Marvel Comics concluded their weekend of ACBC panels on Sunday afternoon with their Make Mine Marvel panel. This time around, the panel known for showing off anything and everything Marvel took a quick trip to a galaxy far, far away. On hand to discuss the publisher’s line of “Star Wars” titles as well as the many “Secret Wars” offerings launching this summer were Content Development Director Sana Amanat, Editor Katie Kubert and “Lando” writer Charles Soule. Moderator (and Marvel event coordinator) Jacob Friedfeld made introductions and kicked things off with another one of Marvel’s cosmic properties — “Groot.”
“This entire series is Groot saying ‘I am Groot’ and you have to figure out what the story is,” said Amanat, joking. Amanat revealed that the series is told from Groot’s POV but still has Rocket Raccoon featured in a prominent role. The first issue will feature the duo hitchhiking to Earth. “It’s very funny. Rocket and Groot, the way you love them and know them best.” Amanat revealed that “Groot,” which is an ongoing series, will actually be taking the place of “Rocket Raccoon.”
“Princess Leia” came up next, with the covers for issues #4-5 being displayed prominently. Following that, the flagship “Star Wars” series appeared. John Cassaday’s final issue will be #6, which will then be followed by a one-off Obi-Wan Kenobi issue drawn by Simone Bianchi. With #8, new ongoing “Star Wars” artist Stuart Immonen comes on board.
“Every time a page comes in, I get more and more excited about the series,” said Kubert, who shares an office with editor Jordan D. White. “I used to have a thing on my door that was ‘Coolest Art Katie Saw This Week’ and it was mostly ‘Star Wars.'” Friedfeld confirmed that they are working closely with the Lucas Group story editors. Soule chimed in that he is working closely with them on “Lando,” and he says it’s been a “thrill” to be involved in these books and make them coherent and “real deal” “Star Wars” stuff.
The covers for “Daredevil” #16 and #17 were then displayed, with Amanat saying that they will continue the current storyline unfolding with the Owl. “Something happens that threatens Daredevil and Matt Murdock and Kirsten and Foggy that forces him to make a deal with the devil – and that devil is Kingpin. It’s really cool – there’s an opening scene with Matt Murdock negotiating with Kingpin. It’s the first time you see Matt Murdock and Kingpin together in suits!”
Friedfeld discussed “Howard the Duck,” citing the synergy of Marvel and Howard’s recent appearance at the end of “Guardians of the Galaxy” leading up to his current ongoing series. Soule talked about writer Chip Zdarsky’s decision to set “Howard” in She-Hulk’s building. “Now Howard the Duck’s office is on a different floor of that building, and since then Spider-Woman has opened up an office building,” said Soule. “The building has become a hub for the Marvel Universe.”
“Guardians Team-Up” #7-8 are some of editor Katie Kubert’s favorites and they feature Drax teaming up with Ant-Man — “It’s the ‘Miami Vice’ of the series” — and Groot teaming up with Silver Surfer. The Drax and Ant-Man issue will be written by Paul Scheer and Nick Giovanetti. The Groot and Silver Surfer issue will be a silent one and take place solely in space.
October’s “Uncanny X-Men” #600 popped up next, which will feature a “who’s who of X-Men artists.” Following that, covers “Darth Vader” #6-7 came up next. “We’ve been able to drill down to the characters everyone likes — except Jar Jar Binks — and ‘Darth Vader’ has been really cool. Salvador Larroca has a photorealistic style that makes it look like you’re watching ‘Star Wars’ storyboards.”
With “Lando” #1 coming up in July, Soule talked about the character. “When Jordan White asked which character I wanted to focus on, Lando was number one on my list. Lando isn’t in the movies much, but you guys know exactly who he is. That character is so sharply drawn. For me, I already had the voice in my head. So this story is set between episode IV and V, and he’s lost the Millennium Falcon but not in Cloud City yet. I think of him as a gambler — apt for Atlantic City — and he’s always a few hands down. He’s not trying to get rich but trying to get even, so he’s always doing crazy scams and schemes. In this story, he has to assemble a crew of people to help him pull of a heist. One of the people on the crew is one of my favorite characters — Lobot. He’s in the movies for fifteen seconds but he’s great. This is time for Lobot to shine. The book is really ‘Lobot: Year One’ in my mind, but Marvel didn’t let me call it that. Alex Maleev is drawing it. He’s brilliant. Lando has always got the charm and smarm and he always acts like he’s got a plan. Maleev is great at likenesses and adding grit and darkness. ‘Star Wars’ has always had that feel to it.”
One character who is getting the “Year One” treatment is “Star Wars Rebels'” Kanan, who has a series called “Kanan: The Last Padawan.” Friedfeld mentioned that “Rebels” showrunner Greg Weisman is also writing the comic, so it’s definitely authentic.
During the Q and A session, an X-Men fan asked about where the mutants fall in the larger Marvel Universe now that the Avengers and Guardians have become so popular. Amanat said that there’s an important storyline coming up with the X-Men that will have ramifications. “How we look at the Marvel landscape is looking at characters we can promote and elevate. That’s what it’s about, not about pushing some characters over here and bringing others in. We want to find creative ways to look at all the characters in the Marvel Universe,” said Amanat.
Soule quoted Marvel editor Tom Brevoort, saying that people love writing X-Men comics and people love reading them. Kubert confirmed, as an editor of the X-Men books, that the creative teams in that office are trying to do new things. “Just as much attention is being paid to them as every other book,” said Kubert.
A passionate young girl asked a question about the back stories of female characters, wondering where they’ve been told. “The leader of ‘A-Force,’ She-Hulk, and other characters like Dazzler have had series,” said Kubert. “You can go on a site like Comic Vine which tells not only where they last appeared but where they first appeared.” Since the young reader asked so many enthusiastic questions about “A-Force,” Amanat brought her up on stage to read an advance copy of the issue. The girl was overjoyed at this and rushed to the stage, excitedly flipping through the issue.
When asked if being owned by Disney has constrained the stories that can be told in the “Star Wars” universe, “Lando” writer Soule offered some insight. “I can’t tell you the plots of the movies, but those guys know what the skeleton looks like,” said Soule. “It’s our job as comic writers to flesh it out. I get told a lot to make up my own stuff that will be new and interesting. Illuminate different corners of the universe that the movies or tv shows won’t hit. It’s been surprisingly free, they want to do cool stuff.”
The panel discussed whether or not Marvel would ever consider launching a line of comics set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, saying that there are no plans for that right now aside from the infrequent tie-in limited series. Kubert and Soule mentioned that characters from “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” are popping up in the Marvel Universe via the “S.H.I.E.L.D.” and “Inhuman” books.
Another young fan asked if there were any limitations to what Marvel could do with “Secret Wars.” Kubert said that there were no limitations other than the story. “If it was a lot of fun and something we saw possibility with, we did it,” said Kubert.
“We actually had about 15 titles we couldn’t do,” said Amanat. “We went crazy. We didn’t have enough editors, writers, money to make all of them.”
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