ECCC: Marvel: From "Black Vortex" to "Secret Wars"

Saturday afternoon in Seattle, Marvel turned its attention at Emerald City Comicon to the "From 'Black Vortex' to 'Secret Wars'" panel, focusing on -- but not limited to -- the two titular events. In attendance were Marvel Executive Editor Mike Marts, Marvel VP of International Business Development C.B. Cebulski and writers Kelly Sue DeConnick, Rick Remender and Charles Soule.

Marts started the panel by asking Remender to discuss the recently announced "Secret Wars"-related series he's writing, "Hail Hydra." "We've never seen what happens when Hydra wins," Remender said of "Hail Hydra." "There's a bridge from 'Captain America' that connects directly into this."

Stepping back a bit, Cebulski filled-in anyone in the crowd who may be unfamiliar about "Secret Wars" -- both the original and the new series, set to debut in May and promised to bring major changes to Marvel's fictional universes. "This is the culmination of everything [Jonathan Hickman] has been building towards," Marts added. "We've been planning for this over a year at the writers' retreats."

Soule discussed "Inhumans: Attilan Rising," which he compared to "Casablanca." In "Attilan Rising," Medusa and Black Bolt -- long-married in the traditional Marvel Universe -- will be at odds. "It's very dramatically emotionally, with huge action," Soule said. "It's a lot of fun. 'Secret Wars' gives us the opportunity to twist things and do things we wouldn't normally be able to do. I'm having a lot of fun with the mash-up element of it."

The other Soule-written "Secret Wars" event is "Civil War." "You probably know that story," Soule said of the 2006-2007 original. "Having the opportunity to tell a new story set in that idea is super-fun." In Soule's "Civil War" series, "It's not just the superheroes, we're all a part of it. It's gigantic. It's the biggest thing, scope-wise, I've ever done."

DeConnick called her "Secret Wars" series, "Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps," effectively "aviation porn," and that for unrevealed reasons, in the Hala Field section of Battleworld there are "no stars in the sky." "[Carol] and her crew find out that maybe there were supposed to be stars in the sky, and they want to find out what is above the clouds," DeConnick said. "It's not the way it is in our world. 'Carol wants to go up, other people want her to stay down.' Basic idea." Helen Cobb, the Banshee Squadron and Jackie Cochran will all be in the series.

DeConnick praised her "Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps" co-writer, longtime CBR contributor Kelly Thompson, and series artist David López.

Moving quickly to fan questions, the first crowd member asked if the characters will remember their pre-"Secret Wars" history within the story. DeConnick responded, "Do you seriously think you're going to get an answer to that? This anxiety and uncertainty that you're feeling right now is our marketing plan." Cebulski added, "This is not going to be a reboot, this not going to be revamp. It's not like everything's changing." "This is the longest running continuing narrative in human history," DeConnick said, commenting that you can't just discard that.

Asked if she'll be involved in the "Captain Marvel" film, DeConnick repeated her comments to CBR earlier this week, saying her only involvement is that she's excited to see it. "I will be first in line. I will beat anyone down that tries to cut." Soule said it's the same for him and the "Inhumans" film.

When asked about a perceived suppression of the Fantastic Four within Marvel publishing, Cebulski dismissed the notion that the characters are being held back. "There will be a 'Fantastic Four' book," Cebulski said, adding that the characters play an important part in "Secret Wars." "The characters are still loved." Cebulski also pointed out that Human Torch will be a part of "Uncanny Inhumans," as revealed earlier this week.

The next fan asks if things will "continue evolving" after "Secret Wars," or return to how they were about three years ago. Remender said what comes out of "Secret Wars" is "obviously a secret," but it's "not going to discount the work we've done." Remender said the post-"Secret Wars" stories are some of the most exciting things he's been involved with in his career, and that it gives him "grown-man goosebumps." "None of those plans go out the window," Remender said, speaking, from his perspective, of Sam Wilson as Captain America.

"Evolution is the name of the game," Marts added. "If we're just hitting the reset button and telling the same old stories again, where's the fun in that? When Stan and Jack created the universe, they were taking chances with the characters, and that's exactly what we're doing in 'Secret Wars.'"

Next question asked about the unexpected success of "Spider-Gwen." "We love those happy surprises," Cebulski said. "We build with the best intentions. Sometimes they're meant to be temporary, and they just take off. 'Spider-Gwen' was meant to be a one-shot, and the response was just amazing. There's no sign of slowing down."

A fan asked about the lack of gay or bisexual lead characters at Marvel, and if there's an effort to be made to increase that representation. "We have to keep in that mind, but also, we don't want to push anything," Cebulski responded. "We don't want to create any kind of an agenda. We don't set limits on our writers. We want everything to occur naturally, we don't want it to feel forced. We want to be as diverse as possible, but we're not going out and targeting specific demographics for books, because fans know when it's forced."

Cebulski told a fan that there's a "friendly rivalry" between Marvel and DC Comics, but it's not as bitter as people may think. Marts pointed out that many Marvel editors used to work at DC (including himself) and vice versa, but "Marvel has the greatest roster of characters." Cebulski informed the same fan that "Secret Wars" starts in May and should end around September.

Marts said that several characters will have "lasting effects" as a result of "The Black Vortex" storyline. "Not just minor characters, big characters."

Is the elderly Steve Rogers getting bigger and more invigorated, or is it just different artists' interpretations? "It's just interpretations," Remender answered. "He's still old. The super-soldier serum is gone. It's up to Sam."

Winding down the panel, an attendee asked if Miles Morales "becoming the main Spider-Man" have anything to do with the Sony and Marvel Studios live-action Spidey deal? Cebulski said they can't speak to that film deal, and stated, "Miles becoming the main Spider-Man, I think you're speculating a little bit there. Peter Parker is still going to be around, he's not going anywhere." Will there still be an "Amazing Spider-Man" series after "Secret Wars"? "Wait and see," Cebulski responded.

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