Baltimore: Cup of B Panel

It was a rainy early afternoon when Marvel kicked off their presence at the "Baltimore Comic-Con with the “Cup of B” panel. A line of fans waited outside the door for the “DC Universe” panel to end. The first Marvel panel of the weekend was full before the previous panel-goers finished filing out. The panel featured writers Brian Michael Bendis, Dan Slott and C.B. Cebulski, along with editor Tom Brevoort. Bendis immediately approached the microphone and welcomed the audience to the first ever “Cup of B” panel. “The B is for bullshit,” he explained to laughs.

Bendis then had a confession. “I wasn’t aware this panel existed until about forty five minutes before it happened,” he said. “Are we announcing anything?” The Marvel gurus seemed to confer, then re-iterated the recent news that Bendis is leaving “Mighty Avengers” with Issue #20. “It’s a pretty dramatic issue for the book.” The panel then had a new announcement — the writer replacing Bendis on the book would be none other than Dan Slott.

“There’s a lot of people on my message boards who are going to be very happy about that,” Bendis said. Slott also announced that he would be leaving “Avengers: The Initiative.” He assured the audience that the book would be just as good, however, with Christos Gage taking over as solo writer. “All your favorite characters are still there,” Slott said. “There’s going to be a lot of Taskmaster.”

Bendis then announced that his long promised “Spider-Woman” series with Alex Maleev is finally scheduled. The book will be called “Spider-Woman: Agent of S.W.O.R.D.” and will debut in March of 2009. “There’s a lot of bells and whistles in the new Spider-Woman series that we can’t tell you about yet, but we’re very excited about,” Brevoort promised.

“It’s all ads,” Bendis joked.

Cebulski then mentioned the new X-event, “X-Infernus,” a follow-up to the Infernus event from twenty years ago, this time with a focus on the X-Men. “It’s going to focus on a lot of the New Mutants and you’re definitely going to see the return of magic with a ‘c’ and magik with a ‘k’ to the Marvel Univserse,” Cebulski hinted.

Slott then spoke briefly about “New Ways To Die” and the Spidey Brain Trust’s future plans for “Amazing Spider-Man.” The new issue of “New Ways To Die” will be out on time with a back-up story written by Mark Waid and featuring Steven Colbert. Macros Martin will be returning for another arc. Slott also announced that it will soon be explained why Harry Osborne isn’t dead. “I’m going to give you my totally logical, non-magical explanation as to why Harry is still alive,” Slott promised. Whatever the explanation, Slott explained that the Molten Man will be targeting Harry during the story-line.

He also had one more promise about his upcoming work on “Amazing Spider-Man.” “The Marvel Universe will never be the same again!” he said in a booming voice, drawing coughs and grumbles from his fellow panelists. “I know. I just like saying that. Spider-Man’s universe will never be the same again.”

Bendis also announced that an upcoming issue of “Mighty Avengers” featuring likely either Luke Cage or Jessica Jones is only half drawn by Billy Tan. “We were able to get Michael Gaydos for the flashbacks,” Bendis said about the other half. This feat was apparently not easy and Bendis was sure to thank the editor of “Manhunter” for finding time in Gaydos’ schedule.

Bendis also discussed the most recent release of Powers, issue #30, which was recently revealed to be the last issue of Vol. 2 of the series. “It’s Oeming’s best issue yet,” Bendis said, further explaining that he was grateful for the support of those who stuck with the book during its’ difficult schedule. The new volume of “Powers” will be released during the tenth anniversary of the series, with the intent that it will tie in to an announcement about the “Powers” TV show. “We’re going to get four or five issues in the can,” Bendis said. “We never wanted the schedule to go so out of control like that, but it did because of problems, both personal and professional.”

C.B. Cebulski noted that Damon Lindelof has turned in all the scripts for “Ultimate Hulk Vs. Wolverine” and that the Leinil Francis Yu will begin drawing it as soon as he’s finished “Secret Invasion.”

At this point the panel opened up the floor to questions. One fan asked, in response to the announcement that Harry’s presence in “Amazing Spider-Man” would be explained, whether the writers plan to eventually explain all the changes. “Yes,” Slott said. “We’re going to explain everything.”

“But not all at once,” Brevoort chimed in.

Another fan stood up and asked if Bendis has seen the picture online of a fan who’d made a coat out of his “Secret Invasion” tie-ins and what he thought about it if so? Bendis said he hadn’t seen the picture, however, he thought it was cool if true. “Listen, I love him. You can buy it, roll it up, shove it up your ass. I don’t care. That’s not even in the top ten of crazy shit I’ve had to deal with online.”

It turns out the man who made the coat was actually in the audience. Bendis asked him why he didn’t bring the jacket with him. The fan shrugged.“‘Secret Invasion’ really didn’t work for you at all as a story or a piece of porno?” Bendis asked. The fan laughed and said it didn’t. Bendis shrugged and moved on.

The next fan asked if there would be a new Man-Thing series soon. “Not a new Man-Thing series, but there is a Man-Thing appearance in a Spider-Man comic,” Brevoort said.

Bendis took the moment to announce that Morbius, another character the fan asked about, would be in “Ultimate Spider-Man” post-“Ultimatum.”

One fan asked if Bendis could please put Luke Cage back in his old costume and give him back his old moniker of “Power-Man.” Bendis laughed and explained that he loves Luke Cage and is frequently teased for his “man-crush” on the character, but he would never bring those relics of the character back. “I think those took away from some of the more noble aspects of the character.”

Bendis also announced that there’s a flashback upcoming in an issue of Avengers that deals with Cage and his father. The group made a few more Luke Cage jokes. “This goes on at every Marvel retreat. Just pummeling me with Luke Cage jokes,” Bendis complained.

A fan asked when Steve Rogers would be coming back. “Secret Invasion #8,” Bendis joked. Bendis then confessed that he was about to say something that would earn him unending ire on the internet. “I actually think Bucky is more fascinating than Steve Rogers,” he said. “It’s all interesting, it’s new and yet it’s all really immersed in Cap’s history.”

Bendis admitted, after prompting from a fan, that his story structure for “Secret Invasion” was influenced by Soderbergh’s films, such as “Traffic.” “Anyone can re-arrange scenes and re-arrange chapters, but the question is can you do it in the most dramatic way possible?” Bendis explained. “Then when you look at it, it’ll be a different thing. Or you could make a jacket out of it.”

Bendis explained the structure for “Secret Invasion” had a lot more potential for dramatic thrills than if the story had just been told chronologically. “Even just this week when the ‘House of M’ issue came out, my board was full of people who went rushing back to their trades to re-read it,” Bendis said. “That’s exactly what I wanted out of it.”

One fan asked for more information about “Dark Reign,” the new status quo for the Marvel Universe following “Secret Invasion.” While “Dark Reign” was announced a month ago, Bendis still had to remain mum on the details. “It’s what comes on the last page of ‘Secret Invasion’ #8,” he said. He re-iterated that when he originally pitched “Secret Invasion,” it was “Dark Reign” that sold the concept to Quesada, a fact Bendis has mentioned before.

Is that it? Could Bendis say anything more about it? “S.H.I.E.L.D. is a mess, Stark-Tech is a mess and all these things are gone and something has to take their place,” he explained. “When ‘Secret Invasion’ #8 comes out, you’ll be pummeled with information from team line-ups to everything.” He also clarified that “Dark Reign” is not another event but rather the fall-out from “Secret Invasion” that will become the new status quo, much as “The Initiative” was the new status quo following “Civil War.”

A fan asked if we will see Peter Parker and Mary Jane married again. “No. You will not,” Brevoort answered unequivocally.

“It’s gonna be hard because Peter and Flash start dating,” Bendis said, drawing big laughs from the crowd.

“That is every Spider-Man summit I’ve ever been to,” Slott joked.

Another fan asked if “Ultimatum” is truly the end of the Ultimate Universe. “It’s the end of my relationship with Jeph Loeb,” Bendis joked in response.

Slott announced there will be a new “Skrull Kill Krew” mini, featuring the newest addition to the group — 3-D Man, as featured in “Avengers: The Intiative.”

A fan asked what network the new Powers TV show deal is for. “I’ll put it this way,” Bendis said after much prodding. “It is a shame ‘The Shield’ is coming to an end.” “The Shield” airs on the FX cable channel.

A fan asked about the new status quo for Doctor Strange. Bendis answered that in Stephen’s mind, he’s failed at being Sorcerer Supreme, leading to his surrendering the role. “So the question is — if he’s not Sorcerer Supreme, who is?”

One fan broke out the old perennial convention question — how much time has passed since Ultimate Spider-Man #1? “Three weeks,” Bendis joked. “Three really shitty weeks.” He then confessed that in his head it’s been about nine months. “My original plan if I made it to a hundred issues was to do Peter’s sixteenth birthday as Issue #100 but I couldn’t do that because I was deep in the clone saga.”

He also explained that Spider-Woman would soon be returning to “Ultimate Spider-Man.” “There’s a story coming up that I’m very excited about,” he said. “One of Peter’s friends has the hots for her, doesn’t know she’s Peter’s clone, it’s a whole ‘Seinfeld’ thing going on. I’m very proud of it.”

A fan wondered about the man with the suit and tie in the evil Illuminati preview image and even speculated on who it might be, but Bendis was having none of it.

“No. That’s Tie-Man,” he explained. “He’s new.”

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