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Pop culture news from around the web

Shake Your Bones with The Living Skeleton (1968)

Now that another Valentine’s Day has passed, it’s time to focus on other emotions out there… like stark terror! Pretty much impossible for American audiences to see until 2012 apart from its very minimal English-language theatrical release in 1969, the terrific spook show The Living Skeleton (1968) is just the kind of thing to watch […]

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Star Wars Spotlight: Yoda

Each week Star Wars Spotlight combs through the digital archives of Marvel Unlimited to showcase one classic story from that distant galaxy filled with Jedi, Sith, princesses, scoundrels and droids.

You’d think any Padawan would be happy to learn from Jedi Grand Master Yoda, but that’s far from the case in the pages of the STAR WARS: JEDI – YODA one-shot from 2004 by Jeremy Barlow and HOON. Set during the Clone Wars, the story kicked off with a pair of Jedi dying on the planet Thustra leaving their students Cal and Pix to send word to the Council about the situation.

Back on Coruscant, Yoda listened to the message along with Chancellor Palpatine and Mace Windu. The diminutive Jedi revealed that he and Alaric, the leader of Thustra, had been friends for centuries. Palpatine suggested that the Master head to Thustra and see if he could convince his friend to remain a part of the Republic instead of joining the Separatists. Even though, as Windu pointed out, he acted as the overseer of the entire war effort, Yoda agreed.

Star Wars: Jedi - Yoda (2004) #1

Star Wars: Jedi - Yoda (2004) #1

  • Published: July 21, 2004
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: May 07, 2015
  • Writer: Jeremy Barlow
  • Cover Artist: HOON
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Once on Thustra, Yoda left Pix in charge of the Republic forces and asked Cal to accompany him. The wise warrior took every chance to explain the old ways of the Jedi to Cal, specifically that they did not begin as a group of fighters, but the Padawan refused to take these messages to heart.

After talking with Alaric and not coming to the desired conclusion of Thustra rejoining the Republic, Yoda and Cal jailed found themselves jailed. The elder Jedi went peacefully, though his young companion wanted to try and fight their way out.

Before long, Alaric’s nephew Navi attempted to insert himself into the situation by telling Yoda that his uncle had been losing his faculties. Another chat with his old friend seemed to diffuse that idea, especially as the man explained to Yoda that Thustra planned to leave the Republic because it had become too corrupt.

Thanks to misinformation spread by Navi and his cohorts as well as the building tensions between the people of Thustra and the Republic army, confrontation soon erupted. Not everyone survived the skirmish, but Navi and his conspirators did eventually find themselves under arrest for crimes against the Republic and conspiracy to commit murder.

From the Jedi Temple Archives

Unlike just about every other person that’s ever appeared in a Star Wars film, book, comic, video game or cartoon, very much remains unknown about Yoda. For instance, his native planet and exact species still remain a total mystery, though we have seen others of his kind like fellow Jedi Council member Yaddle. The Grand Master of the Jedi Order, Yoda spent a great deal of time—something like 800 years—training younglings before sending them along to more fully study with their Masters. He did take on his own share of Padawans, though, including Count Dooku, otherwise known as the leader of the Separatists and Sith Lord Darth Tyranus!

Next time, Tom Veitch, Chris Gossett, Janine Johnston and David Roach take us back 4000 years before “A New Hope” in STAR WARS: TALES OF THE JEDI.

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Unleash the Beasts: Gor-Kill

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

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes from the nerdy kid in your science class to the town layabout! No, TALES OF SUSPENSE #12 doesn’t feature a proto-Spider-Man, but it does turn loafer Hans Grubnik into the hero of his Polish village thanks to a story by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

The tale kicked off by introducing readers to a gaseous alien creature who posed no real threat to anyone while floating through space. However, after landing on Earth and melding with the planet’s copious amounts of water it turned into a giant, rampaging monster dubbed “Gor-Kill” by the townspeople.

Tales of Suspense (1959) #12

Tales of Suspense (1959) #12

  • Published: November 01, 1960
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: May 07, 2010
  • Penciller: Don Heck
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

The assemblage tried their best to defeat the monster, but couldn’t find their quarry after it ran towards the dam. With tensions at their highest, ire turned towards shiftless Hans and his fellows banished him. While walking towards his next laze location, Hans made an incredible discovery: the creature wasn’t covered in water as the people thought, but instead made of it!

Realizing that, if it reached the ocean, Gor-Kill would become unstoppable, Hans ran back to town, stole a passel of dynamite and blew up a mountain pass as the water beast slogged through. Dispersed by the explosion, the smaller sections of water seeped into the soil, seemingly removing the threat forever.

Unfortunately for Hans, no one actually saw him accomplish this heroic feat, so when they found him they locked him up for stealing the dynamite! They didn’t even know that Gor-Kil had been destroyed and assumed it had simply moved on to its next village. Even worse, after serving the “few months” jail sentence, Grubnik would be banished once again! Maybe Hans is more like Spider-Man than we thought!

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World of Wakanda: Wakandan Wonders

BLACK PANTHER: WORLD OF WAKANDA #5, out March 15, continues its closer look at the Midnight Angels, two of the nation of Wakanda’s most fascinating citizens—but they along with the famous Black Panther represent only a portion of all the incredible personages that call Wakanda home.

Here’s a few examples of the kind of characters that sprang from behind its borders.

Shuri

Shuri
First Appearance: BLACK PANTHER (2005) #2
Younger sister to T’Challa the Black Panther and once holder of that same mantle, Shuri’s come into her own as a strong leader and deadly warrior through war and other dire events. Recently back from the land of the dead, she’s forging a new heroic identity from everything she learned in life and the afterlife.

Killmonge

Erik Killmonger
First Appearance: JUNGLE ACTION #6
Perhaps the Black Panther’s greatest and most tenacious foe, Killmonger actually wanted what he believed to be the best for his native Wakanda, but his ideals and deeds to that end ran head-on with those of the nation’s true king, T’Challa. The fierce fighter’s tried more than once to conquer the country, but the Panther’s stopped him every time.

Divine

Queen Divine Justice
First Appearance: BLACK PANTHER (1998) #13
Born a Wakandan princess to the Jakari tribe, the woman who became Queen Divine Justice received schooling in America, but returned to her country when Black Panther invited hero to join the Dora Milaje, his personal guard. She soon after grew into a legendary figure in Wakanda for her activism and passion for her tribe.

Vibraxas

Vibraxas
First Appearance: FANTASTIC FOUR #391
A mutant with the power to control and shape vibrations, N’Kano earned a spot on the Wakandan-funded super hero team called Fantastic Force, as well as tutelage under The Black Panther. As Vibraxas he eventually found himself between the dreaded Man-Ape and the villain’s control over Queen Divine Justice, a situation that forced him to turn on T’Challa.

Man-Ape

Man-Ape
First Appearance: AVENGERS (1963) #62
The Wakandan warrior known as M’Baku sealed his fate by lusting after power in his native nation and opposing The Black Panther. He took on the name and mantle of the Man-Ape and became a super villain who traveled the world and joined forces with criminal teams to prove his might and stature as a near-mythical figure.

Gentle

Gentle
First Appearance: NEW X-MEN (2004) #23
Nezhno Abidemi’s mutant abilities allow him control the mass of his body to grow tall and dense. Normally a pacifist, he trained at the Xavier Institute and worked alongside the X-Men before returning to Wakanda and attempting to push the crazy life of a super hero away from him. As Gentle, he fell under the watchful eye of Storm and faced many personal challenges to his beliefs.

Learn more about the Midnight Angels in BLACK PANTHER: WORLD OF WAKANDA #5 on March 15!

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Black History Month: Storm

Celebrate Black History Month by delving into the first appearances of Marvel’s most prominent African and African-American characters on Marvel Unlimited!

Ororo Munroe’s life has been long and storied, which seems fitting given her status as one of the first prominent black characters in mainstream comics. She started out as the daughter of a Kenyan princess and a Harlem photojournalist. They moved to Cairo where the parents died in an accident, leaving young Ororo to fend for herself, becoming a talented thief in the process of survival.

A mutant gifted with the ability to control the weather, Storm debuted in 1975’s GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1 by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum. The issue opened with Professor X recruiting Nightcrawler, Wolverine, and Banshee before shifting focus to Kenya where people supplicated themselves to Ororo for help in getting their crops to grow. She took to the sky on waves of wind and brought forth the storm.

Upon landing she met Charles Xavier who asked if she wanted to help the world and not just the land around her. It’s interesting to note that, unlike many of her fellow new X-Men, Storm actually seemed to have it pretty good as those around her praised her as a goddess.

Giant Size X-Men (1975) #1

Giant Size X-Men (1975) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Before long, Storm and the others—Colossus, Warpath, and Sunfire plus the batch mentioned above— met in Xavier’s mansion sporting brand new costumes crafted from unstable molecules. Cyclops then appeared to explain that he and Professor X gathered this new squad to find Iceman, Angel, Marvel Girl, Havok, and Polaris who had gone missing on the island of Krakoa.

On that first mission, Storm and Colossus teamed to attack from the North. In doing so, they faced an avalanche that seemed to have a mind of its own before meeting up with their teammates. Soon they come across the missing mutants and freed them from invasive vines that turn out to be part of Krakoa, a mutated island that fed off the energy of other mutants.

Storm soon realized that her powers did nothing to the huge beast alone, but used her abilities to channel the lightning’s energy into Polaris who shot it all down into the Earth’s crust which resulted in Krakoa flying off into space.

Ever since then, Ororo Munroe has fought with all her might to not only protect her fellow mutants, but also keep the world safe from the likes of Apocalypse, Magneto. and even Dracula. She’s gained and lost her powers, been de-aged, sported an awesome Mohawk, and even became the leader of the Morlocks. She’s led X-Men teams, married Black Panther, and saved existence more than a handful of times.

storm-xmen-600x324

Thanks to her high profile in the comics, the character also made the jump to the big and small screen, making her an even more visible role model for generations of kids who learn from her that embracing differences can be empowering.

History Lesson

The popularity of GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1 actually saved the X-Men from the depths of comic book limbo! Back in 1970, UNCANNY X-MEN still came out monthly, but instead of new content, the book only featured reprints of older material for five full years. Thanks to Storm and her fellow new X-Men’s popularity, the book started running new original stories with #94 and continues to be one of the stalwart titles on stands each month. Nice work, Storm!

From the hallowed halls of Westchester to the streets of Harlem, tomorrow we turn our attention to the one, the only Luke Cage!

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