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Chichago-Con '03


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Ultimate Fantastic Four


"Ultimate Fantastic Four" will be co-written by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Millar with art by the former "Ultimate X-Men" team of penciller Adam Kubert, inker Danny Miki and colorist Dave Stewart. The series is set to arrive on shelves in December.


Bendis said that the familiar Fantastic Four origin will be modernized for the new title: "The Space Race isn't a part of our lives anymore," he explained, while not giving away what the catalyst for the group's formation would be.


Millar and Bendis will not be alternately writing the title, but combining their skills to utilize Bendis affinity for character with Millar's edgy plots.


Ultimate Carnage, New Mutants and Ultimate Wolverine's...wife?


Bendis announced that he will be co-writing "Ultimate X-Men" with fellow "Daredevil" scribe David Mack for a six-issue arc leading into "Ultimate X-Men" #50, where readers will finally meet Wolverine's mysterious wife. After that anniversary issue, Mack will take the writing reins solo. David Finch will remain on art chores.


Before that, Bendis will write the "New Mutants" arc which will introduce ultimate versions of characters like Angel and Forge. The revelation that Ultimate Dazzler will also be a part of the story drew some groans from the audience.


When asked about plans for "Ultimate Spider-Man," Bendis said that Carnage will be appearing in the title and that "he is someone already in the book."


One panel-goer questioned his decision to use Carnage after previously stating online that he would never use the character. Bendis explained that a recent book by one of the discoverers of DNA on genetic ethics changed his mind.


"He was basically saying all these things not to do," he said. "Carnage was right there on page four." 


Ultimates back on schedule, return of Ultimate Hulk


Millar used the proceedings to reassure those concerned about the progression of his series, "The Ultimates."


"Bryan [Hitch] is drawing like a madman," said the Scottish writer.


Millar also said that after the close of volume one of the series in issue #13, that there will be more experimentation in storytelling and also that when 'volume two' picks up, some time will have passed for the Ultimates, comparing the series to a set of films in which the first volume in the first film and the second volume is the sequel.


Millar whetted appetites for the return of the Ultimate Hulk by saying that his return will be in such bad taste, that Warren Ellis said to him "You can't do that."


With "Ultimates" #13 set to ship in the same month as "Ultimate Fantastic Four," Marvel is unofficially calling December "Ultimate Starts" month, as every Ultimate title will be beginning a new story arc.



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CrossGen goes to war


CrossGen closed out the first day of the WizardWorld convention in Rosemont, IL by announcing a new mini-series for spring of 2004 with major ramifications for the CrossGen Universe.


"The War" is the culmination of all the story lines that have been building through the CrossGen books since the line began, and will feature the invasion by the Negation Universe of both human and Saurian space simultaneously.


"And totally kicking butt," said CrossGen writer Chuck Dixon. "There will be a body count like you've never seen. Whole worlds. Galaxies."


"It's amazing how many things coming together are what we intended in the beginning," said CrossGen head writer Barbara Kesel, "despite all the things that have changed along the way."


Tony Bedard, the writer of "Negation" said that he is glad to finally see what he has set up in his title come to fruition: "I've worked at companies where you can't change the status quo. [CrossGen] is a place where things have real consequences.


Dixon went on to add that, as a big event, "The War" works well as a stand-alone story: "It could easily serve as an introduction to CrossGen for anybody."


Art chores on "The War" will be handled by George Pérez, but CrossGen representative Bill Rosemann declined to name any writers at this time.


When asked how Perez's work on "The War" would affect his regular title "Solus," Kesel said "Leonard Kirk will spell George Pérez for a couple issues."


Jim Lee on Superman, Azarello (100 Bullets) on Lex Luthor mini-series


The starting point for this new phase in Superman's life will be the "Lex Luthor: Man of Steel" mini-series, written by Brian Azzarello and illustrated by Lee Bermejo. DC Editor-in-Chief Dan Didio explained the book as "Brian's twisted take on 'what if Superman was the bad guy?' This is seeing the world through Lex Luthor's eyes and why he is in the right."


DC also took the opportunity to expand on the previously announced creative teams for the ongoing Superman titles. Joining writer Greg Rucka on "Adventures of Superman" will be the current "Inhumans" art team of Matt Clark and Nelson DeCastro. Penciller Ivan Reis and inker Mark Campos will work with Chuck Austen on "Action Comics" and "Superman" will be created by the team of Brian Azzarello and Jim Lee.


As the panel wound down, one attendee asked how the writers intend to make the impervious Superman a more interesting character "since he can't be hurt," Brian Azzarello responded: "We're gonna hurt Superman."




David Mack on Daredevil, return of his title Kabuki


Two of writer/artist David Mack's more memorable creations - former Daredevil love interest Echo and the haunting Kabuki, star of the creator-owned series of the same name - soon will be back on comic-shop racks.


Echo - last seen when the Mack-written "Parts of a Hole" saga concluded in "Daredevil" #15 - returns to Ol' Hornhead's corner of Hell's Kitchen in September's "Daredevil" #51. It's the start of a new six-issue arc that focuses on the young woman known as Maya Lopez, a tale that Mack will write and illustrate.


"It really chronicles her life growing up deaf, how she sees the world and sees her environment," Mack said during an interview at Wizard World Chicago. "And a lot of it deals with her Native American culture and Native American history."


Among the Native American aspects Mack examines are the roles of the storyteller and shaman in that ancient culture. He visited those elements in "Parts of a Hole," particularly in Echo's performance-art piece in issue #10.


"It takes a lot of things we touched on in 'Parts of a Hole' and builds on it," Mack explained.


The new story will examine how Echo - who cannot hear but can mimic any action she sees, including talking - developed that particular talent. Mack also plans to delve a bit more deeply into Echo's traumatic childhood, a period marred by the murder of her father at the hands of the Kingpin.


"It shows that what a person does in his (or her) adult life is often shaped by a traumatic experience in childhood," Mack said.


Mack showed off copies of the painted covers to the new arc at his Wizard World booth. Although all of them were striking, one stood out: an illustration of a certain adamantium-clawed mutant hero. Don't expect Echo to mix it up with the X-Men, the Avengers, Dr. Doom or the rest of the Marvel Universe anytime soon. Mack said any guest characters Echo encounters will be meeting her on her level, not theirs.


As for Mack's long-awaited return to "Kabuki," Image Comics will publish a new book called "Kabuki: The Alchemy" as soon as his run on "Daredevil" concludes, probably in early 2004. The adventure picks up immediately after the end of "Kabuki: Metamorphosis," the nine-issue mini-series that saw Kabuki escape from a government-run institution for former secret agents. Now that she's come to terms with her troubled past and has escaped the Japanese government's clutches, Kabuki plans to start fresh with a new identity, Mack said.

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For Silent Bob....Kevin Smith on all things Kevin Smith


Introduced as a man who takes no responsibility for the movie "Gigli," Kevin Smith took the stage to answer questions at WizardWorld in Rosemont, IL late Saturday afternoon.


With the current critical bashing that "Gigli," starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, is currently receiving, questions were quickly moved toward the subject of Smith's next film release, "Jersey Girl," which features both actors.


Smith disagreed that "Gigli'"s failure would negatively affect his movie: "I think it would hurt us if we came out this weekend, but eight months from now? No."


Smith added that "we begged Revolution [studios] to let us come out first, because we'll totally set up your movie in a good way." The studio declined, but Smith sees a benefit.


"Thanks for being the human shield," he said speaking of public backlash at having Affleck and Lopez's personal relationship "shoved down their throats" in the media. "['Gigli'] totally took the bullets."


Asked his opinion on this summer's crop of comic films, Smith responded, "I was a big fan of 'X-Men 2.' I thought Bryan Singer and the writers did a phenomenal job." He also joked "How come Jean couldn't get the fucking jet started until she was in the pool?" Then there was the realization. She's fucking Phoenix," he repeated.


On "The Hulk" he said, "I was very anxious to see the movie and I was very anxious to get the fuck out." Smith said that he believed the filmmakers took the fun out of the film by trying to make the science too believable.


One attendee asked if he'd yet seen "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen." "I went to see [actor Jason] Mewes in rehab and that was the first fucking thing he asked me. 'Did you see League?'"


He hasn't.


"Fuckin' poser." Smith said, imitating the actor. "You're supposed to be a comic book fan."


Attention was then turned to Smith's comics writing, including some never-materialized projects set in his View Askew Universe.


"Very important life lesson for me," he said. "Don't talk about stuff that strikes your fancy, because every year somebody's asking about it."


Referring to projects like "Loki & Bartleby" and "Mallrats 2," he added: "I never really got around to it. Maybe I will one day, when I'm hard up for cash."


Later in the talk, Smith offered his own opinions on the lateness of comics in general: "I'd never notice if a book is late." Smith advised readers of tardy titles "Read another book, it'll be out sooner or later."


In regards to his own delays in writing comics, Smith remarked that some retailers have said, "Hey, I fucking based my whole third quarter on your fucking book!"


His response is: "I'm always late. Go sell an action figure or something.


"A bird in the hand is not really worth two in the bush when it comes to me," he said of companies soliciting his books before the writing is completed.


On the subject of Smith favorite comics, he claimed "Ultimate Spider-Man" as his current favorite: "It's breezy and fun and really is reinventing the wheel."


He also acclaimed Grant Morrison's "New X-Men," calling it "fucking twisted."


Smith admitted he hasn't read his former book "Green Arrow," joking "I haven't read it since that fat guy jumped off the book."

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Quesada talks about Smith's delays, X-Statix controversy, sales tricks & his job


Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada held court in his now-regular "Cup o' Joe" question and answer sessions Saturday afternoon at WizardWorld Chicago.


First up in the fan-free-for-all was the issue of removing Princess Diana from a previously announced story in "X-Statix."


"We decided to do it because we thought it was an interesting story," Quesada said. The plot led to many discussions around Marvel. "We discussed it amongst ourselves and decided 'let's not do it.' It's a good story, but let's change the characters name ... and leave Princess Di out of it." There was no mention of any pressure within or outside the company to make the change.


When asked about the upcoming relaunch title "Deadpool/Cable" and the previous relaunches of each character's title as "Agent X" and "Soldier X," respectively, Quesada answered bluntly "We did it to spike sales."


Quesada added that "the essence of publishing is attrition," and explained that occasionally something must be done to regain declining numbers.


One attendee asked about how he manages lateness from creators, and Quesada used to opportunity to address the Kevin Smith issue, as Smith is notably late on both the "Spider-Man/Black Cat "mini series and "Daredevil: The Target."


"Nothing works with Kevin," he said. "He is a product of all the work he has to do in Hollywood.


"Kevin opened the door to a lot of other creators," he continued in reference to Smith's first work on "Daredevil" #1. "Kevin signified something very, very important to comics. As much as you may be angry with him for what he hasn't finished, be thankful about what he started," Quesada said, referring to the chain of events that started with Smith's "Daredevil" and lead to Quesada's role as Editor-in-Chief and his ability to acquire writers like J. Michael Straczynski.


Quesada was later asked about rumors that Marvel leaked bogus creative teams prior to DC's Superman announcements including Marvel creators among those mentioned.


"Why would I create rumors about my talent going to another company? It would be like me starting a rumor about my wife cheating with another man." Quesada said, calling the rumors illogical and flatly denying them.


Asked about his absence from the hands-on creative side of comics, Quesada said, "I love being editor-in-chief, except for the fact that I cannot draw. It kills me."


"It was zen-like, it was an out-of-body experience," Quesada said regarding a recent six-page story he drew for "Wizard Zero." "I'll keep doing a cover here and there, because you have to keep the hand moving or you lose it."


About his future at Marvel, following the recent announcement that he has re-upped for three more years, Quesada noted "This job has ended badly for everyone that's had it, except for Stan Lee. He got the chance to say 'See ya, cowboys!' and ride off into the sunset. I hope I have the wherewithal to know when to call it a day."


Finally, wrapping up the last few days & brining us current, info on Micheal Turner & Aspen, Chuck Austen's Uncanny X-Men, Avengers, and other lesser news.

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Marvel Encyclopedia Vol 4: Spider-Man


Marvel Comics' 90 pound weakling turned 800 pound gorilla is getting the encyclopedia treatment in 2004, the company announced Sunday at WizardWorld Chicago.


"'Marvel Encyclopedia Vol. 4: Spider-Man' is everything you ever wanted to know about the world-famous web-slinger," writer Jeff Youngquist told CBR News on Thursday, "His friends, his family and his foes ... and then some.


"The Spider-Man Encyclopedia is a 240-page oversized hardcover, the same format as Marvel Encyclopedia Vol. 1 and Marvel Encyclopedia Vol. 2: X-Men. Jonathan Couper-Smartt, editor of SpiderFan.Org, was the main writer/researcher for the bios section, which comprises a good 200 pages of the book. Kit Kiefer, who wrote Marvel Encyclopedia Vol. 3: Hulk, contributed chapters on Spider-Man comics, movies, TV shows and collectibles.


.... Spider-Man's bio, for instance, runs 10 pages.


"The Spider-Man Encyclopedia will appeal to all audiences, I hope. Kit's chapters provide and excellent introduction to the character, and the bios section supplies the details."


So, what characters can Spider-fans look forward to being covered this time around?


"All of them. This is the book the fans have been dying for.


"Any character worth including that didn't receive an entry in the main body is listed in the Appendix. I really think you'd be hard-pressed to find a character that has appeared in a Spider-Man comic book over the last 40 years who isn't at least mentioned in this book.


"We've really been sweating the details on this one, making changes and additions right up to the last minute to ensure that everything comes out right. I hope people are pleased with the results."


(article was interestin, they even addressed why vol 3 - The Hulk was weak.


Punisher gets relaunch - Ennis on Marvel MAX!


Quesada also announced that the current "Punisher" series will be coming to a close and relaunching, with new numbering, as a MAX title.


"We discussed this for the last six months," he said. "[Garth] feels that he needs to shift the tone of the book and he needs the leeway that MAX affords him."


Next year is really the 'Year of the Punisher,' he continued, referring also to the release of the film starring Thomas Jane.


Captain America, Iron Man, Thor


Editor Tom Brevoort was on hand to talk about the stabilization of the "Captain America," "Iron Man," and "Thor" creative teams.


John Jackson Miller will become the new writer of "Iron Man" with issue #73 and will be joined by artist Jorge Lucas.


"Jorge is drawing in a very high-tech style," Miller said. "If you like Tom Clancy kind of stuff, this is going to be up your alley."


Writer Dan Jurgens will remain on the "Thor" series along with new regular artist Scot Eaton.


"Captain America" gets a new creative team in the form of "Truth" writer Bob Morales and current "X-Men" artist Chris Bachalo. Marvel representative Michael Doran promised further announcements on this title in the near future.


Marvel hardcovers, including Marvels


Doran also talked about some upcoming reprint books, announcing that the next "Masterworks" book would be volume six in the Amazing Spider-Man series, collecting issues #51-61 and annual #4. A new Essential Spider-Man volume is coming as is the first volume of Essential Punisher.


Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross' "Marvels" will be collected in a new hardcover that will feature "pretty much very extra that exists," Doran said. This will serve as companion to the previously announced sequel, "Eye of the Camera."


The future of Alan Moore's Top Ten Comics after his departure, and vol. 3 of The League of Extraordinary Gentelmen!


Asked about the future of Alan Moore's ABC line at Wildstorm, Dunbier said: "We're actually planning on doing some 'Top Ten' and 'Tom Strong' after Alan finishes and that's with Alan's blessing. He likes to be kept in the loop on who we're talking to, but he's all for it."


Dunbier also added that there will be a third volume in the "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" series, though it probably won't debut for a couple of years.

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