Artist Mike Deodato unleashes The Shadow King on Marvel’s mighty mutants!

Nightmares often fuel our fears even during the daytime. As the fragments float through our heads, we spin around to see something glimpsed only in the corner of our eye and then gone.

The Shadow King brings those bad dreams to life as he takes over bodies and plays with victims’ minds. In the pages of today’s ASTONISHING X-MEN #2, by Charles Soule and Mike Deodato, he plagues the newly gathered X-team consisting of Old Man Logan, Psylocke, Fantomex, Archangel, Rogue, Mystique, Bishop, and Gambit.

The first issue of ASTONISHING X-MEN featured the artistic talents of Jim Cheung and the next will see the baton tossed to Ed McGuinness, but right now we’re talking with Deodato about jumping in on this unique project, playing some of the best loved X-folks off of each other, and chronicling these adventures with Soule.

Marvel.com: This book has an interesting approach with different artists tackling each issue. Did that offer any unique challenges?

Mike Deodato: I think the bigger challenges are with the editors who have to coordinate everything and make sure we are all on the same page. Me, I just have to worry about keeping up with the quality of art of the previous artist, which in my case was a tough one to follow.

Marvel.com: The book features Psylocke, Old Man Logan, Bishop, Fantomex, Rogue, Archangel, Mystique, and Gambit. That’s an eclectic team with varying degrees of history between them; do you enjoy playing with all that on the page?

Mike Deodato: Charles did such a great job on the dialogue and interactions between them that made it quite easy for me to figure that out on paper.

Marvel.com: The villain of the piece happens to be The Shadow King. How has it been putting your spin on that classic character?

Mike Deodato: We see his astral version of himself and it is a quite scary one. My approach for the whole story was based on his visual. I wanted it all to look like a very weird and scary nightmare, so I used all that I had learned from books like Eerie and Creepy and all of those masters of horror like Ortiz, Maroto, Wrightson, Sanchez, Corben, and so forth.

Marvel.com: Your cover to issue #2 with the X-Men sitting in a theater with skull faces is very striking. Can you talk about how that may connect with the story inside?

Mike Deodato: I dunno if I can say anything without spoiling it actually. It will make sense after you read it. It was Mark Pannicia’s idea. A lot of covers I do are ideas given to me by writers or editors but I get all the credit in the end.

Marvel.com: How has it been working with Charles on this issue?

Mike Deodato: Very nice and supportive guy. It is a very complex issue to be translated for the artist but he made it look very simple. I hope we can do it again in the future.

Get your hands on Charles Soule and Mike Deodato’s ASTONISHING X-MEN #2 today!

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Cullen Bunn brings back a familiar face as part of Secret Empire!

Secret Empire gets the cold shoulder in the upcoming X-MEN: BLUE #7, out July 12, as writer Cullen Bunn and artist Cory Smith bring Emma Frost back into the mutants’ midst. Hiding since the war against the Inhumans, the former White Queen finds herself in a dark place despite being a ruler of the mutant homeland of New Tian.

Oh, and did we mention that she’s also receiving push back from both the X-Men and Magneto?

We spoke to Bunn about Emma’s return and some of the threats she’ll be facing, both physical and psychological.

Marvel.com: Just to catch everyone up, where has Emma Frost been hanging out before this issue?

Cullen Bunn: Emma has been in hiding since the events of [Inhumans Vs. X-Men]. But don’t think that means she’s been doing nothing. She has been very busy. She’s been building alliances and positioning herself to make some big moves. You’ll see some of that play out in the Secret Empire story. But we’re really going to be setting something really, really big up for Emma in the future. Ever since we revealed her return, I’ve been receiving messages asking me to immediately return Emma to her status as a hero. I understand the sentiment, but that’s not something I can do right away. Emma can’t just come back from where she was with the flip of a switch. She’s in a dark place right now, and if she comes back from it—that’s a big “if”—it will take time.

Marvel.com: Going off that, what’s compelling her to join the fray now?

Cullen Bunn: Emma is part of the “ruling council” of the new mutant homeland of New Tian, and she sincerely wants to see this new society succeed. But she’s still very angry—so angry—about everything that has happened of late. Sometimes when you’re full of rage, you lash out at everyone, including those closest to you.

Marvel.com: What will Ms. Frost bring to both X-MEN: BLUE and SECRET EMPIRE?

Cullen Bunn: In SECRET EMPIRE, Emma gives us a look at a world leader who has been deeply wounded. She wants what is right for her people, but she’s so hurt and angry that she is ruthless in her pursuit of her ideals. She’s an antagonist for the X-Men, without a doubt, because the X-Men simply cannot accept what she’s doing. She’s also—in my mind—a very tragic figure, because she has lost so much and she’s fallen so far.

X-Men: Blue #7 cover by Arthur Adams

Marvel.com: Do you have personal favorite aspects of her character that you enjoyed writing/exploring?

Cullen Bunn: Emma is proud and confident, and that’s always fun to write, but underneath is a great deal of pain that she is trying—unsuccessfully—to hide. That makes her a rewarding character to write. I am looking forward to exploring how she grows and changes for some time to come.

Marvel.com: What kinds of threats will she be facing and how are her powers well equipped to handle them?

Cullen Bunn: Emma can handle just about anything you throw at her. Initially, the threats she faces come from the X-Men as they make moves against her regime. But her biggest challenges in the future will be dealing with her own sense of loss without letting it drag her into madness. And she’s making some alliances that could be very, very dangerous for her in the future.

Marvel.com: Are there any more epic mutant returns in the cards?

Cullen Bunn: Oh, yes! We know about Emma and we know about Polaris. But even in the Secret Empire arc, there will be several other mutant returns. Some of the mutants that will be popping up will be changed in mysterious ways. These changes play into something big that we’ve already been building in X-MEN: BLUE and we’ll be exploring in future issues of the series.

Face the return of Emma Frost with writer Cullen Bunn and artist Cory Smith next week in July 12’s X-MEN: BLUE #7!

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Take a look at the history of Kitty Pryde and Peter Rasputin's star-crossed romance.

The on-again-off-again roller-coaster romance of Kitty Pryde and Peter Rasputin’s become the stuff of legend among X-Men fans, and it’s about to receive a new wrinkle in X-MEN: GOLD #9, out August 8.

The two star-crossed lovers first met in UNCANNY X-MEN #129 when Kitty first walked into the original X-Mansion and met the man-mountain mutant called Colossus. An inauspicious beginning to such a star-crossed love story, to be sure, but by UNCANNY X-MEN #174 they’d recognized their attraction to each other and shared a kiss or three.

Uncanny X-Men (1963) #129

Uncanny X-Men (1963) #129

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Peter threw the first monkeywrench into the mix right around the time he’d returned from the first Secret Wars in UNCANNY X-MEN #183 and declared his love for the alien Zsaji to Kitty, though said Zsaji’d perished by that time. Ms. Pryde ratcheted up the anti-feels by joining Excalibur and heading into a hot-and-heavy thing with a guy named Pete Wisdom—a relationship Peter gave his “blessing” to, but also kept one metallic eye on. 

Uncanny X-Men (1963) #183

Uncanny X-Men (1963) #183

What is Marvel Unlimited?

When the Legacy Virus later tore apart the mutant population, Colossus seemingly sacrificed his life during the chaos in X-MEN #110, prompting Kitty to sort out her feelings for the big lunk and insure his ashes traveled back to Russia. Imagine her surprise when Peter turned up hale and hearty in ASTONISHING X-MEN #14, strange situation which led to a passionate reunion and a new outbreak of dating. 

X-Men (1991) #110

X-Men (1991) #110

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Alas, right around the time of the X-Men’s latest disagreement with the Juggernaut and his power source Cyttorak in UNCANNY X-MEN #543, Kitty broke it off again with Peter when she disagreed with his well-intentioned noble thoughts to die for her in battle. Sadly, that meant that she and Colossus’ couple-ness still existed in a state of suspension when Kitty got stuck in a giant bullet traveling around the solar system in GIANT-SIZE ASTONISHING X-MEN #1. Peter tried to move on with his life, but to his credit, he tattooed “Katya” in her memory on his chest in UNCANNY X-MEN #507

Uncanny X-Men (1963) #507

Uncanny X-Men (1963) #507

  • Published: March 18, 2009
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: February 11, 2011
  • Rating: T+
  • Writer: Matt Fraction
  • Penciller: Terry Dodson
What is Marvel Unlimited?

No good mutant hero ever stays lost, though, and so Kitty Pryde returned to Earth, thanks to Magneto, in UNCANNY X-MEN #522 and reclaimed her claim to the big metal guy in UNCANNY X-MEN #522…which of course hit the skids by UNCANNY X-MEN #543. The former Shadowcat struck up a few new relationships in the aftermath, in particular with Iceman in WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN #14, and with Star-Lord in X-MEN: THE TRIAL OF JEAN GREY #1-6

Wolverine & the X-Men (2011) #14

Wolverine & the X-Men (2011) #14

  • Published: July 25, 2012
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: April 08, 2013
  • Rating: Rated T+
  • Writer: Jason Aaron
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Today, Kitty’s done with star-hopping scoundrels and Peter’s, well, Peter, and the two of them, as seen in X-MEN: GOLD #1, believe they can fight alongside each other as “just friends.” But, anybody who’s ever been in their position knows that trick never really works, right?

Stay tuned…we should be finding out whether or not our beloved Kitlossus will ever be a thing again very, very soon.

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Charles Soule and Jim Cheung launch a monumental adventure for the mighty mutants!

On July 19, Charles Soule and Jim Cheung present ASTONISHING X-MEN #1! But get your exclusive first look at pages from the issue right now!

Astonishing X-Men #1 cover by Jim Cheung

Astonishing X-Men #1 preview page by Jim Cheung

Astonishing X-Men #1 preview page by Jim Cheung

Astonishing X-Men #1 preview page by Jim Cheung

Astonishing X-Men #1 preview page by Jim Cheung

Astonishing X-Men #1 preview page by Jim Cheung

ASTONISHING X-MEN #1
Writer:
 Charles Soule
Artist/Cover: Jim Cheung
Only the X-Men can save us!
An ancient evil is attacking the world’s most powerful minds. It will have them by the time you finish this sentence, and a moment later, it will have us all. A band of X-Men discovers the truth behind the threat, but there is no time left. Psylocke, Old Man Logan, Bishop, Archangel, Fantomex, Rogue and Gambit will attempt to save a world that hates and fears them. Why? Because they are the X-Men.

From writer Charles Soule joined by a roster of superstar artists beginning with Jim Cheung. ASTONISHING X-MEN. It’s the X-book you need.

On sale July 19!

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Charles Soule gives us the inside scoop on his new series roster!

A surprising rag-tag group of X-Men bands together to save our world from a new threat with results—dare we say—astonishing.

Writer Charles Soule’s new series, ASTONISHING X-MEN, hits on July 19 and it boasts double the drama, triple the mutant action, and a roster of artists to rival that of the characters. But let’s get one thing straight; you won’t find a typical X-Men story within the pages of this book. Why, you ask? We talked to Charles Soule to find out just what makes this title so different.

Marvel.com: Can you set the scene for us? What’s going on as this book kicks off?

Charles Soule: ASTONISHING X-MEN begins with an attack on the world’s psychics, both super hero-types and not. It’s vicious, and quick, and things are looking terrible from page one. We pick up the main thread of the story in London, where one of these attacks is taking place. Psylocke is at ground zero, and sends out sort of a psychic distress call to anyone nearby who might be able to help. A group of X-Men arrives to see what they can do…and we’re off.

Marvel.com: How does this book differ from other “team” books?

Charles Soule: Well, it’s not a team, really. This isn’t a group of X-Men with a mission statement and headquarters. It’s a cast of super-powered people, all of whom have been involved in questionable things in their past, coming together to try to solve a problem. Mostly, I’m writing it like a novel, or maybe a TV show; different characters have different arcs, and are more or less prominent at different times. The whole book is something like a puzzle box, with many layers of reveals; it’s not a “villain of the week” thing, really. It’s one huge story, with a lot of pieces that are all moving quickly, which start to link up or latch together as the story continues. It’s just…intense, I’d say. Focused and fast.

Marvel.com: Roll call! Give us a run down of the cast and what each member brings to the table.

Charles Soule: Psylocke, Logan—Old Man version—Rogue, Gambit, Fantomex, Mystique, Bishop, Angel. They all have their strengths as characters, but what I like about them is that they’re all sort of compromised, in a way. They all have dark moments in their past, secrets, strange interactions with the rest of the cast. Makes for some fantastic soap opera, which in turn gives real emotion and stakes to the action beats—that’s what you want, I think.

Astonishing X-Men #1 cover by Jim Cheung

Marvel.com: What brought this mismatched group together and what’s the chemistry like? Any tension to deal with?

Charles Soule: The chemistry is interesting. Psylocke had relationships with both Fantomex and Angel. Fantomex has gotten together with Mystique before. Rogue is—sort of—Mystique’s daughter. Gambit and Rogue are one of the biggest romantic couples in X-land. Angel has a dark alter ego that he’s trying to work to deal with, the Archangel. Bishop was once a genocidal murderer—he was redeemed, but you know, still. And of course, back in his home dimension, Old Man Logan killed every last one of them. So yeah…there’s some tension.

Marvel.com: What is the biggest hurdle facing our heroes and what might they do to clear it?

Charles Soule: The main villain when we begin the story is a longtime X-Men foe: Amahl Farouk, aka The Shadow King. He’s an incarnation of evil and darkness that lives primarily on another dimension called the astral plane. He does manifest in our world from time to time, and he tends to do nasty things like possess people and use their bodies, or drive people mad. He’s a true X-Men “Big Bad;” the first “dark” mutant Charles Xavier ever met, back in the day, and the reason he started the Xavier Institute, to train up mutants to fight similar threats. The astral plane is sort of the Shadow King’s domain, and it’s a place where reality can warp and shift depending on the whims of the people inside it. Amahl Farouk tends to use that quality of the astral plane as a weapon, throwing people into their worst fears. He’s a tough foe.

Marvel.com: Where are the rest of the X-Men?

Charles Soule: As I’ve mentioned, the book moves very, very fast, and most of the events in the book take place before the other X-Men have a chance to get involved, or even get to where things are taking place.

Marvel.com: Do you have any favorite moments in the series so far?

Charles Soule: Every issue is being drawn by a different superstar artist, from Jim Cheung on #1, to Mike Deodato on #2, to Ed McGuinness, [to] Carlos Pacheco, and many more. I’m writing to each artist’s strengths, and making sure that they each get to do something sort of self-contained. Issue #3 is sort of a Wolverine-centered story, for example. They all delve into a lot of X-Men history and legacy, too—so that’s been fantastic, just seeing how all these artists approach this stuff. As far as specific moments, there’s a double-spread in issue #5 that I cannot wait to see. Should be incredible.

Marvel.com: Is there anything else you can tease about what’s in store for our heroes? Any surprises headed our way?

Charles Soule: Absolutely: there’s something big about this series that I haven’t discussed anywhere at all yet—and Marvel’s been great about working with me to make sure we keep a lid on it. There’s a key element to this book that I think will have people very excited, but I think it’ll be best for fans to discover it in the book itself. My Twitter feed should be interesting that day, for sure.

Start watching all the awkward group tension and surprise battles unfold in ASTONISHING X-MEN #1, written by Charles Soule with art by Jim Cheung, out July 19.

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Cullen Bunn provides a tour for one of Marvel’s nastiest locales!

X-MEN: BLUE #6 sees our favorite mutants setting up shop on Madripoor, the super sketchy island historically populated by criminals, villains, and all kinds of shady characters. From the influence of A-list bad guys to the not-so-reliable justice system, we can think of more than a few reasons you might not want to make it your next vacation destination.

But writer Cullen Bunn has a different take—maybe Madripoor’s not such a bad place after all?

Marvel.com: Madripoor has a pretty much laissez-faire government, meaning plenty of cutthroat deals can go down…

Cullen Bunn: Sure, sure, but they throw the very best parties. I mean, look, do you want to go to the same boring old barbecue every weekend, or do you want to go the party where anything could happen? Yes, that “anything” might include getting held hostage by the Hand or some militant MGH dealers, but embracing excitement—that’s the Madripoor way!

Marvel.com: Because it doesn’t allow extradition, Madripoor basically operates as a haven for criminals. Though some of them may cut deals to help maintain the status quo, it still makes it a less than safe place.

Cullen Bunn: But every corner of Madripoor isn’t dangerous. If you can afford to hang out in High Town, you’ll be spending time with a much more civilized group of criminals.

And the X-Men live there now. Doesn’t that make you feel safer?

Marvel.com: As you mentioned, the Hand has historically had an interest in Madripoor—and you really don’t want to stick around when those guys get involved.

Cullen Bunn: Do we forget that the Hand have a sense of honor? They have a code. They are noble assassins and killers. You know how if you want to keep the spider population down, you keep wasps around? Well, the Hand is kind of like those spider-killing wasps. They help keep the population of other criminal elements down.

See? Glass half full…of ninjas.

X-Men: Blue #6 cover by Art Adams

Marvel.com: In its early days, a lot of pirates lived in Madripoor, and that tradition of lawlessness still impacts the way it operates today.

Cullen Bunn: That just means you don’t have the authorities breathing down your neck every time you want to jaywalk. People who live in Madripoor are free thinkers. They’re like artists who all live together to create a special kind of community. Yes, a good many of these “artists” work in a medium that involves crime. Some of them work in murder the way Rembrandt worked in paint. But let’s not get too judgmental.

Marvel.com: At various times, HYDRA, Magneto, and other villains have tried to use Madripoor as a base of operations, which has led to a fair amount of instability.

Cullen Bunn: Lots of villains have called Madripoor home, but now there are heroes like the X-Men getting in on the act, too. Not that the X-Men bring stability to their hometowns. They often only bring super villain attacks and building explosions.

But there are other groups who do want to see a little more stability in Madripoor, and they are working slowly but surely to do so. There’s this one group called the Raksha I’ve been hearing about a lot. They are making some waves with their efforts to shape things up in Madripoor. But I’m not really allowed to tell you much about them.

Visit scenic Madripoor in X-MEN: BLUE #6 by Cullen Bunn and Ray-Anthony Height, coming June 28!

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Marc Guggenheim sets up the next step in mutant killer robot technology!

Whenever Sentinels show up in the lives of the X-Men, things get bad in a hurry.

Consider that as X-MEN: GOLD writer Marc Guggenheim and artist RB Silva reveal the latest version of the Sentinel this June 21 with issue #6. A Sentinel made of nanites, capable of being whatever size and/or shape it needs to be to get the job of mutant extermination done.

Guggenheim took a few minutes away from his evil scientist’s lab to fill us in on what the Merry Mutants prepare to face head-on.

Marvel.com: I’m curious, as we start, what your history with the Sentinels is and how that informed your use of this iteration in this arc?

Marc Guggenheim: That’s a good question, a really great place to start. I think, as with a lot of fans, my first encounter with the Sentinels is the kind of classic giant purple robot version. But I’ve followed it through all its iterations, whether [it’s] Nimrod, Bastion, the Wild Sentinels or Trask’s Bio-Sentinels. It’s always been interesting to see how the Sentinels change with the times, the eras.

It’s funny, the thing is this story didn’t start as a Sentinel arc. I had this idea I wanted to do about a nanite threat, nanotechnology. Then my editor, Dan Ketchum [saw that] we needed a sort of [AI] to be in control of it and it was [he] that suggested the Sentinels. When he suggested [I thought] that’s a great idea.

Marvel.com: Speaking of your history, is there a particular Sentinel incarnation that you really love.

Marc Guggenheim: Oh, it is definitely the giant purple robots for me. It’s my first connection to them, it’s such the iconic version.

Marvel.com: In doing the research for the book, for this arc, did you encounter any Sentinels that surprised you or you were like, “Oh that’s an interesting take I didn’t know.”?

Marc Guggenheim: Unfortunately, there’s not really much new for me to read. I’ve followed the X-Men close enough that I’ve encountered all the Sentinels in sort of real time as they came into the books.

Marvel.com: I suppose that’s not such a bad thing if you are going to write the X-Men.

Marc Guggenheim: That is probably true.

Marvel.com: Although each of these X-Men have encountered Sentinels, they’ve all had different experiences with different versions of them. How do these various experiences inform the team’s reaction to this newest iteration? What kind of ripples does it cause?

Marc Guggenheim: This arc, in several ways, is about pushing the X-Men as far as they can go; pushing them towards their breaking points. For Gambit, who is sort of responsible for this new Sentinel—not on purpose, just through something that had unintended consequences—this is going to be a hard arc for him.

It’s really especially a Rachel story though. This is just an arc that’s going to really shape her. We get to see some characters from her past—or is it her future? When it comes to Rachel talking in tenses is really hard, but I think you know what I mean.

For instance, there’s a scene with her and Franklin Richards that was really interesting and really a lot of fun to right that I’m excited to have in the book.

Marvel.com: Speaking of Rachel, I know that’s something you said before issue #1 was out, that part of your goal for this book was to give her her own place, her own characterization? Now a few issues in, how is that going? How is she evolving for you?

Marc Guggenheim: I suppose that is really more for the readers to decide. That said, for me, it is going really well. You’re right that has been one of my missions with this book and I am proud of what we are doing with Rachel.

Marvel.com: I know an important theme of X-MEN: GOLD for you was how the X-Men, and more preciously, how mutantkind fits into the Marvel Universe. How does this arc figure into that?

Marc Guggenheim: Definitely one of the things I set out to do in X-MEN: GOLD was explore the idea of the X-Men as this sort of catch-all for any minority that might find themselves targeted for discrimination now.

X-Men: Gold #6 cover by Ardian Syaf

There is a Star Trek episode, “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield,” I think that tells this story about [these] two groups of aliens that are just fighting one another to try to brutally oppress the other. But the only difference between [them] is one group has black on the right sides of their faces and white on the left and the other group has the reverse of that. White on one side, black on the other. I try to use [X-MEN: GOLD] in that same kind of way.

I think it is good and interesting to take those chances to hold up a mirror in fiction and reflect on what is happening around us and [the] X-Men have always been a great way to do that.

That said I want to be clever about it. I don’t want to say too much about how this arc does that, where it goes. Maybe I’ve said too much already.

Marvel.com: With RB Silva coming on as the new artist, how has the collaboration been? How does his work help capture your script ideas?

Marc Guggenheim: RB is just great. And he’s getting better too. The growth you can see from [his first issue to the end of the arc] is so impressive. He started good but some of the stuff he is doing [later on] is just awesome.

In terms of my scripts, he’s a great collaborator. He has a good feel for what I’m trying to accomplish and knows how to do it; sometimes he gives me something a little different than I expected but then I see it and [it] just makes perfect sense.

Marvel.com: Speaking of art, every wave of Sentinels is an opportunity for not just the writer to make their mark, but also the artist to offer up the newest vision of these machines. How did Silva’s design reflect and capture this era’s Sentinel?

Marc Guggenheim: I think he’s done just an excellent job with it. [He] really created this version that is its own thing but also recognizable as being a Sentinel.

And the colorist Frank Martin too. My initial idea was what if Apple made one of these Sentinels so it was just sleek and white. He took that and just added in these slight purple elements that made it clear its legacy and connection to the Sentinels while maintaining the overall design.

Marvel.com: Considering your love of the iconic big purple robot design, what made you decide not just to have this edition sport that look? How did the changes help fit it to the story.

Marc Guggenheim: The size is…well, it isn’t just a robot, right? This is a different kind of thing. But the size is important as well. In the story you will realize because it is made of nanites it can be anything, any shape. So its size is intentional.

In fact, at one point in the story you will see it has gotten smaller and soon you will realize that’s because it is spreading itself throughout the city, covering as much ground as it can.

Marvel.com: What else do you say to readers about why they can’t miss this latest arc of X-MEN: GOLD?

Marc Guggenheim: It’s a few things. First of all, the big return of Gambit who we haven’t seen in the pages of X-Men in a while. He’s just a blast. He’s fun to write and I think he’s fun to read. A lot of the story gets kicked off because of his involvement.

The second is RB Silva is just crushing it. Just doing such a fantastic job. As I said, there’s even growth from the start of the arc to [the conclusion].

That actually really points out the other thing with the book that I’ve been doing which is—because we’re double shipping—I’m trying to keep the arcs of a pretty short length. So the stories are coming at you in a sort of [a more] fast and furious way than we typically see in comic books these days.

We’re certainly not doing an decompression here. I’m going for a narrative pace that is a little more similar to the comics of old.

Witness a new breed of Sentinel in X-MEN: GOLD #6 by Marc Guggenheim and RB Silva, coming your way on June 21!

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Charles Soule shares some intel on the major mutant milestone coming in July!

Ready to be astonished?!

This July, Charles Soule joins a series of the industry’s best artists as they prepare to unleash ASTONISHING X-MEN! Last month, we spoke with the writer about his upcoming work on the series relaunch after its four-year hiatus, and now we return to try and pry some extra details from him about what he and his collaborators have in store for not only readers but also this brand new configuration of the X-Men.

Marvel.com: Charles, last month the news broke that you’d be spearheading the re-launch of ASTONISHING X-MEN. From those early news releases, we learned you’d be taking readers to “all corners of the X-Men mythology” according to Editor-in-Chief, Axel Alonso. Can you shed a little light on what this means for both new and long-time fans of mutantkind?

Charles Soule: I don’t want to give away too much of the story yet, because ASTONISHING X-MEN is designed to work as a series of reveals. Every time you think you know what’s happening, the script gets flipped a bit, usually around the last page of each issue. It’s like a puzzle box: part of the fun is figuring it all out. That said the book does do a lot with what I think of as X-Men touchstones—significant events in the lore, characters new and old—but rarely the way you think. I call it “weaponized nostalgia.” It’s all explained and laid out, though. Even if you’ve never read an X-Men comic before, it’ll just work as a fun adventure.

Marvel.com: I understand you’re looking to make this book just as much of an “entry-point” title for newer readers as it will be a satisfying experience for long-time fans of these characters. How do you strike that balance between seemingly opposite readerships?

Charles Soule: Not easily! But really, it’s about making sure that (a) each character’s powers are clearly noted or explained when they first appear, (b) writing them like real people who act towards each other the way they should based on their respective histories, and (c) having “nostalgia” or “homage” bits work in and of themselves. Like, if you see someone look at a photo of another character and get sad, that works for someone who knows exactly why they’re sad, but also someone who doesn’t, if it’s written correctly. I’m spending a lot of time on this specific aspect of the book. I don’t think you should need a degree in X-Men-ology to enjoy X-Men comics, but I think having that degree should enhance your enjoyment.

Marvel.com: If we don’t talk about the art, then we’re not talking comics! And this particular series will be taking a rather unique approach to the visuals. Can you walk us through the genesis behind the choice to introduce a new artist with each issue and why you and Marvel as a whole felt this was the strongest way to tell the story you’ll be sharing in ASTONISHING X-MEN?

Charles Soule: Well, again, there’s a story conceit I don’t really want to spoil yet, but I think it will work really well, in part because Marvel is staffing the series with an incredible batch of artists. We start off with Jim Cheung and just go from there, all amazing—or…astonishing, even. I’m tailoring each script to each artist’s strengths, to the extent I can. It’s pretty exciting for me, sort of a high-wire act, to make sure each artist gets what they need to draw a great issue but the overarching story gets served as well. Again, not easy, but fun.

Marvel.com: Although this is a series that you’re structuring to appeal to both new and old readers, I understand you’re dipping deep into the archives of the X-Men’s rogues’ gallery in raising The Shadow King to the forefront as the initial “Big Bad,” and someone who fans could even credit as being the original inspiration for Xavier’s creation of the team.

What made him the right choice for you when it came to launching this new series?

Charles Soule: The Shadow King was the first “evil” mutant Charles Xavier ever encountered, and as we saw way back in UNCANNY X-MEN #117 in 1979, he’s essentially the reason Xavier decided to train up other mutants to fight emerging threats in the world. The nice thing about The Shadow King is that he resides in a place called the astral plane, which is sort of a dream dimension where anything anyone imagines can become real. So, battles there tend to be about willpower; the person who can impose their reality on their opponents, force them to believe in whatever situation they’re projecting onto them, tends to win. In ASTONISHING, we’ll see some fantastic set pieces built around that idea, some of which will tie into signature past events from X-Men history. It’s not all backwards-looking, though. This is a story that moves the X-Men forward in a huge way.

Marvel.com: Although you’ve certainly worked with your fair share of mutants in your time at Marvel, Charles, I believe your time with this particular group is more limited, no? What aspects of these characters made them the right ones to engage in this journey?

Charles Soule: That’s correct. Except for Mystique, I’ve never really written any of this group to any real degree, unless you count Old Man Logan and Wolverine as the same character; they’re not, although of course there are similarities. I like this cast because it gives me an immense amount to work with as far as their interpersonal relationships. Rogue and Gambit have a long history together, romantic and otherwise. Mystique raised Rogue for a while. Fantomex and Angel have both been linked with Psylocke. Old Man Logan probably killed all of these folks back in his own universe. And on and on it goes. The power set is varied, they’re all super cool in different ways—it’s a rich stew, and I feel like I can do a ton with it. I should also say that the eight characters on the cover of ASTONISHING X-MEN #1 are not the only X-Men that will appear in the series, but they’re definitely the leads.

Marvel.com: Before we wrap up, I want to lob one “fastball special” your way. There’s always a concern among comic book fans about consequences. With a new series launch, we expect a certain amount of bombast, but what sort of consequences have you baked into the story you’re preparing to launch? In what ways does this story not only matter, but why is it one that’s going to be a “must read” for X-Men fans of all kinds and varieties?

Charles Soule: I think that will all be made clear on the last page of ASTONISHING X-MEN #1. I think I’m known for writing a certain kind of X-book, after DEATH OF WOLVERINE, DEATH OF X and IVX. ASTONISHING X-MEN is no exception. If people want consequences, they’ll get ‘em.

Charles Soule and the top artistic talent in the comics industry bring you ASTONISHING X-MEN, beginning in July!

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Enter the X-Men as the Shi’Ar Empire goes after the mighty mutants!

Celebrate this incarnation of the Guardians of the Galaxy’s tenth anniversary while also prepping for the May 5 release of the new film with these gems from Marvel Unlimited!

The past has a way of catching up with you, even if it’s technically your future.

That’s the kind of life lesson most people can’t relate to, but most people aren’t the time-displaced Jean Grey from ALL NEW X-MEN. She and her pals traveled to the present and continue to be awed by the way the world turned out. Of course, that initial shock didn’t hold a candle to the mind-blowing surprise of aliens popping out of the sky and kidnapping their psychic teammate, an event that kicked off a crossover with GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY called “The Trial of Jean Grey.” Brian Michael Bendis wrote every issue—GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #1113 and ALL-NEW X-MEN #2224—with artwork by Sara Pichelli, Stuart Immonen, and David Marquez.

All the trouble started when Gladiator and the Shi’Ar empire decided to punish the young mutant for the crimes her older self committed under the influence of the Phoenix Force. Even J’Son of Spartax thought the idea seemed a bit thin, but that didn’t stop them from following through. The Guardians got wind of the plan and decided to help, but arrived on Earth too late to actually save Jean Grey, so they gathered the young X-Men—including X-23 at that point—to travel with them into space and track the errant X-Man down.

While the Shi’Ar held Jean, they informed her of her charges, yet another revelation that left her wide-eyed. At the same time, the Guardians and X-Men continued to give chase, getting some help from the Starjammers along the way. Emotions continued to run high as the young Scott Summers met his dad Christopher, otherwise known as the cosmic pirates’ leader Corsair.

Guardians of the Galaxy (2013) #11

Guardians of the Galaxy (2013) #11

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Jean Grey’s hearing continued on with Gladiator officially leveling charges against her. In a surprising move, J-Son appeared out of nowhere to challenge the legitimacy of the claims, which inadvertently stalled the proceedings so Jean could escape and her friends could land on the planet. During the final conflict with Gladiator and the Imperial Guard, Jean developed some new powers that her other self never possessed. This proved, to some extent, that this young woman could not be the same person who committed murder on a planetary level. With that new information, the Shi’Ar agreed to let her go.

With the immediate trouble out of the way, most of the X-Men returned to Earth—Scott decided to travel around with his dad in his own solo series—and the Guardians got back to their own endeavors.

Transmissions from Knowhere

With everything going on in this crossover, you might be surprised to find that it also planted the seeds of romance between Peter Quill—Star-Lord—and Kitty Pryde. Before returning to the stars, Peter handed Kitty a space phone that would allow them to chat anytime. “Call me,” he said. “Just to whine about the universe.” To see how that goes down, keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming post!

Next time, Brian Michael Bendis continues his run on the Guardians by disassembling the team and then building them back up with all new members!

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A closed beta of Marvel Heroes Omega has been confirmed for both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One!

Earth’s mightiest heroes will unite for Marvel Heroes Omega on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One this spring! Gazillion Entertainment and Marvel announced today the action-packed RPG/MMO, a spin-off of Marvel Heroes 2016, will bring together the Guardians of the Galaxy, X-Men, the Avengers, the Defenders and more. Play as your favorite hero from the Marvel Universe across the nine-chapter story campaign and take on some of our most infamous super villains, including Doctor Doom and Loki.

Lovers of lore can also expect a fantastic tour through famous locations, from the dark streets of Hell’s Kitchen to the mystical realm of Asgard. Players can look forward to joining forces with fellow Super Heroes in the game’s many Headquarter areas to tackle the game’s most challenging end-game content. Other modes available include Operations, Midtown Patrol, and Danger Room. For loot seekers, tackle the Legendary Missions and Heroic/Superheroic/Cosmic Trials.

Take a look at the announce trailer and photo gallery above.

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more “Marvel Heroes Omega” news.

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