Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada welcomed attendees at Fan Expo Canada’s Mondo Marvel Panel by informing the crowd that he was going to have to leave early, claiming he was the “Fourth Jonas.” Quesada was referencing the fact that the teren pop group the Jonas Brothers were to perform at Rogers Centre across the street from the Fan Expo, and their fans were waiting outside the stadium since early morning.
Quesada then proceeded to introduce the Marvel panel, which included CB Cebulski, Marvel Talent Liaison; Tom Brennan, assistant editor on “Amazing Spider-Man”; Kathryn Immonen, writer of “Runaways” and “Paty Walker: Hellcat”; Arune Singh, Marketing Manager and frequent panel master of ceremonies. Mike Pasciullo stood by the side of the table the entire panel, and Singh thanked him and the rest of the folks from Marvel who helped ensure Marvel had a presence at Fan Expo Canada.
The Mondo panel started off with a slide presentation of new projects that included:
“Pet Avengers,” scheduled for February 2010. In the book, Throg (Thor Frog) has disappeared and the Pet Avengers need to find him.
There is more “Ender’s Game” coming from Marvel in December.
“X-Men: Pixie Strikes Back,” by the creative team from “Runaways,” Kathryn Immonen and Sarah Pichelli. In addition to Pixie, other characters included in the story will be X-23, Blindfold, Armor and Cessily. Covers will be provided by Kathryn’s husband, Stuart Immonen.
A three-issue Jackpot series by Marc Guggenheim and Adriana Melo will be out in January 2010. The story will feature the original Jackpot and will include a brand new Boomerang and the Rose as well.
“Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Exodus” comes out September 9 and will be followed closely by “The Confession.” The latter focuses on Cyclops’ reaction to the events of Dark Reign and the revelation of Emma Frost’s role therein. The cover image prodded Quesada to add that in “The Confession” there is “A lot of teeth-gritting to be done.”
A slide about the “Spider-Woman: Agent of S.W.O.R.D.” motion comic by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev was accompanied by a single-line Billy Mays-like pitch from Quesada, “Alex ‘The Mad Bulgarian’ Maleev, eight episodes on iTunes.”
“Assault on New Olympus” was addressed by Singh, who said, “It brings Hercules together with some of the greatest heroes in the Marvel Universe, including US Agent [which caused Quesada to wince] – he’s my favorite – and Wolverine – he’s Canadian.”
Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief then opened up the floor to questions.
Q: Why is Spider-Man unmarried when it seems counter to “what fans want?”
Quesada: “The ‘Clone Saga’ [which fans were vocal in disliking] was supposed to end much sooner than it actually did. At the time it was happening, sales [across the entire comic book market] were eroding.”
Quesada explained that Spider-Man comics were increasing in sales and the folks in marketing asked for the storyline to continue. Editors Howard Mackie and Tom DeFalco had a set ending in mind, but due to the requests from the marketing department, they kept going. According to Quesada, the “Clone Saga” is “the single most popular and best-selling Spider-Man event of all time.”
Quesada cited comedian Chris Rock’s philosophy about married life versus single life. “The story of my married life is boring, and that’s how I like it.” Quesada said that is what happened to Peter Parker and the character needed to get past it.
Q: Why is the Ultimate Universe so small now?
Quesada said the Ultimate Universe once gave Marvel a chance to be more daring, but eventually, the regular Marvel Universe started to catch up to the Ultimate Universe. He said the streamlining of the Ultimate Universe through the recently concluded “Ultimatum” story gives the Ultimate Universe a chance to step up and be great again. “You couldn’t do it anywhere else but the Ultimate Universe.”
Q: Does the Marvel Universe have the opportunity to create legacies for its heroes?
The panelists view “legacies” as a concept that would date the characters. Quesada wants to keep Spider-Man vibrant and youthful, thus a legacy character is not possible for him. “Captain America, being older, could conceivably lead to a legacy much more naturally without hideously aging the character,” Quesada said. “Allan Heinberg did a great job of creating legacy characters [the Young Avengers] that were not direct descendants of any hero and therefore did not immediately age any other characters.”
Brennan said, “If you want to check out some legacy stuff, go to Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited and read ‘Spectacular Spider-Girl.'”
Quesada decided to wrap up the discussion around the legacy question by reminding those in attendance that the characters at Marvel are engaging characters because of who they are, not because of a legacy or identity calamity. “At Marvel we don’t have a ‘Crisis.'”
Q: What’s happening with Runaways?
Immonen said that “something big” is going to happen in issue #14, so fans should “buy the hell out of issue #14.”
Q: How much thought is given to the length of story arcs when a book launches?
Quesada fielded this by saying, “If a book is launching with a C-level character, you would hesitate to ask for a thirty-issue arc.” Quesada added that four or five issues would be more appropriate. “Take that very same C-level character and add a superstar writer or artist, then you can immediately give it a little longer, say 12-15 issues. Every project is different and needs to be managed in a way that is fiscally sound.”
One fan thanked the panel, and Quesada in particular, for “Dark Tower.” Quesada cited that as [Publisher] Dan Buckley’s crowing achievement. According to Quesada, working on bringing the Stephen King books to Marvel was a pleasure. He said that all of King’s people are “down to earth” folks who were “eager to make things happen.”
Q: Will there be a printed Marvel holiday special, as last year’s was a Digital Comics Unlimited exclusive?
Singh said that Marvel tends to do something every year with Santa Claus. Singh then looked down the table to his right and checked with Brennan, who replied, “No Santa appearances planned, yet.”
Q: Why isn’t Spider-Man getting actively involved in shutting down Norman Osborn? After all, the villain of Dark Reign is Spider-Man’s arch nemesis.
The panelists said November’s “Dark Reign: The List – Spider-Man” by Dan Slott and Adam Kubert will directly tie-in to Dark Reign and bring Spider-Man into a more active role in trying to topple Osborn.
Q: Are there any Scarlet Witch plans?
Quesada replied, “Big plans. I’ve spoken about the story she will be involved in, but have not mentioned her by name, but she will be brought directly into the middle of the Marvel Universe.”
Q: Are there any other characters that need a life-shaking event like Spider-Man endured?
“Not like Spider-Man,” said Quesada. “Any major story idea at Marvel does not happen in a vacuum.” Quesada said the Marvel creators ask questions like, “Where will the story take Marvel and what would it do to the character?” While they ask these questions, Quesada insists that Marvel cannot publish in fear. “I do think Spider-Man is a healthier character now.” He also admitted that he gets a kick out of online fans who treat him like a “two-dimensional villain twirling his mustache” and the fact that they discuss Spider-Man as though he were a real person. “I love the internet.”
Q: When we next see No-Varr – will he be badass?
Singh replied, “‘Dark Avengers Annual’ in December is all about him.”
Q: Will we see any new art from Joe Quesada?
“I had a project I was going to draw. I was holding onto it,” Quesada said, but he had to back out due to his responsibilities as EIC. Quesada will still provide about 24-25 pages of a framing sequence.
Q: Any chance for a more mature-toned Spider-Man, like a Marvel Knights or MAX title?
The answer was a firm no, because Marvel has to be careful with Spider-Man. When kids see the red and blue suit, Quesada said, “it’s like crack.” He said Marvel has an obligation to children and their parents to be responsible with Spider-Man most of all.
Asked if the digital comics could allow for a greater scope of story, Quesada said, “The digital realm is the great unknown until we master it and make it our bitch.”
Q: Will Iron First make it to the movies?
Quesada said that he cannot speak for Marvel Studios. He then reminded the audience that there are a number of films already announced, which seemed to leave little room for an Iron Fist movie.
Singh chimed in, “You’re going to want to pick up ‘Immortal Weapons’ and what happens after that.”
Q: Where is the rest of “The Twelve?”
“Waiting for the creative team to catch up,” Quesada said.
Q: When will Marvel start to publish Marvelman?
Quesada wants to make sure that when it gets done that it “gets done right.” To that end, Marvel is determining who, how, and when to make “Marvelman” the very best comic book it can be.
Q: Are there any plans for the cosmic characters following “War of Kings?”
There is a Who Will Rule?” one-shot scheduled to be released on September 9. “Realm of Kings” will follow from there. Singh went on to say, “There’s been a cosmic event every year and 2010 is a new year. Two plus two is four. . . ”
Q: Following the X-Force “Necrosha” event, will any of the currently dead X-Men-related characters remain alive?
“Yes, some,” Quesada said.
Q: Any plans for Namor?
Quesada said, “We’d like to [do something with Namor], but Namor is one of those tough characters in the same sense as Dr. Strange, Nick Fury or Silver Surfer. People love when they appear, but when each of those characters gets his own title, those solo books never seem to do so well. It all plays to timing and the right take on the character. There is a time for every character, we’ve just got to find the right character.”
Singh added, “Keep reading the X-Men titles. Namor’s actions will have repercussions for the X-Men.”