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Pop culture news from around the web

If Only You Believe in Miracles

The Man Who Could Work Miracles (1936), now streaming on The Criterion Channel of FilmStruck, is a lovely, albeit odd little comedy based on a short story written by H.G. Wells, directed by Lothar Mendes and produced by Alexander Korda. The always endearing Roland Young stars as George McWhirter Fotheringay, an average man who works […]

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Familiar Foes Seek Revenge in ‘Marvel Avengers Academy’

Throughout the various battles threatening “Marvel Avengers Academy” and the world last year, the students and faculty locked up their most troublesome enemies. Ronan the Accuser, Mephisto, Carnage, Kingpin—these number as just a few of the villains with a grudge against our heroes.

And now they’ve broken free.

The students must band together to redeem one of their own and fight back against the most powerful threat they’ve ever faced

We snagged Allen Warner, Lead Narrative Designer at TinyCo, to get the lowdown on how these former foes break free and what it all means for Avengers Academy.

Marvel.com: With these villains breaking free, what characters will be coming to the Academy to aid our heroes this time?

Allen Warner: We’re bringing back a total of 15 recruitable characters from 2016, with some battling the bosses, and others needing to be rescued from the escaped villains. This includes Winter Soldier, Union Jack, Punisher, Electro, Blade, Green Goblin, and more. It’s an opportunity for longtime players to get some of the characters they may have missed in previous events, and for newer players to get a bunch of characters who weren’t available when they started playing.

Marvel.com: Will players who have unlocked all of the cages so far see something different than those who only have some of them?

Allen Warner: The team of escaped villains is comprised of Ronan, Kingpin, Carnage, and Mephisto, so anyone who has any or all of those imprisoned villains on their campus will notice that their cells are empty until the end of the event.

Marvel.com: Similarly, what will players who’ve unlocked all the returning characters have to work toward in this event?

Allen Warner: Players who already have all 15 returning characters will have another opportunity to get cells for every escaped villain.

Marvel.com: How will we tackle the villains leading this siege of the academy?

Allen Warner: Main game Avengers like Black Widow and Falcon will battle the escaped villains alongside some of the returning characters like Dracula and Captain Britain. They’ll be fighting to progress the story, and return the escaped villains to their cells, and every victory gives them a greater opportunity of recruiting returning characters.

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Marvel.com: What other new actions or content will we see?

Allen Warner: There’s a brand-new storyline for the event. Marvel Games Creative Director Bill Rosemann had the great idea to have the event inspired by the classic “Under Siege” Avengers story where Baron Zemo brings some of the world’s most powerful villains together to form the Masters of Evil, and get revenge against the Avengers. I wouldn’t necessarily call our version of Baron Zemo kind and gentle, but he’s definitely not the reprehensible force of evil he is in standard continuity, so this story is more about Mephisto exploiting Zemo’s insecurities to manipulate him into setting the villains free. Zemo eventually realizes that he’s being played, and does what he can to right his wrongs, and help the Avengers return the villains to their cells, and save their friends.

I had a lot of fun revisiting some of these returning characters, and watching them interact with each other I purposefully paired them off into weird combinations just to see what would come out of it. You’ll see how Jack O’ Lantern reacts to Winter Soldier’s gloomy poetry, how Groot responds to Electro’s relentless hyperactivity, how Blade and Captain Britain plan to deal with England’s supposed vampire problem, and many more. It was a lot of fun, and creating unique scenarios and conversations like these is what I love the most about our game.

Players who get any of these characters for the first time will also get access to each character’s personal storyline, and unique animations. If you’ve never seen some of these awesome animations, like Jack O’ Lantern’s dance or Punisher trying to make it through a metal detector, you’re in for a treat.

Marvel.com: This event will be a brief one, so can you give us a preview of what’s coming soon?

Allen Warner: There are two major things on the horizon. First, our next major event, revolving around Ultron leading a robot revolution, and Hawkeye arriving with some of his low-tech friends to save the day. I still don’t want to give away too many details yet, but I’m really excited about some of the surprises we have in store, including a fun and unexpected aesthetic that makes for some great outfits and adventures.

We’ll also soon be adding hangouts to the main game. We got a great response to the hangout feature during our Halloween event, which allowed players to send pairs of characters off to do cool dual actions. This expands upon that feature, allowing players to use any combination of characters from the main game or previous events to take part in original and brand-new dual actions. It’s a really fun feature that gives players the freedom to create their favorite pairing while earning new decorations, and ultimately unlocking Ares as a playable character for the first time.

That’s just a small sample of the exciting characters and features on the way, so stay tuned!

And stay tuned to Marvel.com for all the latest on “Marvel Avengers Academy”!

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The Cast and Crew for ‘Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man’ Reflect on Past Four Seasons

“Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man” tracked the evolution of a street-level hero who fights alongside S.H.I.E.L.D. and other iconic Marvel heroes to become the Ultimate Spidey. The cast and crew for “Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man” reflect on the past four seasons of the show in an all-new featurette above.

The two-part finale arc “Graduation Day” will see Spider-Man stop Doctor Octopus and the Superior Sinister Six from destroying all of the heroes in New York City.

Check out the epic “Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man vs. the Sinister 6” two-part series finale this Saturday at 7:30 PM ET on Disney XD! Watch the preview clip, previously debuted at NYCC, below.

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for all the latest news and updates on your favorite Marvel animated series.

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Mighty Marvel Vampires

Pack up your garlic and holy water, because in UNBELIEVABLE GWENPOOL #11—out February 1—our girl Gwen faces a vampire terrorizing a small town. It’s all in a day’s work for our fabulous heroine—and just another day in the Marvel Universe, where bloodsucking vampires have plagued mankind for centuries.

So take a look at some of Marvel’s most fiendishly, ferocious and sometimes even heroic fang-barring undead.

Dracula
The big daddy of vampire-dom, Dracula originated in Bram Stoker’s classic novel “Dracula” and debuted in the Marvel universe with TOMB OF DRACULA #1 back in 1972. Since then he’s thrown down with everyone from Blade to Doctor Strange to MI-13 to Apocalypse to his own daughter Lilith. Not even the Montesi Formula—a spell Strange cast to eliminate all vampires on Earth—or a blow from the fabled sword Excalibur could keep him down for long. Most of the other vampires in the Marvel Universe owe Dracula their existence as undead, in some form or fashion.

Varnae
While Dracula might win the award for the most well-known bloodsucker, Varnae holds the title for being the inaugural undead in the Marvel Universe. Before Atlantis sunk to the bottom of the ocean, sorcerers used the Book of the Darkhold to transform Varnae into the first vampire—and the only creature to survive the cataclysmic events that resulted in the ancient city’s destruction. But the transformed beast spread his infection across the world, creating more monsters like himself and battling the likes of Thor, among others. Eventually tiring of his immortal existence, Varnae passed the mantle Lord of the Vampires to Dracula before committing suicide by sunlight. Sometime after the Montesi Formula destroyed all vampires, the voodoo witch Marie LaVeau resurrected Varnae, eliminating the spell’s effect on Earth.

Blade
Blade, who debuted in TOMB OF DRACULA #10, became “part” vampire when Deacon Frost attacked his mom during childbirth. Blade inherited some attributes—which a bite from Morbius the Living Vampire later enhanced—but none of their weaknesses, making the “Daywalker” the perfect hunting machine. Blade started his career searching for his mother’s killer, leading to alliances with other hunters like the Van Helsings, Frank Drake, and even Hannibal King, himself a vampire turned by Frost as well as teams like MI-13 and the Mighty Avengers.

Baron Blood
John Falsworth, uncle to the Invader known as Spitfire, had an interest in vampire lore that led him right into the clutches of Dracula. After the Lord of Vampires turned Falsworth into one of his own, the newly reborn Baron Blood took to wearing a bat-like costume and allied himself with Germany during World War II. His shenanigans eventually caused the injury that resulted in Spitfire receiving a blood transfusion from the Original Human Torch—the same one that gave her powers. Falsworth would die and come back a few times over the course of his career, and other characters—including Spitfire’s own son—would later take up the moniker.

Vampire by Night
A family curse caused Nina Price—the niece of Jack Russell, aka Werewolf by Night—to become a werewolf on her 18th birthday, while a vampire attack turned her undead. The two curses, however, affected her in an interesting way: by day she’s normal, while at night she has the powers of a vampire—except during a full moon, when she goes full wolf. After teaming with her uncle, she eventually joined S.H.I.E.L.D.’s supernatural Howling Commandos.

Jubilee
Jubilation Lee has been many things: Wolverine’s sidekick, Generation X member, de-powered New Warrior, and adopted mom to name a few—but in 2010 a vampire suicide bomber infected her with a bioengineered virus, resulting in a different role for the former mallrat. With her mutant powers gone as a result of M-Day, Jubilee’s vampirism gives her a new set of skills and weaknesses.

Hellcow
When Dracula can’t find a human, he turns to a cow named Bessie to satisfy his thirst, thus creating Hellcow. After battling Howard the Duck in the 1970’s and seemingly dying, Hellcow returned to life in an issue of DEADPOOL TEAM-UP in 2011, where she helped Deadpool against the villainous Kilgore by temporarily turning the Merc with a Mouth into a vampire himself.

Join the stake-out—get it?—with UNBELIEVABLE GWENPOOL #11 on February 1!

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Unleash the Beasts: Devil Dinosaur

With so many classic creatures on the loose in Monsters Unleashed, we turn to their earlier adventures thanks to Marvel Unlimited.

Thanks to his debut nine-issue series created by Jack Kirby in 1978 and a variety of appearances since, Devil Dinosaur ranks pretty high on the list of Monsters Unleashed creatures with the most documented stories. When Kirby returned to Marvel in the late 70’s, he took over CAPTAIN AMERICA and also launched BLACK PANTHER, MACHINE MAN, and DEVIL DINOSAUR. All four series featured the master artist’s iconic style along with a variety of out-there ideas for “The King” to explore.

In DEVIL DINOSAUR #1, we met Devil Dinosaur, ruler of the prehistoric Valley of Flame, and his companion Moon-Boy. The latter cheered on the former as Devil Dino fought against the might of Thunder-Horn, an invading triceratops. That night, Moon-Boy remembered when he first met DD. He had been exploring at night—hence the name—and came across a group of Killer-Folk who had killed a female dinosaur on an active volcano. One of her babies continued to fight the folk, so they tried burning it. Instead of being engulfed, he turned red.

Moon-Boy leapt to DD’s aid and took him to the Cool Forest where the creature bathed and ate at his new ally’s instruction. Unfortunately for Moon-Boy, his fellow Small Folk refused to make nice with his new companion, so the two of them went off on their own. Over the rest of the series, Devil Dinosaur and Moon-Boy continued to battle the Killer-Folk, as well as a giant humanoid wearing a dinosaur head, invading aliens, giant ants, and even time travel-inducing witches!

Devil Dinosaur (1978) #1

Devil Dinosaur (1978) #1

  • Published: April 10, 1978
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: April 08, 2009
What is Marvel Unlimited?

After that initial series, Devil Dinosaur appeared in GODZILLA and even joined the title team in FALLEN ANGELS. The duo has also spent time together and apart in the modern Marvel Universe in places like the Savage Land and New York City. That’s where Devil currently appears every month in the pages of MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR! He may have a new companion, but DD still knows how to roar against evil while watching out for a smaller pal, in this case Lunella Lafayette!

Next, Mangog stomps to life in the pages of THOR #154 by none other than Stan Lee and Jack Kirby!

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Guarding the Galaxy: The Return of Star-Lord

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

The Guardians of the Galaxy as we know them actually began as part of an epic space opera in 2007. A decade ago Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning and Mike Perkins joined forces on ANNIHILATION CONQUEST PROLOGUE. In that issue, Peter Quill—the once and future Star-Lord—working with the Kree, inadvertently allowed Phalanx-infested Space Knights to invade Hala and infect the empire’s War-Net.

Quill barely survived the initial attack, but limped off to join up with the Kree resistance in the pages of ANNIHILATION CONQUEST: STAR-LORD written by Keith Giffen and drawn by Timothy Green II. After recapping the hero’s history, the first issue set up a premise that saw Quill’s cybernetics removed before introducing him to a new team consisting of Kree prisoners Rocket Raccoon, Groot, Bug, Deathcry, Mantis, and Gabriel “Captain Universe” Vargas. Their mission? Use their no-to-low tech abilities and equipment to infiltrate Hala and destroy the Phalanx’s seed bombs, intended to spread their infection across the galaxy.

Given the difficulty of the mission, the lack of team unity and the presence of murderous machines, it should come as no surprise that the crew had more than a little difficulty in following the plan. Before actually succeeding though, one member killed another, one found himself diminished, one lost his power, and many were captured by enemy forces. Still, the squad managed to infiltrate the enemy, do their job, and find a cure for the Phalanx contagion.

Annihilation: Conquest - Starlord (2007) #1

Annihilation: Conquest - Starlord (2007) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

In fact, the as yet unnamed group proved so successful that the Kree kept the remaining members together for another mission—but we’ll get into that next time!

Transmissions from Knowhere

Right before leading the proto-Guardians in the pages of ANNIHILATION CONQUEST: STAR-LORD, Peter Quill appeared in THANOS #812. Instead of running around playing hero, he served as an inmate in the space prison known as the Kyln. After he aided Gladiator in the search for The Fallen One, the Imperial Guardsman conscripted Peter into his group. Not long after, Quill joined up with Nova and served alongside Richard Rider in the ANNIHILATION series where he acted as the resistance’s key tactician. The Kree honored his bravery by making him a combat advisor, a job he took seriously, making the Phalanx incursion all the more personal!

Next time we witness the role that Peter Quill and his new group of warriors played in stopping the Phalanx invasion in ANNIHILATION CONQUEST.

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