WWLA: Marvel's "Civil War Fallout-- The Initiative" Panel

Despite a mix up in schedules and room assignments that resulted in a smaller crowd than capacity, a panel full of Marvel's luminaries sat down to discuss the new world ahead after Civil War pitted hero against hero. On the panel were editor CB Cebulski, "Captain America" writer Ed Brubaker, "Civil War: Frontline" writer Paul Jenkins, multi media creative Jeph Loeb, moderator and publicity manager Jim McCann, Milestone Comics veteran Dwayne McDuffie, new "Iron Man" writers Daniel and Charlie Knauf and editor Tom Breevort.

After opening with a quick look at "Captain America" #25 (and saying for a certainty that Captain America is dead), Jeph Loeb began talking about "Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America." The mini series came about from a discussion at a Marvel creative retreat, and J. Michael Stracynski is credited with the original concept, and Loeb reportedly came up with the entire pitch in two hours. "JMS only talks like two times a day," Loeb said, "but when he does, it's like Zeus throwing down thunderbolts. He says, 'It has to be five issues, based on the five stages of grief: denial, anger, negotiation, depression and acceptance.' I have some experience with grief, with the death of my son last year, and [variant cover artist] Michael Turner is struggling with the same thing."

The first issue will center on Wolverine, who simply does not accept the death of Steve Rogers. "Him and the internet," McCann said. It is drawn by Leinil Yu and some interior pages were shown with Logan meeting the Winter Soldier in the old SHIELD barber shop as well as fighting with Daredevil.

The second issue, titled "Avengers" is told from the perspectives of Carol Danvers (Ms. Marvel of the Mighty Avengers) and Jessica Drew (Spider-Woman of the New Avengers). Art chores are handled by Ed McGuinness and Dexter Vines, and the opening page splash for the page was shown, and the story is to be told in diptych from both characters' perspectives.

The third issue "Negotiation" will be drawn by John Romita, Jr, and asks "should there be another Captain America?"

The fourth issue focuses on Spider-Man and will be drawn by David Finch. "I've been circling around this guy forever, but I never get him to come home with me after the dance," Loeb said, pleased to get to work with the artist. Loeb felt this issue in particular was an easy call, because "Spider-Man is based in grief, because he didn't catch the robber."

The final issue sits with Tony Stark, and will be drawn by John Cassaday. As mentioned, Aspen Comics founder Michael Turner will be doing variant covers, some of which (denial with Wolverine and anger with the Avengers) were shown. "He's really putting a lot of his own experience into these," Loeb said. The first and second issues will be released in April.

Other announcements included: "Omega Flight" will be written by Michael Oeming and has art by Skott Kolins, slated for a June 2007 release. "Avengers: Initiative" is an "straight ahead Avengers" title written by "fanboy's fanboy" (according to Loeb) Dan Slott. Stefano Casselli and Jim Cheung will be pitching in for art work.

After seeing the preview cover, Loeb said, "When I think Canada, I think US Agent!"

"They're not part of the world," McCann said dismissively.

"You've just angered a whole country!" Loeb protested.

Reginald Hudlin will be continuing "Black Panther" with Manuel Garcia and Niko Henrichon doing art starting this month. Dwayne McDuffie's "Fantastic Four" with Paul Pelletier was also re-announced, including showing some Michael Turner variant covers.

"Tom promised me seventeen years ago that he'd let me write 'Fantastic Four,'" McDuffie said, "and I've been waiting by the phone. Finally he calls and says 'I have good news and I have bad news ...'" While Doom will not appear in McDuffie's run, Reed and Sue will be in each issue even while they will not be with the team.

Abnett and Lanning will write a new "Nova" series, with Sean Chen and Adi Granov doing art. Nova comes home to find himself attacked by the Thunderbolts, and a preview cover showed him going up against Penance, also known as his former New Warriors team mate Speedball.

"Why is Nova fighting Speedball?" Loeb asked. "Didn't they used to be friends? Friends don't fight friends!"

"Friends fight friends all the time," Breevort replied. "It's a lifestyle choice."

"You can't trust Marvel," McCann warned.

Charlie and Daniel Knauf talked a little bit about their "Iron Man" run, which has switched to have Rob De La Torre take over for Patrick Zircher on art. "It's going to be more James Bond-ish," Knauf said, and revealed that Stark's nemesis the Mandarin is back with a much different motivation and modus operandi. "What we wanna do with the Mandarin is make him a little bit more grounded in what he wants," Knauf said.

A splash pages was shown titled "New Avengers vs. Mighty Avengers," which will take place in the pages of "New Avengers" later this year.

"Underworld" creator Kevin Grevioux will be writing "New Warriors" helped out by Paco Medina. A preview image was shown of graffiti being written over an Iron Man registration poster, giving a rebellious intention, but it was indicated that these Warriors will probably be faces not seen in that team before. It should be on stands in June.

"Sub Mariner" by Matt Cherniss, Peter Johnson, Phil Briones with Michael Turner covers will posit what happens when an Atlantean sleeper cell goes active and makes the US government declare Atlantis a hostile state that has to be occupied for reasons of national security. Of course the Avenging Son isn't gonna swim idly while that happens, and Namor will travel the world finding unusual allies to fight this violent invasion of his homeland.

McCann wouldn't say anything about "Thor" in July from J. Michael Stracynski and Oliver Copiel ... so obviously there's not much more to write about. A preview image showed the Thunder God in thicker armor than his previous incarnation.

Matt Fraction will be writing an all new "Champions" series with Barry Kitson, starting in July. Based in Los Angeles, Stark has found a way to give super powers for limited amounts of time, and the comic will trade on all the stereotypes of the Los Angeles lifestyle from paparazzi to celebrity sightings.

As part of the Initiative, there will be a "Deadpool and the Great Lakes Avengers" special in August, where they will be renamed the "Great Lakes Initiative, the GLI," Breevort said.

A fan asked whether or not the Sentry had anything big happening, and Jenkins replied, "I think it's fair to say that since I'm not writing the sentry, he's going to do something, instead of contemplating his navel." Then it was revealed that the Sentry plays escalating roles in "Mighty Avengers" issues two and three and plays a larger role in the upcoming "World War Hulk."

Loeb mentioned that he'd be working on a "World War Hulk: Young Avengers" special with David Finch, saying, "I get to take him home from the dance again!"

Someone asked a fairly complicated question about Daredevil, and Brubaker recapped events from recent issues. "is that a spoiler, or a potential spoiler?" Loeb wondered. "The books have all been published, so now it's just trivia," Brubaker responded.

"Scarlet witch will be part of Mystic Arcana," Breevort said, revealing that this project will also appear in June, with Wanda's spotlight happening in July. He also promised that Clint Barton would be seen in the next year.

Other revelations included that Joss Whedon actually came up with the ending for "Civil War," showing up late for a creative retreat but "Millar took all the credit for it," Loeb said. As for the apparent slant against registration, Breevort credited scheduling issues and a decision to "let each writer tell the truth as they saw it" in issues not tied directly in to the crossover. Also, given the need for fifty states worth of heroes, the panel didn't dismiss the idea of more clones like the Thor simulacra that killed Bill Foster. Despite what happened in "Beyond," McDuffie said we haven't seen the last of Gravity, the New Avengers may have to deal with Norman Osborn's Thunderbolts, the Spider Armor may return and Ares vs. Thor could possibly happen as well.

Finally, Brubaker clarified the status of Daredevil. "Since Daredevil was one of the first heroes to get screwed by the man," Brubaker said, "showing what can happen when people know your name, Tony Stark is kind of looking the other way. If Daredevil gets too much above the radar, Tony'd show up at his office, since he knows Matt is Daredevil."

"Kind of 'don't ask, don't tell,'" McDuffie asked.

"Hey!" Brubaker protested.

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