Marvel talks Next Big Thing at Emerald City Comicon

(CBR) It's the final day of Emerald City Comicon at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, and Marvel wrapped their programming slate with a “Next Big Thing” panel at noon.

On stage: “All-New X-Factor” and “Spider-Man 2099” writer Peter David, “Magneto” and “Deadpool vs. Carnage” writer Cullen Bunn, “Wolverine and the X-Men” writer Jason Latour and “Avengers Undercover” Dennis Hopeless, plus Marvel senior vice president of publishing Tom Brevoort and talent scout and liaison C.B. Cebulski. “Cyclops” writer Greg Rucka was listed as part of the panel, but did not appear.

Cebulski started the panel by telling the crowd the plan is to conduct the panel the same way as as Saturday's “Pint O' C.B.” session — driven completely by audience Q&A. Brevoort brought early copies of “Original Sin” #0 and #1 to the panel, to let select audience members get an early look.

First question asked what the fan reaction was like to “Superior Spider-Man,” and the imminent return of “Amazing Spider-Man.” “When Doc Ock took over, there was a ton of fan complaints about it, and now Doc Ock is leaving, and there are a ton of fan complaints about it,” David answered, to laughs.

Next person up asked David about the difference between writing a solo series and team book. “When you're putting together a team book, the first thing you really have to do is decide which characters you're going to use, whose personalities will nicely clash with each other,” David said. “You don't want to write a team book where everybody gets along well with each other, or else you're writing 'Star Trek: The Next Generation.'” David, a prolific writer of “Star Trek” novels and comics, clarified that wasn't a slight to “TNG,” just that one of the mandates of that show was that everybody got along. “You always want characters that will be butting heads,” David said.

Latour added that he's fairly new to writing a team book, but has found it pretty natural. “But the point of view is much more concentrated when you're dealing with [a] single character.” Hopeless said he'd like to write a solo book at some point, since he's only written teams at Marvel so far.

“In a team, you're getting to see the story through the eyes of several characters,” Bunn said. In a book like “Magneto,” though, you see the world through the title character's eyes — “And it's a very dark way of viewing the world. I get to spend a lot of time there. Which means I'll have to pay more therapy bills. It's nice to be able to concentrate on that view, and delve into that character in a much deeper way.”

David shared his enthusiasm for “Spider-Verse” to the crowd, saying that “it's completely insane,” and naming Peter Porker the Spectacular Spider-Ham and the 1967 animated Spider-Man as both appearing in the story.

Any plans for the “Fearless Defenders” cast now that the book has ended? “I'm a big Dani Moonstar fan,” Latour replied, saying she's in his notes, but he has to find a way to naturally introduce her into the book rather than forcing it. “I'm sure we'll see Dani and the other Fearless Defenders characters again in different places,” Brevoort answered. “I don't know what those are right this second.”

Next question asked how artists are assigned on a book. “In my experience, the artist is assigned by the editor,” David said, clarifying that's “for the most part,” and there have been occasions where he's been able to select an artist for a series. “Nine times out of ten, it runs fine.” One example named by David of him successfully suggesting an artist was Todd Nauck on “Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man.”

“There's really no set way the artists are hired,” Cebulski added, saying that it depends on the editor and there are a number of factors involved — including what the artist is interested in, and “managing” the career of an artist on the rise by putting them on a high-profile book.

Another fan curious about process asked the panel if they prefer shorter one or two-issue stories, or longer arcs. “I prefer good stories,” David said. “For me, it doesn't matter if it's a done-in-one, if it's a two-parter, or of it's a six-parter. The length of it depends on what happens.” The opening issue of the new “Spider-Man 2099,” David said, is a one-issue story, but something like the “Hell on Earth War' in “X-Factor” would never have worked at that length.

“Writing a team book, I'm finding it a little harder to do a one-in-done story,” Latour added, comparing comics to TV in that some of the best shows have ongoing stories, but each episode may have a “thematic ending.”

Brevoort said it's not a matter of only one-issue stories or six-issue stories — stories can be of any length. He also differentiated between the “done-in-ones” in series like “Hawkeye” and “Black Widow,” in that they're not just standalones — they build on what's come before in the series, and have an impact on what's next. He does feel, though, that “the zeitgeist at the moment” leans towards shorter opening arcs for new series.

Next person up to the microphone asked how the panelists enjoy seeing comic characters they love on screen. “I always have hopeful expectations for the movie stuff, but I'm first and foremost a comics fan,” Latour answered. “While I love the movies, I love all kinds of movies, too. I have a special connection to comics.”

Brevoort asked the fan for his age — he's 35 — and commented that 35 years ago, none of this would have seemed possible, but now there's a “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie coming out in a few months. David said that he's disappointed by fans being hyper-critical of current comic book films given how off-base he found '70s TV portrayals of comic characters — “now films are made by people who genuinely understand and appreciate” the source material.

“Except for what they did to Jamie Madrox in the third 'X-Men' film, I hated that,” David added.

A fan who said she liked X-Men and other Marvel characters but hasn't read much comics asked for recommendations — the panels suggestions included “Astonishing X-Men,” “Runaways,” “Wolverine and the X-Men” and the new “Amazing Spider-Man” series.

Next question concerned writing bigger characters versus more obscure ones. “My favorite thing to do is piss people off,” Hopeless — the writer of the polarizing “Avengers Arena” — joked, then saying that he likes writing lesser-known characters because you can do more with them.

What female character would the panel like to see starring in a Marvel film? “I think the most obvious character to have a Marvel feature film right now is Captain Marvel,” Brevoort replied. “It has Marvel right there in the name, and that character would fit really well in what's been established.” Latour said he'd like to see Black Widow, a Storm-centric X-Men film, and “maybe a good Elektra movie.” Hopeless's self-described “ridiculous answer” was Elsa Bloodstone.

The last fan question asked about Loki's future in the movies. “That's obviously something we don't know completely about,” Brevoort answered. “The guys in the studio are figuring this stuff out. Certainly Loki was left in a pretty interesting position at the end of 'Thor: The Dark World,' and I can't imagine that won't be followed-up on in the future.”

As far as Loki in the comics, Brevoort told the fan that he has his own series (“Loki: Agent of Asgard”), and he has a part to play in Original Sin, and in the unannounced major story coming after “Original Sin.”