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Mercs for Money: Choosing Sides

As the events of Inhumans Vs. X-Men unfold, the Marvel Universe will select where to place their allegiance. And you can bet the Mercs for Money won’t sit on the sidelines. So just who will our favorite mercenaries be aligning with? DEADPOOL & THE MERCS FOR MONEY writer Cullen Bunn gives us the scoop on what’s coming as the team enters the fray beginning with February 1’s issue #8.

“Mercenaries usually side with the group that has the deepest pockets,” he explains. “In the case of [Inhumans Vs. X-Men], though, the Mercs for Money forget about the cash and take a stand for what they believe in. They side with the mutants, but that will get them into a lot of trouble. Of course, each member of the team has his or her own reasons and ideologies.”

Deadpool
“Deadpool has a vested interest in protecting mutantkind, so siding with the X-Men to destroy the Terrigen Cloud—basically a no-brainer for him.”

Domino
“As a mutant, Domino doesn’t see much of a choice here. But—even more than that—she considers it the right move. ‘Sometimes you strap on your guns for cash. Sometimes, you do it because it’s what’s right.’”

Masacre
“Where Deadpool leads, Masacre follows.”

Gorilla Man
“Gorilla Man considers the mutants in the right here. He has nothing against the Inhumans, but he sees them as blinded when it comes to what Terrigen has cost. That said, he’s the first to test the rest of the team to make sure they join the fray for the right reasons.”

Deadpool & The Mercs for Money #8 cover

Deadpool & The Mercs for Money #8 cover

Machine Man
“Machine Man has run the scenarios. As he sees it, destroying the Terrigen Cloud does not doom the Inhumans. They would have time to figure out an alternative. The mutants however, face a more dire situation and they do not have time to figure out some other plan.”

Hit-Monkey
“He doesn’t care, really. He’d throw poop at mutants and Inhumans alike.”

Negasonic Teenage Warhead
“Negasonic does not want to see a war between the Inhumans and the X-Men. She also doesn’t want to see her people—the mutants—die due to Terrigen poisoning. This young merc has a lot of power. So she feels she can actually do something that would prevent a war altogether.”

Ren Kimura
“Hold on a second! Ren Kimura isn’t a member of the Mercs for Money! But at least in one timeline, Ren—last seen in my series FEARLESS DEFENDERS—has joined the team. This Inhuman has a very unusual outlook on Terrigen.”

Slip past the battle lines in DEADPOOL & THE MERCS FOR MONEY #8, on the way from Cullen Bunn and Iban Coello on February 1!

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Deadpool Vs. The Punisher: Two Great Tastes

Bad news, those hoping for a bright, happy 2017; the forecast for the new year calls for mayhem, at least in the pages of DEADPOOL VS. THE PUNISHER, debuting this April from writer Fred Van Lente and artist Pere Perez.

Why can’t Wade Wilson and Frank Castle settle their disputes with words rather than weapons? Van Lente gave us some further insight as he stocked up on ammunition.

Marvel.com: Deadpool and Punisher have a few defining features but within them there are a variety of interpretations: Punisher as humorless killing machine vs. super hero Punisher, for example. For you, what “versions” of the characters ring truest for you? Which Deadpool and Punisher will you be utilizing to tell your story?

Fred Van Lente: That’s a great question. To me you know Punisher is best as a killing machine—I wouldn’t really call him a “humorless” one, though, because when Garth Ennis was writing him there was certainly quite a bit of deadpan black humor to him, and that’s definitely my take. Likewise, whenever I’ve done Deadpool I love writing his quips and burns as much as the next person, but what makes him a compelling character is that element of tragedy to him—the sadness, and loss that I think the “Deadpool” film did such a good job of getting across along with the jokes.

So our story, “Bullet to the Brain,” is your classic ultraviolent super-crime tragi-comedy, I guess you could say.

Marvel.com: Given the characters’ disparate personalities, there is a pretty clear conflict in tone here. How do you blend Deadpool’s more manic livewire personality with Frank’s darker stoicism?

Fred Van Lente: It’s a real peanut-butter-in-chocolate situation, and you take that compare/contrast and run with it. You put Deadpool in a gritty crime story and Frank in this kind of insane, manic world where Deadpool’s adventures take place, and you let them try and shoot their way out of it—and at each other!

Marvel.com: Castle and Wilson have not interacted a lot previously, but they have encountered one another now and then, most recently in THUNDERBOLTS. Coming away from those, what impressions do they have of one another?

Fred Van Lente: Oh, they do not like each other, particularly from their [Thunderbolts] days on the same team together. Wade thinks Frank is a stick in the mud while Frank thinks Wade’s healing factor has made him loud, sloppy and useless.

I mean, to me the gold standard for these kinds of “versus” comics is [Christopher] Priest and [Mark] Bright’s SPIDER-MAN VS. WOLVERINE, where the two characters have a genuine reason to go after each other; it’s not mind control, it’s not mistook-you-for-a-villain, both protagonists are each other’s antagonists for legitimate reasons the reader can relate to, and that’s where this new character The Bank comes in.

Deadpool Vs. The Punisher #1 cover by Declan Shalvey

Deadpool Vs. The Punisher #1 cover by Declan Shalvey

Marvel.com: Who is The Bank, without spoilers, of course? How does this villain’s presence pull together these two very different characters?

Fred Van Lente: The Bank is a shadowy character who’s existed in the Marvel Universe for decades, but we’ve never heard of him before because he is very much off the grid—he’s as his name implies a money man, who handles offshore accounts for a variety of amoral-to-immoral characters and organizations.

He also happens to be one of Wade Wilson’s best friends, having known Deadpool before his Weapon X days, and so when Punisher decides to bring The Bank down, he’s got to go through Deadpool to do that, and you know what? Frank doesn’t really have a problem with that, since he doesn’t like Wade all that much anyway.

There’s a bit more to it than that, but that would get into spoiler territory, so I will leave it there for now…

Marvel.com: How does Pere Perez help you realize the tone you were hoping to instill in the book? How has collaborating with him influenced your approach to storytelling?

Fred Van Lente: Pere is great. We’ve worked together a lot at other companies and it’s very cool to [be] back with him at Marvel. He has a real-life background in martial arts, and it’s been great fun to put him through his paces in all the over-top action scenes in this book; it’s been a lot of fun.

Marvel.com: Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, who gets to use the biggest gun?

Fred Van Lente: The breadth and variety of weapons in this series is kind of mind-bogging. The size and destructive power of the guns increases as we go along, so it may not be until [issue] #5 when we find that out.

Pick the right side for DEADPOOL VS. THE PUNISHER with Fred Van Lente and Pere Perez beginning in April!

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Star Wars Sketchbook: Luke Ross

To celebrate the impending February 1 release of DARTH MAUL #1 we’ve dug into series artist Luke Ross’ sketchbook for some exclusive images as well as a few choice words from him on how he’s handled the devilish disciple of the Dark Side of the Force!

Marvel.com: Luke, as an artist, what attracts you the most to the Star Wars universe?

Luke Ross: I am crazy about all the Star Wars designs that are present in its huge collection of characters, costumes, weapons, starships, races, etc. I think that all the artistry deposited in this rich universe over the decades would attract any artist.

Marvel.com: What were your first thoughts when you were offered DARTH MAUL? What did you feel you wanted to bring to it?

Luke Ross: After working on the STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS adaptation I was excited about any new opportunities on the Star Wars books, but when I got the email offer from editor Jordan White for the series I thought to myself, “Man, it’s a big responsibility!” There are a lot of Star Wars fans out there that are waiting for it, wanting to know more about Darth Maul and that is a great opportunity for me to help tell more about his past history. Since it was offered to me along with a synopsis of the whole thing, I’ve realized that I would have a number of new characters and other stuff to create. It’s amazing to know you can leave your own seeds in such fertile soil like this one.

I see DARTH MAUL as a kind of Western. I can not avoid thinking about Sergio Leone’s movies when I’m reading the scripts and dreaming up the first images in my mind for it. Perhaps I want to bring some of that same atmosphere to the book.

Marvel.com: What’s a typical day like for you working on this book? What’s your process like?

Luke Ross: I usually do not have a typical day, because everything is a bit chaotic. I usually work on batches of pages, perhaps 10 at a time. So, one day I’m reading the script, doing research on the [Internet], looking for reference and inspiration, and thinking about the problems I need to solve on the pages and panels. The next day I’m rereading the script, and then working on some thumbnails to visually establish the storytelling. Then I stop everything to work on a character design or background. Then I do more research, more thumbnails, and after few days I go to the layouts/pencils.

Sometimes I have a page all done and suddenly a better idea for telling the story pops up in my head and I have to redo that page. The last stage for me is the inking. I try to recover the lost time in this crazy process in the inking. Usually I have to ink three pages a day, but I prefer working on two. I think I might worry my editors with this process, but in the end I think might not cause too much troubles for them. Well, I hope so!

Darth Maul #1 preview inks by Luke Ross
Darth Maul #1 preview inks by Luke Ross
Darth Maul #1 preview inks by Luke Ross
Darth Maul #1 preview inks by Luke Ross
Darth Maul #1 preview inks by Luke Ross
Darth Maul #1 preview inks by Luke Ross

Darth Maul #1 preview inks by Luke Ross
Darth Maul #1 preview inks by Luke Ross

Marvel.com: Who is Maul to you? What’s important for you to get across about him in the art?

Luke Ross: Maul is a quiet guy, a hardcore version of Clint Eastwood’s “Man with No Name.” The most important is showing in his face and his eyes the expressions of anger and hate that are the strongest part of his personality, if we can call it that. Besides that, I need to pay attention to the fight choreography to convey all his mastery of the martial arts.

Marvel.com: How did you approach this fight sequence between Maul and the rathtar we have here? How did you place the panels and the figures to get to where it is?

Luke Ross: Actually, I had to do and redo those panels so many times until I found the best angles and the right sequence of panels that would show what [writer] Cullen [Bunn] required in the script in the best way possible. In some panels I thought silhouettes would work better to make all the action clearer to the reader, because after all, we have so much visual information on those pages with many characters and the rathtar with its numerous tentacles and the forest background itself. It’s too easy to let panels get too crowded with visual information and create problems for the readers to understand what is really happening.

Marvel.com: Here’s the most important question of all we have for you: how the heck do you keep those tattoos of Maul’s straight?

Luke Ross: [Laughs] I’ve got to work with tons of reference in front of me! But the real problem will be when I need to draw him shirtless!

Cullen Bunn and Luke Ross let loose DARTH MAUL #1 on February 1!

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