Marvel took the stage at Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle on Saturday afternoon with the “Make Mine Marvel” panel, featuring some of the publisher’s current creative talent talking the latest at the House of Ideas. It’s Marvel publishing’s first major convention panel since some major developments at the company, including Brian Michael Bendis leaving Marvel for an exclusive deal with DC Comics, and C.B. Cebulski taking the reins as Editor-in-Chief.
In attendance: Ryan North (Unbeatable Squirrel Girl), Margaret Stohl (Captain Marvel), Jeremy Whitley (Unstoppable Wasp, Thor Vs. Hulk: Champions of the Universe), Jim Zub (Avengers: No Surrender, Champions), X-Men office editor Darren Shan, and Marvel talent manager Rickey Purdin serving as moderator.
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Turning to the currently ongoing Marvel “Fresh Start” announcements, Stohl talked the Carlos Pacheco-illustrated The Life of Captain Marvel, which she called a look at both Captain Marvel and Carol Danvers’ origin stories. “We’re telling a new context for the things you already understand have happened,” Stohl said. “This is a really, really fun collaboration. I worked really closely with Joe Quesada, I worked with Steve Wacker, who was the editor on the initial Captain Marvel reboot. I worked with Sana Amanat, who is my editor, and Axel Alonso, when he was still there. We had a summit specifically for this character, and we really, really dug in. It’s a deeply personal story. It is a family story.”
North talked Squirrel Girl, including an upcoming standalone issue where Squirrel Girl and Nancy get stuck in time, and a four-issue arc where Squirrel Girl and Kraven go to a superhero-themed escape room. “It will end up with some characters getting arrested,” North said. “And not just Kraven. It’s going to be a lot of fun. The Kraven arc, in a way, feels like a culmination of everything that’s come before.”
Zub expressed happiness that, due to the Avengers: Infinity War release date moving up a week, the last issue of “No Surrender” will be out the same week as the film. “It’s huge, it’s amazing, with tons of characters,” Zub said. “This storyline’s going to mark the end of this era of Avengers, as we clear the board, metaphorically and literally in some cases.”
Whitley talked the comiXology-exclusive Thor Vs. Hulk: Champions of the Universe, which was conceived to spiritually tie-into Thor: Ragnarok. He was told, “We want to do something with them, go for it.” “We wanted to do something that was a competition,” Whitley said. “The idea was to go and big and crazy as possible, and we did it.” The print collection is out this month. “You get that fun, goofy version of Thor that you see in Thor: Ragnarok, and the classic Hulk that everybody knows and loves and talks in monosyllables.”
Shan talked the latest from the X-books, specifically X-Men Blue, which will see Magneto put together a new team including Polaris, Daken, Jimmy Hudson and others, and X-Men Gold: “I don’t know if you guys have heard, but Kitty Pryde and Colossus getting married.” Shan mentioned the X-Men Wedding Special, which includes a story from legendary X-Men writer Chris Claremont — though he wouldn’t specify what Claremont’s story would be.
Speaking of the recently wrapped Generation X, Shan divulged that Jubilee is no longer a vampire as of that series’ end. “I think people have been waiting for a really long time for, I guess you could call it, factory settings Jubilee,” Shan said.
Moving to fan Q&A, the first attendee up at the microphone asked Stohl about the difference between writing a novel and a comic. “Novelists, when they start writing, we just write way too much talking, and we write way too much of everything,” Stohl said. “Basically, you would get back your pages, and they would be covered with speech balloons, over all the beautiful pictures. Then you go through and pop your own balloons, basically. You learn to write it like poetry, basically — you boil everything down.”
North said the main difference he found is that in comics, the “main unit” is the page — ending it with something to earn a page turn. “When you’re writing prose, it’s the end of a chapter.”
Next question asked about exploring supporting characters. “With Wasp, I got to have a lot of fun creating supporting characters for her lab,” Whitley said, especially juxtaposing the teenage girl characters with Jarvis.
A fan in a Squirrel Girl costume had, as you may guess, a question for North, specifically about writing for the younger-skewing audience of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. “I draw a distinction between ‘all ages’ and ‘for kids,’” North said. “The secret is, everyone keeps their clothes on, and no one swears, and you’re good.” Stohl added that North himself has a “Squirrel Girl heart.” “That works for him because he has an all-ages heart,” Stohl said. “My heart is black and withered, so it’s much tougher for me.”
The next fan asked about the panelists’ starts in comics. North talked his background in the long-running webcomic Dinosaur Comics, saying he originally just thought he was just doing a funny comic about talking dinosaurs, not thinking it would lead to anything. “Here’s my secret plan,” North said. “I did Dinosaur Comics for a decade, and one of my readers grew up and started working at a comic book company. I really recommend anyone to put your work online.”
Last question was for Whitley: “If you had the opportunity to kill off any Marvel character, in the whole Marvel Universe, who would you kill off and how?” “This is a side-step of that question, but it’s always been my opinion that I think here are more interesting and more terrible things to do a character than killing,” Whitley answered. “Every character, if they’re really well-made, there’s a thing you can do to them that’s going to hurt more than killing. Dying is not a huge deal for Captain America. He would gladly die for the cause. Failing is a big deal for Captain America.”
Zub added that a teased death for the Human Torch was never about actually fooling the reader that the character — who was appearing in other comics — might be killed off, it was about the way the other characters would react upon thinking he was dead. “The reader’s aware of more, but that’s OK,” Zub said. “The characters aren’t.”
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