Marvel Comics started out their traditional catch-all Mondo Marvel panel Friday afternoon at the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo with a run of promotional teasers for their newly launched I Am An Avenger website and the motion comics version of Warren Ellis and Adi Granov’s “Iron Man: Extremis” – but as fans filed in, it was apparent that the real show wouldn’t start until panelists including Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada, writer Jeph Loeb, writers Jim McCann and Marjorie Liu, writer Christos Gage, writer Jonathan Hickman, editors Alajandro Arbona, Nate Cosby and Tom Brevoort, talent manager C.B. Cebulski and Marketing Manager Arune Singh took the stage.
Brevoort took the ball to talk about the just-announced “Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier,” saying that the espionage-themed book would tie into the origins of the super-soldier serum, the scientist who created the serum and would drive events that would lead into a major Marvel sighting coming soon. Brevoort also confirmed that Dale Eaglesham would not return to “Fantastic Four” since he’s drawing this book instead.
Editor Steve Wacker then appeared via video feed to finally announce Andy Diggle and Billy Tan’s “Shadowland,” a five-issue miniseries. He called the book “a battle for the streets of New York. You’re going to see a ton of heroes from Spider-Man and Wolverine to Luke Cage…some are fighting to keep New York safe, and some are fighting to keep it unsafe due to Daredevil’s takeover of the ninja organization The Hand, recently.” He promised the series will drive the characters into compromising emotional territory, adding, “Seeing these heroes on different sides and interacting with regular people will show a side of them we haven’t seen in a while.”
Art was teased for an upcoming “Marvel Universe Vs. The Punisher” title before announcing “Captain America: Patriot” by Karl Kesel and Mitch Breitwesier, a miniseries Brevoort described as “the lost story of the lost Captain America.” The book will take place in the late ’40s and follow the adventures of the man first tapped to replace Steve Rogers, with tragic results.
The teaching lineup for Gage’s “Avengers Academy” was revealed, including Tigra, Justice, Quicksilver, The Wasp (Hank Pym) and Speedball, of whom Gage said, “It’s not monkey Speedball!” The writer added “He’s trying to move past the horrible things he’s been through as Penance, but he’s going to find out it’s not as easy as changing clothes.” In fact, all of the heroes on the teaching team are facing down their past, from Quicksilver’s Brotherhood of Evil mutants membership to Justice having killed his own father. Singh added that the goal for the Avengers line in the Heroic Age is so the company can say “every single book as a unique identity.”
“You know you wanted Gorilla Man,” said Quesada of the “Agents of Atlas” character moving into his own miniseries by Jeff Parker and Giancarlo Caracuzzo, which Cosby described by saying ” Ken Hale killed a gorilla and then became one, so now there’s a bunch of people that want to kill him so they can become gorillas.”
Roger Langridge and Chris Samnee team up for “Thor: The Mighty Avenger” which Cosby called “A reimagining of Thor in an all-ages vein.”
Another all-ages comic released from the constraints of continuity came with word of “Avengers & The Infinity Gauntlet” by “Atomic Robo” writer Brian Clevinger and artist Brian Churilla, which will feature an approachable and fun version of the classic ’80s event.
A series called “Ultimate Mystery” by Brian Bendis and Rafael Sandoval was announced, which will be a follow up to “Ultimate Enemy” and continue to deliver “a really big change to the Ultimate Universe.” Loeb spoke on his own Ultimate work, teasing that issue #2 of “New Ultimates” with Frank Cho focuses on Cap and Valkyrie, while in “Ultimate X,” readers have already met Jimmy Hudson, who is Wolverine’s son, as well as Karen Grant who the writer called “the second member of the non-team.” In issue #3, the book comes to Chicago for the debut of the next new mutant – Derrick Morgan. “The aftermath [of ‘Ultimatum’] is starting to bear fruit,” Loeb added, saying the creators wanted to give something back to the Ultimate Universe and make it a place where stories could happen that would never happen in the Marvel Universe, including Wolverine dying and staying dead.
When the floor opened up to audience questions, a fan asked what the difference between “Avengers” and “New Avengers” would be. The panel joked that Brevoort had taken to calling the former book “A-Vengers” and the editor said that that team would operate out of Avengers Tower while the New Avengers would be down in the mansion by Central Park “with the people,” and all other specifics on the books would have to wait until “Siege” had wrapped, for story reasons.
Hickman said that “Secret Warriors” would reach it’s natural conclusion around issue #27 and 28.
A fan asking about the X-Men line wondered about the fate of Cecelia Reyes who recently returned to the comics, but Singh said all X-Men news would have to wait until the X-Panel on Sunday.
A fan very nicely brought up the tough issue of books being damaged during shipping, saying that certain Marvel titles arrived at comic shops lately with damages to them across the board. Singh explained that he wasn’t aware of the specific instance the man was asking after, but Marvel was open to discussing issues like paper quality and other physical issues surrounding the printing and distributing of comics – in other words, the things they can control as publisher rather than things that come in at the distribution level.
What’s next for “S.H.I.E.L.D.?” was asked, to which Hickman jokingly said, “The first issue came out, and there’s going to be a lot more.” He then compared the first issue to the beginning of “The Departed” where a very quick and intense montage at the start led to the title credits before pulling back for a more slow, thoughtful exploration of the characters. Quesada called the book “mind-blowing” and “breathtaking” and said “It all fits in continuity, and it’s a wild ride. You’re a madman.” Brevoort then added that the book would relate to the writer’s work in “Secret Warriors” and “Fantastic Four” in certain ways. “I don’t think any of us were expecting that the most exciting new superhero in the Marvel Universe to be Leonardo da Vinci,” added Loeb.
Quesada spoke briefly about Marvel being bought by Disney, saying that the biggest changes involved Marvel being part of a much bigger company and being able to reap the sales and promotion benefits of that more so than the content being changed. “It should be lost on you guys that you’re all just as responsible for this as the people at Marvel” in that the fan passion for the characters was something that made Marvel very attractive to Disney.
Many audience members asked how the emerging digital comics market would impact the print side of the equation, with Quesada saying that his expectation is that ,much like the growth in popularity of trade paperbacks didn’t sink the single issue sales of comics, all formats could co-exist.
A man came up shortly after, saying that he was at his first con after getting into comics via his iPhone and wondered if Marvel would release “digital trades” where many issues of a story arc would come in one digital package. Singh said that the possibility was unlikely now because it could step on the toes of similar product for retailers, which is something Marvel has specifically tried not to do.
There will be news for the Irredeemable Ant-Man at the Cup O’ Joe panel tomorrow.
Asked what the decision-making process was for keeping Bucky Barnes as Captain America, Quesada said that it was in part the answer to the question “What was going to make for the best story?” and that the popularity of BuckyCap didn’t hurt. Additionally, “Ed [Brubaker] has a wonderful idea for these specific characters, and he’s going to take them on a wild ride.”
The status of “Runaways” is that there are plans, but they’re not ready to be revaled just yet. Similarly, the explanation for Marvel’s “O.M.I.T.” teasers will come tomorrow.
In a rare move for a convention panel, a fan asked about Marvel’s decision to move their bookstore distribution to the Hachette group rather than through Diamond’s book distribution arm. Singh reiterated that in a basic way “It felt logical to move” and that Marvel was still very committed to Diamond through the Direct Market.
When the panel was asked whether any villains who had been posing as heroes during Dark Reign would remain in those roles in the future, Brevoort said, “There’s not much point, once it’s been revealed that they’re villains.”
A fan asked what the panel thought of the fact that “the return of Steve Rogers was botched” with the character showing up before the end of “Captain America: Reborn” hit. Loeb joked, “We try to do that as often as possible. We want to have as many books with continuity that makes no sense as possible…and I’m leading the charge on that front.” But Brevoort soon explained that when the “Reborn” story grew to six issues because Bryan Hitch’s style necessitated more story pages and they realized the other comics they’d planned to follow up on issue #5 would make less sense, they went with the option that held up less books even though it wasn’t ideal. If they had waited on so much of the line for just one issue of “Reborn” to ship, they thought more fans would have been upset in the end.
Someone who had attended a Marvel panel at last year’s Rosemont-based Wizard World Chicago Comic-Con asked what he should make of the fact that Jim McCann had said Kitty Pryde wouldn’t come back then, but the character has since reappeared. McCann joked “I was in Marketing back then, and Marketing is full of lies.” After agreeing that the eventual reveal played better when it wasn’t accepted, the fan asked if a new hero would soon appear in McCann’s “Hawkeye and Mockingbird” ongoing series in the guise of Ronin. The writer said that the first arc was full of characters like Phantom Rider and Crossfire, but there were no plans for a new Ronin, though he was open to the idea.
Quesada wrapped the panel saying, “Brian Michael Bendis just texted me and told me to say something feisty…what’s feisty?” After thinking about it for a moment, he declared, “DC SUCKS!”