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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Wendy Willming on how Season 3 of the series redefined Hydra's history and purpose.

Today, we shine a spotlight on Season 3 of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” as we draw closer to the landmark 100th episode.

The next piece, shown below, in the “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The Road to 100” art program comes from artist Nick Bradshaw, and helping us walk down memory lane is “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” producer Wendy Willming. Don’t miss the Season 1 piece and Season 2 piece.

Marvel.com: Bradshaw highlights several key moments from Season 3. What were the significance of these scenes and how did it impact our agents?

Wendy Willming: These moments depict some of our more iconic scenes and Bradshaw weaving a sense of evil throughout the piece is telling of the many layers that are uncovered this season.

On the far left, Fitz holds Simmons after he pulls her out of the portal from Maveth – a sunless, desert-like planet where Simmons was stranded for “4,722 Hours,” which also happens to be the title of the 5th episode in this season.

Shown on the far right, Coulson dives into the portal after Ward and Fitz. Coulson ultimately kills Ward with his prosthetic hand, finally destroying the evil that has plagued our agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for years. Unbeknownst to our team back on Earth, an ancient and parasitic Inhuman named Hive, finds Ward’s body and returns in his form until he reveals his true appearance – an octopod-like creature – that Bradshaw has depicted on the right.

In the bottom left hand corner, the art piece also features the Secret Warriors, finally together . It’s an iconic moment for our Inhuman agents – Daisy Johnson, Elena ‘Yo-Yo’ Rodriguez, Lincoln Campbell and Joey Gutierrez.

Bradshaw also gives us Bobbi Morse and Lance Hunter, our beloved bickering couple. Fans will remember the episode “Parting Shot.” Morse and Hunter choose to leave S.H.I.E.L.D. after their lives are spared with the caveat that they never work for the U.S. government again. The team takes a shot in their honor but their undeniable presence is sorely missed.

Marvel.com: Hydra breaks the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo and its tentacles looms over the entire piece. How had the Hydra revelations change the course of the season?

Wendy Willming: The revelations that unfold throughout the season give a whole new perspective and understanding of Hydra’s history in the Marvel Universe. It also ties in the thread of Inhumans. In our third season, we learn that Hive is the source of Hydra and what an ancient, parasitic Inhuman has built, lived on to become the most feared institution in history. For fans and anyone keeping track of the Marvel U thus far, it redefines Hydra’s history and purpose.

 

Marvel.com: As we near the 100th episode, is there anything you’d like to share with the cast, the teams behind the scenes and the fans?

Wendy Willming: I’ve had the incredible fortune of being apart of Season 3 and our current Season 5. It’s a privilege to be a part of such a wonderful group of storytellers and artists. Everyone on this team, and it takes a village and then some, has been a complete joy because they love what they do and they love the show they get to bring to life every single day. I truly believe that if you love your job, it shows on screen. And this group, shows it on screen every week. Here’s to 100 more!

Season Five will return Friday, March 2. Don’t miss the 100th episode of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” will air Friday, March 9 at 9|8c on ABC!

For more information on “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” visit ABC.com, follow @AgentsofSHIELD on Twitter, and like “Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.” on Facebook for all the latest news and updates!

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Geoffrey Colo relives the iconic moments from Season 2!

As we inch closer to the landmark 100th episode of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” we continue to commemorate the series with the “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The Road to 100” art program.

We previously spotlighted Season 1 with an art piece by Dale Keown. Marvel.com had the opportunity to reflect on Season 2 and the Season 2 art piece below from artist Daniel Acuña with Geoffrey Colo, Transmedia Producer at Marvel TV.

‘Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The Road to 100’ Season 2 art by Daniel Acuña

Marvel.com: Daniel Acuña highlights several noteworthy scenes of the second season in the art above. Can you share the significance of each scene depicted?

Geoffrey Colo: These four images represent key, life-changing moments for our S.H.I.E.L.D. characters in Season 2. Acuña did an amazing job at capturing them. I particularly love the badass Coulson profile.

We start at the top left with an image from the aptly-titled episode, “The Writing on the Wall.” Curse that damn memory machine for driving Coulson to the brink of madness, but he did finally unlock the meaning behind his bizarre alien writing. It’s a city. You know what that means. Road trip!

Bottom left, Skye breaks free from her Inhuman cocoon. It’s the birth of Quake and, for me, one of the most iconic moments of the series.

At the center, we have our team, accompanied by the alt S.H.I.E.L.D. logo. The “real” S.H.I.E.L.D., headed by Robert Gonzales, and backed by Bobbi and Mack was philosophically opposed to Coulson’s team who believed that Inhumans should be embraced, instead of feared. Can’t we all just get along?

In our final image, bottom right, May clutches the lifeless body of Katya, an Inhuman girl May was forced to kill in the line of duty. This heartbreaking flashback episode revealed the dark, hidden truth behind May’s infamous nickname, The Cavalry. Definitely one of my faves.

Marvel.com: You’ve been part of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” early on starting with Season 2. What has it been like brining the series to life, and seeing where we are today?

Geoffrey Colo: Watching the evolution from script to screen on a weekly basis is the most enjoyable part of my job. We have such a dedicated team of producers and writers, and a cast and crew who always go above and beyond. I’m just honored to be part of it all.

Marvel.com: That’s so incredible! We can’t talk about S.H.I.E.L.D. without mentioning the fans.

Geoffrey Colo: It’s always rewarding when the show you work on has such a rabid fan base. Truth be told, we’re all Marvel super fans ourselves. So, the same things our fans geek out over, we do as well. The fact that we’re also able to connect with them directly at Comic-Con and other events, makes it even more special.

Marvel.com: Reflecting on Season 2, are there other key moments you’d like to spotlight on how they impacted the S.H.I.E.L.D. team and series?

Geoffrey Colo: There are so many more moments to spotlight. Don’t touch the Obelisk. Hello Mockingbird. Goodbye Tripp. Hunter joins S.H.I.E.L.D. Welcome to Afterlife. You’re killing me Ward. Deathlok to the rescue. Daisy has a daddy. Coulson loses an arm. Simmons meets the monolith.

Season Five will return Friday, March 2. Don’t miss the 100th episode of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” will air Friday, March 9 at 9|8c on ABC!

For more information on “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” visit ABC.com, follow @AgentsofSHIELD on Twitter, and like “Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.” on Facebook for all the latest news and updates!

 

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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 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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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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Two of the Fantastic Four tie the knot, Hulk fights Thor, plus more!

In celebration of Jack “King” Kirby’s 100th birthday, we’re reviewing the man’s legendary creations with a year-by-year examination of his unparalleled career at Marvel Comics. Read on and witness the work that made him comic book royalty.

Even a casual Marvel reader in 1965 might’ve believed that Jack Kirby worked on every single issue of every single title the House of Ideas published that year. The truth of it stands as something less than that, but Marvel editor and writer Stan Lee knew a good thing and ensured Jack’s presence across the line in varied ways, and with a concentration where the Kirby touch would bring comic book gold.

First and foremost, Lee and Kirby’s flagship book remained Jack’s true focus at the midpoint of the 1960s. In FANTASTIC FOUR #32, after a battle with the strange android Dragon Man, Reed Richards received the answer he’d hoped for from his marriage proposal to Sue Storm, setting up one of the true monumental moments in comic history: the wedding of Mr. Fantastic and The Invisible Girl in FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #3 that summer.

Not to rest on their laurels, Stan and Jack also introduced the Frightful Four in FANTASTIC FOUR #36, brought Daredevil in for a guest-spot in FANTASTIC FOUR #39, and following Gorgon’s introduction in FANTASTIC FOUR #44, unveiled their next big idea, the incredible Inhumans, in FANTASTIC FOUR #45 to round out the year.

Over in Thor’s universe, Jack illustrated one of the greatest clashes of comics, the Thor-Hulk match fans clamored for, in JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #112, as well as designing a villain for the ages, Absorbing Man, for JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #114. In addition, Jack’s images of the robotic Destroyer impressed fans in JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #118, but perhaps the real stand-out moment of the year in Thor’s world came in the introduction of Greek demi-god Hercules into the ongoing drama in JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY ANNUAL #1.

Jack’s penciling duties for 1965 also extended into Captain America’s solo series in TALES OF SUSPENSE. For the first part of the year he produced covers and simple layouts for others to follow, but for his and Stan’s powerful team-up between Cap and Nick Fury in TALES OF SUSPENSE #78, he provided full interior art. From there, the duo planted dynamite under Cap’s world with the return of The Red Skull in TALES OF SUSPENSE #79, and the amazing Cosmic Cube saga beginning in TALES OF SUSPENSE #80.

Speaking of Nick Fury, Jack’s visions of technological wonders expanded exponentially when he and Stan promoted the sergeant into their newest concept, S.H.I.E.L.D., in the landmark STRANGE TALES #135. For the next several issues of the mag, Jack would do layouts and covers, helping guide his former World War II star into the Swingin’ Sixties.

Jack relinquished penciling chores on AVENGERS in 1965, but also helped out with layouts and covers, same as with SGT. FURY and TALES TO ASTONISH. Over in UNCANNY X-MEN he worked to illustrate the memorable meeting of the young mutants and the Avengers to fruition in X-MEN #9, and introduce the savage Ka-Zar in X-MEN #10.

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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Steve Rogers leads the search for a new head of the spy organization!

On February 8, CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #11 by Nick Spencer and Jesus Saiz reveals Maria Hill’s days as head of S.H.I.E.L.D. have come to an end, thanks to her recent actions and subsequent court martial. Hill joins a short but impressive list of ex-S.H.I.E.L.D. leaders, one that includes Nick Fury, of course, as well as Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, G.W. Bridge, and even Norman Osborn.

With the job vacant and a want ad no doubt hitting the job boards sometime soon, here’s a list of potential candidates for the high-pressure, high-stakes role.

Sharon Carter
Sharon seems a natural choice as leader of the organization. Not only a legacy—she claims the infamous Peggy Carter as her great aunt—she also currently serves as interim director, while the powers-that-be determine Maria Hill’s fate. Her history with Captain America and groups like the Secret Avengers give her inside knowledge on the super hero community, something that would help any potential director. Her one drawback? Possibly her current condition. Her time in Dimension Z resulted in premature aging, which could affect her ability in the field—and we all know that every director always ends up getting their hands dirty in the field at some point.

Nick Fury
He already has the name, so why not? The man once known as Marcus Johnson had a military background before learning he had the legendary Nick Fury for a father, and following that reveal he joined S.H.I.E.L.D. and has tried to carve out a name of his own. While he has the chops, his lack of experience might play against him.

Jimmy Woo
Woo served as both an FBI and S.H.I.E.L.D. agent before taking over the Atlas Foundation with his teammates, the Agents of Atlas. While currently running a school for superhuman kids in Asia, perhaps a new job offer could lure him back to S.H.I.E.L.D.—and lead to the reinstatement of Gorilla-Man as an agent.

Mockingbird
While most fans probably know Bobbi Morse as the super hero Mockingbird, the former Avenger also served as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., helping to uncover corruption in the organization once upon a time. Since then she’s literally been to hell and back, and even ran her own “World Counter-terrorism Agency.” So she has experience, the know-how and tenacity to lead S.H.I.E.L.D. into the future.

Pepper Potts
While the others on this list all have experience in the ranks of S.H.I.E.L.D., perhaps the division needs an outsider’s perspective. The former Rescue has some hero experience herself, not only as Iron Man’s armor-wearing partner but also as a member of the Order. She possesses a keen mind, a strong will and a good heart, which after the group’s recent PR nightmares could help S.H.I.E.L.D. recover the trust it needs to perform its duties.

Find out who steps up for S.H.I.E.L.D. on February 8 in CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #11 by Nick Spencer and Jesus Saiz!

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Marc Guggenheim doesn't give his team a break, as they're forced to choose a side!

Sometimes, you just cannot get a break. AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. #7 from writer Marc Guggenheim and artist German Peralta makes July that time for Coulson and his team.

“They’re suffering the repercussions of the end of the first arc, ‘The Coulson Protocols,’” Guggenheim reveals. “Over the course of the first arc, we got to see how Coulson’s love of super heroes can be weaponized and turned against those super heroes. As a result, I would say the team itself is cohesive and together. But the biggest problem is everyone is not feeling as much faith in Coulson as they did in the beginning of the series.”

This continued focus on Coulson comes very intentionally according to the writer.

“I really like the character of Coulson,” he confesses. “I think he’s very very interesting in that I see him as the ultimate Marvel fanboy who gets to work very closely to the Marvel Universe. I think that’s a very interesting trait for a character to have, where his expertise and his love of super heroes is actually a part of his character. That’s an interesting dynamic.”

What side that dynamic puts Coulson—or, indeed, his team—during Civil War II remains very much under wraps.

“I think they all have slightly different points of view on the super hero community,” Guggenheim cagily limits his reply.

However, the writer makes sure to be quick in pointing out that while he has tight lips, the arc will very much feature the team exploring and wrestling with the conflicts of the event.

“I approach these tie-ins with a very specific philosophy of writing what I wanted to see as a reader,” he explains. “[That includes] experiencing a tie-in that feels like a real and proper tie-in. One of my big pet peeves is when you read a tie-in [that’s] only connection to the main event is the trade dressing. It ties substantially into the main event and a story of consequence for the characters.

“Both are definitely true in the case of AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.”

In the case of consequences, he has a specific one already on deck.

“I’ll say that as a result of [Civil War II] and how the events of how the book ties in, we are going to have a new person in charge of the team,” teases Guggenheim. “The arc is called ‘Under New Management’ and we’re going to have a very exciting person from the Marvel Universe that will be calling the shots in the book. And not everyone is going to be on board with this change of management.”

On the other hand, some things remain the same. In this case, Guggenheim highlights his collaboration with German Peralta as one of the most important consistencies.

“He’s an incredibly consistent artist,” enthuses the writer. “He pretty much e-mails new pages every day.

“The only reason I am saying that as opposed to leading with the fact that he’s just an amazing artist and a seriously incredible storyteller is because I see pages every day I am able to see not only how consistent he is not just in the delivery of pages, but on his ongoing evolution as an artist. I feel like the pages I got today are better than I got yesterday which were better than the pages I got two days ago. Just to watch an artist continue to refine and evolve—that’s pretty awesome.”

Overall, Guggenheim argues that the Civil War II crossover will be sure to thrill new and old readers alike.

“You don’t need to read the first arc of AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. to jump in,” he asserts. “This represents a very good jumping on point for new readers. On the other hand, the readers that have read the first arc will see how organically that arc sets up what’s going on here with Coulson in this Civil War II tie-in.”

“It’s going to be very unique and something you don’t get to see in any other Marvel books.”

For all the latest information on Civil War II, visit the official hub page!

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