Marvel Comics wrapped their Saturday run at the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (AKA C2E2) with the publisher's traditional Next Big Thing panel covering a wide variety of books from across the Marvel Universe.
Senior Editor Nick Lowe took the mic to welcome Executive Editor Mike Marts, "Ultimates" writer Joshua Hale Fialkov, "Wolverine" artist Ryan Stegman, "All-New Invaders" writer James Robinson, "Inhuman" writer Charles Soule, "Rocket Raccoon" cartoonist Skottie Young and "Wolverine & The X-Men" artist Mahumud Asrar.
The talk got underway with a celebration of Marvel's "Women of Marvel" run of new series featuring female leads. Lowe recommended "Ms. Marvel" Editor Sana Amanat's TED Talk on the creation of the series as well as the just-launched "Elektra" book. Soule talked about the fan response to "She-Hulk," thanking readers for their interesting a comedic legal thriller.
Asrar said that working on "Wolverine & The X-Men" with scripts from artist Jason Latour was nerve-wracking because he was constantly trying to live up to his writer's art skills.
Soule said that "Inhuman" was Marvel's attempt to blow up the famed Stan Lee/Jack Kirby characters as they never had before. "The book has this great global scope...it's about how these people's lives are changed [by the Terrigan Mists] as well as how the Marvel Universe reacts to all these new superpowered people," he said, joking that the book was like Pokémon in that certain forces were out to catch all the new Inhumans.
Robinson then revealed that Toro – the sidekick of the Golden Age Human Torch – will be revealed in the pages of "All-New Invaders" as an Inhuman himself.
The panel then teased one more new "Women of Marvel" series that has not been announced yet, but as the character is a mutant, her book won't be announced until tomorrow's X-Men panel.
Lowe did speak up artist Jake Wyatt who has been employed on Nickelodeon's "Ninja Turtles" show but is coming on to draw "Ms. Marvel" #6.
Speaking of artists, the panel then revealed the new lineup of "Young Guns" being promoted by the publisher including Sara Pichelli on "Guardians of the Galaxy," Valerio Schiti from "Avengers A.I.," Nick Bradshaw of "Wolverine & The X-Men," David Marquez of "Ultimate Spider-Man" and panelists Asrar and Stegman. All these artists have new or spotlighted gigs coming up from the publisher this year as Lowe called them "the next generation of comic book art all stars." You can read CBR's exclusive interview with Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso about the initiative here.
As part of the move, the panel showed of Stegman's "Inhuman" cover (which you can see above) and spoke about Bradshaw's incoming run on "Guardians of the Galaxy" starting with issue #16 which breaks the team out of their traditional structure.
Getting into the Ultimate Universe, the panel promised the return of the Green Gobin in "Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man" #3. "Norman Osborn is back, and it can't mean good things for Miles," Lowe said.
More "Inhuman" discussion hit next as Soule spoke about Joe Maduriera and his plans to follow three groups of character through the story – the Inhuman Royal Family being chief among them. When Queen Medusa puts out the call for new Inhumans, both those who have been given powers and those trying to control them react in major ways. "It's setting the stage for this big, multi-facted battle between these groups of characters that are changing the Marvel Universe in drastic ways," said the writer, adding "I get to make up all these new superheroes, which is a lot of fun."
The panel then announced that starting with "Inhuman" #4, Stegman would become the series regular artist. "The cool thing about this is that I've gotten to co-create some characters with Charles, which is why I wanted to work on it," the artist said. "One of the first things I did when I got the job was started talking with Charles about a character I've wanted to create. We're going to use her in my first issue, and it's pretty great." Soule said that the pair's "getting to know you" phase was over within two e-mails and that they're in synch with where they want to take the book. Lowe stressed repeatedly how important "Inhuman" will be to Marvel's long term plans in the publishing line.
Soule spoke about Reader – a new Inhuman that he and Stegman have created – and said the character has the power to make whatever he reads come to life. When this was discovered in the Inhuman community when Reader was a child, they Royal Family took his eyes out to protect the community. But now, Reader has a special Braille pad which lets him utilize his powers again as well as a canine sidekick called Foury – "short for Four Eyes." The character is featured in the corner of Stegman's first cover.
Young then spoke about his Rocket Raccoon series where the fan favorite character is accused of murders he didn't commit. "Rocket knows he's murdered people, but he hates being accused of murdering people he didn't kill," said the artist. The book will be a "big, intergalactic space romp" with the "bromantic" relationship between the character and Groot being explored as villain Macho Gomez gets into the mix.
The panel then announced July's new "Legendary Star-Lord" series by Sam Humphries and Paco Medina. "Sam has got a great story planned for it. It's epic. It's like a Western in outer space with humor and hijinx and the fate of the entire galaxy resting in his hands," Marts said about the book. The cover to issue #1 will be by Steve McNiven with variants for the issue by the new Young Guns.
Fialkov joked that of late the Ultimate Universe "had a little bit of problem" when Galactus appeared to eat New Jersey. "Luckily the entirity of the Ultimate Universe teamed up and kicked his butt," he said. The writer's new "Ultimate FF" series features a new team dealing with the inter-dimensional portals left in Galactus' wake as backed by Doctor Doom – long thought dead in the Marvel U. Upcoming stories will feature the return of Ultimate Namor, Ultimate Rick Jones/Captain Marvel from Fialkov's "Hunger" and a character whose introduction had Fialkov worried that he'll be fired from the book. "We're tasked with doing the craziest things we possibly can," the writer said in seriousness. "Also: Doom has goat legs."
For Marvel's 75th Anniversary, the publisher will release a series of one-shot specials celebrating the 100th anniversary of the publisher's characters. Former Senior Editor Steve Wacker came up with the pitch for stories that would be done when iconic characters like the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Avengers and others hit 100 years old (they recently hit 50).
The Avengers issue will be by "Orc Stain" cartoonist James Stokoe. Spider-Man's will be by Sean Ryan and In-Hyuk Lee focusing on the Kingpin being powered by a Venom Symbiote. The Fantastic Four issue is by Jen Van Meter and newcomer artist Joanna Estep where Lowe promised "not the characters you expect." "Dark Tower" co-writer Robin Furth will write the X-Men 100th anniversary special with art by Jason Masters under a cover by Jason Latour featuring the wedding of Cyclops and Emma Frost after Cyclops becomes President of the U.S. The 100th anniversary special for "Guardians of the Galaxy" will be by Andy Lanning and Ron Marz with art by Gustao Duarte under a cover by David Lopez. That one-shot will feature Silver Galactus and the return of original Guardians member Charlie 27. The books will ship in July.
On the non-Marvel U side of things, the panel announced the next phase of George Romero's "Empire of the Dead" story will be drawn by Dalibor Talajic and covers by Alexander Lozano. Meanwhile, the anticipated next phase of "Dark Tower" comics became official as "Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three" by Peter David, Furth and artist Piotr Kowalski will adapt the second of Stephen King's original novels.