HeroesCon: Marvel Writers Round Table

As Day Two of the Heroes Convention wrapped up in Charlotte, several Marvel Comics writers sat down and discussed upcoming stories. On the panel were Matt Fraction, Peter David, Christos Gage, Jeff Parker and Daniel Way.

It was David who provided some insight into one of the bigger announcements so far, the "Messiah Complex" storyline, set to run throughout the X-books this fall. "'Messiah Complex' deals with mutants being an endangered species," said David, "and what happens when Cerebra detects the birth of a child with the X-gene." He went on to say that both the Marauders and Purifiers also find out about the child, who then disappears, prompting a race to see who can find the baby first. "We had a mutant summit a couple of month ago and beat out the story. It's twelve parts over four books for three months."

David added that as a result of the events in "Messiah Complex," there will be a shake-up in the status quo for several of the teams, with his own X-Factor team gaining a member and possibly losing one as well.

A fan asked the panel if, with World War Hulk and now this X-crossover in the wings, are crossovers what fans can expect for the future. "I think you'll see them as a continued element," said David. "But I don't think you have to worry about them month in and month out." However, David did want to make something clear, saying that as much as people talk about hating crossovers, they still sell well. "Money spent even though you hate to do it shows up the same way as if you loved it."

David also brought up the point that for some, this could be their first exposure to some of the books.

Christos Gage talked about his upcoming miniseries, "House of M:Avengers." Mike Perkins will be the artist on the title, which is expected to hit stores in November. The book will feature Luke Cage and his band of freedom fighters from the House of M reality, including Moon Knight and Hawkeye. "The book tells the history of the House of M," Gage said, "spanning over 25 years back to the end of the human/mutant wars. Bendis set the war back in the '70s, so that means Luke Cage back in his yellow shirt, Misty Knight in her afro; all the stuff I remember from back as a kid."

Gage also explained that the mini will cover time from the end of the war up until the House of M we saw two years ago. He said that it would be explained how mutants become a majority in one generation. Also, Gage said, there will be an FBI taskforce hunting the Avengers team, made up of villains such as Taskmaster and the Blob, but also other characters who might fit into the hero or anti-hero category, such as Frank Castle.

"In the House of M world, everybody got their fondest wish," Gage said, "but it didn't quite turn out the way they hoped." Gage said that while Castle did save his family in the HOM world, for some that means there's leverage to be used against him.

Shifting gears, Matt Fraction was asked what gave him the idea to incorporate G.W. Bridge into his "Punisher War Journal" series. "The Road Runner needs a Coyote," Fraction said. "I love the idea of there being a respectable African American Muslim and that he's a good guy."

The attention turned back to Peter David when an audience member asked if he'll be keeping the same supporting characters when he takes over "She-Hulk." "I'm actually going to be creating a new supporting cast," David confirmed, "just because I have no idea where Dan leaves it at the end of his run. The simplest way to proceed would be to jump the storyline three months ahead and introduce Jen in her new status quo.

"The storyline as I developed it flows organically from what came before. You might say, 'Oh, I wasn't expecting that but it makes sense.'"

Daniel Way talked about the upcoming issues of "Ghost Rider" that see Johnny Blaze take on the Hulk. "Johnny Blaze was a guy who always did the right thing, but went about it the wrong way," explained Way. "The Hulk basically forces the Rider to get involved, charging headlong into New York and going toe to toe with him."

With both characters not exactly known for their calm nature, Way said there's 24 pages of fight scenes over the two issues. After that crossover wraps up, Ghost Rider turns back to his mission of sending the devil back to hell. "The arc after [World War Hulk] is the final confrontation between the devil and Johnny Blaze," Way announced. He also promised there would be black ops angels, hot trucker chicks and undead football coaches included in the arc, which begins in issue #14 coming this August.

Way then talked about "Wolverine: Origins" and the twist he has coming up. The world has recently been introduced to Wolverine's son, who has a slightly different perspective than that of his father. "[Daken] was raised inside a shadow conspiracy and, unlike Wolverine, he never tried to escape," said Way. "He considers it normal and his father to be a traitor."

Way also mentioned that people who may believe the "Origins" story arcs have so far been random segments might want to look again. "Everything Wolverine has been doing thus far has been part of a plan," Way said. "Just not his plan. He thought he had broken free but it turns out that's not the case."

With that conspiracy looming in the future, Way talked about Captain America's arrival to the "Origins" book, beginning o a five-part storyline in August's issue #16. "It's a memorial type of thing," Way said. "A story arc exploring Wolverine and Captain America's pasts together back in World War II." The writer promised fans would see part of the early history of the Marvel Universe, with the formation of SHIELD, an early version of Hydra and how Logan ties into both.

Among the panel's major topics were continuity and timelines. A fan started the discussion by asking writer Jeff Parker if "X-Men: First Class" is in continuity. Parker confirmed that the title is in continuity, but cautioned that there is a difference between continuity and canon . "What's going to stick is what people like, Parker said.

"If you obey rigid, real-time continuity," Matt Fraction added, "then you have to stop telling stories. My dad is 60 years old and he was in Vietnam. Does that mean the Punisher is 60? And we're sending him up against Rhino?"

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