WWLA: Mondo Marvel Panel

Welcome to CBR's coverage of the MONDO MARVEL PANEL at Wizard World LA from the Wizard Auditorium in the Los Angeles Convention Center. Below you'll find - courtesy of Marvel Comics - a spectacularly large gallery of artwork that premiered at today's panel, offering clues as to announcements and news that were revealed during the hour-long presentation.

On the panel today is Marvel Comics marketing guru Jim McCann, Matt Fraction, Chris Gage, Aubrey Sitterson and Charles Knauf.

Knauf, who is co-writing "Iron Man: Agent of SHIELD," said "It's kind of interesting to write the most hated man in the Marvel Universe. I can't wait till the movie comes out; it's going to bring a lot of attention to the book." Knauf has plans to introduce a new femme fetale character to the book, and said he's trying to bring Iron Man back to his "hero status" and said the book will be "a little more fun."

"The flaws are what make him so great," said Fraction, who's writing the title "Invincible Iron Man." "I'm looking forward to sending Iron Man on a big redemptive arc. He is his own arch-rival. I'm looking forward to grinding him to dust" and seeing where he ends up.

Chris Gage is working on "Avengers: The Initiative" with Dan Slott, issue #10 of which is on sale now. Issue #11 will guest-star the Mighty Avengers and Gage said fans of the New Warriors may want to check it out. In issue #13, written solo by Gage, a new crop of cadets will be introduced including Prodigy, Gorilla and new character named Butterball. Contrary to rumor, Dan Slott is not leaving the book, and will return with subsequent stories. Issue #14 will reveal the high level Skrull in the organization.

Additionally, Gage is writing "Thunderbolts" #122-125, which tie-into "Secret Invasion." Artist Mike Perkins will team with Gage to create the Secret Invasion "Who Do You Trust?" special, starring Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman and the ape-like Beast.

McCann then mentioned the return of "Dark Tower" with "The Long Road Home," which is the second of a planned six miniseries with author Stephen King. "From here on out, it's all things that have been hinted at in the novels," based on concepts King pitched the publisher.

Marvel has partnered with European publisher Soleil for "Scourge of the Gods" "Universal World One" and "Samurai," all of which will be translated into English and distributed in the U.S. for the first time.

For Free Comic Book Day (May 3), Marvel is producing two new comics. One is a Marvel Adventures piece featuring Iron Man, the Hulk and Spider-Man. The second is a Greg Land-illustrated X-Men story written by Mike Carey. The story is set in Wales and sets up "X-Men" #500.

"I think this is the best work of his career," said Matt Fraction of his "Invincible Iron Man" collaborator Salvador Larocca. "He's smokin'." The villain of Fraction's first arc is the son of Obadiah Stane from "The Order," a series Fraction characterized as a kind of prequel to his Iron Man book.

The panel revealed artwork from "Iron Man: Viva Las Vegas" by Jon Favreau and Adi Granov, which they described as the Iron Man story the movie industry couldn't afford to make. "It's definitely the Robert Downey, Jr. Tony Stark," Fraction said.

Greg Pak and Ron Garney are bringing fans "Skaar: Son of Hulk" in June, which is the third act of the story that began with "Planet Hulk" and continued in "World War Hulk."

"Guardians of the Galaxy" is going to be a "crazy book," said McCann. The characters are cleaning up after the events of the two "Annihilation" miniseries, and McCann indicated the Abnett-Laning and Pelletier series would be tying-in to "Secret Invasion."

Following his appearance in "Mighty Avengers," Dr. Doom will come into play in Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch's "Fantastic Four." McCann indicated Hitch is making swift progress on the book and that "Ultimates"-style delays are not anticipated.

Eric Shanower and Skottie Young will be bringing audiences the Marvel Illustrated version of L. Frank Baum's "The Wizard of Oz," which McCann strongly recommended readers pick up, saying the creators involved are particularly passionate about the project.

Regarding "Avengers/Invaders," McCann confirmed the 12-issue series takes place in current continuity.

Knauf briefly discussed the new "Eternals" ongoing, saying it's "Just going to be really kick ass. We're really going close to Kirby's vision while bringing it closer to the Marvel Universe." The series will ask questions like where do the Celestials come from? What's their plan? "It's going to be fun."

Regarding an upcoming cover to a future issue of "Captain America," McCann said, "That scene really does happen. Who is it? You'll have to read to find out."

Richard Corben will be bringing readers "Haunt of Horror: H.P. Lovecraft."

Regarding Jason Aaron's "Ghost Rider," Matt Fraction said he wasn't a fan of the character until he'd read the first issue of Aaron's run. "I think 'Ghost Rider' is going to be this year what 'Iron Fist' was last year."

Fraction mentioned "Jigsaw," the new arc of "Punisher War Journal," previously covered in-depth here on CBR. "It's the best Punisher movie they'll never make," said Fraction. "It's also the ultimate Jigsaw story. I couldn't be happier with the work of my co-writer Rick Remender."

Future issues of "Immortal Iron First" will explore the concept of suicide and the Iron Fists, as well as Danny Rand's birthday.

"If you, like me, believe that Led Zeppelin 3 isn't just a job but a way of life, then this is the book for you," said Fraction, who will be writing three stand-alone "Thor" issues. The first is called "Age of Thunder" and the second is "Reign of Blood" -- "But it will actually rainblood," the writer said. The first will be illustrated by Pat Zircher.

McCann then turned the floor over to fans for questions.

As to who is taking over "Punisher" after Garth Ennis leaves, McCann said there are three five-issue arcs coming up. "There is a very solid plan, and it's folks you know."

"Do you expect 'Secret Invasion' to be as big as 'Civil War' and 'World War Hulk' in terms of sales?"

"Yes," said McCann. "In terms of scope, it's bigger."

"It affects everybody," said Fraction. "It's huge. And people who are on the fence are going to hop over when they hear about how good it is."

A fan asked how long the Heroes for Hire would remain in "Iron First," to which Fraction said indefinitely.

A fan asked about the possibility of releasing the EARTH'S MOST WANTED poker deck seen here on CBR, and McCann said it would be an awesome idea but was just done for fun - right now.

"Are any of the young mutants going over to the Initiative to get training?"

"A firm wait-and-see on that," said Gage. "It's not that there aren't going to be mutants in the Initiative, but it's not going to become the next Xavier's School either."

"What about Mutant Zero?" asked McCann.

"Who the hell is that?" Gage asked, coyly.

A fan remarked unfavorably about the new "Fantastic Four" logo, which McCann said will remain for as long as Hitch and Millar remain on the series.

McCann then introduced Marvel talent manager Chris Allo, whose job is to say things like, "Hey, this person would work really well on your book." Gage praised Allo for the return of many classic artists to Marvel, such as Russ Heath and John Severin on "Iron First" and Herb Trimpe's forthcoming Hulk story.

"When are we going to see Dr. Strange again?" asked a fan.

"We know where he is, we know what he's doing," said McCann. "You will find out where he's been at either the least or most opportune time, depending on what side of the coin you fall." There are approved Dr. Strange projects, but nothing ready to be announced.

"Anything new with Nextwave?" asked a fan. The answer is no.

The new "Eternals" will pick up from the Neil Gaiman series. "Obviously we'll be introducing more of the sleeping Eternals" and other elements, "but everything from Gaiman's is in play."

There will be a "Newuniversal 2."

Following "Secret Invasion," Marvel has plans for more major events, which are planned into 2010.

In response to a fan's question, McCann confirmed the Imperial Guard will be involved with "Secret Invasion," picking up from "Emperor Vulcan."

"Is the Infinity Guantlet or the Beyonder going to play a role in Secret Invasion?"

"No for the Beyonder," McCann said.

"What about the Guantlet?"

".. any other questions?" McCann sighed.

"Dexter's Lab" and "Samurai Jack" creator Gendy Tartakovsky will be drawing an out-of-continuity, blackspotation Luke Cage miniseries.

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