Early Sunday morning at Chicago’s C2E2, members of Marvel’s comic streaming service — Marvel Unlimited — lined up to gain access to an exclusive panel. Moderated by Marvel’s Vice President & Executive Editor or Digital Media Ryan “Agent M” Penagos, the Marvel Unlimited Plus Member Event also had a number of Marvel’s current creators on the panel — including Marvel Executive Editor Tom Brevoort, editor Jordan D. White, “Ultimates” writer Al Ewing, upcoming “Thunderbolts” writer Jim Zub, “Uncanny Avengers” artist Ryan Stegman, upcoming “Han Solo” artist Mark Brooks and upcoming “Poe Dameron” artist Phil Noto.
Penagos started off the exclusive panel by telling the Plus Members that they are going to see things that have never been seen before, and that phones should be turned off or else the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents in attendance will have to intervene. Penagos introduced the panel, teasing that they have “lots of ‘Star Wars’ stuff” to show off this panel. That proved to be true when Noto began talking about “Poe Dameron.”
“This all takes place between the ‘Before the Awakening’ novel and ‘Episode VII,’ and this is the beginning of his quest to track down Lor Van Trekka,” said Noto. Two pages from the issue was then shown — “Just random pages” — featuring some of Poe’s co-pilots and squad members. Brevoort then said that the “cassette player” on the chest of every X-wing pilot is actually a life support device, “Like the parachute of an X-wing” that would keep you alive out in space if your X-wing gets blown up.
“It also plays ‘Highway to the Danger Zone,'” joked Brooks. “And it’s a lot of buttons to draw,” added Noto.
White then talked about the “Rebel Jail” arc of “Star Wars,” which is written by Jason Aaron with art by Leinil Yu. The arc focuses on Doctor Aphra, who has been captured by the Rebels. “While they are dropping her off, someone assaults the jail with thug droids and takes it over. Meanwhile, Han and Luke are off on a side mission herding nerfs,” said Jordan, actually describing real pages debuted during the panel. Mark Brooks talked about his “Darth Vader” covers, saying that Imperial Guards are his favorite characters to draw.
“This book is so awesome,” said White. “Kieron Gillen is one of the most evil people in the world because he can make such evil plots and make you feel things for Darth Vader.” Some Salvador Larroca pages from issue #20 were shown, featuring a conversation between Emperor Palpatine and Vader. Penagos then put White on the spot, asking him if he could play a “Star Wars” ditty for the crowd — but that has to wait.
Brooks spoke about his upcoming “Han Solo” book, saying it’s “Speed Racer” meets “Cannonball Run” meets “Wacky Racers” in space. The book will take place between “A New Hope” and “Empire Strikes Back” and will be a “ton of fun.” The pages shown from the first issue showed Han and Chewie in the Millennium Falcon jumping into hyperspace. Dexter Vines will assist with inking and Sonia Oback will handle colors. This also marks Brooks’ first sequential interior art in four years. “You can’t draw Han Solo and not have a yee-ha panel,” said Brooks.
“That should be an editorial mandate, more yee-has” said Penagos.
White then tuned his ukulele and busted out the original Ewok celebration song from “Return of the Jedi,” “Yub Nub.” The audience burst into applause with the final “yub nub,” after greatly enjoying their exclusive concert from a Marvel editor.
Penagos then screened a new clip from the animated series “Marvel Avengers: Ultron Revolution” featuring the team going up against Baron Zemo. Following the screening, Penagos asked Brevoort if he had any special facts he could give the audience about the villain: “Baron Zemo likes pickles.”
The “Captain America: Steve Rogers” series was next up in the discussion, with Brevoort saying that while he can’t say much about the series, he said it will focus on him “getting back to the business of being Captain America.” The pages shown were a flashback scene from Steve Rogers’ childhood. “This will have some key relevance in the issue,” said Brevoort. Jesus Saiz is the artist on the series, with Brevoort saying that the artist “does it all” — from pencils to colors. Brevoort then let a Winter Soldier cosplayer named Stephanie read the “Free Comic Book Day: Captain America” issue on his iPad.
Brevoort also took a question about the new Cap shield, saying that while he can’t throw it (since it’s not circular), the shield does have other features, like being equipped with an energy blade. The editor then talked about the all-new Wasp. “She too you will meet for the first day on Free Comic Book Day, in the ‘Civil War’ one,” said Brevoort. Interior art from Mahmud Asrar was shown, featuring the new character coming into conflict with Jarvis. “I won’t tell you too much about it other than these pages, which we’re showing for the first time. You get a little Janet Van Dyne appearance, Vision touches his forehead which is always exciting,” said Brevoort. “Everything’s going on here. Vision is trying to fire the energy beam [that usually] comes out of his [forehead] gem but it’s not functioning.”
“It happens to every android at some point,” joked Penagos. The moderator then screened a clip from Disney XD’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” cartoon, which featured a swordfight between Angela and Gamora as well as an appearance from Thor.
After the clip finished, Stephanie said that the “FCBD: Captain America” issue was great and that it features characters that don’t show up as often as they should (“Sharon Carter”). Another attendee was brought on stage to read the “Civil War II” Free Comic Book Day issue.
Zub then spoke about his new “Thunderbolts” series. “Winter Soldier is now the leader of the Thunderbolts,” said the writer. “But I don’t know if anyone can control this group. It’s an unruly mass of conflicting characters. Most of them are from the original Thunderbolts team, with two new characters: Winter Soldier and a new character from ‘Standoff.'” Some interior art by Jon Malinwas shown, featuring the Bucky-led Thunderbolts busting into a facility and fighting some green-armored SHIELD Guardsmen. “We got big action and lots of banter and all the trouble we can muster,” said Zub. Zub said that Abner Jenkins’ new codename is MACH-X because his armor has gone through a number of upgrades since he was MACH-VII in “Superior Foes of Spider-Man” last year.
Ewing spoke about his series, “Ultimates,” saying that this Wednesday’s issue will feature more Galactus. “The Ultimates have attempted to solve Galactus and they end up do it by making him a life-bringer and seeder of worlds,” said Ewing. “Now he’s this wellspring of life energy. He’s been going around in the background seeding planets and creating new worlds from the husks of the ones he once ate.” The cosmic being Eternity has requested that Galactus not seed a planet, and readers will see the final part of that story soon. “It’s a big story I’m slowly rolling towards,” said Ewing. Issue #6 will feature interior art by Christian Ward, making his debut on interior pages for Marvel comics. Three pages from the issue were shown; “I can’t really describe the pages in words,” said Ewing. “There’s a big science fiction ball being pushed up a mountain, that’s going to come into play. The guy getting punched in the face on the right is Master Order.”
Ewing’s other book, “Contest of Champions,” came up next with new art from issue #7 by Rhoald Marcellius being shown off. “Maestro’s got some plans and he’s got Rick Jones from his universe there,” said Ewing. “Grand Master is taking on the Ultimates. We get to see the Ultimates taking an interest in this contest that’s been kidnapping people from Earth and making them fight.” The symbiotes will show up in the upcoming issues, Ewing revealed.
The fan finished reading “Civil War II” saying that it was “really good” and he’s interested to see why Wasp “chose to introduce herself to the Avengers that way.” A third attendee was chosen to read the “Wasp” storyline, and Penagos showed off a clip from Disney XD’s “Spider-Man cartoon featuring Doc Ock.
Focus shifted to “New Avengers,” with writer Al Ewing talking about the book’s “Standoff” tie-in. “‘Standoff,’ if you’ve been checking it out, you know Rick Jones is running away from SHIELD and this is the thread we’re following. He’s holed up on Avengers Island, and one of their big weapons is the American Kaiju.” Interior art by Marcus To from “New Avengers” #9 appeared, showing off the American Kaiju, Toddzilla. “He’s been injected with a whole bunch of horrible reverse-engineered serums, including the Lizard serum, and it turns him into this thing and they paint an American flag on him. How the New Avengers can possibly fight a 30-story tall Godzilla monster who loves his country more than any other thing — you’ll have to find out,” said Ewing. “I’ve been planning this for a while. This was in the original pitch.”
“Now that I know what you can get away with, I’m going to go home and revise ‘Thunderbolts,'” joked Zub.
The third reader finished the “Wasp” story, saying she thought “it was really good and the art’s beautiful and I was really surprised by how she went about introducing herself.”
Pages from Stegman’s “Uncanny Avengers” #8 were shown, showing Rogue making a sandwich. “The opening of this issue, the goal was to make it look kinda boring because Rogue’s supposed to be having a boring life,” said Stegman. “You killed it with the boring,” said Penagos. Stegman said his favorite character changes every day; some days it’s Deadpool, but he also likes drawing angry Cable being “crotchety and old.” “My friends call him Fat Cable,” said Stegman after saying that he draws him wider than he probably should be. He also likes drawing Rogue and likes how Gerry Duggan writes her.
Next, a clip from the next episode of “Agents of SHIELD” was screened, featuring Bobbi Morse and Lance Hunter running into trouble with a soldiers in a foreign country.
The floor opened up for questions, with White answering a question about the Star Wars books. “We collaborate very closely [with LucasFilm]. It’s their job to keep all ‘Star Wars’ things as one giant story and working together.” White said he’s been out to LucasFilm six or seven times, saying it’s a “very beautiful” place. Phil Noto also went out there: “It’s amazing. Literally every hallway is antique movie posters in old frames, it’s amazing.” Penagos added that you walk into a room and “the Vigo painting from ‘Ghostbusters II’ is in there and E.T. is over there.” White also couldn’t reveal whether or not any comics will come out between “Episode VII” and “Episode VIII.”
White talked about Marjorie Liu, who is writing “Han Solo.” “She proposed the idea of Han Solo in a race on a secret mission, and that was so much fun,” said White. Brooks said he got a text from C.B. Cebulski asking if he wanted to come back to interiors, and when he heard it was Han Solo he was immediately in. “It has my three favorite ‘Star Wars’ things: Han Solo, Chewbacca and the Millennium Falcon.” Brooks also added that we’ll see more about Han and Leia’s relationship in the book. When it comes to likenesses, Brooks said that he got advice from artist J. Scott Campbell saying, “Get 70% of it right and then focus on the swagger, the audience can fill in the rest.”
Noto said that Star Wars provides reference. “I will say one cool thing, they will give me plenty of leeway and I get to create new Star Wars ships, and that’s awesome,” said Noto. Brooks added that he’s gotten to design some aliens for Star Wars.
A fan asked if we’d see more from Damage Control, and Brevoort revealed that there will be a Damage Control story in “Civil War: Choosing Sides” anthology series coming out in a few months. Penagos wrapped up the Q&A portion — and the panel — and everyone in attendance got to nab some comics on the way out.