Marvel Comics brought its House of Ideas technology panel to the final day of New York Comic Con 2013, discussing all forms of Marvel tech from the publisher’s Unlimited Plus program, the Marvel Comics App, Infinite Comics and more. Panelists included Editorial Director of Marvel Digital Media Ryan Penagos, Director of Digital Publishing Ron Perazza, Marvel VP of Games Production TQ Jefferson and Infinite Comics writers Kieron Gillen and Al Ewing.
Most of the panel was a little late showing up, so Ewing came out into the audience and handed out a bunch of Iron Patriot LEGO sets.
Once Penagos — who served as moderator — arrived, the panel kicked off with a quick overview of some of the Marvel announcements over the weekend, including Ewing’s “Loki, Agent of Asgard.”
“It’s going to be very espionage, lots of grifting, he’s all of ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ in one man,” said Ewing, who mentioned he knew Loki fans liked a good cry. “Get ready to weep tears, terrible tears.”
One of the things Penagos said got shown in the special Marvel Unlimited Plus members-only panel was “Origin 2” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” footage. “You get to see art that no one else is seeing, you get to see footage that no one else is seeing,” said Penagos about the program.
One of Perazza’s current projects is Project Gamma, which will help to explore all avenues of storytelling afforded by a tablet. “What if you could incorporate sound into a comic book?” Perazza said. “Without audio, movies are a lesser experience. If we can add [music] themes for characters. The idea behind Project Gamma is to figure out a way to do that in a digital comic book.”
The Infinite Comics digital initiative was up next, and Perazza described the format of the comics. “We can pace things a little differently, we can bring in speech bubbles and text bubbles to help tell the story,” said Perazza. Gillen and Ewing have a brand-new Infinite Comic starring Iron Man. “Before we got the idea of bringing him into the Guardians, I had a completely different story,” said Gillen. “I was probably never going to use that story, but then the Infinite Comic came up.” The panel showed pages from the first issue of the new Infinite Comics, and every Tuesday, a new Infinite Comic will get posted via the Marvel Comics App for a full year.
Ewing, who also writes “Mighty Avengers,” said there was a bit of synergy between “Iron Man: Fatal Frontier” and his ongoing “Mighty Avengers” series. “There a particular evil corporation called Cortex Incorporated — ‘Tomorrow is in our hands’ — and they’re also appearing in ‘Mighty Avengers,'” said Ewing. The next Infinite Comic series will be a Deadpool Infinite Comic by Gerry Duggan with art by Reilly Brown.
Gillen described the format as “every panel is a page turn,” and Ewing said the layout stage is where the real magic happens for Infinite Comics. “I don’t really put many transitions in the individual plots,” said Ewing.
“This is definitely a swing back towards artists,” said Gillen.
Moving on, Penagos gave an overview of the Marvel Original Video initiative, including “Earth’s Mightiest Show” hosted by Blair Butler, “The Watcher” and — of course — “What The–?” The panel showed the most recent episode of “What The–?” which involves the Rocket Raccoon getting frustrated with Thanos, Terrax and Annihillus after they call him cute. The shorts are created by Alex Kropinak, who Penagos called “a mad genius.”
Although Marvel Games was next on the docket, the technical problems continued to persist, but Jefferson discussed the recent announcement of the “Amazing Spider-Man 2” game for XBox One PS4, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U and PC, as well as “Amazing Spider-Man” for PS Vita.
“Picture if you will the city at night, sirens screaming, criminals, Easter Eggs about Fisk Tower. Spider-Man upside down, end scene!” said Jefferson, attempting to describe the trailer. “The way we like to approach movie-based games is movie-based games should never be about the movie. You’ve seen the movie, you want more of Spider-Man, not what you’ve already seen.” Christos Gage provided the story for the “Amazing Spider-Man 2” games, and while some villains from the movie will feature in the game, there will be plenty of other villains as well.
The game features a Heroes or Menace system, which will make the world respond to how players act as Spider-Man. “If you’re not being responsible — say you’re taking the path of power instead of responsibility, then the city will respond in kind,” Jefferson said. “The game will be harder to play if you’re not playing the role of the hero.”
“Run, Jump, Smash” is a new 2D-sidescroller infinite runner where players are encouraged to chain a run by switching heroes. The game is already in Korea and will release in the U.S. “very, very soon.” The idea is to continue adding characters — beyond Hulk, Iron Man, Thor and Black Widow.
Marvel AR was up next, and Penagos described the digital initiative that adds bonus digital content to all of Marvel’s comics. “The video team and the editorial team are working on a series that will feature in the comics,” he said as an introduction to “As the Page Turns.” The first video of “As the Page Turns” saw the Marvel editorial staff gathered around the table as Nick Lowe and Tom Brevoort received pitches from Ellie Pyle to see if her pitch was in a mythical book that contained all the Marvel stories past, present and future. When Brevoort and Lowe opened the book though, the pages were blank.
Another major video game release for Marvel is “LEGO Marvel Super Heroes,” which has over 140 characters. The panel showed a video of the gameplay, which started off with Iron Man flying, Captain Britain driving, Venom, Arnim Zola, Squirrel Girl, Stan Lee, Howard the Duck. a Sentinel, Iceman, Thor, She Hulk, Hulk, Ghost Rider, Green Goblin, Galactus, Spider-Man, Mystique, Kraven the Hunter, Deadpool, the Fantastic Four and the massive scale of the LEGO Marvel U. Black Bolt and Ant-Man will also join the game. Day one, there will be DLC for “Thor: The Dark World.”
A “Thor: The Dark World” mobile game is set to release from Gameloft, which will be free-to-play. Christopher Yost wrote an original story for the game that takes Thor through many of the nine worlds in an attempt to stop Malekith from plunging everything into darkness. “It touches on some of the things you’ll see in the movie, but we also have additional characters,” said Jefferson. “The game has something like 10 different Thor costumes. I’m very happy to say that Beta Ray Bill will be a playable character.” The game will also feature different hammers that players can upgrade and master with “90 or so” missions. The release is set to time around the film’s November 8 release.
“Avengers Alliance,” the social game, will come to Android later this month. The newest Spec-Ops mission will reward characters with a playable Loki character. “Marvel Heroes,” the MMO, is also free-to-play, will expand into Asgard and Jotunheim. “You’ll see Thor in a battle against Loki,” said Jefferson. Another event will essentially be “unwinnable,” which sees teams of X-Men defending the X-Mansion against wave after wave of villains and Sentinels until the heroes die.
Moon Knight is coming to “Avengers Alliance,” and Jefferson said the delay was partially due to getting season two of the game out the door. “We’re digging into the mystery of who the Circle of EIght is, and please be patient. Moon Knight is coming,” he said. “Marvel Pinball” will be getting a new Doctor Strange-themed table, and beyond that, Marvel has a lot of content planned for 2014. Although, there are currently “no plans” to make another X-Men console game, nor are there plans to make another sequel to “Ultimate Alliance.”