The next major push for Marvel Comics is their Avengers NOW! initiative, giving relaunches and major new storylines - and even some creative shakeups - to their popular Avengers comics. The company came to San Diego Friday afternoon for a panel full of announcements and surprises.
Senior Editor Nick Lowe introduced the panel he'd moderate, Axel Alonso, E-i-C, writer Rick Remender, writer Jason Aaron, writer Nick Spencer, writer Nathan Edmondson.
The Avengers NOW! poster was shown, talking about the "incredible new series and big storylines coming."
First up, Captain America #25 in October 2014 that will reveal Sam Wilson as the new Captain America. "This 25 issues has been one big story," Remender said, "and now will lead right into AXIS. We'll see what Zola and Red Skull are cooking up, and we'll see the consequences of what it takes to stop that." Adam Hughes and Steve McNiven are doing variant covers for the series.
Nick Spencer joined the panel late, and Alonso said, "Arriving late... like one of his scripts!"
All this leads up to All-New Captain America #1 in November. Remender said, "I wanted to put Steve through the meat grinder. Someone like him, you want to find a way to put him through something like "Daredevil: Born Again." We wanted to sideline him in a way that we haven't seen before. So he's out of commission physically and has to train his replacement. He earns the mantle in issue 25 in a way that Sam feels that he's ready.
"His origin is a unique comic book origin, and speaks to a modern audience. I'm having a lot of fun writing from the perspective of a modern-day Captain America."
Also announced next: Captain America and the Mighty Avengers, a relaunch of that series with a new #1 in November, by Al Ewing an Luke Ross (cover above).
In Avengers World, Spencer has been "exploring more of the Marvel world" in Europe, China, and more. The arc with 10 and 11 "comes to a head," and brings in the Next Avengers from the animated movie, making their transition into the Marvel Universe. "Maria Hill brings them in from the future to tackle the new Scientist Supreme and AIM Island." Jorge Molina has covers of 12, 13, and 14 that each feature members of the larger roster.
October sees Deathlok #1 by Nate Edmondson and Mike Perkins. "Just like with Black Widow, we realized the time couldn't be more right to bring Deathlok back into the limelight. It's the best work ever by Perkins. He is not aware that when he's in the field he becomes activated and is this weapon of war - he'll watch it later on TV and have no idea that it's him. He's the terminator, he's the Robocop meets Bourne meets Manchurain Candidate."
Thor #1 by Aaron and Russell Dauterman hits October 2014. "Yeah, the new Thor is Aunt May," Aaron joked. "This all goes back to when I launched Thor: God of Thunder, it's all been leading up to the moment where Thor can't pick up his hammer. I wanted someone to pick up that hammer, and not be just for a moment or a scene, but for the foreseeable future. Storm picked it up for a few scenes, and Wonder Woman picked it up in a crossover, but I wanted a woman to really carry it. Most of his supporting cast are ladies - and this character is someone from Thor's world.
"The idea is to follow her as she carries his hammer, and not just picks it up to whack somebody for a couple of pages."
Next Announcemeng: Angela: Asgard's Assassin #1 by Kieron Gillen and Marguerite Bennett with art by Phil Jimenez and Stephanie Hans.
Alonso said, "We were only going to bring her in if we could do it where she was hiding in plain sight the whole time."
November will also see the launch of Superior Iron Man by Tom Taylor and Yildiray Cinar.
"What you'll see in Superior Iron Man," Alonso said, "Well, first of all you remember what happened the last time someone became Superior, right? So this is Tony Stark, not inhabited by someone else, but he surrenders to his Id and his huge Ego, and goes to San Francisco. He goes and uploads Extremis to citizens, and some of them - and some of the heroes- won't like it."
And with that, the panel went right to fan Q&A!
Q: Will Daredevil be involved with Superior Iron Man's antics, with them both in San Francisco?
Alonso: "There's a very good chance their paths will cross, yes."
Q: Can you talk a little more about Unworthy Thor?
Aaron: "He'll still be in the Thor book, and he still has a story to tell. He'll be popping up in other books as well."
Q: How do the Builders and Celestials fit in together?
Lowe: "They work with cross-purposes, but with some of the same end goals."
Q: How did Tom Taylor get involved with Superior Iron Man?
Alonso: "Senior Editor Mark Paniccia reached out to him because of his work on Earth 2, which was a book on our radar. Remender had the inciting incident of Tony calibrating this way."
Remender: "Yeah, it comes out of AXIS #3, and I've read Tom's outlines, and they're really cool."
Q: New villains in Avengers Now?
Lowe: "We like to go for a balance of new characters and old characters."
Alonso: "I will say, it's a little bit of a spoiler, but we were just discussing a story that will be spitting out new villains like never before, and recalibrating old villains..."
Q: Recommendations for a movie fan to jump into the Marvel Comics world?
Alonso: "Any of the All-New Marvel NOW launches we did a few months ago. Especially books like Black Widow and Ms. Marvel, which were launched almost like creator-owned books. You need to know absolutely nothing going into those. So All-New Marvel NOW, and Marvel NOW a couple years ago."
Edmondson: "Yeah, any of these titles would be great, but if you're intimidated, just pick one. Just get one, go home and read it, and move on from there."
Q: Where do we go with Steve Rogers in All-New Cap?
Remender: "He has a role in the book and has an arc, but he's a side character now. We're still building things for Steve, but our focus is on Sam. He's going to be running ops back at the mansion for the Avengers. He'll be in some of those books for awhile as well. It may lead to conflict after awhile when Sam has had enough of it."
Q: How do you coordinate when you want to use 'someone else's' character?
Aaron: "That's really all coordinated by Editorial, and we have retreats where we talk about that stuff."
Remender: "Yeah, it's a fine line. I'll call up other writers and talk to them and coordinate things. Like in AXIS, female Thor won't be in it, but unworthy Thor Odinson will - and that's just because of the timeline of the story he's telling and how it all works with the major moment for Loki in that series."
Q: Any chance of Black Widow teaming up with Deathlok, since Nathan is writing both?
Edmondson: "We'll have other characters come in and out, but we didn't want her to be defined by other characters, or be an accessory to other characters. But keep reading, there are some surprises coming."
Q: A young fan asked if there could be a possibility Steve Rogers could be Nomad again.
Remender: "There's a new Nomad, who might be related to Steve Rogers (he revealed at an earlier panel that it's Ian Rogers). Steve can't handle the fisicuffs right now, but he's still an expert tactician so he'll be around that way."
Q: Did you consider giving Sif her own book instead of just doing female Thor?
Aaron: "I have had people ask that or ask why I don't create a new female thor-LIKE character - and I did that in God of Thunder! Creating a character or putting a character as a Thor stand-in or sidekick... This is the difference between doing a Robin story and a Batman story - I didn't want to create a new Robin, I wanted this to be a Batman style."
Q: Another young fan, "What's Hulk's role in the second Avengers movie?"
Alonso: "I've read the script, and he has a really big, really cool role in it. If you like Hulk, you're gonna love that movie."
Q: Will Superior Iron Man bleed over into the Avengers books quickly?
Lowe: "Yeah, it's all part of the same thing. His betrayal of the Avengers is a huge part of what Hickman has coming up for instance."
Q: Any more information about the "Time Runs Out" tagline?
Lowe: "It's all in Hickman's Avengers and New Avengers, and it's all leading to something really big but I can't say anything else about that right now!"
Q: Does Living Tribunal's corpse show up in Original Sin?
Aaron: "Not in Original Sin, no."
Lowe: "There's a lot of Living Tribunal in my fanfic."
Q: Is Marvel thinking of making a Black Widow movie?
Alonso: "We're not the studios, so we don't have the full picture. But we would welcome that on the publishing side. I text Kevin Feige every day about that, I think it's probably getting annoying. But you're not the first person to show up in costume as Black Widow who had no idea who she was before the movie. Please read Nathan's story, too - it's so good!"
Q: Love a lot of these 70s characters - Dr. Strange I see as a great character, and he's on the Avengers NOW poster but you haven't talked about him...
Alonso: "We have plans for Dr. Strange. We joke around the office that the road is paved with good Dr. Strange pitches that didn't stick. We have a writer, most likely have an artist and a target date. And please pay attention to his role in Original Sin, it's a big deal."
Q: Any other old Avengers like Moondragon or especially how Hercules interacts with the new Female Thor?
Aaron: "That's a really good idea, don't be surprised if you see that in the future."
Remender: "Of that era, Jerome and I started talking about Starfox and we're doing new things with him in the Avengers: Rage of Ultron graphic novel.
Spencer: "And you should check out Avengers World #15 and 16, that's all I'm saying."
Q: Could Loki ever join the Avengers at some point?
Remender: "Read AXIS. That's all I can say right now."
Q: Will you address the lack of Steve's presence on the battlefield?
Remender: "Yeah, that's the fun of the new dynamic. Sam has a different sense of how to solve problems. There will be some people questioning Sam, but ultimately he's ready to do it."