero and colorist Jordie Bellaire—have been incredible from day one, but I have to admit that I really love what they’re doing with Kate and Clint together. It may be my favorite stuff of our whole run.

Marvel.com: The book has been very open about its noir influences. Have any films or novels in particular inspired this team-up?

Kelly Thompson: “The Thin Man” for sure and other classic noir like “The Big Sleep,” and “Double Indemnity.” But I’d say we’ve leaned a bit neo-noir like “The Nice Guys” and “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” too—a more modern approach to themes. There’s also of course an obvious “Veronica Mars” influence when you look at style and location and the sharp sense of humor we get from Kate. When developing the look of the book, and describing what we wanted, Jordie Bellaire said something like, “Oh. I get it. Classic Hollywood Film Noir meets ‘Miami Vice,’” and I feel like that’s…perfect.

Marvel.com: These two first became so inexorably linked on Matt Fraction and David Aja’s run on the title. Has bringing them back together made comparisons to that book more prevalent, or do you feel you’ve established a new identity for Kate?

Kelly Thompson: You know, it’s the absolute best and also worst thing to have to work in the shadow of Fraction, Aja, [artist] Annie Wu, and [colorist] Matt Hollingsworth’s amazing HAWKEYE run. They remain some of my favorite comics of all time, and it was clear to everyone that we had to cut our own path or we would indeed always be fully caught in their shadow.

So I think it was the right call to let Kate move to LA—something they originally set up—and to allow her to stand on her own for a while. But I think enough time has passed that it makes a lot of sense for Kate and Clint to share a book again. I think the fans really want it to, and for good reason, as I said, they’re magic together.

Marvel.com: Can you tease how this arc might affect Clint and Kate’s status quo going forward?

Kelly Thompson: I think getting them back together in a team-up reminds Clint and Kate of everything that’s so perfect about them working together…“the good ol’ days” if you will. But they’re also on different paths right now with a lot going on in their separate lives, so I’m not sure what the future holds.

Find out in HAWKEYE #13, from Kelly Thompson and artist Leonardo Romero, on December 6!

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Kelly Thompson brings the mutants back together this January!

Prepare for a new chapter in one of the Marvel Universe’s great ongoing stories.

This January, writer Kelly Thompson and artist Pere Perez reunite ROGUE & GAMBIT for a brand new team-up series! The star-crossed lovers need to discover the source of mutant kidnappings across the world—and the answer won’t come easily.

But perhaps the bigger question lies in whether or not they’ll be able to stand each other’s company long enough to finish the job.

We caught up with Thompson to whet the appetites of Rogue and Gambit fans everywhere.

Marvel.com: Describe the difference between writing this series and your previous work on HAWKEYE or CAPTAIN PHASMA.

Kelly Thompson: You end up using slightly different muscles. I’ve done a lot of “solo” stuff and a ton of “ensemble” stuff, but this has been my first time writing a team-up book…except for GENERATIONS: THE ARCHERS, and of course the forthcoming Marvel Legacy arc in HAWKEYE. But I think it’s safe to say that Gambit and Rogue act pretty different than Kate and Clint do.

The trick, for me, has always just been about finding the voice for each character and then pinpointing what changes in each when you put them together—for both good and ill.

Marvel.com: What kind of chemistry or dynamic did you want to highlight between these two characters? 

Kelly Thompson: I think we all know that a Gambit and Rogue book can actually be a very tricky thing. Fans want a lot of things from the characters—and they’re not always the same things. We obviously can’t please everyone, but for me, the important thing about finding the right chemistry for these characters, and for our story, was to address the rich history Gambit and Rogue have—while also forging ahead and cutting new paths for them. So instead of shying away from that history, I built the story around it and we’re leaning into it—in what I hope reads as a creative way—that will be rewarding to longtime fans, but also accessible for those who might be new to the characters and curious to find out what’s so great about them and why fans both love and hate seeing them together.

I think as readers and fans (and I am both!) we often feel like we’ve already seen everything we could possibly see with Gambit and Rogue when it comes to their dynamic together. My greatest hope has been that we’re doing something new and different here—something a little outside the box—that still respects what came before. Gambit and Rogue are the comic book characters I have loved the longest in my life—they literally brought me into comics. Writing them has been a dream come true, but also, the pressure feels very on to do justice to them and to bring their many fans something they can really love. To write a story that will stand the test of time and carve a path for their future.

Marvel.com: How did you and Pere Perez approach these characters visually?

Kelly Thompson: Pere does such a great job. To be honest, this has been a very complicated book visually—it requires a lot of reference, research, and detail in the scripts—and of course that only makes things more complex for the artist. I can’t expand on that too much without giving some things away. It’s one of those things where you write a page and just hope that the artist can handle the demands (because you know they’re a lot) and then you see their version of the page and it’s better than you could have imagined. That is such an awesome moment on any book.

Marvel.com: What can you tease about how this story begins?

Kelly Thompson: We’ve got an all-new big bad that will be a lot of fun. I can’t reveal motives, but suffice to say they’ve got them in spades (no pun, I swear). Gambit and Rogue get assigned to the mission by Kitty, in part due to their long history together.

And while sometimes it may seem like their baggage might sink them on this assignment…I think we’ll see it’s what helps them survive. Even if that’s not how it feels in the heat of the moment.

ROGUE & GAMBIT, by Kelly Thompson and artist Pere Perez, arrives in January!

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Legacy dawns as Kate and Clint take Los Angeles with Kelly Thompson!

Some friends get together and pose for selfies. Kate Bishop and Clint Barton get together and pose for mugshots.

Or, at least, so it seems in writer Kelly Thompson and artist Leonardo Romero’s HAWKEYE #13! Clint makes his way to the West Coast to drop in on his protégé and friend…though he might be bringing quite an agenda along with him. Luckily, Kate wants something from her mentor as well.

We grabbed a green juice, got our tan on, and asked writer Thompson a few questions ahead of the Marvel Legacy title.

Marvel.com: The cover for issue #13 reveals that the Hawkeyes ride together again—what can you tell us about their reunion?

Kelly Thompson: Clint will actually show up at the tail end of HAWKEYE #12 in November and when we see him there, they both reach out to one another for the same reason—because they need help and trust the other, above all, to be there for them. It’s a great little moment that shows their bond. It then immediately devolves into comedy and bickering of course—but for a whole minute it’s beautiful!

Marvel.com: Having recently handled Clint and Kate’s team-up in GENERATIONS, how does their relationship in this comic differ to that? How does it remain the same?

Kelly Thompson: I definitely had to put some thought into GENERATIONS initially—into finding a voice for Clint that felt accurate to who he would be as a younger character but still felt true to the Clint we know today. That became somewhat tricky.

I think finding the voice for Clint today might be a little easier as it’s been really well-defined by some excellent writers in the last few years—most notably Matt Fraction. So you just try to learn from what others have done and carve your own path a bit; make it your own. I think I found a really happy medium with Clint that feels true to who he is and what he’s currently going through. It continues that magical chemistry that he and Kate have together and that the fans love so much.

Marvel.com: In terms of tone, how does the book feel? And how does Leonardo Romero help you bring that to life?

Kelly Thompson: Leo and [colorist] Jordie [Bellaire] remain my rock…or, rocks. They have been simply the best art team a writer could hope for. They bring such energy and innovation to everything they do, and I think we have a lot of fun with Clint’s inclusion in the book. Adding new elements—especially a character as charismatic as Clint—can be dangerous in shifting the tone or upsetting an existing balance, but with the team we have in place, I have no worries. They have so much talent that every challenge you throw at them just makes their work shine all the brighter. And even though Clint will be a large element to add, he fits rather seamlessly into a Hawkeye world, obviously, and the ways in which he doesn’t fit into Kate’s new life turn into things we have a lot of fun with.

Marvel.com: Individually speaking, where do we find the two Hawkeyes’ states of mind as they enter the story? How do they feel about one another right now?

Kelly Thompson: They’re both actually in very emotional places and not really at the top of their game. Kate has been of course going through the wringer with her father turning out to be an even worse guy than she suspected, Madame Masque taking over her life, plus the revelation that her mother may have been killed by her father—or may still be alive…she’s turmoil central.

But Clint finds himself having an awful time too, after the events of Secret Empire and the tragedy of losing one of the touchstones of his life—Black Widow. I think that might be one of the reasons they seek each other out now, because they’ll find comfort, normalcy, and a whole lot of trust in one another. They’re family.

Marvel.com: Can we expect Kate to encounter any other familiar faces as she enters Legacy?

Kelly Thompson: This arc finds Kate trying to get to the bottom of what really happened with her mother while still trying to deal with Madame Masque, who has been upping her revenge game of late. There will also be a villain “new” to Kate and Clint on the scene, but it will be someone readers have seen before if they’ve been reading my work.

Marvel.com: For readers who haven’t picked up the book yet, why does this arc present a great opportunity to hop aboard?

Kelly Thompson: I think the answer would be the same for both potential new readers and old readers alike—Clint and Kate are simply magic together. They have a fantastic chemistry and things will never get boring when they team up.

Kelly Thompson and artist Leonardo Romero’s HAWKEYE #13 hits the target on October 4!

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Writer Kelly Thompson charts a path to “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”!

In 2015, the world witnessed the debut of a ruthless captain in a shining suit of armor. And while she gleamed in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” her story reaches new heights in JOURNEY TO STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI – CAPTAIN PHASMA.

Captain Phasma takes her destiny into her own hands, emerging from the embers of “The Force Awakens” to set herself on a new path ahead of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” On October 18, writer Kelly Thompson and artist Marco Checchetto bring the epic limited series to its conclusion with issue #4!

We spoke with Kelly to hear more about the Captain’s tale of resurgence and revenge.

Marvel.com: Before you got this gig, what’d you think of Phasma after seeing her in “The Force Awakens”?

Kelly Thompson: That the armor looked absolutely incredible and that actress Gwendoline Christie projects a force to be reckoned with in every scene she’s in. Even completely covered up, she manages so much charisma—you can’t take your eyes off of her! I wanted to know so much more about her character. And I never dreamed I’d get to be a writer that helped decide those things. Total dream come true.

Marvel.com: Describe your process for fleshing the character out. Where did you focus first?

Kelly Thompson: Well, I coordinated pretty heavily with the Lucasfilm Story Group because everything connects both between the two films—since our story basically links those films together—and also with the new Phasma prose novel. So there were some parameters and directives about who she could be in those opening discussions; when those directives came through, Phasma clicked almost instantly into place in my head. Her character and her motivations made so much sense and the story began to form very organically from there.

Who she is, what she wants, what she will do to survive—it all began to dictate our story in a really clear way.

Marvel.com: How much of Phasma’s appearance—her armor, specifically—informs your writing of the character?

Kelly Thompson: More than you’d think. It comes down to Marco Checchetto and Andres Mossa—our incredible artist and colorist, respectively—in creating that visual. Since we knew we were dealing with a character in full body armor—so no facial expressions and limited body language—and we weren’t going to be inside her head via narrative captions, we really had to be smart about every single thing we did. Phasma can be such an efficient and brutal machine, so we made sure that everything she did linked up with that idea. Fortunately, I had incredible partners in Marco and Andres for that mission.

Marvel.com: In the story, how would you define the common First Order opinion of Phasma? Does anything like that affect her?

Kelly Thompson: I think people are terrified of her and many of them don’t even know why. She’s a mystery—and she’s powerful and she’s unlike most other people—in that she presents no “human side,” no flaws, no obvious weaknesses. Everything Phasma does has been completely calculated. Even the lowering of the shields in “The Force Awakens”—in that moment her goal is simply to “not get shot,” and to do that, she lowers the shields. How she then deals with the ramifications of that decision can only be answered after she’s not shot—and thus not dead.

I don’t think Phasma cares at all what others think of her—unless it will either advance her or hold her back. She is unapologetically who she is, and she’s a chameleon that will do anything to survive. That currently means being the perfect soldier—the perfect leader for the First Order—and so she executes that directive as flawlessly as possible…with her eye always on what’s next.

Marvel.com: What’s Phasma’s general opinion of her enemies?

Kelly Thompson: One hundred percent, Phasma has a list in her head of every person she’s ever met, what their weaknesses and strengths are, and strategies for getting rid of them should that be necessary or amenable to her advancement. Phasma does not rest or take it easy. She’s always on, always ready.

Marvel.com: Last question—if you were able to meet Captain Phasma face to face, what would you say to her?

Kelly Thompson: I mean, I think I would just run. Yeah. As fast and as far as humanly possible. Someone that ruthless in their intent to survive…I’ve got no chance. None!

JOURNEY TO STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI – CAPTAIN PHASMA #4, by Kelly Thompson and artist Marco Checchetto, drops on October 18!

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Kate Bishop confronts Madame Masque with writer Kelly Thompson!

Things have gotten pretty complicated in Kate Bishop’s life, to say the least. With her personal and professional lives  colliding, she’s been forced to face some challenges from her past. And, as it turns out, Kate’s old foe Madame Masque orchestrated the drama.

On October 4, writer Kelly Thompson and artist Leonardo Romero bring Kate and Madame Masque together for a showdown in HAWKEYE #11!

So what makes Masque such an excellent nemesis? We asked Kelly Thompson for her view on the classic villain.

Marvel.com: Kate has a long history with Madame Masquegoing back to writer Matt Fraction and artist David Aja’s run. We’ve seen the tension building between these two characters for a while.

Kelly Thompson: Yes, Fraction wrote such a fantastic intro for those two characters—with Kate sort of cavalierly embarrassing Madame Masque by taking her place. I think that intro is exactly the kind that makes for arch-nemeses. Madame Masque has been fixating on Kate ever since. And it’s not an accident that their story plays out this way.

Marvel.com: Masque has worked with (and manipulated) Kate’s dadand we’ve seen Kate trying to sort things out with him recently. What are these events going to do to their relationship?

Kelly Thompson: Masque has definitely been playing the long game in her approach to Kate. Laying some groundwork that’s really emotionally devastating to Kate by encouraging and assisting Derek Bishop in sort of leveling up in his villainy, if you will. But Masque also has her own desires—namely power and powers—and that’s syncing up nicely now with her desire for pure revenge. So she’s moving into a less subtle, more openly destructive phase of her plans against Kate.

Marvel.com: It seems like Masque wants to clone Kate…and Kate’s definitely not down with that!

Kelly Thompson: Yeah, Masque’s desire to clone Kate—a literal reversal of what Kate did to her when they first met (though without the clones)—isn’t an accident. And Masque will not be the only one with revenge on the brain when this ends.

Marvel.com: In some ways, it seems like Kate’s dad could be her arch-nemesis as well. While she can’t just write her dad off, maybe Madame Masque will take his place?

Kelly Thompson: Yes, I think that’s definitely a slow boil story building in the direction of Bishop vs. Bishop. And Kate would much rather have Madame Masque to fight, as that’s far less complicated overall. She has a greater internal struggle with her father—knowing that there are good things about him, things that she wants to save. But she also feels the need to do what’s right and shut him down. She doesn’t really know what that should look like…does she arrest him? Does she fight him? What’s the move? It’s not an easy question for her to answer. It’s a little more complicated than your traditional “save the day” super hero story.

Marvel.com: What else can you tease about the upcoming issues?

Kelly Thompson: This arc comes to a close with issue #11—and Leonardo Romero and [colorist] Jordie Bellaire are doing truly tremendous work. I think people are going to really love it.

HAWKEYE# 12 exists as a standalone story—a team-up with Wolverine (and Gabby—and yes, Jonathan the Wolverine and Lucky will meet) and we’ve got the fantastic artist Michael Walsh coming back for that story.

Then in December with HAWKEYE #13, we kick off an all-new arc guest starring Hawkeye original flavor…Clint Barton!

Check out Kelly Thompson and artist Leonardo Romero’s HAWKEYE #11 on October 4!

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Writer Kelly Thompson reveals new details about Kate Bishop’s recent strange behavior!

Case No: 090617

Investigator: Marvel.com

Clients: Kelly Thompson

Case Overview:

Kate Bishop returns in HAWKEYE #10 on September 6—but something doesn’t seem quite right with our super sleuth. Kate learned that her father is in league with the tall, dark, and villainous woman known as Madame Masque—and if that wasn’t enough, her mom’s necklace just resurfaced with some oh-so-confusing evidence. Seems like no surprise that Kate is shaken up, but writer Kelly Thompson and artist Leonardo Romero worry something more might be going on.

“Listen, she’s not eating nearly enough tacos. She didn’t make finger guns once today. She doesn’t have any bandages on her face. She looked like she combed her hair and she’s wearing heels. Who is this person?!” confides Thompson. Word on the street even says Kate was out clubbing… so unless she’s secretly eradicating some illegal nightlife activities, something must be seriously wrong with our feisty female detective.

Detail of Events:

Between the drama with her dad, the bad guys, and new cases continually popping out of the woodwork, Kate has quite a lot on her plate. And while she might not have any trouble clearing a plate of mini donuts, a plate full of super hero-sized problems often proves a bit harder to swallow.

But Thompson ponders, “Kate does not run away from a fight. Kate runs headlong, full bore into any fight she sees for good or ill.” So when Kate doesn’t seem too interested in immediately running to the aide of her friends, she gets pretty concerned.

“The whole thing with Kate’s dad has really put her in a vulnerable position, where she’s a little angrier, a little less clear headed, and definitely feeling more guilty—especially as it relates to her friends,” recounts Thompson, after noticing Kate acting a bit uncharacteristically for a few issues now—putting herself in too much danger, making only a normal amount of jokes, and acting unusually with her friends. And now she’s becoming unexpectedly mischievous, explains Thompson, spilling the beans that Kate kisses multiple in issue #10. Expect things to get awkward and complicated—even by Kate’s standards. So is this dual persona just Kate’s way of dealing with recent difficult experiences or is something more sinister going on?

Actions Taken:

It looks like the task of making that discovery falls on you, True Believers! The tables have turned—Kate’s in the hot seat and we need to figure out what’s going on. What exactly should we look for?

“Did she put a frozen food of some kind on her face to reduce swelling? Did she get punched in the face a lot? Make one too many jokes so that it becomes uncomfortable for everyone? These are day-in-the-life for Kate Bishop—and if you don’t see them, maybe you should worry,” warns Thompson.

Additional Notes:

Be warned, there will be a lot to sift through in this investigation. “Expect Kate to confront her father on the biggest questions between them. Expect one of the Kate’s friends to make a lot of relationship trouble in her life. Expect Kate to kick many butts and Lucky to play a low-key pivotal roll in that. Expect Kate to go out with her friends and to have a very vintage, classic Hawkeye villain show up,” teases Thompson, who also adds that master artist Leonardo Romero provides some brilliantly-subtle visual clues to help us differentiate the pages where Kate’s acting normally—and the ones where she’s not quite herself.

Be the first to figure out what’s behind Kate’s strange demeanor with HAWKEYE #10, by Kelly Thompson and artist Leonardo Romero, on September 6!

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Captain Phasma stars in her own limited series next month!

Next month, Kelly Thompson and Marco Checchetto open the blast doors to one of “The Force Awakens” most enigmatic villains: Captain Phasma, as she stars in her own limited series in the lead up to “The Last Jedi” coming out this December.

With Captain Phasma’s dominating presence and the eye-catching chrome Stormtrooper armor, few were surprised that she would find herself a fan-favorite despite having only a small amount of screen time. Naturally, Thompson and Checchetto seek to address this through giving fans a glimpse into Phasma’s story in the lead up to Episode XII. To get the skinny on this new series, we spoke with Thompson to see what she and Checchetto have in store for readers this fall!

Marvel.com: Normally, Kelly, I like to ease into these interviews, but with CAPTAIN PHASMA, I’m coming in heavy! If we look at “The Force Awakens,” Phasma looked like this total badass character especially with what we know of Gwendolyn Christie. But the most we see from her doesn’t register with a major league villain between killing some nonthreatening villagers and then being taken prisoner by some newbie good guys. Are you going to give us a chance to see the truly imposing and terrifying side of this character?

Kelly Thompson: Yeah, I mean, I think we all can understand that Star Wars can’t be a “Phasma Story.” Star Wars is an ensemble piece and there’s only so much room for a character like Phasma, no matter how well designed and potentially charismatic! I, of course, can’t tell you how much she’s going to get to be in the next film, but I think it’s fantastic that she’s getting a chance both through her comics and through her own novel to tell her story. She’s a character with incredible potential, and it’s exciting that it’s being explored.

Marvel.com: When we consider the back story to her armor alone – the remnants of one of Palpatine’s Naboo ships – we’re clearly looking at a character with a deep back story. Yet, we really don’t hear much from her. What insights can you share with us about developing her story further?

Kelly Thompson: Phasma is an incredibly complex and also laconic and mask-wearing character. She is not easily known by anyone, and that is deliberate on her part. I’m lucky enough to have gotten to read an early draft of the novel, which delves deeply into Phasma’s back story and it’s very cool stuff. The comic, however, is more focused on the present – and specifically what happens when Phasma gets out of that garbage chute. We are drawing on some of her back story in more subtle ways, but we didn’t want to step on the novel’s toes. As a result, we don’t go too deep into that territory, focusing instead on who Phasma is today.

Marvel.com: In The First Order, we see General Hux as a political beast – someone anxious to climb his way to the top of the order and garner favor from the ominous, Supreme Commander Snoke. Kylo Ren, however, shows us a much more impetuous and undisciplined villain, who finds himself struggling with the light side of his otherwise dark nature, as he too seeks Snoke’s favor. Where does Phasma fall in all of this? Is she loyal to the more militaristic Hux or do you think she plays another game?

Kelly Thompson: I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to say here, but Phasma, more than any other character we’ve met in the Star Wars universe I think, is a survivor.

Marvel.com: Now, I have to believe there’s a real tightrope act for you here given that we still have two more films to go and plenty of story to tell. How do you strike the balance between revealing just enough information without spoiling what’s to come?

Kelly Thompson: We were given very clear parameters about our story, showing Phasma’s road from the garbage chute to the next film, which, to be honest, was a huge, exciting, and slightly terrifying responsibility. But I hope we embraced it and fans will dig it. I don’t think it’s quite what anyone is expecting, but I hope that’s a good thing!

Marvel.com: With working in an already established world, I’m curious what aspects of the story you and Marco Checchetto plan to bring?

Kelly Thompson: We start out in Issue #1 on Starkiller Base, so fans will be getting a closer look at the last moments of Starkiller Base and all that entails. The rest of the series takes place on an all-new planet with all-new monsters, aliens, and threats…exciting stuff that I hope fans will dig!

Having Marco Checchetto on art is absolutely fantastic. He’s got this incredibly realistic style that works so well for Star Wars, and he’s an excellent storyteller with sharp instincts. His work blows me away every time I see new pages. And we’ve got Andres Mossa on colors and Paul Renaud on covers, which means the visuals are just across the board incredible.

Marvel.com: As a final question: What do you think victory for Captain Phasma looks like? Do you think she’ll achieve this goal in either the next installment of the new trilogy or, at the least, by its end?

Kelly Thompson: I think Phasma is looking for victory every day. Every day is an effort to survive and advance. Ultimate success for her is being so powerful that she cannot be destroyed, but even if she achieved such a thing, I don’t think she could relax or enjoy it. Ideally, there’s a story in her future that forces her to confront that strength/weakness within herself and come out the other side having changed or grown. But because Star Wars is not a “Captain Phasma” story as we already discussed, I don’t know if something like that is in her future or not – in the films — or anywhere — we’ll have to wait and see what’s in store.

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Kate Leth, Amy Reeder, and Kelly Thompson speak out on several subjects!

We continue this month’s celebration of Women’s History with a roundtable discussion consisting of some of Marvel Comics’ most talented creators: Kate Leth (PATSY WALKER, A.K.A. HELLCAT!), Amy Reeder (MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR), and Kelly Thompson (HAWKEYE). We wanted speak with these creators not only to know who influenced their work but also to get an idea as to how and where they see women affecting the industry as a whole.

Marvel.com: To kick things off, I’m curious who you think are the most significant female super heroes in the Marvel Universe and why?

Kate Leth: I think that right now, Ms. Marvel, Squirrel Girl, and America Chavez are probably the most influential, at least to the women I know. I have personal favorites, of course—She-Hulk tops the list—but I think each of those three and their respective titles—including YOUNG AVENGERS—have really pushed Marvel in a new and better direction. None of them are cookie-cutter bombshells or plot devices; they’re all fully-realized and reflective of the real world.

Amy Reeder: Historically, I’d say Storm is pretty significant; talk to any random person on the street and they’ll know who Storm is. And that’s not nothing! Something about her has clearly made a lasting impression on the world, and I’m not sure if that’s her amazing design, cool powers, or just general command of presence. I would love for her to come more to the forefront than she already is. She is a true leader.

On a current note, I’d say Ms. Marvel has kicked off a whole new era of comics at Marvel, that is focusing both on the importance of representation, and the originality of story and art. It feels like we’re experiencing a renaissance.

Kelly Thompson: I think Captain Marvel is undoubtedly one of the most important characters out there for Marvel and with good reason. Storm, She-Hulk, and Black Widow are also super iconic and powerful to me. I also think some of the more atypical super hero cult favorites like Jessica Jones and Nico Minoru of Runaways, especially with TV shows—or upcoming TV shows—have the potential to leap to the front of the line. One thing I love about all of those I just listed is the variety; there’s no type there, they’re all very different characters the same way Wolverine and Spider-Man are different and that’s both important and a big change we’ve been seeing in the last five to ten years; enough female roles to see some real variety in the characters. In the end though, I think it’s impossible to understate the importance of Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel. The impact of that character is massive. She’s a game changer, and I hope it’s a permanent change.

Marvel.com: Of course, you are all currently working on female-led titles for Marvel. I recognize it’s difficult to look at your work from a historical perspective since you are in the moment as we speak. All the same, how do you think your respective titles are affecting the shape and creative direction of the Marvel Universe?

Kate Leth: I hope HELLCAT is picked up again in years to come by people who realize just how queer it is. Not just in its characters, but its sensibility. I absolutely think straight people can write gay characters, but I think that Brittney and I, who are both queer, made this book something authentic and genuine in between all the puns and crime-fighting. As our book is ending, I look to others to pick up the glittering, rainbow torch. [Laughs]

Amy Reeder: Seeing as I created Moon Girl, it’s hard not to have high hopes on that front; I hope that she will be a solid mainstay in the [Marvel] Universe and our team has been working hard to see that happen. She is currently the smartest person in the Marvel Universe! So, it’ll be interesting to see how long she can hold onto that title. She’s now featured in three video games, and I do truly hope she can find her way into film or television, if only because this would be a great opportunity to have a young black girl hero on the screen. And past that, I hope that the success of our book sets off many more titles that keep representation in mind, and I wouldn’t mind seeing more young characters as well.

Kelly Thompson: I mean, obviously, Kate Bishop should be ruling the world, right? [Laughs] More seriously, I do think you’re right that it’s really hard to know what something you’re doing will mean to people or the market in a year, let alone five or 10 years. I’d love for Kate to not only continue being a fan favorite but to also level up to solid super-star A-list status—she’s obviously well on her way to that; and I hope we’re helping to make that happen, but she’s got a ways to go before she’s a household name like Storm or Captain Marvel or Black Widow.

More broadly I’d love to see more books like HAWKEYE that are allowed to have “smaller” stories. I love a good world ending apocalypse as much as the next guy, but sometimes I want something that stands on its own a bit and feels a little more personal. Those can be tough in this cutthroat market, but I think they’re really important stories, and also happen to be some of the best—and most critically acclaimed—stories we’ve seen in recent years.

Marvel.com: Taking things in a more personal direction, which women in comics have had a significant effect on you as comics creator?

Kate Leth: I would not be in comics if it weren’t for independent creators like Kate Beaton, Jess Fink, and Emily Carroll. That’s where I found my start and inspiration, through women who did it themselves and built a career on their own terms. There are the big names, of course—Kelly Sue [DeConnick] and Gail [Simone] have been incredibly supportive and inspirational to me—but Kate and Jess and Emily gave me the guts to just get out there and make the thing.

Amy Reeder: Ai Yazawa’s Paradise Kiss made a very early and lasting impression on me and how I think comics should be. Sophie Campbell has probably affected me more than anyone else, male or female—her love for creating unique characters echoes her passion for people in general. I’ve learned a lot from [SPIDER-MAN] artist Sara Pichelli—my sketches have gotten more life in them from looking at hers.

Also, MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR artist Natacha Bustos has been blowing me away with her art. I’m floored by her ability to draw all the crazy things we’ve asked for, and at an amazing pace. I’m learning from her how to stop myself from doing too many details, all while making panels look better and with more focus.

Kelly Thompson: Kelly Sue DeConnick. She’s not only written some fantastic and hilarious comics, super hero and otherwise, but she was certainly the driving creative force behind Captain Marvel’s book, and the character becoming a definitive A-lister at Marvel comics. And from where I’m sitting that pushed the needle forward in a really important way, both for Marvel and for female characters and super heroes more broadly. I also think not enough can be said about [editor] Sana Amanat and G. Willow Wilson’s work with MS. MARVEL; that’s some once in a lifetime magic there—a perfect pairing of creators and character. Kathryn Immonen’s WOLVERINE & JUBILEE and her JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY run are so great—wild and creative and fun and unexpected. Gail Simone is obviously a legend, she paved the way for so much, made so many things possible for those of us that have joined her in comics.

And if I start listing artists that have inspired and affected me we will literally be here all day: Becky Cloonan, Fiona Staples, Sophie Campbell, Tula Lotay, Meredith McClaren, Jordie Bellaire, Stephanie Hans, Annie Wu, Brianne Drouhard, Jillian Tamaki, Amanda Conner, Babs Tarr, Pia Guerra—so, so many.

Marvel.com: Which women working in comics today do you think are really pushing the medium and industry forward?

Kate Leth: I’m gonna get real self-serving for a second and say that the Valkyries, the group I founded years ago—that is now nearly-700 members strong and much larger than me—for women working in comics retail, are making a huge difference. As the group’s evolved, members have moved into publishing and creating, but those working on the ground in shops and libraries have made a huge difference. As a unit, they’ve got power, and influence, and their concerns are being listened to. For publishers to see this and realize they need to address it and cater to it is something that didn’t exist five, 10 years ago. That matters!

In terms of creators, I think the biggest change is coming from outside the Big Two. Nobody’s made an impact like Raina Telgemeier or Kate Beaton. I think that indie creators, people making webcomics and graphic novels, are the ones to watch. Spike Trotman, Taneka Stotts—with Sfé Monster—are publishing anthologies that traditional publishers might never have wanted to touch and are seeing huge success. I mention these names quite often, but I honestly think they’re crucial to this industry. While there are lots of indie creators I’d like to see tackle Marvel stories, I’m happy to see them flourish with their own work.

Amy Reeder: Dare I say it: I think most instances of the medium being pushed forward right now is through the work of women. We have women who are making major headway in the book market, like Kate Beaton and Raina Telgemeier. Steven Universe’s Rebecca Sugar has perhaps unintentionally inspired swaths of comics hopefuls with her art style; it’s all I see with art students. Most of the books with buzz surrounding them involve women creators and/or characters.

A lot of the up-and-comers are exciting, too. This gal Hannah Blumenreich recently did a short backup story in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #25, based on her awesome webcomic Spidey Zine. She’s someone to look at. I’m also really excited about this young writer-artist Tillie Walden—she tells stories in a way I never knew I needed, but the fact is, I do.

Kelly Thompson: Anyone that can move the needle like Kelly Sue DeConnick has and sort of permanently change the conversation, is an icon and a legend as far as I’m concerned. We’re all benefiting now from a lot of hard work she put in at Marvel and continues to put in elsewhere. Her creator-owned Bitch Planet, to me, is probably the most important book in comics right now. It also happens to be fantastic. And being both important and legitimately fantastic at the same time is no easy feat!

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Kelly Thompson gets Kate Bishop some guidance from Jessica Jones!

It’s Women’s History Month everyone! And it just so happens that Marvel Comics has a leading lady team-up that Hall and Oates would be proud to sing about coming your way April 5 in HAWKEYE #5 by series writer Kelly Thompson and guest artist Michael Walsh. That’s right, Jessica Jones rolls into town with Kate Bishop ready to soak up all the veteran detective tricks she can like an enthusiastic sponge.

“I think Kate would be the first one to admit that she’s sort of still figuring out how to be a PI and so Jessica Jones has already been a sort of mentor and a great force in her life, so to get to use her in the private detective capacity as well, she’s super into it,” says Thompson.

The writer let slip that throughout this two issue team-up Kate pulls advice from her experiences working with Jessica; sort of like Jessica’s PI tips, brought to you by Kate Bishop. For instance, Jessica might see a suspect in Kate’s aviators and Kate’s take away from that: aviators rule! A thought cops everywhere agree with, Kate, because aviators do indeed rule.

“I think that certainly these aren’t bits of advice Jessica is trying to impart, it’s just bits of experiences that Kate is choosing to pick up from her specific sensibility,” Thompson notes. “And sometimes they’re more relevant to actually learning something than others, but I think within the context of the story it’s fun and everyone will enjoy it and you learn a little bit about Kate and a little bit about Jessica at the same time.”

Hawkeye #5 cover by Julian Totino Tedesco

Now given that Jessica pretty much owns the role of stoic, street smart sass master who doesn’t take lip from anyone, we could imagine that there might be a bit of tension with Kate about as stoic as a five-year-old whose parents just brought home a puppy. Even so, Thompson believes Jess can’t help but be reminded of when she began her detective days, and may even pick up some tips herself.

“I think everyone learns a little bit from Kate just because she’s such a boundless fount of optimism, to an almost ridiculous degree,” the writer shares. “I don’t think that’s Jessica’s sensibility but it sort of rubs off on her. It’s definitely a mentorship but as they grow together, I think it changes a little bit through our story so it goes more from mentor-mentee to just colleagues which is huge for Kate and it’s thanks to Jessica’s strong guiding hand that helps her get there.”

Catch all the action and maybe even a few detective tricks on April 5 in HAWKEYE #5!

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