Marvel’s current event series, Secret Empire is now six issues into its 10-part run — meaning there was plenty to talk about at the Secret Empire panel midday Friday at Comic-Con International in San Diego.
In attendance at the panel: Secret Empire writer Nick Spencer, Secret Warriors writer Matthew Rosenberg, Champions artist Humberto Ramos, Champions writer Mark Waid, Marvel assistant editor Alanna Smith and Marvel editor Nick Lowe, serving as moderator.
Lowe noted that Secret Empire #7 is on sale next week. “I am so glad that this panel is this week as opposed to next week,” Spencer said. “It’s a crazy, crazy issue. If you remember the vision from Civil War II that Ulysses had of Miles killing Captain America, this is where that comes to fruition.
Smith discussed the Secret Empire: Brave New World series. “There’s the ongoing thread of Namor and the Invaders, which will be coming to a head [in August’s issue #5].”
Spencer said Captain America #25 will be a major issue between Sam Wilson and Steve Rogers, and Smith said that readers should read that issue first, before Secret Empire #8 (out the same week). Spencer said September’s Secret Empire: Omega one-shot, by himself and Andrea Sorrentino, will show a “fundamentally different” Marvel Universe.
Lowe said that for all his years at Marvel, writers have never been asked to stretch out stories for commercial reasons — it’s always because the story merits the length. “It’s all for the sake of the story and storytelling, and to get it right.”
“We knew we had a lot of story to cover,” Spencer added. “I’m incredibly grateful to Marvel for giving us the extra space that we needed. Every issue has been over 30 pages.”
Waid recapped his Secret Empire tie-in issues of Avengers, which features Captain America’s team of “Dark Avengers.” Waid said he especially enjoys the dynamic between Deadpool and Doctor Octopus — er, “the Superior Octopus.” “Every moment Octavius doesn’t kill him is a moment of restraint.”
Champions, also by Waid, shows the other side of the Secret Empire conflict. “It’s always cool to see the guest heroes in our book,” Ramos said.
Rosenberg discussed the Inhumans-filled Secret Warriors: “Unlike the Champions, this is a team of people who do not see eye to eye, and do not have the same agendas.”
Also tying in to Secret Empire: Amazing Spider-Man. Lowe talked August’s issues #31. “[Dan Slott] and Stuart Immonen, their plan for these issues have been just incredible. The Superior Octopus has come to take on Parker Industries.” Lowe complimented the story for being an event tie-in that has major implications for both Secret Empire and the Amazing Spider-Man series itself.
Next up brief discussions of the Secret Empire tie-ins in U.S.Avengers and Doctor Strange. “This issue is completely bonkers,” Lowe said of Doctor Strange #24.
Another Secret Empire tie-in: Deadpool #35, scheduled for release on Aug. 30. “They have taken full advantage of the events of Secret Empire, Lowe said of Deadpool creative team Gerry Duggan and Mike Hawthorne, specifically the ripple effects of Deadpool killing Phil Coulson. “Deadpool is one of my favorite books that we put out,” Lowe said, adding that he was specifically won over when Duggan and Brian Posehn took over as writers of the series with Marvel NOW!.
Lowe noted The Mighty Captain Marvel as a book that Secret Empire has had “major effects” on.
Announcement time: Mark Waid and Chris Samnee are the new Captain America creative team as of November’s issue #695, complete with a retro Captain America logo restored. Waid made it clear that it’s Steve Rogers in the role.
“Steve is kind of tired of being the couch-surfer of the Marvel Universe, he’s never really had a place to call his own other than Avengers Mansion,” Waid said, continuing that the series will involve a road trip for the character. “This is him getting back in touch with Captain America, learning how people perceive Captain America in light of Secret Empire.”
Smith said this is something of a back to basics approach to the character, following the Hydra Cap of Secret Empire. Waid said it will be the “Steve Rogers that we know and love.”
First fan question: Will there be a Secret Empire omnibus? “That’s a big omnibus,” Spencer said. “I hope so.” Lowe said that it’s more likely that there will be a Secret Empire hardcover, and a separate hardcover for the tie-ins.
Spencer told the next fan at the microphone that some of the Secret Empire plans date back to about for years. “The story was in the works for a really long time before it got to this point.” “We try to play the long game at Marvel,” Lowe added.
A fan asked what the outcome of Secret Empire will mean for Marvel’s future. “There are definitely ramifications that we’re dealing with in Captain America and some other series,” Waid answered. “You want these things to have a lasting impact on the series,” Spencer added. “There are a lot of heroes asking big questions… Not to mention some pretty catastrophic losses.”
“Coming out of this, you may see a more unified Marvel Universe than what we saw after Civil War II,” Smith added.
The next fan asked if real-life social and political events have effected Secret Empire. “I wanted to do a story that was about universal truths,” Spencer said. “Things that are always a struggle for us — what happens when you don’t question authority, individual rights versus the whole, and how far we can let that go in the name of security and safety.”
“I’ve heard from a lot of people that our book leans partisan one way,” Rosenberg added, speaking of Secret Empire. “I kind of think it’s the exact opposite. It’s about people struggling to get along and have a conversation, and I think that’s really important and something that’s getting lost in today’s real-world environment.” Lowe invoked the classic phrase of Marvel representing “the world outside your window” — not necessarily a specific political slant, but issues like “standing up to bullies.”
Following a fan question asking about coordinating multiple characters through multiple titles, Rosenberg said he didn’t know at first that Deadpool was going to Phil Coulson, which affects Secret Warriors in a major way because he’s one of Quake mentors. “That’s actually the end of our Secret Empire arc,” Rosenberg said. “Immediately after that is Quake hunting Deadpool.”
Last fan question: When will America Chavez and Captain America spend time together? “We should do that,” Waid said.
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