By Nick Authenrieth and Ryan Penagos
We're posting live from the Brian Michael Bendis & HALO: UPRISING Panel at Wizard World Philadelphia 2007! Keep refreshing this page to get the updated report, complete with news, announcements, jokes and photos. Visit Marvel.com's Wizard World Philadelphia 2007 News Hub
for a full rundown of news, features, videos, photos and other assorted goings-on straight from the City of Brotherly Love.
Now, for the panel report!
Saturday at Wizard World Philadelphia kicked off with a bang when the Brian Michael Bendis "Super Happy Fun Hour Featuring Halo" panel lit up a packed crowd of eager fans who were champing at the bit for a variety of announcements including those concerning the upcoming HALO: UPRISING--penned by Bendis with art by Alex Maleev, whom Bendis worked with on DAREDEVIL. Also taking the stage alongside Bendis and Maleev were markeing sexpot Jim McCann and Executive Editor Tom Brevoort, both fixtures at Marvel's panels this weekend.
The first cover for UPRISING hit the screen as the lights in the room dimmed. The crowd fell delightfully silent as they looked at some awesome images featuring Master Chief doing everything from slinging grenades to riding one of Halo 3's new vehicles--a chopper. The art, described by Maleev as "half computer and half drawn by hand" was brought to life with "lots of going back and forth with Bungie," the studio behind the Halo games. "It's been very helpful to be working digital," said Maleev. "We're trying to stay as close as we can to the look of the actual game." Bendis echoed this sentiment by saying, "the challenge of this is something we take very seriously."
Bendis explained that the events in UPRISING take place between the end of Halo 2 and the beginning of the upcoming Halo 3. "We were honored to be given the job," said Bendis. And he's got some exciting ideas about how to tell the story. They've basically split the story in half. "We follow Master Chief and where he's at, as well as the people of Earth."
Bendis also revealed that before the Halo 3 Beta was released to the public, he and Maleev were invited to Bungie studios to see it in action. Much to the dismay of Maleev--who's a huge fan of the series and a highly skilled player--the two weren't allowed to play the game themselves due to legal reasons. Instead, they watched the Bungie team go to town on the game for 45 minutes. Bendis laughed that after about 40 minutes, Maleev screamed "Give it to me," demanding one of the controllers to experience Halo 3 for himself. Unfortunately, according to Bendis, it didn't happen. But all the same, that passion for Halo is sure to translate into some more amazing artwork from Maleev.
This is a series chock full of tidbits which will excite those who are die-hard Halo fans, yet will be extremely enjoyable for those who are not. "You want to write a story for people who are immersed in the lore and people who just say 'I like Alex,'" Bendis dished. And if you're not sold yet, he has assured that Uprising will be full of, "Prophets, Covenants, Master Chief, hot alien women and all kinds of stuff." Now there's a few good reasons to do anything, let alone read an awesome Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev book.
Wednesday was a day that shook the Marvel Universe to its core. In NEW AVENGERS #31, Elektra was found out to be a Skrull when she reverted to the alien form after her death at the hands of Echo. Before broaching the topic, Bendis told the crowd they may want to leave if they haven't read the issue. A few attendees took him up on the offer, making speedy retreats back to the show floor. Then the fireworks began. Bendis fielded some hard-line questioning from some fans that wanted answers about the Skrulls. But he may have just fueled the fires burning within all the hearts in the room, especially when he hinted that this is not and will not be an isolated incident. "Are we at war and didn't know it?" Bendis asked. "Have we been invaded and don't know it? And if we have, have we already lost?"
Bendis, who in a bit of pre-meditated theatrics, was accused of being a Skrull by an audience member, soon took off down the aisles of the panel room in a full sprint, to an eruption of laughter. He then took his place back on the podium and waxed on the Skrulls. Furthering the crowd's jovial response was a photoshopped image of a very Skrull-like Brian Michael Bendis. "You'd think that if I were a Skrull, I'd change a lot more than that," he joked to the crowd.
"The Skrulls have a long history of what you expect from them," he noted. But don't expect Bendis to throw any pitches you can hit. Saying his new ideas for the Skrulls have a similar feel to films like Buckaroo Bonzai and Terminator 2, he told everyone that "any living thing could be a Skrull," and told fans to make sure they keep an eye out for who's being "Skrully," a Bendis term we'd like to find its way into dictionaries and classrooms everywhere.
Part of this detective work of finding Skrulls can come from re-reading back issues of Bendis's work on MIGHTY and NEW AVENGERS and even the ILLUINATI work he's done, which he said are all full of clues. "Anybody with a wobbly resurrection is probably suspect," he told the crowd, prompting quite a few names and theories to be shouted out towards the stage. But Bendis wouldn't bite.
Read our feature on Bendis, Skrulls and the soon-to-be-everywhere phrase "Who Do You Trust?"
for a more in-depth look at what's on tap for the Avengers-plagued Skrulls.
A variety of new covers were shown for the first time, including one for MIGHTY AVENGERS #6, by Frank Cho. Also on display was an upcoming cover for NEW AVENGERS: ILLUMINATI, written by Bendis and drawn by Jimmy Cheung. Further excitement ensued when the shocking cover image for MIGHTY AVENGERS #7 was displayed, featuring a multitude of Venom symbiotes rampaging across Manhattan atop the defeated forms of Iron Man and Ms. Marvel. Drawn by long-standing Bendis collaborator Mark Bagley, look for the "symbiote virus" to hit New York and create some major chaos.
Bendis also told the crowd he had renewed his exclusive contract with Marvel, cementing his position with the company for the next few years. After the raucous and overwhelming applause in response to this announcement, he dished on what's coming up for his run on ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN. New artist Stuart Immonen's first arc, titled "Death of a Goblin," is in the works, which Bendis said is going to have a feel "along the lines of the Clone Saga." For more on all things Bendis, including his renewed contract, check out our feature on the man, the myth, the legend that is Brian Michael Bendis
Also on the table for ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN is the a riff on Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends, a story featuring an awesome cast of characters supporting the web-slinger, including Kitty Pryde, Firestar (look out Mary Jane) and Iceman. Mum was the word on the rest of the info, but we here at Marvel.com will naturally be keeping you updated.
Bendis also discussed the upcoming mini-series event ULTIMATE ORIGIN, which he's working on with Butch Guice. Look for the book to reveal the entire history of the Ultimate Universe. Bendis didn't delve into much more detail on the upcoming series at the panel, but we cornered the ever-busy scribe for the full scoop. Read our ULTIMATE ORIGIN feature
for more details on the project and who it will effect.
So that's just a fraction of the excellent news we have to report from Wizard World Philadelphia and rest assured, it'll keep on coming. You know where to come for all of it. MARVEL.COM.