Marvel's 'Next Big Thing' panel at Special Edition: NYC was kicked off Saturday morning by Marvel's Manager of Talent Relations, Rickey Purdin. Purdin started the panel by introducing the panelists with him on the dais to a huge round of applause. They were Brian Michael Bendis, Marguerite Bennett, Charles Soule and Chris D’Lando, Marvel’s Junior Sales and Communications Admin. Scheduled panelist Peter David was absent at the beginning.
This was the first panel of the day and it was completely packed, forcing fans to line up along the sides and back of the theater. D’Lando kicked things off with “True Believers,” a returning Marvel sales initiative that will see 10 $1 single issues rereleased in September. This iteration will have a Women of Marvel focus including reprintings of certain issues of Thor, Spider-Gwen, Captain Marvel and more.
“If you ever missed any of these, it’s a perfect time to jump on,” said D’lando.
D’lando then announced two new variant programs. In August, Marvel will being doing a series of variant cdvers by traditional manga artists. Slides were shown of a Katsuya Terada Iron Man variant cover and a Yusuka Marata Spider-Man variant. Later in the fall, fans will see Cosplay variants featuring photos taken by Marvel’s own Judy Stephens.
“[The idea] came out of one of our retreats. We saw all these cosplayers and we thought about how cool it would be to give back to this community,” said D’Lando
The panel moved forward with a slide of A-Force #1 to a big cheer from the crowd.
“A-Force stands for ‘awesome force,’” said co-writer Marguerite Bennett. “That’s not true but it’s my executive decision.”
Bennett confirmed that A-Force would be an ongoing series after Secret Wars featuring Medusa, She-Hulk, Sister Grimm and the recently introduced G. Willow Wilson creation, Singularity, along with others.
Next was 1602: Witch Hunter Angela #1 by Marguerite Bennett, Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans.
“I love working with Kieron Gillen. It was the loveliest experience I’ve ever had in comics,” said Bennett about working on the book. She promised that this new title is “extremely irreverent” and that readers can look forward to appearances from 1602 versions of the Guardians of the Galaxy and M.O.D.O.K.
Peter David was not able to attend the panel but Purdin and D’Lando showed slides for the writer's titles Secret Wars 2099 and Future Imperfect. Purdin assured fans that “a lot of the stuff happening in the Secret Wars books will be carrying over. So a lot of this stuff matters.”
Next was Inhumans:Attilan Rising by Charles Soule and John Timms. Soule said that the appeal of Secret Wars is all of the story possibilities that opened up by the event.
“Sometimes with these characters you can only bend them so far but with Secret Wars you can really break them,” he said.
Soule called this title a “life during wartime” story that sees Black Bolt as the leader of a resistance against Doom and Medusa is take to track them down. But this is a Black Bolt that we’ve never seen before: a the chatty bartender of an establishment called the Quiet Room.
The panel moved on to the upcoming Star Wars limited series Lando by Soule and artist Alex Maleev to huge applause. Soule’s book is set between Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope and Star Wars, Episode V: Empire Strikes Back. Lando is well past losing the Millenium Falcon in a bet with Han Solo but he’s not yet a mid-level administrator in the Cloud City. Soul characterized him as a “gambler” who “makes bad deals” and needs to steal a ship to square his debt. “This is definitely the Lando you want,” said Soule.
Some never before seen pages of sequential art were premiered at the panel as well. “The original Star Wars trilogy has a really lined-in quality to it,” said Soule. “Alex’s art is perfectly suited for that.”
Moving on, the cover of Old Man Logan #1 by Brian Michael Bendis and Andrea Sorrentino appeared on the screen.
Bendis called writing the sequel “a very daunting task” because he considers the original “one of the greatest modern stories in Marvel history.”
“Old Man Logan is a unique story for Secret Wars because he’s one of the only characters that will journey out of his region,” said Bendis.
Ultimate End by Bendis and artist Mark Bagley was next and the writer promised that #5 will answer all of the questions that many fans have after reading #1.
Purdin then turned to post-Secret Wars, showing the two recent "All-New All-Different Marvel" teasers that feature Iron Man and a host of other Marvel characters in advance of a big announcement.
Spinning out of Secret Wars, Brian Michael Bendis and Dave Marquez will be working on a new Invincible Iron Man series. There will be new armor, a new girlfriend, new villains and “a whopper of a last page in the first issue,” according to Bendis. Kieron Gillen’s run on Iron Man revealed that Tony is adopted so this new volume will address his biological parents.
“I love Iron Man with all my heart, but I thought, ‘what does he need?'” said Bendis. “Tony needs more Tony villains. Tony needs more friends who aren’t Avengers.”
Bends also announced that this new armor can turn into all of Tony other armors provided he’s prepared in advance.
Fan Q&A started with a question about whether the ending of the Age of Ultron comic book series had changed because of Secret Wars. Bendis said “The original ending did not change. I knew about Secret Wars in advance so I was able to pepper things in.”
Does Secret Wars erase the whole Marvel Universe? Bendis said, “It will not. There is no reboot. Anything you read about a reboot is a made-up rumor. What we do have is a way to be additive.”
D’lando assured fans, “They all count.”
One fan wanted to know if it’s actually Tony under the new Iron Man armor. Bendis confirmed that it was, saying said, “It’s absolutely Tony Stark but I’m not sure what body parts he still has after Secret Wars.”
With regard to the end of the Ultimate Universe, one fan wanted to know how creators felt to lose a character or universe. Bendis joked that he’s “just a sad person.” But he seriously reminded fans that Ultimate Spider-Man was originally just a six issue miniseries but he “turned it into 15 years.”
“The existence of the book has been an honor on every conceivable level for a third of my life,” said the writer.
One fan asked about the importance of the X-Men and Fantastic Four after Secret Wars, leading the panel to joke that there were two Wolverines and Ben Grimm on teasers, "what more could fans want?"
“It’s almost like someone at Marvel is screwing around with people who have X-Men paranoia,” joked Bendis.
D’lando told fans to “stay tuned.”
How much of Spider-Gwen’s supporting cast and world will remain post-Secret Wars? D’land' assured fans that the supporting cast is important to that creative team and their editors. “I don’t think they’ll jettison them unnecessarily,” he said.
Another fan asked Marguerite Bennett for advice for female comics fans and creators. “No one can do it for you,” said Bennett. “I’m going to prove through my work that I’m not going anywhere.”
Hot on heels of the Invincible Iron Man announcement, one fan wanted to know what role War Machine would play in the new title. Bendis said that Rhodey would be appearing but maybe not as much as fans are hoping. “I think we’ve seen their relationship and I love it. But I think we want to focus on new stuff.”
Regarding questions about what counts after Secret Wars, the whole panel tried to ease fans’ fears.
“Secret Wars is additive,” said Bendis.
Soule echoed that sentiment saying that is allows creators to “do different things with characters that have been around for a long, long time.”
One fan offered up a heartfelt thank you to Bendis for his work on Ultimate Spider-Man and asked if there were more stories for Peter if he hadn’t died. “I thought a lot about killing Peter,” said Bendis. “It took me over a year to figure it out. But when I figured out that it meant something then I kind of had to do it.”
Bendis also said that Ultimate Spider-Man #200 had a glimpse of what he might have done had Peter lived.