WW PHILLY '08: Marvel: Your Universe Panel

Marvel: Your Universe Panel

After starting off with a round of Marvel Hangman hosted by Dan Slott, Secret Invasion Editor Tom Brevoort welcomed the crowd to the "last Marvel panel...ever" (he was joking). He explained that, like DC's panel earlier in the day, the panel is a chance to interact with fans "just chatting about comics, chatting about stuff we all like." Brevoort was joined by Slott, Molly Lazer, and C.B. Cebulski.

Brevoort led off the panel by asking, "In general, do you like what we're doing now?" A fan started by complaining about Joe Quesada's recent comments that he's not a fan of high fantasy or sci-fi. "Right now," he said, "your entire writing stable comes from hard-boiled crime writing." Brevoort countered that it's good to publish a variety of books with a variety of tones. "Joe's good about not letting his tastes dictate the direction of everything." In the same vein, another fan asked for a new Silver Surfer book, stating that "he likes knowing that there's a bigger sandbox out there." In explanation, Brevoort said that in a way, the Surfer's story has already had a resolution - he was able to leave Earth.

"What other characters do you like that we're not doing stuff with?" Brevoort asked the room. A venerable fan suggested that the Marvel Earth be destroyed with "a galactic adventure about rebuilding what was lost."

"I don't know that we'll be blowing up America tomorrow...."

From the back of the room came a suggestion for a return for Typhoid Mary - which quickly segued into criticism of Brand New Day. Dan Slott confirmed that the marriage has truly been undone, "or else every time he's with a woman, he's committing adultery." The mention of BND - which Slott is quick to distance from the story before it - produces a rumble from the crowd.

Regarding Wolverine, there was some positive feedback about Marc Guggenheim's recent move to reduce his power level. C.B. Cebulski explained that Astonishing X-Men has always been in continuity, just over a very short frame of time. Discussing continuity, Brevoort said that "lockstep continuity" doesn't work, but that it's something fans seem to want. "It's a tough thing to plan," he said in regard to respecting continuity on a tight publishing schedule. "Who likes late comics?" Brevoort asked, and Slott (who has been notorious for his lateness) raises the only hand. Of course, this led a fan to comment on Daredevil: Target, and Brevoort saying, "Yeah, we hate it when that happens, too." Ultimately, he says, a really good comic will be read in trade for years to come, citing the ever-popular "nobody remembers that Watchmen was late," argument.

The next question from Brevoort: "How many of you have stopped reading comics and why?" Most of the room had stopped at some point, and several fans discussed what drove them away and what made them return. Not surprisingly, many fans left during the market oversaturation of the mid-90s.

Cebulski told an anecdote about buying comics as a child at the five and dime next to his barber. Slott spoke about seeing Spider-Man at a 7-11 signing comics. "They were riding down the freeway with a guy in a Spider-Man costume standing in the back of the truck," he laughs, citing it as the moment that hooked him on the comics hobby. "He just wrote ‘Spiderman;’ he didn't remember the dash," leading to a discussion of books that the audience loves. The fans run the gamut, talking about popular, obscure and even very recent issues.

Former Thunderbolts assistant editor Molly Lazer spoke about her first Spider-Man comic - "It scared the bejeezus out of me." She noted that the issue had a hologram cover, leading to the next question.

"Who," Brevoort asked, "was enticed into comics by an enhanced cover?" "We should do more of those!" Slott kidded after a good number of hands are raised.

Discussion turned to the number (and quality) of X-Men books, both now and in the past. Brevoort noted that Marvel publishes books that don't cross over into other titles, like Astonishing X-Men, for fans who prefer standalone books.

When asked about the Ultimate Universe, the response from the audience was overwhelmingly positive, with the caveat that the universe stay self-contained and relatively close-knit.

A very energetic fan explained his love about Marvel Zombies: "I love that the heroes are so bad that they eat their wives."

CB asked if letters pages should come back, and the response is a roar of applause.

Brevoort's last question was "We hear a lot on the net about problems with big events, but then they become some of the best selling comics we have." Respondents pointed out that 'event fatigue' isn't due to the events themselves, but the copious amount of tie-in issues that they create. "I know we say this at every panel, but we don't force people to do tie-ins that they don't want to do," Brevoort said, citing Secret Invasion: Fantastic Four as a miniseries that came about because Mark Millar and Brian Hitch did not want to write a tie-in to the crossover. Brevoort also notes that Captain Britain and MI 13 has gotten a boost in visibility because the new series launches out of the event.

With the panel going over time, the panel took one last comment. The commenter complained that heroes, who are supposed to be the smartest characters in the world, are frequently blindsided. A debate broke out among the audience about whether or not the hubris of the Illuminati is greater than their intelligence. With that, Brevoort bids everybody a good day and wraps up the panel.

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