Denizens of the New York City that serves as epicenter to the Marvel Comics Universe may currently embroiled in a story that gives them all the powers of Spider-Man, but in the real NYC, the publisher was brining word of its entire Spidey line to the assembled fans at New York Comic Con – whether they showed up in costume or not.
Taking the stage for Friday evening's "Amazing Spider-Man" panel were "Spider-Island" architect and "Amazing Spider-Man" writer Dan Slott, artists Ryan Stegman and Paola Rivera, Editors Steve Wacker, Ellie Pyle and Tom Brennan and Director Of Communications, Publishing & Digital Media Arune Singh.
"There is nothing cooler than a Spider-Man panel in New York City!" declared Wacker at the start of the proceedings, adding jokingly, "Who's going to stay up until 8:30 tonight?"
Accordingly, talk started out on the "Spider-Island" event. "We can guarantee you in #672, our climactic issue, at least one genuine 'Squeee' moment," Slot said. "It's been a blast...one of the things I think we've had going great for us in 'Spider-Island' is some of the very best event tie-ins." The panel praised books like "Cloak & Dagger" and "Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu." "Wasn't it fun how someone else revealed who the Spider King was? We can guarantee that something else will happen like that again in Rick Remender's 'Venom.'"
Wacker said of the planning of the story, "Dan from the beginning and in almost everything he does was very great at communicating big hooks...today comics aren't cheap. They're a luxury. And we worked very hard to make sure that every 'Spider-Island' issue that came out had something worth it for you to spend the money on it." Slott said he was very happy to have events that were super condensed where readers got the majority of the story over a few brief months. The writer of the event also said that some very important turns will happen in the epilogue issue which ships after the finale.
The panel then showed a teaser image promising "New York Destroyed" in a Daily Bugle headline. Slott joked, "In the 616, New York City is made of Legos."
Next up, the incoming ongoing series "Avenging Spider-Man" by Zeb Wells and Joe Madureira was talked up, particularly Marvel's plan to give anyone who buys the print comic a code that lets them the digital copy on the Marvel Comics App for free. Singh noted that Marvel SVP of Sales David Gabriel said the book may pave the way for such a plan to happen across Marvel's line, however decisions about that will be based on whether or not many people actually use the code to download the book. Singh added that Marvel hadn't decided whether the plan would continue with "Avenging Spider-Man" #2, but discussions had happened about doing it for more launches like the incoming "Defenders."
Wacker said that he was never very familiar with Madureira's art before working with him since the editor never read "X-Men" during the artist's reign on the title. However, he was very happy with the results he was getting and planned to show off new interior pages. Unfortunately, no pages had been added to the panel's slideshow, so Wacker invited a young lady who was a big fan of the artist to come on stage and read an advance print of issue #1.
Rick Remender's "Venom" series was up next and earned a solid approval from the audience. "At the end of 'Spider-Island,' Venom's status quo is completely changed...he has to leave town, and goes on the run. He's essentially stolen the symbiote," Wacker said. Brennan added that "This year will be huge for symbiotes." Wacker called the comic one of Marvel's biggest launches in years and saying "the symbiotes will start to influence Flash Thompson" before stopping and correcting "Symbiote!" Plans are in place for ties between the series and the incoming "Carnage U.S.A." comic.
Marvel then showed off the teaser already seen of the burning hoodie of the Scarlet Spider. "What's this?" Singh said for Wacker to respond "The worst costume ever!"
That exchange prompted the announcement of a new "Scarlet Spider" ongoing by writer Chris Yost and Stegman. The artist said his incoming redesign highlighted the idea of the hero being scarlet. "I think visually we wanted to have a darker side" to match the book. Wacker said the tone of the book offers the Spider-Man line something that fits in between "Amazing Spider-Man" and "Venom" which will explore different parts of the Marvel Universe. The panel also said the comic will be a bit different from the darker work Yost had done on comics like "X-Force."
Swinging back to an earlier topic, Decembers "Carnage U.S.A." came up. "This book started because the first 'Carnage' series we did was an unexpected hit. Everyone loved Clayton [Crain] and Zeb's work on it. So Zeb and I went to dinner and came up with a hook where Carnage takes over a small town. And when I say 'takes over,' I mean 'kills a lot of people.' The art is sick...or to use the new word I'm trying to start if the room can help me 'The art is totally chowder.'"
Opening the door to a different corner of the Spider Officer at Marvel, "Daredevil" came up. When Singh praised the book as his favorite, Wacker challenged him with "It's even better than 'Captain America'?" since artist Steve McNiven had quietly joined the panel. Despite that, "Daredevil" talk continued unabated. Rivera noted, "It's interesting because my inker on the book also happened to have fathered me...so I employ my father now."
"This book has been terribly rewarding for me because Daredevil like Spider-Man is one that strikes a particularly personal chord for a lot of people," Wacker said, noting that the audio version of the comic Marvel did for the seeing impaired brought in an amazing response, and he marveled that the book has been that good for that long.
In January, a crossover between "Amazing Spider-Man" and "Daredevil" hits in issues #677 and #8 respectively. The story by Mark Waid, Emma Rios and Kano will feature the Black Cat's return to Spidey's world. "These are two of the best characters to bounce off each other in the Marvel Universe, so this should be fun," Wacker said while Slott promised the story would have repercussions for both series.
Moving to a grittier corner of the Marvel U, "Punisher" became the topic of the moment as Singh described the intense way writer Greg Rucka will describe how to kill someone within the script pages. "I need a stiff drink when I'm finished reading them," Wacker added. He said he brought on Marco Checchetto after the artist impressed him during the "Shadowland" crossover. The goal of the series was to take out the War Journal aspect of the book and making Frank Castle a much more stoic, driven killer of criminals.
Coming up soon will be an issue of "Punisher" drawn by Michael Lark, who recently teamed with Rucka for an Eisner-winning Steve Rogers short story.
Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev's "Moon Knight" was next as Wacker said, "This is a weird book about a crazy man who believes he's all of the Avengers...so essentially it stars all of you guys." He promised the incoming #9 will hold some big, strange changes for the series.
Meanwhile, Hawkeye appears in the next issue of Rob Williams and Lee Garbett's "Ghost Rider" which Wacker described as "Now the power of Satan lies within a teenage girl from South America...she's been the victim of human trafficking...this person has the power of the devil and Johnny Blaze realizes that he has a responsibility to help her, and that maybe he wants that power back."
The floor then opened up to questions. A fan wanted to see "Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu" get an ongoing as he liked Antony Johnston's take on the characters and asked if sales alone determined whether that could happen. Singh said that many factors contribute to a comic getting the green light, but that such a thing hadn't been determined for this title yet. "The writer of that book has an incredible plan for what to do with Shang-Chi if that became an ongoing, and I would love to see him do it," said Wacker.
With the second question, things went right back to "One More Day" as a reader wanted Peter and Mary Jane back together, wondering if it would ever happen. The panel defended the choice and noted how girl trouble has been part of the Spider-Man DNA from the beginning. Slott pointed him towards issue #672 and 673 coming up.
An incoming return of the Sinister Six was teased by Slott who noted that of late, Otto Octavious has been on a roll of late from defeating Iron Man to punking Hank Pym and the Avengers Academy. Later, Slott spoke about the ticking clock that is the Doc's time before he dies – as revealed in issue #600. He added that issue #676 will have no appearance by Spider-Man and will instead feature "all Sinister Six...one of my favorite issues as a kid was John Byrne's 'Fantastic Four' issue that was all what Doctor Doom was doing."
Wacker admitted to a fan that he too worried about there being too many Spider-Man books, but he promised that Marvel was cognizant of title burnout, and he was making all the creators on books from "Amazing" to "Scarlet Spider" take pains to have a unique reason to exist so fans who read them all felt the titles weren't just rehashing stories they'd already read.
The idea that New York is constantly destroyed in the Marvel Universe came up due to the coming cover teasing a broken Manhattan. Slott said that he's well aware what ground has been tread before, but that when that story comes to the comics, fans will hopefully see why the story is unique. "Spider-Island" pro-NYC themes were also addressed. "This story's all about how much New York loves Spider-Man and vice versa," Wacker said.
In a discussion about classic villains returning to the book, Slott noted that a major motion picture was coming up featuring the wall crawler and the villain The Lizard, so he would be sure to use that bad guy in 2012. Norman Osborn will also return to the Marvel Universe but in the pages of "New Avengers" storyline "The H.A.M.M.E.R. Initiative." However, Slott promised another wild moment from the Goblin legacy when Hobgoblin returns to the title.
Wacker announced that coming up, Marvel will be adding a tagline to the "Amazing Spider-Man" series that says "World's Greatest Super Hero" a la "Fantastic Four's" "World's Greatest Comic Magazine."
Stay tuned to CBR for more from Marvel Comics and New York Comic Con!