It's the last day of Emerald City Comicon 2016, and the "Civil War II" team of Brian Michael Bendis & David Marquez gathered in Seattle midday Sunday -- along with "The Ultimates" writer Al Ewing, "Captain Marvel" artist Kris Anka and Marvel talent scout C.B. Cebulski -- for the "Marvel: Civil War II" panel, previewing the June-debuting Marvel event.
We started this one slightly in process due to some technical hangups, but we'll catch you up on anything pertinent that may have been missed. Bendis started the panel by showing off some interior art from "Civil War II," and discussed the new Inhuman, Ulysses, who can predict the future. Bendis promised skeptical fans that Ulysses' abilities are different than past Marvel characters with precognitive abilities.
Ewing discussed Captain Marvel's role in "Ultimates," saying it serves as something of a prelude to her position in "Civil War II" -- as the leader of one force of heroes, against Iron Man -- since in his book, Carol Danvers and the rest of the team has taken a more proactive role in confronting threats before they happen.
Bendis assured the crowd that "there's nothing in 'Civil War II' that was a beat in 'Civil War I.'" Cebulski said there is a commonality -- relevance to real-world events, though that wasn't necessarily a goal when the story was originally planned. "It's become a very political charged place again, and some of the themes are very pertinent, and it's just amazing the similarities in that regard." Bendis said the theme of "public perception versus political ideals" is a major part of the story.
Cebulski asked Marquez, who has collaborated with Bendis on the past in "Ultimate Comics Spider-Man" and "Invincible Iron Man," about his work on "Civil War II." "We started chatting about this late last year," Marquez said. "This is not a small story. But you still have these really amazing character moments. I like that this book is so big, but it all comes down to this core of really human characters dealing with really, really hard situations and hard issues."
Bendis showed a black-and-white spread of Medusa vs. Iron Man, with Medusa "infiltrating" Tony's armor with her hair. "She's in his business," Bendis said, stressing that the art had not been approved by Marvel editorial.
Anka discussed the "Captain Marvel" tie-in issues of "Civil War II." "I don't think I've been part of a book that's had a big event tie-in," Anka said, adding that he's not yet fully sure what the story of the "Captain Marvel" tie-in will be, and as a comics fan, he's OK with that. "I'm trying to hold off as long as possible."
"Ultimates" will also tie-in to "Civil War II." Ewing said that every time he sees a part of a script to the main series, he thinks, "I can't wait to talk about that" in his book.
Bendis showed off some more Marquez black-and-white art, including a page with a major scene of heroes charging forward, with Thor at the center.
First fan question asked if there were series that may tell the broader story of "Civil War II." Cebulski pointed to the "Civil War II: Choosing Sides" anthology as a place for that kind of story.
"Just because I write Iron Man, don't assume that Iron Man is going to win," Bendis told a fan. "The point of a story like 'Civil War II' is that both sides are laid out, with no judgement, with equal value, for all of you to argue among yourselves."
An audience member asked Bendis about "C-list" characters that could be elevated by "Civil War II." "There are no c-list characters, they're all a-list characters in the right hands," Bendis said, pointing to the mainstream popularity of Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Rocket Raccoon and Groot.
Cebulski added that former Marvel editor Ralph Macchio used to say, "There are no bad characters, there just are characters that haven't had good stories told with them yet," with Bullseye used as an example -- something of a joke character before Frank Miller used the character in his seminal "Daredevil" run.
Cebulski named three characters that will have be dramatically affected by "Civil War II": Nova, Kamala Khan and Miles Morales, since they're all young characters who are experiencing an event like this for the first time.
Will "Civil War II" affect the X-Men? "Yes, 100 percent," Bendis answered, said that unlike past events, the X-Men and the "street-level characters" play a big role in "Civil War II" -- at least, for the latter, Daredevil. "This is the most times I've written the words 'Matt Murdock' since 'Daredevil,'" Bendis said.
A fan asked for an update on Bendis' creator-owned output. "'Scarlet' is shipping very soon, three issues coming; we've got four issues of 'Powers' coming, we're going to be making more 'Brilliant' right away," Bendis said. "There's a whole new trade coming."
The next person up at the icrophone asked if "X-Men and mutants were going away." "Well, you know, Marvel hates the X-Men," Bendis joked. "A lot is going to happen with the X-Men. It would be in terrible taste for me to say anything along those lines, and not let those writers tell their story." "You will always have X-Men comic books," Cebulski added. Bendis said it was troubling when people would say Marvel hates the X-Men while he was writing the books, given the time he spent on them and the artistic talent that were on the titles -- and that as long as fans buy X-Men books, Marvel will make them. The crowd was happy with that. "I've never gotten such applause for capitalism," Bendis said.
A fan asked about diversity, and Bendis said he was proud of what Marvel has achieved in that area in recent years, and acknowledged there was still a ways to go. Bendis referred to Saturday's "Powers" TV panel, where series co-star Susan Heyward said that diversity isn't just diversity of "skin color or sexual spectrum," but also diversity of experience and diversity of perspective.
Ewing told a fan that working with continuity is like assembling "the world's biggest jigsaw puzzle." Bendis credited Marvel's editorial team, specifically Tom Brevoort, for "knowing more about continuity than any of us in the room could ever put into our heads." "The characters are in the hands of people who care with every fiber of their being and think about it all day long," Bendis continued. "Yes, there might be a mistake here and there that pops up, because there are hundreds of writers and hundreds of artists. Nothing is ever done to [dismiss] continuity. It's an organism, and we all do our best to take care of it."
Did Marvel have any second thoughts on returning to "Civil War"? "Any story, when you're writing and drawing it, is equally important," Bendis replied. "Every story is an event in your head. You want to make sure the idea is worthy of such a thing."
Towards the end of the session, a fan asked about writing relatable characters, which Bendis said is something he thinks about constantly. "When you're writing, the more specific you get, the more intimate and detailed you get to each character's perspective of the world, the more universal it becomes," he answered. "It's such a weird dichotomy, but it's absolutely true. You've just got to be as focused with that characters as you possibly can."
"That is the goal at the top of the mountain," Ewing added. "You set yourself up to write something that's going to resonate with people. Part of that is reaching to those things in yourself that tie into that." "There's no right or wrong answer," Bendis said. "If there was, we'd all do it and go home."