Friday at New York Comic Con saw Marvel lead off with a panel spotlighting its Avengers solo titles coming as part of the Marvel NOW! initiative, but today the writers of the team books assembled to discuss “Uncanny Avengers,” “Avengers,” “Avengers Arena,” and “Young Avengers”–and maybe reveal something new. Rick Remender, Jonathan Hickman, Kieron Gillen, and Dennis Hopeless took the stage, along Executive Editor Tom Brevoort and Director of Communications Arune Singh to talk with fans about the new titles.
Singh began, as he has at other panels, by describing Marvel NOW! as “a relaunch not a reboot, because Marvel’s universe isn’t broken.” (As he introduced the panelists, Singh noted that Remender is currently “invisible,” not having arrived for the panel.)
Brevoort spoke briefly on the just-launched “Uncanny Avengers,” not spending much time on it because “everybody here has read it.”
Hickman described “Avengers” as focusing on the core characters as seen in the film but “bigger than Hollywood can pay for.” Brevoort said that, like Hickman’s run on “Fantastic Four” there would be stories seeded with “one payoff, then another payoff.”
Hickman is also writing “New Avengers,” launching in January. The writer said it is the book he’s “most excited about since starting at Marvel.” “It’s the Illuminati, the guys who rule the world in secret,” he said. The series will “touch” with “Avengers” until “at some point down the line, they crash into each other.”
“We could tell you exactly what issue, but we don’t want to spoil it,” Brevoort said. He also said Hickman has plotted 3-4 years ahead, even considering that “Avengers” is twice-monthly.
Dennis Hopeless was up next, talking “Avengers Arena.” “Some of your favorite teenage heroes, 16 of them, wake up on an island and are told only one of you gets to leave alive,” he said. “And they’re told that by Arcade, of all people.” The first two issues will show that Arcade “means business.”
“When you get to that last page of issue 2, you’re going to want to pound Dennis Hopeless in the best way,” Singh said, before quickly adding, “that maybe came out wrong.”
The relaunched “Secret Avengers” by Nick Spencer and Luke Ross will be “a more S.H.I.E.L.D.-centered book, no surprise after ‘Avengers,'” Brevoort said. The editor added that the missions are so secret that “the agents themselves cannot know about them once they’re done.”
Gillen, finding that there was no slide for “Young Avengers,” asked, “Should I act it out?” He didn’t, but commotion continued when Singh tripped and fell, knocking out the video connection. He stood up quickly, unhurt and unperturbed.
Back on topic, Gillen said, “I wanted it to be a bespoke, beautiful object,” noting that “Phonogram” collaborator Jamie McKelvie was the perfect artist to give it a music video feel.
As to how he got “Scott Pilgrim” artist Bryan Lee O’Malley to do a variant cover, Gillen said, “Jamie was showing us off, and he showed Bryan his Miss America redesign.” O’Malley took it from there.
Remender finally joined the group on stage, somewhat out of breath. “Sorry, I just ran for 45 minutes through sweaty people.” He thanked fans for reading “Uncanny Avengers” and “not hating it.”
Brevoort described “Avengers Assemble” by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Pete Woods as “shot glass Avengers,” focusing in on just a few characters to examine the characters in more depth. “These are going to be very tight, very sharp, hit you with a bang and get out,” he said.
Singh then opened the floor to questions.
Asked about Deadpool, Remender said, “He keeps trying to sell himself at Avengers Mansion as Jarvis.” Though Wolverine warns him it’s not going to happen, “he just keeps showing up and serving people mint juleps.”
There are no plans for restarting the Avengers Initiative from “Civil War,” Brevoort said, but “some of those characters will show up in ‘Avengers Arena.'”
Asked about additional characters showing up in “Young Avengers,” Gillen said that “I had originally thought of 12 characters I wanted to use, but then I thought that I can’t do a character-led book with that number of characters.”
On the subject of accessibility, Brevoort noted that “these are writers coming onto these books at the same time.” “This isn’t another ‘Captain America’ #1 by Ed Brubaker, it’s coming in at the beginning of Rick [Remender’s] story.” By extension, Brevoort said, the stories will be accessible because readers are coming in at the beginning of something wholly new.
Hickman noted that accessibility will be subjective, “and some books are coming out of events that were pretty important.” But, “I think people will be pretty pleased.”
Remender added that the current perspective is, “It’s a lot easier to sell people on Season 1, Episode 1, than episode forty-seven million.” He also said the #1s are both continuations and new beginnings and so should satisfy new and existing fans.
Speaking to themes in his “Uncanny Avengers,” Remender said that “human-mutant relations” would be at the heart of the book, with Red Skull’s Nazi inclinations now directed toward mutantkind. Apocalypse will be Red Skull’s opposite number in killing humans to protect mutants, “and what the hell Kang is doing is going to be a big part of it, as well.”
Asked about characters and concepts from his “S.H.I.E.L.D.” and “Secret Warriors” carrying into Hickman’s new series, he said that, among other things, “It’s pretty much inevitable I’ll write Gorgon again.” Fans should also look at “Secret Avengers,” Hickman said.
As to why the Hulk now has armor, Brevoort said, “there is a reason that Mark Waid will reveal in, I think, issue three.” The editor suggested it has to do with Banner’s new mission to “manage his condition” rather than trying to cure him of the Hulk.
On the subject of diversity on the Avengers, Hickman said that the “Avengers” roster “will quickly grow to 24 guys,” with “more than half being new characters that are just what you’re asking for.” At launch, though, the focus was on the familiar characters from the film, and eventually “we’ll add Wolverine and Spider-Man, because we like money.”
Remender noted that he’d seen criticism that “Uncanny Avengers” was “Crackerfest 2012,” but that the longstanding, beloved characters tend to be white. “When an opportunity [to introduce a new or minority character] introduces itself, we go for it.”
One fan said he felt like “Avengers vs. X-Men” put the Avengers in the clearly heroic position, but Hickman disagreed. “The last issue of ‘AVX’ I wrote was #6, and I’m pretty sure the X-Men were the good guys of that story,” he said. “But the Avengers were going to win.” Brevoort said they tried to set up relatable problems so it wasn’t just “a bunch of action figures fighting.”
“You have to remember that, even though the Avengers won, the vast majority of the world thinks what the Phoenix Five did was good stuff,” Hickman said. “They cured famine, the produced free energy-”
“They gave whales feet,” Brevoort joked.
Asked about his take on Tony Stark, Gillen said, “He’s a lynchpin of the Marvel universe, but he can make a mess of things sometimes.” The choices he’s made and must continue to make will shape the relaunched “Iron Man” series.
Brevoort clarified that “Dark Avengers” will continue even as a new “Thunderbolts” series launches.
Doctor Strange will be “a big part of Brian [Michael Bendis]’s last ‘Avengers’ arc,” Brevoort revealed. He also said there are no major plans for Black Knight coming up, but “he has a cool cameo coming up.” “We like him, we just haven’t found a place for him just yet.”
Asked whether there would be tension between Wolverine and Captain America as to who really leads “Uncanny Avengers,” Remender said, “Neither of them is the real leader–Alex Summers has to step up.” He said he liked Havok because “you get the sense that Scott Summers was the quarterback in high school and Alex was up in the bleachers smoking a joint.”
No Marvel panel could be complete without a question about Squirrel Girl. Hickman said that Bendis recommended he use Squirrel Girl in his “Avengers” run, to which Hickman said, “You’ve got to be fucking joking.” The writer laughed as he said it, so this may not be the definitive “no” answer that it seems.