By Jeffrey Harris and Ryan Penagos; photos by Ryan Penagos, Ben Deloose and Kalei
Mondo Marvel panel
In the first official Marvel panel of the weekend, a packed room at the convention center played host to the Marvel Mondo panel, an all-star event featuring Dan Buckley, David Gabriel, Adi Granov, Matt Fraction, Fred Van Lente, Brian Reed, Dan Slott, Joe Michael Straczynski, C.B. Cebulski and a special guest. The proceedings were moderated by Jim McCann and Marvel current and upcoming projects were highlighted.
Marvel started strong, announcing CAPTAIN MARVEL by Brian Reed and Lee Weeks. Reed said that the new book is "Not a resurrection story, but a time travel story." Reed went on to say that the story will be about Mar-Vell coming back to the present and finding out that he's remembered as the super hero who died of cancer and how he reacts and deals with this idea.
Mike Benson takes over writing chores for MOON KNIGHT later this year. Benson's written for the hit HBO series "Entourage" and fans seemed pretty hip to the idea.
J. Michael Straczynski
Joe Michael Straczynski talked about the upcoming final issue of SILVER SURFER: REQUIEM, slotted for August. Spoiler alert: The Surfer dies! But, you know, that's what the book's kinda about.
McCann then announced that REQUIEM artist Esad Ribic is now exclusive to Marvel. Chalk another one up for the good guys.
While going through projects, McCann received a text message with the results of the day's Marvel vs. DC softball game. Marvel won, 16 to 9! The crowd went wild.
JMS talked about THOR. In the book Thor will begin to re-awaken the hiding Asgardians who have changed radically from how they used to be. JMS also talked about setting the book in Oklahoma since the quota of super heroes in New York was full. Look for the God of Thunder to lift up Asgard about eight feet over Oklahoma since it was re-built on private property.
Dan Slott hinted at a 199th unregistered mutant for the Initiative, and that all the mutants except this one have been registered. He/She is be called Mutant Zero, and is a part of a black ops group in The Initiative.
Matt Fraction talked about doing PUNISHER WAR JOURNAL during "World War Hulk" and how artist Ariel Olivetti's favorite characters are Venom, the Hulk and the Punisher, so he wanted to work out a story that would combine these three forces as a tribute to Ariel, which we will see soon.
According to Dan Slott, he wanted to let the retailers know about a big upcoming issue, and that will be Avengers: The Initiative #7, the last appearance of Spider-Man/Peter Parker before the One More Day storyline, and it will be a big deal. Starting with issue #8, we will start seeing the secret origins of many of The Initiative characters says Slott.
Fred Van Lente
Fred Van Lente talked about Super Villain Team-Up in which MODOK organizes a group of Z-list super villains to pull off the greatest heist in the history of the Marvel Universe. The first issue is out now. It pwns.
JMS then got down and dirty, giving a heaping helping of info on THE TWELVE. THE TWELVE is a new book about re-introducing characters that have not been seen in comics in years. Many of these characters were frozen by Nazi scientists and have now been un-thawed. Straczynski joked about immediately killing off a rather dubious character in the series named Blue Blade, "We killed the Blue Blade immediately, who wouldn't?"
and Adi Granov
McCann then had the honor of introducing Jon Favreau, director 2008's IRON MAN movie. Favreau joined the panel of guests to a ginormous reaction and announced that he will be writing a new Marvel Knights mini-series, IRON MAN: VIVA LAS VEGAS (working title, so he says). The crowd reacted thunderously. Favreau said that this will be a standalone story separate from the continuity of the movies and comics. The featured villain of the story will be Fin Fang Foom, sans pants. Favreau talked about wanting to use a villain that all the fans wanted but he couldn't use on the first movie. It will be four issues and drawn by Adi Granov, whose art Favreau had used as reference for the IRON MAN movie, and whose designs were ultimately used in the creation of the actual armored suit Iron Man wears in the movie.
Following the blockbuster IRON MAN announcement, the floor was opened for fans in the audience to direct questions for the panel to answer. Here's a taste:
Q: Have the recent actions of Iron Man damaged his character? Can he ever redeem himself somewhere down the line?
and Adi Granov
The creators responded that from the beginning, Iron Man has always been a character that's been conflicted about his actions and does dubious things. Favreau added that Tony Stark from the start was a weapons maker during Vietnam as well as an egotistical human being, but with those characteristics Stan Lee still portrayed him as someone who was likable and sympathetic. He also talked about Marvel Comics having heroes that are flawed and make mistakes as well as villains who make good arguments but go about things the improper way.
Q: What about resurrecting currently dead heroes or getting new heroes to take their place?
The deaths in Marvel Comics are written to mean something.
Q: Does the Extremis [from Warren Ellis' IRON MAN run] come in at all in the IRON MAN movie?
and Adi Granov
Favreau said that in the movie they will start with the Mach I suit and move on from that. They aren't going to move toward armor that can telekinetically respond to Tony Stark or organically appear from out of his bone marrow. They want to present an armored suit that is plausible and realistic in the movie.
Q: Will Punisher go after S.H.I.E.L.D., The Thunderbolts, and Iron Man for using super-villains in THE INITIATIVE?"
Matt Fraction says that Punisher is currently dealing with Nazis in his book, PUNISHER: WAR JOURNAL, but after that Shield is going to come after him in an ugly way.
Q: Why not have blue eyes for Tony Stark in the Iron Man movie?
Jon Favreau – "Because his [Robert Downey Jr's] eyes are brown." Favreau then went on to talk about getting Downey Jr. for the role and how he wanted to cast someone whose age he thought was appropriate and he did not want to cast a flavor of the month type of actor.
Q: For CB Cebulski, you talked about doing the largest comic book talent search in the world?
C. B. Cebulski
Cebulski announced CHESTERQUEST, which is a worldwide talent search in finding new artists to work for Marvel. Cebulski will be personally traveling comic shops and convention around the world for 12 new comic pencilers for Marvel.
Q: Will War Machine be in IRON MAN: VIVA LAS VEGAS?
Favreau said that so far he won't be, but if eventually it works for the story it will happen.
Q: "Will Fin Fang Foom be wearing pants in VIVA LAS VEGAS?"