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WWC: Highlights from the Big Two

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It’s “one year later” for DC, while Marvel is locked in the throes of a civil war. So what’s on the companies’ plate for the future? Here’s a recap of the highlights of some of the Big Two’s panels at this past weekend’s Wizard World Chicago.

MARVEL

Friday’s Mondo Marvel panel at Wizard World Chicago provided a mix of previously announced projects and new surprises. Marvel is preparing for many happy (and not so happy) returns as “Mayday” Parker dodges the cancellation bullet once more in Amazing Spider-Girl, The Hulk may soon be returning to Earth in November’s conclusion to Planet Hulk: Anarchy, and Onslaught once again threatens the Marvel Universe in Jeph Loeb and Rob Liefeld’s Onslaught Reborn. Liefeld himself seemed quite enthusiastic for the project, re-enacting scenes with action figures after his spirited entry to the panel.

Onslaught’s Heroes Reborn reality is not the only alternate timeline leaving its mark at the House of Ideas. J.Michael Straczynski and Tommy Lee Edwards’s Bullet Points will postulate a Marvel U changed by one fateful bullet. Alan Davis is preparing to chronicle the last tale of Marvel’s first family in Fantastic Four: The End. Peter David’s new 1602 miniseries will feature high seas adventure and the kidnapping of William Shakespeare by Dr. Doom. Warren Ellis and Salvador Larocca’s much anticipated Newuniversal also got a mention and a dose of stunning preview art. Marvel will also be reviving its What If? concept, chronicling alternate takes on famous tales such as Avengers Disassembled, Enemy of the State, The Other, Deadly Genesis, and Age of Apocalypse.

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Few details were given on Kaare Andrews’ futuristic saga, Spider-Man: Reign, though the project got a strong response from Joe Quesada.

Big things are also afoot in the Marvel Universe proper. A character from Jeff Parker’s Golden Age homage/spy thriller Agents of Atlas will take on greater significance in the Marvel U. Robert Kirkman and Phil Hester will launch “The Irredeemable” Ant-Man, billed as a rather unlikable (but intriguing) superhero. Blade receives a new ongoing, courtesy of Marc Guggenheim and Howard Chaykin in September. Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin apply their practice to Dr. Strange: The Oath (featuring a surprising role for, of all people, Night Nurse). X-23 receives a new miniseries entitled X-23: Target X from creators Craig Kyle and Kyle Yost with art by Mike Choi. Meanwhile, novelist Tamora Pierce provides a new take on White Tiger in a series spinning out of Brian Michael Bendis’ Daredevil run.

By far, the biggest response at the panel was reserved for the newly announced Ed Brubaker series The Immortal Iron Fist, co-written by Matt Fraction. There was much enthusiasm for Jeph Loeb and Simone Bianchi’s Wolverine #50 as well, which promises to reveal, at last, the true connection between Wolverine and Sabretooth. The story was summed up by this quote from Logan himself: “They say there are only 198 of us [mutants] left. I really don’t think Sabretooth needs to be one of them…”

DC

Friday’s DC Nation panel largely opened the floor to fan questions and Executive Editor Dan Didio frequently turned things around by posing questions to the fans themselves. The editor was anxious to hear what fans were and were not enjoying in the DC Universe. Mixed fan reaction to the darkened tone of the stories and changes to continuity were addressed, as well as controversial decisions such as the changes made to Batgirl Cassandra Cain. Fans of Cass may have some hope however, as the character is slated to appear in Geoff Johns’ “Titans East” storyline. In remarking on series of different tones and styles, the panel gave Jeff Smith’s Captain Marvel mini, Shazam: The Monster Society of Evil, a release date of December.

Among the projects discussed at Saturday’s DC Editorial Presentation were the previously announced direct-to-video animated features based on such classics as Darwyn Cooke’s The New Frontier, the Superman/Doomsday conflict, and New Teen Titans: The Judas Contract.

When asked of the prospect of DC pursuing digital comics or other electronic formats, President Paul Levitz remarked “Not yet. [But} I think we’re going to see that world happen.” The concept of comic’ evolution into the digital/podcasting age was a frequent topic at the con, though most creators seemed to agree the market is not yet ready to switch from the paper periodical format.

Though few new projects were discussed, the creators in attendance (including Geoff Johns, Keith Giffen, Jim Starlin, Tony Daniel, and Adam and Andy Kubert) teased about upcoming event in their various titles. The history of the DC Universe and changes brought to it by Infinite Crisis will be addressed in an upcoming issue of 52. Starlin’s Mystery in Space was discussed, though the writer himself would say only that Captain Comet will have a talking dog (and really, who doesn’t like talking dogs?). Geoff Johns remarked that both Arsenal and John Stewart will have significant roles in his Green Lantern series.

It was also revealed that Marv Wolfman’s run on Nightwing has been extended and Didio promised that the loose ends of the Dick Grayson/Barbara Gordon situation will be addressed in an upcoming story.

Though much information was already known, especially on DC’s side, fan reaction at the Big Two’s panel presentations was enthusiastic and both companies seem in agreement that when their various series remain at the top of their game, everyone—especially the audience—wins.

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