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Charles Soule Lays Out His Astonishing Mutant Landscape

It shouldn’t be too astonishing that the X-Men are as popular as they are. After all, their collection of diverse of mutants offers a never-ending grab bag of super powered mayhem that usually goes toward saving the day–when they’re not too busy butting heads with the Inhumans, that is. Simply put, there is no shortage of classic “X-Men” content and one particular title is about to re-enter the limelight.

After a four-year hiatus, Marvel is bringing back the “Astonishing X-Men” series this summer under the confident pen of writer, Charles Soule who’s not too worried that he’s got some big shoes to fill. We’re also excited to announce that Jim Cheung, Ron Garney, ACO, Phil Noto, Greg Land, Ramon Rosanas and more will be bringing the serialized, ongoing story to life with some incredible artwork.

Get pumped for the returning title by checking out our interview with Charles who discusses the book’s iconic cast, its use of the entirety of Marvel history and how the series will mutate under his skilled direction.

Marvel.com: “Astonishing X-Men” is a title whose original run spanned from the mid-1990s to 2013. What was the most exciting part about being the person responsible for relaunching it?

Charles Soule: “Astonishing” is one of the fundamental “X”-titles for me, especially the Whedon/Cassaday run. It’s some of the best “X-Men” storytelling of all time. So, exciting, yes – also somewhat terrifying. But like any book I take on, I’ll do my best.

Marvel.com: Over the years, the series was written by a litany of big Marvel creative minds like Joss Whedon, Warren Ellis, Marjorie Liu and Greg Pak. How were you hoping to approach it differently than these writers did in the past? How did you pour your own heart and, forgive me, soul into the writing?

Charles Soule: I’d like to think that any story I do will be different from the other incredible talents who have worked under this banner in the past, just because I’m not them. This sort of “Murderer’s Row” legacy isn’t anything new to me, though – from my very first Marvel project (“Thunderbolts”) to Daredevil to pretty much everything I’ve done, I’ve been working on titles that have superstar creators in their past. You just put your head down and write your story and hope that it can stand next to the other books in the line.

Marvel.com: Going off that, can you talk a little bit about the artistic vision you had for the look and feel of the series?

Charles Soule: I mostly want it to feel epic. I’m trying to go as big as I can both for character moments and “page-feel,” if that’s a term I can coin. I remember when Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch were working in what was termed “widescreen” back on their “Ultimates” project. I’d say it’s something like that, but within every massive beat there’s a character moment (or ten) to back it up. Mostly, I wanted to anchor “Astonishing X-Men” in the real world, so-to-speak. Many times the big superhero stories take place away from population centers, especially mutant stories. I get it – a superhero slugfest with a bunch of civilians around complicates things immensely. I’ve done it myself many times. Setting your battle scene on a remote glacier solves a lot of storytelling problems. However, I think the X-Men are at their best story-wise when they’re not only fighting super-villains, but their activities are seen through the lens of the human world. So, we’ll get a lot of that here – a lot of the action takes place in the heart of London, with all the attendant repercussions. Good times all around.

Marvel.com: We know the series will feature a veritable Who’s Who of fan favorite X-Men (i.e. Old Man Logan, Archangel, Mystique, Rogue, Gambit, Psylocke and Fantomex), but what can you tell us about the villains being featured in the story?

Charles Soule: Not too much just yet… but we’ll get there! I want it to feel like a nice reveal, but the way the story is designed I can pull in bad guys from literally any era of Marvel history. The book is built like a bit of a puzzle box, with multiple layers of reveals. Part of the fun of certain “X”-stories is speculating about what’s really going on, and this is definitely one of those.

Marvel.com: Now onto the heroes. What was the decision process behind choosing these specific characters to make up this team other than being adored by fans and veterans of the original run?

Charles Soule: It’s a mix of characters who I really wanted to write and characters who hadn’t been seen in a bit, or both! I wanted a bunch of people I knew I could write well, but who also had lots of history with each other. All of these people have been “bad guys” at one point or another – checkered pasts all around. Many of them have dated each other, or have been in love triangles… it’s just a feast of drama, and the soap opera stuff is part of what makes the X-Men great. It’s fun to write all these folks, especially in a really focused story like I’m telling in Astonishing. The book has a specific point, story and end goal… which you’ll see soon enough!

Marvel.com: Will we be seeing a different team dynamic than we’ve seen in the past and were there any specific characters you had a blast writing?

Charles Soule: I’ve said this before, but this book doesn’t have a team. It has a cast. It doesn’t have a leader, either. It’s like a novel, or a film, or a TV series. There are characters who are more or less prominent from scene to scene, but this isn’t a story about superheroes coming together with a shared goal to fight bad guys, with a base, and cool coordinated costumes and so on. This is a bunch of flawed, extremely powerful individuals who find themselves in the same place at the same time as something very intense and potentially world-ending happens. Then, we see what they do next. It’s a pretty cool ride, I think.

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Women’s History Month: Sara Pichelli

This March, we celebrate Women’s History Month by spotlighting some of the most iconic characters and creators from the Marvel Universe.

Artist Sara Pichelli burst onto the scene in 2007, earning fans right off the bat thanks to her dynamic, yet emotive style. By the following year, she did her first book for Marvel – NYX: NO WAY HOME #3 – and the rest, as they say, is history!

After finishing that series with #6, Pichelli moved right over to RUNAWAY with #10 and stuck around until #14, the last issue of that volume. From there she drew books like X-MEN: PIXIE STRIKES BACK, the NAMORA one-shot and contributed to both HER-OES and GIRL COMICS.

Then, the artist skyrocketed into the public consciousness when she joined Brian Michael Bendis on ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN starting with #15. The series then jumped back to its previous numbering with the next installment and ran until Peter Parker died in the pages of #160

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man (2009) #160

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man (2009) #160

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Pichelli drew up to #155 on that volume, but then contributed the very first look at Peter’s replacement, Miles Morales, in the pages of ULTIMATE FALLOUT #4. She then proceeded to debut ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN with Bendis, returning for other issues and covers throughout the book’s run. 

Ultimate Fallout (2011) #4

Ultimate Fallout (2011) #4

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Pichelli and Bendis also teamed up on SPIDER-MEN, the first meeting of the classic Peter Parker with the Ultimate Universe’s Miles Morales. The duo, proving both well suited for one another and incredibly popular, joined forces in 2013 for another major series, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY.

The collaborations don’t stop there, of course. They worked together on issues of ALL-NEW X-MEN and also came together to bring Miles Morales into the Marvel Universe after SECRET WARS in a series called SPIDER-MAN that’s still going strong to this day. 

Spider-Man (2016) #14

Spider-Man (2016) #14

The Women Of Marvel

As Pichelli herself related in a 2014 Marvel.com interview, she credited C.B. Cebulski with discovering her. “In 2008 I lost my job at an animation studio where I was working as a character designer,” she said. “And since I was starting to feel the urge to explore a new media—in order to have more control of my artwork—I took advantage of this transition to take a stab at becoming a comic book artist. I started to be interested in comics thanks to my amazing partner—and also a comic book artist—David Messina a couple of years before, and it was love at first sight.” She then did work for IDW, but entered Cebulski’s international Marvel talent search called Chesterquest contest which drew attention to her skills and lead to those early Marvel books!

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Get Ready For a New ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ Trailer

Spidey swings by Avengers Tower and takes a perilous flight in three new posters and a teaser for tomorrow’s new “Spider-Man: Homecoming” trailer!

First up, we’ve got a brief look at tomorrow’s brand-new trailer, featuring your most menacing look at the villainous Vulture yet!

Take flight. A new #SpiderManHomecoming trailer is landing tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/bogivDIuVC

— Marvel Entertainment (@Marvel) March 27, 2017

Then, scope out three new posters for the film as Spidey stops by Avengers Tower, takes a moment to relax, and tries to hitch a ride on the freeway.

Spider-Man: Homecoming teaser poster
Spider-Man: Homecoming teaser poster
Spider-Man: Homecoming teaser poster

Keep your eyes peeled right here to Marvel.com for the latest on “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” in theaters July 7!

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Download Episode 282 of This Week in Marvel

We’ve got a brand new episode of This Week in Marvel, presented by Loot Crate, to help you kick off the weekend!

Ben and Ryan give you the rundown on this week’s hottest comics releases, including CAPTAIN AMERICA, IRON FIST, and more. The editors behind Secret Empire share their secrets (58:31), MSG’s Arda Ocal stops by (1:25:33), plus all the news from the West Coast (1:12:03), reviews, and more (1:33:29) that you expect from the official Marvel podcast!

For the next This Week in Marvel Unlimited Reading Club, tackle alternate realities with the West Coast and PUNISHER NOIR. Be sure to share your thoughts with us using the hashtag #TWIMURC!

Loot Crate has assembled the Marvel Gear and Goods crate for the ultimate Marvel fan. This crate features official Marvel items like collectible home goods, apparel and more every other month! So you just stopped Thanos from undoing reality (again) and Nova Prime is probably going to spend weeks on the paperwork alone. Here’s an Infinity Gem of an idea: let’s kick off the space boots, head to the backyard and have a COSMIC PARTY! We’re inviting a motley crew of galactic greats and they’re bringing essential party items featuring the Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain Marvel herself and the Nova Corps! Order by 5/15 at 9pm PT by heading to lootcrate.com/MarvelGear and use promo code “MARVELPOD” to save $3 on your subscription today.

Download episode #282 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!

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Flashback Friday: Iron Fist

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.

Considering Danny Rand not only just debuted his own Netflix series, but also starred in a new comic by Ed Brisson and Mike Perkins, it couldn’t be a better time to take a glance back at his debut in the pages of MARVEL PREMIERE #15.

The issue, which dropped in 1974, came from the minds of Roy Thomas and Gil Kane. It opened with Iron Fist taking on a quartet of trained attackers for an audience that included Yu-Ti – otherwise known as the August Personage of Jade – and the four hooded Dragon Kings.

Having defeated his opponents, Iron Fist looked up to Yu-Ti asking about The Challenge of the One when the elder asked him to think back on his past. This filled in the reader about a 9-year-old boy who scaled a mountain with his parents Wendell and Heather as well as his dad’s business partner a decade prior in search of K’un Lun.

That journey ended for his father, when Meacham, the business partner, took advantage of a minor accident to distract them from his true intent: murdering Danny’s dad. Remembering the focus he and his mother had in trying to climb down to safety, Iron Fist used that in his battle with the silent, deadly and huge Shu-Hu.

Danny failed to gain the upper hand with this challenge and soon found himself being battered around. In an effort to regain his focus, he dug even deeper into the memory of surviving with his mother in the unforgiving mountains, hiding in caves and avoiding wolves. While the hungry pack chased them, Danny and his mother saw the bridge to K’un Lun, but Heather didn’t think they’d make it so she thrust her son ahead and then ran back, offering herself to their pursuers.

The memory of his mother’s bravery spurred Danny on to battle his enemy more fiercely than before, actually spilling over into a berserker rage. Fully back in the fight, he won the match upon funneling his will to his fist which “becomes like unto a thing of iron!” Of course, this would be just the first of many fights we’d see Iron Fist take on as he’d travel through the Marvel Universe joining groups like the Heroes for Hire, New Avengers and even The Defenders.

During his run on PREMIERE, which went until #25, other luminaries like Larry Hama, Chris Claremont, Len Wein and John Byrne worked on the character. Danny then starred in his own ongoing series for 15 issues though the final story carried over to MARVEL TEAM-UP #63-64.

And then true comic book magic happened when the powers that be teamed Rand with Luke Cage in POWER MAN & IRON FIST, a partnership that continues to give readers a thrill to this day. In fact, a series of that same name can be found on shelves right now even as the new IRON FIST series kicks off.

Flash Forward

In the pages of IMMORTAL IRON FIST, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, David Aja and others expanded upon the mythology of Iron Fist. They not only chronicled the adventures of other, previous bearers of the name, but also expanded on the idea of K’un Lun as one of many mystical cities with their own warriors. Readers met the likes of Fat Cobra, Dog Brother #1, Bride of Nine Spiders, Prince of Orphans, Tiger’s Beautiful Daughter and Steel Phoenix.

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Spider-Man: Homecoming Collectible Figure

Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is officially home in the Marvel Cinematic Universe! The young Peter Parker was introduced in “Captain America: Civil War” last year and his surprising appearance has made fans hungry for more. This summer, the webslinger will swing back into action, juggling his budding super hero career with frantic high school life in “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”

As fans everywhere are counting down to the release of the movie, Hot Toys is excited to announce the 1/6th scale collectible figure of the beloved Spider-Man wearing his homemade outfit! Expertly crafted based on Tom Holland’s appearance in the movie, the Spider-Man (Homemade Suit Version) collectible figure features a newly developed Peter Parker head sculpt as well as a masked head sculpt with three sets of interchangeable eyepieces for making a variety of facial expressions. It also comes with a finely tailored outfit with web-shooters, an assortment of spider-web shooting effect parts, and a specially designed dynamic figure stand with movie logo.

Welcome Spidey home and add him in your Hot Toys collection! For more from Hot Toys, visit their website.

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Join RealD 3D for a Guardians of the Galaxy Double Feature

Join Star-Lord, Groot and the rest of the gang for Guardians of the Galaxy Double Feature exclusively in RealD 3D on Thursday May 4 at 4:30pm for a showing of Guardians of the Galaxy followed by Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 at select locations. Theatre guests will receive an exclusive mini poster and souvenir collectible button set.

Take a look at the exclusive mini poster and souvenir collectible button set above!

Get your tickets now for “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” and stay tuned for even more universal action in the coming days and weeks!

Set to the all-new sonic backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” continues the team’s adventures as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage.

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for the latest on “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” and follow @Guardians on Twitter and like the official Guardians of the Galaxy page on Facebook for the latest!

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Fasten your seat belts! Tickets for ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ Are Now On Sale!

Marvel Studios’ “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” finally hits theaters on May 5, but you can get your tickets now for opening weekend on Fandango!

Plus, we have a new look at the film to get you even more pumped for the most galactic movie event of the year, above!

Get your tickets now for “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” and stay tuned for even more universal action in the coming days and weeks!

In addition, you can join Star-Lord, Groot and the rest of the gang for Guardians of the Galaxy Double Feature exclusively in RealD 3D on Thursday May 4 at 4:30pm for a showing of Guardians of the Galaxy followed by Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 at select locations. Theatre guests will receive an exclusive mini poster and souvenir collectible button set.

Set to the all-new sonic backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” continues the team’s adventures as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage.

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for the latest on “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” and follow @Guardians on Twitter and like the official Guardians of the Galaxy page on Facebook for the latest!

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Daredevil: Supreme Power

It may be a cliché that not all heroes wear capes, but can super heroes still be champions for good when they’re not running around in costume saving the day? That’s exactly what Matt Murdock seeks to prove in the upcoming “Supreme” arc of DAREDEVIL from writer Charles Soule. He’s foregoing the usual red, skin tight number in favor of a simple suit and tie as part of a plan to take care of crime in New York with the legitimate fists of the legal system.

However, Matt’s tour de force of lawyerly prowess could prove to be the undoing of not only the bad guys, but all of New York’s vigilantes as well. Even his recently recovered secret identity stands at stake in this story, which promises to be an explosive courtroom drama chock full of surprises, exciting cameos, and homages to classic sitcom tropes.

Since Charles practices as an attorney, we asked him to make a few opening statements on behalf of “Supreme.” He’s far from resting his case, your honor. In fact, it’s just waking up.

Marvel.com: In this story arc, Matt has a plan to take care of crime in Manhattan via the legal system as opposed to his vigilante work as Daredevil. As a practicing lawyer and fellow Columbia Law graduate, were the specifics for this arc drawn from your own experiences as an attorney? If so, can you go into detail about your inspirations without breaching attorney-client privilege?

Charles Soule: I’ve been building to this story since I first started thinking about my run [on DAREDEVIL]. This has been what it’s all been about, from the start. This is why Matt joined the DA’s office, it’s what he decided to do with his secret identity, all of it. He has a plan based on a particular area of criminal law that I came up with when I was doing my initial research, talking to people who’ve worked in the Manhattan DA’s office, etc. The funny thing—while I am a practicing attorney, I don’t work in this particular area, and so I am sure I’m screwing stuff up as far as the specifics. That’s okay, though, I have a wonderful crutch to rely on for that stuff: “Law is a little different in the Marvel Universe.”

Marvel.com: Are there any holdover repercussions from the “Purple” arc that centers around Matt trying to hold onto his secret identity?

Charles Soule: The whole “Supreme” arc is all about it. We learned in “Purple” what Matt did to put his identity as Daredevil back in the bottle, and in “Supreme” all of that is put at risk. We understand the stakes.

Marvel.com: What is the climate like in New York City to allow Matt to take this route rather than just beat the snot out of bad guys as Daredevil?

Charles Soule: Beating up bad guys is great, but it’s a one-at-a-time sort of solution. Every once in a while maybe you can take down a big player like an Owl or even a Kingpin, but just because you beat someone up doesn’t mean they will actually get convicted of a crime and go to prison. Matt’s plan here is designed to bring his vigilante work and his legal work closer together—and not just for him, but for everyone like him. The Spider-Mans, the Blindspots, the Ms. Marvels— everyone with a secret identity working in New York as a vigilante could be affected by what he’s doing.

Daredevil #21 cover by Dan Panosian
Daredevil #22 cover by Mike Deodato



Marvel.com:  Moreover, how does he feel about the possibility that the city may not need the hero after this case is over?

Charles Soule: He’s not worried about that at all. New York will always need heroes.

Marvel.com:  The criminal underworld can’t be happy about this trial. What action will they be taking to stop Matt?

Charles Soule: Stay tuned. That’s a huge part of the story. We’ll see some great bad guy appearances here, including the return of a fun Z-lister from the 90s, another long-demanded character from my SHE-HULK run with Javier Pulido, and another massive Daredevil bad guy I haven’t used yet.

Marvel.com: The irony of Daredevil needing to take the stand and testify is a bit of a two-dates-to-the-prom—or courtroom in this case—situation for Matt. How will he go about handling that particular dilemma?

Charles Soule: That’s issue #22—and man, it’s fun to write that stuff. Classic silly sitcom with super heroes material.

Marvel.com: Luke Cage and Echo will be guest starring in this arc. What will their roles be in this case? Will they be taking to the stand and should we prepare for any other cameos?

Charles Soule: They show up early, but we shift away from them to allow for some other folks to appear. I’m trying to get in a bunch of cool cameos here; don’t want to spoil it, but I had Daredevil appear in a big three-part story in my SHE-HULK run. It might be time to return that favor…

Charles Soule kicks off “Supreme” in DAREDEVIL #21, coming this June!

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U.S.Avengers: Adjusting A.I.M.

Steve Rogers has arrived and his agenda shall not be ignored—well, that’s his plan, anyway.

Roberto da Costa, the former Sunspot and current Citizen V, however has different thoughts on the matter. He helped turn A.I.M. from an enclave of evil into an entity of scientific good in the world and he sees it just as the start. Why should he cede control now?

U.S.AVENGERS writer Al Ewing has studied the case and stands ready to arbitrate, but squeezed us into his docket to review the dispute.

Marvel.com: In U.S.AVENGERS #5, we’re promised what seems to be a battle between Sunspot and Steve Rogers for the direction of A.I.M. To handicap that faceoff for a moment, what advantages does each person—Steve and Roberto—bring to the situation?

Al Ewing: It’s more of a standoff than a battle. Steve, as the new big man on campus at S.H.I.E.L.D., is essentially Roberto’s boss now that A.I.M. have been absorbed by everyone’s favorite global superspy organization. Since Steve Rogers is also an agent of HYDRA after some meddling from a Cosmic Cube, and Roberto doesn’t know that…well, the situation’s a little tricky.

Steve’s goal here is to see if Roberto can be persuaded as to the rightness of his cause, and if not—and let’s face it, it’s going to be “not”—he’s going to find whatever weaknesses he can in A.I.M.’s defenses and generally get Roberto rattled enough to make an error.

Roberto’s goal, meanwhile, is to get through a particularly rough, and increasingly strange, performance evaluation.

Marvel.com: To look at the debit side of the ledger, what are each of their vulnerabilities or weaknesses?

Al Ewing: Roberto doesn’t know what’s going on with Steve. That’s a biggie—that’s everything. This is the first time Roberto’s been in a situation where he hasn’t been two steps ahead.

But from Steve’s point of view, Roberto is clever enough to figure it all out—if Steve pushes too hard. So there are a lot of subtle tactics, a lot of gentle probing, pushing and the occasional naked micro-aggression. HYDRA-fied Steve Rogers might think he’s the hero of his own story, but he’s a very nasty character, and he doesn’t mind if people don’t like him, either. He’s going to put all that to work.

Marvel.com: If we were able to speak to both of them, why would they say that control of the direction of A.I.M. should be theirs?

Al Ewing: Steve Rogers can’t have any loose cannons and general weirdos interfering with his masterplan. A.I.M. could be great allies of HYDRA if they just knocked off this goofy stuff they’ve gotten into. Steve likes the way Roberto’s rehabilitated the brand in the public eye, he just thinks he needs to straighten up at this point and fly right. As for Roberto, why would he want to quit now? He’s just gotten started. If Roberto’s going to hand A.I.M. over to anyone, it’ll be someone who gets it—in the meantime, he’s going to keep control as long as he can.

Marvel.com: This conflict leaves Sam Guthrie, Cannonball, feeling as though he is being pulled in separate directions. What about this situation is leaving him feeling as though he is stuck in the middle? What does each party represent and mean to him?

Al Ewing: Sam is actually on leave this issue—he’s being pulled in separate directions because he’s on his new home planet with his space family. Except Earth is his home planet, isn’t it?

Readers have been asking what the status of Izzy—aka Smasher—and their son Joshua is, and whether the marriage is going to turn up in the book; well, this issue, it does. It’s been mentioned before that Sam commutes to the team from space, but this is the first time we’ve seen him on weekends, or seen how nice the Shi’ar colony planets can be. Sam’s got a lot to think about.

Marvel.com: Within A.I.M. is there a dominant opinion amongst the employees about the direction the organization should go and who should be in charge of it?

Al Ewing: At this point, Roberto’s pruned the organization pretty effectively; anyone with a hankering for the bad old days of evil science and world takeover has been pretty much kicked out. But there are always one or two who are nostalgic for the good old days of bad against good, and Roberto might find traitors in the ranks where he least expects them.

See how the situation between Steve and Roberto plays out in U.S.AVENGERS #5 by Al Ewing and artist Paco Diaz, coming April 19!

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