SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for "Avengers & X-Men: AXIS" #8, available now.
The fantastic nature of the Marvel Universe means life's tendency to be unpredictable is even more exacerbated than our own. Where we may struggle to pay our bills and maintain a daily schedule, the denizens of the Marvel U may wake up one day to learn that a magical spell has turned steadfast champions of democracy into murderous fascists. And that same spell may also turn a chaotic serial killer into a hero willing to lay down his life so others can live.
And that's exactly what has happened in "Avengers & X-Men: AXIS," where a mystical spell went awry, inverting the natural tendencies of a number of Marvel heroes and villains, resulting in a number of surprising, and even shocking events. The latest twists and turns arrived this week in "AXIS" #8, the penultimate issue of the series. Written by Rick Remender and illustrated by Leinil Yu, the latest chapter saw some surprise returns from fallen characters and discarded equipment, while several unlikely heroes rose to the occasion, taking important and game changing stands.
In this installment of ALL AXIS PASS, our series of post game chats about each issue of the titular event, Marvel Executive Editor and Senior Vice President of Publishing Tom Brevoort joins us to discuss some of those surprise moments, and hint at what awaits readers in next issue's grand finale.
CBR News: Tom, last we spoke, you mentioned "AXIS" #8 would feature a bit of business not fondly remembered by Marvel fans. I assume you were talking about the Captain America armor from writer Mark Gruenwald's run that Steve Rogers is wearing at the end of the issue?
Tom Brevoort: That is correct! [Laughs] For all those many requests we've gotten over the years to bring it back, here, in fact, is the Captain America Life Support Armor from the end of Grueny's run.
How did the armor come to be included in the series? Was it simply a way for you to have a physical confrontation between the past and current Captain Americas?
Sure, but on top of that Rick has a real fondness for the Gruenwald period of Captain America. I don't know if he specifically has a fondness for the armor, but he remembered it as a thing and knew it was a device that he could call upon at some point during this period where Steve was elderly to get him back into the fight momentarily. This seemed like the right place to use it
"AXIS" #8 offered up another surprise return in the form of the resurrected Jericho and Daniel Drumm, stars of Remender's 2009 series "Doctor Voodoo: Avenger of the Supernatural." I know you enjoy when event series add to the larger Marvel Universe toy box, so was it you or Rick that suggested bringing the Drumms back in "AXIS?"
That is definitely Rick. I think Rick has been biding his time, waiting for his chance to get another crack at Doctor Voodoo, as the first one didn't go entirely according to plan. He put a lot of thought into "Doctor Voodoo" and what to do with that character and how to approach him, so being able to bring him back onto the canvas and use him regularly is very appealing to Rick
Rick is writing Doctor Voodoo in the next volume of "Uncanny Avengers" -- is there a chance that book may feature some ideas from his "Doctor Voodoo" notebook that he didn't get to use?
Certainly, in terms of how Doctor Voodoo operates. It's not like they'll be Doctor Voodoo stories with six other Avengers in them, necessarily, but Rick invested a lot of mental effort in defining what that character is about, what motivates him, how he operates, how he functions, and how he's different from Doctor Strange. That mental effort will now hopefully pay off as we use him and pick him up again in "Uncanny Avengers."
In "AXIS" #8, Doctor Doom mentions that he made a faustian pact with a demigod to resurrect the Drumms. I assume that might be explored in "Uncanny Avengers."
[Laughs] Yeah, I would think so. Probably not right away, but eventually we're going to have to delve into that a little more deeply.
The Drumms met their ends during Bendis' "Avengers" run where, if I remember correctly, involved Daniel trying to get revenge on the team.
Yes, and he makes reference to that in this issue as he moves to possess Wanda, so we've taken those feelings into account. But ultimately, Daniel wanted revenge for the death of his brother and his brother is now alive again. So that kind of takes care of the motivation for those feelings. [Laughs]
We also got some surprising and big moments of heroism. First from Carnage. We know that Cletus Kasady survives the bomb explosion he smothers with his symbiote here because he makes a post-"AXIS" appearance in upcoming issues of "Nova." But does he appear in the final issue of "AXIS" as well?
We know he appears in an issue of "Nova." Have you read that issue?
Well, Carnage is on the cover to issue #26 --
[Laughs] So you don't necessarily know anything yet. Although it seems likely that we're not going to do away with Carnage permanently. As for whether Carnage is in "AXIS" #9, that's a question for next time.
About eight years ago, I edited the issue where the Sentry tore Carnage in half and threw him into space, and he came back from that. This doesn't feel any more permanent than that "New Avengers" issue did. [Laughs] Carnage gets a big, crazy, go-out-in-a-blaze-of-glory heroic moment here. Where that will take us in the weeks and months to come, possibly into an issue of "Nova," remains to be seen.
This was a good moment and a fun scene, but I don't know if I would view it as any more conclusive than that "New Avengers" scene.
Another surprising act of heroism comes from Jarvis, who we found out in this issue risked life and limb to liberate the Red Skull from the inverted Axis of Evil Avengers. To me, this shows that Jarvis is a lot more clever than people give him credit for, and is perhaps just as heroic as comics' other famous butler, Alfred Pennyworth. What's your sense of Jarvis' cunning and bravery?
Jarvis has a history of standing up when the chips are down. He would never presume to put himself on the same level as the Avengers. He does not see that as his place or his station. He's a guy with a backbone and a will to act, though. Plus, he's surrounded by these heroes all day, every day, and he's more than earned his place in Avengers Mansion. He's quite capable of doing the right thing if things look like they're going the wrong way.
The inverted Absorbing Man also makes a heroic stand, taking on both the Axis of Evil Avengers and the inverted X-Men. Part of that is due to his inversion, but was Crusher Creel really a horrible villain before he got inverted? In recent years, it seems like his marriage to Titania had made him more of a working class criminal than the bully and brute he used to be. Is that fair, or am I remembering things wrong?
I think it depends on which stories you've read. Certainly, being married to Titania has allowed different writers to explore the softer side of the Absorbing Man. That said, it's not like Titania is a softy by any measure, either.â€¨When we first met Creel, way back in those "Journey Into Mystery" stories, he's on the FBI's Most Wanted List. He's being hunted across state lines and is leaving a trail of carnage and destruction in his wake -- and he's not even the Absorbing Man yet. So he's got a history of being a fairly bad dude. While we may not have focused so much on that in recent years, as we've often seen him either in the company of Titania or functioning as more of a working class villain, so to speak, he still has that side to him.
Creel is one of the last characters standing in the big New York battle which is primarily between the Axis of Evil Avengers and the X-Men. One of the things I noticed is that the inverted Iron Man and inverted Captain America seem to get along really well. Why do you think that is?
[Laughs] I don't know, specifically. It may just be strange bedfellows. I'm not sure if they have anything specific guiding them other than a general sense of narcissism and a desire to look out for themselves.
I think it's more that they're Captain America and Iron Man and that they tend to look good standing next to one another. Their relationship is all self-serving. It's not friendship or altruism in any way. It's more ruthless pragmatism.
Iron Man covers Captain America's escape from the battle of New York so Sam Wilson can keep Steve Rogers from rescuing the Red Skull -- and when we see the Red Skull in issue #8 his skull appears to be white. Can you comment on that?
His skull is indeed white. [Laughs] Like an ordinary skull.
So not a trick of the light, or a coloring error?
Nope, he's got a white skull.
I assume we'll find out more about this in "AXIS" #9.
I think that's a very safe bet.
We'll get back to next issue in a bit, but first I wanted touch upon artist Leinil Yu's work on this issue. When we chatted about which artists tackled what issues, you mentioned part of that had to do with their availability, so I have to wonder: Was Leinil working on this issue a happy accident, or did you give this one to him knowing it would feature something he excels at, a lot of characters, doing a lot of different things?
It was mostly a happy accident in that, from a very early point, we knew that Leinil would do #3, #4, & #8. So certainly, as Rick blocked out the issues, he may have had Leinil in mind as he was thinking about the events of issue #8. Plus, we're into the third act of the story. This is the place where a lot of characters tend to do a lot of things, because we're running out of story room.
I don't believe this issue was specifically designed with Leinil in mind, though. It's nice that he was there to be able to focus on this part of the story. Because as you said, it has a big, crazy, chaotic battle with a million guys in it, and that's something that he does very well.
Looking to the final chapter of the series, when "AXIS" concludes, will the ending give readers a solid sense of what's next for the Marvel Universe and its characters?
You'll certainly get some of that. Before we get to the falling action, we need to have the climax, and the climax is coming, in big Jim Cheung-o-vision. It's a big, crazy, brouhaha as different characters in different places are racing about and contending with one another and grappling with what's going on. Eventually, everything reaches a head and everybody comes together for one last confrontation. After that, we'll get some falling action, some denouement, and see where some of the chips fall. It's not like it's going to be half the issue, though.
So, a big oversized final issue of "AXIS" in one week! It arrives on December 24. it's a little extra stocking stuffer for you, from us!