Get ready to defend!

The Guardians flew back down, Spidey swung through again, and now the Defenders of Hell’s Kitchen return to Avengers Academy to battle a new threat in their neighborhood. Kingpin’s been imprisoned for nearly a year, and in that time Madame Gao stepped in to fill the power vacuum left in the criminal underworld of Hell’s Kitchen. The Defenders and the rest of the Academy students – with the help of a few new friends – need to dispatch Madame Gao and take back the neighborhood once more.

We grabbed a few minutes with Allen Warner, Lead Narrative Designer at TinyCo, to see what The Hand has in store for us at the “Marvel Avengers Academy”.

Marvel.com: The Defenders are making their way back to Avengers Academy! What’s bringing the team to campus once more?

Allen Warner: With the Kingpin imprisoned, Madame Gao has seized control of the Hand, and conquered Hell’s Kitchen.  The Defenders held her off as long as they could, but she countered by kidnapping some of their closest friends and allies, forcing them to regroup and call in reinforcements.  With a firm hold on Hell’s Kitchen, and the combined resources of both the Hand and Kingpin’s entire operation, Madame Gao sets her sights on retrieving a powerful artifact that Director Fury has locked away in one of his secret vaults, launching a full-scale assault on Avengers Academy.

Marvel.com: Will players be returning to Hell’s Kitchen with the new event district?

Allen Warner: Yes, we’ll be revisiting Hell’s Kitchen and all of its iconic locales like Alias Investigations, Josie’s, and the law offices of Nelson and Murdock.  We’ll also be bringing back the Academy Courthouse from our Daredevil event, and giving some new recruits fun courtroom animations.

Marvel.com: How will the Avengers battle Madame Gao and her Hand minions?

Allen Warner: The Defenders and Avengers will team up to battle Madame Gao and her special henchmen on campus, as well as traveling away from the school to stop the Hand ninjas from attempting to take over the world.

Marvel.com: As with the Guardians and Spidey events before this, will players once again be able to recruit Defenders heroes from the previous event?

Allen Warner: Yes, this is a similar structure where players will be given another opportunity to get characters from the original Daredevil event, as well as some other characters who weren’t part of that event, but make sense to be involved with the Defenders.  Players will have a chance to get Iron Fist, Daredevil, Hellcat, Elektra, Misty Knight, Punisher, Luke Cage, and Jessica Jones.  They may also have an opportunity to get some characters who you wouldn’t associate with the Defenders TV show, but who have been part of various Defenders teams in the comics.  We’ll also be resurfacing all of the outfits from the Daredevil event, including what might be my personal favorite Avengers Academy outfit of all time, Lawyer Loki.  We learned in the original Daredevil event that Loki has a gift for lawyering, and a fondness for lawyers and the profession, and that will continue in this event with some fun results.

Marvel.com: While those who missed out will be excited to try for all those returning favorites, what new faces join the mix?

Allen Warner: A cool and diverse group of characters who are often thought of as supporting players, but who will take center stage and show their heroic sides during this event: Foggy Nelson, Colleen Wing, Stick, and Claire Temple.  They each bring a really unique and fresh perspective to not only the events at hand, but the Avengers heroes and Avengers Academy traditions.  Our awesome art team did some really great and brand-new things with their various visual levels, and their animations are really fun, and play to their unique occupations, personalities, and talents.  I’m really excited about this group from a narrative perspective because there is so much unexplored territory.  These characters typically only interact with the characters in their respective spheres, so there’s a ton of opportunity to do things that no one has ever seen before.  Foggy will form relationships and go on adventures with Loki and Captain America.  Claire Temple will go on an intergalactic rescue mission with Cosmo the Spacedog.  Stick will butt heads with J. Jonah Jameson.  Madame Gao will match wits with Mephisto, and so on.  One of my favorite things about the world we’ve built in this game is having the opportunity to reimagine and expand upon existing characters and Marvel lore, and this event and this group of recruits provided an awesome opportunity to do a lot of things that have never been done before.

Marvel.com: What new ways will our heroes suit up to dispatch the Hand threat?

Allen Warner: In addition to the resurfaced outfits from the previous Daredevil event, there will be new outfits and stories for Hulk, Punisher, Elektra, Iron Fist, and Misty Knight.  We love coming up with new looks for our characters that are unique to the world of Avengers Academy, but we decided to take a different approach this time around and only include outfits that have appeared in the comics.  Some are very recent looks that fans may not even be aware of, while others are iconic looks that have been around for decades.  They all look incredible, are completely different from the characters’ usual outfits, and add a new angle to their personalities and powers that make for some really fun animations and stories.

Marvel.com: As excited as we are to dive back into Hell’s Kitchen and dispatch Madame Gao, there’s always one eye on the horizon. Can you tease anything coming down the line for the Academy and its heroes?

Allen Warner: One of our frequently teased schools will finally have to come out of hiding, and they’ll be bringing more recruitable characters with them than ever before.

For all the latest on “Marvel Avengers Academy,” stay tuned to Marvel.com and @MarvelGames on Twitter!

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Cap teams up with Black Widow and Wolverine across two eras!

Every day we celebrate Captain America’s 75th anniversary by looking deep into the Marvel Unlimited archives and going through some of Steve Rogers’ most thrilling adventures. Happy diamond anniversary Sentinel of Liberty!

As one of Marvel’s most popular and trusted heroes, it comes as no surprise that Captain America pops up in other books on a fairly regular basis. A particularly interesting example came in the form of Chris Claremont and Jim Lee’s UNCANNY X-MEN #268 from 1990.

That issue jumps between 1941 and the present day as Wolverine faces off against the Hand in Madripoor. In the past, Cap meets a man named Logan for the first time as the two stumble into the Genin—also known as the Hand—who happen to be working for Baron Strucker. It soon comes to light that their Russian compatriot Ivan Petrovitch lost the young potential assassin Natasha Romanoff to the Hand, currently in the employ of Strucker and the Nazis. In the present, Wolverine joins forces with the Black Widow to take on the Hand with the assistance of Psylocke and Jubilee.

Uncanny X-Men (1963) #268

Uncanny X-Men (1963) #268

  • Published: September 20, 1990
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: September 17, 2008
  • Rating: T+
  • Writer: Chris Claremont
  • Penciller: Jim Lee
  • Cover Artist: Jim Lee
What is Marvel Unlimited?

The issue might focus more on the long-lasting relationship between Logan and the little girl he saved back in World War II who went on to become an Avenger, but Captain America’s presence and villains loom large throughout. Logan makes short work of the evil Nazi priest who intended to turn Natasha into an assassin for the Hand earning the nickname “Little Uncle.”

In one of the most satisfying moments of the issue, Steve and Logan trade goodbyes towards the end of the issue. Cap says they could have made a good team to which Logan replies: “Don’t need a sidekick.” Still, this marked the beginning of a long-standing working relationship that led to Cap one day welcoming Wolverine into the Avengers.

Cap Declassified

If you enjoy seeing Captain America and Wolverine play off of one another in the modern era you should check out their run together in NEW AVENGERS and if you dig the World War II tales, look at WOLVERINE: ORIGINS #16-20 by Daniel Way and Steve Dillon. Featuring Logan remembering the hero after his death post-Civil War, this story also dives deeper into the events of UNCANNY X-MEN #268 and also introduces Cap to Nick Fury for the first time. The differences between tactics used by the stand-up hero and the assassin stand on display as a way to showcase how different these long-lasting heroes operate.

Next, Greg Pak and Mirko Colak turn the spotlight on Johann Schmidt’s early days in the five issue limited series RED SKULL: INCARNATE.

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Paul Cornell, Ryan Stegman, Jeanine Schaefer, Tom Brennan and Axel Alonso preview the future of Logan!

A new era began for the man called Logan this week in WOLVERINE #1 by Paul Cornell and Ryan Stegman. Without his healing factor, the most dangerous mutant in the Marvel Universe faces new challenges and dangers.

Replay the liveblog below and find out what Cornell and Stegman as well as Jeanine Schaefer, Tom Brennan and Axel Alonso have to say about the future of Logan!

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Check out the Master of Kung Fu doing what he does best on these preview pages by Stefano Caselli!

Marvel is pleased to present your first look at AVENGERS WORLD #3, the next issue from creators Jonathan Hickman, Nick Spencer, and Stefano Caselli! Spread thin across the globe, squads of Avengers fight for their lives on multiple deadly fronts. A.I.M. has made their move – and they’ve declared Earth an Avengers World no longer! But not if Shang-Chi has anything to say about it! The Hand has woken the beast of legend. Out of the Earth rises a great dragon with the city of Madripoor atop its head! Deep in the heart of the city, Shang-Chi faces down The Gorgon, ruthless leader of the shadowy ninja clan. Winner takes control of the Hand – and gets to keep their life! Don’t miss a minute of the bone-crunching martial arts action this February! The fight to the death begins in AVENGERS WORLD #3!


AVENGERS WORLD #3
(DEC130688)
Written by JONATHAN HICKMAN & NICK SPENCER
Art by STEFANO CASELLI
Cover by RAGS MORALES
Variant Cover by AGUSTIN ALESSIO
FOC 1/27/14, ON-SALE 2/19/13

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Writer Nick Spencer gives a detailed commentary on the first issue and looks ahead to what comes next!

Joining forces with fellow writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Stefano Caselli, Nick Spencer helped to launch AVENGERS WORLD earlier this month. The first issue showcased a series of seemingly unrelated disasters occurring all across the world, but it won’t take long for all the threads to tie together.

We spoke with Spencer about the revelations of AVENGERS WORLD #1, his goals in writing the All-New Marvel NOW! series’ first issue, and where the adventure heads in issue #2, on sale this Wednesday.


Avengers World #1 page by Stefano Caselli

Avengers World #1 page by Stefano Caselli

Marvel.com: Nick, diving right into it, how did you decide where to start with AVENGERS WORLD? What went into developing the opening page, the opening scene?

Nick Spencer: I was really intrigued by the statement that Jonathan made, the idea that this is “an Avengers world.” It’s a very bold statement from Captain America and the rest, that this is a planet that falls under their protection. I was very drawn to the contrary opinions that would make themselves known, following a statement like that. The opposing viewpoint; the idea that a whole lot of people would sit up and take note of a statement like that and have some objection to it.

Marvel.com: I take one look at the cast page, and as a reader, I’m almost intimidated by how many characters you have in the book. Is it intimidating at all as a writer?

Nick Spencer: It’s funny. I helped Jonathan out on AVENGERS last year for a bit, and my first issue featured virtually all of the members. We did that again with this issue. I really enjoy the challenge, bouncing around between different groups and finding ways to give each character a little moment. That’s something I enjoy.

Avengers World #1 page by Stefano Caselli

Avengers World #1 page by Stefano Caselli

Big casts can work to your advantage, just as much as it can to your disadvantage. It’s not by necessity a bad thing. You always have options. It’s great to have this many pieces to move around on the board, shining spotlights on different characters, highlighting how two or three of them interact differently than a different set would. Stuff like that is endlessly fascinating to me, so I love the big cast, personally.

Marvel.com: There are numerous plotlines happening simultaneously in this issue. The first belongs to Captain America, who is on the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier with Bruce Banner and Maria Hill.

Nick Spencer: I have a soft spot for writing Cap. I take advantage of every opportunity I get to do it. I like him being the guy who puts the players on the board. I like emphasizing his leadership role. Part of the fun for me was just writing a scene between him and Bruce, who is another huge favorite of mine. I’m a huge fan of what Mark Waid has done with Bruce in INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK. I like reflecting that take on Bruce. It’s a really fun one.

Avengers World #1 page by Stefano Caselli

Avengers World #1 page by Stefano Caselli

It was a nice opportunity to do some back-and-forth with them, rather than the Cap and Tony back-and-forth that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing. Bruce is fun because he gives you a slightly more detached outlook: Because of his history, because he’s been hunted and chased and imprisoned by the people he now works with, he’s such a great cynic to have in the room. When you talk about the Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D., Bruce has this detachment from them, an innate distrust, that even when they’re working together, he’s the guy who takes the air out of the balloon.

Maria’s another big favorite of mine. I wrote a lot of her in SECRET AVENGERS last year and I really fell in love with the character. It’s great now to kind of have her interacting with the Avengers, to not be entirely in control but in a partnership. It’s great to have Maria and Cap butting heads. They come from very different schools and they have very different approaches to the challenges at hand. They give you some great, very easy back-and-forth.


Avengers World #1 page by Stefano Caselli

Avengers World #1 page by Stefano Caselli

Maria wants to get rid of all of this stuff. If it were up to her, nobody would be able to fly. The world that we actually live in is Maria’s dream world. If you approach every single conversation with that as Maria’s starting point, you’re getting to the essence of the character.

Marvel.com: Maria informs Cap about a series of disasters happening all around the world.

Nick Spencer: I wanted the book to reflect the title. Before the book came out, we talked a lot about the global feel it should have, exploring the map and getting outside of the United States and New York, hitting some other continents and places, some of which are familiar and some of which aren’t. It gives the book a nice international flair. That was important. There’s a lot here that’s very intentionally moving around locations that are very far removed from each other.

Marvel.com: Up first, there’s some meteorological mayhem occurring on the eastern seaboard, with Hyperion, Captain Marvel and Thor sent to handle it.


Avengers World #1 page by Stefano Caselli

Avengers World #1 page by Stefano Caselli

Nick Spencer: This is my favorite page in the book. I think Stefano just crushed it. I’m a sucker for that big image that shows super heroes saving people’s lives—which, interestingly enough, if you pick up a big stack of super hero books, you can often go through all of them without finding a single scene where that happens. Early on in the book, I wanted to show a moment of what Avengers do and who they are. They’re still about helping people. It was a nice page of reminding people that this is what these guys do. The page has this very archetypal, messianic vibe with Hyperion in the middle. It was a statement we wanted to make very early on, before getting into some of the more traditional bad guy riffs we’re going to see going forward.

Marvel.com: We move to Madripoor, which isn’t just a change of scenery and setting, but also a change of tone and genre. There’s the “messianic vibe” of Hyperion, Thor and Captain Marvel, as you mentioned. And then there’s the stealth squad of Wolverine, Black Widow, Falcon and Shang-Chi in Madripoor. Those teams are worlds apart.


Avengers World #1 page by Stefano Caselli

Avengers World #1 page by Stefano Caselli

Nick Spencer: There’s a different tone and vibe to each of these locations. That’s part of the fun of the book for me. I get to tell a few different kinds of stories, and then have them all sync up and connect. The book never becomes just one thing for me. The feel of the Madripoor stuff is very different from other elements in the book. In terms of the cast selection, that was obviously a factor. As the structure of the book becomes [clearer] going forward, people will see how the cast chosen will have a direct impact on the story itself.

Marvel.com: I’m glad you brought that up, because the Italy squad—Hawkeye, Spider-Woman, Starbrand and Nightmask—strikes me as a weird mix of characters, at least on the surface.


Avengers World #1 page by Stefano Caselli

Avengers World #1 page by Stefano Caselli

Nick Spencer: It’s a weird little hodgepodge. I thought that was part of the fun of this particular group. The other groups made a lot of sense. You could see why you would put them together. So it’s fun to have a group of wildcards. “This is who was still available.” [Laughs] It’s fun, but immediately when I put them together, they have some really nice connection points, particularly how Hawkeye responds to Starbrand’s general amateurishness and lack of professionalism. Hawkeye, who is traditionally the everyman on an Avengers team, is still a guy who has been through a lot and is well-trained and everything; having a normal human being with that level of experience, and having somebody with near-omnipotent powers but zero experience like Starbrand, is a fun dynamic to play with.

Marvel.com: Last time we talked about AVENGERS WORLD, you said Smasher, Cannonball and Sunspot are some of your favorite characters. Here they are, all together, in issue #1. It’s all your favorites in one group!


Avengers World #1 page by Stefano Caselli

Avengers World #1 page by Stefano Caselli

Nick Spencer: Pretty much! I love these three together. They’re kind of gold when they’re on the page together. These are my favorite scenes, with the three of them. I could write them all day. When we went through various iterations of what this book could look like, I was thinking about zeroing in on these three for a long time. I realized that maybe that’s not the best book, just the one I wanted to write the most. [Laughs] But I definitely favor them.

Marvel.com: Back on Madripoor, we find out that Gorgon is head of the Hand, and that Madripoor itself is on the back of a dragon. That’s pretty nuts.

Nick Spencer: I’ve been carrying these ideas around in my back-pocket for ages. Some of these ideas were originally meant for year two of SECRET AVENGERS, and this is one of them. Gorgon gets control over this part of the Hand, we’re going to find out that Madripoor is built on the back of a dragon, and it’s going to go airborne. I’ve been pitching that for almost two years now. To finally get to write it was really cool. To get to do it in this book, where it made so much more sense to do it is also nice.


Avengers World #1 page by Stefano Caselli

Avengers World #1 page by Stefano Caselli

Marvel.com: In Italy, Hawkeye’s team winds up at the City of the Dead. It’s another weird development for a weird lineup. But thinking about it, I feel like there’s a lot to play with here. Hawkeye was dead once upon a time, for example; I’m sure that’s going to come up.

Nick Spencer: Like I said, these casts were picked for a reason. While this one seems a little ill-formed, there’s a reason they’re here. Particularly, you’ll see in AVENGERS WORLD #4 when we come back to this scene, this place—there are definitely some things waiting for certain members of our cast here, things that will very much hit home for them. This was an opportunity to do a story that’s a little darker, a little more magic-oriented, something a little more from left-field. But it’s going to lead to some very big things.

Marvel.com: Personal opinion: Ricardo Montalban or Benedict Cumberbatch?

Nick Spencer: [Laughs] I’m going to have to go with Montalban, which is crazy because I love the Cumberbatch in everything. But “Wrath of Khan” is untouchable.

Avengers World (2014) #1

Avengers World (2014) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Marvel.com: Kidding aside, the lineup of Smasher, Cannonball and Sunspot; this feels like the team where you can get away with some of those pop-culture digs.

Nick Spencer: Exactly. It felt natural for the characters. This part of the cast is always very fun to write. We’ll spend some time on this part in AVENGERS WORLD #2. There’s a slightly lighter vibe to stories that they’re involved in. Not in a way that compromises the seriousness of the situation, but these are guys who crack jokes while they’re on the field. That’s part of who they are.

Marvel.com: It’s revealed that A.I.M. Island is no longer A.I.M. Island—so what is it?

Nick Spencer: This is A.I.M. Empire now. It’s a massive leap forward for A.I.M., which is an organization that Jonathan and I have been building together for three years. We’re not going to stop until they’re the biggest players they can possibly be. He’ll do stuff with them and I’ll do stuff with them, and it feeds back and forth. It’s been very nice and collaborative. Jonathan created the Scientist Supreme, Andrew Forson and put him on A.I.M. Island. I did the High Council of A.I.M. and all of the stuff that comes with that. Now, with A.I.M. Empire, there’s even more to come. We want them to be big-time players. It’s a mad-scientist cult with dreams of entropy. That makes for a fun mix.

Avengers World (2014) #2

Avengers World (2014) #2

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Marvel.com: What happens next? What can we look forward to in issue #2?

Nick Spencer: The structure of this book is a really interesting experiment. The next issue won’t be cutting between every story. The next few issues will stay in one place for 20 pages. The second issue will focus on Smasher and the A.I.M. Empire part of the story. The third issue will focus on Shang-Chi and the Madripoor storyline. And the fourth issue will focus on Starbrand and the City of the Dead. Then we’ll circle back around and do it again and mix things up a bit.

The idea is now we’ll break off and spend some time in each of these individual locations. We’ll set up some new problems, clue you in a little bit about what’s going on in each of these, and we’ll move the story along that way. Hopefully, it’ll all build up. If we do our jobs right, the character arcs we’ll start moving on in these next few issues will feed in directly with the big bads we’ve set up here. It should all come together pretty nicely.


Pick up AVENGERS WORLD #2 this Wednesday!

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