HeroesCon: Ed Brubaker & Steve Epting

Despite all their work together on "Captain America" and other books, writer Ed Brubaker and artist Steve Epting had met in person only once before their Sunday panel at Heroes Con.

Epting said the two hardly even talk on the phone. "Ed gives me everything I need in the script."

Their talk covered a range of topics but focused largely on the pair's upcoming "Marvels Project," an eight-issue retelling of the Marvel Universe's origin starting in the years before World War II. Brubaker called it an espionage story about the race to create atomic people. "There's this giant untold story," he said. "It's this big epic with all the early heroes and characters."

The central character will be the Angel, and Brubaker is taking a "weird twist" on him, Epting said. The artist's task with the book is to take the often silly costumes of that era of comics and recast them slightly, but he said he wouldn't be too radical in his changes. "The Angel has one of the lamest costumes of all time," Brubaker added.

Brubaker, who borrowed Alan Moore's research assistant to dig into the time period of the story, said other central characters would be the Human Torch, Steve Rogers and Prince Namor, and "we'll finally learn why he hates surface people." The writer also said Electro will be a "government-funded super robot monster. It's the world's most giant retcon, but in a good way."

The pulp-heavy "Marvels Project" will tie-in to future Marvel stories, Brubaker said, but it will be more for fans of movies based on Marvel characters who might want to know about the universe's history. "There are characters who have been overlooked who will be coming forward to the modern age," he said.

Despite his bevy of projects and the seeming full circle of his run on "Captain America," Brubaker said he has no plans to give the book up. He wouldn't say anything more about the upcoming "Captain America: Reborn" event, though.

Brubaker also announced the return of his Icon series "Criminal" this fall, with a new miniseries, "The Sinners." It'll return to Tracy Lawless, "Who's spent a year as the world's worst hit man. He only wants to kill people who deserve it." When mobsters begin being killed, Lawless is forced to become the "sheriff of the mob," Brubaker said.

There's also an upcoming "Criminal Omnibus," which will include the first three storylines and some of the extra material from the issues. Brubaker guessed it will be about 450 pages.

Brubaker also gave details on his "Angel of Death" film for Sony. It's available online now, will be shown at San Diego's Comic-Con and then will air on FX and be released on DVD on successive days.

The writer also said Tom Cruise is still attached to a "Sleeper" film, though it hit a snag recently when "Star Trek" came out. Because that movie featured a black hole, Warner Bros. decided the suitcase black hole bomb had to be cut from the "Sleeper" script.

"If comics were like Hollywood, books would never come out," Brubaker said. "'Hey, Superman just punched a guy last week!'"

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