Jeph Loeb, the head of Marvel's television division, came to C2E2 in Chicago today with plenty of news about Marvel's current and upcoming animation projects. The hour-long panel included information on Marvel's motion comics division Marvel Knights, Marvel Anime, the upcoming Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon, and more.
Loeb also showed a brand-new episode of The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes and gave C2E2 attendees the chance to watch a full episode of the Wolverine Anime that airs on G4 this summer (and has been playing in Japan since January).
Read on for a wrap-up all the Marvel animation information, as well as a mini-review of the Earth's Mightiest Heroes episode. (SPOILER ALERT: It was awesome.)
Last year, Marvel put together an all-star creative team to develop an animated series based on Ultimate Spider-Man, the first and most popular series in Marvel's "Ultimate" universe. Just some of the names involved in the series include Paul Dini (Batman: The Animated Series), Duncan Rouleau, Joe Casey, Joe Kelly and Steven T. Seagle (the team behind Ben 10).
During the panel, Loeb presented a preview of Ultimate Spider-Man and talked a bit about the series. Loeb told us that, not only is Paul Dini producing the show, but he also wrote the pilot episode. Furthermore, Brian Michael Bendis, who created Ultimate Spider-Man, also wrote two episodes of the show. Both announcements were met with enthusiastic praise from the fans in attendance.
As for the actual footage, Loeb was only able to show us an animation test. The short preview depicted Spidey doing his usual web-slinging thing, taking out a bad guy while also receiving orders from SHIELD head Nick Fury. All the while, the voice of J. Jonah Jameson is booming in the background, shouting about Spider-Man being a "menace." And wouldn't you know, the voice of J. Jonah was none other than J.K. Simmons. (Maybe that will take some of the sting out of Simmons not appearing in The Amazing Spider-Man.)
There wasn't a ton to see, but the kid-friendly Ultimate Spider-Man show is definitely something we'll be keeping on our radar. Ultimate Spider-Man comes to Disney XD in 2012.
The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes
The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes aired its first season on Disney XD last year. The action-packed series, geared toward the pre-teen demographic, is modeled in part around the upcoming Avengers movie and all of its lead-in films (an ingenious way for Marvel to capitalize on the success of its movies).
After talking a bit about how Marvel runs its writers' rooms, Loeb showed off a full episode of Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Loeb said that the episode we were seeing might be the opener for Season 2, but he wasn't sure. Keep on reading for my mini-review.
The episode starts off with The Avengers facing off against the Serpent Society. Hank Pym (Ant Man/Giant Man) tries to intercede in the fight, but it quickly becomes clear that neither the bad guys or good guys are willing to stand down. Pym's pacifist ways are put to the test in the first of several awesome fight scenes. A couple of moments elicited serious "oohs" and "aahs" from the fans.
Later, back at Avengers HQ, Pym continues work on his robot Ultron, which he hopes will bring peace to the world. Of course, fans of Marvel Comics know that Ultron is anything but peaceful. Once Ultron's dark side is revealed, the rest of the episode revolves around Captain America, Black Panther, Hawkeye and the rest of the Avengers fighting the evil robot. During the battle, something major happens to Thor, but I won't spoil it here.
The final fight with Ultron, which features an awesome appearance by The Hulk, is full of great action. It's not overly violent, but it's terrifically animated and very entertaining. Let me put it this way: If I was 11, this would definitely be my favorite show. According to Loeb, Earth's Mightiest Heroes will return to Disney XD in May, after the release of Thor.
Marvel has been in collaboration with legendary Japanese animation studio Madhouse for years on the development of four unique Marvel Anime series (Iron Man, X-Men, Wolverine and Blade). Last week, we shared the first trailer from Marvel's new X-Men Anime series. Today at C2E2, Jeph Loeb shared a sneak peek at the Iron Man Anime and talked a bit more about the series.
The first season of the Iron Man anime has already aired in Japan, but it won't air on G4 until later this year. The Iron Man anime footage we saw was about two-minutes long and mostly consisted of Tony Stark fighting a pilot in an Iron Man Dio suit. At the end of the scene, Iron Man is attacked by Scorpio.
Loeb revealed that Scorpio, who has a long history in the comics, ties into the criminal organization Zodiac, which will play a significant role in the first season of the series. Loeb then showed off a full episode of the Wolverine anime. Because it was a full episode and an upcoming American premiere (the series has already begun in Japan), we're writing up a separate review. Check back to Screen Rant for our review soon.
Thor and Loki: Blood Brothers
During the animation panel, Jeph Loeb also played two trailers for Thor and Loki: Blood Brothers, the next release from Marvel Knights (Marvel's motion comics division). Later, during the Cup of Joe panel, with Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada, Marvel also brought the audience the full first installment of the motion comic.
Last year at C2E2, I reviewed the Iron Man: Extremis motion comic. While I thought the animation was interesting, I felt it lacked a certain fluidity. It's amazing to see how much Marvel has improved in just a year. Thor and Loki: Blood Brothers, based on a 2004 miniseries by Robert Rodi and Esad Ribic, is beautiful to behold.
I'm still not sure that motion comics are the next wave of comic book story-telling, but Blood Brothers was a very impressive example of how much better the style has gotten. To me, it looked like each character was much less stiff than in previous motion comics I've seen. In battle, Thor and Loki actually moved like they were in an animated show, rather than a couple of cardboard cut-outs.
Ruwan Jayatilleke, who produces the Marvel Knights releases, should be extremely proud of his work. If Marvel keeps producing high-quality motion comics like this, the company will undoubtedly gain an impressive new revenue stream, particularly on digital devices such as the iPhone or iPad.
Check out Screen Rant's homepage for more coverage from C2E2.