Marvel Comics began the Comic-Con weekend with the San Diego edition of their popular Mondo Marvel series of panels, featuring numerous creators, editors and special guests discussing all things Marvel including, of course, “World War Hulk” and “Annihilation: Conquest.”
Jim McCann, Dan Buckley, David Gabriel, Adi Granov, Matt Fraction, Fred Van Lente, Brian Reed, Dan Slott, J. Michael Straczynski and CB Cebulski took the stage to huge applause.
The Mondo panel kicked things off with an announcement about Brian Reed’s new title, “Captain Marvel” with artist Lee Weeks. “Not a resurrection story, it’s a time travel story.” “I’m a solider, man, and I died flat on my back in my bed and that’s not right.”
After a brief recap of the events of “Silver Surfer: Requiem,” McCann announced that series artist Esad Ribic has signed exclusively with Marvel and has already begun working on his next project, which will be announced some time in the near future.
Dan Slott teased the crowd with the existence of a Mutant Zero, a non-registered mutant running Black Ops “off the book.” More will be revealed in “World War Hulk: The Initiative.”
McCann interrupted the panel to announce that he’d just received a text message informing him that Marvel had won the Hero Initiative’s Marvel vs. DC charity softball game, 16 to 9.
The panel then announced a new J. Michael Straz project called “The Twelve,” with art by Chris Weston. The book will feature Golden Age Marvel characters not seen since the 1940s, including Dynamic Man, Electro, Fiery Mask, Black Widow, Blue Blade, whose super power is “hanging out in parks after dark,” said Straz.
Captain Wonder, Laughing Mask, Mastermind Excello, Mr. “E,” the Witness, the Phantom Reporter, and Rockman. “It’s about them adjusting to the present and letting go of the past, because the past wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be.” The series is a murder mystery, with one of them being killed early on.
Jim McCann then introduced the first special guest, “Iron Man” film director Jon Favreau, who announced that Adi Granov contacted him on MySpace, resulting in Granov creating designs for the “Iron Man” film. The two eventually became friends, and little by little the pair realized that it would be fun to work together, and will be creating a four issue run called “Iron Man: Viva Las Vegas,” in which Iron Man will fight Fin Fang Foom.
The book is a stand-alone series borrowing from multiple incarnations of Iron Man. “I love it. Unlike a movie there are no budget concerns. I just come up with an idea and throw it at Adi and he draws it.”
Jim McCann then opened the panel up to questions from the crowd. The first question came from a particularly dedicated Marvel fan. “Is Hulk going to kill in World War Hulk?”
“Read ‘WWH’ #4 and ‘Incredible Hulk’ #10,” McCann answered.
The next fan congratulated Dan Slott for writing the funniest comic he’d ever read, “She-Hulk.”
McCann then explained that the final page count for Favreau and Granov’s Iron Man series is not yet set, nor is its format, but confirmed that it will be published under the Marvel Knights banner.
Another fan asked if Spider-Man’s traditional supporting cast will continued to be featured in the character’s title. “Come to the Brand New Day panel, but yes,” answered McCann.
“Iron Man’s been acting like a little bit of a douche lately,” began one fan. “Do you feel that some of the actions that have been taken to make him a more questionable character have damaged him in the long term?”
“I have thought the coolest thing with Iron Man is just how he’s done all of the stuff that even he doesn’t agree with, and to me that’s pure Marvel,” said Brian Reed. “That really tragic decision that you didn’t want to make and didn’t want to do, screwing everyone you know for the greater good. I think he’s the most interesting he’s been in forever.”
Jon Favreau echoed the sentiment, explaining that he’s spent a lot of time thinking about Iron Man and believes the conflicted nature of the character was always present, even in Stan Lee’s original vision. “I think in the Marvel tradition, it’s about making flawed villains and, to be honest, villains. I think Magneto’s got a lot of right on his side, he just goes about it the wrong way.”
Another fan asked if the Punisher would be going after SHIELD, as they employed villains during Civil War. “Punisher has his hands full fighting Nazis right now,” answered Matt Fraction. “But SHIELD goes after him in a very big, very ugly way.”
Later, Favreau explained that Spider-Man is the sort of character a traditional movie studio loves, as he is young and struggling with romance. By contrast, Iron Man is a 40 year-old weapons dealer, a womanizer, and “blows shit up.” “You couldn’t do that without Marvel,” Favreau said.
A fan then accused the panel of killing and resurrecting characters purely for marketing purposes, and cried out, “Is nothing sacred? There’s lots of good stories you can tell without killing somebody off.”
“Who likes the Winter Soldier story?” McCann asked the crowd, who reacted with a huge applause.
A fan then asked CB Cebulski about his talent search, which is purportedly the largest independent comic book talent search ever mounted. More can be read at Cebulski’s blog, ChesterQuest.
A fan asked about a possible return of Nextwave, and Brian Reed announced that Nextwave will appear in upcoming issues of “Marvel Girl.”
Later, a fan asked if Fin Fang Foom will be wearing his signature pants, but was disappointed to learn that Granov has redesigned the character completely for “Viva Las Vegas.”
The crowd reacted with pronounced applause when Matt Fraction’s “Immortal Iron Fist” was invoked by one fan. Fraction said that working in the Marvel Universe is immensely fun for him, and on “Iron Fist” in particular.
“Any plans to see more Young Avengers in the future?” asked a fan.
The panel responded by saying that a Young Avengers project is often discussed at editorial retreats, and that it remains a question of finding the right creative team.
A fan then asked if “Viva Las Vegas” will feature “the drunk Tony Stark” Favrea responded by saying that the series is not a deep examination of Tony Stark’s demons. “It’s not that heavy,” Favreau said, although Adi Granov added that in every panel he’s drawn so far, Iron Man has a drink in his hand.
In response to a fan’s question, the panel announced that Ultimate fans would see the end of the Hulk vs. Wolverine fight during the next eight months. They were not kidding.
A question asked directly to Dan Buckley involved the subject of recycling and Marvel’s carbon footprint. “Generally, we print to order,” the publisher answered. “So we don’t waste any copies,” which the crowd loved. He then explained that he didn’t have an answer, but it’s something the company discusses and will have an answer for in the future.
Later, a fan accused the panel of ignoring the Golden Age characters including Captain America. A panelist joked, “Yes, much of the story retreats are just writers talking about how much they hate these characters and thinking about how to destroy them.”
Another fan asked Fraction about the narration style in “Iron Fist,” and Fraction indicated they were inspired by the language in “The Princess Bride.”
One fan asked about the Stark Industries box that can be seen at the Marvel booth on the con floor. “There is something very, very cool in there that was built by Stan Winston studios. I think just about everybody can figure out what it is. ”
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