The Marvel Empyre panel Saturday afternoon at C2E2 began as all Marvel panels at C2E2 are apparently required to begin, with the panelists discussing Chicago deep dish pizza. Ryan Penagos hosted the panel, with C.B. Cebulski, Tom Brevoort, and Al Ewing as the panel participants. Penagos and Cebulski expressed their preference for New York style pizza, Brevoort said he felt any pizza was good pizza, and Ewing mentioned that he hadn't had any pizza, but did have some Chicago-style sushi. He added that he also ate a Chicago-style hot dog, and seemed puzzled at the lack of ketchup on it.
The panel then got formally underway when Penagos said there was an official way to pronounce Empyre. He asked Ewing to pronounce it, and Ewing, in his deep deep voice, said "EMP – YRE!!!!!!"
As a side note, between Ewing and Ben Percy's voice, Marvel has the deep-voiced writer karaoke competition locked up, assuming there is some sort of deep-voiced writer karaoke competition. Ewing did say he loved doing karaoke, and has been working on perfecting his cover of "Kiss from A Rose" but despite an incredible amount of encouragement from the audience to sing right there and then, he politely declined to do so.
The panel then started showing the various stories that caused the Kree and Skrull to team up and attack Earth. You can find a rundown of these in Bleeding Cool's Speculator Corner story on Empyre. After that, the panel turned to the start of Empyre itself.
House of X and Powers of X artists Pepe Larraz and R.B. Silva will be doing the two main Empyre #0 issues, with Larraz doing art on Empyre #0 – Avengers and Silva doing art on Empyre #0 Fantastic Four. The two one-shots show how the Avengers and the Fantastic Four approach the problem from different angles. The Avengers issue begins when they hear from old friends that the combined Kree-Skrull fleet is headed to Earth. The art shown for this issue featured a Ghost Quinjet, which the panelists all hoped would become a toy someday.
The Fantastic Four issue introduces a new Elder of the Universe, the Profiteer, who enters the picture because the Kree and Skrull fighting has become one of the backbones of the economy of space, and the two worlds working together has hurt her profits.
After some displaying the first four covers for the main series, the panel then discussed a number of the tie-in issues that will be following the story. There will be three Lords of Empyre (LoE) one-shots featuring the key players in the series. These are LoE: Emperor Hulkling, LoE: Celestial Messiah, and LoE: Swordsman. These issues came up later in the panel, but they seem to be the most important stories announced so let's talk about them first.
The Hulkling issue is written by Chip Zdarsky and Anthony Oliveira with art from Manual Garcia and will focus on how Teddy got to the place where he is when the Kree tap him as the King of Space. The panel said they couldn't talk much about the Celestial Messiah and Swordsman issues.
The Celestial Messiah issue, written by Alex Paknadel with art from Alex Lins, provides readers with everything they need to know about the Celestial Messiah, his mother the Celestial Madonna, and their race the Cotati. Finally, the Swordsman issue, also written by Paknadel with art from Thomas Nachlik, will be much more of an action story than the other LoE oneshots while still providing insights into the Swordsman and his role in the story.
Some of the other tie-ins discussed include:
Avengers: Empyre is from Jim Zub and Carlos Magno and focuses on recruiting other avengers to join in the battle for the Earth. Brevoort mentioned that Magno has been turning in two and a half pages of art a day.
Empyre will tie in directly to Fantastic Four in issues #21 and #22 where a Spider-Man and Wolverine join Valeria and Franklin as part of the Fantastic Four in a story written by regular FF writer Slott and art from Valerio Schiti.
Empyre: Spider-Man is written by Taran Killam with art from Diego Olortegui. Brevoort said this is a ground-level Spider-Man story that is key to the overall Empyre plot and that the story premise ruins too much so they can't reveal more about it.
X-Men #10 and #11 detail part of the X-Men's involvement in the story. The issues are written by X-Men guide and writer Jonathan Hickman with art from Leinil Francis Yu so they read as part of the regular story being told in X-Men and not like add on issues. There is another X-Men tie in that the panel felt wasn't ready to be discussed yet.
Captain Marvel #18 and #19 will tie in to the main Empyre story. In the course of the main book, Carol Danvers has been promoted to the role of Kree Accuser. Ewing said that Carol will get a moment when she does some accusing and gets to say 'J'accuse!' The tie-in is written by regular Captain Marvel writer Kelly Thompson with art from Cory Smith.
Empyre: Storm Ranger involves a battle suit introduced in the pages of Ms. Marvel that may or may not be a symbiote. The series is written by Saladin Ahmed with art from Steven Cummings.
Empyre: The Invasion of Wakanda focuses on Wakanda as a central location as there's an important resource there that the Kree-Skrull forces are trying to achieve and the Agents of Wakanda and the entire nation will be fighting them. The tie-in is written by Jim Zub with art from Lan Medina.
Empyre: Captain America is written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson with art from Ariel Olivetti and focuses on Cap bringing together the heroes of Earth as well as the non-super forces of Earth to fight the Kree-Skrull forces. It is very much a war story with Cap as a boots on the ground soldier.
Empyre: Thor is written by Ram V with art from Pascal Ferry and focuses on Thor's instinct to go on a mythological quest when faced with a major problem. The story introduces new character that is interesting for future of Thor.
The panel then flashed preview art of more tie-ins to come before turning to the audience for questions.
Q: Will the Teddy – Billy relationship be addressed?
A: As seen in Incoming, Wiccan has been caught up working with Strike Force, and there will be a Strike Force tie-in to the main Empyre story. While the Teddy – Billy relationship will play a major role in the overall story, giving the answer to how their role is discussed would give too much of the overall story away. Penagos then joked that they planned on killing Billy.
Q: Why isn't there a Road to Empyre book?
A: Brevoort said that they has just sent a Road to Empyre book to the printer on Friday.
Q: Will more of Billy and Teddy's friend be involved? Will Tommy?
A: Yes. We're not going to say how, but yes.
Q: Is the story just on Earth or will all of space be involved.
A: Ewing said the story is focused on the Earth region, joking that you won't have to go farther than Pluto. He added that the wider Marvel outer space will feel the consequences of the story and that those will be dealt with in Guardians of the Galaxy.
Q: What's it like to work with Dan Slott?
A: Penagois said that they were going to have to lie to answer this question. Brevoort joked that Ewing killed Slott two wees ago. Ewing said that Slott brought a banquet of ideas to the table while he, Ewing, only brought a snack plate of ideas. He added that Slott was a great resource for bouncing off ideas because he knows everything about Marvel history, saying that for the most part Slott stood back and let Ewing do his thing. Penagos finished the answer by joking that there are times when you are bouncing ideas of Slott where Slott is literally bouncing.
Q: Are the Watchers involved? Nick Fury?
A: Watchers no, Nick Fury possibly.
Q: Will Empyre cross over with Outlawed?
Q: Which Kree factions are backing Teddy?
A: Ewing says that the Kree Emperium is backing Teddy while the Utopian Kree opposes him, but the Utopian Kree won't be in Empyre though they do appear in the Guardians stories coming out of Empyre.
Q: If so much of the story involves the green area of the moon, are the Inhumans involved?
A: The panel was in agreement that the Inhumans probably need a bit more of a rest before they are brought back to the Marvel universe.
Some highly intelligent person then asked if the name Empyre was a misspelling that wasn't caught until it was too late. Ewing said that the spelling was correct, and that readers would see what puts the Pyre in Empyre. You may have read that story elsewhere.
The same highly intelligent person then asked what differentiated Empyre from last year's War of Realms considering they both involved forces targeting the Earth. Brevoort said that both the nature of the threat and the goals of the forces are highly different, with War of Realms a mythological story and Empyre a science fiction story. The goal in War of Realms was to capture and rule the Earth, the goal in Empyre is to destroy it. Penagos added that as the story progresses the difference will become more pronounced.
The panel concluded with Ewing once more bellowing out a booming EMP YRE!!