Saturday at Comic-Con International in San Diego is jam packed with all the biggest names in pop culture sharing the very latest news and while the Marvel Cinematic Universe may be taking center stage this evening in Hall H, the comics side of things have still found their place to shine.
Marvel's chief creative officer, Joe Quesada, is joined by executive editor Nick Lowe, director of content and talent development Sana Amanant, as well as Kris Anka and Rainbow Rowell of the recently announced Runaways ongoing, Ryan North (Unbeatable Squirrel Girl), Sean Ryan (Marvel Superhero Adventures), and Mark Waid (Avengers) for a conversation about all things Marvel comics.
Quesada introduced the panel to start as a catch-all for Marvel comics, adding Steve Wacker, Axel Alonso, and C.B. Cebulski to the mix, but removing Mark Waid who had to drop the panel presumably for scheduling reasons.
Runaways the highly anticipated returning team book was first on the docket. Nick Lowe said that Marvel has been "waiting to find the right creative team" to bring the Runaways back. Lowe cited Rowell's young adult novel Elenor and Park as an the thing that grabbed Marvel's attention.
"These are classic Marvel characters to me who deserved bigger stories," Rowell explained, "It feels natural to us to be writing these characters now because they're so beautifully built. It's like unearthing something so beautiful and so well built."
Anka chimed in to say the Runaways are like people he's known his whole life. "These are kids I know. I grew up in LA, I'm completely familiar with them. We barely were allowed to start and I was building pintrest boards for all of them, figuring out their hairstyles."
The panel then shifted focus to Inhumans (the TV show, rather than the comic.) The lights were dimmed and the trailer projected for the fans.
Lowe used the trailer as a jumping off point to promote the new Priest/Noto Inhumans: Once and Future King series, with back ups by Ryan North.
"They're little two page stories about Lockjaw, who is the greatest character ever." North said, "They're a bunch of dog comics in the back of this otherwise very serious books. Finally, dog comics."
Amanat then took over to speak to the new young adult novel for Miles Morales, Miles Morales: Spider-Man, by Jason Reynolds. "Reyonds is a fantastic, very talented writer. He's been a young adult author who is so brilliant, we are so lucky that we have him -- This is a distinct and unique Miles story that we haven't done in the comics."
The Squirrel Girl middle grade novel and the Marvel Super Hero Adventures chapter book also got shout outs in the presentation.
Marvel Super Hero Adventures "Deck the Malls" will be for children who "have yet to read or are just learning to read." Each book will feature a new team up with Peter Parker. Each book will have a one page comic to help teach young children how to read comics for the first time.
C.B. Cebulski then spoke about the a new initiative and the importance of diversity in the Marvel Universe. Sword Master and Aero are going to be heroes set in China and created completely by Chinese creators. They will be released in Mandarin and Chinese first and then released in English later. Sword Master is a male hero with strong ties to Captain America's WW2 history and the Ancient One mythology, with a female writer and artist and Aero is a female character and Inhuman with an all male creative team.
Alonso then spoke to Marvel Legacy. "It starts with a 50-page special. It's not a cross over. We challenged our creators to look back at the gems of Marvel's history and pull them out and create new stories with them."
"Over the next few months, we're going to be bringing back dozens of your favorite heroes and villains." Alonso said.
Alonso used the phrase "an event of self contained stories" to describe Legacy as an initiative.
Spider-Man #234 was then teased by Nick Lowe for Miles' first encounter with the Sinister Six, an arc that will culminate in the reveal of a new Iron Spider.
The floor was then opened up for fan questions.
The first question was about Miracle Man -- "any update?" a fan asked.
Lowe said that it's still in process, but it doesn't have a set release yet. "We're not ready to announce anything yet, but what we have looks incredible."
The next question went to Rainbow Rowell about Runaways, "How is working on a comic with characters that already existed rather than characters you invented?"
Rowell praised the original run of Runaways for creating characters that resonated with her immediately. "It was a little bit of a relief to work with characters that are already so solid all the way down."
Wacker hopped in to say that characters like Runaways and Ms. Marvel have big, big futures. "I've seen the Runaways pilot and it's incredible."
The next question went out about Legacy and whether or not Frank Castle was actually going to be taking on the War Machine armor. Lowe was quick to respond, "Frank Castle is absolutely putting on the War Machine armor, but we can't give anymore details."
Recent Eisner winner Ryan North was then put in the spotlight for Squirrel Girl and his use of foot notes. "We're always trying to cram as much as we can into books," North said, "it came from Dinosaur Comics and it's just kind of evolved from there."
A fan then asked about writing villains: "Has there ever been a moment when you've wanted a villain to win?"
Quesada answered that the idea that sometimes heroes lose is baked into Marvel's DNA, starting with Stan Lee's Spider-Man and the original Peter Parker stories. "Sometimes villains DO win."
The next fan asked about the shared universe of the Agents of Shield and Inhumans, but Wacker and Quesada were unable to confirm anything beyond "They're in the same universe, yes."
The final question came from a fan asking about Captain America. "What did you learn and what would you do differently?"
Quesada was quick and defensive, "We wouldn't do anything different. The only thing we learned, we learned a while ago, and it's just...don't publish your theory. We have a story to tell and we need to go with it. We can throw these characters to a point where it sounds like they will never be fixed and then there's a turn. We can't be reactive."
He continued, "Don't create in fear. Be true to your own story."