WWLA: Spider-Man's Brand New Day

Welcome to CBR's coverage of the SPIDER-MAN'S BRAND NEW DAY panel at Wizard World LA from the Mike Wieringo Room at 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 and offered some clues as to announcements and news that were revealed during the hour-long presentation.

The Marvel Comics logo is projected in sharp, crisp quality upon two large screens on opposite sides of the barren dais, indicating for all passers-by that this is in fact a Marvel Comics panel. Fans stroll in intermittently and take their seats, waiting for the panelists to arrive and for the fun to begin.

Marvel's Jim McCann took the stage to welcome everyone to the first Marvel panel of the first Wizard World of 2008. Before getting started, McCann urges an attendee to stand and model his Yoda backpack. The crowd is impressed.

After giving a quick introduction of Marc Guggenheim - who is not yet present - McCann attempted to show a clip of the writer's new ABC series "Eli Stone." Technical difficulties belayed his desire, forcing McCann to ask the patient crowd, "So... who came from the farthest away?"

"Amazing Spider-Man" writers Bob Gale, Marc Guggenheim and Dan Slott (via speakerphone) take their seats and quickly don Skrull masks, asking "Which one of us is not wearing a mask?"

"The audience has a question for you, Dan," said editor Steve Wacker. "Did you finish the dialogue for #560?"

"Yes!" Slott replied.

"Hooray!" Wacker cheered. "There's going to be a 'Spider-Man' #560!"

Wacker said the next arc will be illustrated by Chris Bachalo, who "has been stuck in the ghetto of those X-books for ten years." Writing the arc is Zebb Wells, who will answer questions such as "where does Spidey fit in with the Avengers?"

The panel then turned to Slott's issue #560, displaying the cover for fans to see. "It comes pre-ripped for all you YouTubers out there," the writer said. Slott promised the storyline will address questions fans have been waiting to hear answered.

Joe Kelly will be writing an arc of "Amazing Spider-Man," an announcement that was met with cheers from the LA audience. Wacker likened Kelly's story to the writer's beloved "Deadpool" run of the 1990s.

Wacker then asked the crowd what was the first Spider-Man comic they read. A fan said he didn't remember the issue number, but that the story was promoted as featuring a villain "fatter than the Kingpin." The panel challenged noted Spider-Man fan Dan Slott to name the issue and title in which the story appeared, but the discussion was quickly derailed by some metathesis involving the word "gonad."

In response to a fan's question about the presence of Mary Jane in Spider-Man comics, McCann indicated readers can find her in the return of "Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane" and in a "Spider-Man Family" storyline called "Mr. and Mrs. Spider-Man."

A retailer explained that his customers "came in bitching and complaining" and asked the panel, "what do you say to that?"

"First of all we didn't do anything!" Guggenheim laughed. "Geoff Johns did this exact same bit in 'The Flash,' and nobody had a problem with it. Comic books are cyclical. Characters come in, characters come out. Bucky's dead, Bucky's alive -- spoiler. Steve Rogers is dead, Steve Rogers is alive-- spoiler."

"Steve Rogers is not alive!" McCann said.

"The big question is what happened at the wedding," Wacker said. "These questions will be answered. But they're not questions we're going to answer right away." In response to the retailer's question, Wacker said the answer is to give them good comics. "Spider-Man's as good as he's been in 20 years," the editor said.

Guggenheim told the crowd he came to Marvel as "an agnostic" concerning Spider-Man's marriage, "but I can tell you that as a reader and as a writer, unmarried Spider-Man is better."

As to what did or did not happen in Spider-Man's Mephisto'd history, Slott declared that he and the other writers have answers and that "they're awesome."

Bob Gale took a different perspective, saying "None of it happened. It's fiction," and invoked William Shatner's notorious "Get a life" episode of Saturday Night Live.

"I think artists prefer unmarried Spider-Man, too," Guggenheim said

"They don't have to draw those two extra lines for the wedding ring," Slott added.

Mike McKone will be drawing Bob Gale's next arc. "We have major sequence at Coney Island in #563," Gale said, and confirmed the Enforcers will be making an appearance. Some of the pages displayed seemed to reference events of "Civil War."

In response to a fan's question, McCann confirms that Marvel has no plans to reprint Stan Lee and John Romita's daily Spider-Man newspaper strips.

A fan asked why the Brand New Day team didn't just bring Uncle Ben back from the dead while they were rebooting the book. "I keep pitching to Steve that Uncle Ben never really died," Guggenheim said. "He faked his death and went on to create a very popular brand of instant rice and made millions of dollars."

In seriousness, Wacker said bringing back Uncle Ben would cause Spider-Man to cease being Spider-Man.

"Why are you guys clinging so much to Aunt May?" asked another fan, saying the character's death in issue #400 was very dramatic and satisfying.

Wacker said that nobody currently in charge of the Spider-Man line had anything to do with that story, but turned the floor over to Spider-Man authority Dan Slott, who said, "I got nothing."

"Aunt May is at the core of these things," Wacker continued, explaining that Aunt May is part of the Spider-Man mythology, and killing her off for good would appear incongruous, as would a married Peter Parker and a living Uncle Ben.Another fan asked about how "Amazing Spider-Man" will be collected in trade paperback, given its unusual format. The panel said the first trade will have the Free Comic Book Day story, Guggenheim and Slott's first arcs. A second collection will follow with Gale and Zebb Wells' stories. Each trade is expected to contain five-to-eight issues of content.

"We're just telling the stories the way they need to be told," said Gale of the writing-for-the-trade trend. "We'll let the trade guys figure it out after we're done."

The panel then announced a special story coming in August, which will be illustrated by John Romita, Jr.

"This guy's going places," the panel laughed.

The story will be written by Dan Slott and is titled "New Ways To Die." Slott said the book will feature the return of many Spider-Man villains, including Normon Osborne in the first issue. Osborne will bring the Thunderbolts into New York City to fight Spider-Man.

As to how "Secret Invasion" will affect "Amazing Spider-Man," the panel revealed that there will be a three-part Spider-Man/Secret Invasion story that will feature Jackpot and be written by Brian Reed, whose involvement will keep the main writing team from going off track while implementing Secret Invasion elements into the book's storylines.

"What happened to Spider-Man's extra spider powers?" asked a fan.

"I think he forgot he had them," Wacker laughed, causing Guggenheim to lay his head down on the table and hide his face.

A fan then asked about Peter's lovelife, which the panel assured will become a focus of the book, now that the character's single. "That's the thing that made Spider-Man revolutionary," Guggenheim said. "It introduced a soap opera element to comics. That's the essence of Spider-Man. That's the essence of the whole Marvel universe."

Another fan argues that by making Spider-Man unmarried, Marvel cut out a chunk of their market in favor of one that's already serviced by "Ultimate Spider-Man," and asked why Marvel would "piss off so many folks.""We did it just to piss of Bendis," Guggenheim said.

"With all due respect to Marvel Adventures and the Ultimate line, none of those are the official Spider-Man book," Wacker said. "Amazing Spider-Man is what counts," and modifying the character to more closely resemble his classic portrayal was a creative decision, not a marketing one.

"I really love what you've done with Brand New Day," proclaimed a fan. "You've finally got Spider-Man hating Jameson again! Is the Lizard coming back?"

"You haven't seen the last of Curt Connors," answered Bob Gale.

"You are going to see him, but a little bit at a time throughout the rest of the year," Wacker said. "You'll be happy."

For the last question, a fan asked, "Is Peter going to be smart again?"

"Let me tell you something about married men," Guggenheim said. "We pretend to be stupid. So from your perception, Peter will appear to be smarter than he previously was, but the truth is he was that smart all along but was, as a married man, hiding it."

"Why didn't you just have Peter divorce Mary Jane?" asked a fan.

"It would have been terrible for publicity," McCann answered.

"It really wouldn't have played well in the red states," said Slott.

"I pitched having her raped then murdered," laughed Guggenheim.

"This isn't DC Comics," said Jim McCann.

The panel concluded with Steve Wacker giving fans the chance to win some prizes, including a Spider-Man sketch by Todd Nauck, a Spider-Man sketch by Jeph Loeb (which he signed as J. Scott Campbell), and a Spider-Man script. Fans were split into teams and asked to act out the scene depicted in the script, with the audience choosing their favorite performance and the winners being awarded the sketches.

End scene.

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