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Marvel NOW: ReEvolution And X-Men Panels [NYCC 2012]

Friday’s major Marvel panels at New York Comic-Con were light on announcements – perhaps an inevitable consequence of the way Marvel has been drip-feeding news about its Marvel NOW launches over the past several weeks, as well as the con’s proximity to the conclusion of the Avengers Vs. X-Men event that ate the summer.

Despite the lack of major news there were a few revelations and interesting hints at both the X-Men and ReEvolution panels (focused primarily on Avengers solo titles), and the writers and editors shared some insights into the thought processes behind their new directions.

First up was the Marvel NOW: X-Men panel, in which Wolverine & The X-Men writer Jason Aaron noted that the return of the mutant race at the end of AvX would have an impact on his story. He also hinted that an upcoming story would be “Wolverine vs Frankenstein”. Another story dealing with AvX fallout is Uncanny Avengers, which Remender described as Captain America’s attempt to step up and fulfill Charles Xavier’s mandate to show mutants doing good in the world. He said that the Red Skull would be part of the book for a while and that there would be tie-ins with the Apocalypse mythology from his Uncanny X-Force run and with the early career of time-travelling Avengers villain Kang the Conqueror back when he called himself Rama Tut.

Dennis Hopeless restated that Cable and the X-Force was a “one last score” book; Cable has something he needs to do before he can formally get out of the hero game, but it doesn’t go well and the story snowballs from there. During the question and answer session X-Men editor Nick Lowe revealed that Hope Summers will play a big part in the book – a fact he hadn’t wanted to reveal until AvX was over. Lowe also reassured the audience that Storm’s mohawk – as seen on the cover of the new Uncanny X-Force #1 – is really back, and this will be her look across the line. The mohawk earned a big round of applause from the audience.

Peter David said that issue #250 of X-Factor would be a personal landmark as it would be his 100th consecutive issue of the book. It would also kick off a storyline that he has been “teasing for 15 years, called the Hell on Earth War”. The story sees all the hell lords of the Marvel universe waging war to see which of them should be the true lord of hell.

One audience member asked if there would be any more renumbering soon. Marvel editor in chief Axel Alonso noted that with Marvel NOW they wanted to lay the groundwork for series that could run a long time, while Peter David advanced a personal position; “If it were up to me I would seriously do away with numbering altogether. … We have a way of keeping sequence – it’s called months.” Marvel director of communications Arune Singh said that renumbering remains a good way to draw fans in to comics, but suggested that it’s ultimately a distraction; “The number on the front doesn’t matter at all. Stop worrying about the numbers.”

At the ReEvolution panel new Iron Man writer Kieron Gillen said that he planned to take the book in a very different direction from previous writer Matt Fraction. “Matt had a definitive take on the corporate superhero; I would be foolhardy to follow that.” Each of the first few issues would be separate stories, and each would feature a different Iron Man suit, building towards a status quo change in issue #6.

The notion that new creative teams should steer away from the work of their predecessors was a recurring theme of the panel. Rick Remender noted that while Ed Brubaker had dealt with espionage and World War II in his Captain America book, his run was going to focus partly on the story of Steve Rogers before he became Cap – and how he earned the right to be a hero – and partly on crazy sci-fi as present day Cap is cast away in Dimension Z. Editor-in-chief Axel Alonso said that he believed every creator should “come in and do a hostile takeover” of a title that could set it apart from previous runs.

Speaking of parallel narratives, Jason Aaron talked about the three strands of his Thor: God of Thunder book, which feature young unworthy Thor in a Viking-style tale, present-day superhero Thor in a cosmic adventure, and future King Thor as a sort of King Conan role; a former barbarian forced to take the throne. All three stories would deal with the same villain, a serial killer of gods.

Mark Waid noted that his approach to Hulk in the new Indestructible Hulk ongoing was very much in line with the Avengers movie version, though he had arrived at the idea before the movie hit theaters. Waid believes that it’s time for Bruce Banner to re-establish himself as one of the big brains of the Marvel Universe and do something to help – to create while Hulk smashes. To that end he’ll be teaming up with SHIELD so that when something happens to trigger a transformation SHIELD can point him at the enemy and let him loose. “Don’t think of Hulk as a bomb. Think of Hulk as a cannon.”

In the ReEvolution Q&A the first question was about the hints at a forthcoming “Ultron War” storyline, rumored to be next year’s big summer event. Brevoort noted that the story was called Age of Ultron, and said, “You’ll see it before the end of 2013. It will all fit together with Marvel NOW.”

One audience member noted that there have been many types of Hulk transformation over the years. Waid said he saw the transformations as a “sliding scale”; readers should expect to see different Hulk transformations in different circumstances, and different levels of interaction between Banner and Hulk. Asked about the character’s variable vocabulary, Waid said, “This is a bone of contention around the office. We go back and forth on it. We don’t want Cookie Monster Hulk, but at the same time I don’t want super-eloquent Hulk either. Let’s just say he speaks very very rarely, but when he does it’s short and to the point.” Waid also promised to make more of Hulk’s speed, stating, “Hulk is fast. We’re picking up on that.”

Asked about future plans for Marvel’s female characters, Axel Alonso said there were two upcoming female-led series that they were not yet ready to announce, but one of them was a “kick-ass team book” that he expected to be “in the top ten”. He joked that, “as much as we dislike women we do understand that you do buy comic books”. He also said that a third female-led book is in the early stages, “and is a little more risky.” The panelists noted that several of Marvel’s team books are female-led, and Brevoort said that the final Avengers line-up will be more balanced and diverse when everyone is revealed.

Asked if the editors had considered putting Scarlet Spider on the new Thunderbolts team rather than Venom given that the current Scarlet Spider is a more remorseless killer than the current Venom, Alonso said, “We settled on Venom pretty quickly.” There has been some speculation on the con floor that Scarlet Spider may take the place of Peter Parker in the upcoming Superior Spider-Man book, so Alonso’s certainty about not using Scarlet Spider in Thunderbolts could be read as a hint at that, or it could be a scarlet herring.

Young Avengers was not one of the books covered in the ReEvolution panel – it will be featured in Saturday’s Avengers panel instead – but one audience member did ask writer Kieron Gillen about the ages of the characters. Gillen noted that while the original Heinberg/Cheung run had been about being 16 and interacting with authority, his series was about being 18 and entering into the world on one’s own terms, though not all of the characters are 18. Gillen was also asked about the future for Wiccan and Hulkling. He promised that he would be dealing with their relationship, their different approaches to problem-solving, and the fact that Wiccan has been “a bit self-obsessed” and “a bit of a bad boyfriend”. He noted; “Their love is absolutely core to the book.”

Toward the end of the panel a vocal Hank Pym fan asked where we would see that character next given that the recently resurrected Scott Lang is holding on to the Ant-Man role in the new FF. Mark Waid promised more Hank Pym in, Rick Remender said he would serve as Q to Cap’s 007 in his series, and Tom Brevoort promised a story centered on Hank Pym next year, which seems like another likely hint at the Age of Ultron.

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