SDCC '13: Marvel INFINITY Panel LIVE! McNiven Joins UNCANNY AVENGERS, More

Marvel variants for July 12
Credit: Marvel

The heroes of the Marvel Universe have a fresh challenge on their hands this fall as Thanos returns with a new cadre of supporting villains and a plan that threatens the Universe. Join us as we cover the Infinity panel live from Comic-Con International: San Diego 2013 with all the latest on the Avengers line and the next big crossover.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Official Description: It's the Avengers versus their greatest galactic foe, Thanos! Get the lowdown on Jonathan Hickman's six-issue event that pulls in your favorite heroes from all corners of the Marvel Universe. Plus, get the 4-1-1 on all your other favorite Avengers titles! Featuring editor-in-chief Axel Alonso, and writers Sam Humphries (Avengers A.I.), Rick Remender (Uncanny Avengers), Charles Soule (Thunderbolts), and Nick Spencer (Secret Avengers)!

Like the Video Games panel before it, the Infinity panel started with a trailer for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., then Avengers Assemble, and finally a comic book trailer for Infinty itself. Editor Nick Lowe followed-up by introducing the story, which he says spans galaxies and is full of "amazing stuff."

Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso, Thunderbolts writer Charles Soule, Secret Avengers writer Nick Spencer, Avengers AI writer Sam Humphries, Nova writer Zeb Wells, Infinity: The Heist writer Frank Tieri, and editor Steve Wacker filled out the packed panel.

The Avengers are pulled away, and "when the cat's away, the Thanos will play," teased Lowe. The series will take place primarily in its own mini-series, plus Avengers and New Avengers, all three written by Jonathan Hickman. Lowe praised Hickman's writing, saying he has meticulously planned every step of the story.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Charles Soule's Thunderbolts ties into Infinity in October. "The dynamic of the book starting with Issue 14 is that they trade missions. They draw names out of a hat, and Punisher's name comes out first, so Elektra, Red Hulk, Deadpool, are all helping him with a mission: taking out a mob family in New York. That of course brings them to the center of the action."

Nova's new writer Zeb Wells (Paco Medina on art) says "it's a lot of fun to write a character who is still figuring out how to be a superhero, much like i'm still figuring out how to be an adult."

The writer teased that he'll start seeing more of how the Nova Corps fits into the larger Marvel Universe.

Moving to Secret Avengers with Nick Spencer, "A.I.M. has become a major force in the Marvel Universe, and it's only going to be bigger from here." Ed Brisson is writing issues #10 and #11 for the tie-ins, and Spencer said "he is absolutely destroying it."

"Inhumanity" spins out of Infinity, leading to Matt Fraction and Joe Madureira's Inhuman, a new ongoing series starting in January 2014. Axel Alonso says the Inhumans are the "ones to watch" similar to what he said last year about Guardians of the Galaxy and Nova. The series will explore who they are and exactly how they exist in the Marvel Universe.

Uncanny Avengers #14 Promo
Uncanny Avengers #14 Promo
Credit: Marvel Comics

Rick Remender, also on the dais, talked about Uncanny Avengers and "Ragnarok Now," the current arc. The Apocalypse Twins, from the far future with Kang, and have their own agenda. Steve McNiven was announced as joining the series with issue #14, featuring the promo art you see to your left. The story will feature Red Skull, the Twins, Kang, go through time and space, and will "have a large body count. The heroes will pay with loss of life."

Avengers A.I. has two issues in October from Sam Humphries and Andre Lima Arauio. Currently, a rogue AI named Demetrius has taken over a "discarded suit of armor" of Iron Man's. He is declaring an AI/Robot Revolution.

We'll really "see the world through AI's eyes" in future issues, with Vision going to "the diamond," the home AIs in the Marvel Universe.

Avengers: Endless Wartime by Warren Ellis and Mike McKone (the artist was on the dais) is a new graphic novel featuring Earth's Mightiest Heroes coming in September 2013. McKone said working on it wasn't much different than working on a monthly book aside from having only one deadline.

Frank Tieri's Infinity: Heist is "Ocean's 11 with Iron Man villains. It's Reservoir Dogs, Usual Suspects, not your usual comic book fare." Spymaster brings together a team to pull a heist on Stark Enterprises while Iron Man and the Avengers are off fighting Thanos. "Like all good heist movies, something goes terribly wrong, and things hit the fan from there."

With that, fan Q&A began, to take up the majority of the panel.

Is it ever a concern that the high-profile titles like Avengers aren't accessible for younger readers? Alonso says that the book, and the Marvel NOW! titles in general were meant to be accessible. "Jonathan's demographic is more high school and above, the primary audience for the Avengers movies." Wacker noted that in the 60s, Marvel books were "aiming at a higher audience than DC was" which is what made them break out. "We're not going to aim Avengers at eight year-olds, but I don't know that it ever has been."

What's your process to keep the spirit of the characters intact? Alonso, "We do these summits, three or four times a year, and map out where we're going," bringing together their core writers. He said that it's, in a way, more difficult than TV because of how fast things change, how many things are juggled, and fifty, sixty years of continuity.

Did Avengers the movie have any influence on Infinity? Alonso, "The fact that Thanos showed up was somewhat influential, but not directly. We do what we do, they do what they do. We wanted to get ahead of the curve on Guardians, for example, and we think there are great comic books now ready for when there are new fans from the movie."

What will the focus/layout of Inhuman be? Alonso, "The plan is complex. We want it to unfold slowly. You'll learn the history slowly, be reintroduced to the characters we know and love already. There will be an element of "Game of Thrones" intrigue to this, but that won't come to a boil utnil later." New characters in the series will "allow you to experience being reborn into this world."

A fan asked about Zeb Wells' name, and he said, "It's actually my middle name. It's just Zeb though, I assume it's from the Bible somehow?"

What would you do in the Marvel Universe if there was no oversight, coordination or anything? Wacker: "I'd have Peter Parker marry Mary Jane." Remender: "I'd just kill a ton of characters." Alonso: "Luke Cage would be the number one selling book." Humphries: "I'd make a universe dominated by Rogue." Tieri: "Everything would be written by me." Wells: "Everything would be written by Frank." Spencer: "I've always dreamed of a year where everything is flipped, the good guys go bad, bad guys are good." Soule: "I'd solve the mystery of where Ross's mustache goes when he becomes the Red Hulk." McKone: "I'd design an easier-to-draw Captain America costume." Lowe: "Every cover would have two characters kissing."

A young fan asked about the origins of Infinity, and Lowe said it was partially from the retreats, but mostly just from Hickman and his "crazy notebooks full of charts and connections." The young fan's favorite hero is Thor, and Wacker said, "We'll make some cool moments for Thor in Infinity just for you."

When you're doing this sort of event, how do you decide whether there's a specific ending, or something that leads into more like AvX moved into Consequences? Alonso, "In comics the story is never over. We're mindful that fans want to see a ripple effect. AvX did come to an end, we closed that story, but good stories leave threads, things to be resolved."

A fan asked if Cataclysm and the breaking-down of walls between universes will tie to Infinity and New Avengers at all. Alonso said, "read those two stories. You're making the right kinds of connections. There is something in the air there, it seems."

A fan dressed as Tron Deadpool asked if Uncanny Avengers cast would expand at all, and Remender said just the opposite, "The cast will be getting much smaller actually, at least for a time." Remender did say that he wanted to have Deadpool sneaking into the mansion and pretending to be a butler for them but couldn't make it work.

A fan "underwhelmed" with the ends of events for the last few years asked if Infinity will have a lackluster ending. Alonso said "I loved the response to AvX, Civil War, and others. Age of Ultron has had some controversy, but I loved the ripple effect, and it set up the story of how Angela has been hiding in plain sight in the Marvel Universe for years."

Any old New Warriors showing up in Nova? Wells, "I got your back, my friend, absolutely, we're working on it right now."

The characters that survive Avengers Arena will have new plans soon, promised Alonso.

Remender, asked about how the Uncanny Avengers will move beyond their ideological split of recent issues, said that it will take awhile, "if they get back together, or when."

Where is Doctor Doom right now, and will he be taking on Thanos at all? "He is in play in Fantastic Four, and in the long term," said Alonso. Wacker said "it's hard to talk about because we were JUST discussing his future." Remender offered, "I will give a spoiler: Doom 2099 has a huge part in Uncanny Avengers soon."

When Peter Parker comes back as Spider-Man... Wacker says "there are no plans for undoing Doc Ock as Spider-Man," disagreeing with the premise of the question.

In Avengers A.I. will it be more tech versus tech, or human nature versus how robots feel superior? Humphries, "The answer is yes. It's going to be all the things you said. There will be this explosion of AI in the Marvel Universe and not everyone agrees with what to do with it - both AI characters and Human characters."

Any prior horseman being mentioned/used like Gambit? Remender, "I think his death seed has been ejected, but we don't know, it's a question. Sunfire as well, and he's in the story, it'd be a real bummer if he suddenly turned again as well! The four new horsemen of Death breaks the rules. It's a whole new level of threat. The Death Seed, once it's planted, is supposed to be the heir to Apocalypse, so what happens if you give it to a Human instead of a Mutant? The Death persona takes over the Void persona for Sentry. It's a big part of the story. It goes on for a long time, and we'll get to a lot of it."

Final Question is Who's your favorite superhero and if they were in an old folks home what would their adventures be? Remender said he wants to pitch "GeriatriX where Wolverine poops his pants and thinks Sabretooth is making him do it," before revealing Fantomex is his favorite character. Wacker said "Captain Marvel, and she'd use her walker to beat anyone who looked at her funny." Alonso, "I like the idea of a really frisky Luke Cage." Soule, "Daredevil, and his hearing would start to go, so he'd hear like the rest of us." Wacker, "But his eyesight comes back!" McKone, "Captain Britain, and he wouldn't have nay problems as he gets older because he'd have universal healthcare!"

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