Mark Millar announced at the Marvel: Civil War and Remembrance Panel at Wizard World Chicago that he and Bryan Hitch will be the new creative team on “Fantastic Four” in 2008 (for indepth coverage of their plans, check out our interview with Millar and Hitch). He also told the crowd about “1985 Haunted,” a story that takes place one year after “Secret Wars” and focuses on the villains.
“I took 2007 mostly off,” Millar said. “Over the first few months of next year you’ll see a few projects.”
Millar said that Rod Serling’s “The Twilight Zone” is the biggest influence for his “Fantastic Four” run. He said he’d be on the book for at least a year, and that he already has 10 issues done. The panel included a video promoting the “Fantastic Four” series as if it were a Hollywood blockbuster. The trailer concluded, saying “Fantastic Four” would be about “Love, family, intrigue and sacrifice.”
Speaking on “1985,” Millar said the story would be like “Stephen King doing a Marvel book. No one knows anything about this yet,” Millar said. “I was desperate to get this out.” The book features art by Tommy Lee Edwards, an artist Millar said would become a “superstar” as soon as issues of “1985” start coming out.
Millar confessed to talking to Stan Lee about writing “Fantastic Four.” Lee told Millar the main thing to keep in mind is that nothing is too crazy for the FF. Millar talked to the crowd about how innovative Lee and Jack Kirby’s first 100 issues of the series were, and that he’d like to get it back to where there are plenty of surprises.
“This book, every 10 issues, it was evolving. After 100 issues, they started regurgitating old plots,” Millar said. “After the 40th time Galactus shows up, you know you’re not going to get eaten.”
It was during this discussion that the projection screen read, “We don’t speak Scottish, either,” a jab at Millar’s pronounced accent. The crowd reacted with a good laugh, while Millar sat confused.
Later, the panel went into questions and answers. Some of the highlights:
What was the international reaction to “Civil War?”
“Anything said outside America, even I don’t have an interest,” Millar said. “There’s something about other countries… it’s just crap.”
Anything you regret about Civil War?
Millar referenced an earlier question about the death of Black Goliath. “Speaking of Black Goliath dying, someone asked me, ‘you realize that you have a Norse god taking down a black guy?’ There are four guys in Kentucky going, “Yeah!”
Any plans on bringing back Black Goliath?
How long had you planned on killing Captain America?
“From the very beginning,” answered Joe Quesada. “The only debate was should he die in the pages of ‘Civil War’ or in ‘Captain America.’ We knew it was going to happen very early.”
Later, a fan asked if it was confusing, keeping “Civil War” in order.
“We had all these discussions on who would be on what side,” Millar said. “It was interesting to see those same discussions on the internet later.”
“Tom Brevoort put ‘Civil War’ together,” added Quesada. “What also made it special, was that it excited all the writers. Those ancillaries were really, really good. All the writers really knocked it out of the park.”
“Tom Brevoort is really the unsung hero of ‘Civil War,'” Millar agreed.
Quesada continued, “We were working very hard. Another person that had it tough was [Paul] Jenkins. There were these little nuances; a lot of stuff was in flux. Paul had a great twist in ‘Front Line’ that nobody saw coming.
A fan then asked how the characters were chosen for sides – were they thrown into a hat?
Quesada explained, “We took the list of characters and Mark would get up on the table and pretend to be Captain America.”
“I’m losing respect for myself,” Millar said.
A fan asked if both the registration and anti-registration sides were intended to be equally represented, saying that it always seemed that the anti-registration side was the more just side.
Millar said that if you read “Civil War” by itself, it was 50/50, “because there were really good arguments for both sides. And the other writers all had their perspectives.”
Quesada asked the room if they were comfortable with a 14-year-olds getting driver’s licenses. Millar responded that he was if the kid was Doogie Howswe. Quesada continued, saying it’s like trusting just anyone to fly a plane. “These are flying people. Look at it from that point, you want these people licensed and trained,” Quesada said. “You kind of see Tony’s point. We knew a lot of people would feel Captain America’s way.”
A fan asked whose idea it was to spark “Civil War” with an explosion. Millar said that Jeph Loeb came up with the idea of the war starting in Stamford, Connecticut because he went to school there.
“Some of the greatest wars start with one single bullet,” Quesada added. “This is a superhero war caused by a small action, but some children died.”
Could it have been anybody besides Nitro who set it off?
“I asked, who’s a good explode-y guy?” Miller said. “And they said Nitro is a good explode-y guy.”
Is it decided when someone will be taking over for Captain America, since the book is still going?
Quesada again joked, “In a month, you’ll see Cap red, Cap white, Cap blue.”
A fan asked about Joss Whedon’s involvement in plotting “Civil War.” Quesada said that Whedon helped solve the final battle between Captain America and Iron Man. “Everyone was 50/50 [on the outcome], so we pitched him both ways, He said clearly, ‘this is the way you go.'”
Quesada then told a story about a particularly low time for him, when Whedon saved his day. It was San Diego Comic-Con 2002, and Warren Ellis had just announced he was going exclusive with DC. Also, Marvel didn’t have a booth. “It was not a good day for me,” Quesada said. “I’m sitting in a booth, signing. I look up and I see Joss Whedon, and I ask, hey Joss, would you like to write ‘X-Men?’ He said, ‘yeah.’ “I wish Pamela Anderson would have been there too.”
A fan asked if anyone was working behind Tony Stark. Quesada said it was no one specifically, but that at the end of the day, if someone was supposed to have all the names, Tony thought it’d be best that they be with him. Quesada then told the story of a VA hospital that had lost 44,000 names and Social Security numbers of veterans who are still alive, and that added fuel to the “Civil War’s” fire.
A fan asked about Captain America’s perspective – “If you were working for a company, wouldn’t you want to know who you were working for?”
Millar responded that Captain America is special because no one says, “Cap, you go take on those guys.” But the flip side was that the government would be nervous about a guy that goes and takes down a whole country. “The Marvel Universe is one DNA strand away from the real world.”
One fan complained about the mainstream media ruining the surprise of Captain America’s death. “The media outlets want breaking news,” Quesada said. “If we say that we’ll give it to you after it happens, they’ll say sorry, old news. We could have broke it weeks before and sold zillions. I think we did a nice compromise. What I was floored about was how many outlets reported it as real news.”
Millar was asked if he had been given good advice from other creators in the industry. Millar said that the best advice he received was from Dick Giordano, who told him to stop drawing. “My portfolio, it was on lined paper,” Millar recalled. “He looked at me and said, ‘You ever think about writing?'”
A fan asked about Steven Colbert’s acquiring of a Captain America shield.
“He’s a huge fan of comics,” Quesada said. “We had a Cap shield in Brevoorts’ office. It was Brevoort’s, it belonged to [the late] Mark Gruenweld. I sent an e-mail to Colbert… Brevoort was out of the office that day. He was pissed. Gruenwald’s widow wrote a nice bit on Colbert’s blog, saying that if Mark were still alive, he’d be a huge fan of Colbert.”
A fan asked Millar if the “Fantastic Four” book would be shorter stories, or an on-going title. Millar responded, saying it’d be “high concepts with a massive budget. Something as small as hiring a nanny for Franklin to fighting Dr. Doom,” he said. “The thing we want to bring back to the book is unpredictability.”
Are you considering reconciling Reed and Sue?
Miller explained, “Reed has bought these original tickets for the opening of Disneyland, and they go back in time to the actual opening. It’s about two people being in love. For me, it’s touching.”
A fan asked how far out Marvel has stories planned. “We are usually a year and a half planned out,” Quesada said. “The trick is, the further out you get, the looser you have to be.”
Millar was asked what he thought of the “Ultimate Avengers” DVDs. “I haven’t seen them,” Millar said. “I have a copy, but it won’t play on a Scottish DVD player.”
An embittered fan then asked, “The program said there was a major announcement… did I miss it?”
Quesada responded by replaying the “Fantastic Four” video.