With several Marvel staffers stuck in New York because of bad weather, it was up to under-the-weather Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada, Editor C.B. Cebulski and "New X-Men" artist Skottie Young to carry the load at Wizard World Chicago on Friday. The tightly packed room of fans at looked at a short slideshow of art, including "Astonishing X-Men # 200," "X-Men: Messiah CompleX" and "X-Factor" art. David Finch will be creating the covers for the Messiah CompleX crossovers. A new Marc Silvestri piece was also displayed.
Quesada said that writer Paul Cornell will be taking over "Excalibur," and that Cornell has always wanted to write the title. "The combination of a talented writer on his dream book was a recipe for great comics," Quesada said.
The slideshow quickly ended and the floor was given to the Chicago audience. Early on, Peter Parker's marriage to Mary Jane sidetracked the ostensibly X-Men-based panel, and a long discussion on the topic ensued. Quesada wishes Spider-Man wasn't married, saying the marriage limits the stories writers can tell with the character. Cebulski chimed in that the amount of reader mail they get on the love triangle in "Ultimate Spider-Man" greatly outnumbers any mail they get on any other Spider-Man topic.
At one point a fan asked, "Wasn't this an X-Men panel?"
Quesada went right on, "Can you imagine the headlines? 'Spider-Man gets divorced!' Should Spider-Man have kids?"
If Spidey wasn't the topic, then it was most a question about supporting X-Men characters. One fan wanted to know if Juggernaut was going to remain a good guy.
"You should always worry," Quesada said. "There's always that possibility that the character will once again be a villain."
One fan said he was always bothered that Sabretooth was consistently drawn with "a big butt," and wanted to know It was a rule that the character had to have a big butt?
"Who in here thinks Sabretooth has a big butt?" Quesada asked. No one flinched. "It's just you, my friend."
Two characters asked about were hinted to be more heavily involved in upcoming stories: Gambit and Cable. Gambit, apparently, will be important in "Messiah CompleX."
Quesada talked about things that bothered him about the Marvel Universe, things that he's tried to remedy in his tenure as EiC. Aside from the "pesky" marriage of Peter Parker and Mary Jane, he also mentioned that the X-Men lost their edge by being too popular – they weren't the outcasts that they were meant to be. In Quesada's view, the elimination of many mutants has helped this.
Quesada then joked about the mutants with weird powers that couldn't help the team. "There's a boy there who can turn anything to wood. There's a person there that can always find a parking spot," Quesada joked. "There's a girl there with an incredible sense of women's intuition – 'I know he's cheating on me!'"
One fan asked about Nightcrawler, and Cebulski said the character would be back soon, and in his old, happy, swashbuckling way.
Another fan wanted to know which mutants the three panelists would like to see fight. Quesada quickly answered "Emma Frost and Kitty Pryde in a no-holds-barred," then smiled wryly. Cebulski mentioned he was a big New Mutants fan, and that he'd like to see Sunspot fight Cannonball. Young wasn't paying attention, but after having the question reiterated to him, said he'd like to see Chamber kill Wolverine, which was a popular response with the audience.
While the crowd had Young's attention, a fan asked why he had made a change in his art style. Young said that he's always been easily distracted in his art, and likes to experiment with new styles, some of which he can look back at and decide he likes enough to keep around for a while.
One fan asked why more of the mutants at the Xavier school weren't in training to help the X-Men out. "It's still a school," Young said, pointing out that "not everyone there is being trained to be a badass, and that many of the kids are way too young for that training."
Young displayed a sharp sense of humor, chatting with the crowd about Chicago, Harry Potter and cheeseburgers before the panel started. He talked about a local Chicago burger joint that he said had the best burgers in the world. All of the burgers were named after heavy metal acts. The Slayer burger, he said, has as one of its ingredients, "anger."
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