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.
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JM: So we have a preview of Fantastic Four #557. Four issues in a row now, and Bryan Hitch, bless his pointy little head, is hitting all his deadlines. What kind of alchemy is involved in this?
No alchemy other than Bryan is really in a great place artistically. He's having a blast, he's drawing better than ever and he doesn't feel the weight of the world on his shoulders. I can't tell you how proud I am of Bryan. When I saw him recently in New York City, we had such a great time hanging. He's just in a great headspace and more relaxed than I've seen him in years. I think fatherhood on a grand scale suits him and I think it's showing in his work and his timeliness.
He's also addicted to meth amphetamines, but that has nothing to do with anything.
JM: I'm actually more concerned that you used the word "headspace." You turning hippie on me?
#557, page 4
#557, page 5
#557, page 6
#557, pages 7-8
I've always been a hippie I just wear my tie-die under my street cloths.
JM: Great. Another secret I have to keep. Now I'm also told that FF ties in to Marvel: 1985, which is supposed to be…what? A real-life view of the Marvel Universe of 1985? Is that it? How is this done, and how do you "mesh" reality with a comic book universe within the context of a story?
Marvel: 1985 is the first Marvel adventure set here on our world, the real world, when the villains of the Marvel U. found us here with no superheroes to protect us. [Writer] Mark Millar swears it's all based on a real-life incident and that Doctor Doom really did walk through Scotland or wherever the Hell that boy comes from. But let me tantalize you with this extra announcement. Both Marvel: 1985 and Mark and Hitchy's seminal Fantastic Four run also connect into the upcoming "Old Man Logan" run in Wolverine that Mark's working on with his Civil War partner-in-crime Steve McNiven. How 'bout them apples?
JM: So Hitch is on meth, but Millar's on 'shrooms?
Maybe Scotch. Or Guinness. And he wears lifts in his shoes.
JM: So, changing topics, I guess the oracle was right. The Iron Man movie's been doing very well at the box office.
You don't have to be so formal. "Mr. Oracle" will do.
JM: I wasn't talking about you. It was more a "conventional wisdom."
Well, regardless, it's doing gangbusters and it's getting critical acclaim like no superhero movie I've ever seen. Shows you what happens when you let comic book folk do a comic book movie.
JM: Now, my press kit gave me full credits for the flick, and…was that you listed in the credits at the end? Or some other Joe Quesada? I'm betting "other."
Nope, that was me. I had the pleasure of being a part of this movie from very early on at a few different stages. Some of my first involvement with the movie came when Marvel Studios flew Mark Millar, Brian Bendis, Tom Brevoort, Axel Alonso, Ralph Macchio and myself out to the production offices to show us where they were at those early stages of the movie, and to pick our brains (for the comic creator's point of view) on the screenplay at that stage. One of the coolest moments was walking through the gigantic soundstage in which they created the cave that Tony was held captive in. What was neat was that this sound stage was the hanger in which Howard Hughes originally built the Spruce Goose! Way too cool, and the irony wasn't lost on me.
Anyway, we spent an entire day sitting with [director] Jon Favreau and [producer] Kevin Feige talking about the early screenplay and suggesting bits and ideas. It was just fantastic being a part of the mix and having Jon and the guys being so open to ideas on how to make the movie as great as it could be. Let me add that the script was already in pretty decent shape, but some of the stuff being thrown around was pretty cool and additive. We all had a blast that day, and I think Mark has the best story of all as he had a run in with Downey that is just legendary and funny, but I'll let Mark tell that story since I wasn't there and he's a glory hound.
Later on as the movie progressed in its production, I was asked to be a part of what we ended up calling the Marvel Creative Committee. It consisted of a small group of us Marvel folk who were called out to L.A. at different stages of the movie's development as a set of fourth and fifth eyes for Kevin, Jon and company. It's been just an amazing feeling suggesting things and sometimes seeing them make it up to the screen. It made seeing Iron Man that much more of a personal experience than any movie I've ever screened.
JM: Well, it's nice to see something nice happen to nice people, and Jon Favreau's one of the nicest freakin' guys on the planet. Now you guys met…was it over dinner about two years ago? I can't recall.
Yeah, exactly. I was invited to a dinner by my agent at CAA during San Diego Comicon back in 2006. There were a bunch of Hollywood celebs there but Jon saddled right up to me and we began to chat. Now we had never met up to this point, but John started asking me question about Iron Man, and I mean hard questions—not so much about continuity but about why he did what he did, the internal workings of the character. He also had some interesting questions, such as, "What would make Tony Stark continue being a hero beyond his first adventure? Why would he want to keep on being Iron Man?"
What Jon and I also found was that we both had a lot of common ground. We both grew up about a half mile apart in Queens, so he was my kind of people if you catch my drift. I was taken by Jon's intensity and focus, and I knew right than and there that this movie was in good hands. We literally huddled for close to two hours and basically ignored everyone else at the dinner—not on purpose, mind you, but just because we were so into the conversation. It was probably rude as hell, but we were in the zone.
So yes, Jon's one of the good guys and he's also a tremendous talent. I'm ecstatic for him and his success on this film. Queens in da house!
JM: Do people still say that?
I just did. I'm bringing in da house! Back.
JM: Fair enough. It's reading the competition time: Have you read DC Universe #0, their 50¢ book lead-in to Infinite Crisis? What did you think?
Actually I haven't. Ask me in a week or two, I'm just knee-deep in the process of working with our creators on a huge story we have coming out end of 2009 into 2010. I'm bit obsessive-compulsive, and get tunnel vision when it comes to the big intense storylines. When I'm working with the crew on them, I tend to immerse myself and just can't think about anything else, or read other stuff other than what's absolutely important and has to get done here at Marvel. I'm sure once I get a copy, I'll read it one of these upcoming weekends. But hey, it's by Grant Morrison and Geoff Johns, so what's not to like?
JM: Okay, totally geek it up for us: It certainly looks like Barry Allen, the Flash, is back. How do YOU think it comes to pass that he's alive again? How would you do it?
You know, Jim, I'm often asked questions like this, but here's the thing: First, I haven't read it. That said, I'm sure Grant and Geoff knocked it out of the park. Also, I don't think it would be cool for me as a professional to second-guess other creators' work on a story that just came out in the sense of , "well if I had been writing that story, this is how it SHOULD have been done." While I think it's okay to express an opinion, I liked it, I didn't, rewriting the story in a public forum isn't. It's very easy to be a Monday morning quarterback when you're not the one who has to deliver the actual goods. The world is filled with way too many people like that. It's especially not cool to do it when you're a professional creator working in the same industry, I get it when fans do it, that's fine. Regardless, with all the great creative involved on that book, I'm sure it's great and I can't wait to get a copy to read it.
But, if you had asked me how I would fix DC…well, that's a whole different story. I have ideas that I know would make DC books outsell Marvel in a matter of less than a year and do it consistently. But, why would I give DC the ideas that would make their books outsell ours? And for free?
JM: Because you're a nice guy, or at least put up that façade?
Yeah, but I ain't an idiot.
JM: Depends who you ask.
Is this about that "market share" gag again?
JM: I think the real question is, "If it weren't for bad put-down humor, could we have a conversation at all?"
I think the answer to that is a pretty obvious "no." You bore me, NEXT QUESTION!
JM: Well, DC got some nice pop in the media out of DC Universe #0, and you guys got some with Anti-Venom in Entertainment Weekly. How are things like this "decided?" What's the Marvel philosophy as to what you think will cross over into a mass media story?
Well, sometimes it happens by accident and sometimes it's planned. The accidents I can't explain to you, but the planned stuff comes out of numerous meetings where we discuss upcoming stories. For example, just today I read a pitch from one of our writers that I felt had a tremendous mainstream hook, something that the outside world would find interesting and not mired in tons of comic continuity.
That also is one of the very important stipulations for us as well. It's one thing to have an item that the mass media may dig, it's an entirely different thing to have an item that they latch onto that has a story that's accessible. If the actual comic isn't accessible, you end up doing more harm than good, and that certainly goes into our thinking when we plan these things.
JM: In the instance where you do break something via the more "mainstream" media, do you feel like you're peeing on the loyalists, the comics media? They're there every day, y'know.
I understand a loyalist's concern about this. But when we do these sorts of things, it's for the good and longevity of our industry. Also, if you think it through, the loyalist has much more to contend with and worry about than the mainstream media. Listen, let's face it, if the story is that big, if it's not the mass media that breaks it, some guy on the Internet will spoil it before most people can buy it. Truth be told, people on the 'net spoil every single story we do if you happen to go on the 'net before reading that week's books. It's just going to happen, either by accident or otherwise. And all of this doesn't even take into account the idiot that wants to leak a story months before it even comes out.
I mean, I get the exuberant fan wanting to talk about the hot new happening in the latest big story they just read. We expect that and it's a sign that they're excited about what we do and what they've just read. It's the people that managed to get their hands on some inside information and then leak stuff before it hits the stands that I just don't get. If you have any respect for the creators who work so hard to bring you these stories, why would you want to spoil something that they have most likely been working on for a very long period of time? This is what they do for a living. This is how they support their families. What good comes out of leaking a storyline or event in advance?
But anyway, back to the point, we try so hard to do so much for our fans with respect to reveals and way-cool stories, but sometimes you have to serve something larger than all of us, and that's the future of our medium. These mass-market stories work towards that because they bring new customers in and they raise awareness and excitement. If we were out there spoiling every single story we put out then I would buy the logic, but that's not what we do.
JM: I just ask 'cause, y'know, I have feelings, too.
C'mon, man. Get over it, I fed you Speedball. Speedball! What could be bigger?
JM: Rocket Raccoon?
You got that, too—the Guardians of the Galaxy preview.
JM: Night Nurse?
More on her in Daredevil soon.
JM: Brian Bendis' hair plugs?
I'm not sure we can afford 'em in this economy. Well, I mean we could afford them if he was like a "normal" kind of bald, but have you seen him? It's not that he's completely bald. I mean, look at the size of that melon! How many normal haired human heads would it take to turf that baby?
JM: Fair enough. But in all seriousness, what thought goes into "reveals" in these matters? Some people griped that when "Captain America Dies!" was a 7 AM news story on CNN, it kinda took the air out of their balloon reading Captain America #25.
You could argue that, but you could also argue that it added a lot of fuel to the fire of wanting to read it. How many people ran to their comic shop to pick up that issue? There is no perfect way to do this, but when you consider how much exposure that gave our industry as a whole, I think you can see why it was worth it. It also showed to the mainstream world the amazing power of these characters and comics in general. Captain America's death was reported as if it had been a real world event. It was the most bizarre press experience I ever had in my 10 years here at Marvel and I've had a few.
The other side of it is that we could have told the media to break the news weeks before the book came out. That would have made the book sell five times the number it did. But we held off because we still wanted our fans to experience it as close to the date as possible. The funny thing is this, some fans were upset because it leaked hours before they got to read it, some retailers on the flip side were upset because we didn't tell them way in advance, or had the press break it a week or two early.
What we did was split the baby as best we could. Readers still got a great story and retailers got plenty of new customers in their stores.
JM: Okay. Secret Invasion #2. Last week. "Skrull Ship" Spidey and Hawkeye are definitely Skrulls. Or were—they're dead. But is Mockingbird? She passed the "October 12" test.
Jim, as best as I can recall we're making you pay for your copies of Secret Invasion and I enjoy taking your hard earned cash, so you're going to have to wait just like everyone else to find out who's a Skrull and who's not.
JM: I know, man. You'd think you'd give me some comps. But no dice with you guys. Just for that, I bought Noble Causes #33 from Jay Faerber and Image Comics this week, too. So there. Three bucks of mine you ain't getting.
We may have to cut back to one-ply toilet paper in the office, that's three whole dollars. By the by, Nobel Causes is a good book.
JM: And what the heck was that whole damn thing between the Sentry and Skrull Ship Vision? He's gotta be a Skrull, right? The "real" Vision wouldn't have that knowledge about the Sentry.
There's a whole lot more expanding on that particular moment and the Sentry in general in Mighty Avengers #14 in just a few short weeks. Perhaps the answers you seek lie therein. Here's some art.
JM: Okay, we kinda hit this before, but how much of Secret Invasion can be a convenient reset button? Are people in the office going, "Yay, trap door! I can just say, 'He was a Skrull imposter,' and all status quo goes back to the way I want it"?
#14, preview pages
#14, preview pages
#14, preview pages
#14, preview pages
Of course it can be a convenient reset button, the real question all of our fans are asking themselves is whether we'd be crazy enough to use it that way, and to what extent. And because we've still got six more issues we'd like you to pick up, I'm not going to tell you one way or the other. But no matter what happens, rest assured that we were very diligent in policing exactly what we were going to do with the Skrull impostors and just how many barrels we wanted to overturn. If we do too much, then people feel like the rug has been pulled out from under them. So hopefully we've guesstimated things right, and have only one or two more reveals than the fans would like.
And I'd be remiss if I didn't point out again that one thing that won't be a "reset button" by any stretch, but a real massive change of status quo, is the Inhumans. We've got some pencils from Secret Invasion: Inhumans, and believe me—the Inhumans will be affected by Secret Invasion in a massive way.
I think I'm good. Reader questions?
Lets do it.
Patches wants to know:
Joe, if you could create the "Perfect Comic Universe" and had your choice of every comic character ever created (from Marvel, DC, Image, Dark Horse, etc), what would you do, given that PCU power?
Patches, wow…that's a wild question! I'm assuming that you're talking about creating a unified universe, which is really the tough part. Because in my perfect world, I'd find a way to have a universe in which Spider-Man could exist along with Preacher. I'm big on diversity and love all sorts of different characters and genres, so my PCU would be a very mixed bag. I wish this was the only question I was answering today because I'd really put a lot more thought into it.
The simple math would be to take some Marvel mainstays and then add Batman to the mix. The Rocketeer would exist in my PCU and Sin City would be one of the locales for some of the stories. Maybe get rid of Batman's Gotham and put Bats, Grendel, The Crow, Daredevil and Moon Knight in as its resident heroes. You could also tell the story of Howard Chaykin's Black Kiss within Sin City. I'd also love to see a locale where X-O Manowar lived alongside Iron Man and Deathlok, and perhaps American Flagg.
If you go back in time in my PCU, you'd find the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and in its future you'd find the world of Skreemer.
I'd mix in some Gen13 from back in its heyday as well as have alternate dimensions in which the Mutant Ninja Turtles live alongside The Mask and Madman and Bone.
Wow, I could go on and on, but we have more questions to answer. Hopefully that gives you some idea.
Ron from Dakota sent this in:
I liked seeing the Hulk and the Darkness together in a Marvel/Top Cow book a few years ago, and the Avengers/JLA book you did with DC was pretty cool too. What gets Marvel and other publishers do work together? Any chance of another miniseries with another publisher's universe?(Invincible and Spider-Man, maybe?
Ron, we base it on many things, but two questions in particular jump out: Will it be fun? And will it be mutually beneficial to both parties involved? If the answer to those key questions is "yes," then it's an easy thing to get done, barring all the business hoops that have to be jumped through.
As for when we're planning on doing more of these, well…there aren't any in the works, but you never know what may come down the pike.
Steven Ghost asks: The Mighty Avengers have The Sentry. Any chance the New Avengers can get Thor?
Steven, all I can say is that if we were planning on doing that I certainly wouldn't be telling you at this point. So sorry, you'll just have to wait and see what happens.
Finally Updated has a couple questions:
I love what you're doing with the Marvel Universe, and may your direction continue to bless the comic book industry.
1) I love the Ultimate Marvel books, but I want to know if there will be any major events such as Civil War for the Ultimate books.
2) I loved the Iron Spider-Man outfit. Will Spider-Man be using that costume again?
Thanks so much for the kind words.
1) We sure do. Check out Ultimate Origin and Ultimatum, which are all due later this year. These two stories will leave the Ultimate Universe unrecognizable—in a good way.
2) Anything is possible. You know how it is—any good Spidey costume laying around will usually get used. What's funny is how I hear from people these days as to how much they dig that costume. The irony of it, of course, is that when it was first shown, the 'net apparently decided to hate it. Heck, even online polls were conducted where fans supposedly voted their displeasure. Just goes to show you…you never can tell.
Anyway, glad you dig. I was the guy who designed that costume, along with Chris Bachalo. And you can see the costume currently being used by the Scarlet Spiders in Avengers: The Initiative every month.
More Spider-Man questions this week, this time from Ryan O Playing GH3
Dear Mr. Quesada,
Is Carnage coming back? I hope you bring back the old Venom, too. That would be cool.
No Carnage plans we can announce right now, Ryan, but Venom is back in Amazing Spider-Man #568 this August. He'll be bringing another deadly symbiote with him (And by that, I obviously mean John Romita, Jr.)
Amir asks about Joss Whedon's titles:
Hey Joe, I am a big fan of both Runaways and Astonishing X-Men. So no need to say how sad I felt on the delays. Can we have an explanation as to why? Four months is really pushing it.
That's a tough one, Amir. The delays are pretty complicated, but it mainly comes down to the intense schedules of the people involved, and their attention to detail and desire to make the comics perfect by the time you get your hands on them. In Runaways' case, it just ended up being a more grueling and difficult project than anyone foresaw, and we didn't want to cut corners by bringing in multiple artists and such. In Astonishing's case, especially on Giant Sized Astonishing X-Men, it also came down to the size of the issue. It's 43 pages of story, and we wanted to make sure it was perfect before you saw it. But we put the finishing touches on it this week, and it'll be in your hands on May 28th. I hope you find it worth the wait. And Runaways won't be far behind. You'll be getting plenty of Runaways content on a regular basis starting with Secret Invasion: Runaways/Young Avengers, and then Terry Moore and Humberto Ramos' awesome run on the book.
On the X-Men front, we're also pretty massively excited about X-Men: Legacy #212, which features the return of a certain well-known Cajun. Enjoy!
A New York Comic Con-related question here from Eric DaSilva
I've been to the NYCC Cup o' Joe for the past two years, and for the past two years there was this kid at the con with the same request. Venom on the Hulk. Please make this happen. It's an idea whose time has come. Just think, "HULK SMASH & EAT YOUR BRAINS!" Can't you just see that on a T-shirt?
Are you referring to that logo on a T-shirt, or someone's brains?
Speaking of NYCC, Spidey616 chimes in with a few questions of his own:
Hey Joe, because the NYCC wasn't enough, I'm back and I gots some questions. Don't worry, I'll try to be short as possible.
1) Loved Greg Pak's Warbound mini, and was wondering if Pak has plans to bring them back soon?
2) Did Matt Fraction or someone else at Marvel come up with the character of Ezekial Stane, the son of Obadiah Stane? And was it influenced by the film's decision to include the Iron Monger as the main villain?
3) Finally, a lot of fans have complained of the lax enforcement of superhuman registration in various titles. By the end of Secret Invasion, can you guarantee that there will still be a SHRA?
Ladies and gentlemen, Spidey616 is in the house!
1) Greg loves those characters and wants to revisit them, but right now is neck-deep in scripting the upcoming blockbuster Skaar: Son Of Hulk series and co-writing Incredible Hercules with Fred Van Lente. He's also got a couple of other top secret projects in the works.
2) Matt Fraction did indeed originate Ezekial Stane.
3) Nope, I guarantee nothing other than you wont know what's going to happen next, and I'm going to make you spend more of your hard-earned cash to find out. (And speaking of Secret Invasion and what surrounds it, check out these SI tie-ins, on Guardians of the Galaxy, She-Hulk, and Nova!)
Stephen asks of a particular release this week:
Could you shed some light on when Avengers/Invaders happens? During the Secret Invasion? Right before? Or somewhere between Civil War and Secret Invasion?
I hate to nail these things down concretely before the stories are finished, Steven, because it ruins the suspense. If you know that Avengers/Invaders takes place after Secret Invasion, for example, then you can be pretty sure that Iron Man and Luke Cage and everybody else come through the experience largely unscathed.
That said, the beginning of Avengers/Invaders takes place "now," shortly before the start of the Secret Invasion.
From the Marvel.com message boards, it sounds like Miles_Warren is job hunting, as he asks:
Joe you've been editor in chief for Marvel for almost eight years now, I think). Have you any plans to step down and let somebody else take over? If so, who would you like to see as your replacement?
Warren, currently I'm having too much fun to think about stepping down, but that day will someday be here or I'll just be shown the door. The one thing that I want to be very cognizant of is whether I'm contributing creatively to Marvel or not. The day that I feel that I have nothing to add, I'll pack up my bags quicker than you can say 'nuff said! The last thing I would want to be is that albatross around a company's neck that has to be danced around because of their seniority. I also would rather leave at the top of my game than on the downside of it.
So you never know, that could be tomorrow.
Aziroth asks of everyone's favorite Merc with a Mouth:
Joe, is there any possibility that Deadpool might join the Mighty Avengers?
Aziroth, there's a much greater possibility in just a couple of months than there had been up till now…
12. Ladiesman89 (watch out, Ladies!) has a Free Comic Book Day related question:
Today, May 3, was Free Comic book Day for many people who read comic books. However, some comic books shops did not participate in Free Comic Book Day, so the people who shop at those stores didn't get a chance to read the stories that were available in the freebies. Is there any chance Marvel can reprint these stories?
Ladiesman, last year we reprinted the FCBD Spider-Man story as a "director's cut" edition later on in the year. So there's always that same possibility with this year's X-Men story. The Iron Man/Hulk/Spider-Man story will probably be a part of an upcoming Marvel Adventures Iron Man digest, so keep your eyes peeled for that.
And don't forget about Patsy Walker: Hellcat, Agent Of The Initiative #1—we've got your first look here!
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