It's the last day of WonderCon, and the last Marvel panel of the day is "The Next Big Thing." They revealed a few new tidbits, teasing a Hulk/Punisher crossover and the Thunderbolts becoming the Dark Avengers, then took questions from the crowd – including the question of whether or not Ultimate Spider-Man died a virgin. Here's the panel, liveblogged as it happened!
MARVEL: THE NEXT BIG THING
On the panel, we have Director of Communications Arune Singh and Senior V.P. Tom Brevoort, along with Sam Humphries, writer of Ultimate Comics Ultimates and John Carter of Mars.
First up – June 2012 brings a Jeff Parker Dark Avengers series as #175, led by Luke Cage. Venom, Thor, Skaar are in the image. It's what happens to Thunderbolts. Kev Walker on art.
The Incredible Hulk: Stay Angry! – Punisher is going to deal with "Mr. Banner and his green alter ego" – so maybe Banner's not dead after the latest issue.
Hulk: Mayan Rule – Red Hulk deals with Mayan deities in #53, with Jeff Parker and Dale Eaglesham. Machine Man and Alpha Flight will be on board for that.
Ultimate Comics are next. All-New Spider-Man will have Dave Marquez of Fantastic Four: Season One doing some art with Bendis. The "swing artist," they say. Sara Pichelli's not going anywhere, though.
Spider-Men – can't say anything about it yet.
Ultimate Comics Ultimates, co-written by Jonathan Hickman and Sam Humphries starting in May, then Humphries takes over in July. Humprhies says Ultimates is a very wonderful title to write because you tend to be able to get away with a lot. You get to put all the great characters on one stage and mess with them – you can't get away with this stuff in the 616 or on cartoons. Hickman has been generous with his wisdom and talent, and has set up an amazing canvas to work with.
Sam Humphries is the reason MySpace comics ever existed. This summer, everyone will know the name Sam Humphries. Luke Ross is on art. It's going to be big – we'll be talking about it in a very important way.
Ultimate Comics X-Men with Nick Spencer. Mutants are learning about their origins as government experiments. Spencer ends his run with #12 in May. Who's the new writer? The answer is Brian Wood, with Carlo Barberi. Wood writes DMZ, Northlanders, Generation X. Kitty Pryde is going to grow into a major role that you can only do in the Ultimate universe.
Wood is also taking over X-Men from Victor Gischler starting in #30 – DOmino, Storm, Pixie, Psylocke and Colossus will be the team starting in June. It'll be espionage thriller style. Someone is trying to harvest prot-mutants to become super soldiers. David Lopez on art. No writer has ever written the X-Men on an ongoing basis in two different universes before.
Q: Are you excited about the Avengers movie? Of course! It's the biggest superhero movie ever made. They don't know anything more than we do about it.
Q: How long will the Ultimate Comics continue, a kid asks? No definite end. As long as they have stories and fans, they'll keep going.
Q: Digital comics not on IOS devices yet. soon? Singh says there are plans to do that, but they just want to do it right. He's been meeting with folks for a year and a half. The flash-based thing is a problem right now.
Q: Any Cosmic Marvel plans? There are massive plans for Cosmic Marvel in the months ahead – it's no coincidence that Nova is part of the Avengers vs. X-Men kickoff. Guardians of the Galaxy plans also, toward the end of the year and into next year. Full attention into blowing that up after a few years of not tapping into it so much. It'll be coming up when you least expect it.
Q: Will Peter Parker come back in Ultimates, or will will Wolverine? Humphries says 'you're asking for really big spoilers.' Singh says they've always said 'dead means dead' in the Ultimate universe, but Brevoort says Marvel Zombies started in the Ultimate Universe, so you never know.
Q: Any more Augmented Reality "events"? They don't know if they're going to do anything about that at D23, the Disney convention, yet, but they're open to it. AR is really important to them, and they'll probably get some opportunities.
Q: What role does X-Factor play in AvX? As a title, no role – it's not tying in, but you might see a couple of those characters along the way in the main series. Here and there. Not really at the center.
Q: Ultimate MODOK ever? There was Ultimate MODOK three years ago in the Hulk/Iron Man series Ultimate Human.
Q: Any more Ultimate miniseries in the coming months beyond the three titles? Humphries says 'nothing that we can comment on, when you see them in solicitations, that's when they're real.' They're putting story over mandating that a miniseries exist.
Q: The 'Ultimates' in the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon are not necessarily the Ultimate COmics versions of them – Captain America and the Avengers are involved tangentially, but it's their own interpretation.
Q: What's Nick Spencer's next thing? They can't say yet.
Q: Any plans for live-action TV? Jeph Loeb and the TV guys are working on it now. In-development, not greenlit, are Hulk, Punisher and AKA Jessica Jones. No home or casting or anything for them yet. Live-action TV takes a lot longer to get going than comics.
Q: Rocket Raccoon? They haven't forgotten about him. No plans they can speak of yet.
Q: What's up with Dr. Strange and the Sorceror Supreme position? Will Bendis get back to that plot? Yes, he will be getting back to that before he leaves New Avengers to deal with the plot threads. Not necessarily during AvX.
Q: Is Thunderbolts ending then? It certainly signals SOMETHING for Thunderbolts, Brevoort says. They're at the 15th anniversary of TBolts, and it's not being cancelled. The time-travel arc Jeff Parker's still doing plays a role into this.
Q: What jump-on issues in Marvel for someone out of the loop for years? Avengers vs. X-Men, obviously. X-Men: Season One graphic novel is good. Uncanny X-Men and Wolverine and the X-Men are good. Ends of the Earth for Amazing Spider-Man. Humprhies says Ultimate Comics Spider-Man's Miles Morales intro just came out in hardcover.
Q: What's Sam's favorite Ultimate? Will Cap be back soon? He can't say about Captain America coming back yet, but he's been surprised by how much he likes MOnica Chang: Ultimate Black Widow.
Q: Will Spider-Man crossover with Ultimate Spider-Man? They haven't announced that – but "people have made educated guesses" about Spider-Men.
Q: More female-led titles like Captain Marvel coming up? They're working on it – Brian Wood's X-Men will be mostly female characters. Humphries plugs Ultimate Comics Ultimates for strong women. Spider-Woman will be a prominent character in Ultimates, too.
Q: Any Marvel animated movies? Not in the immediate future, as they're focused on the Marvel Animation block. They showed some test footage of HULK and the AGENTS OF SMASH "which will sell a lot of toys someday."
Q: Did Ultimate Spider-Man die a virgin? Only Brian Bendis knows for sure.
Q: Who's taking over FF books from Hickman? They can't tell us yet. Hickman's not leaving until the end of the year.
Q: Whose side were you on for X-Men Schism? Humphries was on Wolverine's side. Singh was on Cyclops' side. Brevoort is a Cyclops guy, but in that story, he agreed with Wolverine in that story.
Q: Will we see the difference in leadership with philosophy in AvX between Steve Rogers vs. Cyclops? Clearly, yes, that'll be a huge thing. Steve is still in the old Nick Fury role, and Cyke is the de facto president of Utopia.
Q: What's up with the Young Avengers being shelved? You'll see them again very soon – they're not gone for good.
Q: Any chance of seeing D-Man during AvX? You will see him BEFORE AvX, but not during.
Q: Will the Gen-Hope kids be involved? Yes, they'll be mixed up with Avengers Academy during AvX.
Q: What's Moon Knight doing? It depends on how Bendis ends his run on that series – he can't even say if he's in AvX yet.
Q: Marvel horror? They just did Legion of Monsters, and they may show up again in maybe Avengers Spider-Man (Brevoort can't quite remember where) and possibly in the Haunted Hulk storyline in Jeff Parker's Red Hulk, but there hasn't been much traction with readers lately for them.
Q: The AvX teasers aren't necessarily representative of specific fights within AvX – some of them do actually happen, but not all of them – all the most recent ones do.
Q: What's up with Hickman's SHIELD? He's still wrapping that up, and some of those characters may come into another book in the Marvel U. He can't reveal which book it was yet, but there is interest in integrating those characters in the rest of the MU.
Q: Ultimate Thing and Invisible Woman – what happened? They went off in the sunset together, very happily. At least one of them will come back soon.
Q: Will there ever be any more Hulks, like the Blue Hulk or something? It is always possible. Most of the Hulks are going to be in that Hulk: Agents of SMASH TV show planned.
Q: Any new enemies in the Avengers movie? They can only say Loki's in the movie, and some kind of big flying dragon thing.