The Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing joins the mobile party!

A big head with an even bigger ego blasts his way into Battlerealm this week in “Marvel Contest of Champions.” Rejoice folks: M.O.D.O.K.’s finally joining the marvelous melee! We talked to Kabam Art Director Gabriel Frizzera and Game Designer Shane O’Connor about the maniacal mental organism, his nefarious plans, and how exactly he’ll be duking it out with those tiny limbs of his. What’s our favorite Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing doing on Battlerealm? Wouldn’t he be more at home, on Earth, with a bunch of A.I.M. lackeys at his beck and call?

Gabriel Frizzera: He’s been in the Battlerealm for a while, since his unsuccessful rebellion against The Collector landed him a job as his trusted Chairman for Technological Affairs. After some disastrous experiments with Terrigen, M.O.D.O.K. felt he was about to get sacked and changed sides. The Grandmaster was about to get rid of him as a leftover of the old administration, but M.O.D.O.K. convinced him to let him take over a small portion of the Battlerealm to run a Hotel/Spa/Bootcamp where Grandmaster could send all the unwanted Champions. Little does he know, that M.O.D.O.K. has other plans…check out our motion comic if you want to find out more! And this looks like classic M.O.D.O.K.—gold floaty chair, tiny purple limbs, terrible haircut. Are there any unique “Contest” tweaks I missed?

Gabriel Frizzera: No, he’s pretty much the classic. This one is pure, unadulterated M.O.D.O.K., one of the best designs for a Super Villain ever created by “King” Jack Kirby. In fact, he was one of the first characters we modelled for the game, but for the longest time we couldn’t agree on how to best introduce him. I’m a big fan, so I was always pushing for the character. It took almost three years, but M.O.D.O.K. is finally playable in The Contest! I gotta know, what the heck do his animations look like? I mean he can’t really punch or kick…

Gabriel Frizzera: To compensate for the lack of reach of his limbs, we built giant mechanical arms with a variety of abilities, like claws, circular saws, etc, that more than compensate for his tiny arms and legs; actually, his arms and legs are regular size, his head is the one that’s oversized. He also uses his trademarked psychic blasts, and lots and massive headbutts, of course! What about his abilities? I’m guessing the team worked his mad genius into his kit somehow?

Shane O’Connor: We all know it would take a super genius to calculate the optimal ability alignments that unlock the maximum killing potential…but here’s a hint: M.O.D.O.K. is protected by a powerful Force Field at all times. Enemies will need to find a way to take it down and deal damage before it comes back online. M.O.D.O.K. also oscillates his attributes with a hidden ability called Flux. M.O.D.O.K. is weakest when Flux is low, but watch out for his Incinerate and Doomsday Blades when Flux is high! What exactly are the unique block bonuses he gets from the different Classes?

Shane O’Connor: Once M.O.D.O.K. awakens his Signature “Master Plan” Ability, he’ll want to pay attention to the Classes that appear in Quests. Once he defeats a Class, he’ll activate a unique Block bonus for future fights against that Class within the same Quest. Each bonus calibrates his Block and Force Field to become more effective against that Class. For example, he’ll take less damage from Cosmic enemies using Buffs or Science enemies using Debuffs. It’s especially effective against Mystic Champions, but M.O.D.O.K. didn’t bother to develop a bonus against the Skill Class. After all, they’re not even Super Human! What kind of teammates do we want fighting at his side?

Shane O’Connor: M.O.D.O.K. has left an impression on many members of The Contest. He has seven Synergy Bonuses—more than any other Champion to date! Taskmaster is both a worthy adversary and a powerful ally, as his Advanced Idea Mechanics Synergy increases M.O.D.O.K.’s ability to recharge his Force Field. Deadpool and Gwenpool ran away with his Doomsday Chair, but if they team up with him then M.O.D.O.K.’s Flux is restored to its true maximum potential. Abomination and Ultron are also great to pair with due to their powerful Unique Synergy Bonuses. And when can we fly his big head around Battlrealm?

Shane O’Connor: Find the Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing in the SCIENCE RULES! Crystal as well as the MECHANIZED ORGANISM and DESIGNED ONLY FOR KILLING Arenas on Dec 21!

Stay tuned to and @MarvelGames on Twitter for more “Marvel Contest of Champions” news and interviews!

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Nick Fury sends Captain America on a mission that leads to M.O.D.O.K.!

1917 to 2017: 100 years of Kirby.

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

After he spent a trip abroad—and several issues drawn by Gil Kane—Jack Kirby and Stan Lee returned Captain America to New York City in TALES OF SUSPENSE #9294. As our hero ruminated on love and loss while wandering his way towards Avengers HQ, Steve Rogers stumbled into an A.I.M. plot to kill Nick Fury at the secret barber shop entrance to the underground organization’s NYC locale with a Mecho-Assassin! However, he arrived too late to stop the android from blasting away at Fury and seemingly killing the S.H.I.E.L.D. head honcho. Enraged, Cap flew into battle against the assailant. However, the creature nearly defeated the Avenger until the real Fury revealed himself and the droid disintegrated itself.

Fury then explained to Cap that the whole ruse had been set in place to help cover an undercover agent who had infiltrated A.I.M.. As a way to garner favor with her marks, she pretended to offer her boss up on a silver, bloody platter. Unfortunately for the mission, the Sentinel of Liberty’s presence threw a wrench in their plans and put the operative—soon to be revealed as Agent 13, a.k.a. Sharon Carter—in grave danger. So, to help the S.H.I.E.L.D. spy who happened to remind him of his girl during the war, Captain America agreed to take on Advanced Idea Mechanics once again!

Tales of Suspense (1959) #92

Tales of Suspense (1959) #92

  • Published: August 10, 1967
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: April 28, 2007
  • Penciller: Jack Kirby
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

The Shield-Slinger used the gorgeously designed Mini-Cruiser to track down A.I.M.’s gigantic sub base in the ocean, but those yellow-clad villains managed to capture him and serve him up to their master, M.O.D.O.K., who would make his first full appearance in #94! Agent 13 ended up saving Cap rather than vice versa, sending the two on a wild run as they attempted to escape the A.I.M. sub. First, they reclaimed his shield and then worked to fulfill her original mission of finding out who or what had been code-named “M.O.D.O.K.”

They soon succeeded in seeing this strange being up close, including his various mind beams, which he unleashed in an effort to destroy Captain America. A surprise came not long after they engaged in this battle, as A.I.M. agents flipped on their supposed leader and helped the heroes take him out! Being an upstanding sort, Rogers wouldn’t let the A.I.M. agents finish off M.O.D.O.K. and put a stop to their insurgence. He and Agent 13 then loaded the remaining yellow hoods in a sub and took off while M.O.D.O.K. set off a self-destruct sequence that destroyed the larger base, apparently killing himself in the process!

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

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Marvel’s favorite reality manipulator stumbles into the therapist’s office.

The client in question, a Gwen Poole, stumbled into the office, unannounced, around the middle of the day. Given her presentation—her costume is very reminiscent of Deadpool, and she goes by Gwenpool while in, which she insists is a result of an accidental conflation of her real name to an alias—staff and security immediately attempted to turn her away. As detailed in several different incident reports, lawsuits, and 9-1-1 calls, the mercenary known as Deadpool has threatened this writer on several occasions and has forced staff and this writer to provide him and partners of this service numerous times.

Eventually, all in the office were able to work out that despite appearance and name, Poole has no relationship or connection to Deadpool. Thus, against my better judgment, I elected to allow her to wait in reception for a possible no-show or cancelation. When one occurred, this writer invited her in for a standard intake.

Despite her lack of connections to Deadpool, it quickly became apparent that the client shares more than a look and a name with him. She espoused—multiple times—attitudes and beliefs that would not have seemed out of character being said by that aforementioned mercenary.

However, this writer is very aware that it is unhelpful to treat the client in front of you like anyone else—especially someone you feel active antipathy towards—so I pushed beyond these initial judgments and explored the client’s perspectives and experiences with more depth.

Most concerning is the client’s stated belief that the world she currently exists in is not her own but rather a sort of comic book universe come to life that she had, prior to her arrival in our world, had been reading in installments and collections. As a result, she tends to think of this world as fictional. While she admits she has “grown” some since her arrival, she still defaults to thinking the people around her, especially those who are not super heroes or villains, “do not count.” 

The Unbelievable Gwenpool (2016) #1

The Unbelievable Gwenpool (2016) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

As a result of this attitude, she believes herself to have an advantage over many. For instance, she indicated she knew the secret identities of many costumed heroes and villains, and listed off several of them. Without naming names, she appeared to be overwhelming accurate, at least in comparison to the knowledge this writer possesses. Because she has this “inside” information and knows “how” this universe works, she believes she is in a position to take advantage of such things.  

The Unbelievable Gwenpool (2016) #16

The Unbelievable Gwenpool (2016) #16

What is Marvel Unlimited?

All of this being said, she confessed that things have become far more serious than she expected. Her first friend was killed before her and did not return to life as she expected although he was with her for a time after that as a ghost. She has suffered injuries and she continues to be frustrated by her struggle to improve her physical abilities, two things she expected to be easy given her perception of the “rules” of our world.

What is more distressing is she increasingly feels she is not allowed to be good. She admits she first arrived with little interest in anything but making money and having fun. However, after speaking to someone she described as “noir duck guy,” she reshaped her attitude somewhat and decided to pursue being a true hero. Yet, every attempt she makes to do so, she insists, leads to her running afoul of the law in some way, whether it be ending up a henchman of M.O.D.O.K., losing control of M.O.D.O.K.’s organization she seized and then tried to use for good, or fighting a Dr. Doom that, to quote her, “apparently is a hero now?!”  

Howard the Duck (2015) #1

Howard the Duck (2015) #1

  • Published: November 04, 2015
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: May 02, 2016
  • Rating: Rated T+
  • Writer: Chip Zdarsky
  • Cover Artist: Joe Quinones
What is Marvel Unlimited?

While people displaced from other realities into our own is not unusual, the client’s insistence that this is what has happened to her may also be evidence of a delusional disorder. As always, this writer tries to give each client the benefit of the doubt but the pervasiveness of her perspective combined with her belief she is somehow being compelled to be bad means that I cannot afford to ignore the possibility of a delusion disorder entirely as there might be a strong chance of her being a danger to herself or others.

To that end, I have referred her to Doctor Christopher Hastings and Irene Strychalski who are experts in evaluating individuals for what they’ve labeled “Reality Displacement Distress Syndrome.” When we have those results, we will be better able to evaluate how to proceed.

That appointment is scheduled for December 6 and all notes can be found in folder UNBELIEVABLE GWENPOOL #23.

Psy D. Candidate Tim Stevens is a Staff Therapist who’s ideal alternate dimension would allow him to have a monocle and top hat wearing talking manatee for a partner in crime solving.

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Squirrel Girl and more help to fend off the hostile invasion!

The leader of Advanced Idea Mechanics can no longer stand competing with Avengers Academy and failing at every turn. So, with his top secret-weapons project M.O.D.O.K. finally complete, Scientist Supreme leads A.I.M. on an all-out offensive against his rivals.

“Marvel Avengers Academy” players will need to battle A.I.M.’s Interns and Scientists while rescuing some prospective new recruits from the clutches of M.O.D.O.K.’s psionic trap. If they can fend off Scientist Supreme and defeat his pet project, there might even be another eager candidate for Avengers Academy awaiting them.

We were able to get Allen Warner, Senior Narrative Designer at TinyCo, out of his new yellow jumpsuit to talk with us about everything this new event will bring to “Avengers Academy.” A.I.M. is finally making a run at Avengers Academy. How does the Scientist Supreme end up deciding that now is the time to attack?

Allen Warner: Scientist Supreme and his A.I.M. Institute have been continually humiliated and defeated by the Avengers Academy students since the beginning of the game. They’ve tried to steal recruits away, attack New York City, sabotage a super-science fair, infiltrate Asgard, and hack Nick Fury’s fleet of Helicarriers; and it never works out in their favor. Scientist Supreme is probably the most arrogant character in the game, which is saying a lot, so he won’t rest until he gets revenge against Avengers Academy and forces them to respect the A.I.M. Institute, and recognize his genius. Knowing that his school is faltering, and his power is dwindling, he makes one last desperate attempt to take out the Avengers by sending all of his A.I.M. Interns and Scientists at the Academy, along with his greatest creation, M.O.D.O.K. We’ve seen the A.I.M. storyline build since the introduction of Ms. Marvel; has the plan always been to culminate in an event like this one?

Allen Warner: Yeah. I’ve also been teasing M.O.D.O.K. since the game’s first newscast, so the plan has always been to have A.I.M. attack the Academy with M.O.D.O.K. at the forefront. I’ve always liked A.I.M. because they’re so unique and distinctive with the bright yellow everything, and the beekeeper helmets, and the weird, sometimes silly, advanced tech. They also make for such a good metaphor in our reimagined younger school setting as these judgmental, intellectually superior, super-nerds. M.O.D.O.K. is everything A.I.M. represents turned up to 11. He’s so weird and over the top that it’s easy to see him as a joke, but he’s also extremely powerful, and can go toe to toe—head to toe?—with any super-genius in our universe. Will any new heroes be assisting the Academy in defeating A.I.M. and M.O.D.O.K.?

Allen Warner: Squirrel Girl and Phil Coulson! The first phase of A.I.M.’s attack on Avengers Academy is to round up some of the Academy’s respective recruits, so Squirrel Girl and Coulson end up trapped in M.O.D.O.K.’s psionic beams. Players will free them from M.O.D.O.K., so that they can join the fight against AIM’s forces alongside other S.H.I.E.L.D. Recruits. Squirrel Girl joins the growing list of amazing women at the academy, what motivates her to register?

Allen Warner: She’s already been working solo as an awesome and unbeatable Super Hero, and occasionally teaming with her “all-star-all-girl-all-butt-kicking-squad,” but every Super Hero eventually wants to find their way to Avengers Academy to work with the likes of Black Widow and Captain America, and become an Avenger. I love Squirrel Girl. I’ve always thought that Ryan North and Erica Henderson’s great UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL book is the closest thing in comics to the tone and vibe of our game. I love their quirky, excitable, supportive, positive, confident, self-referential, and always brave and badass take on her character. They fully embrace the absurdity of a half-girl-half-squirrel tangling with gods and cosmic powerhouses while managing to still keep her really relatable. I’m striving to do the same, and as you can imagine, Squirrel Girl and Wasp are quite the combo. She has some of the coolest animations in the game, and yes, they do involve squirrels. What was it like bringing Phil Coulson to life in this unique universe?

Allen Warner: It was a lot of fun. There are a bunch of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” fans on the team, and I’m always a fan of any character with a dry sense of humor and deadpan delivery. My favorite aspect of Coulson’s character is that he looks like this stiff, boring guy on the outside, but he’s actually a fun and funny guy who can also be all business when he needs to be. We decided to play off of all of those things while focusing on the Super Hero fanboy aspect of his personality. Coulson unapologetically loves Super Heroes. He studies them. He admires them. He wants to be them, but at the end of the day, he’s just a normal person like the rest of us. He wants to be a part of the Super Hero world, and help protect the world anyway he can, so he decides to pursue a career in S.H.I.E.L.D. like some of his other heroes, including Peggy Carter and Nick Fury. He has some really fun interactions with his idols like Captain America, and it’s great to watch the relationship that develops between him and Nick Fury. He has some really fun animations, including doing his best impersonations of some of his heroes. The spirit of Avengers Academy has been a positive and hopeful one, with many villains able to be reasoned with, convinced of the error of their ways, and recruited to join the student body. Will M.O.D.O.K. follow the same path?

Allen Warner: That’s always been one of my goals with the narrative in this game. This is a reimagined world where characters are younger, so their personalities and destinies aren’t set in stone, and they haven’t made the mistakes, and done the sometimes reprehensible things that they’ve done in other continuities. There are very few characters in our world who are so irredeemable that there’s no chance for them to better themselves, and become a positive influence on the world—looking at you, Carnage and Red Skull. There’s still time and opportunities for the others to figure things out, to become better than what they’ve been in the past, and to be heroes instead of villains. I’m really proud of how we’ve managed that with characters like Crossbones and Mysterio, and while characters like Loki and Enchantress’ journeys are being played out in a longer fashion, I think they’ll get there too. Everyone deserves a chance to make up for past mistakes, and make themselves better. M.O.D.O.K. is no different. In fact, players might be surprised to find that M.O.D.O.K. is one of the most sympathetic “villains” of all. He never asked to be what he is. He was created by a cold scientist to be a living weapon, and he’s been abused and isolated from the rest of the world until Scientist Supreme felt he was ready to be unleashed on Avengers Academy. Yes, he’s arrogant, he overcompensates, he’s dangerous, and he’s extremely awkward, but all he’s really looking for is genuine love and acceptance. This event comes on the heels of a new story update that players are eager to dig into. But what can you tell us about the next big thing on the horizon?

Allen Warner: Yeah, it’s great to have the main story update out, and to hear from all of the players who are really enjoying it. We still have one more unannounced hero on the way as part of that release, and there will be more news on that in the coming weeks. After the A.I.M. mini-event, we’ll be releasing our next major event, which I still don’t want to say too much about now, except to say that it features some iconic and beloved characters from the comics and TV who will bring their own brand of action, drama, and fun to Avengers Academy.

Check out for all the latest on “Marvel Avengers Academy”!

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A.I.M.'s killing machine cutes loose in this 90's classic!

It’s time to face facts, true believers — the 90’s were awesome. The pouches were plentiful, the costumes were impractical, and Marvel Universe dentists made a fortune correcting damages caused by perpetually gritted teeth. Thanks to the power of nostalgia, though, what would once be considered extremely embarrassing can now be called extremely awesome!

With that in mind, we’ve pulled a Marvel comic from the not-so-modern era and broken it down, one tubular fact at a time! This week we’re singling out CAPTAIN AMERICA #441 by Mark Gruenwald and Dave Hoover. Here’s “Through the Perilous Fight” by the numbers!

Captain America (1968) #441

Captain America (1968) #441

What is Marvel Unlimited?

19 visible blasters on M.O.D.O.K.

Art from Captain America #441

Art from Captain America #441


16 giant teeth in M.O.D.O.K.’s giant head

Art from Captain America #441

Art from Captain America #441


10 visibile Widow’s Bite cartridges

Art from Captain America #441

Art from Captain America #441


8 buttons on Not-Bucky’s uniform

Art from Captain America #441

Art from Captain America #441


7 A.I.M. agents felled by M.O.D.O.K.s head-blast

Art from Captain America #441

Art from Captain America #441


5 ZVITs and 1 ZVITCH

Art from Captain America #441

Art from Captain America #441


4 massive pouches on Not-Jack Flag’s chest

Art from Captain America #441

Art from Captain America #441


1 cry for help

Art from Captain America #441

Art from Captain America #441


MODOK takes the lead in the “Secret Wars” series M.O.D.O.K. ASSASSIN!

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Prepare to meet the deadliest hitman on Battleworld in these preview pages by Amilcar Pinna!

There’s a new killer in town, and he’s taking the Secret Wars by storm. Evil has a new face. A giant face with no body. Prepare to meet the deadliest hitman on Battleworld in M.O.D.O.K. ASSASSIN #1, a brand new Secret Wars limited series coming this May!

Writer Christopher Yost (co-writer Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World,” AMAZING X-MEN) and artist Amilcar Pinna (ALL-NEW ULTIMATES) take you inside Battleworld’s wildest domain! Enter Killville, the only place on all of Battleworld where murder is always the correct answer. If you’ve got a problem – kill it! In a world populated by fearsome thieves, mercenaries and ne’er do wells – there is one who is a HEAD above the rest. M.O.D.O.K.! The Mental Organism Designed Only for KILLING! And when he’s got you in his sights you’re dust. But his next job may just put him in over his head. A job that will force him to go toe-to-toe with Doc Ock, Bullseye, Baron Mordo and more – and that’s just the first issue!

Believe us, bullets will fly and heads will roll this May when M.O.D.O.K. ASSASSIN #1 comes to town!

MODOK ASSASIN #1 (of 5) (MAR150678)
Variant Cover by GABRIEL HERNANDEZ WALTA (MAR150679)
On-Sale – 05/27/15

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Battleworld begins in these preview pages by Mike Henderson and Scott Hepburn!

The battles in Secret Wars are so big we had to launch an entirely new title just to contain them!

Marvel is pleased to present a look inside SECRET WARS: BATTLEWORLD #1, a new four-issue Secret Wars limited series of wall-to-wall action across the surface of Battleworld! Bursting with epic action, each issue of SECRET WARS: BATTLEWORLD features two all-new high-octane stories ripped from the pages of the biggest event of the year! 

This issue, what happens when Dr. Strange possesses the Punisher? Meet the Sorcerer EXTREME! Only Spider-Man, Wolverine, the Hulk and Ghost Rider of this land can track this terrible two-in-one down. And things are going to get messy! Then, what happens when M.O.D.O.K. recruits every M.O.D.O.K. ever from across Battleworld for his evil scheme. We’ll give you a hint – F.I.G.H.T.!

Each issue, cover-to-cover action, pulse-pounding battles and can’t miss creators. You want action? Look no further than SECRET WARS: BATTLEWORLD #1 when it explodes in to comic shops and on to digital devices this May!

Variant Cover by JAMES STOKOE (MAR150639)
Action Figure Variant by JOHN TYLER CHRISTOPHER (MAR150640)
FOC – 04/27/15, On-Sale – 05/20/15

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Read more about unlikely partnerships from the first season to prepare for the season premiere Sunday at 8:30 a.m. ET!

On Sunday, September 28, the Avengers burst back onto the small screen to delight viewers with the second season of “Marvel’s Avengers Assemble.” In the season premiere, they’re approached for help by…the Red Skull? While they might not like it, the Avengers commitment to protecting and helping others often makes them team-up with people they would much rather put behind bars. We look back at five other times the Avengers put their ethics before their desire to bring down the bad guys. Tune in this Sunday at 8:30 a.m. ET on Disney XD for the season premiere!

Season 1, Ep. 10: “The Doomstroyer”

Earth's Mightiest Heroes look to Loki for help in Marvel's Avengers Assemble

Earth’s Mightiest Heroes look to Loki for help in Marvel’s Avengers Assemble

When the Avengers last went head-to-head with Doctor Doom, they won, but he escaped with a promise to return soon to utterly destroy them. Fulfilling his promise, Doom does not simply return, but does so with both the Destroyer armor and the Midgard Serpent under his sway. Facing down one of their most dangerous foes, whose lethality has only increased, the Avengers look as though they have no choice but to surrender. Thor, however, convinces the team to turn to his stepbrother, Loki. Thus, with Earth–and perhaps all of the Nine Worlds–in the balance, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes swallow the well-earned distrust of the God of Mischief and seek his aid.

Season 1, Ep. 12: “Avengers: Impossible”

Falcon faces the Impossible Man in Marvel's Avengers Assemble

Falcon faces the Impossible Man in Marvel’s Avengers Assemble

In his typical infuriating style, Impossible Man arrives in New York to bedevil the Avengers–and Falcon in particular–by freeing the just captured Wrecking Crew and shooting his “action movie,” in which the youngest Avenger “stars.” However, when a Chitauri scout team arrives on the planet, it becomes clear that, as annoying as he might be, Impossible Man needs the Avengers to protect him. Thus, despite being battered and bruised by the fella with the elongated head’s so-called “directing,” the team rallies around him to keep the hostile aliens from ending his life.

Season 1, Ep. 19: “The Ambassador”

Doctor Doom attempts to play on Captain America's morality in Marvel's Avengers Assemble - The Ambassador

Doctor Doom attempts to play on Captain America’s morality in Marvel’s Avengers Assemble – The Ambassador

Victor Von Doom returns once more. This time, he stands as the one seeking an unlikely alliance. In the wake of rejecting membership from the Cabal and coming to the U.N. on a diplomatic mission, even Doom’s arrogance does not make him blind to the fact that he needs help. Using Captain America’s staunch ideals against him and the Avengers at large, the bad Doctor requests, and receives, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes as his personal bodyguard force during his time in New York City. When the Cabal does indeed show up, Doom’s appeal seems authentic. However, anyone familiar with the leader of Latveria knows that things are rarely so simple.

Season 1, Ep. 24: “Crime and Circuses”

Earth's Mightiest Heroes are captured by the Circus of Crime in Marvel's Avengers Assemble - Crime and Circuses

Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are captured by the Circus of Crime in Marvel’s Avengers Assemble – Crime and Circuses

Boasting not one, but two unlikely team-ups, “Crime and Circuses” begins with all but two of the Avengers–Hawkeye and the Falcon–under Ringmaster’s sway. Conscripted into service in the Circus of Crime, the clown makeup smeared Avengers mindlessly seek the destruction of their teammates and the advancing of Ringmaster’s criminal plots. Thankfully, Hawkeye’s shady past allows him to connect with Princess Python, the second, and willing, team-up of the episode, who aids the archer and his winged ally in overcoming Ringmaster’s mind control, saving Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and putting the Circus of Crime out of business.

Season 1, Ep. 26: “The Final Showdown”

Iron Man and M.O.D.O.K. team-up in Marvel's Avengers Assemble - The Final Showdown

Iron Man and M.O.D.O.K. team-up in Marvel’s Avengers Assemble – The Final Showdown

The Red Skull has outplayed everyone. All season, he has slowly but surely maneuvered and manipulated his friends and enemies into just where he needed them and now he has ascended to the Cosmic Skull. Wielding the Tesseract and utterly divorced from any desire but his own acquisition of more power and the destruction of all who would oppose him, the Skull seems nearly indestructible. However, in order to get to the top, he stabbed a lot of people in the back; not the least of which is M.O.D.O.K. The floating head had long tolerated Skull’s belittling management style, but this betrayal proved a step too far. Faking a teleporter accident, he shows up on the Avengers doorstep and offers his services to the only team he thinks might be able to stop the omnipotent Skull.

Tune in this Sunday at 8:30 a.m. ET on Disney XD to see what happens when Red Skull comes begging for help on “Marvel’s Avengers Assemble”! Make sure to keep your eyes on for all the latest on your favorite Marvel animated series.

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We look back at the first season of 'Marvel's Avengers Assemble' with Cort Lane & Eric Radomski!

The epic struggle between Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and the Red Skull’s Cabal came to its conclusion this past Sunday in “Marvel’s Avengers Assemble,” as Iron Man and his team finally, fully trounced the band of baddies.

To celebrate the climactic final showdown, we spoke once again with series Supervising Producer Cort Lane, as well as Co-Executive Producer Eric Radomski, the man responsible for heading up the animation team that brings “Marvel’s Avengers Assemble” to life every Sunday morning.

Covering everything from the Red Skull’s Tesseract-wielding shenanigans to M.O.D.O.K.’s very own character arc, take a look back at the first season of the Avengers’ animated adventures with two of the show’s creators!

The Red Skull gets cosmic with the Tesseract in Marvel's Avengers Assemble - The Final Showdown

The Red Skull gets cosmic with the Tesseract in Marvel’s Avengers Assemble – The Final Showdown To begin with, I just want to talk about both this most recent episode as well as the season as a whole now that we’ve reached the end. The idea of the Red Skull ascending to become the Cosmic Skull, was that where you always knew you were going to land, or when you started the season did you know it would eventually build to something big and the idea of the Skull getting his hands on the Tesseract organically developed as you broke the season?

Cort Lane: We didn’t play out in the summits how it would all roll out. We did discuss though, at the very beginning, if the Tesseract would become a big part of it since it was part of the theatrical lore. And we knew in the end that Red Skull would turn on his team. So the pieces of the puzzle were there but we didn’t put it together until a much later summit. As far as the design for the Cosmic Skull, Eric, could you talk a little bit about how you guys wanted to represent his power and how, when he becomes this huge, almost omnipotent being, you show that level of power in animation?

Eric Radomski: The practical side of it is to come up with something that, aesthetically, is pleasing to us design-wise. And then the second part of that is to be sure it can be executed for the animation with all considerations with budgets and schedules, something that is attainable and fits within the design of the animation itself. That’s sort of the process that we go through, and then we do a little bit of experimentation where we actually create the design, throw it against the background and consider the effects that we could add to it and see what seems to work best. So the practical approach is usually more just aesthetic, where we wanted to give Skull some sort of armor to make a little bit of practicality out of the fact that he was going to use the Tesseract as his source of energy, not unlike Tony’s [Iron Man armor]. Peeling the costume and the armor off of Tony was part of the storytelling and, almost as a slap in the face from Skull to Tony, he was not only going to dominate with his power, but was going to go so far as to steal the clothes off his back. And that’s kind of what birthed the idea. In these last two episodes, there were a lot of really, really big fights. In the last episode, there were literally armies that the Avengers were going against.From an animation standpoint, what are some of the challenges or joys in creating sequences like that, with such a large cast of characters?

Hulk lets loose in Marvel's Avengers Assemble - The Final Showdown

Hulk lets loose in Marvel’s Avengers Assemble – The Final Showdown

Eric Radomski: It always sounds better on paper and in the script because the amount of pencil mileage–the love of it is that we still draw everything. It’s still very much handmade. All the animated Marvel shows, outside of the long-form [animated movies] which are computer graphic shows, are hand-done. So as much as our directors and storyboard artists are ambitious and love to choreograph and set up that kind of epic staging and ambition, the practicality [of] the time that we’re restricted by [makes us] come up with methods that give the illusions of the armies and hopefully enough smoke and mirrors to convince the audience that they’re seeing a lot more than they actually are. [It’s] a practical challenge but we try and not back away from the challenge that comes with the storytelling. We try and never impede the writers from making each episode its own little epic. We do have to be clever and really have to plan things out in order to convey the desire to build to this great crescendo but still be able to deliver something that’s somewhat enjoyable for the audience without ever trying to convince ourselves that we can create an army of characters that are going to all animate fully and fight the way that we wish we could. It’s a lot of fun to play in an unimpeded sandbox, but when we come down to the fact that we want to still maintain the integrity of the show and give the audience what they expect, we just have to be careful in the way that we plan things.

It’s always daunting when you read [a new script]. It’s exciting at first, then it’s daunting to see if we can live up to it. And we have to be considerate of our overseas studios and some poor mid-level animator who gets the crowd scenes and they spend a week drawing three scenes of fifty characters [that] goes by in a flash on the finished films. So there are a lot of different components that go into it, but we try to maintain the original intention of the stories as they were written. Getting back to the story a little bit–Cort, in the last episode, we saw the Red Skull betray his teammates and at the opening of this one, Tony tries to get the Cabal to team-up with the Avengers to take him down. But they sort of just laugh him off. I was curious why they initially did that? Why, even after the Red Skull’s betrayal, they weren’t willing to join up with the Avengers to go after the Skull?

Cort Lane: Well, [they’re] sworn enemies, but if you watch very closely, Iron Man gets to M.O.D.O.K. He knows he just has to turn M.O.D.O.K., [who] has a really interesting arc in the season in and of himself. [He] ends up being a key part of Cosmic Skull’s defeat. And [Iron Man] does convince M.O.D.O.K., but M.O.D.O.K. has to pretend in front of his colleagues, “Yeah, I didn’t mean to teleport them and I just sort of came to their headquarters because I needed some stuff.” He kind of gets away with it and then he teams up with the Black Widow. It’s all very nice because as much as this episode finishes out Tony’s arc, maybe the C arc in the episode belongs to M.O.D.O.K., which I love because I’m a huge M.O.D.O.K. fan. I was actually curious about that because he does have that line, “Oh, whoops, I couldn’t adjust the parameters of the teleporter.”

Cort Lane: [laughs] And Black Widow knows that he’s full of crap. She calls him on it later.

Iron Man and M.O.D.O.K. team-up in Marvel's Avengers Assemble - The Final Showdown

Iron Man and M.O.D.O.K. team-up in Marvel’s Avengers Assemble – The Final Showdown

Eric Radomski: Keeping with the very beginning of the season, literally the pilot episode, it was set up with Red Skull always badgering M.O.D.O.K., [whose] ego drives him for the most part, but Red Skull kind of used him as a lap dog. I think throughout the season you see M.O.D.O.K. try to step up, or float up in his case, to challenge Skull. I think the ego is what Tony played on, if you were to sort of dig into it a little bit. M.O.D.O.K. was easier to manipulate because he really had his own thirst for power and control, so I think it dovetailed really quite nicely from the beginning of the series to this conclusion of the first 26 episodes. While we’re talking about those larger character arcs, for each of you, which was your personal favorite to follow and track over the course of the season?

Cort Lane: Oh boy, that’s tough because there are a lot of them that are very interesting. I think the one that was emotionally interesting to me was Hulk’s arc through the season. He really can’t stand these guys at the beginning of the season and over the course of the 26 episodes, he’s developed these relationships with them. Black Widow was somebody who was terrified of him and couldn’t trust him and they developed a really great rapport. He teases Hawkeye but they come to a sort of understanding in the Mojo episode. And he is really a different Avenger and willing to be a part of this family by the end of the season in a way that he wasn’t at the beginning. I think [Co-Executive Producers] Man of Action really worked with our writers to develop wonderful character moments for him along the way so that it felt really organic. It just has a lot of heart in it, so I liked that one.

Eric Radomski: I’m going to go to the opposite side of the spectrum in Red Skull. For me, [it] was enticing from the very beginning even though his emotional arc didn’t have as much of a bow, I liked the idea that you never knew what was coming next from him–you just knew that he was driven in some way, shape, or form, to achieve his goal. And obviously it’s a little darker in my own mind, but I loved the fact that he is so obsessed with his power that he is going to be his own undoing. I just like the crazier characters. I think, psychologically, he is not threatened by any of the Avengers or all of them at the same time. He stood his ground, he didn’t have any particular superpower to speak of, but he was just so absolutely obsessed that he was willing to stand up and take a beating and still come back and continue to try and challenge the Avengers. So my dark appetite has fun with his character.

Cort Lane: Eric’s right. I think the writers did a phenomenal job, and then animation really underscored it with his physical transformation over the course of the season. He is a really complex and interesting villain and, frankly, unpredictable at the same time. That’s really neat because Red Skull really can be a two dimensional villain if you just play him as the Hydra/Nazi guy.

Thanos makes his debut in Marvel's Avengers Assemble - The Final Showdown

Thanos makes his debut in Marvel’s Avengers Assemble – The Final Showdown Speaking of Red Skull, in the closing moments we see him bring the Tesseract to Thanos. How early on did that moment come to you guys, and what made you decide to leave off on that?

Cort Lane: The subject of Thanos came up through all the summits. We wanted to save Thanos for bigger things in later years, but we did want to tease him, so it was always in the back of our heads. We have these little cards that we put up on the wall of all the villains, story ideas, and the places we’d like to go, and we use them to sort of spark ideas and thoughts and to arrange them visually to see how things could structurally work out. Thanos was always there but we knew that we had a bigger story to tell with him later. It wasn’t really until this summit for this final episode, and we really broke these last two episodes at the same time, that we knew Thanos was at the very end. We have a plan for Thanos in Marvel animation which I can not talk about at all. That’s good. You were talking about breaking these last couple of episodes, and when you were breaking these episodes and animating them and looking back at the entire season, was there anything you felt you learned through the process of making these first 26 episodes about these characters or the stories that work for them that you might not have fully realized before you started?

Cort Lane: Eric can speak to the animation side but there was something that actually complemented the animation needs, and that was that the better stories were the stories that focused on the relationship between two characters. Those were the most fun to watch and had the most interesting character progression in them. Those are also, frankly, easier to animate. It doesn’t mean that the other characters aren’t there, but our story hones in on a relationship. This episode was quite big, being a season ender, but we kept it very focused on Tony so that there was something there. And frankly, in a way, it’s a relationship story between Tony and the Red Skull. But that’s when our stories work best and, frankly, they look the best as well because you can really get great interaction with these two characters, instead of, as Eric mentioned, trying to animated 50 people running around in an environment and there’s not a lot of focus.

Eric Radomski: From a visual storytelling point of view, I think it does take at least the first third to a half of a season to really get comfortable with the characters not only from the way we play with them, but definitely the vocal performances made a big difference, I think. Of all of the characters, the least likely, at least on first blush, was Hawkeye, and he rose to [be] the true comedian of the group. I think that character works in any situation, even just reacting in the middle of a fight, not necessarily with a witty line, but literally being the guy that just lightens the load in the midst. That really helped a lot with making otherwise mundane and routine sorts of battles, and allowed us to have some fun, let their personalities rise to the top. [For example, there’s] the dynamic with Hawkeye and Hulk, and Hawkeye and Thor. He’s always jabbing at essentially the two bigger, tougher brothers, but together it just gave us a little bit more richness to the action adventure shows that weren’t so straightlaced action comic book type episodes. It allowed real personalities to come out of it so it also inspired the artists to be able to work with the characters and expressions and the attitudes and the way that we handle them when we storyboard. I think as the series evolved, each of the characters became very defined.

Earth's Mightiest Heroes triumphant in Marvel's Avengers Assemble - The Final Showdown

Earth’s Mightiest Heroes triumphant in Marvel’s Avengers Assemble – The Final Showdown

Captain America [was] just dead-on for me as far as the vocal performance, and bouncing all of these characters off each other just made a fresh sort of ensemble. In fact, at the beginning of the series we’re trying to define what our versions for the animation might be, not only for our own tastes but also for respecting the audience that we’re going to be playing to which, for the most part, a lot of the fans that are watching this on Disney XD may not be familiar with the characters outside of the live-action movies. And even that is not to be expected, that everybody saw the films. So we were trying to be respectful of a younger audience that’s getting their first impressions of these characters as well as keeping it entertaining and still respecting the history of each of the characters without it becoming too dry and boring. It’s an interesting process and again, the cast really started to gel and I think that inspired the writers to write specific dialogue for characters to play in whatever definition they created for themselves. Hawkeye is the example of being a little bit more comedic [and] then I think as scripts evolved, the lines are then able to be tossed over to those characters to sort of move the story along and yet have some fun with the interpersonal relationships between the characters. It’s definitely a challenge because you’ve got a bunch of heroes that are all equally able to hold that limelight and yet you want to keep them individually distinct. I think the writers and certainly the performers did terrific work and we try to support that very much with the way we directed the animation. Things have really come together in the latter part of the season. Looking back now at this first season, what would each of you say you’re proudest of from these first 26 episodes?

Eric Radomski: From a challenge point of view, it was trying to hold this incredible standard set by the movie [Marvel’s The Avengers]. [Director Joss Whedon’s] version just blew the doors off of action films, and our main mission was not to mess it up. That’s really the goal that I think I set for myself, was to respect it but know that we have 26 stories to tell. We don’t have the resources to do the big bang that they had in the movies, so to be able to come out on the other end of it still intact with the creative output and then to be able to know in the grand sense that we didn’t embarrass the franchise, that’s a huge goal especially with something that was so profound when it was out in the public eye. We wanted to be sure we could at least do it justice. I’m confident that we did everything that we set out to do and I’m proud of everything we’ve got on screen so those were some of the main goals, and it’s nice to be on this end of it and take a breath.

Hawkeye takes aim in Marvel's Avengers Assemble - The Final Showdown

Hawkeye takes aim in Marvel’s Avengers Assemble – The Final Showdown

Cort Lane: That is hard, there are so many individual episodes that I love for different reasons. I was extremely happy with how our voice actors really came together as an ensemble and in the booth you got this really wonderful quality as they worked together. I was very happy with how they animated as characters as well I will pick the 10-year old Cort side, who was a Hawkeye fanatic. I’ve been able to have the privilege of working for Marvel and working on this many stories featuring Hawkeye, and he really just came across exactly as I wanted him to and so few things in life happen that way. It’s a dream come true, and Troy Baker, who plays him, just nailed it, and the writers nailed him, and he was funny and rebellious and irreverent and so cool beyond just being a super hero but just a really cool guy who’s so remarkable that he made it on this team. Closing out, as always–what was your favorite line from this episode?

Cort Lane: When Iron Man has no armor and they’re facing the end of the universe, and he doesn’t even have Iron Man’s armor to fight in and Cap says, “You’re still the man!” And he says, “Yeah, I’ll go all billionaire philanthropist on their butts!” I don’t know, it’s nice when Iron Man has those snarky lines and that was my favorite, that in the face of all of this he keeps his humor. But as he realizes he doesn’t need the armor, he turns the tower into his armor. Which I thought was a really cool touch.

Cort Lane: Yeah, a nice twist. Where it sort of becomes the Iron Building, I guess?

Cort Lane: Yes. The Iron Tower. What about you, Eric, did you have a particular favorite moment from this episode?

Eric Radomski: The moment I absolutely will play by is when Red Skull’s power becomes all consuming towards the end of the episode and you saw his head sort of grow, and he looked like the Wizard of Oz in the crater and everything was exploding. That turned out pretty close to what I was hoping for, so that moment was what pushed it over the edge from being just a villain to being this super hellacious monster. I thought the dialogue treatment, the audio mix and the music all crescendoed in a really nice way to really make Skull into the monster that he wanted to be. That stuck out for me as a nice piece that came together pretty close to the way we intended.

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Writer Ales Kot provides character insight while artist Michael Walsh shares exclusive art!

It’s important for any top notch operation to have a big brain backing them, someone they can rely on to supply the information they need to get the job done. While putting together her new Secret Avengers group together Maria Hill snatched up one of the smartest beings in the Marvel Universe.

Secret Avengers (2014) #1

Secret Avengers (2014) #1

  • Published: March 12, 2014
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: September 08, 2014
  • Rating: Rated T+
  • Cover Artist: Tradd Moore
What is Marvel Unlimited?

He just happens to be a Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing, though, which might not sit well with her squad if they ever find out in the pages of Ales Kot and Michael Walsh’s new SECRET AVENGERS.

“M.O.D.O.K. runs his own game,” Kot says. “Only time will show whether the game he says he’s running is the game he’s really running. Or if he’s running five at once. M.O.D.O.K., to me, can be Heisenberg, or a crazy inventor who wants to redeem himself, or three other things; and the beauty of his character is, you can’t quite be sure unless he shows you, and even then—well, who knows?”

SECRET AVENGERS #1, which launches on March 12, finds Hill keeping M.O.D.O.K. concealed from just about everyone while still utilizing his impressive skills.

“Most of them don’t even know M.O.D.O.K. is on the team,” Kot confirms. “M.O.D.O.K. sold himself to S.H.I.E.L.D. It’s as simple as that, or at least that’s how he puts it. He sold to the winning bidder and gave up A.I.M. in the process. But, M.O.D.O.K. being M.O.D.O.K., as he says to Hill at one point, she’s his mirror of sorts. They are very similar. They have plans within plans. Perhaps the key question here is whether M.O.D.O.K.’s plans include less killing or more killing than ever before.”

Even though M.O.D.O.K. will stick to the shadows for the most part, he still got something of a makeover for his new gig.

Secret Avengers teaser by Michael Walsh

Secret Avengers teaser by Michael Walsh

“I based his design on the newer re-imagining by Gabriel Hardman,” Walsh says. “I tried to play up the inherent weird creepiness of a giant head sitting on spider legs. We decided to remove his dangly human legs in favor of small pincers. His human legs now sit comfortably inside of his mechanical suit. The suit is also more angular and clunkier then it was before. You’ll probably see him showing up in a few different specialized variants of the suit throughout the book.”

According to Kot, M.O.D.O.K. will have even more games at play than he does new duds.

Secret Avengers (2014) #4 variant cover by Michael Walsh

Secret Avengers (2014) #4 variant cover by Michael Walsh

“I can promise that we will be diving into multiple aspects of each character,” he says. “What I love about creating stories—one of the many things—is that these are not characters for me. They are real complex beings. I don’t always feel perfectly in control of the narrative, and that is a good thing for me; I close my eyes and watch the scenes play out. Often, the characters tell me what they need to do. M.O.D.O.K. tells me many things.” 

On a larger level, Kot explains that the barriers between him and the characters tend to fall away the longer he works on them:

“At the end of the day it all melts, because to me, these are perhaps not just characters—that implies a sort of a 2D vision—but beings that truly exist in their own way, and to do my best by them, I have to be true to their complexity as well as to their defining character traits, unless they choose to change them.

“Every time I dive in, I come out refreshed. SECRET AVENGERS is something else to me.”

Pick up SECRET AVENGERS #1 by Ales Kot and Michael Walsh on March 12!

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