Marvel's presence at this year's Emerald City ComiCon in Seattle can be accurately summed up by their biggest panel's name - Mondo! Editor/writer C.B. Cebulski took the dais accompanied by a slew of Marvel's top writers: Daniel Way, Matt Fraction, Jason Aaron, Brian Bendis, Rick Remender, and Ed Brubaker.
At the previous Marvel panel of the weekend, Cebulski had forgotten his notes containing all of the weekend's announcements. He brought them this time, and wasted no time in sharing all the goodness Marvel had to offer. Cebulski began by introducing Marvel's latest exclusive writer, Rick Remender.
Remender didn't have anything new to announce, but did say that he's been busy with "Punisher." For those who have been missing out on the book, he explained, "We've given Frank Castle an armory of Marvel Universe relics to help solidify him in the Marvel Universe proper." He added that Frank is moving forward with his propaganda battle against Norman Osborn, and that he's taking on the Hood right now.
As bullet-point #2 on his announcement list, Cebulski announced "Wolverine: Hunger," a new digital project which follows up on Barry Windsor-Smith's classic tale, "Weapon X," and reveals details of the Experiment X project. It will be written by Karl Bollers with art by Stephen Segovia and will appear online April 22, just in time for the highly-anticipated "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" movie.
Next up, Cebulski revealed a new Ghost Rider project that will be written Jason Aaron, "Ghost Riders: Heaven's on Fire" - yes, there is supposed to be an "s" on the end of "Rider." Aaron then talked a bit about the planned six-issue miniseries, saying, "It's Ketch vs. Blaze, but it's also Ketch and Blaze teaming up to take on Heaven. This is all a continuation of everything I've been doing in 'Ghost Rider' for the last year or so." He explained that "Ghost Rider" will conclude with issue #35, "go away for a few months," and then return with this miniseries.
"This is my last arc - my last six issues - so if you thought the previous year of 'Ghost Rider' was pretty crazy, you haven't seen anything yet because we're bringing more heroes, more villains, and it's me, getting my last stab at 'Ghost Rider.'"
Cebulski followed this by asking the audience if they liked "Immortal Iron Fist." After a loud round of applause, the editor detailed Fraction and Brubaker had established a new team of heroes during their run on the book - the Immortal Weapons - and that Marvel would be putting out a five-issue miniseries for these heroes, each issue focusing on a member of this team. He then added that the first issue would be written by Jason Aaron (with art by Mico Suayan) and would focus on the origin of Fat Cobra.
Aaron elaborated, "We find out that he's lived a very long life. And over the course of that life, he's drunken vast amounts of intoxicants, so the details of that past are a little bit hazy. He can't remember too much, so he hires a writer to research his life and write the book of the Fat Cobra. That's where this story begins - the book is completed and the writer presents it to him. As we read through it we quickly realize that there was maybe a greater reason why he forgot all this stuff to begin with. We'll see everyone from Ulysses Bloodstone and Union Jack to Elvis Presley, as well as Fat Cobra's battle against Goo Gam, son of Goom."
Cebulski added that covers for the mini will be provided by original "Immortal Iron Fist" artist David Aja, and that all the books will a have back-up story written by Duane Swierczynski that ties the five issues together.
After this, the writers on the panel did a quick "round-robin" of projects they were working on before opening the microphone to a Q&A from the fans. Daniel Way went first and discussed "Deadpool" and "Dark Wolverine." "Dark Wolverine is Daken, Wolverine's son. He is Norman Osborn's 'Wolverine' for all intents and purposes. To the Marvel Universe at large, this is Wolverine and they don't realize there has been a changeover. He's hidden in plain sight and gets to throw some dirt on his father's legacy and further his own agenda as well."
With regards to "Deadpool," Way said, "After 'Magnum Opus' with Andy Diggle and the Thunderbolts, we do a Bullseye story arc, and we kind of resolve this Norman Osborn problem [Deadpool] has been having. Then we move into three issues...where Deadpool becomes a pirate."
Yes, Way was completely serious.
Fraction followed Way and talked about "Uncanny X-Men." "We just wrapped up the storyline called 'Lovelorn,' in which Colossus got a tattoo. Now we go to the storyline called 'Sisterhood,' where we see what all those weird women have been up to and what their plans are. Old favorites come back, new people join the team, people die, things explode, people have sex..."
A one-off issue will be coming up that features Beast and the team of "fringe" scientists he's put together. Fraction teased, "They go back in time to San Francisco in 1906 to investigate one of the earliest mutant births they know of, and who that is just might surprise you..."
Fraction continued, "And then we're into the summer event which is 'Dark Avengers/X-Men: Utopia.' Emma and Norman's deal was that she would keep mutants quiet and off the table and he'd stay out of their business, and something's happened to upset that cart of apples...and it's so big, it results in a summer crossover, and not an independent book being written by Mike Carey called 'Dark X-Men.' [The image being floated around the internet] is actually the cover image to 'Uncanny' #513."
Jason Aaron then took his turn and reminded everyone that his new "Wolverine: Weapon X" series launches this Wednesday. "There's lots of stabbing, lots of claws, claws made of lightsabers, bullets that give cancer... This is the first issue of a book I hope to be on for a long, long time. I'm looking to tell every Wolverine story I wanna tell right here in this one place, and it will change up from arc to arc. It's going to be different genres, different villains, new challenges, a handful of recurring characters and still have an overarching story arc..."
Aaron then jumped to the other character he mentioned previously in the panel, Ghost Rider. "'Ghost Rider' is just getting bigger and crazier. We're bringing in Son of Satan, Jane Cutter...the Orb - a dude with a giant eyeball for a head - plus lots of crazy new ones who have never been in 'Ghost Rider' before."
Things then moved to Bendis, who discussed all his books beginning with "The Search for the Sorcerer Supreme," which is taking place in "New Avengers." "Dr. Strange is no longer the Sorcerer Supreme and he is searching - with the help of the Avengers - for who it will be. It is someone known in the Marvel Universe; it is not a new character."
Bendis continued, "Stuart Immonen is going to be joining 'New Avengers' as the regular artist starting with #55, which is great news because he's amazing and the book will now have a long-term regular artist."
"Meanwhile, in 'Dark Avengers,' Norman Osborn continues his mighty reign of the Marvel Universe, but some of the members of the team haven't completely figured out that they're on the team with the bad guys. So that'll get fun..."
"And in 'Ultimate Spider-Man'-land, we are eagerly awaiting the end of 'Ultimatum' so we can continue publishing. And when that happens, there will be a great big finale called 'Ultimate Spider-Man: Requiem,' which is actually drawn not only by Stuart Immonen, but features two brand new full-length stories by Mark Bagley that no one has seen yet - we've kind of been holding onto them as a surprise."
"And then as soon Mr. Loeb says it's okay, we'll start 'Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man' #1 by David La Fuente. And it is yummy-yummy-yummy..."
Bendis also quickly mentioned the Free Comic Book Day comic he wrote, which will be available in stores on May 2. He said that it's a brand-new Avengers story featuring Thor that contains art by Jimmy Cheung. He encouraged attendees to go out and get a copy when it's available.
At this point, things came back to Remender. Unfortunately, he told fans he couldn't talk about any of the books he is doing just yet. Instead, the writer expanded on his earlier comments about Punisher by saying, "The Punisher is going to get a little bit crazier. If you've seen the cover solicited for issue #6, you saw a lot of villains that were formerly killed by Scourge of the underworld. There's a lot of those characters who are going to be coming back, and we going to be establishing a new rogue's gallery for Frank."
"Bringing back dead characters? So lame..." quipped Brubaker.
"Yeah, we'll see what you say when Steve comes back," Remender countered with a grin. The writer then added that artist Tan Eng Huat will be joining him for his second arc on "Punisher," to be followed by Tony Moore who will pencil an arc involving "Frank Castle, monsters, and craziness."
Brubaker completed the round-robin by saying he was working on a "secret project" which he couldn't talk about. However, he was happy to fill the audience in on "The Marvels Project" that he is doing with artist Steve Epting. "It's sort of like what Brian [Bendis] did with the 'Ultimate Origins' series, but for the real Marvel Universe." The audience chuckled at this as Bendis gave Brubaker the "stink-eye."
"We realized that story had never been told. Little bits and pieces of it had here and there, but it's never been woven into one big epic story - sorta like 'The Right Stuff,' but as a giant espionage story in pre-war Marvel and it's been a lot of fun."
Brubaker then moved on to "Captain America," saying that this summer will see issue #50, which will be followed by issue #600 as the series is going back to its original numbering. The 600th issue promises to be huge. Brubaker said he is writing a 42-page story for the anniversary, and it will also contain stories written by Mark Waid and Roger Stern with several "amazing" artists. "If you liked 'Captain America' #25, then you'll love #600," Brubaker promised.
As far as "Daredevil" goes, the writer said he is leaving as of issue #500 (which is actually issue #120 of the current run). Brubaker also took a second to mention "Incognito," his independent series through Icon which revolves around a super-villain living in witness protection, and encouraged readers to check it out.
With that, fans got in line to ask their questions of the panelists. One of the first queries was directed to Brubaker, with a fan wanting to know more about who his replacement was as "Daredevil" writer. "Andy Diggle," Brubaker answered. "He's the first Brit to write 'Daredevil,' so find him on the internet and make him feel nervous."
Fraction added, "Wait till you see how Diggle writes a New Yorker. It's gonna be like payback for every time an American has assumed that a British guy talks like Dick Van Dyke from 'Mary Poppins.' Daredevil's new catchphrase will be, 'Blimey! I hear a crime!'"
After the audience's laughter died down, Bendis talked a bit about "Spider-Woman" - Marvel's first in-continuity digital motion comic. He said that he and artist Alex Maleev have been working long and hard on the project, but they are excited about the voice casting they went through and the results they've seen.
The next question offered by an attendee was one that most of the panelists seemed to enjoy answering. Essentially, a fan wanted to know which Marvel character each writer would like to write if given the chance, and which character they'd like to kill.
Brubaker began, "Clearly, Captain America." The audience guffawed. "And Gambit. I just don't get it. Why do people like Gambit?" He then held up the water bottle in front of him. "I lit this on fire. Now I'm throwing it at you. Whooo!" This brought out more laughs from the audience. "Oh, and anyone with an Irish accent written by Chris Claremont. Go back and read his issues with Moira MacDonald. She sounds like she stepped out of a whiskey..."
"Moira MacTaggert, you fucking tourist!" Fraction interjected, feigning disgust at Brubaker's slip-up.
Remender's turn was next, although he insisted that he was too new to the Marvel U to have anyone he was dying to write or kill yet. The fact that the writer of the Punisher didn't want to kill anyone was irony the panel seemed to enjoy.
When Bendis answered, he said he likes all the Marvel characters, but enjoys finding characters he didn't know he'd like to write. He pointed to Storm of the Ultimate Universe as an example of this. The writer then did a quick 180-degree turn, smiled, and said there was someone he'd like to kill: "Reed Richards' kids."
Jason Aaron followed and said, "I'd love to get my hands on the Thing."
"Maybe you can have him kill Franklin and his sister?" Brubaker suggested, in light of Bendis' comment.
Fraction's answer seemed to surprise several people present, but he said he'd really like to write Adam Warlock. "I wanted to do a 'Heavy Metal' in the '70s style, trippy, science fiction, sex-soaked Adam Warlock story with David Aja, but I was the only one really excited about it."
"It's because you billed it as 'sex-soaked,'" Cebulski replied, to chuckles from the audience.
Daniel Way finished up this little go-round, saying that he enjoyed writing Bullseye, but that it was hard for him to kill lame characters because to make their deaths meaningful, writers have to invest so much of themselves into that particular character.
More highlights from the Q&A:
- Bendis said the relaunch of "Ultimate Spider-Man" to "Ultimate Comics Spider-Man" will signal a massive change in status quo for the character - not a negative one, though. "Whoever is in the costume" will be fighting a lot of new characters, and not just Ultimate versions of classic characters, but brand new ones and Ultimate versions of characters from the Spider-Man '60s cartoon show.
- Between the "Search for the Sorcerer Supreme" and the recent "X-Infernus," there is something building in the "magic" corner of the Marvel Universe. More specifically, things from the "magic and god universe" will eventually start to come to a head, though none of the panelists could say when.
- For those who read "Ultimate Origins," events from that series will be wrapped up with the conclusion of "Ultimatum." Even the last page will be picked up in "Ultimate Spider-Man."
- Layla Miller wasn't created with the intention of joining "X-Factor," but Bendis loves what Peter David has done with her.
- Bendis will be working with artist Olivier Coipel again later this year.
- The Secret Warriors will be interacting more with other characters from the Marvel Universe soon.
- Toad will be appearing in the upcoming "Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia."
- According to Bendis, the Illuminati will be getting back together this year.
- Joe Quesada does not like having his dinner interrupted to be asked, "Who would win in a fight - Thanos or Apocalypse?" This was discovered when Bendis called the EIC from the panel to ask him that very question. Quesada's response? Per Bendis, "Go fuck yourself."
- Fraction and X-Men Editor Nick Lowe made a giant list of all the mutants in the Marvel Universe, and Fraction tried to fit every single one of them in the upcoming "Utopia." He doesn't believe he achieved it, but he thinks he came close.
- Fraction was the only one of the panel who understood "Final Crisis."
- There are currently no plans for any of the characters from Fraction's "The Order." However, Pepper and Henry will still be popping up in "Invincible Iron Man" on occasion.
Mondo Marvel wrapped up with praise for the convention from the panelists, and an enthusiastic round of applause and cheers from the audience.