Civil rights, international politics and superintelligent apes are in the future of Marvel Comics, according to Thursday's Mondo Marvel panel. The new series announcements moved away from the massive big events like revamping Spider-Man and tearing their heroes apart with a Civil War and more towards the obscure. Including something that confused the audience so much that they had to be told to applaud.
The new series announced at the panel were an ongoing series for Jeff Parker's retro Agents of ATLAS, Planet Hulk's Greg Pak replacing Iron Man: Director of SHIELD with a new book starring Jim Rhodes' armored alter-ego War Machine, and Underworld's Kevin Grevioux creating Marvel's latest forgotten hero, Adam: Legend of the Blue Marvel.
Talking about the latest book, Grevioux explained that it's a book that he's always wanted to do. In the late 1950s and early '60s, the most famous and well-loved hero in the Marvel Universe was the Blue Marvel... until it was revealed that he was, under the cowl, black. "In the '60s, a black man with that much power wouldn't have been perceived as very friendly, no matter the [intent]," explained Grevioux, which leads to President Kennedy asking the hero to go into hiding to help the burgeoning civil rights movement. His hiding works too well, and when the hero's nemesis returns 40 years after his presumed death, it's up to the Avengers to find the forgotten hero.
The announcement that led to confused silence was Electric Ant, a new five-issue adaptation of the Philip K. Dick story of the same name by Kabuki's David Mack and Pascal Alixe that launches in November. After a quick explanation of who Philip K. Dick was to a subdued audience, Marvel's Jim McCann added that Paul Pope would be providing covers... to a surprising lack of reaction from the audience. When your audience has to be told to applaud, I'm sure that that's not a good sign.
(Personally, I'm excited; the art looks good, if nothing else. And Paul Pope covers? Come on.)
The audience was much less quiet when it came to asking questions. Greg Pak teased what will happen when - not if - the Hulk will meet Skaar, his son from the World War Hulk storyline:
Maybe they'll sit down, see a ballgame, have some fun. Or maybe some smashing will ensue. Who can say?
Asked if Marvel will pull back from the continuity-heavy "event" stories that have dominated the company's line for the last few years, McCann gave a practical answer:
I don't think we've been swamped with major events as much as it's been serialized storytelling, and stories have led to each other [Laughter from audience]. Hey, don't laugh. Whatever happens in Civil War is going to spill out of Civil War, it's not Vegas... Things just naturally lead. Will we stop having massive events? I don't know, you keep buying 'em.
And if you're wondering who would win in a battle between Marvel's Dazzler and DC's Green Lantern, McCann had no doubt:
Oh, come on. All [Dazzler] has to do is go "Ooh! Yellow!" and [he's] dead.
Who said that Comic-Con isn't educational?