My Cup o' Joe

MyCup o' Joe Week 35

Joe Q delves deeper into the Dark Reign and shows off some awesome Leinil Yu ULTIMATE WOLVERINE VS. HULK art!

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MyCup o' Joe is the weekly communiqué from Marvel Comics Editor in Chief Joe Quesada to the legion of Mighty Marvelites Assembled! Every Friday, Joe will sit down with journalist Jim McLauchlin to answer questions on the pressing issues of the day at Marvel and throughout comics. And you get to chip in as well! Joe will be answering YOUR questions every week! To get in on the fun, post your questions at the bottom of this page! JM: So briefly, are you happy your beloved Mets got Francisco Rodriguez, and did they get him at the right price? JQ: Yes. It was a great deal. We got him for less than we paid for Billy Wagner, so at the end of the day in a market where CC Sabathia goes for $160 million over seven years, I think he's a comparative bargain. JM: We'll hit some comic book specifics in a bit, but I guess what you really wanna talk about this week is, for want of a better word, just "communication"—being in touch with fans. JQ: Yeah. I think we're in a brave new world. We at Marvel—or really, at any company, if that company chooses—have more and more ways to talk to an end consumer on a one-on-one basis. It's something I think we've been leading-edge on, and we at Marvel are delving into more, and personally, I'm really jumping in to. JM: So what's Marvel doing in general, and you in specific? JQ: Part of it is right here; we do it every week in this column on MySpace. For instance, I talked about and [writer] Brian Bendis talked about Marvel's most recent creative summit, and a bit of the play that happened there. We're a creative shop at Marvel. And that act of creation doesn't just stop with the writers, pencilers, inkers, colorists and letterers. Our editors are creating as well; the whole company is, including our movie studio. We're getting our hands dirty, getting elbow-deep in working with writers or actors or directors on a daily basis. We're a full-on creative shop, and I think our fans are interested in the act of creation, and how these stories come about. We want to draw the curtain back a bit, and show that process to a certain extent. And through MySpace, we reach a tremendous, tremendous number of people. I'm sure some read this column word-for-word every week, and some just skim through. But this is one way we can approach people in a one-on-one way that's very casual. I think this column is really driven by the reader questions, and as interesting as the fan questions are. That's the base of it. I also started a Facebook page that the fans can come to, and I talk about some daily stuff there. And while I can't "friend" everyone on the planet, people can go to the page to see what's what. And I just joined Twitter which is a great network of people who are just, you know, eavesdropping on your life. I'm finding that that's a really fun thing. JM: "Reaching an end consumer" used to be as simple as Coca-Cola buying ads on the Super Bowl. Do you think all of this—call it new media, social networking or whatever—is where it has to be now? JQ: I think it is looking at people personally. I think you have to do that, and that's what Marvel is doing. And I think we have an advantage. I mean, if Coca-Cola was Twittering, who cares? Coca-Cola is Coca-Cola. It's the same all the time. Who at Coca-Cola do you really want to get a Twitter from? But if it's a Marvel editor Twittering about his or her daily life, or the book they're working on right at that moment, there's a built-in fan for that book, there's affinity there. There's interest there. Honestly, I think Marvel has always been about inclusion. I see this as just another extension of what the master, Stan Lee, started. Stan was never shy about opening up the curtain and showing all the gears and how things worked. And guess what? Some of the gears got rusty and some of the gears fell off. Stan would show you those, too. One of my favorite, favorite parts of the Stan's Soapbox book was the column—jeez, it must have been tough for him to write it!—where he had to write that Jack Kirby was leaving Marvel. Man, that was like the Yankees losing Babe Ruth! But Stan was able to take that, write about it, and not hide it. He would show you that, warts and all. And he'd make you, as a reader, walk away with a feeling of, "Y'know, it's gonna be all right." And it was. Now from a marketing standpoint, not a lot of companies would have done that, and many still wouldn't. It's progressing for the better, but many companies, including many comic companies, always broadcast the message of, "Hey, everything's wonderful; it's all great! Everything's perfect!" Well…no. That's not what life is about, and that's certainly not what publishing is about. There are bumps in the road. But that's part of the creative process, and that's what we do. Much like our characters, we're not perfect. But we are passionate about creating, and we're not shy about creating outreach to fans in all these new ways. JM: Look at this from a management perspective: Do you want [Executive Editor] Tom Brevoort Twittering at people at work, or do you need your guys nose-down in their core business? JQ: Well, you know what? All our editors are adults. And a big aspect of being a Marvel editor—something we really look for and is part of the interview process—is being personable. We want outgoing people, people who are social in nature. This is a very social business. It really boils down to talking to creators, one-on-one. Our editors need to be able to work with people, establish relationships. And they need to be able to be social with our fans, to both talk to and listen to them. Again, dating back to Stan Lee, it's part of our mission. Hell, it's become part of our DNA as a company. So as adults working in my division, I expect them to be able to sort it out and do what they gotta do in any business day. Yeah, when it's deadline-crunch, you crunch and get the book out. But a big part of the job is also listening, reading and responding to fan email.

MIGHTY
AVENGERS #23

NEW AVENGERS:
THE REUNION
#1

DARK
AVENGERS #3

JM: Now there's a cat named Mike Billeter who wrote recently about "new media" who you mentioned to me. Did this guy influence the way you think about it? Or is he just a guy that "gets it"? JQ: When I read this guy's blog, I said, "This is it. This is the guy, this is the audience." Here's a guy who's reading comics and enjoying the comics community in a totally different way than I was when I was growing up. Because he has ways to enjoy and interact that are different than I had. And he did a very good job of writing about it and articulating it in a clear and concise manner. I think he's exactly, in microcosm, the audience. And I think that he "gets" what we're doing, and really shows that all communication is two-way communication. And he shows that from the fan perspective. I found his blog very, very insightful. JM: Look, man—I just want another Dancing Bendis. JQ: Oh, yes. The Dancing Bendis. I have implored, begged, pleaded with the guys in our video department—we need a longer Dancing Bendis. It just…it just warms my soul to see it!
Dancing Bendis!
But again, this is a part of what we're going at Marvel. We have a video department that's doing weekly shorts, the Weekly Watcher, and Senior Art Director Jeff Suter, who creates the trailers for new titles. We have dedicated staff on this, with more stuff to come. We want to make it so that if you're looking for Marvel, you can find it, find it easily, and find it in almost any way you might want.

SECRET INVASION:
DARK REIGN #1,
page 9

SECRET INVASION:
DARK REIGN #1,
page 10

SECRET INVASION:
DARK REIGN #1,
page 11

JM: So is it safe to say that Marvel is leading the pack at this point? JQ: Well, let me put it this way, if this were the dawn of civilization and prehistoric man was just learning to communicate with each other, the Marvel cave men would be drawing on cave walls while the DC cavemen would still be flinging poop at each other. There's a pretty wide gap at this point. JM: Okay. So I just read SECRET INVASION: DARK REIGN #1, and one thing that occurs to me is: Why Norman Osborn as the man pulling all the strings? He's always just "looked like" more a straight Spidey villain. Why not Dr. Doom, the Kingpin, or even The Hood? JQ: I think it has to do with how we've evolved the character over the last year or two, and with that evolution, it just grew naturally out of the story. [Writer] Warren Ellis really involved the character with the Thunderbolts, and really did an outstanding job of just delving into this insanity that is Norman Osborn. And then Bendis took those last few steps in SECRET INVASION, and really did a nice play with the media perception of Osborn, and changing him, in a public perception sense, from a villain to a hero. And now, man…he's a character that's just taking off. JM: Now we also know that Osborn has a "friend" off panel who's apparently terrifying enough to keep the other Illuminati bad guys in line. I know you can't say "he's the butler," but will the payoff on who this guy is be longterm? Short term? Never term?

SECRET INVASION:
DARK REIGN #1,
page 12

SECRET INVASION:
DARK REIGN #1,
page 13

JQ: Well, we know exactly who that guy is. But the important thing is that Osborn opens up that door, and Dr. Doom is given pause. I mean, Dr. Freakin' Doom swallows hard, and Dr. Doom blinks. So Norman has a pal that can make Dr. Doom blink. Look at it this way— Dr. Doom does not get up from that table. He stays for the whole meeting. He's intimidated. Now on what planet does that happen? So yeah, Norman Osborn has a big ace up his sleeve. Or—think on this—does the ace have Norman up his sleeve? That will be a big question in the Marvel Universe as time goes on. As to timing, it might shift by a month or two, so forgive me if it does, but we're planning that payoff on that by about late 2009. People will find out. JM: Anything else before we move into the reader questions? JQ: Oh hey, before we move on to fan questions, I want to give a shout out and a plug to my pal Jephy Loeb (yes, I call him Jephy). Jeph wrote the script for issue #20 of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer which comes out next week. Not only does it use most of the material from the pilot of the animated series, but the actual animators did the flashback scenes. Aside from the fact that the books rocks very hard, some of the proceeds go to the TADW Sam Loeb Scholarship Fund named after Jeph's son Sam who left us way too early. The fund makes it possible for teenagers to spend their summers at the oldest teenage drama workshop in the country. Sam loved the theater and this is the Loeb family's way of giving back to this program. For every $900 a student is able to attend for an entire summer. Also, please feel free to make a donation of any size. It's tax deductible. JM: I will mark my calendar. Meantime, reader questions Steven Ghost asks: Hey Joe, I'm a bit confused on the status of S.H.I.E.L.D. after SECRET INVASION #8. Was it completely disbanded, or does the United States just not want anything to do with it anymore? I thought it had become a United Nations agency sometime ago. JQ: You'll learn more about the fate of S.H.I.E.L.D. in a number of upcoming titles, Steven, including DARK AVENGERS, INVINCIBLE IRON MAN and SECRET WARRIORS. But the short answer is that yes, it has been disbanded—and while it was an international organization, most of its funding and personnel came from the U.S. You can see some of this in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #8 and we've got some art from that right here:

INVINCIBLE
IRON MAN #8

INVINCIBLE
IRON MAN #8,
page 1

INVINCIBLE
IRON MAN #8,
page 2

INVINCIBLE
IRON MAN #8,
pages 3-4

INVINCIBLE
IRON MAN #8,
page 5

INVINCIBLE
IRON MAN #8,
page 6

INVINCIBLE
IRON MAN #8,
page 7

MoonStruckMadison asks: I saw Marvel just released the solicits for all of the upcoming Dark Reign titles. All of the Avengers titles look sick! I can't wait! Marvel Boy, Hercules, Jocasta, Captain America, the Iron Patriot…they all look awesome! But I'm curious as to which title spinning out of Secret Invasion you'remost looking forward to, Joe. JQ: Right now, SECRET WARRIORS is the buzz title in our office, so I'd keep an eye out for that one for sure.

SECRET WARRIORS
#1 cover art by
Jimmy Cheung

SECRET WARRIORS
#1 preview art by
Stefano Casselli

SECRET WARRIORS
#1 preview art by
Stefano Casselli

SECRET WARRIORS
#1 preview art by
Stefano Casselli

Chris King asks: I have noticed that Marvel has made an effort to spread their heroes out across the U.S. and globe with the Initiative, plus Big Hero Six, Black Panther and Storm, Winter Guard, Captain Britain & MI13, and so on. Any chance of seeing an international super team, a gathering of top heroes from each country, like the characters from CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS? JQ: There no plans currently, but as our international reach expands, I could certainly see this happening down the road. It always boils down to a few simple things: getting the right pitch, and the timing. While story is all-important, there are times and climates that are better for launching certain books than others. John asks: Both Ares and the Punisher wear black armor with a white skull on the chest. Coincidence? Or is there a Moon Knight/Khonshu style relationship going on? JQ: Not that anyone here has been planning. But now that you mention it…

PUNISHER #1
50/50 variant by
Mike McKone

PUNISHER #1
50/50 variant by
Mike McKone

PotsNPans asks: Joe, what title will Leinil Yu do after SECRET INVASION? I need more Howard the Duck cameos! JQ: While Howard may not be on the top of Leinil's list of projects, I did see some ULTIMATE WOLVERINE VS. HULK pages come out of the printer here in publishing, so I suspect you'll most likely see that. I also know that Leinil intends on finishing that Punisher story he started. What can I say? The kid is a machine!

ULTIMATE
WOLVERINE
VS. HULK #1
new printing

ULTIMATE
WOLVERINE
VS. HULK #2
new printing

ULTIMATE
WOLVERINE
VS. HULK #3
cover art by
Leinil Yu

ULTIMATE
WOLVERINE
VS. HULK #3
preview art by
Leinil Yu

AbsolutVictory87 asks: So we've seen this new team of heroes led by the Iron Patriot, and we're goin' nuts trying to figure out who's who. I think I've got a pretty good idea who's on this new team, but I can't seem to figure out who's on the new Thunderbolts team. Care to spill the beans? JQ: Absolut, armchair detectives have scoured upcoming covers and solicitation text and have figured out that the new team so far features Yelena Belova (a.k.a. Black Widow II), Ghost, Paladin, Headsman, and the irredeemable Ant-Man (a.k.a. the love-to-hate-him Eric O'Grady). Who else will join this demented crew of blood-thirsty black-ops maniacs? Only Norman Osborn knows…bwa-ha-ha!

THUNDERBOLTS
#128 cover art
by Francesco
Mattina

THUNDERBOLTS
#128 preview art
by Roberto
De La Torre

THUNDERBOLTS
#128 preview art
by Roberto
De La Torre

Mike asks: It seems like Marvel is releasing more and more books with 22 new story pages that feature either a cardstock cover for $3.99, or adding additional old reprinted stories and charging readers $3.99 for what should be a $2.99 book. Have you ever asked the readers if they like paying an extra dollar for cardstock covers or reprints? I feel pretty confident that if you did, a poll of readers would overwhelmingly tell you that we prefer a $2.99 book without a cardstock cover or reprinted material. So why not give your readers what they want? At the very least, don't you think you should clearly state in a book's solicitation if it features reprinted material? I've been disappointed in the past by buying books that I expected to feature a double-sized all-new story only to find that half of the book is a reprint. And it seems to be more and more books, mostly mini-series and some of your top sellers, are now $3.99 for 22 pages of story. Why are some of your 22-page books $2.99, and some of them $3.99? JQ: Mike, while I completely understand where you're coming from, we do have many books that contain 32 to 40 pages of new material at $3.99, we have reprint material in some, and while there are fans that don't care for it, we also do hear from fans that like some of the reprint stuff. Unfortunately, the current economic environment that we are in right now is forcing our hand in this matter and we're testing out different options across the board to try to have a variety of product at different pricing. That's why we haven't gone to $3.99 across the board on everything. We'll see what works over the coming months, but trust me, we're very aware of how tough it is out there. Rudolph Was a "G" asks: Joe, Back in the 1990s, holographic covers were the big thing when it came to variants. Now today, it has become all about sketch variants, monkeys, and zombies. In the future, do you see a new wave of comic book covers becoming the next big thing? Perhaps, glossy covers or scratch-n-sniff covers or something fans could never even imagine? JQ: I'm thinking meat covers will be all the rage in 2009. Renda asks: Reader Jason Roberts wrote in to the March, 2008 issue of Wizard magazine asking: "Simple question following ONSLAUGHT REBORN—can anyone explain to me what the current status of Counter-Earth is? I know Franklin Richards made it to save all the heroes after Onslaught, but then they came back. But now they're still there, Wolverine is Hawkeye and the Counter-Earth Bucky is on Earth 616 (which is still the same universe). Ok maybe that's not a simple question." Writer Jeph Loeb replied: "Thanks Jason, but you mixed up your Earths, Counter-Earth was, or is, the one on the other side of the sun in the Marvel 616 universe. It's where the High Evolutionary created the Beast Men. The Heroes Reborn Earth existed ONLY because Franklin Richards willed it to be—sort of like Wanda created the House of M world. So, it goes back into the child's memory and not in the heroes head (like Wolverine isn't Hawkeye). So why'd Bucky get to stay here, while Onslaught wound up alive in the Negative Zone? Stay tuned True Believers" Now correct me if I'm wrong, but the Counter-Earth referred to was destroyed during INFINITY GAUNTLET. The current Counter-Earth IS the Heroes Reborn Earth, minus the heroes. Jolt from the Thunderbolts is there. The Exiles visited it during their world tour. JQ: Renda, you're mostly correct. The original Counter-Earth on the far side of the sun was destroyed by the Beyonders many years ago, and was later replaced by the Heroes Reborn Earth in the HEROES REBORN: DOOMSDAY series. But with his short attention span, you can't expect Jeph to have read and been up on everything we've published over the years. Learn more about The Hero Initiative, the only federally chartered charitable organization dedicated to helping comic veterans in medical or financial need at www.HeroInitiative.org. It's a chance for you to give back to the creators who gave you your dreams.

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