Marvel Animation: Ultimate Spider-Man, Hulk and the Agents of SMASH [Comic-Con]
The second half of the Marvel Television Presents panel concerned Marvel’s slate of animated titles. Marvel TV head Jeph Loeb got right into it with a thorough introduction for the upcoming Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon. Involved in the series is Paul Dini, who is perhaps best known for his work on Batman: The Animated Series in the ’90s, and Man of Action, a collective composed of Joe Casey, Joe Kelly, Duncan Roleau, and Steven T. Seagle. Man of Action are the minds behind Ben10 and Generator Rex, in addition to dozens of fantastic comics. Finally, Brian Michael Bendis, scriptor of the Ultimate Spider-Man comics, is involved in the series as a creative consultant. Loeb teased an animated Spider-Ham, a brand new Hulk cartoon produced by Paul Dini, and debuted the first episode of season 2 of Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
On Ultimate Spider-Man:
The very first thing Loeb did after introducing the series was pull up a character design sheet. The sheet featured Spider-Man, as expected, but came with a surprise: Spider-Ham. Loeb pooh-poohed the reveal, claiming that we weren’t supposed to see that yet. “We made sure all the scripts have all the Spidey fun you all know,” Loeb said, and judging by the presence of Spider-Ham, he’s absolutely right. Spider-Man will occasionally speak directly to the audience, Saved by the Bell-style, and there will be plenty of 4th wall-breaking jokes. Loeb stressed that “it is [Man of Action]’s voice and Paul Dini’s that’s really coming across on the screen.” There are a going to be a lot of cartoony effects, as well. Spidey gets “toasted” by someone who might have been Electro and turns into a toaster with limbs, and then toast with a Spidey head. Spider-Man even webs a heart onto Mary Jane’s window in one scene.
Loeb played a sizzle trailer as well, which was the worldwide premier of some of the key cast members. The art featured animation from the series and some art by Mark Bagley that was animated motion comics-style. Drake Bell, of Drake & Josh on Nickelodeon, plays Peter Parker and Spider-Man. “We really lucked out when it came to the actor who is going to voice not just peter parker,” Loeb said, “but Spider-Man.” There’s going to be a lot of Peter Parker in the series, in addition to the spider-action, so getting a great and appropriate voice actor was of utmost importance. JK Simmons is back as J Jonah Jameson, Chi McBride is playing Nick Fury, Steven Weber is Norman Osborn, Stan Lee will play a recurring character named Stan the Janitor, and Clark Gregg is reprising his role as Agent Phil Coulson from the Marvel live-action films. The twist this time is that Agent Coulson is undercover as the principal of the high school that Parker goes to.
Presumably, this will lead to a remarkably forgiving academic life for Spider-Man, if a somewhat unforgiving heroic one. Spider-Man will be mentored by Nick Fury, who wants to help him become a “better Spider-Man” and, eventually, “the ultimate Spider-Man.”
The sizzle trailer, and official trailer which was screened later in the panel, featured a few good moments: Spider-Man’s battle with Dr. Doom was interrupted by Mary Jane Watson calling him on his cellphone, resulting in a situation where he has to balance both discussing dinner and dodging lethal lasers. There were several villains featured in the sizzle real which were either entirely new or fresh (and somewhat unrecognizable) takes on old characters, including what may have been Electro. Venom, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and Hulk were all mentioned as starring, and you could spot what looked like Luke Cage, a new White Tiger (specifically the one debuting in Avengers Academy soon), and one or two other characters we missed.
Finally, Loeb showed off some art by the late Mike Wieringo for Spider-Ham, and mentioned that ‘Ringo, as he was affectionately known, was a direct inspiration for their take on Spider-Ham. In addition, they hired Stuart Immonen, Humberto Ramos, and other artists to draw Spider-Man to provide inspiration for the production team.
On Marvel Knights Animation:
This initiative, which was once known as Motion Comics, is still going on. They are going to produce the entire 25-issue run of Joss Whedon and John Cassaday’s Astonishing X-Men in 2012, with Cassaday serving as a consultant on that project.
On Hulk and the Agents of SMASH:
Loeb brought Paul Dini onstage to much applause, and Dini said that he’s always loved the Hulk. After some banter, jokes, and teasing, Loeb and Dini debuted the logo for Hulk and the Agents of SMASH. The art was drawn by Ed McGuinness, and the logo designer is unknown. Hulk, She-Hulk, Red Hulk, and Skarr, Son of Hulk, were all present on the preview image and the panel mentioned that A-Bomb, the Hulk version of Hulk’s sidekick Rick Jones, will be in the show, too. Hulk and She-Hulk are already pretty well known as cousins who turn big and green, while Red Hulk is General Thunderbolt Ross, a Hulkbuster turn Hulk himself. Skarr is the estranged son of the Hulk who was born on an alien planet and eventually traveled to Earth. Dini and Loeb were tight-lipped on what the series would be about, but considering that it’s slated to run on Disney XD and the cast, it’s fair to say that there will be a lot of smashing.
On Avengers Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Season 2:
It exists! Loeb played the entire first episode of season 2, which was titled “The Private War of Doctor Doom” and directed by Gary Hartle. It features the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, and has plenty of nice nods to their shared history in the comics, whether via poker game or a joke about how Dr Doom hates the FF so much that he once shot the Baxter Building into space. It was fun, and it’s coming soon, though Loeb didn’t announce a specific date for it.