It was a grab-bag of Marvel Comics news and excitement Saturday night at the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (AKA C2E2) as the "Marvel's Next Big Thing" panel got underway.
Joining in the action were writers Jason Aaron and Chip Zdarsky along with "Venom" writer Mike Costa, editor Wil Moss, associate editor Darren Shan, executive editor Nick Lowe, "Captain Marvel" writer Margaret Stohl and finally "Black Panther" artist Brian Stelfreeze.
The big news of the panel came in the form of "Marvel Legacy" – a concept born from August's "Generations" event which will feature one-shots of team-ups between classic Marvel characters and the young legacy heroes they inspired.
Aaron said his "Thor" one-shot would focus on Jane Foster teaming up with a version of the classic Thor Odinson that she'd never met before – even though she's been a part of Thor's life since the birth of the Marvel Universe. Mahmud Asrar will be drawing that story while other one shots will invite the likes of Paul Renaud (on "The Americas" with Nick Spencer), Ramon Perez (on "The Spiders" with Brian Bendis) and Ramon Rosanas (on "The Best" – a Wolverine story by Tom Taylor).
More news was promised form "Generations," though the big news about the stunt came with what will follow it. "Marvel Legacy" is a branding that will launch with a one-shot written by Aaron and drawn by Esad Ribic under a cover from Joe Quesada. The cover was teased, and the panel promised that the story would bring back a long-missing piece of the Marvel Universe.
"This is by far the biggest thing I've ever done," Aaron said of the story. "This book deals with Marvel's past, present and future...the one thing I really wanted to do with this book is that we dive right into Marvel's past to introduce what I call the prehistoric Avengers. One is a character that's running around now, and the rest are like caveman versions of the biggest legacy characters in the Marvel U." From there, the present story will check in with the likes of Steve Rogers, Thor Odinson, Tony Stark and the other classic heroes. "This story will set up things that will play out across every book we publish," the writer said.
The panel stressed during the Q&A that "Marvel Legacy" will not erase the progress made in diversifying the Marvel U in recent years, with Aaron promising that newer characters and characters of color are very much a part of the story he's telling and the Marvel U moving forward.
Independent of the panel, Marvel also released word that many of their core titles would be returning to their original numbering scheme in the fall and beyond.
Beyond that news, the discussion started with Gerry Duggan and Aaron Kuder's "All-New Guardians of the Galaxy" #1, which will not only embrace the tone of the movies, but the team will also bring in flourishes from the Dan Abnett/Andy Lanning era including the return of the mythology of Darkhawk. Meanwhile, the series is structured to include solo spotlight issues for the Guardians telling where they've been since the end of Brian Bendis' run with the team. Each of these stories will feature special guest artists like issue #3 featuring Gamora by Frazer Irving or issue #5 presenting Star-Lord by Chris Samnee.
The cosmic line expands with a new "Rocket Raccoon" series which will start with a noir-inspired tale featuring a femme fatale Shan described as a "sexy otter." Meanwhile, "I Am Groot" takes baby Groot on a mission back to his home world as inspired by '80s fantasy movies like "The Never-Ending Story."
Zdarsky is finally getting his shot at Spider-Man with "Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man" which arrives on Free Comic Book Day. The writer joked, "This is a new character, and we really wanted to explore what makes him who he is. Is there some tragedy that made him this way?" Eventually the writer took a more straight approach, describing the book as back to basics take on the famed hero. Of getting his chance to do the book, Zdarsky said, "It's wrong, and Marvel will regret their mistake very soon." Teaming with Adam Kubert on the book, Zdarsky said his collaborator's pages make him hate himself as an artist.
Costa discussed the plans to bring Eddie Brock back to the Venom persona in his series with a special issue #150 drawn by Tradd Moore on tap. The writer described the relationship between Brock and the symbiote as a bad co-dependent relationship. Part of this is driven by the influence of the last symbiote host Lee Price. "Lee is felt both psychically, and we'll definitely see him again physically," Costa said, and he promised that the story of how Flash Thompson lost the suit will be told in issue #150.
The Asgard/Shi'ar War comes to a head in coming issues of "Mighty Thor" where Aaron said he had to bring in the Phoenix Force as another cosmic element both to ratchet up the stakes of the book but also so he had an excuse to return to one of his favorite characters. "Quentin Quire shit-talking Thor is one of my favorite things I've ever gotten to write," he said.
The book will introduce a third Thor to the franchise ("I get paid by the Thor," Aaron quipped) called "the War Thor" – a new take on the idea of Ultimate Thor which is still a bit mysterious. The writer promised, "He's someone you know and someone you've seen before. You do find out in issue #20 who it is. I'm not going to stretch it all out for seven issues again," he said.
The next arc of "Black Panther" will be called "Avengers of the New World," and Stelfreeze talked about his role in designing a new life for Wakanda. "It's the most fun I've had in comics, period," he said, saying that he screwed up a bit by taking on such a high profile gig because "On the smaller books, the editors don't hassle you." The artist said he wants to stay involved with the series creatively for the long run, which for the moment means providing the covers.
He also did new designs for the gods of Wakanda – characters Black Panther feels have abandoned their nation in the new arc. Stelfreeze said he wanted to make the gods look "different, but very familiar" with the idea that all of Africa's other nations ultimately took their art styles from the root of Wakandan culture.
Rounding out "Black Panther" new was word that the first 12 issues of the comic will get an oversized hardcover treatment in August with a new cover by Stelfreeze that the panel showed off as well as an introduction from late night host Seth Meyers.