C2E2: Marvel: From NOW! to Infinity

Marvel's epically named "From NOW! to Infinity" panel Saturday evening at C2E2 featured "Iron Man" and "Young Avengers" writer Kieron Gillen; "Thunderbolts" writer Charles Soule; editors Lauren Sankovitch, Ellie Pyle, and Jordan White; "Uncanny Avengers" mastermind Rick Remender; "Secret Avengers" writer Nick Spencer; and Executive Editor Tom Brevoort on hand to discuss the Marvel NOW! second wave launches and the summer crossover "Infinity" in which Thanos makes his play. Director of Communications Arune Singh moderated the discussion, which ranged from "Age of Ultron" to "Infinity" and... more.

"It's our very first panel ever about our 'Infinity' event," Singh began. "We're really excited to tell you what we have coming up for the Avengers heading into 'Infinite.'"

July's "Uncanny Avengers" #10 features characters who appear to be Sentry and Banshee. Remender spoke about how much he draws on the "Age of Apocalypse" mythology. "What's coming now is the next level, the Apocalypse twins ... escalate things in a big way," he said. "They've taken four corpses and reanimated them, taking away the life seeds and giving them death seeds."

The next slide was "Secret Avengers" #6, written by Nick Spencer with art by Butch Guice. "Having Nick on the book has definitely been a treat," Sankovitch said, adding that he's been working with Jonathan Hickman to coordinate story arcs with the other Avengers titles.

"Working on this book has been absolutely fantastic," Spencer said of the series, which finds a covert teams of Avengers who seem not to remember the details of their missions. "This was a chance to do a spy ops story really getting into the new SHIELD and its leadership," Spencer added. "There's a lot of shady stuff going on," he said.

Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie's "Young Avengers" came next, and Singh gushed about a spread in issue #4. "I can't get over how smart Kieron and Jamie are, it's a whole other level," Singh said. "When we finished the first arc, they're left in a spot where they're all very happy and there's nothing wrong at all," Gillen joked. Artist Kate Brown will step in for a one-issue story in #6 that follows a superhero working "a crappy job" in a call center. McKelvie returns in #7, "And every issue from here on is making people scream every issue," Gillen said.

Sankovitch said that by the end of "Avengers AI" #1, "you will believe that robots are people, too." She noted that the rise of artificial intelligence in the Marvel universe "has been building for some time."

"Avengers Arena" was up next, and Singh joked about "all 9 of you who have signed that petition online" calling for its cancellation. He said the "End Boss" arc would reveal "who lives, who dies--and who wins."

"Dennis [Hopeless] has been spending a lot of time getting into the hearts and minds of these characters," Brevoort said, "which makes it all the more tragic when he drowns them, or blows them up, or pushes them over the cliff, as he does every few issues." The phrase "Season One" was mentioned, suggesting that the series will end but eventually continue.

With "Nova" up, editor Ellie Pyle said that "starting with #6, we'll be up to present day," having moved past the backstory. Nova will also be coming to New York, "which will make things interesting."

Continuing on the cosmic, "Guardians of the Galaxy" came next, with the announcement that Neil Gaiman is co-writing with Brian Michael Bendis beginning with issue #5. Gaiman's character Angela will be joining the cast, as well.

Jason Aaron and Simone Bianchi's "Thanos Rising" came next, with Singh giving one fan a chance to read the first half of #2 at the stage. "It's as sick and twisted and awesome as you hope, in the depths of your heart, it would be," Pyle said.

All of this, of course, lead into a discussion of Marvel's Free Comic Book Day offering "Infinity," which kicks off the event. Written by Jonathan Hickman with art by Jim Cheung, "this will be your first big taste of 'Infinity' and where it's going," Brevoort said.

Showing a cover or poster to "Infinity," Brevoort said the story is "different structure-wise" to other events. "At the same time the Avengers realize there's this great cosmic threat and leave to combat it, Thanos realizes the Earth is now without its heroes and takes this opportunity to search for something near and dear to him," Brevoort said.

"It's a battle on two fronts," he added.

"Prelude to Infinity" comics will include "Avengers" #14-15 by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Spencer with art by Stefano Caselli. As to how this writer team up happened, Brevoort joked that, "Jonathan called me up and said I'm way over-burdened, I need some help!" Spencer said that when got the call to write "Avengers," "that's not something you say no to."

"New Avengers" #8 finds Black Bolt struggling with a decision to save our universe by destroying the Earth of another world, Brevoort said. Namor will also return soon, he added, and will "come to blows" with the rest of the Illuminati.

Editor Jordan White said that Charles Soule was initially brought on to "Thunderbolts" for two fill-in issues, but "we were so impressed that he is now the regular writer." Soule said he's always loved Punisher and Elektra, and of the characters on the team, "not one of them plays well with others." But the question of "why would these people come together" is compelling, because "there's something they can't do alone." Thunderbolt Ross, he said, assembled the team by promising them a chance to fulfill a mission of their choice, and they will each take turns. But "the plan does not go as they thought it would, because that would not be a very fun book to read."

With that, Singh opened the floor to questions.

"There is a plan to finish up the end of [Jonathan Hickman's] 'SHIELD,' and in fact one issue is done," Brevoort said. "But we keep dragging Dustin [Weaver] off to do other things," and so there is still one more issue to complete.

There are no concrete plans for Quasar, Brevoort said, "but he's a character that keeps coming up." He added that he feels the boundary between the "cosmic" books and the Earth-based heroes is "artificial" and something Marvel is trying to break down.

Sankovitch said that the "Godbomb" arc in "Thor: God of Thunder" will see the three eras of Thor trying to prevent that weapon coming into being. She also said there's a major Thor announcement coming up at tomorrow's Next Big Thing panel. And Doom will be making a big appearance in "New Avengers" #6.

While Rogue and the Scarlet Witch had previously been close, Remender said that discovering Xavier's desecrated body has caused her to "regress." "She's been deeply affected by Wanda's 'No More Mutants,'" he said, and "those two are not going to be friends any time soon."

On the subject of Sentry and his alter ego the Void, Remender said that "the reimagining of Sentry is something we've put a lot of thought into," adding that "now there are essentially four heirs of Apocalypse, and Sentry is obviously the most powerful of those."

In the prelude to a question about "Infinity's" accessibility, a fan joked that he was looking forward to Deadpool's arc in "Thunderbolts," where he expected Deadpool "would probably just invite them all to Denny's for a nice breakfast." "That's actually not too far off," Soule said. As to the question itself, Brevoort said that fans could start at "Infinity" #1.

Next up was a lively and light-hearted discussion of Luke Cage's death in "Age of Ultron." "Everybody else you show dying--did you really just kill a black man and not say anything about it?" After the laughter subsided, Brevoort said "I thought that was a really emotional scene."

"It was horrible!"

"Next time we kill Luke Cage, we'll do better," Brevoort joked.

More seriously, though, Brevoort did say as the "Avengers" roster expands, there will be a more diverse roster, one "more representative of the audience reading the book."

Asked about a return of Kate Bishop in "Young Avengers," Gillen apologized that, "no, sorry, I don't bring people back from the dead. Unless I killed them."

Asked if "Marvel hates Peter Parker," White said that, "I love Peter Parker, but I love when terrible things happen to him, because I love to see how he overcomes them." Then, "And right now he's dead, so that's a pretty big obstacle." Pyle invited the fan to read the first ten pages of "Superior Spider-Man" #9 and said that "no one loves Spider-Man more than Dan Slott."

On the topic of the "Agents of SHIELD" television series, Singh clarified that the series has not been officially picked up and only the pilot has been shot so far. As to the role of Clark Gregg's Agent Coulson in that series, he does appear in the pilot but Singh is not able to say anything else.

A fan asked about the possibility of "Dexter Morgan joining the Thunderbolts." Singh said there is a new series planned for the summer, but a crossover is unlikely.

Asked about seeing Gambit as the Horseman Death again, Remender said that "the problem is there have been so many." "Gambit has been cleared forever," the writer said, adding "if we had to deal with all the continuity of it, there would be a thousand more pages."

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