C2E2 2020: Marvel’s Next Big Thing

by Noah Sharma

After a huge X-Men panel the day prior and their Empyre panel ending just minutes before, Marvel still had some big things left over for its core experience of C2E2. Last year this panel was the reveal of HoX/PoX and, while there was nothing quite so massive this time, Marvel put its biggest and most exciting projects on display. Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski took up the moderator’s booth to introduce Skottie Young (Strange Academy, many covers), Tom Breevort (executive editor), Al Ewing (Immortal Hulk, Guardians of the Galaxy, Empyre), Nick Spencer (Amazing Spider-Man), and Donny Cates (Thor, Venom).
Immortal Hulk #33 will be the 750th issue according to legacy numbering and there’ll be an extra sized, forty-page issue to celebrate. Ewing confirmed that thirty of those pages are from series regular Joe Bennett, with the other ten coming from Nick Pitarra, leading me to wonder if Pitarra will fill in some pages or if we’ll see a ten-page backup story. Fans have also been asking Ewing for more of the series early focus on body horror, “Body horror is back. It’s back in a big way. […] I firmly believe that this issue is going to be the one where we succeed in our goal of making a reader vomit!”
Then, issue #34 will bring back the Leader and explore his relationship to the Green Door. Ewing called issue #36 heartbreaking to write and probably to read. He says that it’s horrible, even for him. “People have been asking me about The Thing in the Tube. […] Well I’m not gonna say it better than Alex Ross; The Thing in the Tube gets out of the tube in issue #37”.

Immortal Hulk #37 cover by Alex Ross

Jeff Lemire and Mike Del Mundo are also working on a quarterly book called Immortal Hulk: The Threshing Place. This story will look at the history of the Immortal Hulk at some point in the past. Even Ewing has been kept largely in the dark but the pedigree of that creative team has him convinced.
Cates had warm words for Ewing’s imagination. Can we just turn Al pitches into something…like a movie?,” he asked, leading Cebulski to reply, “we turned it into a comic book, dude — it’s right there!”
Cates obviously carried that ethos into his own projects. Thor is now king of Asgard and he’s discovering that kings don’t have the luxury of friends, especially when Galactus falls onto your kingdom.
Cates spoke about finding a black hole in the lore of Marvel. We all know that Galactus is the last survivor of the last universe, what we have never known is what killed that universe. Now that entity is back and Thor has been made Herald of Galactus to ensure that the World Eater is strong enough–that is, has consumed enough planets–to save us all. Fans have always wondered if the arrogant Prince Thor of the past would be tempered by a crown, but it seems it only enhances the scale of his grand mistakes.
“This is going to be your bible for Thor,” said Cates of the first arc. The threads established here will continue for years and you will not see what’s coming. To look into the Black Winter is to see the end of your story and Cates promised that Thor, and the audience, will see the God of Thunder’s ultimate end. But a first arc is only a first arc. The second arc, “Hammerfall”, will begin in issue #7. “It’s a horror piece,” said Cates.
Thor #7 cover by Olivier Coipel

Cates promised a return to a small city in Oklahoma and all that that entails as well as an understanding of what he means when he says that Hugin and Munin are not ravens. Plus something is broken with fate and Mjolnir is getting heavier by the second.
Tom Brevoort promised that Ta-Nahasi CoatesBlack Panther is building to issue #25, which will be the final issue of the run.
Black Panther #25 cover by Daniel Acuña

Mutants have been studied and dissected (unfortunately literally at times), but magic is the unknown. Strange Academy will live up to its name, telling a story about a bunch of outsiders who will discover their place in the world in the mighty Marvel method. Young and Humberto Ramos are excited to introduce a whole slew of new characters. The cast will include desperate humans, fairies from Otherworld, Frost Giants, and Doyle Dormammu! Young is thrilled to play in the realms of the other writers at Marvel and honor their work.
In the next few issues of Amazing Spider-Man, fans will be learning more about why the Kingpin is after Boomerang. But even that will pale in comparison to what begins in Amazing Spider-Man #44 when Spidey and Kindred finally meet face to face. Kindred has been a mystery hanging over the book for a long time, but Spencer promises that this title bout is coming in the summer. Cates is furious that even he doesn’t know Kindred’s identity, but Spencer warned that it’s not who Kindred is, but what Kindred wants that will truly change Peter Parker’s life forever.
Spider-Man will be forced to make impossible choices when he faces off with the Sin-Eater in “Sins Rising”, an arc beginning in ASM #45 with art by Mark Bagley. It’s all leading to Amazing #850 and the end of that arc will be a “break glass in case of emergency moment for Spidey”.
Listening to Cates talk about “Venom Island” can be a little like playing with black metal magnetic fridge poetry but his enthusiasm is absolutely infectious, a word that seems particularly apropos.

Virus is a brand new character who appears on the cover of Venom #26. Virus is after Eddie’s heart and that’s Dylan. Meanwhile the Maker has realized that symbiotes can be used to travel through dimensions. The Maker’s ultimate plan –very intentional word choice–will begin in Venom #26, the first issue of “Venom Beyond”. Virus will debut in Free Comic Book Day 2020: Amazing Spider-Man and Venom #1.
Meanwhile on the other end of the universe, there are two teams of Guardians of the Galaxy. After a crushing encounter with the Olympians, the team we’ve been following will take a moment to lick their wounds. Chief among them in this regard is Nova. The human rocket has become a bit of a human wreck and we’ll see if Richard Rider can get it together in GotG #6.
But before all that, GotG #3 will introduce us to the “West Coast Guardians”. This team seems bound to run into a wild gaggle of strange faces that the other Guardians might not terribly care for, including Blackjack O’Hare, Rocket’s identity stealing, mercenary rival; Moondragon, the original 616 model; Castor Gnawbarque, “a kind of billionaire beaver CEO from a beaver planet who Rocket has done terrible things to in the past; and a muscular humanoid known only as the Prince of Power, a title that’s sure to ruffle Hercules. We also caught a glimpse of a structure that looked very much like the helmet of Galactus. Ewing assured us that this was not really Galactus’ head, but rather a facsimile that he described as “what would capitalism do to Galactus?”
At this point Nightwing and Winter Soldier writer Kyle Higgins joined the panel to reveal his newest Marvel project: Ultraman!
Promotional art for Ultraman by Ed McGuinness and Matthew Wilson

Teaming with Tsuburaya Productions, Marvel is bringing the original tokusatsu hero to America in a way not seen in decades, if ever. Higgins learned a huge amount about tokusatsu and its storytelling conventions while he was working on Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers at BOOM! Studios and he’s overjoyed to bring that to bear on this new series. He also met Mat Groom during that time, who will be co-writing the book with him. The art comes from Francesco Manna (Captain Marvel) and Brevoort will edit the title.
“It’s everything you love about superheroes, with fantastic alegories and giant monsters fighting hundred-foot tall ultras.” Higgins called it the best of kaiju and classic marvel storytelling.
The origin of the character will be retold and reframed by the first arc, “The Rise of Ultraman.” Brevoort felt that it would be appealing to new readers and longtime fans and will meld genuine Tsuburaya with Marvel’s unique sensibility.

Character designs for Marvel’s Ultraman by Francesco Manna

Asked about Sam Alexander, Brevoort revealed that he has a Nova pilot that he’s just waiting on the creators’ availability to bring to life.
Asked if we would see any characters other than Thor forced to make similar compromises to deal with the coming of the Black Winter, Cates was clear that we would and said that we’ll know why he was laughing in a few months.

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