Marvel Comics is neck deep in the Age of Ultron, but far be it for the publisher not to keep looking toward the future! With this summer comes INFINITY, and they brought out creators to discuss it at their panel on Saturday, April 27, 2013, in Chicago! Appearing on the dais with Arune Singh are Kieron Gillen (writer, Iron Man), Nick Spencer (writer, Secret Avengers), Rick Remender (writer, Uncanny Avengers, Captain America), Charles Soule (writer, Thunderbolts), Lauren Sankovitz, Jordan D. White, Ellie Pyle, and Tom Breevort.
Uncanny Avengers will feature the corpses of Sentry, Banshee, Daken, and Grim Reaper, as an escalation of what happened with the Dark Angel Saga in Uncanny X-Force. The Apocalypse Twins will have all four operating as servants of Death, rather than the traditional set of Death, Famine, War and Pestilence.
Nick Spencer’s Secret Avengers will be moving into much more of a grey area, with members not remembering what they have been tasked with and why. The toll it takes on the members is critical and Spencer is taking the audience along to wrestle with these moral quandaries. This is the big opportunity for Spencer to get into the new structure of S.H.I.E.L.D. amid this dark spy atmosphere. Lots of high drama coming soon with many members in positions they didn’t expect.
Kieron Gillen is humbled by the reception to Young Avengers, their attempt at trying to reinvent the super-hero comic. Fans can expect to see, now that the team is assembled, a check-in with Speed and Prodigy, where we will see the super-hero equivalent of a dead-end job for the latter. A backpacking trip across infinite dimensions and more, the title is about ratcheting up the drama and adventure.
Avengers AI launches as an ongoing series this July, bringing out all the “robots” in the Marvel Universe as characters with emotions. You will believe that robots are people too. Hank Pym, creator of Ultron, starts out in the series by pulling the team together. The rise of artificial intelligence in the Marvel Universe necessitates this team, in a title written by Sam Humphries.
The first season of Avengers Arena will conclude in a story beginning with #14, leading to finding out who lives and who dies. But there’s a lot more to the series than just gunning down kids, as the work Dennis Hopeless has put into making these characters fully fleshed out and personal comes to fruition.
It’s called the Marvel UNIVERSE for a reason, as Nova expands the scope of the world we read. Zeb Wells and Paco Medina will be taking the reins in issue #6 and the story will catch up to the modern day.
Huge applause erupts for the Guardians of the Galaxy, written by Brian Michael Bendis. Neil Gaiman makes his return to the Marvel Universe, joining Bendis as co-writer beginning with #5, and introducing Gaiman creation Angela to the team. Sara Pichelli also joins the creative team as ongoing penciller with #5.
Where is it all leading? Next weekend, May 4, 2013, we get an all-new ten page story leading into the Infinity event for Free Comic Book Day. Jonathan Hickman and Jim Cheung will be joined by Dustin Weaver and Jerome Opena for six issues total from August to November, more than one issue per month. Tracks have been laid in Avengers and New Avengers from the Marvel NOW! relaunch start. It’s a slightly different structure with two separate things going on simultaneously. There is an enormous cosmic event propelled by the Builders that the Avengers go out into space to stop, while Thanos arrives on Earth amid their absence to dig beneath the surface and find something important to him, seemingly unopposed. Heroes will be fighting on two fronts.
Prelude to Infinity begins with Avengers #14 and 15, with Nick Spencer joining Jonathan Hickman to make the vision of Hickman’s story a reality, drawn by Stefano Caselli. In New Avengers, the Inhumans take center stage with Black Bolt being affected by the secret he’s been keeping about the destruction of universes. The Black Panther and Namor also finally come to blows over the events of AvX, in a story drawn by Mike Deodato.
Thanos Rises is not a prequel, but really functions as a Year One to set the stage for Hickman’s larger story. If you know nothing about Thanos, or a ton, this is a great title tying up all the loose threads of his story.
Charles Soule has been named the official new ongoing writer of Thunderbolts, joining artist Jefte Palo, and will no longer be joining the title for just a single arc. Soule’s favorite characters of all time include Punisher and Elektra, but all the characters in the book do not play well with others. they are all defined by being one-person acts. Thunderbolt Ross wanted to clean up some of his past messes at the start, but now each character will rotate missions, getting the help of the rest of the team. Starting off with Punisher’s mission, things go very wrong, as one would expect.
Time for questions!
Q: Any chance of revisiting Jonathan Hickman’s SHIELD series?
A: There is an entire issue finished yet to be published, but we’re waiting on the last (6th) issue to be completed before solicitation.
Q: Any possibility of Quasar coming up?
A: Not right now, but we’re trying very hard to get rid of the artificial division between cosmic Marvel and the rest of the universe.
Q: Anything we can look forward to for Thor or Doctor Doom?
A: Hopefully everyone is reading Thor God of Thunder, with Thors from all three timelines coming together to stop the God Bomb. Doom has a little bit of a role to play coming up in New Avengers #6.
Q: Is there a reason why there’s so much tension between Wanda and Rogue in Uncanny Avengers?
A: Rogue is regressing, putting on hoods again, after the death of her father figure in Professor X. Tracing that back to Scarlet Witch and “No More Mutants”, Rogue is taking her anger out on Wanda. Wanda has extended her hand and it’s been rebuffed.
Q: With the return of the Sentry, will we see the return of the Void?
A: We’re putting a lot of thought into the return of Sentry and playing it very carefully. He will obviously be the most powerful heir to the throne of Apocalypse, but how the Void plays into that is uncertain.
Q: For the core Infinity comic, can a reader just jump in, or will he/she have to read all these previous books to understand what is happening?
A: We do try to give readers a fighting chance in issue #1, but that said, readers of Hickman’s work to date will be better informed.
Q: Is Luke Cage really dead in Age of Ultron since we didn’t see him die? It would have been better to see it actually happen.
A: Yes. The next time we kill Luke Cage, we’ll do it on camera!
Q: What was it that inspired you to push forward new characters in the Avengers?
A: In looking back to the team created in 1963, we didn’t want a team just full of white dudes anymore. Some like Sunspot and Cannonball are Hickman’s favorites.
Q: How will Sunfire get fleshed out in Uncanny Avengers?
A: He has a big moment in #8, and in general, his powers really reflect his blunt honesty and assholery. Lots of stuff to come. Having been a Horseman himself, Sunfire has the most personal connection to the events in the book.
Q: Is there any chance for Cassie Lang to return?
A: No. Kieron Gillen will not bring characters back from the dead. It’s much more interesting to see the effects of death long term.
Q: Does Marvel hate Peter Parker, with everything from One More Day and Superior Spider-Man?
A: We don’t dislike him, but we want to tell new stories with characters that challenge them, especially for Peter Parker. Superior Spider-Man #9 changes things, in fact, in fairly spectacular fashion.
Q: What is Agent Phil Coulsen’s status on Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD?
A: Phil Coulsen will appear in the pilot, but the series has not been picked up officially yet. But we are sworn to secrecy. In the comics, Phil Coulsen is an integral part of the Secret Avengers book in an arc involving Jocasta.
Q: What’s the chance of Dexter Morgan in the Thunderbolts?
A: The Dexter series will still be coming this summer.
Q: What’s the process for learning about the extensive history of the Marvel Universe when starting to write a book?
A: The editors are very helpful in that regard, after hitting Wikipedia. Internet resources are first port of call.
Q: Will Gambit show up in Uncanny Avengers given his background as a Horseman of Death?
A: There’s been so many, but Gambit has been cleared of it, unlike Sunfire. If we dealt with all the continuity, the book would be 1000 pages.
Q: How destroyed and unusable are the Infinity Gems now?
A: They don’t seem to be too useable right now, but keep in mind, the Time Gem disappeared. That may lead into Infinity.
Q: How is Loki different in Young Avengers than in Journey Into Mystery?
A: You’ll see how in Young Avengers #5!
Q: Will we see Adam Warlock?
A: I don’t want to say!