As Comic-Con International in San Diego nears its end, Marvel holds it "Next Big Thing" panel Sunday afternoon, with writers Mark Waid, Dan Slott, Charles Soule, Gerry Duggan and Sam Humphries and editors Mike Marts, Nick Lowe and Jordan D. White all in attendance.
Lowe, moderating the discussion, started by reminding the crowd of the recent "Avengers NOW!" announcements -- "All-New Captain America," the female "Thor" and "Superior Iron Man," plus "Deathlok" and "Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier."
Soule talked "Death of Wolverine," and said that Reed Richards will advice the healing factor-less Logan to stop popping his claws: "Every time you pop those claws, think of the stuff you pull back into your body when you put them back in."
Continuing, Soule said compared "Death of Wolverine" to a "Clint Eastwood" movie, and said the story has a "huge epic ending" that's also "very appropriate, and emotional for Wolverine." Soule said he even put "this is tough to write" in the notes of his script.
Soule said each issue has a different tone, and issue #2 is somewhat akin to Wolverine in a James Bond movie. "Just because it's the 'Death of Wolverine,' and you know that's going to happen, doesn't mean that you can't have fun along the way," Soule said.
"Death of Wolverine" leads to the previously announced "Death of Wolverine: The Logan Legacy," which Soule (who is writing the bookend installments of the seven-issue miniseries) said is "looking at lynchpin characters in the Wolverine universe, to see what great stories we can build with those guys."
Duggan is writing another aftermath story, the one-shot "Death of Wolverine: Captain America & Deadpool," illustrated by Scott Kolins. The writer called it a "fun adventure" -- it's Deadpool teaming up with the now-aged Steve Rogers, playing off of previous "Deadpool" arc "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" -- but with "some meat to it."
In a panel announcement, Soule is also writing the five-issue "Death of Wolverine: The Weapon X Program" miniseries, which is set to springboard off the long history Wolverine has with the Weapon X program. Marts advised Soule not to talk too much about it right now, but look for more on CBR in the very near future.
Also by Soule: "Inhuman" #3, out Aug. 13. Lowe addressed the book's delay, saying, "We wanted to make sure that Joe Madureira could take his time and do his best work on the book." Slott praised the work of new "Inhuman" artist Ryan Stegman (who Slott worked with on "Superior Spider-Man").
Turning to "Legendary Star-Lord," Humphries polled the crowd on if they're excited for the "Guardians of the Galaxy" movie (they are). Humphries praised Peter Quill as being something of a scoundrel but ultimately a heart of gold, which is what ensures his legendary status. Thanos is coming to the series soon.
More announcements! Writer John Layman, co-creator of "Chew," is taking over "Cyclops" with issue #6 in October. Layman said it'll be in the same vein of what Greg Rucka was doing on the book: "Space pirate adventures, father/son dynamic. If you guys enjoy the unique flavor that Layman brings to his stories, you're really going to like this." (Whether or not the "unique flavor" pun was intended is unclear.) Marts said he's confident that Rucka will be back on an X-book "really soon."
Announcement! Mark Waid is writing "S.H.I.E.L.D.," joined by a rotating team of artists including Carlos Pacheco, Alan Davis and Chris Sprouse (cover art above). "This is S.H.I.E.L.D. the TV show, the unlimited budget edition," Waid said. "This is our chance to introduce a lot of the other characters into the Marvel Universe, and give them the Marvel Universe spin."
Waid said that every Marvel superhero is a potential S.H.I.E.L.D. agent in this series, describing the book as a "stealth Marvel team-up." Expressing his fondness for Phil Coulson as a character, Waid said he liked how the character is a genuine superhero fan, and he'll use that in the comic to assemble teams (one of which will include Rocket Raccoon and Howard the Duck, the writer indicated). "No one's off limits."
Also: "Leo [Fitz] finally gets his helper monkey," Waid said. "It seemed like a fitting Marvel Universe welcome gift."
Waid also talked his other Marvel projects, "Daredevil" -- saying that the "Original Sin" tie-ins contain Matt Murdock's toughest battle yet in discovering the truth about his parents -- and "Original Sin: Hulk vs. Iron Man."
Duggan takes over "Hulk" from Waid with issue #5, which introduces a new Hulk persona named "Doc Green." "We haven't quite seen him before."
"This is a little bit of 'Armor Wars' for the Hulk crowd. We'll find out who shot Banner. I think that will be very surprising," Duggan continued. "I know I've got a lot to live up to, but I couldn't be more excited."
First fan question asked about a lack of "female presence" in Marvel panels, the current one incuded. "The Women of Marvel panel just ended," Duggan pointed out, before continuing, "It is a good question. A lot of my favorite collaborators are women -- [editors] Ellie Pyle, Sana [Amanat], who I've been thrilled to work with. Jordie Bellaire, who just won an Eisner, is coloring 'Deadpool.'"
"We're always looking for great female creators, and we're always open to it," Lowe said. Specifically, "I've been on a quest to get Jane Espenson to write some Marvel comics for forever. She's just very busy." Lowe concluded by saying, "We welcome nothing more than that."
Lowe told a fan that there are things coming in the Ultimate books that will lead to something "huge." "Look for announcements in the coming months."
Next audience member asked Humphries if the rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy would show up in "The Legendary Star-Lord." Humphries said the solo book will "focus on [Star-Lord] as much as possible. What's been fun for me is to show the influence of his best friends in the Guardians have on his life, in a way that's fun and exciting, without actually bringing them into the book. You'll see a lot of the Guardians in interesting ways without actually bringing them into the book."
A fan cosplaying as Genesis (young Apocalypse, not Cable's son) asked what character combinations or contrasts they like in Marvel. Waid said that's the first thing he thinks of when he writes "S.H.I.E.L.D." "The Marvel characters are just so layered and deep and fascinating that you really can't go wrong by randomly picking two, and putting them into a story together." Humphries answered that he enjoys the contrast within Star-Lord.
Next person up asked, with skepticism in his voice, how long Wolverine would stay dead. Soule joked that he would give away the ending to "Death of Wolverine": In the second-to-last page, it'll appear that Wolverine has won the day and defeated his foes, but on the last page, Jubilee (who is now a vampire), bites him. So Wolverine technically dies, but comes back as a vampire. "Are you using your lawyer powers on the title of the book? White asked.
Chance of Taskmaster showing up somewhere? "I would be very surprised if he didn't show up on 'S.H.I.E.L.D.' at some point," Waid said.
Fan asked if there would be a lawyer-crossover between Daredevil and She-Hulk." "There is a storyline coming up," Soule said. "It'll run in 'She-Hulk #8, #9, #10. Basically, they go up against each other in court. I think it's a long time coming. I don't think it's been done before. Who the client is, I don't want to give it away, but it's pretty interesting."
Audience member asked why there wasn't an X-Men panel at this convention. "I promise you, it's nothing against the X-Men," Lowe said. "They have huge plans for the X-Men, but they aren't on the announcement phase just yet." "We have tons of stuff coming up in the next year," Marts added." Lowe said there would likely be an X-Men panel this October in New York Comic Con.
"There are rumors going on that we're cancelling the X-books, or cancelling 'Fantastic Four,' or trying to sabotage them," Lowe said. "We don't put our leading creators on books that we're trying to sabotage. That is completely false."
A fan asked about the future of "Thunderbolts," which was recently announced as ending in October with issue #32. Lowe pointed out that 32 issues is a "pretty decent run in today's marketplace," and White said the final arc of the series, written by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker, is a story that's been building since the beginning -- the Punisher versus the Thunderbolts.
Last question asks if Slott finds it a challenge to tell a story like "Learning to Crawl," which takes place in between established, in-continuity stories. "It's fun," Slott said. "That's the world I live in, and it's shameful. I'm happiest when I'm dancing in the raindrops of Marvel continuity. This is my guilty pleasure, doing 'Learning to Crawl.' It's not this thing that's hard, it's this thing that they honestly have to stop me from doing."
The same fan asked the actual last question for the panel -- if there are long terms for recently introduced Spider-Man character Silk, and the answer was yes, and she'll be in Spider-Verse.