LIVE! At The Marvel Universe Panel At Baltimore Comic Con

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On Saturday morning with the crowds arriving for Baltimore Comic Con, Marvel geared up for its main panel at the con with Tom Brevoort moderating Charles Soule, Mark Waid, Mark Morales, and Jim Starlin to talk about the Marvel Universe at the moment, and hopefully where things might be heading for fans.

The "man who killed Wolverine", Charles Soule was introduced, as well as the man who "killed Captain America dead", Jim Starlin, and the "man of a million lines", Mark Morales for a "low tech" panel, Brevoort said. Mark Waid arrived amid applause to join the panel.

Brevoort said that during the Spider-Verse event that's coming up, we will see the Ben Reilly Spider-Man again.

Mark Waid was asked about the Princess Leia comic from Marvel, and described her as a "princess who kicks butts and doesn't put up with crap". The way he initially pitched the comic was that Leia sees her entire planet "eradicated before her eyes and now she is princess of nothing. Everything she knows is gone. And so this mini-series takes place the day after." She could either be the "princess of nothing" or do what she has a "duty to do as the last surviving royalty of her race" and find some home for the last members of her race out there in the universe. If she lets her culture die, it will be gone forever.

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A fan asked about Daredevil's presence in She-Hulk and whether Mark Waid had any involvement in Charles Soule's storyline. Soule said that he loves Mark's Daredevil series "immensely" and bringing Daredevil in was "tricky" but worth it.

A fan asked Brevoort if we are going to continue to see the repercussions of the breaking of time structures from Age of Ultron in the future. He said that yes, we will "see more about that in the months to come".

A fan asked if authors have a chance to choose which characters they get to work on for Marvel. Waid said he can't walk in and demand to write Captain America, but that there are sessions when planning the next six months at Marvel where it's "organic" discussing who wants to do what and editorial is "making sure everything fits". Brevoort added that he wants creators to tell stories they want to tell, in the end, where there is personal investment.

A fan asked about the "change of visual" and change of book for Dracula, and Brevoort said that Dracula realized it wasn't 1972 anymore somehow (though he can't look in a mirror). The fan provided a "no prize" answer for how this change happened in that he was struck by the Excalibur sword in the last arc of Captain Britain.

Soule was asked what made him want to kill Wolverine. Soule said it was a story that would be "fascinating to write and fascinating to read" and that you get to play with these characters somewhat. Wolverine has come close in the past to death, and this makes it not just another Wolverine story. "It's sad to be writing his last story", Soule said, "but I hope to give him a really sweet sendoff". Brevoort joked that "We've been giving him too much spotlight so we killed him".

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A fan asked about where the Marvel Universe is going, and complained about the cancellation of Elektra. Starlin said that he does his own graphic novels and doesn't know about the "cosmic" portion of the rest of the Marvel universe. Brevoort said a part of the Marvel universe that "seems to be growing" are the Star-Lord and Guardians stories, and the cosmic stuff has gone from being a "ghetto part of the Marvel universe" to something at the center of things, which is something they started trying to focus on 3 to 4 years ago.

Brevoort had to keep batting away "movie questions" which he did clearly state weren't really subjects this panel could say much about. Fans wanted to know when Spider-Man will be bought back from Sony and if a Deadpool movie will ever happen. That is, of course, out of the hands of Marvel comics creators.

A fan complimented the "diversification" of the Marvel line in recent years and Brevoort commented that people have very different interests and they do want to produce material that can "appeal to everybody", so they will continue to focus on background and ethnicity, with more in the coming year. Brevoort was asked what's coming up, but wasn't able to comment on books that haven't been announced yet.

A fan asked what the chances were of Rom: Space Knight coming back. This would make "Brian Bendis' heart sink", Tom Brevoort said, since he's been pursuing it for 10 years. Rom was a "licensed character", Brevoort said, and they no longer own the rights. They've never yet gotten the rights back, and it's not easy, though not impossible.

A fan asked that based on the Lady Thor, will there be a Lady Daredevil. Waid took interest and asked "Is that something you would want to see?" in a leading way. People said "yes", but there wasn't a huge response, and he laughed, "Oh that response was overwhelming". Brevoort added that Lady Thor is a story that he thinks is cool, and if you like Thor up to now, have confidence in the characterization of the character. That is not specifically a direction that Marvel comics are following, pursuing lady versions of characters, but this story is a significant one.

A fan asked if Hawkeye was always going to be a limited series. It was intended to have a certain number of issues at the outset, but once Matt Fraction and David Aja put their "thumbprint", it became about them and their story. It "made sense" to cap it at a certain time and maybe come back with a Hawkeye book at a later date that maybe wouldn't have to do the same things.

A fan asked why the panelists think that Misty Knight is not utilized much, and Mark Waid having written her into Daredevil for only 4 issues, did not continue with her. Brevoort said that the Marvel universe is a catalog of "thousands of characters" and the use is based on needs, what seems popular etc. Brevoort said she'll be showing up again in the new Captain America series in November. She has "headlined" a few times over the years, he said, but finding the right fit for her is necessary.

A retail-minded fan asked why the digital copies of comics are so expensive, since they seem less of a value when only in digital versus print, especially when paying 4 or 5 dollars. Brevoort said the "honest answer" is that their books are priced where they need to be for the Marvel offices to "keep their lights on". In terms of feeling like getting less value for money, he admitted it's a choice everyone has to make, and spoke about "deals" for digital comics that are less immediately released that he hopes people can take advantage of. He can't offer a comic digitally for 2.99 when it's in the comic shop in print for 3.99. "Equivalency across all platforms is kind of a necessity", he said. But he understands that fans have to make their decisions for themselves financially. He suggested a Marvel Unlimited subscription, for instance, for wide access more cheaply.

A fan asked if, having seen Thanos on the big screen, Starlin would like to see others. Starlin commented on Warlock being in Guardians. As far as Dreadstar, "I can't talk about that right now", he said firmly.

Talking about working at Marvel, Waid said, it's not so much the case of needing a character book filled to create a writing assignment. That's about 50 percent of the time. The other 50 percent is creators pitching their own ideas for characters that they are passionate about.

A fan asked if Howard the Duck is coming back to comics now. Brevoort said, "He wouldn't be surprised", since there was no interest previously and this would be a good time now. "Watch the skies", he said.

A fan asked why Thor is now a woman, and if she's a lesbian. Brevoort explained the plot of the recent Thor story where he found he could no longer lift the hammer. A new character is coming who can lift the hammer, and is a woman. Brevoort said he'd have to read the book to find out if she is a lesbian.

A fan said she heard that Elektra was cancelled, and asked if that was true. Brevoort said he doesn't believe it's true at the moment, but it could happen. He said it isn't true just because Bleeding Cool reports it. Any series needs to sustain itself longterm, he said, and some series come to an end, because they've finished their story, like Hawkeye, but there are many reasons a book might "end at a certain point" like having told their story.

A fan asked what the process is for making big decisions like killing off a character or changing their genders or roles. He asked if anything sounds good but doesn't work out. Brevoort said it depends on how big the story is that's being talked about. The editor on the book needs to be ok with the story. If Soule wanted to make She-Hulk a man (Soule joked "He-Hulk"), there would be a process of talking to Joe Quesada and such. Asking if the story is good and entertaining, if it'll generate interest, are necessary, before they do it. There are dozens of good and bad ideas that never happen if the timing isn't right or factors are off.

A fan asked why there are so many Avengers titles crowding the racks at shops "cannibalizing sales" on the other new books. Brevoort said he has a "cold answer" in that it takes just as much effort to put out an issue of Avengers as it does anything else. They use a "Darwinian system" and they allow for the audience to tell them what works. Every series has to prove its own success, he said, and they try new books according to demand, but success with fans determines the outcome. It's not a bad thing, he said, for a book to come out, run through its story, and come to an end. "There's nothing wrong with that", he said.

The classic question came up of "How long is Wolverine going to stay dead", and Soule said they haven't discussed any return even though he is privileged enough to work "far ahead and far out" on Wolverine. Things are definitive "for now". Brevoort joked that if Wolverine comes back, fans have the permission to kill Charles Soule.

A fan asked if creators mind be iconically associated with certain characters. Starlin said it's flattering. Waid said it's not really "type-casting" or anything so limiting.

Lastly, an audience member asked if there was a "memo" which demanded expanded diversity in Marvel comics. Brevoort said no, there was no memo, but it was an acknowledgment of the "world that we live in". "We make a very big effort", he said, in "creating an environment where if someone has a story to tell that includes characters from diverse backgrounds, they can do it". They are looking to have more female-lead titles as a "leaning" not a mandate. It is about "creating a culture" that's open to those characters and ideas.


About Hannah Means Shannon

Editor-in-Chief at Bleeding Cool. Independent comics scholar and former English Professor. Writing books on magic in the works of Alan Moore and the early works of Neil Gaiman.

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