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By Ernie Estrella

LONG BEACH, CALIF. -- The Mondo Marvel panel at the Long Beach Comic Con quickly turned into a Jeph Loeb question-and-answer, with Loeb and his editor Mark Paniccia as the panelists.

Following are highlights:

* To get the white elephant out of the room, Loeb addressed the Disney purchase of Marvel and how that will affect Marvel Comics. Stressing that it was his own opinion and he was not representing Marvel, Loeb joked, "We get mouse ears for Christmas." He continued, "I think it's going to be great, if you think about it. From what I understand, it won't affect publishing at all. Look at Pixar. You don't want to mess with success, but Disney is the best licensing company in the world. What I think it will mean to you (comic readers) is that those brands will be in a lot more places. The ability to use the strength of that company, it can only mean good things."

Loeb then addressed the possibility of the edge being taken out of Marvel Comics as a result of the deal. "There isn't anything that's indicative of the edge being lost in the movies or the comics. People have to remember that Lost is produced by Disney. They bought the (Marvel) library so they can exploit it, not to soften it."

* In December, the Hulk one-shot special that will set up the chain of events for next year's big event is the Fall of the Hulks Alpha, written by Jeff Parker and art is by Paul Pelletier. Hulk: Winter Guard is a 56 page one-shot that is a new story (along with a Peter David and Dale Keown story from Incredible Hulk #393) about the Russian elite strike force of Red Guardian, Crimson Dynamo, Ursa Major and Darkstar.

* Whilce Portacio will pencil and ink Hulk #18, which will be a prologue to Fall of the Hulks Gamma one-shot with John Romita Jr., which will set up the events for World War Hulks.

* Loeb dodged questions all panel regarding the identity of Red Hulk. "I can't tell you that without telling the end of World War Hulks," Loeb said. "It certainly caught us by surprise that he took off and became as popular as he is."

Hulk #25 will reveal all that has been building up since the new volume started. "All of the storylines were placed there on purpose. I know it's frustrating to people in wanting to know who Red Hulk is," he said.

* Loeb made mention of his daughter, Audrey Loeb often in regards to her monthly "Blue Hulk" strip in Hulk. She is writing a Blue Hulk and the Pet Avengers story.

* Captain America: White is the next in Loeb's "color" collaborations with artist Tim Sale. They will wait until all six issues are done before the first issue is solicited. "It takes a long time for him to do it. I know this sounds a long time from now, but it will be out before the movie," Loeb said.

As far as future Marvel: Color projects, "Tim and I plan to do a fifth story. Once Cap is done, we're talking about something else. Current continuity is not Tim's friend. He tends to work best within the pages of the stories you already know. It's not what's happening now. He tends to live in the comics he grew up with."

* Realm of Kings is the next big storyline to feature Marvel's cosmic heroes, and Paniccia said that "Readers will get to see characters they thought they'd never see again."

Prompting Loeb to say, "ROM?"


Loeb tried again, "Micronauts?

"No comment."

Loeb would continue to bring up ROM again and again as a running joke through the entire panel.

* As the panel began to shift towards Marvels Ultimate line, Loeb described the state of the mutant in the universe. "It's a very difficult time for mutants. They have to turn over themselves to the government. That's where Storm and Colossus are right now," he said. "If you are found by a federal officer or someone from S.H.I.E.L.D. they can shoot you on site. It's very much like what it was like to be a Jew in Germany in the 1940's."

Loeb and Frank Cho are working on the New Ultimates, which will work in relationship to Mark Millar's Ultimate Comics Avengers similarly to how the Avengers titles work in the Marvel Universe. Loeb said the biggest difference is the books is that Millar's work is "naturally darker."

* Loeb shared that every time he talks to Ed McGuinness, Man-Thing comes up. "Ed will look at corners that you and I would go into," Loeb said. "For example, he'll find a way for the Silver Surfer to deal with the Man-Thing."

* Joe Quesada and Warren Ellis have been talking about the next step for the Nextwave imprint but it largely depends on Ellis' schedule.

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