C2E2: Welcome To The X-Men

At this year's Chicago Comics And Entertainment Expo (AKA C2E2), Marvel Comics titled their mutant-themed panel after one of the most famous phrases in the canon of the franchise: "Welcome To The X-Men." For the festivities, Marvel Talent Coordinator C.B. Cebulski and Editor Daniel Ketchum joined "Age of X" artist Clay Mann and took the stage to talk about the entire X-Line, and CBR News was on hand with all the news from which classic villain will soon return to what upcoming stories will shake up the state of the mutants.

The panel teased the incoming MMXI promo push that makes 2011 "The Year of The X-Men." Ketchum explained that he and Mike Carey have been planning for "Age of X" as an event for almost two years. Three issues are currently in stores crossing "X-Men Legacy" and "New Mutants." Ketchum also plugged the incoming "X-Men: First To Last" story that starts in "X-Men Giant Size" before moving into the regular "X-Men" series under the pen of Chris Yost. It sees X-Men of the past and present face a new foe. Kieron Gillen's run on "Uncanny X-Men" will soon crossover with "Fear Itself," however they could say not much more.

Details emerged for the previously teased "Dark Angel Saga" about to hit "Uncanny X-Force." Apparently, writer Rick Remender will take the Archangel part of Warren Worthington's persona in a new aggressive direction starting with issue #10. Read CBR's exclusive interview with the writer about the arc right now.

The panel revealed the new team at the heart of "X-Men Legacy" after "Age of X" including new team members Frenzy and Legion who join diehard cast members like Professor X, Magneto and Rogue. A cover for an incoming issue of "X-Factor" featuring M and Strong Guy in a tragic embrace came on. Ketchum joked that with shake-ups coming into the series, writer Peter David liked to keep fans guessing...as well as editors. Apparently, the editor is a bit in the dark as to what comes next aside from the fact that it will impact the lives of several of the cast in a major way.

Daniel Acuña will soon draw an arc of Jason Aaron's "Wolverine" which will continue to feature covers by Jae Lee. Meanwhile, Daniel Way has stories plotted out for "Deadpool" through issue #50.

The mics were soon turned over to the assembled fans. Asked about a new book featuring the younger mutants in the X-Men world, Ketchum turned a fan towards "Generation Hope" which he said will be the place for stories of young heroes in this world for the foreseeable future.

"When we were first planning this event, Mike Carey came to me with the idea of 'Hey, I want to do a story that involves all the generations of X-Men,'" Ketchum said, noting that the scope of the story pushed it from a six-issue arc to a full-blown event. He had difficulty speaking to the future of certain characters as the end of the story will have an impact on the modern timeline.

Asked if some of the characters in Utopia would reenter the rest of the Marvel Universe, the editor called for "Baby Steps." The incoming crossover between the "Uncanny X-Men" annual and other Marvel U annuals will scratch that itch, though Ketchum said, "That is a valid concern." Cebulski said Marvel was very aware that fans want to see the mutants take a bigger role in the Marvel U at large.

After a fan asked how old Magneto was physically after being de-aged so many times, Ketchum told Mann that there had been internal discussion as his Magneto in "Legacy" was "young and sexy" and making out with Rogue while the Magneto of Jamie McKelvie's art seemed much older. The editor said it's best to assume he's a very active 50-something in the way he looks and that it's fine for Rogue to hook up with an older man.

A fan asking after a possible Nightcrawler resurrection, saying that the mutants get resurrected more than Jesus, earned a round of applause from the audience. Ketchum admitted they'd talked about it in the offices, but they felt for now they should let fans speculate as to whether the office will "play against type" in a world where characters come back all the time.

Another fan praised the team for leaving Jean Grey dead while also earning the tease that "You'll see Sabertooth in 2011" according to Ketchum.

"X-Men First To Last" is "our way of acknowledging the film" that will be "X-Men First Class," Ketchum explained. Yost already had the core of the idea for the story, but Marvel green lit the story featuring the classic 1963 X-Men for now specifically so fans of the movie would have a somewhat similar story to tap into in the comics.

A fan argued that "you need a furry, wolfy creature" to make "New Mutants" work asking is Wolfsbane would appear in the series, but Ketchum said that for now, she had an integral role to play in Peter David's "X-Factor" plans. The reader followed up by asking when Karma would "get a girl," to which the editor said sometimes Greg Land would sneak in panels featuring various romantic possibility scenes so the odds of that plotline slipping through to the final product were more likely than readers may expect.

In designing the look of the "Age of X" mutants, Mann said that he tried not to look to other alternate reality comic stories but instead looked at things like video games and films for stylistic inspiration. "With Gambit, I Googled a lot of military stuff," the artist explained before an "Age of X" Dazzler cosplayer appeared in the back of the room to meet the man who designed her C2E2 look.

While Deadpool is not a mutant, the staff at Marvel have found that he fits well within the X-Men's world thanks to his connection to Wolverine's past, however Ketchum said that in recent years, Deadpool has become a character all his own that can have crazy space adventures with absurd characters that you'd never be able to shoehorn into an X-Men book.

Majorie Liu has plans to bring Gambit in to Daken's world and continue some of the character development she started with him while writing X-23.

The young mutant Hellion came up, and Ketchum explained that though Mike Carey is a really nice guy, the editor made him be a really mean guy to put the hero through his paces in "X-Men Legacy." The pair love working with the character, but it may be a while before they can give him the page time fans want in "Legacy," though they haven't forgotten about him.

Ketchum joked that Nick Lowe is asking questions about Magneto such as "How does control over metal let you make force fields?" and that one of the newly-minted leader of the X-line's goals was to put a tight focus on who the character is and what he can do. Lowe also loves cat-Beast, so anyone hoping to get the classic blue Beast back better not hold their breaths.

Another reader wanted to know if despite Rictor's incoming baby with Wolfsbane, would the mutant's status with teammate Shatterstar be explored in the near future. Ketchum assured the man that Peter David doesn't introduce these elements willy nilly and though it may take him a while to get all the story points he wants together, he will not forget that thread.

Asked whether "Generation X" characters including Chamber and Penance would show up soon, Ketchum said that Chamber fans may want to follow "Age of X." Cebulski said that after his use of Penance (who is again called Penance since Speedball is again Speedball) in the "Loners" series, the question for the character is what happened to her since Ben Urich has appeared again in Marvel books no longer in her company. Ketchum joked that Cebulski needs to "give her back" so they could reintroduce the heroine.

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