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

Heroes, have you heard Nick Fury’s call?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Avengers Academy 2.0 brings massive combat, story, and character changes

We’re coming up on the second anniversary for “Marvel Avengers Academy”! The fan-favorite game has continued to add new characters and build an amazing story over these two years, but one mystery has yet to be uncovered. What is up with that timefog? What is Fury hiding? Why does he have an Infinity Gauntlet? Who is that Thanos guy the Guardians keep talking about? Well, now’s the time to get some answers.

Along with this new story content, there are some major changes coming to the game. Combat, questions, hero outfits, and much more are seeing overhauls. We sat down with Allen Warner – Senior Narrative Designer at TinyCo – for an expansive interview about all the changes and new features we’ll see when Avengers Academy 2.0 launches soon. 

Marvel.com: First, let’s talk big changes. Combat has been a key component of most major Avengers Academy events, and now it’s being overhauled. How will players take the fight to the many Marvel villains they’ll face going forward?

Allen Warner: There are a lot of big changes coming to the game, but none bigger than the way players interact with combat. We really wanted to make combat more interactive and strategic to make the entire experience more fun, immersive, and rewarding for players. You’ll now have more control over giving yourself the best chance to succeed by getting to choose your team of heroes from a larger roster, choosing their alignment based on their unique abilities and class, and by choosing their individual actions and attacks. Heroes will also have individual health bars, so your team will be able to keep fighting if one of your heroes goes down. All of this will be supported by a robust hero management system, new combat animations for every hero, tons of new combat environments, and new villains to fight.

Marvel.com: So combat will now be used outside of events?

Allen Warner: Yes, there will be new quests, maps, and characters added to the main game, and combat will be a big part of the overall experience. The faculty is preparing for war against Thanos, the imprisoned villains are on the verge of activating their master plan, and the students are getting closer to uncovering the mysteries behind what Nick Fury keeps in his underground vaults, and how their universe came into existence. They’ll have to fight their way through Thanos and his forces to get those answers.

Marvel.com: Speaking of the Academy students and faculty, how do the other ways we interact with them change in 2.0?

Allen Warner: Hero management will be a major part of the revamped Avengers Academy experience. From a gameplay perspective, heroes will feel more unique with new special abilities, classes, and animations. We really wanted to streamline the process of upgrading and ranking up heroes, so there will be fewer rank-up items to collect, and players will have more control over who they want to rank up, making ranking up a specific hero easier. Unlike the current game, upgrading your hero’s combat stats persists after an event is over, and can be used in the main game and future events.

Marvel.com: This is massive! Now, players have been asking for a while to see their favorite event and late-game heroes suit up in new outfits. Is there any chance we’ll see this here?

Allen Warner: Yes, this is another huge change. We’ve always relied on the first few heroes in the game for new outfits because we wanted to make sure that new players would be able to acquire and enjoy those outfits, but the revamped structure allows us to give outfits to a wider variety of characters. I love Iron Man, Wasp, Loki, Black Widow, and Falcon, but they’ve had their share of awesome outfits, and it’s time for the rest of the team to have a chance. We’ll be focusing on heroes who’ve had zero to few alternative looks to this point, which is really exciting. You can expect to see new outfits for Black Panther, Vision, Hawkeye, Winter Soldier, and many, many more in the coming months.

Marvel.com: Along with these cosmetic dreams, fans of the game have been hoping for the next zone of the timefog to open up and for more main story quests to be added. Can you share anything new on this front?

Allen Warner: We’ve talked about it, and are continuing to talk about it, but this one is a little more complicated. The issue is that when we open a new zone, it creates more space for characters, decorations, and buildings, which makes the game more difficult to run on older devices. We don’t want to exclude our players with older devices that wouldn’t be able to run the game properly, so we’re actively working on a solution. I definitely understand the frustration. Players have earned a bunch of awesome decorations and buildings that they want to showcase, but have to keep them in storage because they don’t have enough space. I’m hopeful that we’ll figure something out soon.

Marvel.com: The story of Avengers Academy has arguably been building to this point since launch. What can you tell us about the next act and everything in store for our heroes, Thanos, and the Academy universe at large?

Allen Warner: Yeah, the first thing I ever wrote for this game was the story of how this universe was created, and we’re finally getting to the point where that story can be told, which is really exciting. I don’t want to give too much away, but we know that the faculty has been aware of Thanos from the beginning. They’ve met before, and it didn’t go well for the Avengers. We know that Nick Fury is hiding artifacts, weapons, and possibly even heroes and villains in his secret underground vaults. His second Infinity Gauntlet is a clue to how powerful some of these things might be. We know that Mephisto, Hela, Madame Gao, and the rest of the imprisoned villains are plotting something, and that somehow they’ve been able to contact Thanos, who most likely orchestrated their plan from the beginning. We also know that there’s a mole on campus. Someone who every hero trusts is either betraying their fellow Avengers, or isn’t who we think they are. Maybe both. Lastly, we know that Thanos is coming. His arrival will set all of these things in motion, and eventually answer all of these questions, while spinning this world into a wild new direction.

Marvel.com: Will the structure of missions or quests change as this new content is introduced?

Allen Warner: Missions are changing drastically, and I think it will create a much better experience for the player. The new Mission Board is more streamlined and organized to give players more agency, and better suit their style and needs. If they’re only interested in completing story missions, they can focus on those. If they only want to gather items to upgrade a specific hero, they can do that too. It will be easier for players to get what they’re most interested in getting, so the overall experience will be more suited to their play style, and focusing on what they enjoy most in the game.

Marvel.com: Along with Thanos’s impending arrival, Voyager is coming to campus! The hero – recently created by Mark Waid, Al Ewing, Jim Zub, and Pepe Larraz for “Avengers: No Surrender” – makes her Marvel Games debut here. How does she come to join the Academy?

Allen Warner: Yeah, this is really exciting. I always think it’s so cool when we can bring a character from the comics to games for the first time, and Voyager is an awesome hero who’s a great fit for our world. I don’t want to give away too much about how she’s involved yet, but in the books, she’s a character from a different place and time, and our world is filled with alternate universes and time anomalies, so it shouldn’t be too difficult for her to find her way here. Her visual ranks and animations are really cool, and I think people are going to love adding her to the team.

Voyager

Marvel.com: How can players add her to their Academy roster?

Allen Warner: Voyager will be a log-in bonus character, so everyone will be able to get her just by logging in each day during the time she’s available. The more you log in during that period of time, the stronger your Voyager will be when she enters the campus. There are even more perks for Marvel Insiders.

Marvel.com: What does the Marvel Insider integration mean for Avengers Academy players? How can they join the program?

Allen Warner: If you’re a Marvel Insider, or decide to become an Insider, and you submit your Avengers Academy game ID through the site, you’ll automatically get Insider points. If you recruit Voyager in the given time period, you’ll get even more Insider points. Anyone with Marvel Insider points can use them to purchase a special Voyager in-game trophy that generates upgrade items.

Marvel.com: There’s a whole lot of new stuff coming to campus. Will we also see new main buildings and locations?

Allen Warner: There will be a new upgradeable building Nick Fury places on campus to help train the heroes and protect the school from Thanos’s inevitable attack, and there will be a ton of new locations for your heroes to travel and fight various villains and factions across the globe and beyond.

Marvel.com: With all these changes, a lot of current materials and mechanics are changing. What will this mean for existing players – both recent and longtime?

Allen Warner: Existing players will keep everything they’ve earned, and will be given a proportional amount of the new upgrade materials for all of the rank-ups they have in the current game. This revamped version of Avengers Academy is a new experience, and we believe a better experience, but it will still be very familiar to our existing players, and if you enjoy it now, we hope you’ll enjoy the new experience even more.

Marvel.com: What are you most excited to share with players as 2.0 officially launches?

Allen Warner: I’m excited about all of the opportunities for new stories, outfits, characters, locales, and an experience that gives players more control to play the game they want to play it, and focus on the parts of the game that they find the most fun. It feels like an evolution of the original game, and I’m excited to see where it goes, while putting the bow on some long-running storylines, and spinning up some new ones.

Marvel.com: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about this humongous new update?

Allen Warner: I just hope everyone enjoys the new experience, and I can wait for everyone to see all of the cool new things we have in store!

For all the latest news and updates on “Marvel Avengers Academy,” visit Marvel.com and follow us on Twitter @MarvelGames!

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Nick Fury faces double the trouble with Mentallo and The Fixer!

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.

Over the years, Jack Kirby developed quite the deserved reputation as one of the best tech-artists in comics. His inventions might not actually translate well into the real world, but they sure looked amazing on the page with all of those gears, nozzles, tubes and other details. Kirby and Stan Lee would come up with plenty of books and characters that took advantage of this talent. S.H.I.E.L.D.’s penchant for gadgets and strange villains did exactly that, especially in the story that introduced Mentallo and The Fixer back in 1966.

The tale began most in STRANGE TALES #141 and ran three issues through #142 before wrapping with #143. Nick Fury and company had finished taking out a Hydra faction; upon returning to base, the fearless leader of S.H.I.E.L.D. found himself under attack from his own people! Instead of a mutiny, though, the super spy discovered that his E.S.P. Division had been working on a device that could project thoughts. This set off a mental alarm for a man known as Mentallo, a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who had incredible mind powers himself. He intended to take over the organization with his abilities, but failed.

To continue down that road, though, Mentallo decided to look for help. He used his powers to watch from a safe distance as The Fixer used a bed frame, a stool, a sheet, and plenty of stolen parts to break out of prison. Not long after the convict’s escape, the telepathic rogue used his mind-reading abilities to break into the former’s undersea base. Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. actually witnessed this for themselves thanks to another development from the E.S.P. folks. However, since they couldn’t nail down the location, they simply knew they’d have a problem with these two in the not too distant future.

Strange Tales (1951) #141

Strange Tales (1951) #141

  • Published: February 10, 1966
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: April 28, 2007
  • Penciller: Steve Ditko
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Mentallo and Fixer fulfilled that prediction as they drove the Thru-The-Ground Tank on their way towards S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ. However, Fury and company had plenty of their own tricks to at least slow down their new enemies, like super-thick walls, moving barriers and plenty of stun-cannons. However, none of that truly worked against the villainous duo, who figured out ways through all of those defenses! The bad guys even maneuvered their way against Nick’s squad so that they avoided attack and also paralyzed them with Neutrino Shells. Even worse? They used an Electronic Helmet to take control of Fury’s body!

While the new leaders of S.H.I.E.L.D. figured out how to keep the power they’d stolen, Tony Stark worked with the rest of the organization to overthrow them. At the same time, Fixer and Mentallo attached Fury to an H-Bomb built with help from Them—later identified as A.I.M.—before taking the mask off. With his mind his own once again, Nick sent out a signal to the E.S.P. division who then alerted the rest of S.H.I.E.L.D. to take action. A pair of agents wearing Scrambler Helmets snuck up on Mentallo and Fixer, and blasted them with pure hate waves. With the room stunned by the attack—including Fury—Stark had enough time to get the Neuturalizer in place to disengage the atomic bomb.

As their main distraction disintegrated on the table, Fixer and Mentallo began fighting with one another and soon made a break for it, though S.H.I.E.L.D. agents anticipated their moves and captured the troublemakers!

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

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Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. meet up with the menace of A.I.M.!

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.

With 1966’s STRANGE TALES #148, the formula for Nick Fury’s segment of the book got a bit of shake up when Jack Kirby not only drew layouts for Don Heck to finish, but also scripted the story with regular writer Stan Lee reportedly on vacation! The resulting story, called “Death Before Dishonor,” began with a bang as Marvel’s top spy waded through fire while S.H.I.E.L.D. agents—wearing protective gear—fought the blaze with a series of chemicals.

Though the others wrote Fury off as dead from exposure to the elements, Dum Dum Dugan plowed through, tossed his Howling Commandos leader over his shoulder and made way for the Vita-Fluid-filled Restora-Tank. Distraught over the potential loss of his friend, Dugan responded with appropriate shock when Fury appeared behind him and revealed that a Life Model Decoy floated before them.

Fury and Jasper Sitwell then recounted how the fire started in the prisoner holding area. The head honcho wanted to question the captured members of A.I.M. in person, but instead used an L.M.D. as his eyes, ears, and mouth. This proved a good call as Advanced Idea Mechanics somehow used a remote detonator to blow their own people up!

The action then shifted to the public face of A.I.M., Count Bornag Royale, watching his enemies deal with the fire from a secret base. While he left to manipulate the Free Nations’ Justice Department to bring Fury in front of their Board of Inquiry, an A.I.M. contingent promised to grab an L.M.D. for research purposes. After checking out an x-ray projecting gun and hearing from Sitwell how easy breaking into his office proved, Nick sat down for another nail in the coffin: the official summons to appear before the Board on Inquiry.

Nick agreed to appear, and on the day of the supposedly secret meeting, A.I.M. took advantage of the timing to raid the S.H.I.E.L.D. L.M.D. facility. After listening to many bad-mouth him, Fury got fed up, smashed through a window of the Helicarrier, and used a belt parachute to land on the ground where Dugan awaited his arrival.

In the next issue—which featured a script by Denny O’Neil along with Kirby layouts and Ogden Whitney finishes—Fury and his soldiers make an epic move to save their facility while also putting a huge dent in A.I.M.’s operation!

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

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Nick Fury and the Howling Commandos enter a new theater of war!

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.

Never ones to take it easy on their characters, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby gave the stars of SGT. FURY AND HIS HOWLING COMMANDOS a whole new challenge in the book’s sixth outing. The 1964 issue began with a distracted Fury running into a Nazi alarm wire while riding a bicycle because his Jeep broke down. Looking to meet his lady for a date, Nick put a little extra mustard into the fight with a trio of wannabe saboteurs. After dropping them off in the clink he met up with Lady Pamela Hawley and took in a picture that showcased how the Nazi  Rommel continued to run the table in North Africa.

Not long after Captain “Happy Sam” Sawyer informed Fury that he and the Howlers would take on The Desert Fox directly. Unfortunately, during a training exercise, Dino Manelli got banged up and had to stay behind which meant the unproven George Stonewell, would fill out the Howling Commandos. The newcomer immediately started raising eyebrows, though, as he had very clear problems with the Italian, Jewish, and African-American members of his squad. Nick called him on it, quickly saying, “You’re a genuine, 14-carat, dyed-in-the-wool, low-down bigot!” The commanding officer would have 86ed the new recruit, but they all rolled out for their mission the next day.

The action then cut directly to Tobruk, Libya where the Howlers found themselves just behind one of Rommel’s platoons. At first Stonewell seemed like he could put his prejudice aside to fight a common enemy, but once he and Gabe Jones approached a radio tent, his racism took over and a fight broke out between fellow soldiers. Fury broke it up, grabbed one of the surviving Nazis and used him as a guide.

During a brief respite, the Nazi noted to Stonewell how they shared similar views on the subject of non-whites. The U.S. commando said he had no use for Nazis just as a batch of Axis bombers flew in to attack. Thanks to some quick thinking by their sergeant, the Commandos avoided a potentially explosive situation and lived to wander the desert until coming upon a local tribe who offered to help overthrow the invasive Nazis.

Upon arriving at Rommel’s base, the sheer size of the Desert Fox’s operation, which included a whole fleet of tanks, struck the Howlers dumbfounded. Fury quickly devised a plan that required Stonewell to work alongside Izzy Cohen to his bigoted chagrin. Unable to control his baser nature, Stonewell not only planned to disobey Fury’s direct order, but also got into a scrap with Izzy that brought in all kinds of unwanted attention from their targets.

The pair got along well enough to defend each other, but Stonewell wound up taking some shrapnel, which meant that Cohen had to carry him out of the battlefield. With the larger mission scrapped, the Commandos tore out and got their newest member to a German doctor who helped without provocation, noting that he served the Nazis against his will. This man proceeded to facilitate a blood transfusion between the racist soldier and Gabe Jones to save Stonewell’s life. Later, the Allied forces crashed through Rommel’s outer defenses and got to Fury. They let him know that The Desert Fox secretly worked to assassinate Hitler, so they wanted to keep him alive in hopes that he and his co-conspirators would succeed in their mission.

Back in their British home base, the Howlers saw Stonewell off. Though he said nothing, he did leave a forwarding address to none other than Izzy and Gabe! Fury then closed the issue out with a lesson that we can all still learn from: “The seeds of prejudice, which takes a lifetime to grow, can’t be stamped out overnight—but if we keep trying—keep fighting—perhaps a day will come when ‘love they brother’ will be more than just an expression we hear in church!”

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

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Captain America and Nick Fury team up to take on a terrorist cartel!

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.

Captain America and Nick Fury might not exactly see eye-to-eye on all things when it comes to keeping the good people of the world safe, but we all know they’d both do anything to ensure peace and prosperity. In the pages of TALES OF SUSPENSE #78 from 1966, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby brought the world’s number one super spy into the Sentinel of Liberty’s book to finally figure the true identity of a group previously only referred to as “Them.”

Fury came in with a unique device he wanted Cap to look at, a miniature brain that could grow into a humanoid when added to the right combination of chemicals. He knew it had belonged to “Them,” but still hadn’t IDed the group. As the two heroes pondered the mystery, an aircraft dropped off a strange new visitor outside: a robot! The automaton changed from white to orange and then melted its way right through the walls of Avengers Mansion to confront our patriotic pals.

Fury emptied his clip with no effect, but Cap knew the house’s security system better, turning on the Frigi-Defense which would drop the temperature in the room to freezing with a quickness. When even that failed to slow their pursuer down, the valiant veterans decided to take on their foe face-to-face. It easily brushed Fury’s advances off, but failed to avoid the star-spangled hero’s mighty shield. The Avenger even got the attacker on its back, but a quick dose of chemicals knocked him out.

Tales of Suspense (1959) #78

Tales of Suspense (1959) #78

  • Published: June 10, 1966
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: April 28, 2007
  • Penciller: Jack Kirby
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

The action then cut to a mysterious super-lab filled with people wearing yellow jump suits and masks. Though readers at the time didn’t know it just yet, they’d just been introduced to those nefarious scientists in Advanced Idea Mechanics, otherwise known as A.I.M.! At the time, they remained focused on using their genius-level intellects to build an army of artificial lifeforms to do their bidding.

Back at Avengers HQ, a revived Cap rejoined Fury in battle, realizing that, with its ability to mix elements, this new foe could potentially go nuclear. With the doomsday clock potentially ticking down, Nick jammed a secret pill down the robot’s mouth and Captain America landed one more powerful blow that finally felled the beast. Before their eyes, the artificial being withered into a husk of its former self. Fury then informed Steve Rogers that the Avengers had better stay out of the “Them” hunt for now and left having given the super-soldier a S.H.I.E.L.D. Priority A-1 badge!

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

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Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. confront an evil combo of science and magic!

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.

Over the years, Nick Fury amassed quite a number of enemies. Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and breakdown artist Howard Purcell introduced us to one of the more unusual ones in the pages of 1966’s STRANGE TALES #144145: The Druid. A threat potentially more suited for series mate Doctor Strange, Druid debuted while conjuring up an image of Fury to his coven-like followers and calling for the S.H.I.E.L.D. leader’s death!

However, we quickly learned that at least some of Druid’s methods came from the world of technology instead of magic as he had a team working behind the scenes for him like a stage magician. Using these tools, the villain called for an “Egg of Satan” and sent it off to kill Nick Fury. The egg almost didn’t need to bother as the super spy had donned a protective suit to crawl through the wreckage of a plane from the previous issue in order to find the reactor. Of course, Fury would never let a little thing like potential immolation stop him and succeeded in his task!

Not long after, officials spotted the egg, but didn’t know where it came from. Following its command, the object made a beeline for Fury who happened to be driving with Dum Dum Duggan at the time. Thanks to good, old S.H.I.E.L.D. tech, the former Howling Commandos kept in the fight as the egg started blasting them with lasers. To end this particular skirmish though, our pair of World War II heroes grabbed themselves some blasters and shot the Satan’s Egg out of the sky. In the second part, another brand of S.H.I.E.L.D. standby debuted to help confuse any future egg attacks: Fury Life Model Decoys!

Strange Tales (1951) #144

Strange Tales (1951) #144

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Though the LMDs attracted the eggs more than once, Druid seemed wise to the ploy and used his devices to gather information on his quarry. Not wanting the game to go on for too long, the evil mastermind revealed himself to Fury and challenged him to a fight! As Nick knocked out the leader, his fellow S.H.I.E.L.D. agents used their superior skills and tech to stop the remaining Satan’s Eggs, which had been developed into tanks and other weapons.

In the end, our heroes succeeded in not only capturing their opponent, but also putting an end to his immediate threat. The man known as Dredmund the Druid would eventually return to torment Captain America, even playing a role in the classic “Cap Wolf”storyline! While not exactly the kind of adventure you’d expect Nick Fury to get tangled up in, the story Lee, Kirby and Purcell worked beautifully together on offered a mighty Marvel espionage melee that must be seen!

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

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Jack helps to introduce another of Marvel’s most vile villains!

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.

Jack Kirby maybe be best known as a super hero artist, but he loved making war comics. A military man himself, “The King” put his crown aside to serve his country during World War II as an Infrantryman and put plenty of those experiences into books like SGT. FURY AND HIS HOWLING COMMANDOS with his collaborator Stan Lee.

Though still thrilling adventure stories, these issues feature some of the hard truths that came with war, like losing members of your squad as the Howlers did when Junior Junipe got injured in issue #4. They carried that sadness and anger with them into the next mission, which introduced them and the readers to a new Nazi threat: Baron Strucker! The villain debuted dueling with another man and easily winning before receiving his latest orders from Hitler: kill Nick Fury. Thinking his prey beneath him, Strucker thought of the mission as nothing more than a game.

The Wing Commander of the Fuehrer’s Death-Head Squadron flew his plane over the Allies’ post, blasting away at Dum Dum Duggan and Izzy Cohen before throwing a tube with a note down challenging Fury to a death duel on Norsehaven in the English Channel. Enraged at Strucker’s taunts, the sergeant requested transport to the Channel from Captain Sawyer, who flatly refused. After dining with his girlfriend Lady Pamely Hawley, Fury called in a few favors and snuck his way to the meeting with Strucker.

Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos (1963) #5

Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos (1963) #5

  • Published: January 10, 1964
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 13, 2007
  • Penciller: Jack Kirby
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Neither man wasted any time getting into the spirit of the duel itself, which they fought with plywood swords as part of Strucker’s beloved tradition dictated. However, the villain also drugged Fury’s pre-fencing drink and had his lackeys ready to literally trip Nick up. The future S.H.I.E.L.D. chief did his best to fight, but inevitably collapsed. With his opponent down, the Baron called out his photographers and videographers to record the Amerikaner’s defeat. They strapped Fury in a parachute and dropped him out of a plane near the base he had been stationed at.

Upon returning, Captain Sawyer busted Fury down to a private and dismissed him. Still a part of the Howling Commandos, Nick joined his crew as they went out for another big push. The Howlers got the drop on a tank squadron, stole their vehicle and used it to destroy a rocket base before busting into an enemy base that happened to house Strucker!

The nefarious Nazi didn’t stand a chance in a fair fight with the furious Fury who knocked him unconscious after punching him through a wall! Upon returning, Sawyer saw the error of his ways in demoting Nick—mostly because a general said how lucky he was to work with the Howlers boss—and returned him to the rank of sergeant!

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

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Mark Waid gets a Kirby assist on his scintillating S.H.I.E.L.D. series!

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.

Last month, Mark Waid ran through his own personal history with Jack Kirby’s work and said that one of the highlights of his whole career had to be scripting over the King’s pages in S.H.I.E.L.D. #9 from 2015. That issue, which celebrated the 50th anniversary of the worldwide espionage organization, kicked off with a story that utilized a few sequences Kirby had whipped up as a kind of proof of concept for the original run of Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. stories back in the 60s. Editor Stan Lee liked the basic idea and so he and Jack first brought the World War II hero into the modern era with FANTATSIC FOUR #21 and then made him head of S.H.I.E.L.D. in 1965’s STRANGE TALES #135.

It’s really interesting to compare the original pages and the ones published decades later. Aside from the coloring, you can see that one main change made to the first page: the omission of the anagram descriptor that let you know D.E.A.T.H. initially stood for Director of External Atomic Threat Headquarters. Thanks to the notes written with the presentation of the pages in the back of S.H.I.E.L.D. #9, we know that that was actually Kirby’s first idea for what would become S.H.I.E.L.D.!

Art-wise the second page continued as drawn, but Waid told his own story over the notes and text blocks that Kirby hand-wrote on the artwork! Waid’s tale, drawn by Lee Ferguson the rest of the way, saw Agent Coulson read them himself after receiving the files and talking to Nick Fury’s son about a photo of a man in the Hydra file.

Coulson had already contacted Daisy Johnson, Tony Stark, and Maria Hill—all former or current heads of S.H.I.E.L.D. themselves—and they said they’d never seen the man, but all got nosebleeds upon doing so! As Coulson traced Fury’s steps, we also got to see the man himself strolling through New York City with Dum Dum Duggan and meeting with The Contessa, not to mention the classic barber shop entrance to a hidden bunker originally glimpsed in STRANGE TALES #136.

S.H.I.E.L.D. (2014) #9

S.H.I.E.L.D. (2014) #9

What is Marvel Unlimited?

As it happened, those Kirby pages showed Fury breaking into a Hydra base on his own and running out with a file. The problem? He couldn’t read it! So, he sent it out to every member of his organization and tried to get answers. The Contessa even tried acquiring the information out of a captured Hydra agent to no avail.

In the present, though, Coulson’s journey proved far more fruitful as he met the man called D.E.A.T..H., which stood for Da Vinci Elevating Agents To Helm. A figure referring to himself as Leonardo da Vinci then showed Coulson the secret history of this group which dated back to ancient Egypt. He also explained that he would not only choose the top agents, but also guide them to where they needed to be. Thanks to his own brand of trickery, Coulson walked away with far more information than Da Vinci intended, but the rest of S.H.I.E.L.D. still had no way of uncovering the secrets that had apparently been sitting in their own vaults all this time.

While Coulson found himself wondering what the documents had truly meant, we can all look back and see how perfectly Waid handled integrating the very first Nick Fury-as-spy pages into a story that linked previous S.H.I.E.L.D. creators like himself and Kirby to Jonathan Hickman, Jim Steranko, and more.

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

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Nick Spencer wraps up an epic event with SECRET EMPIRE OMEGA.

Each week, we use our super sleuth skills to dig into the histories of the characters fighting on both sides of Secret Empire!

Nick Spencer kickstarted an epic tale starting with CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #1 last year and this week, he wrapped it all up with SECRET EMPIRE: OMEGA #1 along with artists Andrea Sorrentino and Joe Bennett. 

Captain America: Steve Rogers (2016) #1

Captain America: Steve Rogers (2016) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Before getting to the main event, let’s look at a few of the side stories that found their completion in this issue. First, as Clint Barton wept over Black Widow’s casket, Bucky Barnes found himself in Madripoor looking into the upcoming assassination of a general who aligned himself with Hydra. When the guy gets shot, Barnes thinks that the killer had to be Black Widow.

At the same time, Emma Frost and Hank McCoy talked about the dissolution of the mutant nation New Tian. While McCoy said that the efforts to put forth a solid mutant society would mean a lot to younger generations, Frost regretted that they would never know who their actual queen was.

Meanwhile, we also caught up with one of the more surprising members of HydraCap’s crew: The Punisher. Feeling betrayed and used, Frank Castle decided to make it his mission to burn Hydra to the ground. As Punisher continued his crusade, Nick Fury looked on and said to Control, “He’s ready.”

With those mysterious set-ups out of the way, it’s time to talk about the main confrontation in this issue which came between Steve Rogers and his Cosmic Cube-created copy with the octopus tattoo across his chest. To do so, Cap broke into a jail holding just the one captive.

Inside, he faced the man with his face. HydraCap, still convinced that the reality he understood thanks to Red Skull’s essential brainwashing of Kobik, was the correct one and one still worth fighting for. He also brought to Steve’s attention how quickly people seemed to turn on one another and reach for the power he offered them.

Rogers, while concerned with the damage HydraCap did to his image and reputation, still saw some good in the whole situation, hoping that this whole nasty endeavor would stop some people from blindly following anyone, even himself.

Ultimately, though, the true Captain America believes in the goodness of people and the resilience of his homeland. We’ll see him trying to make up for the mistakes a man with his face made over in MARVEL LEGACY #1 and CAPTAIN AMERICA #695.

The Empire Strikes Back

Upon leaving HydraCap’s cell, Steve Rogers warned his double not to leave his cell, letting him know that he’d be able to spot him no matter the face he wore. As the guards rushed in at the very end, though, one of them whispered something in his ear: “Hail Hydra.” So, while the threat of HydraCap seems low at this point, don’t be surprised if we see him again!

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