ComicMix at WWLA: The Mondo Marvel Panel
Wrapping up our coverage of this weekend’s Wizard World LA convention, we have this report from Sunday’s Mondo Marvel panel at the Los Angeles Convention center.
Like the X-Men panel, leading the discussion again this time is Marvel Comics marketing guru Jim McCann. Once things settled down a bit and got organized, he introduced the distinguished panel of Marvel creators including Matt Fraction, Chris Gage, Aubrey Sitterson and Charles Knauf.
Knauf, who is currently co-writing Iron Man: Agent of SHIELD, said of the book, "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."
Among Knauf’s future plans for the book are the introduction of a new "femme fatale" and an attempt to return Iron Man to his "hero status." He will also be trying to make the book "a little more fun."
"The flaws are what make him so great," chimed in Fraction, who’s also writing an Iron Man title: Invincible Iron Man. Said Fraction: "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," said Fraction.
Next, McCann turned to Chris Gage who is currently working on Avengers: The Initiative with Dan Slott — which has issue #10 at comic’s shops now. According to Gage, Issue #11 will feature the Mighty Avengers and Gage also said fans of the New Warriors may want to check it out, too, "just in case."
In issue #13, which Gage wrote on his own, a new crop of cadets for the Initiative will be introduced, including Prodigy, Gorilla and a new character named Butterball. Yes, Butterball. Gage also made sure to point out that Dan Slott is not leaving the book and will return soon. Issue #14 will "reveal the high-level Skrull in the organization" which is, of course, to tie-in with "Secret Invasion."
Besides the previously mentoned titles, Gage is also writing Thunderbolts #122-125, which are that title’s tie-ins to "Secret Invasion." The very-busy Gage will also be teaming with artist Mike Perkins for the Secret Invasion "Who Do You Trust?" special featuring Captain Marvel, Beast and others.
Next, McCann talked a little about the return of Stephen King’s Dark Tower with the "Long Road Home" mini. It will be six issues and part of the official group of six "Dark Tower" miniseries. "From here on out, it’s all things that have been hinted at in the novels," said McCann.
Moving on, McCann discussed Marvel’s partnership with European publisher Soleil for several titles including Scourge of the Gods, Universal World One and Samurai. These titles will all be translated into English and distributed in the U.S. for the first time later in the year.
For Free Comic Book Day, Marvel is producing two new comics. One is a Marvel Adventures title featuring Iron Man, The Hulk and Spider-Man. The second is an X-Men story written by Mike Carey with art by Greg Land. The story is set in a town Carey knows well — Wales. It also helps set up X-Men #500.
McCann then showed artwork from some of the projects already discussed as well as a new one: Iron Man: Viva Las Vegas, which is being written by Jon Favreau with art by Adi Granov. According to McCann this is "the Iron Man story the movie industry couldn’t afford to make."
"It’s definitely the Robert Downey, Jr. Tony Stark. The Stark you want to hang out and party with," said Fraction.
Hulk gets a son when Greg Pak and Ron Garney bring Skaar: Son of Hulk to fans in June. This Hulk story is, according to McCann, the third act of the story that began with Planet Hulk and continued in World War Hulk.
Next, the panel revealed plans are underway from one of the Fantastic Four’s ultimate villians: Dr. Doom. Following his appearance in Mighty Avengers, Dr. Doom will be back in Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch’s Fantastic Four. McCann also indicated Hitch is making good progress on the book and that Marvel doesn’t anticipate any delays like they had with Ultimates.
Also, Eric Shanower and Skottie Young are doing a Marvel Illustrated version of L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz. According to McCann readers should "Strongly consider picking this book up because the people involved in it are so pasionate about it."
Turning to Knauf again, McCann asked him about the new Eternals ongoing. Knauf was animated saying its "Just going to be really kick ass. We’re really going close to Kirby’s vision while bringing it closer to the Marvel Universe," said Knauf.
Next, there was a slide showing two Captain Americas facing each other — one on his knees holding a gun, the other looming over him. Both in costume and both with Cap’s shield. According to McCann, "That scene really does happen. Who is it? You’ll have to read to find out."
Next up, Matt Fraction said he wasn’t a fan of Ghost Rider or 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," said Fraction.
Fraction then went on to talk about Punisher, saying that Jigsaw will be " the new arc of Punisher War Journal. 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."
On the Immortal Iron First front, Fraction said future issues 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.
Besides Iron Fist, Fraction will be writing three stand-alone Thor issues but he will not be taking over for J. Michael Straczynski. The first Thor stand-alone issue is called Age of Thunder and the second is Reign of Blood.
"But its not just a title, it will actually rain blood," said Fraction. The first issue will be illustrated by Pat Zircher, who’s work was shown in a couple slides to the "oohs" and "ahhs" of the fans.
McCann then tuturned to the audience for questions.
First question: "Who is taking over Punisher after Garth Ennis leaves?
McCann: "There are three five-issue arcs coming up. There is a very solid plan, and it’s folks you know."
Fan: "Do you expect ‘Secret Invasion’ to be as big as ‘Civil War’ and ‘World War Hulk’ in terms of sales?"
McCann: "Yes. But in terms of scope, it’s bigger than World War Hulk."
"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."
Fan: "How long will Heroes for Hire remain in Iron First?
Fan: "Are any of the young mutants going over to the Initiative to get training?"
Gage: "A firm wait-and-see on that. 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 for Gifted Youngsters either."
McCann: "What about Mutant Zero?"
Gage: "Who the hell is that?"
Next, a fan indicated they didn’t much care for the new Fantastic Four logo asking" "How long will it be like that?"
McCann: "It will remain for as long as Hitch and Millar remain on the series."
Fan: "When are we going to see Dr. Strange again?"
McCann: "We know where he is, we know what he’s doing. 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." According to McCann there are approved Dr. Strange projects, but nothing that they can announce yet.
Fan: Where does New Eternals pick up and does it include Neil Gaiman’s stories?
Knauf: "Obviously we’ll be introducing more of the sleeping Eternals as well as other things. But everything from Gaiman’s is in play."
Fan: "What’s after "’Secret Invasion’ or are you going to just let the characters be for awhile?"
McCann: "Marvel has plans for more major events which are scheduled into 2010."
McCann confirmed the Imperial Guard will be involved with "Secret Invasion" and their story will pick up from where it ended in Emperor Vulcan.
"Is the Infinity Guantlet or the Beyonder going to play a role in Secret Invasion?," asked a fan.
"No for the Beyonder," McCann said.
"What about the Gauntlet?"
".. any other questions?" McCann asked.