Marvel held another invester conference call this morning, this time to introduce its new production heads, Michael Helfant and Kevin Feige. But reading between the lines of Variety’s report, you can see it just isn’t the same without Avi.

The absence of Arad, who shocked many by stepping down from his post as chairman of Marvel Studios in May, was somewhat surprising as he is still producing several Marvel pics and is drawing his full salary until the end of the year as a “creative adviser.”

Asked about Arad’s absence, a Marvel spokesman noted that “Avi has his own production company now, and these are the Marvel executives putting forth the long-term strategy.”

Investors and the press had become used to the boisterous exec as the public face of the company; Thursday call was the first major Marvel Studios event with prexy Michael Helfant and production topper Kevin Feige out front.

Marvel will give Paramount a 10% cut to distribute their films, which will include IRON MAN and THE INCREDIBLE HULK (don’t call it a sequel!) in 2007. Both films have had some production hitches.

Responding to an analyst’s question, studio execs said they aren’t worried about saturating the marketplace by turning out two pics a year. They said there continues to be a “large appetite” for such pics.

Films are expected to cost $130 million or less.

Marvel execs also tried to allay concerns over New Line putting “Iron Man” into turnaround and U giving back the rights for the “Hulk” sequel. They said these are common practices in Hollywood.

A pdf presentation which repeatedly crashed our browser accompanied the call, and as reported at Newsarama, reveals that an Avengers movie is being developed. These conference calls are also very Mac unfriendly so we haven’t been able to listen to them, but then we might miss Avi too, and that would be far too sad to contemplate.