Welcome back to the all-fan Friday of CUP O' JOE, which we call CUP O' Q&A. Exclusively here at CBR, Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada answers questions posed by you, the readers, in CBR's Marvel Universe forum.
Next week, expect the final word next week on Marvel's $3.99 price point, stories of the summer con season, and how Joe picks breakout solo characters.
Until then, dive right in below to catch up with the current status of fan favorite series "Runaways" and its creators present and past, updates on anticipated projects like Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev's "Spider-Woman" motion comics, and more in-depth bits about your favorite Marvel characters.
CUP O' JOE is Executive Produced by Jonah Weiland and Produed by Kiel Phegley.
Kiel Phegley: Because of Kathryn Immonen and Sara Pichelli's debut issue this week, we've got a lot of "Runaways" related questions. To start the ball rolling, Toboe asks, "Is Kathryn Immonen's run on 'Runaways' gonna be a short one like Whedon and Moore's or is she gonna stay for the foreseeable future? The book sure would benefit from a stable creative team for a while."
Joe Quesada: We're definitely thinking long term with Kathryn, Taboe. She's actually already done with the first four issues, and we've got about a year's worth of stories roughly mapped out. This is a great time to get in on the ground floor with Kathryn and the Runaways, so yes, we do have long term plans.
Kiel Phegley: User Personamanx had a few questions that fell into the Runaways camp, starting with "Is the new 'Runaways' creative team really gonna bring Gert Back? I loved Gert as did most "Runaways" fans, but come on!!! 'Runaways' has always stood out to me as a unique, and original book, and it saddens me to hear that this new team is running with such an overdone, and cliched plot-device. I'll still read the book whether it happens or not, but I cannot lie about my displeasure."
Joe Quesada: Personamanx, while I'm not going to confirm or deny... but let's just say, for the sake of argument, that the creative team is planning to bring her back. How do you know exactly how it's going to happen, and how do you know it's going to be cliche? Realistically, you should wait to read the story and...
Wait for it...
Look, I understand how it works: fans hear something, read something and are quick to react. But haven't we all learned after all this time that it's best to wait for something to come out before condemning it? But hey, I'm not going to promise that you're going to love or hate what we do, all I ask is that you just wait until you read it. After that, lets discuss it as much as ya want.
Okay, so now all that said, how about something Runaways-related that's sure to make you smile! Here's a "Runaways" trailer along with a new theme song by Marvel Editor Nick Lowe.
Kiel Phegley: Personamanx also asked, "Joe, are there any plans on releasing The 'What if the Runaways became the Young Avengers?' as a one-shot? Because I had virtually zero interest in all of the main stories in those 'What Ifs,' and I think that I'm not the only one.
Joe Quesada: While there are no plans for releasing it as a one-shot at the moment, the story has been compiled and can be found in the "What If?: Secret Wars" TPB. Pick up a copy and C.B. Cebulski will personally send you an email of thanks.
Kiel Phegley: When Marvel has stories that are serialized online or published as backups or in anthology titles, how do you gauge what you want to rerelease on its own? Is it fan response, because it seems like it'd be very tough to track how much one small part of a bigger whole caught on or not?
Joe Quesada: There are many different ways in which we determine this. Sometimes it's fan reaction, sometimes it's how we feel about a project internally, within the company. Sometimes a story can be executed a particular way that really ends up surprising even us. You may read it in script form and go, "Okay, that's a pretty decent story," and then it gets illustrated and colored and the magic happens, and you go, "Wow! That's really spectacular!"
The other side of it is that sometimes the opposite happens. You read a story and go, "That's going to be huge hit," and then when it's all put together it sort of loses its impact.
It's a matter of combinations. Writer, penciller, letterer, colorist, inker, editor, characters - all of those talents blend into the making of a great story. Internally we look at this stuff, and if we're enjoying it and having a lot of fun with it, that carries a lot of weight. And with respect to fandom, even through the Internet cranks, you can sense what's going on out there.
Jonah Weiland: When it comes to looking at the reactions of fans, how does a company like Marvel do that these days? Is it message boards? Do you guys check e-mails or get snail mail anymore?
Joe Quesada: Snail mail is virtually non-existent these days. We get some, but most of it comes from little kids who don't have e-mail yet. They're very cute letters or letters to the characters along with drawings. A lot of how we gauge stuff has to do with how our retailer partners are telling us the product is doing and what fan reaction is in the brick and mortar stores. These are the men and women in the trenches, so they see the reaction very clearly with the dollars that get spent in their stores.
There is online reaction of course, but you have to be careful with that because it can be hugely misleading. And as I stated before, a lot of this also happens internally, simply because we're all fans here as well, and we know what our best stuff is and what our weaker stuff is, and we work on that internally every day. As fans, we have a reaction to it as well and we're hard on ourselves.
Kiel Phegley: One last one from Personamanx that is sort of Runaways-related: "Is Brian K. Vaughan planning on doing anything with Marvel in the near future?"
Joe Quesada: We've talked to Brian about a few things, but my understanding is that he's finishing up his "Ex Machina" stuff and doing some more creator-owned work after that. But Brian knows, and we made it crystal clear to him, that if he ever wants to come back and dabble in the Marvel Universe, we'd love to have him here. He's one of the absolute best writers in the industry, and I read everything he does. The guy is just a magnificent talent.
Kiel Phegley: The last bit on Runaways comes from ScottyQuick, who says, "I'm a big fan of Adrian Alphona's art. He's one of the few comic book artists that I love reading in public, because it's fun to show his art off to my friends. When I heard he was going to be on 'Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane' Season 2, one of my favorite books, I was so excited. Now that he's returned to comics, do you have any projects for him, and will we see the 'Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane' series again?"
Joe Quesada: I don't know if anybody caught it, ScottyQuick, but he just did an eleven-page story for the "Captain Britain" annual. You should definitely check that out, and as a matter of fact, we'll throw a couple of pages into the column just to show you what Adrian is doing. He's an incredible artist. And yes, Adrian is doing some Marvel stuff right now, but we're just not ready to talk about it just yet.
Jonah Weiland: Speaking of "Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane," this weekend it was announced that Sean McKeever is coming back to Marvel. He had a nice run on the title before. Might we see him come back?
Joe Quesada: As far as "SMLMJ," not right now. Sean's got a couple of things hot on the fire for us. But lets just say that if you're a fan of Sean's "SMLMJ" work, then you're going to love "Nomad," 'cause she's a girl without a world. After reading Sean's pitch for this book, I was simply blown away. It has that same feel that we all loved from his "SMLMJ" work, but it takes place right in the current Marvel U, so Sean gets to play with many of the toys in current continuity. I think it'll be a big breakthrough book for Sean at Marvel.
Kiel Phegley: Moving along to some fan questions from across the Marvel Universe, mindcrime wants to know: "I'm a big Iron Man fan and I'm enjoying 'World's Most Wanted,' but my question is, just how far is Matt Fraction taking this? Things are getting so bad for Tony, I'm wondering if he is really gonna be brain dead, or just plain dead. Tell me that's not gonna happen, Joe... please...."
Joe Quesada: You do know, mindcrime, that you're asking a question that you know I can't answer for you. Ultimately, I'm trying to sell some comics here, and quite frankly if I said anything about this story in one fashion or another, Matt Fraction would fly to New York and throw me an old school beatin'. Matt's very old school when it comes to beatin's.
Kiel Phegley: Well, a question you may be able to say something about and stay sage with is dogprod's inquiry about whether or not there are "any plans for an Invincible Iron Woman ongoing starring Pepper Potts?"
Joe Quesada: That's really up to you, dogprod's, and our fans. If there's a big enough demand, I'm sure we'll see Pepper in her own book or miniseries. So, you never know. I think what Matt has planned for her is ingenious. Keep reading "Invincible Iron Man" and like I always say, "Comics are democratic." If the fans vote with their dollars, you'll see more of it.
Kiel Phegley: Next up, we've got a question from someone calling themselves Novaya Havoc, but I have a suspicion this might be Jim McCann in disguise because they have to say, "CBR is a haven for - and has a huge group of - Dazzler fans. We've seen Marvel print the Essential Volumes over the past few years, but the gal never seems to get anything new going. She's background in 'Uncanny X-Men,' and is one of the only Marvel Universe heroes who has never received a series re-launch - or even a miniseries to test the waters on reader feedback! We keep getting re-launches of other characters, and many of them keep getting pulled and re-relaunched: Blade, Ghost Rider, Black Panther, Thor, Excalibur/Captain Britain, Punisher, Cable... when is Marvel going to take a chance on Dazzler?"
Joe Quesada: Quite honestly, Novaya Havoc, I don't know. There isn't anything planned right now, neither a miniseries nor ongoing. You will see more of Dazzler, however, in the future. So let's see what happens. I think it might be a matter of us getting that perfect Dazzler pitch and finding something that makes us want to go out and do it as a miniseries. But Dazzler's one of those characters we get constant requests for but has proven that she may be a better supporting character or better in theory than as a lead character in her own series. I'm always willing to take a chance if we get the right story and pitch in. I'm always hoping to be proven wrong with this kind of theory, but that's the current status of that character within publishing.
Jonah Weiland: I hope this doesn't come off as too rude, but is there a perfect Dazzler pitch?
Joe Quesada: No. [laughs] I kid, I kid! Truthfully, you never know. There's an old saying that "There are no bad characters," but I've seen some pretty bad characters in my time. I'm not equating Dazzler to a bad character, but I've seen some pretty silly characters that I'm pretty sure I'll never see a pitch for. I think there's something out there for Dazzler. I really do. But she's a tough character to sell while simultaneously being really, really beloved by some. So it's the type of thing where if it came across my desk, no one would be happier to publish it than me... and probably Jim McCann here at Marvel. I say this now, and Jim is getting on his computer and feverishly typing up a Dazzler pitch. [laughs]
Hang on a sec, holy $#@%, there's a Jim McCann Dazzler one-shot script in my e-mail account from Jim McCann. How does he do that?
Kiel Phegley: We've got to do this next one as a bit of a make-up because last week Jonah and I attributed a question to lobsterj that he didn't as. So this week, I'm going to ask one of his questions he actually asked.
Joe Quesada: Are you publicly apologizing to lobserj right now?
Kiel Phegley: Yes! I'm sorry, lobsterj!
Joe Quesada: There you go, lobsterj. Hope you feel better.
Kiel Phegley: His question this week is, "Not to dwell on the past, but is there any chance of the original Speedball coming back? Robbie Baldwin hasn't made much of a splash as Penance and has seemingly been written off into c-list limbo. I was wondering if there is an editorial mandate out there that he stays Penance or if he is up for grabs for any writer who wants to try and rehabilitate him after the painfully bad 'Frontline' series?"
Joe Quesada: Well, Speedball is back. He just happens to be an ape, and Penance is going to be appearing regularly in "Avengers: The Initiative" starting with issue #26. Sorry to hear that you're not a fan of Penance, but there seem to quite a few Penance enthusiasts out there. Quite frankly, Speedball's been around for a very, very long time, and he's always been a character that lives in C or D-level character status. The fact that we've made him Penance gave him some much-needed attention and has caused more people to care about him than in years past. I'm sure that some hardcore Speedball fans (how often do you hear that in a sentence) aren't crazy about it, but at the end of the day the Penance persona has been great for the character and is taking him into some very cool and different places.
Kiel Phegley: Next up, we've got two-of-a-kind questions about one of the more popular groups of characters on our boards. Gaastra asks, "When are we going to get another Great Lakes Avengers one-shot?" and dogprod asks "I too would like to see a Squirrel Girl mini or ongoing, preferably with art by Jae Lee. Any chance?"
Joe Quesada: Gaastra, dogprod, while I appreciate how likeminded you both are, there aren't any plans for anything any time soon involving the Great Lakes Avengers. But let me say this, much like the passion Jim McCann feels for Dazzler, I feel the same for Squirrel Girl. But, alas, we have nothing planned for Squirrel Girl right now, and I don't think Jae Lee will be working on the character any time in the future. But you never know, right? I've always wanted to do a Squirrel Girl miniseries or a Squirrel Girl event - "Squirrel Girl Destroys Your Nuts!" [laughs] I haven't been able to sell it in yet, but I keep on trying.
Kiel Phegley: Hulk1992 had a pair of questions, starting with, "I was wondering when we are going to see Magneto in a Dark Reign tie-in."
Joe Quesada: I would not expect to see Magneto as a part of Dark Reign. There you go. I'm actually giving you an actual answer on that. Don't expect it and thanks for playing out game, Hulk1992
Kiel Phegley: His follow up is, "The covers for 'Son of Hulk' #13 and 'Son of Hulk' #15 imply that Hiro-Kala is also the Son of Hulk. This would make sense because Queen Caiera told Hiro-Kala that when she died she didn't just save Skaar's life. Is Hiro-Kala the twin of Skaar?"
Joe Quesada: I'm glad readers are asking questions about this stuff. This is exactly what we'd hoped would happen. Of course, I can't answer that question just yet. Sorry, Hulk1992, no such luck on this one. You've got to read the book to see if there's any type of blood relationship there or if it's something different all together. And it's funny that we're getting this question right now because I just walked out of a mini Hulk Summit we had. A bunch of guys just flew into town to create the next year's worth of publishing on a Hulk family of books. It was pretty intense. I think if you're a Hulk fan right now, in the next 12 to 24 months you're going to be in Hulk heaven. It's a revolution in the universe of the Hulk. We're creating a Hulk family of books and a Hulk universe - a lot of stuff hinging around Red Hulk, Green Hulk, Skaar and some very interesting, interesting surprises. So glad you're asking the question...can't give you the answer.
Ooooh, but wait, a couple of days ago I posted a doodle I did during the Hulk summit, you may find some clues there.
Kiel Phegley: On a similar mystery bent, Sighphi asks, "When are we going to get an answer about how Spider-Woman got her powers back? The last time we saw her was when she was being put under for the operation to get her powers back, which turned out to be fake; it turned out just to be how the Skrull replaced her with the Skull Priestess. Then BAM! She appears from that ship with all the kidnapped people and she has her powers back. So what up with that?"
Joe Quesada: Hmmmm. What's up with that, huh? How about this, Sighphi? How about I tell you that the answer just might be in the Spider-Woman motion comic that's being worked on right now?
Kiel Phegley: How are things going with that project? I talked to Brian Bendis a while ago, and he said how he'd been in working with the actors on voice over stuff. Have you seen the first motion comic come into the office?
Joe Quesada: Oh yeah. I'm working on this as well, or at least Brian and Alex [Maleev] are creating the illusion that I have some say in it. We've been seeing things coming in for months now and the story is amazing and the art breathtaking. Alex lives here in the city, and the studio, Motherland, that's putting together the motion comic is also here. So he visits Motherland on an almost weekly basis, sits there with the guys and is very hands on with the motion direction. It's turning out to be an amazing project. It's got a fantastic cinematic feel. It's very dark and very moody and kind of seedy like Alex. I just saw a completed first episode with music and sound effects and everything, and it's pretty darn cool.
Jonah Weiland: When do you expect that to be released?
Joe Quesada: We'll be making announcement about that shortly, I'm sure.
Kiel Phegley: Also announced this week is Longbox, a program that's been labeled "iTunes for Comics." Are you an iPhone user or someone who's read a lot of comics online?
Joe Quesada: I'm an iPhone user, although I haven't read comics on the iPhone yet. Longbox seems like a cool idea but Marvel is looking at a lot of different things. We have a great technology department here, and our people are aware of everything that's happening on the street with regards to new technologies. Right now, we're sitting, we're talking, we're observing, and while there's a lot of things going on behind the scenes, there's nothing that we'd be prepared to announce in this column. And it's probably nothing that I would announce because Ira Rubenstein, who runs that department along with Dan Buckley, is really the person who would speak best to this.
Kiel Phegley: Last up from the boards this week is Jack of All Trades, who had a lot to ask about upcoming Spider-Man stuff. "Ever since Marc Guggenheim spilled the beans about the upcoming 'Who is Ben Reilly?' story arc, it seems that many comic book forums have been buzzing with discussion and speculation about the impending return of Ben Reilly. As of right now, it seems that Mr. Reilly will only be returning to the pages of Amazing via the magic of the flashback.
"Nonetheless this seems like a huge step for Marvel. It seems that since Ben Reilly's death in 'Peter Parker: Spider-Man' #75 he's only been referenced in continuity a handful of times. It doesn't stop here, though. You guys also have the 'Clone Saga' mini hitting the shelves in September.
"Has a secret ban been lifted on Ben Reilly and the Clone Saga? I don't know what the odds of a straight answer to this question are but are you testing the waters for a possible Ben comeback? Would a large number of sales of these clone books make this possibility stronger?"
Joe Quesada: Yo, Jack of All Trades, as far as I know there's never been a ban on Ben Reilly. Really, it was simply a matter of Marc Guggenheim bringing the character up at one of our Spider retreats, he simply had a great Ben Reilly story he wanted to write. Completely by happenstance and totally unconnected, Tom DeFalco and Howard Mackie came in with their idea for a "Clone Saga" mini which I thought was a lot of fun. So it was one of those things where there was a lot of serendipity in the air, and things just came together. So, if you're a Ben Reilly fan....rejoice!
Have some questions for Joe Quesada? Please visit the CUP O' Q&A thread in CBR's Marvel Universe forum. It is from this dedicated thread that CBR's staff will pull questions for our weekly fan-generated question-and-answer session with Joe, which will be this Friday.
Discussion about today's feature may take place at the link immediately below.