CCI: Marvel's Next Big Thing

Comic Book Resources continues its coverage of Comic-Con International in San Diego with Marvel's Thursday afternoon "Next Big Thing" panel. On hand to answer fan questions and reveal new series were Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso, editors Sana Amanat and Jeanine Schaefer, talent scout C.B. Cebulski, Marjorie Liu, Daniel Way, Neal Adams, James Asmus, Peter David, and Joe Keatinge are on hand for the panel, which is now beginning after technical difficulties. Director of Communications Arune Singh moderated the discussion.

After introductions, Asmus said his upcoming "Gambit" series is "a dream come true-just like Gambit." The writer promised that Gambit will "get back to his stealing roots, pinching his way across the Marvel universe in every way possible." Asmus' pitch was full of innuendo-"Gambit is going to satisfy you each and every month"-and he said page 1 is "a shower scene, but it's totally in character."

Marjorie Liu got large applause for her "Astonishing X-Men" #51, which saw the wedding of Northstar and his longtime boyfriend Kyle. Liu said the response has been "humbling," adding that "marriage is not the end-all, be-all-they had problems before they got married, and those will be exacerbated." Those problems will ramp up in issue #53, which Asmus joked would feature a "shower scene with Gambit." More seriously, though, editor Jeanine Schaefer said there would be a honeymoon issue.

Singh compared Matt Fraction and David Aja's "Hawkeye" to the Eisner-nominated "Daredevil" relaunch, saying it would be the book of the year. Editor Sana Amanat said there would not be a shower scene, but "he's with his shirt off for most of the series."

There was a lot of cheering for Kelly Sue DeConnick and Dexter Soy's upcoming "Captain Marvel," and Singh gave out three reading copies of issue #1 to fans. Amanat said the series would find Carol Danvers-currently Ms. Marvel-transitioning to a new role. "She isn't the friendliest person on Earth, but she's good at what she does and she knows it." She added that, "this is the kind of comic girls and boys, men and women, can enjoy, and it's the kind of comic we should have been doing a long time ago."

Next came a "Deadpool" slide, and Daniel Way announced he would be leaving the series. "It's been the most fun I've ever had working on a series," Way said, "and I've been able to write every kind of story with this character."

"I've got this other thing on the horizon," Way said, though he could not say more at present.

"Deadpool allows you to write comedy," Alonso added, saying that it has other dimensions as well. "And he's my son's favorite character, because he's got both a sword and a gun."

"New Mutants" will end with issue #50, Singh said, but this won't mean the end of these characters.

At this point, the fan given a reading copy of "Gambit" #1 returned to the stage to say, "It's really hot, and really good."

Moving on to "X-Factor," David said, "Well, #245 is the last issue," to gasps throughout the audience. He quickly said he was joking. "You nearly gave me a heart attack," Schaeffer, his editor, said.

David said that the dozen or so plot lines will be wrapped up in "basically a five-day spread" over five issues. "Doesn't mean I won't introduce new ones." The arc is called "Breaking Points," and will be illustrated by Leonard Kirk. It kicks off in issue #241. "The team that comes out of #245 will be very different from the ones that go into #241."

"The writers are excited about this stuff as you are-because we know what happens, but we want to see how you'll react to it," David said. Singh noted that "X-Factor" sales are remarkably consistent, showing strong fan loyalty.

As of #58, Jeff Parker's "Hulk" will become "Red She Hulk," with Parker writing and Carlo Pagulayan on art. Red She Hulk will be on a mission for an as-yet-unrevealed organization that "puts her at odds with the rest of the Marvel universe," Singh said.

Two of the "Captain Marvel" readers returning to the stage, with good reports.

Joe Keatinge then spoke about "Thanos: Son of Titan," which debuts in October. Keatinge talked animatedly about "Infinity Gauntlet," and said his story would be about "how he came to be that guy in that story." Keatinge said he didn't know in advance about the Avengers movie post-credit sequence, and when he saw Thanos there, "and I lost it!" Singh debuted the Marko Djurdjevic variant cover to #1, and added that Thanos fans should check out "Avengers Assemble."

Neal Adams came next, talking about "First X-Men." Adams said he saw writer Christos Gage in the bathroom, drawing uncertain laughs from the crowd, and Gage said reorders for the first issue were high. Speaking to the story, Adams said that he wondered what happened before "X-Men" #1, how mutants lived and who protected them. "It would have to be an old guy," he said. "Somebody like... Logan?" The five-issue mini will explore Logan's secret ties to the X-Men and will feature "new X-Men from the past." One such hero will "fit into Logan's jacket like a tent," at which many "aawwws" could be heard throughout the audience. "Because Logan helped him, he kind of loves him."

Alonso added that the series will also shed new light on the relationship between Logan and Sabretooth. "After reading this you'll say, I get it now," Alonso said.

Singh praised the panelists' non-Marvel work before opening the floor to questions.

Amanat said there are no plans for the Young Avengers other than Kate Bishop, the young Hawkeye, to show up in Avengers. "If any others show up, it will be related to the story," she said, noting that Kate appears because of her relationship with Clint Barton, the elder Hawkeye. Singh added that there may be news on Young Avengers soon.

Alonso said readers should look for the cosmic heroes to have "a much bigger profile in the coming months."

Asked about events, Alonso compared the summer events to summer movies. "We do them because people like them," he said. "In summer time, you guys want summer movies, summer concerts, summer beach reads. We give you summer comics."

David said "Breaking Points" would feature revelations about Polaris' past, "and it's not whether Magneto is her father." The issue to watch is #243.

Regarding "Avengers vs. X-Men," Alonso said that, as a former X-Men group editor, he noticed how separate the mutants were from the rest of the Marvel universe-right down to the fan base. He said that the divide seemed artificial to him, and he hopes "AVX" will help bridge the gap.

Alonso said that "All New X-Men" exists in the current Marvel universe, examining what happens when the X-Men of the past arrive in the present. It does not take place in a new or alternate world, he clarified once again.

Asked about Silver Surfer, Alonso said Marvel will probably take a look at him soon. He also said that "Dan Buckley hates it when we use the word 'cosmic,' so I'm studiously avoiding it." Instead, Alonso used the more awkward "non-Earthbound characters."

Asked about Doctor Stange, Singh pointed to the "Doctor Strange: Season One" graphic novel coming up from Greg Pak and Emma Rios. Alonso said "there's no lack of love for Doctor Strange, but we need to work out what Marvel magic is." The editors do not want a deus ex machina style of magic, Alonso said. "It's elusive-as soon as we figure it out, you'll see 'Doctor Strange' #1."

As to Nick Fury's son, Alonso said "Hickman resolved it," meaning the complex history he introduced in "S.H.I.E.L.D." with the life of Marcus Johnson.

"Some of the Runaways characters will have a major role in a new unannounced ongoing series that is not called 'Runaways,'" Singh said in response to a fan question about the popular young heroes. "You will know more before September."

"You're going to get more" Cloak and Dagger, Amanat said, "in 'Amazing Spider-Man.'" Singh said the duo are also in "Wolverine" #310 by Jeph Loeb and Simone Bianchi.

Similar to his "Runaways" answer, Singh said some of the "Secret Warriors" characters would turn up in a book not called "Secret Warriors."

And with that the panel wrapped.

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