Download Episode 286 of This Week in Marvel

Hello Marvelites! Channel your best Star-Lord and bust out your Walkmans because we’ve got a brand new episode of This Week in Marvel.

Alex joins Ben to take on this week’s comic releases including MONSTERS UNLEASHED, NICK FURY, and more! Plus news from the worlds of movies, TV, and games from Marc and Christine (49:38)! A chat with the SPIDER-MEN II editorial team (38:51)! A SECRET EMPIRE breakdown (1:03:00)! And last but not least, your questions and comments (1:33:34)!

We’re officially two weeks out from Marvel Studios’ “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”! If you’ve already watched our Red Carpet World Premiere five times over, hit play on your Walkmans and join Ryan and Ben next week for the next #TWIMURC where they talk GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning! Share your thoughts with us using the hashtag #TWIMURC!

Download episode #286 of This Week in Marvel from Marvel.com, check out Marvel Podcast Centralgrab the TWiM RSS feed and subscribe to This Week in Marvel on iTunes, so you never miss an episode! We are now also on Soundcloud! Head over now to our new hub to listen to the full run of This Week in Marvel!

This Week in Marvel will focus on delivering all the Marvel info on news and new releases–from comics to video games to toys to TV to film and beyond! New episodes will be released every Thursday (or so) and TWiM is co-hosted by Marvel VP & Executive Editor of Digital Media Ryan “Agent M” Penagos and Marvel Editorial Director of Digital Media Ben Morse, along with Marvel.com Editor Marc Strom, Marvel.com Assistant Editor Christine Dinh, and Manager of Video & Content Production Blake Garris. We also want your feedback, as well as questions for us to answer on future episodes!  Tweet your questions, comments and thoughts about TWiM to @AgentM@BenJMorse, @chrissypedia or @Marvel with the hashtag #ThisWeekinMarvel!

Marvel Heroes Omega: Beta Blast

Itching to get your hands on “Marvel Heroes Omega”? The crew at Gazillion has been working really hard to get the game ready for consoles and their next step will allow players access to the closed beta!

We talked to Gazillion Lead Designer Ben “TheArtofRawr” Gilbert about the closed beta, what that means, how you can pick it up, and everything in between!

Marvel.com: “Marvel Heroes Omega” is headed to closed beta! That’s a big step towards the game’s full release right?

Ben Gilbert: Yes! The “Marvel Heroes Omega” closed beta for PlayStation 4 begins this Friday, April 21. We’re very excited for Marvel fans to finally have the chance to try out “Marvel Heroes” on console. We’re very happy with our current roster of Heroes, which we’ll be expanding over time. This will be one of the few places where Marvel fans can look forward to playing as characters from some of the most beloved Marvel teams, including the Avengers, Defenders, Inhumans, X-Men, and Guardians of the Galaxy, just to name a few!

Marvel.com: Let’s say that I want to take a crack at the closed beta on PS4. What do I need to do to start beating up bad guys?

Ben Gilbert: Head to the PlayStation Store, either through the official website or your PlayStation 4 console. We’ll have a variety of Founder’s Packs for sale that will offer closed beta access in addition to a wide variety of heroes and packs of heroes.

Marvel.com: Is there a hard limit on the number of players that will be able to participate in the closed beta?

Ben Gilbert: We don’t have any hard limits set. Right now, we’re just really excited to launch our closed beta and hope as many people as possible get a chance to play it. We’ll be looking very closely at player feedback and behind-the-scenes data to make sure our final launch build is in the best shape possible.

Marvel Heroes Omega
Marvel Heroes Omega
Marvel Heroes Omega

Marvel Heroes Omega
Marvel Heroes Omega
Marvel Heroes Omega

Marvel Heroes Omega
Marvel Heroes Omega
Marvel Heroes Omega

Marvel Heroes Omega
Marvel Heroes Omega

Marvel.com: Will the team be testing anything when the game heads to PS4? I have heard rumblings of a couch co-op mode. Can you tell us more?

Ben Gilbert: Those rumblings are very accurate! We’re very excited to officially announce that two-player couch co-op will be a supported feature for “Marvel Heroes Omega” on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. This has by far been the number one question and request from our community—and so we’re very excited to be able to confirm that couch co-op will be a supported feature.

Of course, you can still party up with other players in our many public Headquarters areas. But couch co-op really does offer a new way to enjoy “Marvel Heroes Omega.” We’ve had some great times playing couch co-op internally. Teaming up with a good friend, battling villains and henchmen as our favorite heroes, and collecting loot feels great. We hope players agree. 

Marvel.com: And does the team have anything planned for those most marvelous of gamers, the Marvel Insiders?

Ben Gilbert: That we do! We’ve also set aside a limited quantity of closed beta keys for Marvel Insiders, some of Marvel’s most passionate and engaged fans. Insiders can redeem the key for 50,000 points in Marvel Insider starting on 4/28! Insiders should check out the Rewards page for more details.

Marvel.com: Is there anything else we need to know before the closed beta drops?

Ben Gilbert: Although I can’t announce any specific dates yet, Xbox One players should expect news very soon about dates for the beginning of our Xbox One closed beta. Stay tuned and keep an eye out on our official “Marvel Heroes Omega” website, Twitter, and Facebook for more details!

Also, while we’re very excited to bring “Marvel Heroes Omega” to consoles, I don’t want our PC audience to think we’ve forgotten about them. It’s extremely important to everyone here at Gazillion that we deliver the best possible “Marvel Heroes Omega” experience for all players regardless of their platform of choice. Whether you play on PC, PS4, or Xbox, we’ve got plans in the works for exciting new content. Stay tuned!

And stay tuned to Marvel.com for more “Marvel Heroes Omega” news and interviews.

Flashback Friday: Nick Fury

Every Friday we use the powers of Marvel Unlimited to look back at the very first appearance of a major character, place or object that made waves this week.

He might share a name with one of the most infamous people in the Marvel Universe, but Nick Fury plans on making a reputation for himself with his self-titled series launched this week by writer James Robinson and artist ACO. The new book may have sent Fury to the French Riviera and put him in direct opposition to Frankie Noble, but his comic book roots go back to the 2012 series BATTLE SCARS.

Chris Yost, Matt Fraction and Cullen Bunn collaborated to write the six-issue BATTLE SCARS with art by Scot Eaton. The series, set during the Fear Itself event, kicked off in Afghanistan with the 2nd Battalion Army Rangers trying to figure out why everyone seemed to be shooting everyone else. Here we’re introduced to Staff Sergeant Marcus Johnson who winds up in Atlanta, Georgia four days later after getting word that his mother, Nia Marie Johnson, passed away. Just as he began to realize that someone specifically wanted his mother dead, he’s pinned down by sniper fire and attacked by a wetworks squad backed up by none other than Taskmaster. Luckily, Captain America and then-Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Daisy Johnson stepped in to help Marcus.

S.H.I.E.L.D. tried keeping him safe in their rebuilt headquarters, but Marcus broke out, took down an entire group of their agents, and started his own investigation into Taskmaster along with his Ranger pal “Cheese,” otherwise known as Phil Coulson! The search not only lead to another fight with Taskmaster, but a team-up with Deadpool against the Serpent Society and the revelation that a masked man calling himself Orion stood as Johnson’s true enemy.

Battle Scars (2011) #1

Battle Scars (2011) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?



Another masked man soon revealed himself not only as Nick Fury, but as Marcus’ father. The elder Fury met Nia Johnson when they both worked for the CIA 30 years prior. The two hit it off and nine months later Marcus entered the world. Nia quit that job and Fury worked his spy magic to keep her safe until recently when someone uncovered the information and sold it to Leviathan leader Orion. Fury messed Orion up pretty bad and the continually-dying villain wanted some of the Infinity Formula to fix his problem, but the only real source remained in Marcus’ blood.

Soon enough, both father and son wound up in Orion’s clutches. He had his goons cut out Marcus’ left eye to make a family resemblance. Orion then received a transfusion from Fury that restored his power and youth, but a presumed dead Marcus fought his way through Orion’s goons. Johnson stalled the villain long enough to get the Avengers there to back his play and save the day, seemingly killing Orion in the process. A few weeks later, Marcus shaved his head, joined his pal Coulson and became official Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. He also decided to take on his father’s name as a way to honor him and carry on a longstanding tradition with the organization.

Flash Forward

Nick Fury Jr. may have first appeared in the Marvel Universe as Marcus Johnson in BATTLE SCARS, but the idea for an African-American take on the character debuted back in 2002 when he showed up in THE ULTIMATES #1 by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch looking an awful lot like Samuel L. Jackson. A noted comic fan, Jackson appreciated the nod and, by the time the Fury character made his big screen debut in 2008’s “Iron Man,” Jackson filled in the eye patch and long coat!

Coulson & Ward Share Origin Stories in ‘Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Clip

The heroes of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” still find themselves trapped in the Framework next week, and we’ve got a hint on how things turned out so differently for Coulson in a new clip!

As Coulson and Ward weigh the limited options they have for rescuing Skye/Daisy, Coulson shares some secrets from his past…and Ward makes a surprising revelation of his own!

Watch the clip directly above, and catch an all-new episode Tuesday at 10:00 PM ET on ABC.

Until then, follow @AgentsofSHIELD on Twitter and like “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” on Facebook for all the latest!

Astonishing X-Men: Game Plans

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.

Astonishing X-Men #1 preview art by Jim Cheung
Astonishing X-Men #1 preview art by Jim Cheung
Astonishing X-Men #1 preview art by Jim Cheung

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!

Get ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix Vol. 2’ Now

Fans can now get in the Star-Lord-dancing kind of mood with “Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix Vol. 2,” the official soundtrack to Marvel Studios’ “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” available now!

Featuring hits such as “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac, “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl” by Looking Glass, and much more, “Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix Vol. 2” offers the sonic backdrop to this summer’s biggest movie.

Check out the full track listing below, and follow @Guardians on Twitter and like the official Guardians of the Galaxy page on Facebook for the latest on “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” in theaters May 5!

Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix Vol. 2 track listing

U.S.Avengers: Eyes on the Prize

In U.S.AVENGERS #6—available May 17—Steve Rogers continues his campaign to remake the Marvel Universe in Hydra’s image by finally seizing control of A.I.M. One cannot help but wonder, however, what’s motivating the Sentinel of Lies to pull this society of scientists under his wing.

Thankfully, we do not need to wonder when we have writer Al Ewing on the speed dial. He gladly gave us some perspective on Rogers’ dark plan.

Marvel.com: To begin with, why is A.I.M. such a glittering prize for Steve Rogers in specific and Hydra in general?

Al Ewing: Well, they’re not a glittering prize as such—although if he can sway any to his side, that’s fine—but they are a potential complication, and one with the potential to mess up his intricate plans. So ideally, he needs to get them out of the way, both by making sure they don’t interfere with his plan as it unfolds, and then after that, by making sure they don’t interfere with Hydra business.

Marvel.com: What threat would an independently operating A.I.M. represent for Rogers?

Al Ewing: Well, for one thing, they’ve been trained to resist hypnosis in a way S.H.I.E.L.D. hasn’t—thanks to the teachings of the late, great Professor X—so Rogers can’t just use his good friend Dr. Faustus to brainwash them. Which means he’s probably going to have to lock them up in some secret facility somewhere and work on them for a while. He can’t let a bunch of super-scientists run around free and unsupervised.

Marvel.com: How does he envision A.I.M. working after he fully seizes control of them? What is his ideal vision of them as an organization?

Al Ewing: I imagine if he can get the whole organization on board, he’ll put them to work somehow, most likely as an arm of Hydra.

To be honest, what Rogers probably wants from A.I.M. is for them to just get back in their safe little box and be “evil scientists” again so at least he can understand what’s going on with them. He’s an old man at heart, he likes things a certain way and why does he have to change?

Marvel.com: As Roberto da Costa struggles against and, seemingly, falls to Rogers’ agenda, what are his fears for A.I.M.? Where does he worry it might go under someone else’s direction that isn’t his?

Al Ewing: Well, Roberto’s going to have a lot to worry about himself. As people might have guessed from the solicits, he’s in some serious personal danger and he might not make it through this one alive. But assuming he does, I’d imagine his biggest nightmare for A.I.M. would be them slipping backwards into their old, evil ways, or being lured there by a charismatic creep like Rogers.

Marvel.com: U.S.AVENGERS, particularly with this issue, is a great mix of intense action and political machinations. How does Paco Medina’s art help to bring that to life on the page without either element eclipsing the other? Any particular sequence, without spoilers, you are really excited for fans to see him render?

Al Ewing: Paco’s brilliant and he draws an amazing Red Hulk, too. I’m going to particularly enjoy seeing him deal with the sequence set in Europe, since that’s going to feature some exciting guest stars—for anyone who knows his work, we’re bringing back a selection of the contestants from the CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS comic we did together. So fans of Guillotine, Outlaw, and Ares should hopefully be happy there. I know I will be.

See if Steve Rogers succeeds in U.S.AVENGERS #6, available May 17 courtesy of Al Ewing and Paco Medina!