At Wizard World Chicago, Marvel hosted another relaxed panel where fans could chat casually with some Marvel pros, airing grievances and giving praise where they felt it was deserved.
C.B. Cebulski greeted fans, and asked all to form a circle for a more “intimate talk.” Tom Brevoort then greeted the fans after the rearranging, and had John Dokes introduce the panel. Brevoort admitted that he stole this panel from what DC had begun at Wonder Con and Brevoort sat in on at the New York Comic Con, and said he wanted this to be a true open forum. Introductions of the Marvel representatives began with Bill Rosemann, editor, who showed off his “totally illegal,” according to Brevoort, Nova finger-puppet. Jim McCann, C.B. Cebulski, and Marc Sumerak were introduced next, and Brevoort opened up with talk about X-Men.
With the Messiah Complex over, Brevoort wanted the fans to talk about what they think about the X-books. The first fan said “Uncanny is awesome, Cable sucks.” The next agreed, asking about the baby being strapped to his chest, to which Cebulski said it’s a “bulletproof bjorn.” It was confirmed for another fan that the baby’s red hair and green eyes is not a coincidence. That same fan also mentioned his love for Legacy to much agreement.
New X-Men was missed by a few in the room, with the same fans noting that Young X-Men is not fitting the bill to them. Brevoort mentioned that the book was selling about half of most other X-books, and they had to try something. Many of the characters from New that aren’t in Young will be showing up in other books, including the Secret Invasion: X-Men mini-series and the newly announced Storm mini.
X-Force received applause, though the crossovers into X-Factor bugged one fan. McCann defended it, saying that Peter David tried to maintain his overall story.
Crossovers in general were well-received by the members of the audience. The multiple tie-ins don’t bother one fan, who said she simply buys the ones that look interesting. Libraries really liked House of M, and that led to the new mini-series that have since come out and are upcoming.
A fan was confused as to why House of M “separated” the X-Universe and the Avengers ones. Brevoort said he didn’t think they were really more closely linked prior to the mini, aside from little crossovers here and there. In Civil War and World War Hulk, the separation was based on story and plot points, not because of any particular direction. The fan who brought it up did say he liked World War Hulk: X-Men even better than the main series. Another fan disagreed with the original point, saying that he thought the universe felt more cohesive now than it has in years.
Maxi-Series, being 12 issues for the complete story, were mentioned by a fan as something that they missed seeing. Brevoort said getting 12 issues out monthly from one creative team can be “monstrous.” Cebulski said money is a motivating factor; that is, at three or more dollars per issue, the story has to be extra special to get that many. Cebulski pointed out Avengers/Invaders, The Twelve, and Planet Hulk as recent examples of the longer stories that the fan had mentioned.
Back to tie-ins, the majority of fans in the room said that they like the break-out tie-in miniseries that don’t interrupt the main titles.
A fan that enjoys Amazing Spider-Man’s thrice monthly shipping schedule asked if other books might go that route. Brevoort said two-a-month could happen for a book like X-Men. McCann added that the single main protagonist is what makes the advanced schedule work for Spider-Man.
A fan who liked Silent War asked if those storyline elements would be addressed soon. Bill Rosemann assured the fan that SI: Inhumans will tie in to it, including the fact that Black Bolt is no longer the ruler.
Brevoort took the panel to “When did you come into Marvel, what was it that brought you here?” as the next point of discussion. Avengers #238, featuring Spider-Man and the Mole People was bought by a fan in a 7-11, and he now buys nearly every Marvel book. The next enjoyed the older Spider-Man and Captain America tv shows, and after collecting figures, he bought the third issue of the Maximum Carnage story (again, at 7-11), and became a collector. Brevoort said he was so sorry that’s where he had to start.
Giant Size X-Men #1 received a lot of applause when it was mentioned as one fan’s entry issue to Marvel. The ‘90s X-Men and Spider-Man animated series also drew cheers, and the live-action X-Men movie brought a fan in, as well. Onslaught, another crossover, brought a fan in after some limited exposure previously, also, a fan who accidentally wandered into a comic shop years ago with a dollar and purchased a Hulk comic for 75 cents said that he now reads all the Avengers titles.
Mentioning his own circumstances, Brevoort said that he bought his first comic, an issue of Superman at 7-11, and then later then bought Fantastic Four #177 at Genevieve’s drug store. He was a big DC reader at the time, and the store only had Marvel books, which upset him. The books he bought were actually bootlegs, he found out later.
In 1984, McCann had an appendectomy and his friend brought him an issue of the Brood Saga story in Uncanny X-Men. He felt he found new friends, and went to The Great Escape shop in Nashville on a regular basis throughout school.
Brevoort then turned the mic to Sumerak who said that he read the Transformers and Star Wars books, along with other licensed titles, in the ‘80s. The editor said that he remembers the Marvel 25th Anniversary covers, and bought issues of Spider-Man because of the borders on the books. His first issue of Spider-Man had a fight against Firelord.
A fan who loved the What If? books, said that he bought his comics with quarters he stole from his parents’ jar. One early book for him was “What If Professor X was the Juggernaut?”
After reading in the ‘70s sporadically, a fan said that he started collecting with the Savage She-Hulk in the ‘80s. He enjoys the current title by Peter David as well. Sticking with that Hulk theme, another audience member said that after watching Hulk on TV, he bought Incredible Hulk #386 by Peter David at age 9, and got the very book signed by the writer this weekend. After dropping out of comics for awhile because it wasn’t cool, a “very hot girl” in college showed him Preacher, which pulled him back in.
“If you stopped reading comics, why did you, and what made you come back?” Brevoort then asked. The first audience members said that he came back to books with Ultimate Spider-Man when it was in it’s 20s.
One fan who read Secret War to start left after a few years. He tore his ACL and started playing HeroClix, which made him curious about the current status of the characters.
A middle-aged woman said she read from her brother’s collection stopped reading due to money when she had kids. Her son played HeroClix as well, and they read Fantastic Four books together. She’s trying to get him to read more books featuring women.
Brevoort went to the other side of the room to ask the same question. A fan was tossed the mic, and joked “I’d like to sing a song for everyone” to much laughter. He bought comics in the 60s, and didn’t like the bizarre marketing used in the ‘80s and ‘90s. He came back in with Preacher and Captain America by Ed Brubaker.
Rosemann said that his “first comic led to the glasses on [his] face.” The Spider-Man Electric Company shows brought him in, and in 2nd grade there was a book sale at his school, where PocketBooks was selling the first 20 Amazing Spider-Man issues in collections. The writing was so shrunken, he needs glasses now. He worked a job in college solely for “comic money and beer money.” Then he got into the Vertigo books, and companies always offered something he enjoyed, bringing him here today.
Jim McCann said that he left comics when Joe Madureria came onto the X-Men because it “freaked [him] out!” He quit outright during Heroes Reborn, being short on money to pay rent. With Heroes Return, however, he came back into comics, and wound up buying all the stuff he missed. Now, he loves the many different art styles across comics. He showed off his temporary tattoo of Mouse Guard.
To wrap things up, Brevoort asked “What are we doing wrong, what are DC doing well?” First someone said “Stop fuckin’ with Spider-Man” to much applause. The editor quipped back with: “No one’s fucking with Spider-Man now, he’s single!” A fan that’s “more of a DC guy” said he doesn’t see enough recognizable faces in books like the X-Men. Even the ones he knows are not the same as he remembers. The re-cap page helps a bit, but not entirely. He loves Secret Invasion but feels like he has to read all the tie-ins to understand, flipping through them at the store. He was told to “stop buying some of the DC books” by Tom. He has to ask friends who are reading the other Secret Invasion tie-ins who all the Skrull reveals are.
The next fan said that he felt DC books are more accessible. He also though that, on the whole, Marvel books read too quickly and still remain confusing. The crowd disagreed. Another fan said he was really into the New Avengers team, and was upset when the team broke up. He also dropped Amazing Spider-Man, but is enjoying Ultimate Spider-Man.
A “shell-head” college student said that he loves how easy it is to find the Vertigo trades, and has trouble finding Marvel trades. Specifically he’s been looking for Cable/Deadpool trades, and has been struggling. Another fan agreed, saying that he likes the still “in-print” list that’s shown in DC’s section of Previews.
The Spider-Man deal with Mephisto was looked upon as a “DC move” by some fans. There was a mixed reaction to a fan who hated One More Day but likes Brand New Day, with about a 50/50 split of cheering and leering.
Another fan said that he hopes to see more MAX books or Icon books that are completely out of the Marvel Universe and/or have no super-heroes.
The rebirth of Marvel Cosmic was mentioned as something that brought another fan back in. The fan said that he now counts Nova as one of his three books that he’ll never leave (along with Amazing Spider-Man and Green Lantern), and has dropped some DC titles to get more Marvel comics.
Seeing two epic characters, Hulk and Silver Surfer fight, made a fan very excited.
One fan likes finite stories, like those seen primarily in Vertigo books.
The constant question of the weekend about the status of the Ultimate Hulk vs. Wolverine book was answered reluctantly, with yes, it will be coming out again.
A fan said that he was bewildered by the multitude of Skrull variants on Marvel books, and would love to see a large, young team, a la Legion.
General accessibility of super-heroes was mentioned as something that seems to be lacking right now, according to one fan. Another completely disagreed, saying Final Crisis is too confusing.
Spider-Man’s status quo was mentioned as something that really bugged one fan. He said that now Peter Parker “can’t” get married, and that completely limits his future. He also feels that the last 20 years was erased. Over the next year - by issue #600, McCann said, readers will know how all of Peter Parker’s past fit in without Peter and Mary Jane being married. The fan asked why they didn’t just keep the unmarried, younger Spider-Man to the Marvel Adventures and Ultimate Spider-Man titles. Brevoort said that the thinking was that Spider-Man was and will be again the greatest youth property. People forget now, the editor added, because he’s been older for the last 20 years, that virtually all of the other interpretations (movies, tv shows, etc.) use a younger Spider-Man, and that’s the way he’s seen to the general public.
A fan countered, noting that Stan Lee and Steve Ditko graduated Peter from High School in #28, but Tom countered with “Steve Ditko said ‘We never should have graduated Peter from High School’” and explained they did that they only did so because they thought it was a fad and wanted to tell as many stories with the character as they could before Spider-Man disappeared.