While Sunday's at conventions like the 2010 New York Comic Con can be sedate, the creative staff of Marvel Comics did their best to amp up the excitement with one last big panel, the "Next Big Thing" presentation.
Marvel's Manager of Sales and Communications Arune Singh held down the mic on the panel which included creators Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Brian Michael Bendis, Marvel TV head Jeph Loeb, Greg Pak, Fred VanLente, Jason Aaron and Dan Slott as well as editor Mark Paniccia. After introductions, Paniccia informed the crowd that it was in fact Singh's birthday, and so the audience sang a chorus of the Happuy Birthday song.
"Will Hercules be able to stop the Chaos King in "Chaos War"?" was a theoretical question Singh threw out to the panel. "Maybe the last issue will be the last comic ever," VanLente joked as Pak described the stakes of the series were the Chaos King will try to return the universe to the state of total absence and non-existence with the combined magic characters of Marvel standing in the way. The pair said the "God Squad" of heroes would reunite in issue #2 in a few weeks.
Abnett and Lanning announced a new cosmic one-shot which is tentatively titles "Devastation Wave" which will set up the status quo of the cosmic part of Marvel moving into future projects. The pair also talked up their incoming street-level ongoing "Heroes For Hire" which promises an unexpected twist final page.
Dan Slott's "Amazing Spider-Man: Big Time" launch was talked up as the book will feature 30 pages of story each and every month – sometimes a longer story and sometimes issues featuring backup tales. The scribe said of the package "Peter is going to expand his arsenal of stuff" outside the webshooters, spider-tracers and his classic gadgets. The series will also see Parker gain a new job which Slott described as "a career" as well as multiple new costumes for Spidey to climb in and out of – one of which will be playable in the new "Marvel Vs. Capcom 3" video game.
Hobgoblin returns in the first new "Amazing" arc, which will also see Mac Gargan return to being Scorpion instead of Venom.
"Fantastic Four" #587 was again brought up, and as previously reported, the comic will come in a black polybag, which will see the end of the "Fantastic Four" title in name as one team member dies. The publisher is also preparing for the 50th Anniversary of the series next year.
Loeb spoke on "Ultimate X" saying that what was coming next was "hopefully issue #4" to laughter. He then spoke to Arthur Adams contributions to the book, noting again how Adams and his wife, illustrator Joyce Chin, just welcomed their first child Alexandra which has slowed production some, but in issue #4, the Hulk will appear, which Loeb said, "It will absolutely change the dynamics of the people who have come together in the wake of the devastation of 'Ultimatum'"
The writer and TV head then spoke on "Ultimate Comics New Ultimate" which will soon wrap its first arc featuring Asgard invading earth. Thor returned in issue #3, but in #4 "We'll find out if that was a good idea" as the issue will have a major curveball thrown in it.
Sara Pichelli joins the regular creative team of "Ultimate Spider-Man" in the months ahead as a "swing artist" with David LaFuente. Bendis talked up the first ongoing female Spider-Man artist saying of her sample pages "as you can tell already, the characters are much better dressed they were than in previous iterations of the character" and adding that she was amazing with character acting as "as fast as Bagley." In the months ahead, the series will return to its original numbering with #150, marking the 10th Anniversary of the book and the Ultimate line.
Jason Aaron and Ron Garney will team up for "Ultimate Captain America" in January. The mini series will focus on a version of Captain America who was established during Vietnam who comes back from being AWOL to show Steve Rogers what he missed about America in the Vietnam era. Aaron said the secret identity of the character was one that would be familiar to Marvel Universe readers.
Fan questions started up with someone asking about Slott's long-rumored "Reckoning War" which the writer joked he "started seeding into Marvel Universe books before we did crossovers with 'War' in the title." He said the only title he's yet to drop a hint on since going Marvel Exclusive years back is "Amazing" so he should get on it soon.
Asked if the Peter Parker in "Ultimate Comics Spider-Man" was a clone replacing a dead Spidey at the end of the last volume, Bendis essentially said no, but added that last week's Ultimate Creative Summit was one in which he, Loeb and Mark Millar "concocted a plan for the Ultimate Universe that was startling to us when it was done. What will happen from issue #150 through the calendar year, you have never seen done in a mainstream comic book...we're priding ourselves in stories you've never seen done anywhere." Bendis noted that in the "Ultimate Secret" trilogy, the reveal that Reed Richards is a major villain is the kind of thing that fans can rely on moving forward.
Bendis also promised some new villains for Ultimate Spidey's villains including a twist on Black Cat taking on Mysterio and some Goblin activity.
Down the road, Bendis and Michael Gaydos will reteam for a new "Alias" mini series building off what's coming for Jessica Jones in "New Avengers." The writer didn't want to do such a book without his artist, and working all the schedules and plans out meant the book won't be ready until the fourth quarter of 2011.
A fan who was bewildered with the hiatus/cancelation of "Nova" and "Guardians of the Galaxy" asked why they wouldn't be coming back got an answer from Singh saying that Marvel knew once "Thanos Imperative" ends, the shape of Marvel cosmic would be very different. The fan pressed on whether any ongoing book will be published after the current event, but Singh said that they weren't even saying whether the incoming "Rocket Raccoon & Groot" mini takes place before or after the current storyline in order to keep the drama of the ending intact, so no concrete news of titles can be announced until this story wraps.
Ultimate Beetle will soon return to "Ultimate Spider-Man," and Bendis called the character "our Boba Fett" in regards to the character's somewhat inexplicable fanbase.
A younger fan asked what will happen to the Venom symbiote after Mac Gargan becomes Scorpion again, and Slott said that you would see in the first issue of "Big Time" "where the symbiote goes but not who gets it."
A reader asked which villains would be on the rise in 2011. Pak said "the worst villain Hulk's ever faced" will resurface in that hero's "Chaos War" tie-in. Bendis said Ultron. Lanning said Groot would face down cybernetic woodpeckers. Aaron pointed toward the fact that you'll soon meet "who sent Wolverine to hell" and the fact that "in PunisherMAX, the biggest enemy is the Punisher himself."
Asked if they had a favorite alternate or future Marvel U, Slott said he'd love a chance to write a "Spider-Man 2099" story while Bendis pointed towards the world of the "Next Avengers" DVD which he's pulled into "Avengers."