Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief CB Cebulski was practically bouncing up and down with excitement as he introduced the panel lineup for the publisher's traditional "Next Big Thing" panel at the 2019 New York Comic Con, joking the event should be called "Next Big Things" as they had more than a few announcements to drop. Venom writer Donny Cates, Immortal Hulk writer Al Ewing, Deadpool artist Nic Klein and Fantastic Four writer Dan Slott rounded out the team on stage.
The discussion kicked off as the crew talked about Incoming!, the soon-to-be-released 80-page one-shot that capitalizes on the events of the Marvel Comics #1000 by looking forward to what will be happening in Marvel's biggest franchises throughout 2020.
"It's a murder mystery. It's a whodunnit? It's a howdunnit? It's a whydunnit?" Ewing said, with the main mystery centering on a sword-wielding character that Marvel has teased. The writer said Hulk will play a role "on the psychologist's couch" while Slott will contribute pages featuring the Fantastic Four. Cates also said that a "very integral piece of the fallout and massive consequences of Absolute Carnage."
Preview pages of the one-shot showed The Masked Raider drawn by Humberto Ramos discovering a corpse of an unknown character. Slott said that the victim is a character we've seen in the Marvel Universe before, but the purple jacket-wearing body didn't ring any immediate bells for the crowd.
Cates spoke to the incoming plans for this Guardians of the Galaxy series where, in issue #10 with artists Cory Smith and David Curiel, Rocket Raccoon will leave the team. Meanwhile, a child version of the classic cosmic villain the Magus will appear. The Universal Church of Truth has resurrected the foe for their own plans, and the writer said, "The conclusion of it is going to be brutal and kind of hardcore." Cates then revealed that he will be stepping off the title with issue #12 in order to work on a new Marvel project.
In a bit of convention dramatic performance, Cates then handed over his own Groot Funkopop figure to Ewing, who will be the new writer on the space team. "One of the things people know me for is world-building. With Guardians, I get to do universe-building...I'm basically taking over space," the writer said. Artist Juann Cabal will join him on the book for a new #1 in January 2020. He promised "a cast of billions" including more members of the main Guardians team than the traditional cast. A cover showed Nova, Mantis and others along for the ride with Peter Quill.
Cates spoke to Absolute Carnage, saying that he and Ryan Stegman have had their full run with Venom planned from the beginning and this event represents the end of Act 1. "Bigger dangers, new bad guys, new things to be terrified about" were on the way according to the writer. Following the event, the next story in Venom starting with issue #20 will go to "Venom Island" to see Eddie clash with the Maker. For this story, classic Spidey artist Mark Bagley joins the book for a story inspired by a classic Erik Larsen/David Michelinie story where Venom hunted Peter Parker on a remote island.
Slott's Iron Man run is getting rougher for the hero as the reverberations from events going back to Matt Fraction and Brian Bendis' run with the character. Tony Stark is finding that after replacing his own mind and his own body over the years, he is no longer the same person he was. With Ultron coming to the book, the non-Stark will wrap his run with Tony Stark: Iron Man #19 only to see a new series called Iron Man 2020 – starring the hero Arno Stark from the '80s digitally created series of the same name and drawn by artist Pete Woods. "It's gonna get weeeeeeird," Slott promised. "Robot revolution. What side are heroes going to fall on? Everything you love about Machine Man from Nextwave...it's going to be bigger than you thought. This IS Marvel in 2020." Cebulski said the covers to the series will use Marvel's new "fifth ink" printing process to pop with neon designs.
Immortal Hulk races to its next phase with this month's issue #25 by Ewing, Germán Garcia and Joe Bennett. This story will play with Ewing's long-gestating ideas about the Marvel U now being the 8th version of the multiverse by showing fans what the 9th version will look like – a version of the universe where there are no humans left except Hulk. The story will also see Roxxon make its move against Bruce Banner with the Minotaur playing a key role.
Cebulski then spoke to a new book written by Alex Ross and Jim Krueger set in their "Earth X" take on the Marvel U – a prequel called Marvels X with interior art by artist Well-Bee. He promised this series would celebrate the 25th anniversary of Marvels in style while also expanding the map for the Earth X saga.
In Fantastic Four #15, Slott takes the team to the planet called Spyre to meet a new alien team called the Unparalleled. This planet is the place that the FF always wanted to travel to going back to issue #1. Paco Medina and Sean Isaacs trade off art duties on the arc, designing the world of Spyre and its ruler the Overseer to show off new elements of the Four's franchise. Slott promised the team would be trapped there for a long while and that Johnny Storm will find a soulmate there. "We're doing weird things for the family," he said because almost revealing the concept of new characters set to debut. "It all builds towards...big stuff," Slott laughed. "It's stuff I'm not supposed to talk about."
Jane Foster: Valkeryie will soon welcome a team of mighty medical doctors (who are all women) to aide the title hero in saving the life of a mystery cosmic entity. Ewing promised that he's diving into some obscure Marvel characters to flesh out the cast with co-writer Jason Aaron, who himself is focusing on the end of his years-long Thor run in 2020.
Cates then spoke from the heart, saying that since he was young it was always his dream to write two Marvel characters. The first was Venom, which he's had terrific success on. The second, he revealed by reaching under the panel table and pulling out Thor's hammer. "That's right. I'm writing Power Pack!" he joked before they revealed Cates and Nic Klein will be the next team on Thor. "This has been the biggest dream of my career...Jason Aaron is my idol and is a big reason I got into trying my hand at writing comics. I was hosting a podcast at my college, and I went to interview Jason Aaron at that college, and it was at that interview where they said 'You should come be an intern.'" That led to his first gig at Marvel and his career, and Cates shook with excitement as he said that just like his Venom partnership with Stegman, Klein will be his artistic partner for his full run. "Matt Fraction once said that when you read Thor it should sound like Zeppelin...well, I want my run to sounds like Norwegian Black Metal."
The run will focus on a cosmic Thor with a new costume and wild adventures in space. "Every issue is an event," said Cates. Cebulski said that they've had meetings in Marvel editorial where the team had to ask, "Can we do this? Can we let them do this?"