FAN EXPO: Pint O' C.B.

Few new Marvel-related announcements were made during last Saturday afternoon's "Pint o' C.B." panel at Fan Expo Canada, and that appeared to be intentional: the publisher had already revealed several pieces of news beforehand in Toronto. Instead, the eponymous C.B. Cebulski - recently promoted to Marvel's Senior Vice President for Creator & Content Development, flanked by Senior Editor Steve Wacker and Manager of Sales and Communication Arune Singh - spent the vast majority of his panel's running time presiding over a spirited forum of questions and discussions from audience members.

Cebulski began by referring to the previously announced miniseries "Chaos War," a story spinning out of events in "Incredible Hercules." Stating that it will "play around with some of the boundaries of the mortal realm," he displayed some art from a tie-in with the self-explanatory title "Dead Avengers" before telling the appreciative audience that Alpha Flight members killed off by Brian Bendis will also return in a very Canadian one-shot. (He later hinted that the team's revival won't end there.) While describing the still-living Giant-Man's resumption of that name in "Avengers Academy" #7, Cebulski said that one of the issue's variant covers will involve "our merger with a little company named Disney."

The first fan question concerned the meaning of H.A.M.M.E.R.'s name and whether it will be mentioned. "Once Brian figures it out, I think," said Cebulski, which inspired Wacker to make up increasingly ridiculous deadpan acronyms at random over the course of the panel ("Heroes Are More Modern Every Realm"). It seemed to set the tone for what followed.

When an attendee rose to ask about Alpha Flight, fellow Canadian Arune Singh, who was wearing a Montreal Canadiens cap, wondered what defined the team for him beyond cultural nationalism. The fan replied that "I see Alpha Flight as a group that are underestimated, that are not looked upon as serious agents."

One fan said, half-joking, that Nightcrawler's recent death "destroyed me as a human being," and asked if the character will be seen again. Cebulski answered that "unfortunately, with this one, dead is dead." Conversely, a response of "never" on when the Sentry might reappear was greeted by loud applause.

Numerous audience members were curious about the publication futures of a favorite character, such as Moon Knight (the creative team on an upcoming book will apparently be announced "by Canadian Thanksgiving"), the Runaways (individual members will be making scattered appearances while the publisher figures out what to do with them as a whole) and Ben Reilly ("he turned to dust, he's not coming back," though Wacker argued that the much-maligned Clone Saga still contains material worth mining for current Spider-Man stories).

A question about strange fanmail elicited the tale of a bodybuilder who wrote in claiming Spider-Man is too skinny, including photos of himself for reference, and offering to pose at the Marvel offices as a model for the hero's "hulking, Liefeldesque" redesign.

One notable exception to the comedy of the panel was a discussion of Marvel's ongoing attempt to draw in more female creators and readers. Cebulski and Wacker happily noted that several contributors to this year's "Girl Comics" anthology are taking on other gigs elsewhere in the Marvel Universe, like Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios' "Osborn," while Singh connected them to women who've worked on prominent Marvel series past, like Ann Nocenti.

The final question united the hour's two main themes: Is Deadpool Canadian? "For the purposes of this panel, he's Canadian. He's taken the oath, he's drank the syrup."

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