Hot on the tail of yesterday's Talk to the Hat Panel, where Marvel Comics announced a new "X-Treme X-Men" book written by Greg Pak and Carol Danvers taking on the title of Captain Marvel in a new ongoing written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, the publisher wrapped up a WonderCon 2012 weekend full of announcements and reveals with its Next Big Thing panel, making new announcements and revealing new details on some of its biggest projects. Moderated by Marvel Director of Communications Arune Singh, the panel included Executive Editor and Senior Vice President Tom Brevoort and "Ultimate Comics Ultimates" writer Sam Humphries (in his first ever Marvel panel) who are bringing new news about "Dark Avengers," "X-Men" and "Hulk." The gathered panelists assembled both to speak to projects of their own and answer questions from the audience.
After Singh introduced the panelists, the Marvel panel kicked off with a June 2012 release date for "Dark Avengers" ongoing with Jeff Parker on writing, Kev Walker and Declan Shalvey on art. Luke Cage will lead the Dark Avengers this go around. "It leads in really well with what Jeff's been doing in the Marvel Universe," said Singh.
The next announcement had to do with Jason Aaron's "Incredible Hulk" storyline, "Stay Angry," involving the Punisher. Jeff Parker's "Hulk" will deal with the Mayan prophecy of world Armageddon, bringing Red Hulk together with Machine Man and Alpha Flight in a story illustrated by Dale Eaglesham. "Dale draws some of the best characters you'll ever see that design on the border of the page," said Singh. "Kudos to Jeph Loeb who launched this series years ago. We're past issue 50 and that's incredible."
The Ultimate universe was up next, showcasing David Marquez as the "Ultimate Comics Spider-Man" artist beginning on issue #9. "We couldn't be happier to have him on the series," said Singh. "Sara Pichelli will be coming back after [Marquez's run]."
"Not everything is going to be great for Miles," he said. "Certainly, being handcuffed is never a good thing."
Humprhies' "Ultimates" with Jonathan Hickman was up next. Humphries will be taking over as full writer in July. "It's been wonderful," said Humphries. "It's a very wonderful title to write because you tend to be able to get away with a lot. ... You just get to put all these characters on a big stage ... and do things to them you can't get away with in the 616 or movies. Writing with Hickman has been fantastic -- pun intended! He's just been very generous with his wisdom and his talent. I think this book, you'll really get to experience what a Hickman/Humphries team up is like. ... We're going to have a lot of fun with it."
"This summer, everyone will know the name Sam Humphries," said Singh, who showcased some art on "Ultimate Comics Ultimates" by Luke Ross. "It's been a lot of fun to throw all sorts of crazy things in the script and see how he goes with it," said Humphries.
"Ultimate Comics X-Men" by Nick Spencer was up next, as Singh showcased two covers for issue #11 and issue #12, respectively, which will wrap Spencer's run on the book. The new writer will be Brian Wood with art by Carlo Barberi.
"When you read a Brian Wood book, you remember it. We're very excited to have him on 'Ultimate X-Men," said Singh. "Kitty Pryde, who has been a central figure in that, is going to grow into a very important role in the Ultimate Comics Universe in a way you've never seen Kitty before."
The X-Men hits don't stop for Wood, who will be taking over X-Men" with art by David Lopez.
"The team includes Domino, Storm, Pixie and Colossus. This is going to be a lot more of an espionage thriller book," said Singh, who noted Wood's first villain wants to harvest the DNA of Proto-Mutants. "David Lopez is drawing the crap out of this." Wood will be the first to write both "Ultimate Comics X-Men" and "X-Men" at the same time. "They're really great together like peanut butter and chocolate," said Singh.
"The three of us have really been able to build to something big coming this summer," said Humpries of his collaboration with other Ultimate Comics writers Brian Michael Bendis and Brian Wood.
After the slew of announcements, Singh held up a Anaheim Ducks jersey he received from a fan, saying the Ducks are the greatest hockey team in the world. The panel then took questions from the audience.
The first question asked the panelists about their excitement for the "Avengers" movie. "It's the biggest superhero movie ever done!" said Brevoort. "There's nothing else like it. ... Getting all those characters together in one big film and having Joss behind it -- I haven't seen any more of the film than you guys have, but could not be more excited for May 4."
One fan asked about Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited and getting it onto iOS devices. "On the web right now, it's Flash based. It would have to be HTML5 based," said Singh. "We want to do it right. It's on the road map for product development."
"When are we going to get it on the Atari? I just bought a new one!" Humphries joked as the audience laughed.
Brevoort reiterated the big plans for Marvel Cosmic coming towards the end of this year, maybe early into next year. "We're putting our full attention into blowing that up and making it a part of overall Marvel publishing," said Brevoort. "More 'Guardians' stuff is coming up when you least expect it."
In terms of the Ultimate universe, a fan asked about the possible resurrection of Ultimate Peter Parker or Ultimate Wolverine.
"Wow, it just sounded like you asked for real big spoilers," said Humphries.
"In the Ultimate Universe, we've always said 'dead means dead,'" said Singh.
One fan asked about X-Factor's role in "AvX," but Brevoort said not to expect too much from the mutant detectives.
"As a title, no role whatsoever," said Brevoort. "In the core of the actual series, you'll probably see a couple X-Factor characters along the way, but not really at the center of it."
In terms of Ultimate mini-series, there isn't much in the pipeline according to Humphries. "Nothing that we can comment on," said Humphries. "When you see them in solicitations, that's when they're real. I think we're always open in following where the story goes."
The panel was asked about Nick Spencer's future at Marvel, but nothing is ready to be announced yet.
"We're talking to Nick about other stuff," said Brevoort. "He's still working on 'Ultimate X-Men,' but we're not ready to announce anything yet."
There was a fan-outpouring of applause for a Rocket Raccoon miniseries after a question about the Guardians of the Galaxy's ridiculous raccoon. "We haven't forgotten about Rocket Raccoon," said Brevoort. "Nothing I can tell you for sure, but he's in our thoughts."
A fan asked about the fate of "Thunderbolts" following Jeff Parker's move to "Dark Avengers." "I don't know that it signals the end for 'Thunderbolts,' but it certainly signals something for 'Thunderbolts,'" said Brevoort.
Humphries got asked who his favorite Ultimate was and whether Cap is coming back. "I'll address the second question first, which is that I can't talk about it," he said. "My favorite Ultimate is so difficult to say because I spend every waking minute thinking about them. The character I've been most surprised to bond with is Monica Chang, the Ultimate Black Widow. I have a lot of plans for her."
Singh addressed "Spider-Men," saying "People have made some educated guesses based on the logos we've shown," referring to the implication of a 616/Ultimate crossover, but did not confirm the premise of the book.
One audience member asked the intriguing question of whether Ultimate Peter Parker died a virgin.
"Only Brian Bendis knows for sure," said Brevoort.
"When did this turn into the TMZ panel?" asked Humphries.
Singh urged the audience member to Tweet at Bendis for the answer.
One person asked about seeing Cyclops and Captain America clash during "AvX." "Steve Rogers is in the position of having the job Nick Fury used to have," said Brevoort. "Cyclops has become the defacto President of the X-Men. That's definitely going to be reflected in 'Avengers vs. X-Men.'"
Brevoort also addressed the possibility of a return to "Young Avengers." "You'll see them again very, very soon," said Brevoort. "They will be back in Marvel Comics before you even know it."
Oddly enough, fans can expect an appearance for D-Man coming down the line. "You will see D-Man before 'Avengers vs. X-Men," said Brevoort.
The Executive Editor noted the fate of Moon Knight is still up in the air until the end of Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev's series. "If he survives that, it's entirely likely we'll have him show up in books in the future," said Brevoort. "But I can't even say if he's in 'Avengers vs. X-Men.'"
A question arose about the fate of Jonathan Hickman's "S.H.I.E.L.D." and the fate of its characters. "Jonathan is still wrapping up 'S.H.I.E.L.D,' there are still a few issues to go," said Brevoort, noting some of the characters may be integrated even further into the Marvel Universe.
In terms of the fate of Ultimate Thing and Ultimate Invisible Woman, Humphries addressed possible future appearances. "What happened to the Thing and the Invisible Woman is they walked off into the sunset very happy together," said Humphries. "I would say we're going to see at least one of those characters in the future. You don't want them to be too happy for too long."
With that, the final Marvel panel at WonderCon 2012 wrapped. Stay tuned to CBR for more coverage on the announcements this weekend from Marvel!