Rounding out a busy day at WonderCon 2014, Marvel Comics creators including "Captain Marvel" writer Kelly Sue DeConnick, "Ultimate FF" scribe Joshua Hale Fialkov, "Fantastic Four" and "All-New Invaders" writer James Robinson, "Daredevil" and "Hulk" architect Mark Waid alongside Marvel editor Sana Amanat, all set to discuss their respective projects and the future of the Marvel Universe.
Amanat, also serving as the panel's moderator, gave a brief overview of the All-New Marvel NOW! initiative, calling it "the most unique line of books we have out there today." Kicking things off was Kelly Sue DeConnick, newly nominated for an Eisner Award. "I work on a book called 'Captain Marvel,'" she said to cheers. "It has just relaunched this past March with a new #1. It is the adventures of Carol Danvers, and we are now going cosmic with her. Carol's a very sky bound character -- she's heart up, head up, eyes up. Everything about her kind of wants to leave the Earth. We decided to let her go and see what happens. … Our first arc is six issues in space featuring guest appearances by the Guardians of the Galaxy."
Fialkov was up next, and while he's doing "Ultimate FF," he's also heading up an "Amazing Spider-Man" Infinite Comic. "I started in Webcomics twelve years ago," said Fialkov, who published "The Bunker" on comiXology as well as "Tumor," the first OGN on the Amazon Kindle. "I was doing digital comics when Mark Waid was still in short pants," he joked. "The idea behind the Infinite Comics is that it's made specifically for the device you're reading it on. This story's very special and works very well. Dan Slott had the idea, and the idea is to tell a Spider-Man story where you erase everything about Spider-Man except the pound of flesh that he is." The story opens with an amnesiac Peter Parker who has no idea why he's robbing a bank.
Amanat announced that there will be a print version of the comic, available May 7 for free with a digital comic code for the Infinite Comic.
Fialkov's take on the Ultimate Future Foundation was up next, and he gave fans a quick overview of the state of the Ultimate U. "They are now aware there's this other universe that's scarier and stranger, and suddenly the walls between these dimensions are about to break down," said Fialkov. Iron Man, Machine Man, Sue Storm, Sam Wilson, Phil Coulson and Doctor Doom with goat legs all are on the team. Fialkov said the caption at the end of issue four read, "Fialkov…Fired?" after the reveal.
Robinson and Waid discussed the recent "Amazing Spider-Man: Family Business" OGN, and the duo said it was fun to work long form. "The scenes take as much space as they need to take," said Waid. "We got to talk about Peter Parker's long-lost sister and that was fun." Waid gave Robinson his first assignment in comics -- the secret origin of Dinosaur Island. "It was quite a fun experience," said Waid of the OGN. "I think we ended up with something quite nice. I'm really happy with the way it turned out. That was a side job, because my day job is I write 'Daredevil' and 'Hulk.'"
The writer went on to say that Hulk fans are hard to please. "Hulk fans are lovely, but I don't like them when they're angry," he said to laughs. "'Hulk' sets a whole new paradigm for Bruce Banner. … What we're going to see for the time being, Hulk is always Hulk, but whenever he turns back to Banner, it's going to be a slightly different Banner. It gives us a chance to let us look at what Bruce Banner wanted to accomplish all this time." That includes his goal with the gamma bomb. Waid also said that Mark Bagley "brings the smash" to the comic.
As for "Daredevil," Waid said the move to San Francisco was a good one for the character. "He is welded to [New York] in a way that no other New York hero is," said Waid. "Every issue, we're going out of our way to make sure that there are things that every other superhero can do that Daredevil has a challenge doing." The run will also bring back the Shroud, who doesn't like the fact that Daredevil is the new celebrity superhero. "Chris Samnee, the artist on the book, makes me look good every month," said Waid. "He is one of the best artists I've ever worked with. Between him and Javier Rodriguez and Joe Caramagna … we're a really tight-knight team."
The panel also acknowledged former Marvel editor Steve Wacker's initiative to do "Daredevil" #1.50 for the 50th anniversary of Daredevil. Waid is also writing a Hulk and Iron Man story for "Original Sin." "The challenge thrown to us with 'Original Sin' was what secret we could reveal?" Waid also quickly recapped the elevator "Original Sin" pitch for "those of you that don't read Comic Book Resources every single day." "The challenge to us was I love Tony Stark/Bruce Banner Science Bros. I love that we built a relationship with them in the Hulk that they've known each other before the Gamma Bomb. But Tony doesn't have the most reliable memory in the world, and then learning as he does that he may be more responsible for what happened that day on the Gamma explosion field than he remembers. There may have been some things going on that he is only now remembering. If Bruce Banner were to learn of these things -- he doesn't take this news well." The miniseries will be four parts, co-written by "Iron Man" scribe Kieron Gillen with Mark Bagley and Luke Ross on art. Waid said he likes calling the story "True Science Detectives," and the duo will learn things about themselves that will change their relationship.
Robinson praised the "Original Sin" concept in its strength in allowing creators a little more freedom to tell stories. "My thanks to Mark Waid because people that know a bit more about me know I was working at DC for many, many years and the day I decided to quit, I didn't know if I was going to drive a taxi the next day," said Robinson. "The day it happened, Mark called me and asked if I wanted to write that Spider-Man book with him."
Robinson's first arc, covering the downfall of the Fantastic Four with The Thing convicted for murder and Johnny Storm losing his powers. "I'm told by many people that it's dark, but if you read it, it isn't that dark. There's still going to be the epic Fantastic Four fighting, they take on an enhanced version of the Wrecking Crew in issue #4. I think Leonard Kirk is doing the best work of his career." The writer said that he tried really hard to incorporate ideas from previous runs in the Fantastic Four's history -- including Matt Fraction, Jonathan Hickman and Waid. Robinson said he wasn't going to give away anything about his "Original Sin" work, but did say that The Thing is at ground zero of the event, and finds out there was a "betrayal done to him by Johnny and by a lesser extent, Reed."
"The other thing I'm proud of about this is that events from 'Original Sin' will feed through right to the end of my run on it," Robinson added.
For "All-New Invaders," Robinson said the title had a slight double meaning -- part of the book would be the team, and others would be actual invaders of the Earth. "For some reason, I adore the original Human Torch, and people forget that he was the first Marvel superhero," he said. "I don't want to pat my back too much, but I'm good at taking characters that are more obscure [and making people care about them]." Robinson also has a chance to write Captain America, the Winter Soldier and Namor. The "Original Sin" tie-in involves Radiance, a J-Pop superhero, who learns that there was a possibility the Invaders could have prevented the atom bomb being dropped. Eventually, Jim Hammond will take an interest in the secret. "Jim Hammond, who by then will be an Agent of SHIELD, and he's got a dark-red version of Captain America's suit," said Robinson.
Further, Robinson said the All-New Invaders are set in a future arc to fight all the Deathloks in the Marvel Universe. Additionally, there will be a crossover starting between "Fantastic Four" and "All-New Invaders" -- especially with Jim Hammond and the Future Foundation kids.
The panel opened it up to questions, and the first question was about the Ultimate Universe, and whether the Inhumans might show up in "Ultimate FF" with Fialkov saying, "I do hope to get to them."
Waid said Marvel has a plan for an Earth-616 Miles Morales, but couldn't say anything else. Fialkov also said there will be an Ultimate Spider-character showing up in "Ultimate FF" #4.
A fan asked about the development of Kamala Khan, and DeConnick confirmed that it was a conversation that happened a long time ago. "We decided to start seeding Kamala's existence because a big part of the plan was that Kamala was inspired by Carol. We put a couple of appearances in the background so that it would be an Easter egg," said DeConnick.
"We were inspired by the Carol Corps members," said Amanat, saying that Kamala was a Carol Corps member herself. "Kamala was empowered by Carol and was something that was very organic to what the story was supposed to be."
In terms of staying true to characters' original stories, Waid said it's much more interesting to find the cracks between the moments you've see on the page. "It wasn't easy, but I think we made it work [for 'Original Sin']," he said.
Robinson said his favorite character that he doesn't write is Union Jack and the Black Knight. Waid actually chose Superman, but in terms of Marvel, Waid said the character he likes that nobody else likes is Cyclops -- and then the room erupted in applause. "I'm exactly the right age for it to be Wolverine," said Fialkov. "But it would be tied with Hulk." Kelly Sue said it would be Lois Lane, Modesty Blaise, Mystique -- "I would like to make spaghetti for Rogue. Spider-Woman, but duh."
Waid said at Marvel, the favorite thing he ever wrote was his first issue of "Fantastic Four." "It was harder to write than I thought, but on a technical level, it does what it's supposed to do," he said.
For Robinson, it was an issue of "Leave it to Chance," and in terms of Marvel book, it was the anniversary Captain America story with Marcos Martin. "I'm proud of a lot of my work, but that's something I think about very much."
Fialkov said his creator-owned series "The Bunker" #1 was his favorite, and "Hunger" #1 for Marvel because it's a big event book "about a guy trying to get a hamburger."
DeConnick mentioned her new creator-owned series "Pretty Deadly" was her favorite, but for Marvel, it was her "Girls Night In" 11-page story. "It's probably the strongest superhero writing that I've done in 11 pages. I don't know if it's my favorite product, but it's the strongest superhero writing that I did."
In "Fantastic Four" #5, Chris Samnee, Gerry Ordway, Dean Haspiel, Paul Smith and many different artists will show up when the Fantastic Four goes on trial and their entire past is in question.
Waid ended the panel by saying, "Sure" to a Blackheart appearance in upcoming "Daredevil" stories. "That's not a bad idea."