WW PHILLY '08: Mondo Marvel Panel

Cover for X Men, Issue 500

The programming at the 2008 WizardWorld: Philadelphia kicked off Friday afternoon with the Mondo Marvel panel.

Present at the panel: Duane Swierczynski, CB Cebulksi, Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada, Executive Editor Tom Brevoort, Dan Slott, Brian Reed, Fred Van Lente and Greg Pak.

After joking briefly with a fan in the front row about the Mets, Quesada kicked off the presentation with a loud "How's everyone doing today?" to which the crowd shouted back. The E-i-C then welcomed the audience to the first panel of the con and introduced the panelists named above.

Quesada moved right into the presentation, noting that July sees the start of "Manifest Destiny," the next major storyline for the X-Men, and is set in San Francisco, the mutants' new home.

Quesada then began to move through the slides, and showed the cover to Deadpool #1, Wolverine: Origins and the King-Size Cable Spectacular written by Swierczynski. The writer noted that the special is a 43-44 page story told from Bishop's point of view, and readers will see how he tracks his quarry - the infant that Cable has sworn to protect.

Quesada then showed art from Magneto: Testament, and asked writer Greg Pak to discuss the upcoming five-issue miniseries. Pak said that for years he's wanted to tell the story of Magneto's early days as a young Jewish boy, along with his family, who is trying to survive the onslaught of the Nazi ascendancy and the Final Solution.

Pak said that it will be pretty incredible with Carmine Di Giandomenico as its artist, adding that "nobody draws sad eyes like Carmine."

Click here for our conversation with Pak about the mini-series.

Quesada then spoke about The Age of Sentry, a retro-style mini-series focusing on the early days of the Sentry, written by Jeff Parker and Paul Tobin.

A fan then asked a question if the upcoming "Manifest Destiny" storyline was self-contained, or if it will have crossovers. Cebulski said that it'll be more to itself but crossover to Wolverine with Professor Xavier, but it will take place mostly in Uncanny X-Men starting with issue #500.

The second part of the question - "Are we going to find out whether the Secret War was also orchestrated by the Skrulls or will that come up later?"

Brevoort replied with a "What?" noting that he was distracted, since he was reading Secret Invasion #3 at the table. Brevoort teased that he would be giving his copy away on Sunday at Marvel's "Prize or No Prize?" panel.

The Editor then answered his phone, telling Quesada that it was Editor Steve Wacker calling, who said that he just got the new designs for Speedball in. But as for the original question, Brevoort said that the answer will most likely be found in Mighty Avengers #18.

The next question - "Will the Son of Hulk series be set on Sakaar, or will he be coming to Aarth?"

Pak said, "We start off with him on the planet and take it from there...if you liked Planet Hulk it's going to be more savage then when the Hulk was there [on the planet], so come in and watch what happens."

Quesada noted that the thing about the first issue of Son of Hulk is that the pages keep coming in, and the issue has become a buzz book in the offices. "Greg did an amazing job on it so if you're a fan of the old Marvel sword and sorcery stuff this is going to be fantastic for you. When you're finished reading it, you may not want him to come back to Earth.

The next question came form a Fantastic Four fan who said that they don't like the new direction Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch are taking the book in, and in fact, they're enjoying the "Marvel Adventures" version more. Is there any possibility of getting it back to the way it was?

Quesada answered that he could understand if the fan didn't care about his opinion, but he enjoyed where the book is going. Brevoort agreed, noting that the masthead of the book is not going to be going anywhere. The Editor said that he's just as big an FF fan as anyone, and doesn't mind seeing things mixed up from time to time on the book, and said he was sorry that the book wasn't clicking for them.

Quesada joined in, adding that Millar and Hitch are going for the old-school vibe that the series used to have, and bringing back more of a high adventure style - but again, added that he could understand if the series' current direction wasn't working for them. The fan said they'd been around for 500 issues, so they'd most likely be staying through the Millar/Hitch run.

Another fan asked that, if in the near future Iron Man will not show up in every Marvel book. Quesada made a joke about how people used to say that about Wolverine, noting that it's ironic how these things come around. Last year - it used to be Wolverine that "was in every book," in fans' eyes. It goes to show, Quesada said, how popular characters are in the comics. He joked that in a few years time, we'll all be joking about how a different character is in every book.

Reed joked that that character will be Dazzler.

The next question focused on how the panelists felt about digital comics, with Quesada answering that anything that gets comics out to the masses is great for our industry as a whole, but it's really still uncharted territory.

Uncharted legal territory, Cebulski noted.

The next question: When are you changing Spider-Man back?

"Back to what?" Quesada replied.

"Back to when it was good."

Quesada asked the fan what they liked about it, to which the individual said they used to like the darker edge the book had, with Aunt May being "like 90 years old."

"Old people must die..." Slott said in a deep, booming voice.

But the fan persisted, noting the changes brought by "One More Day" - the return of Harry Osborn, the split of the marriage, and Aunt May. Quesada said that if you keep reading, you'll get closure on some of the larger outstanding issues, adding that Spider-Man is an ongoing thing, with characters coming and going. He then defended his stance that divorce was not the way to go for Peter and Mary Jane, as he sees that as the ultimate quitting, raising a white flag, and he didn't see that in either Peter or Mary Jane's character.

"But keep reading we will still have closure."

Question: "Is Mary Jane a Skrull?"

Brevoort: (bluntly) "Mary Jane is not a Skrull."

Answering a question about the upcoming The Age of the Sentry, Quesada said that it won't tie in to the character's most recent stories in Mighty Avengers, but rather is a fun look at the Sentry, with certain aspects of the character highlighted, which will be carried into other projects.

Speaking of the upcoming Ultimate Origins, Quesada said that the events in that mini ill clearly delineate the Marvel Universe from the Ultimate Universe.

Asked about the new Deadpool series, Cebulski said that it will be very faithful to the previous series the character has had, and "everyone will be very happy."

Will the New Avengers be "underground" forever?

Quesada said that something will eventually happen on that front, but "I won't tell you right now." It might not be what you think, Quesada said, adding that there are big changes coming for Iron Man.

Asked about what's coming in Avengers: The Initiative, Slott said that the series will show what's going on at the front lines of the Skrull Invasion, and more Taskmaster. Also, in regards to Butterball, who appeared in issue #13, Slott said while he can't give anything away but, "If you really liked that issue, we'll see you again in a one-shot where the team is in Nevada."

Answering a question about the second volume of Young Avengers, Brevoort said that they are working on something right now that "isn't quite" Young Avengers, but he didn't want to promise anything.

Quesada said that there is something with Cloak and Dagger in the pipeline, but didn't elaborate on what, or where in the pipeline it was.

Speaking of Incredible Hercules, Pak said that the series came from a challenge he was given - to make Hercules cook as a character again. "From the beginning I knew there was going to be a group of characters interacting with the Hulk, so I refreshed myself with him, and we paired him with these renegades and something just worked there."

Pak added that Hercules is one of the most popular characters ever, and the book has been nothing but a pleasure to work on.

Swierczynski said that he loves the stories in Iron Fist with the older Iron Fist, but declined to say if he's going to be using previous Iron Fists when he takes over the series.

A question about a possible new Loners series earned applause from Slott, with Cebulski saying that there are currently plans for some of the characters in different places, noting that it's a tough market for a book like Loners.

The same fan then asked about hearing more about the Sentry. Quesada answered that, in his view, what makes him so cool is that he's crazy, and you can't take that away from him, as it clearly differentiates him from Superman, who can easily resolve every issue thrown at him. "There is some very interesting stuff coming up with the Sentry," Quesada added.

Asked if there was more X-Men by Joss Whedon forthcoming, Quesada said no, that Whedon is very busy with Dollhouse and his other Hollywood commitments.

Explaining the upcoming Ultimatum, Quesada said that once the secret of the Ultimate Universe is revealed in Ultimate Origins, Ultimatum is what happens as a result of that revelation.

Asked about "under the radar" books that are currently being published by Marvel, both Quesada and Cebulski recommended The Twelve, with Slott giving props to Criminal.

"As I started as Editor-in-Chief eight-plus years ago, we have such a huge variety of stuff now, from kids stuff to adult stuff, we really are expanding our imprint," Quesada said. "It's a great career and we're just thrilled - thanks to you guys - flexing our sales in the market. Comics are healthy."

Asked about Alpha Flight, Quesada said that they're looking for something that would make that book different than a Canadian version of the Avengers.

Speaking of the Marvel movies, Quesada said that one of the nice things about Marvel Studios is that it has something called the "creative committee," which sits and talks over screenplays and editing them, so its no longer a situation of movies being handed down from the studios but rather Marvel taking an active role in the stories that are being told, up to and including comic writers taking a role in the stories that reach the screen. As an example, Cebulski noted that Brian K. Vaughan will be writing the upcoming Runaways movie.

There will not be a Secret Invasion tie-in with Iron Fist, Brevoort said.

Quesada said there is discussion going on about an Ultimate Thor series.

Speaking more about The Initiative, Slott said that teams from Hawaii, Nevada and Arizona will be seen, as well as the New Mexico team, which will showcase a classic character that hasn't been seen in a while.

Finally, in regards to Marvel's creator-owned ICON line, Quesada said the expansion of the line is purposely slow, with at most four books a month in order to keep the quality as high as possible.

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