ECCC: Marvel: Next Big Thing Panel

It's Sunday at Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle, and Marvel wrapped its convention programming with the "Next Big Thing" panel, featuring several of its high-profile creators filling in fans at the Washington State Convention Center on the latest in their books.

On the panel: Creators Donny Cates, Charles Soule, Kris Anka, Ed Brisson, Matthew Rosenberg and Jacen Burrows, X-Men books editor Darren Shan and Marvel talent relations' Rickey Purdin, serving as moderator.

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Cates started the panel by talking about his upcoming plans for Venom, confirming that it will be Eddie Brock starring in the book, but the story may be something darker than fans are expecting. Moving to Cosmic Ghost Rider, Cates said it was the "craziest thing that I've ever done.

Soule talked the upcoming Hunt for Wolverine one-shot, the follow-up to 2014's Death of Wolverine, which will be written by Soule and illustrated by recent Defenders artist David Marquez. That leads to four separate miniseries, which "will have different sections of the Marvel Universe looking for [Wolverine]."

Adamantium Agenda is an action-adventure story Soule called something of a nostalgia play, as it stars many of Wolverine's former New Avengers co-stars. Claws of the Killer is a "straight-up horror book." Soule said Mystery in Madripoor is "not a romance book, but it doesn't shy away from the legacy Wolverine has with people like Storm, for example." Weapon Lost, written by Soule and illustrated by Matteo Buffagni, is a detective story.

Burrows talked his work on Moon Knight with writer Max Bemis, saying the book has been "fun to cut loose with." "It's really fun to draw people punching each other," Burows said.

On Runaways, Anka talked collaborating with series writer Rainbow Rowell, who found fame as a young adult novelist. Anka said Rowell grew up reading comics, so she "didn't miss a beat." Anka said it's been a true partnership on the book, "Our hands are in everything together."

Brisson discussed Old Man Logan and Iron Fist. Old Man Logan will see the title character "trying to cope," and almost going into semi-retirement. He's looking to "figure out where he fits in the Marvel Universe," especially with the original Wolverine back.

In Iron Fist's issues tying-in to the "Damnation" crossover, the series will see "Danny roped into the casino battle royale," and include some unexpected "deep-dive characters."

Turning to Punisher, Rosenberg said the arc starting in issue #224 will see Frank Castle, in the War Machine armor, coming back to New York City. "Frank Castle now has that taste for bigger game in that armor," Rosenberg told the crowd. "He's in New York, hunting what was previously out of his weight class. But the heroes of New York are not happy to see him. Frank's not a hero, and to people like Carol Danvers, this is not OK. Luke Cage does not think this is OK. Daredevil does not think this is OK. It's a who's who of the best of the Marvel Universe trying to pry the armor off of him."

Rosenberg then moved to the New Mutants: Dead Souls miniseries, illustrated by Adam Gorham and Michael Garland, which debuts on March 14. "It's a little different than I think people have been getting from X-Men books lately," Rosenberg said. "They're not exactly superheroes. They're investigating paranormal events."

Rosenberg dismissed the idea that since something is a miniseries, that means it doesn't "matter." "Status quos are changing in big ways," the writer said of Dead Souls. "There are going to be a lot of other cameos and surprise appearances. It's a really wild roller coaster. It's this strange, conspiracy, creepy, slow-build, horror adventure book. It's not like anything else I've ever done."

Transitioning to fan Q&A, the first question was how Wolverine will fit in with Laura Kinney established as Wolverine, and Old Man Logan still a major part of the Marvel Universe. "I will say that the minis are focused on the hunt for Wolverine," Soule said, but they've been keenly aware from the start of how All-New Wolverine and Old Man Logan have been received, and they've been discussing since then how best to handle the situation.

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In another question on Hunt for Wolverine, a fan asked how Wolverine will react to find out that the universe has been rewritten as a result of Secret Wars. "That happened to every character in the Marvel Universe," Soule answered. Comics being comics, there are a lot of things you have to be, 'OK, that happened, I can't dwell too much.' I think he'll wake up and be surprised to hear about all the things he missed. It would be fun just to write him reading the news while he was dead."

Following Bendis' talk earlier at this convention of his desire to see a Marvel/DC crossover at some point, a fan asked the panel what they would like to see from such a story. "I personally would like to see Thanos vs. Darkseid, so we can put that one to bed," Cates said. "I would like to see Darth Vader versus Superman," Soule added. "That's a bridge too far, too. But wouldn't it be fun?" Anka may have had the most compelling pitch: "Karolina and Nico go shopping with Starfire and Raven."

Next question concerned Cosmic Ghost Rider, with Cates asked about the origins of the character. "I really wanted to do this book called Ghost Rider: Herald of Galactus," Cates said, adding that he was met with skepticism, especially with the added layer that Frank Castle would be Ghost Rider. "When Jordan White offered me Thanos I got to this beat, I knew I needed essentially a herald of Thanos. I was trying to figure out who that would be, if it was going to be one of the Black Order -- then I was like, I have this character! I have this galactic rider thing! I put it in the pitch."

"I just embraced the '90s of it all," Cates continued. "People really responded to it. Punisher fans are not wild about Frank being this goofy sellout, but I really like it. I have him tattooed on my arm."

In the last question of the panel, a fan asked what Marvel character they'd most like to work on. Rosenberg: Said he wants to write a core X-Men book. Cates: "I want to write Thor." Brisson named Speedball -- because he wants someone to deliver on the potential of the character.

"I've had a Stilt-Man pitch -- greenlit -- for like two years," Soule said. "It fits in Daredevil. But it's so dumb, it might end all of this. So I have yet to decide to do this." Soule said his less goofy answer is Captain America.

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