WonderCon 2015: Marvel is mostly mum on Secret Wars

April 05, 2015 | 2:45 p.m.

Editor Wil Moss moderated a motley crew of writers at the “Marvel: Next Big Thing” panel, though, of course, the next big thing was not discussed much and many of the questions about Marvel’s Secret Wars and its Battleword had to be left unanswered.

“We can’t say anything [about ‘Secret Wars’] except that we’re excited,” said panelist Rick Remender, a writer on “Avengers: Rage of Ultron,” “All-New Captain America,” and “Uncanny Avengers.”

“Other than the death of Spider-Man. Whoops,” added Remender.

Maybe if writer Jonathan Hickman, who is guiding the series, had been there, some things may have leaked out, but this group of writers on the panel — which included Remender, Cullen Bunn (writer, “Magneto”), Sam Humphries (writer, “Guardians of the Galaxy” & “X-Men: The Black Vortex,” “The Legendary Star-Lord”), James Robinson (writer, “Fantastic Four,” “Invaders”) and Greg Weisman (writer, “Star Wars: Kanan — The Last Padawan”) — played it close to the vest. After all, no one wants to get fired — though deadlines may not be a problem with this group.

“Oh yeah, and the death of the Fantastic Four,” Remender joked.

So, they were a fun group. Humphries strolled on stage dressed as Prince, later even having the audience put up their hands “to take a selfie with Prince” as he turned around with his sunglasses on.

"Deadpool" #45 cover

“Deadpool” #45 cover

Bunn seemed to be having a lot of fun with Deadpool. After having written “Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe” and “Night of the Living Deadpool,” he returns to the merc with a mouth with “Return of the Living Deadpool,” a four-issue miniseries written by Bunn and illustrated by Nik Virella.  There will still be zombies — but also hordes of Deadpools, as any zombie that eats Deadpool then transforms into another Deadpool.

Mostly, it was about the questions from the audience.

It seems that for some there is confusion between what is going on in the Marvel Cinematic universe and the Marvel Universe. Someone asked if the movies now influence how comics are written. Many said no, and that they have no special insight into what the movie side is doing. Remender, though did say there may have been one exception.

“Writing Tony Stark, I can’t not hear Robert Downey Jr. now. It made him have a new voice, but it’s one that we all hear, and it doesn’t impact the publishing or the story.”

An audience member asked how ideas came to fruition, and how stories were assigned to certain writers. Humphries said that it’s like pitching a movie idea.  He relayed a story about how he pitched the idea for Steve Rogers to ride around with an axe slicing through Devil Dinosaurs trying to get to Bucky. Humphries relayed a response given to him by writer Dan Slott.

“That’s the best idea I’ve ever heard, and it needs to be airbrushed on the side of a van.”

Another question that provoked a group response: What inspires you, or what do you read to inspire you?

Robinson said that he reads only Rick Remender comics, then Bunn said he reads “everything but” Rick Remender comics. For Weisman’s inspiration in writing “Star Wars,” he just tries to “get the voice from the movies right.” Remender said it depends on what he’s writing, but “Frank Miller’s ‘Give Me Liberty’ is the thing I steal from the most.”

"Siege" #1 cover

“Siege” #1 cover

Other questions included:

– What are you most excited for after Secret Wars? Remender said killing all the characters and rebooting the Marvel Universe with characters you’ve never heard of, “like Skippy Chimichanga and Roberto Breakdancer.”

– Will Marvel and DC crossover? The answer was basically no, but Humphries said, “I keeping pitching Star-Lord vs. Batman, but DC keeps shutting it down. They know Star-Lord would kick Batman’s ass!”

– Will there  be a Doctor Strange comic. Moss said there are plans.

– How much is Lucasfilm involved in “Star Wars: Kanan?” Weisman said the Lucasfilm “is very secretive.” Weisman worked on “Star Wars: Rebels” and wrote a lot of Kanan’s back story, but in the comic, he may sometimes get a note saying that “things he thought he could do, he can no longer do.” And there might not be a reason given as to why.

– A female fan, really into Tony Stark, could not decide if she liked him or not or whether he’s a “hero or a villain or whatnot?” Remender said that Stark is always struggling with who he is. The fan spoke passionately about her indecision, and Humphries went with her language saying “He’s sick except when he’s being a rando.”

– Favorite Marvel story or event? Remender said, “The original Secret Wars is what got me into comics. Seeing the Hulk hold up a mountain.” For Weisman, it was “The Defenders: The Six-Fingered Hand.” Robinson chose when The Avengers and The Defenders first crossed over. Bunn cited a more recent story line called Siege, in which a certain character is split in half by another. He also mentioned pitching a comic book featuring Deadpool and the left half of that character. Robinson said the death of this god was a “shocking moment.” For Humphries, it was Civil War.

– And the last few questions were more cinematic mix-ups. Which Spider-Man origin is correct? Remender said Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s, although the origin is often updated for a new crowd since the ’60s origin would seem dated. And he liked Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movie best. The other MCU question was “If the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a part of the Marvel multiverse, then why isn’t it a part of Secret Wars?” Though the silence was a bit telling, the quick answer was, “How do you know it’s not?”

— Jevon Phillips | @storiz@LATHeroComplex

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