As promised, CBR News is plugged in and ready to role at New York Comic Con with a LIVE edition of Tom Brevoort and Axel Alonso's Marvel T&A fan question and answer column. The pair took the stage at the 2010 New York Comic Con accompanied ably by Marvel's Manager of Sales & Communications Arune Singh, and CBR was on hand live to record the action.
The pair kicked off with some good humor on the perceived interest in what they'd have to say with Brevoort joking, "We fear an empty room" and Alonso referring to his partner as "the Oscar to my Felix."
The team then announced a number of new projects including "Astonishing Captain America" by Andy Diggle and Adi Granov – a mini series which "is going to be a big, huge, sweeping, rollicking, super spy action adventure" as Brevoort said.
Alonso the announced "Astonishing X-Men" #36, a new arc by Daniel Way and Jason Pearson which will take the team to Monster Island where they will face off against "big Jack Kirby-style monsters."
"As some of you may know, we've just begun the real creschendo of Jonathan Hickman's run on 'Fantastic Four,'" Brevoort then said of the current "Three" storyline which will see a member of the team die. The editor showed off what he called "The Death Bag" – a black polybag with the "Three" logo on it which will hopefully help people from spoiling the death on the internet for a few minutes as "You have to open the bag to see what happens," Brevoort explained.
The first questions were about the new product announcements with Brevoort confirming that "Astonishing Cap" will take place in the modern era and focus on Steve Rogers, but it will stretch back to World War II and cover the hero's entire career.
Alonso confirmed that Warren Ellis is done on "Astonishing X-Men," and that from #36 on, the book will retain a regular shipping schedule.
The third question was about the issue of the $2.99 price point change at DC, to which Brevoort respond, "Question #3! Who had that in the pool?" He then reiterated Marvel's counter that they will be introducing new books at that price starting in January (as well as the talking point that successful digital sales factored into the decision). He then added a new piece of information, the idea that after publishing so much "Thor" product to tie into the upcoming movie, Marvel will be "contracting back some of our line publishing...we kind of get the sense that you guys don't know which ones are the ones you should pay attention to, so we're going to be pulling back on that in the months ahead as well."
The pair then joked that not only will Marvel books stay at 22-pages, but that "The extra two pages will be phenomenal..the last two pages are the best. We just phone in the other 20," laughed Brevoort.
Deadpool overexposure came up, and Alonso promised that more characters were on the way in the 'Pool corner of the Marvel U including Fatpool, Kidpool and Beard of Beespool. "We may scale back a bit," he then admitted before turning readers towards "DeadpoolMAX" as well as the character's other titles.
The frequent question of what will happen with "Runaways" came up, with Brevoort noting that the publisher is "waiting for the marketplace to become a little more conducive to a book like that again" noting how a niche audience loves it but it's harder to sell to the wide range of Marvel superhero readers. Alonso said, "We want to be able to give that some oxygen to breath" and that right now it's hard to launch a book not directly tied to the core Marvel Universe in a major way.
A similar question as to the fate of Danny Ketch as Ghost Rider came up, with Alonso again responding that while Marvel creatively believed in Jason Aaron's "Ghost Rider" run, it didn't sell well enough to keep going, and they'd rather wait to find another chance to let the character find a voice for his own book that might sell in the market without having to "make him fight the Hulk" every month.
Plans are in store for the cosmic side of Marvel, including some news to hit later this weekend. A fan with a follow-up question about the connection between Darkhawk and the Shi'ar heard from Brevoort "inevitably, eventually we're going to get back into all of that stuff...hopefully sooner rather than later."
Havok and his team coming back from space is "constantly under discussion in the X-Office" according to Alonso with editor Nick Lowe being a particularly big supporter of using the heroes, but for now it's a matter of trying to find a way to fit those characters into the broader plans for the X-line.
Asked if Marvel would be working more with Disney properties, units and sales channels, Brevoort said "Literally on a week-by-week basis, we've been having discussions." The massive size of Disney as a corporation was cited as a factor in the plans for more crossover work taking a number of months to set up.
The subject of Twitter fights between creators and editorial came up, to which both editors said that sometimes people need to vent or talk about what they do, and while some talk from freelancers may fall out of turn with Marvel's own plans for books, that activity is part of the culture today. Brevoort said that while sometimes he's bemused to find artists talking about pages they're working on on Twitter only to see the pages not get finished on time. Although, he also mentioned that he "lives for days" when someone from the other side of the Big Two like Gail Simone says something he can debate about in a public forum.
Another character who's had trouble working their way back in to Marvel is Echo, who Brevoort said seems too tied to David Mack's sensibilities for other creators to come in and make her their own. Jessica Jones holds a similar place as "a Brian Bendis character." In the future, maybe Marvel can find a way to get Mack back to work with Echo again, the editor said. On the other side of the fence, the Sentry is a character who was held in the pocket for a while in deference to Paul Jenkins before the company decided to pull him from the closet and make him a bigger part of the universe.
After being asked about original numberings returning for long-standing books, Brevoort announced that "Iron Man" would return in the new year to its numbering with #600 which would be the kick off to the next year of Matt Fraction and Salvadore Larocca's series. Brevoort did say though that he likes the Avengers numbering as it is for now, but if they did switch back to the original numbering, it would probably happen at #600 (including the first "New Avengers" series in the counting).
"It's absolutely possible, because if there's one thing we like to do, it's get your money," the editor said to laughter.
Some fans presented their ideas for stories to the editors, which were met with a positive response included the Venom symbiote taking over the Hulk and a crossover between the Uncanny X-Force and the Secret Avengers. The latter idea won't work for now because X-Force is a totally secret team even from other mutants. Though an eventual battle between the two could happen, to which Alonso said, "X-Force would kick their ass" to the chagrin of the "Secret Avengers" editor.
Speaking of "Secret Avengers," Shang-Chi is primed for some love in the series where the next arc will feature him as well as some of the Invincible Weapons in Kung-Fu action as Ed Brubaker and Mike Deodato love the original Paul Gulacy series.
The question of a big event that unified all the Marvel Universe again prompted Brevoort to reiterate his recent arguments for the "family event" phase of Marvel publishing which saw big stories affecting specific groups of characters rather than the overarching "Civil War"-style events. Singh brought up the question of any one book that each editor works on that will lay the seeds for bigger events across Marvel to come. Alonso split his answer between two books: "Uncanny X-Force" where mysteries within the characters and secrets they keep will come to bear in a big way in the future and "X-Men" where the vampire nations of "Curse of the Mutants" will help to soon elevate Dracula to a Dr. Doom-level villain. Brevoort said Matt Fraction and Paqual Ferry's new "Thor" run will be very important for the future of the fictional universe.
The pair ended the panel by letting the audience decide who won an ongoing contest for a limited edition action figure based on "Who asked the best question or gave the best compliment?" The candidates were the fan who wanted to see a Venom Hulk and a person who asked what comic was in the "Death Bag" Brevoort brought for display. "Death Bag" guy won by a slight margin.