Saturday saw the latest edition of the Cup O' Joe at Wizard World Chicago - the 75th annual, according to Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada - which featured the usual long Q&A along with a few images and announcements.
"We gave him his start with 'Marvels,'" Quesada said. "It's going to be really spectacular… it seems like everybody works for Marvel." Quesada didn't reveal anything else about the image or Ross' project and moved on. For a bit more on "The Return," don't miss our interview with Ross published earlier today.
Also shown were images from the "Amazing Spider-Man" story "Brand New Day," which was discussed at length last month, as well as images from "One More Day," Quesada's Spider-Man project with J. Michael Straczynski. Quesada joked that they'd be turning Mary Jane Watson, the butt of many jokes this weekend, into a zombie in the series.
Also shown were images for "Anhilation: Conquest" # 1; "Iron Man/Dr. Doom" by David Micheline, Bob Layton and Ron Lim (click here for an interview with Michelinie); "Ultimate Hulk/Iron Man" by Warren Ellis with art by Cary Nord (click here for an interview with Ellis about this project); and "Ultimate: Origins."
As the preview images came to an end, one additional one flash up on the screen that shocked the assembled crowd. An image of Iron Man being kissed upside down by Spider-Woman ALA the famous scene between Spider-Man and Mary Jane in the first "Spider-Man" feature film. No explanation was given for the image, which is all made curiouser by Spider Woman's defection from the New Avengers in a recent issue and her past dealings with Iron Man.
The panel was then quickly turned over to Q&A - up on the dais with Quesada were C.B. Cebulski, Jim McCann and Marvel Publisher Dan Buckley.
A fan thanked the group for the "Essential Dazzler" book. Quesada joked that it takes someone like Brian Michael Bendis to have a soft spot for Luke Cage, and then they're convinced there should be an Essential volume of that character.
A fan asked for an "Essential Deadpool" book. Cebulski asked the fan to inundate them with emails and they'd find a way.
More "What if?" books are slated to begin in October.
The floor was then opened up to Q&A and here are some highlights. All answers are from Quesada unless otherwise noted.
Q: Marvel's on the cutting edge of distribution… what about digital comic books?
A: (Buckley) We'll continue to explore, keep your eyes and ears open.
Q: "Dark Tower" was amazing, will we see more?
A: (Cebulski) His literary agent walked by the booth. I learned more about it, thought, wow, this is cool. It's been one of the most pleasant experiences… you can see it coming through in the pages. With Joe, Jae, they make it work. It's been a pleasure, and there will be more "Dark Tower" books.
Q: Any more plans for Ultimate Defenders?
A: I love the Ultimate Defenders… but as far as I know we don't have any plans.
Q: Is Phil Jimenez going to do anything else?
A: Yes, he's exclusive. A main artist on "Amazing Spider-Man."
Q: Any plans for Baron Zemo?
A: Not at the moment.
Q: I read on the net a lot, do you have a hang-up on Mary Jane?
A: I love Mary Jane… the character Mary Jane.
Q: Are you a skrull?
Q: Are the dramatic changes in Peter Parker's life going to deter older readers?
A: When MJ dies, you're gonna be bummed. Before she dies, they get a divorce.
A: (McCann) You left out the affair!
A: The priest was the Chameleon. We never aim to alienate anyone. We want to entertain. Ultimately it's up to you.
Q: Anything in the works for Chuck Dixon?
Q: Anything more from Joss (Whedon)?
A: At the moment no. But we'll take anything Joss writes.
Q: Does John Cassaday have anything lined up?
A: I don't think he has anything lined up…he told us he wants a very long rest. But he's another one, we'll take whatever he does.
Q: I love the "Loners," will they be back?
A: (Cebulski) Inundate me with letters and emails. The next time you'll see them is a 10-page holiday story… I've got my fingers crossed.
Q: Over the past couple years, one of the coolest characters is the Winter Soldier. Have you considered giving him his own series?
A: We talk about it many times. Ed did such a great job reviving Bucky, if someone was going to do the Winter Soldier book, it should be Ed. It wouldn't be anytime soon… I love the character.
Q: Great Lakes Avengers?
A: No, not right now.
Q: Which character should we be keeping an eye on for "Messiah Complex?"
Q: What happened to the Bendis' "Spider-Woman?"
A: Derailed because of scheduling. Still intends on doing it, just other things have come up.
Q: What can you tell us about the Mack/Bendis "Daredevil?"
A: (Cebulski) It's gonna be really good.
Q: Will you be doing anything with Union Jack or Cloak and Dagger?
A: We think they're cool characters, we just haven't gotten anything unique and now.
Q: For Joe, do you like the new "Painkiller Jane" show and will you be doing anything with Ash?
A: Honestly, I've only seen the first episode - my TiVo is full. As far as Ash is concerned, no nothing any time soon.
Q: Is Neil Gaiman going to write for Marvel soon?
A: We sure hope so. We've had a great relationship with Neil. It's literally about that idea striking him and saying, 'Ooh, that's what I'd like to do."
Q: Are there any more zombie stories coming up?
A: I'm almost certain they'll show up again… maybe in "One More Day" -- Mary Jane.
Q: Are we ever going to see Franklin Richards grow up and get involved?
A: Probably not. It starts problems for the Marvel Universe; if he gets old everyone else gets old, too.
Q: What background characters would you like to see more of?
A: I'm a huge Deathlok fan.
A: (McCann) Dazzler.
A: (Cebulski) The original New Mutants.
A: (Buckley) Moon Knight was one of mine.
Q: Back to Franklin Richards, how do you strike a balance between big events and keeping these characters unchanging?
A: That's a great question. Like we say at Marvel, we don't have a crisis… Marvel has very skillful acts. This is a great job of managing for over 40 years -- with the exception of the Peter Parker marriage. Characters should grow without growing old. There's a chemistry between characters. "Fantastic Four" isn't so much a sci-fi, it's about family. As long as it's about family, that book will always work. We make decisions very, very carefully. Luckily as a company, not just us, but the guys before us, have done a great job managing us.
Q: What is the mission of the Ultimate Universe, compared to the regular Marvel universe?
A: It's a more streamlined version of the Marvel Universe. It's an easier buy-in. It's also a good introductory set of books for the movie viewers.
Q: I'm a retailer. The numbers on the comics… can you always put them to the left?
A: Let me tell you a story, three some odd years ago. I tell everyone, OK, the Marvel slug on the left-hand side of the book. I don't care how the artists design it, never deviate. About 8 months in… they say, hey, this superstar artist really wants it on the right. I say "OK." And then they come to me and say the next guy needs the same thing. It's so hard to maintain. I do it myself.
(Questioner): All you have to do is say no. It's the tail wagging the dog.
A: We have to be very respectful to the guys that design these books.
A: (Buckley) It's not as simple as sitting in your office and saying no. If we're not accepting of their creative process, that creative process could go elsewhere.
Q: What do you think about downloading comics?
A: Illegal downloads? I'm against it man. It's no different than stealing a comic off the rack. As someone who makes his living doing (comics)… think of it this way, is it any different for you - I'm not saying you do it - when you download illegally, how does that make you feel? Stealing is stealing.