Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada has been hosting “Cup O’ Joe” panels since the early days of his tenure as Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief, and he returned Saturday at New York Comic Con for the latest installment. Joining Quesada: Marvel writers Dan Slott (“Amazing Spider-Man,” “Silver Surfer”), Charles Soule (“Daredevil,” “Uncanny Inhumans”), Kieron Gillen (“Darth Vader”) and Al Ewing (“New Avengers,” “The Ultimates”); “Spider-Man/Deadpool” artist Ed McGuinness, plus Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso, Director of Content & Characer Development Sana Amanat, VP of International Business Development C.B. Cebulski, Senior Editor Nick Lowe and Editor Jordan D. White
Quesada talked upcoming major anniversaries: the 75th anniversary of Captain America, and the 50th of Black Panther. Alonso said Black Panther has been one of his favorite characters since he was a little kid, and recapped Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze joining the new “Black Panther” comics series.
Ewing discussed the “Contest of Champions” comic book series, inspired by the mobile game. Ewing said there will be “synergy” between the two. “I think it’s the first comic book that’s based on a game that was based on a comic book,” Alonso said. “Hopefully we can keep inception-ing it into infinity,” Ewing added.
Quesada announced that Marvel will publish a “Captain Marvel” young adult novel from Shannon Hale & Dean Hale. “We’re very excited about this, because of the top level talent that we’re able to bring on,” Amanat said. “We really believe that there’s an alignment between what we do and the great Young Adult landscape out there.” Amanat said Shannon Hale will bring a new voice to Captain Marvel that fans will by happy about.
Lowe revealed that Marvel has partnered with the New York Musical Theatre Festival. “We’re really happy to announce the start of a new partnership with the New York Musical Theatre Festival,” Lowe stated. “I will be sitting on the judging panel with them.”
Next up: “Spider-Man/Deadpool,” from Joe Kelly and Ed McGuinness. “I’m really excited to be on this book,” McGuinness said. “To be back on Deadpool; Spider-Man’s a character I’ve wanted to draw forever. I really want to do a solid, long run on the book — to the point where, my brother had a two-day long bachelor party, and I only went for one day.”
“This book is so awesome,” Lowe added. “It is hilarious. Action-packed. Joe has done such an incredible job, because not only is it hliarious, it hits the characters really hard, and puts them in tough positions. I guarantee that if you read this book, you will cry at least a single tear.”
Spoiler warning — major spoilers for this week’s “Amazing Spider-Man” #1 follow.
Slott talked the recently released “Amazing Spider-Man” #1, blurting the major spoiler: “Doc Ock is back!” Slott said things will continue to ramp up in the series. “It’s not going to be about Peter in a boardroom, it’s constantly ramping up in action, a lot of Marvel Universe stuff,” Slott said.
“A lot of new Spider-Man tech,” Lowe added, including the “Spider-Man skimmer” water vehicle. “Every issue ends with a crazy reveal that’s going to have huge impact down the line.”
Moving to the Slott-written “Silver Surfer,” the writer pointed out that March 2016 is the 50th anniversary of that character. Slott said there’s something “so massive” coming for the character that there’s no way to talk about Silver Surfer going forward without mentioning it. “This is going to change the character forever,” Slott exclaimed.
Soule on “Daredevil”: “It’s the best work I’ve seen from Ron Garney. I happen to be a lawyer myself, writing a lawyer is pretty natural. The main thing you need to know about this Daredevil run, other than it looks amazing, is that Daredevil is back in New York City. He has his secret identity back.” Soule also talked Daredevil’s new apprentice Blindspot; civilian name Sam Chung.
Also written by Soule: “Uncanny Inhumans.” “Black Bolt and Medusa’s son has been kidnapped by Kang the Conqueror, and taken back in time — somewhere,” the writer said. “Now Black Bolt is on a mission to take his son back. There’s a strong emotional core, Steve [McNiven] is drawing it and making it look perfect and amazing.”
Amanat discussed the latest with “Ms. Marvel,” saying that the character has now proven herself as a hero. An upcoming storyline will see Kamala Khan discovering that she’s being used as the “face of gentrification” in Jersey City.
Soule said it’ll “come home to roost” in “All-New Inhumans” that Medusa is now dating Johnny Storm — as Crystal (Medusa’s sister) and Johnny Storm used to be an item. “I can’t wait to write that scene,” Soule said.
Next up: Marvel’s Star Wars books, starting with the “Vader Down” crossover between the “Star Wars” and “Darth Vader” books. Gillen said the creative teams knew that Darth Vader against a Rebel army was a cool visual and launching point for a story. “We finally get to bring the toys together. I get to play with Jason [Aaron]’s cast, Jason gets to play with mine. It’s brutal and funny. It’s very much pure Star Wars.”
“Kieron writes such an evil book, that it’s so fun to read — I shouldn’t want this guy to win, but I want him to win,” White said. Gillen compared Vader to the Punisher. “You want to see, what’s Vader going to do next?”
GIllen also write both the “Star Wars” and “Darth Vader” annuals, out in December. Gillen said the “Darth Vader Annual” takes place after the crossover, with Vader on a “diplomatic mission.” “Vader’s not much for chat,” the writer said. The “Star Wars Annual” comes from an idea by Aaron, though Gillen wrote it; calling it a blend of their two styles. The story will star a “James Bond kind of Rebel who has a shot at killing the Emperor — and that probably doesn’t go well.”
Another announcement: “Obi Wan and Anakin,” written by Soule and illustrated by Marco Chechetto. It takes place between Episode I and Episode II, with a preteen Anakin Skywalker. “They’re not buddy-buddy yet,” Soule said. “In the story, it feels almost like a samurai movie — Obi-Wan doesn’t talk a lot, he solves problems in almost a Darth Vader-like fashion. They answer a distress call, they end up on an almost post-apocalyptic planet, and run into a lot of mysteries.”
“This period we don’t see a lot about in the actual canon right now, and there are 10 years between Episode I and Episode II,” White said. “The Clone Wars haven’t started yet. Now we get to see, what’s it like when the Jedi are at peace?” “They’re the baddest cops in the galaxy,” Soule said. “They get called in to solve problems, and they solve problems.”
Now up, fan Q&A: First audience member asked about Sam Wilson becoming “violent and evil” (during the “AXIS” story, along with many other superheroes) soon after becoming Captain America, “removing Jewish characters” by revealing that Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch weren’t actually Magneto’s children and “forced outings,” with Jean Grey telling Bobby Drake that he’s gay and a “Young Avengers” scene between Kate Bishop and Miss America Chavez cited.
Gillen said he didn’t consider Kate Bishop outed by Miss America Chavez; Kate was being teased for being close-minded about how many queer superheroes they were on the team. Alonso said Marvel has never had more of a diverse staff, or more of a commitment for its characters to reflect the world. “The rest is just conversation,” Alonso said.
A fan asked Quesada about his experience drawing “Daredevil” during Kevin Smith‘s run as writer. Quesada said that the first script came in at “three paragraphs,” “almost Stan Lee-style,” since Smith was busy filming a movie. Quesada was able to draw the issue based on that, and Smith subsequently scripted it. Quesada expressed his gratitude towards Smith, saying that he would be “nowhere in the world of comics” had Smith not joined the Marvel Knights imprint in the late ’90s.
Next person up asked what character to keep an eye on in the new Marvel status quo. Alonso named Iron Man. “He’s always been a big character, he’s never been the character,” Alonso said.
White said there are plans to revisit the Hank Pym/Ultron merging at the end of the “Avengers: Rage of Ultron” graphic novel.
Slott told a fan that Silver Surfer and Dawn will explore the weird aspects of Earth in the new “Silver Surfer” series.
Ewing said he’ll be exploring Miss America Chavez’s character further in “The Ultimates.”
What’s the status of Reed Richards, Sue Storm and their kids after “Secret Wars”? “You have to finish ‘Secret Wars,'” Alonso said.
Alonso assured a fan that Wanda in the new “Scarlet Witch” series will be “in control of her mental facilities and an agent in her own adventure.”
Will there be a “bigger expansion” of the more comical Marvel books, such as “Howard the Duck” and “The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl”? “Yes,” Alonso said. “Right now we’re having an incredible period of success with books that fuse drama and comedy, and sometimes heavily lean on comedy,” and Marvel will continue to expand in that direction.
Returning to the diversity conversation from early in the Q&A, Quesada reflected back to a time when a fan expressed frustration to him when bad things happened in the comics to an unspecified minority character; a character in a group the fan identified with. “Marvel always spoke to me as a little kid,” Quesada said, with diverse characters like the Black Panther; speaking of his background as a first-generation America with parents from Cuba. “The day that we do get a prominent Latino character, I want to see that character go through all the ramifications that any Marvel character goes through.” Quesada said that diverse characters can’t have preferential treatment in that way, since that won’t lead to good stories.
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