Recently, someone has been posting on comic book message boards, under the name The Whisperer as a Marvel Comics intern spilling the beans on the internal politics in the company and the future status of many comic books published this year and next. The Whisperer was also the name Marvel Comics character and Secret Empire redshirt Rick Jones used as a Wikileaks/Chelsea Manning/Edward Snowden analogue.
The posts lay bare serious problems within the publisher and the state up upcoming titles, detailed with specific numbers and creators and dates. It is one of the biggest, most serious leaks Marvel has suffered since Sony Wikileaks.
Or it would be if they were true.
What appears to have happened is that the individual in question has taken some stories that have run on Bleeding Cool, Ta-Nehisi Coates writing Captain America, Nick Spencer writing Spider-Man comics and more – and then added a bunch of bollocks to it. Some of it was what fans believe but has not been confirmed. Some of it is what they want to believe.
But I have contacted a number of people mentioned who have confidentially told me that the bit that mentions them is not true. One creator categorically denied one creative attachment saying Marvel hasn't even contacted them – but that they have heard the rumour from a number of people. The spread of this collection of rumours from one message board to another may be why the rumours persist. Maybe we'll be able to scotch them?
Here are the rumours as originally reported on 4chan, and then again on Neogaf and CBR boards, in case you come across them elsewhere and can tell people what's going on. Aside from the bits that originally ran on Bleeding Cool of course, or that come true by coincidence. No that is not the same thing, shut up.
From The Whisperer.
>Editorial is miserable. Understaffed, under experienced and overworked. The direction at the top corporate level is a mess of politics and in-fighting. They all look the fool to Disney because of Feige's split and the bad PR & constant gaming of their declining sales is wearing on them. Top brass want to make a hard left back to what worked with Steve, Thor, Tony, Banner and other recognizable faces. Editorial knows how bad it's going to look to push all their diversity celebrations to the side. Reality is those books didn't sell. A lot of it had to do with Marvel's chincy practices finally reaching a breaking point with fans but the internal editorial spin is that comic shop fans aren't ready to embrace change.
>The terrible reaction to Hydra Cap/Secret Empire forced a change in plans. Originally it was going to end with a quasi-Dark Reign scenario where Hydra is vanquished thanks to Kubik shenanigans and the World Security Council from the movies steps in to assume power over super heroes and everything has Civil War-era overtones with registrations, boot camps, the idea of an Inhuman ban. The Vanishing Point would be a way to bring back Steve, Tony, Thor, Banner; sort of like Hickman's "Time Runs Out" jump-skip but in reverse, it would rewind the characters to before the Hydra subversion stars. The classic heroes realize that they have lost touch with the people and need to learn how to fight for them again. In the meantime, the new generation of Miles, Kamala, Riri and other Champions would form "the resistance" against the WSC state. ("Generation" was also planned to be the transition from the classic guys taking a step back and letting the new generation lead the charge).
>Legacy is a rush-job. They can't afford to take the classic characters off the table like that for so long but they also don't want to piss off the new diverse audience they've been trying to court. They're trying to have their cake and eat it too, and please all masters. It's a scattershot way to buy time while they right the course on several books. It's not going to be about "new number 1s" but milestone 500, 600, 800 issues. A lot of these big volume numbers are really stretching the definition but the constant relaunches have started to seriously damage the trade department's ability to plan out long-term marketing.
>They're bringing back the Ultimate line for the teen heroes. Miles will become Ultimate Spider-Man again. Siri becomes Ultimate Iron Man. X-Men Blue becomes Ultimate X-Men. Champions becomes the Ultimates. The only "adult" character that will be a regular presence is Captain Marvel because they want her to be seen a prominent character to the overarching power structure of the WSC/SHIELD and other elements that will factor into her movie heavily. They'll still make guest appearances in the "main" books but don't expect them to anchor anymore franchises. Bendis staying on Miles and Riri. Hopeless is still on Ult X. New Ultimates writer is Amy Reeder
>Waid is a stop-gap on Cap to bridge the Legacy launch, then takes over Iron Man with 600 (Doom will be the main villain). Coates is taking over Cap with 700. They want him on the book to endorse the image rehabilitation. There's a lot of face-palming internally about the "cap is a nazi" talk. He's on both that and Black Panther as long as his schedule allows.
>They got lucky with Greg Pak and Hulk. It leads into a Planet Hulk revival pretty seamlessly.
>Jane Foster dying was always the end-game with the storyline, but the positive response with female fans means they're trying to find a way to make her stick around. Tentatively planning to make her the new Valkyrie as the movie version is a blank slate and no one cares about the 70s Defenders character.
>Classic Thor will be space-bound for awhile. Definitely through "Ragnarok."
>Slott is off Amazing Spider-Man. They're going to move him over to Friendly Neighborhood; the fear is he would sign exclusive with DC if they took it away from him completely. Plus he struggles with deadlines and there's less risk with him off to the side. They can't ignore declining sales anymore and it's time for a refresh.
>Spencer was earmarked for 'Amazing Spider-Man" for awhile but he's "earned it" after taking the heat for Secret Empire. Plus there are fans of his "Superior Foes" book in editorial and the plan is to emphasize tech-based criminals, go smaller scale, focus on NYC. Yes, like the movie. No, they're not going to de-age him to a teenager. (Although it is a corporate synergy idea that has been floated; editorial has been able to argue that there's no great way to do it … yet. They're hoping Tom Holland ages up and they give up on that idea. The time-displaced X-Men are an albatross brought on by First Class synergy).
>No major plans for MJ beyond guest spots here and there. The marriage isn't coming back ever. Renew Your Vows will stick around until its a money-loss. It's just a spin-off that had some legs, like Spider-Gwen. Silver Sable/Black Cat plans are being developed. Big plans for the Venom series to have a central role in Marvel events.
>The X-Men are still in a tight spot. ResurrXion was itself a rush job after the Inhumans movie push was officially kaput and there was no future for family of books. Because of the Fox issue, they still can't create new ideas that could go toward the movies so its literally just nostalgia retreads. Uncanny will be back next year with Xavier. Old Man Logan is sticking around for the foreseeable future with X-23 becoming his sidekick, the book will be called "Wolverine." They burned out Deadpool fans with the price gouging, so no plans for spin-off series, but there will always be mini-series on the side to line out trades.
>Seriously, don't expect the classic Fantastic Four anytime soon. Ike has seemingly dug his heels in; even though Fox will probably never figure out what to do with them, he's spiting the brand because of how bad the negotiations went. Sue & Reed and the kids are seen as "boring" enough to sacrifice. Two-In-One is basically a containment book for people to get their F4 fix. It's an inventory book, no set writer, it's like "Avenging Spider-Man" or "A+X." Different writers will get to use different pet characters.
>Ms. Marvel is in a funky spot because most at Marvel are aware that something organically special happened with her book. She's basically the new "Runaways," a special project with a special writer's connection. It will last as long as Wilson wants to writer her, with a focus on the bookstore market while she pops in and out of other books when relevant. They want the audience to have enough familiarity with her because it's inevitable she'll be adapted sooner than later; it's way too soon for her to be introduced into any Carol Danvers sequels so the TV division might snag her for their Hulu/Freeform teen show pitches. (Moon Girl is saved by her trade sales but the threshold is much lower for if sales drop any lower.)
>Wilson is also taking over Captain Marvel. They need to make it work and she'll do the best job tying the legacy together. Kamala, Monica Rambeau, SWORD — its all part of it.
>Runaways is just a mini-series. They just want the trade out in time for the Hulu show. They can't seem to get readers to care if it's not BKV but they know people still love the franchise.
>Cloak & Dagger and New Warriors series are coming. Squirrel Girl is wrapping up and North is moving her storylines over to NW where she'll be the main character.
>Elektra, Bullseye, Kingpin tanking so hard shook them. They need the "Marvel Knights Netflix" corner to be sustainable, so they're relying on Bendis on Defenders & Jessica Jones for awhile. Say what you want about his other stuff, everyone here thinks its still his sweet spot.
>Brian Buccellato is on Daredevil with issue 600.
>Justin Jordan is on Moon Knight; big hope that he can give Marvel their "mature" critically acclaimed book that juices up that corner of Marvel.
>Secret Warriors and Royals are already wrapping up. Rosenberg is moving over to one main Inhumans book. Quake/SHIELD will be background characters until "Agents" wraps up (everyone knows this is the last season).
>They're going to give Ahmed a shot with Black Bolt until sales drop.
>No plans to take Duggan off Guardians. Gunn is moving full steam ahead with Adam Warlock weirdness and they want to make sure those characters/ideas are "accessible" but still fun.
>Punisher War Machine is just one storyline involving Stark tech. They want to pull the character back from some of the real-life darkness and imagery; Nate Edmondson's rep + Secret Empire has made him "ugly" (plus no one cares about Cloonan's run). They want to scale him back to the Spider-Man/Defenders side of street-level, with less focus on real guns and more emphasis on comic book-y tech.
>Al Ewing is on Spirits of Vengeance. Editorial likes him, but he can't sell a book to save his life. They just want someone with a love of Marvel lore to write the magic/horror characters to have them prepped for future Movie Phase exploration with a Blade reboot. They know that corner of Marvel horror needs its own "Annihilation."
Replying to whether Marvel will have a black Mary Jane or what Vanishing Point was.
>It's just like … a Spencer plot device. It could have been WeirdWorld (oh boy that was a failed plan). It's just Spencer's take on a "place out of time" a la Morrison.
>There are no plans for a Spidey reboot like that. They can't get readers to pick up a teen Peter Parker since Bendis killed off Ultimate.
They wrote themselves into a corner because no one cares about kids books like Marvel Adventures or that "Spidey" book from last year.
There has been some discussion about an "Untold Tales of Spider-Man" relaunch with teen Peter and the high school cast but they don't want Busiek and there's no market for "prequel" books.
There's a thought (and I agree) that once the animated Miles movie comes out, they'll have their "Spider-Man for kids" so we want to keep him strong in the comics and cartoon merch. The Sony deal is kind of closed off but in terms of brand direction, we're all about synergy. The Gwen revival talk is dead now that the Emma Stone movies are done.
We're just kind of waiting to see Sony's next steps but there's kind of like a prep for nostalgia for the Raimi trajection in terms of MJ & college.
We're in the dark about a lot of the post Infinity War plans now but the overarching brand direction we were looking at was scaling it to revolve around Spider-Man even though Marvel can't make a solo Spidey film.
I think Tom Holland is going to be the new lynchpin for the MCU. They're not going to have a new "Iron Man" franchise but they've got Holland locked into a deal where he'll teaming up with characters in their own stuff.
The original plan was to mirror the Civil War to Secret Invasion to Dark Reign arc.
There's a reason this is called Secret Empire. The next step was "Nomad"'ing the entire Marvel line-up. There was a lot of editorial excitement about saying something about Trump's win and the baby boomer backlash.
No one was expecting the backlash to cap hydra and they probably could have kept the original plans intact but I think it was the sales/marketing push that buried it.
Not everyone is an idiot here; we are aware of how we price gouge comic shops. I think that was more the issue and once all the online fan political arguing started happening around the book, retailers just finally threw their hands cause it wasn't worth the outrage.
On what Ultimate comics are
>just an imprint line. not a separate universe.
Jason Aaron is off doing his own thing. His Avengers BC thing is just a Morrison mini series idea he has.
Spencer "made his statement" now that Captain Sam won't be the status quo (that was the original plan while Steve goes back to the maskless "Super Soldier" identity).
I think everyone agrees it's time to take teens away from Waid.
But the senior editors had big plans for that push and now there's nowhere else to put it. But we can't just get rid of it forever.
There was no plan to replace all the "white men" its just how the pieces fell into the place. Honestly, the Riri thing was the tipping point. It was Bendis' idea, no one in editorial had a big plan for it and it hurt the big post-Secret Wars push to make Tony Stark the franchise of the MU.
Since it's basically a book for his daughter, we're kind of stuck keeping her in print.
Edit wants to have a fresh voice on a Miles book in time for the Sony cartoon. David Walker apparently had a pitch that got people excited.
But there's just no way to take Miles AND Riri away from Bendis without burning a bridge with him forever.
I'm not kidding: the Slott FNSM run is going to marketed like Joss Whedon on Astonishing. It's its "own thing" "unrestricted by the monthly continuity but still taking place in the MU" which is code for "if its late, its late."
It's going to be sold as "separate but equal" to Amazing. I have no idea how long it will last, but it's to assuage his ego apparently as he was not interested in other books.
I don't think anybody wants anyone else to jump to DC. The real fear is Disney seeing that Warner had success moving the comics office to Burbank and lining everything up under one roof.
Moving Marvel Comics out of NYC and onto the Disney lots is a real possibility. A lot of us will get downsized or just not relocate if that happens.
On what it was like when the Legacy variant covers were announced
not surprised. just our typical variant trick that's been meant with diminishing returns while contracts get lined up for new last-minute books to replace post SE plans.
shitty day for me because i had to handle a lot of the online damage control until like 8:30
This is how Marvel corporate works under Ike: we don't give the fox and sony movies anything but we will milk the cash in on comics.
After X3, the plan was to do a teen focused reboot, so we were going to cash in on that. Not literally the movie cast, but remove the baggage and make them streamlined and accessible to younger demos.
Claremont is like the "Spider Man wedding" of X Men. Its this unwieldy thing that none of the senior editors like that they want to rewind but because of the movie deal we can't make new IP.
X-Men has been a micromanaged mess since I started here. AVX was a sales team gimmick to replicate Civil War, which messed up Schism. Remender's plans got hijacked by the time displaced O5 which was a pretty shameless Bendis pitch to corporate. There's no central architect guiding the franchise, just big plans that get derailed by the next sales gimmick.
Then the fox talks started going really south and it wasn't just "don't give them new ideas" but actively scale it back.
Yes Ike and corporate really thought they could replace X Men with Inhumans. They don't actually care what it is, just as long as they own it.
The 05 was seen as a way to scale it back and might as well "House of M" the last vestige of Grant Morrison's run and just make Scott & Emma straight up super villains. But its been a mess cause no two writers are working together on the bigger picture and Gillen and Aaron and Remender all had different plans.
IVX was a mercy killing to a character that had been written into a corner
Carnage: big villain for the Venom plans
Power Pack: early early development for a freeform show, comic would follow obviously
And where all this was coming from.
i'm writing this on my personal laptop out of the office. no one at marvel checks this place. and if they did, they just see 4chan as a bunch of trump trolls
That may be the most believable rumour of all…