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Black Panther’s Pride: The Debut

Black Panther by Jack Kirby

Read through some of T’Challa’s most thrilling adventures on Marvel Unlimited to mark Black Panther’s 50th anniversary!

Anytime you celebrate a big anniversary or birthday, it seems natural to look back at a person’s early days. In the case of T’Challa, otherwise known as the Black Panther, his very first appearance came in 1966’s FANTASTIC FOUR #52 thanks to the always fertile minds of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

Instead of simply introducing himself to Marvel’s first family, T’Challa sends an advanced flying craft to pick them up and bring the team—plus Johnny Storm’s college roommate Wyatt Wingfoot—to Wakanda, a technological jungle in the heart of an actual one. As the team disembarks from the craft, their guide disappears only to be replaced by the Black Panther himself who boasts that he can hunt them down and capture them in five minutes. Thanks to a series of pre-designed traps, T’Challa nearly succeeds but for the intervention of the unplanned for Wingfoot. Wyatt frees Johnny which leads to an early and unexpected end to the hunt.

The story carries over into FANTASTIC FOUR #53 which finds The King of Wakanda now playing gracious host instead of attacker. After admitting to be one of the richest men in the world, he explains that the Black Panther identity exists as part of his people’s culture and that his powers come from special herbs and training. He also reveals how his father died because of Ulysses Klaw and that Wakanda plays sole home to Vibranium, a sound absorbing metal.

Meanwhile, strange red creatures attack various people on the island including our heroes. Eventually we come to find that Klaw’s return to the African nation comes as the direct result of wanting more Vibranium as well as revenge on the young man who took his hand. His inventions use the material to create physical objects out of sound, but they’re no match for the Fantastic Four and the villain himself soon falls to the might of the Black Panther.

By the end of the issue, T’Challa feels that his life’s mission has come to a close, but the Fantastic Four encourages him to continue using his amazing abilities for the good of the world. “I shall do it,” he agrees. “I pledge my fortune, my powers—my very life—to the service of all mankind.” And thus, the Marvel Universe and Marvel readers came to know a hero who continues to show what unbridled intelligence, bravery and fortitude look like.

Secrets of Wakanda

At the end of FANTASTIC FOUR #52, Klaw actually jumps into his Sound Transformer machine and emerges as a red-clad super villain in #56. As he attacks Sue Storm he reveals that his body now consists purely of sound. Though Black Panther only appears on a monitor in the issue, he does send Mr. Fantastic a pair of Vibranium “brass” knuckles to literally beat Klaw into submission. The villain, of course, eventually returns to menace the team and Black Panther many more times both alone and as a member of the Frightful Four and the Masters of Evil in various incarnations.

For an even more expanded look at the Black Panther's history, return next time for AVENGERS #87 by Roy Thomas, Frank Giacoia and Sal Buscema.

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The Best of Darth Vader

The Best of Darth Vader

For Darth Vader, the end is near.

Yes, the fan-favorite DARTH VADER title quickly approaches its final bow, but not before we pulled in writer Kieron Gillen to mull over his incredible run on the book and give us his top five Favorite moments on it.

“These are in no specific order, except #1 is clearly the best,” Gillen clarifies.

DARTH VADER #6: Vader and Son

“Jason [Aaron] wrote the version in STAR WARS first, but by being Darth Vader’s book we got to give it a lot more space and so bring a lot more of Vader’s perspective to the page,” “This is Vader realizing the last 20 years of his life has been a lie. The ‘Luke—I am your father’ is one of the most iconic plot beats of my whole lifetime. Getting to actually write the mirror of that—the ‘I have a son’—is about as good as it gets.”

STAR WARS #13: BeeTee vs Artoo

“I didn’t even write this bit, as it fell in Jason’s issue of the [Vader Down] crossover, but I laughed at every stage of its production,” Gillen remembers. “I laughed when I saw it in script. I laughed in the roughs. I laughed in the pencils. I laughed in the inks. I laughed in the colors. I laughed in the pdf. I laughed when I saw an actual copy. I’m laughing now. Seeing the cast I’d built up interacting with the Star Wars originals was always going to be a thrill, but I had no idea it would work this well.”

DARTH VADER #4: Hahaha! You are On Fire and Also Dead

“This is first time we really see Triple-Zero and BeeTee in the field in Genosia, so it’s the first chance to really show their personality,” notes Gillen. “Using the Star Wars translation font to mock the smoldering corpses of their enemies is one hell of a calling card.

“Alternate Triple-Zero moment: what he actually wants to do with human blood. One of the first ideas I had for the character, and pleased we found a place to mention it.”

DARTH VADER #4: Lightsaber, Please

“For being such an essential element of the series, it’s actually tricky to call out a single moment for Aphra,” says Gillen. “Then I recall the beat in #4, which is where the complexities of the characters clicked into place. Before that, I’d played her fun—the “It belongs in an armory” is another thing I loved—but sitting and writing, I found myself thinking what Aphra would do when their mission was completed. And instantly I knew she’d ask when Vader is going to kill her. And that became the core dynamic of the series: Aphra knowing she’s almost certainly doomed and Vader knowing she knows she’s almost certainly doomed. Almost every interaction between the pair of them has expanded from that moment, with Aphra hoping for a saber blade over being shot out of an airlock to die in vacuum. 

“I tried hard to avoid having any sexual tension between Vader and Aphra, but despite all that, in the depths of the Internet, Vadaphra is a thing. Nature will find a way.”

DARTH VADER #20: Thanoth Corners Vader

“Vader’s indestructibility is obviously one of the big challenges in the series,” Gillen insists. “At least part of the joy is seeing exactly how he crushes his enemies; and creating enemies that you want to see crush. Genius detective Thanoth is an exception; a character of obvious merit who hunts down Vader, corners him intellectually, and when he has him exactly where he wants him...insists Vader kills him. Comics can have an infinite budget and do majestic things, but sometimes all you need is two strong characters and a dark room.

“And a lightsaber. You know what I mean.”

DARTH VADER comes to an end on August 31 with issue #25 by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca!

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Marvel NOW! Hear This: Thunderbolts

Thunderbolts by Jon Malin

By Sarah Cooke

If you’ve been keeping tabs on Bucky Barnes lately, that means following the ongoing exploits of Winter Soldier and his new team in THUNDERBOLTS.

Between protecting Kobik, fighting the Inhumans, and trying to stay off everyone else’s radar as much as possible, these guys have a lot on their plates. We caught up with writer Jim Zub about his take on the team as they head into Marvel NOW!

Marvel.com: You represent Bucky as both a strong leader, and someone who can demonstrate a lot of sensitivity, especially toward Kobik. What was your thought process when you were planning the development of his character?

Jim Zub: Bucky, as someone who has progressed from his role as Captain America’s sidekick all the way to his position as the Winter Soldier, has so many wonderful layers as a character. He has endured so much, and I wanted to show how those past experiences made him a deadly combatant but also gave him some clarity about the toll this difficult life takes. He sees some of himself in Kobik, since they've both been used as weapons by government agencies, but he still feels she's innocent and he's trying to protect that. Buck still has some idealism left beneath his hardened exterior.

Marvel.com: The storyline has potential for crossover with CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS, since it’s Kobik who has been making Steve think he’s HYDRA. Is there anything you can tease there?

Jim Zub: I learned about Steve’s big secret and Kobik’s part to play in it during the initial development of the series, so we planned this quite a while ago. The Red Skull assumes Kobik has disappeared but, due to the events of THUNDERBOLTS #3, Steve learns that she’s with Bucky. Needless to say, that’s going to change their plans and conflict is inevitable. Cap, S.H.I.E.L.D., the Inhumans, the Avengers, the Squadron Supreme—everybody wants to track down our team of outlaws and their dangerous cosmic kid.

I can’t say much more than that without tipping our hand. Keep reading!

Marvel.com: The Thunderbolts have a lot of complexity. They have criminal histories, yet they also try to do the right thing in many ways. How does that factor into the your storytelling?

Jim Zub: It plays a huge role in my working process on the series. When I received the offer to work on THUNDERBOLTS I did some extensive reading through the archives because I wanted to have a strong sense of the cast and how they've evolved over the years. I try to reflect their experiences in the way they deal with their problems and with each other. The original Thunderbolts know each other so well and it’s both an advantage and a disadvantage. They know how to fight together and have a strong sense of shared purpose, but they also make a lot of assumptions and have bad habits that have built up over the years.

Marvel.com: In THUNDERBOLTS #3, the team had a run-in with the Inhumans, who have to put out fires left and right these days. What appealed to you about including the Inhumans?

Jim Zub: The Inhumans forcefully changed the whole planet and face tremendous pressure from foreign governments, corporations, super heroes, and super villains alike. The only way they can hope to stay unified is to stand strong in the face of intense adversity, and that kind of situation has a lot of potential for drama. I wanted to show how a simple misunderstanding could set off a hair trigger situation. The Inhumans now have the Thunderbolts on their radar and Medusa won’t forget this insult any time soon.

Marvel.com: Bucky finds himself in the position Nick Fury used to be in as the one who has to keep an eye out for potential threats to Earth. How do you think that will change his character and cause him to evolve or grow?

Jim Zub: Serving as the “Man on the Wall,” defending Earth from powerful threats from this world or beyond, is a massive responsibility that would weigh heavily on anyone. Drafting the rest of the Thunderbolts into his mission is a risk, but the upshot is they can do more as a team than Nick could on his own. That said, at the end of the day, the buck stops with Bucky—excuse the pun. Ultimately, he bears the burden, and if he lets himself get distracted by anything—like, say, Cap’s situation—nasty stuff may slip by and we’ll all pay the price.

Follow along with each issue of THUNDERBOLTS by Jim Zub and Jon Malin continuin with #4 on August 31!

Thunderbolts (2016) #4 cover by Jon Malin

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‘Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Casts New Director

Coulson shocked fans in the Season 3 finale of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” when he revealed the organization had a new director—and now we can tell you just who is taking over his former position.
 
Jason O’Mara (“Complications,” “The Good Wife”) has joined the series stepping into the role as S.H.I.E.L.D’s new Director, playing a character whose Marvel roots go back to the 1940s.


 
"Bringing Jason into the mix as the New Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. forces everyone, particularly Coulson, to reevaluate their role in the Agency," said Executive Producer and Marvel’s Head of Television, Jeph Loeb. "Jason has both the physical presence and acting dynamics that will connect with and challenge even the most loyal agent."
 
O’Mara will next be seen in the film “Jadotville,” coming soon to Netflix, in which he starred opposite Jamie Dornan.
 
"Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." is executive produced and co-created by Joss Whedon ("Marvel's The Avengers," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer") and Jed Whedon & Maurissa Tancharoen, ("Dollhouse," "Dr.Horrible's Sing-Along Blog”).  Jeffrey Bell ("Angel," "Alias") and Jeph Loeb (“Marvel’s Jessica Jones,” “Marvel’s Daredevil”) also serve as Executive Producers.
 
"Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." is produced by Marvel Television and ABC Studios.
 
"Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." returns Tuesday, September 20 in its new timeslot, 10:00 PM ET on ABC. For more information on the series and the other exciting Marvel Television prnojects, stay tuned to Marvel.com.
 
O’Mara is repped by UTA/ Independent Talent in UK and JTWAMM law firm.

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