C2E2: X-Men Panel

As the inaugural Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo began to wind down Sunday afternoon, Marvel's X-Men panel was in full swing.On hand for the panel were Marjorie Liu, "Dark Wolverine" artist Cammo (Giuseppe Camuncoli), Peter David, editor Jenine Schaefer, and moderator Arune Singh.

Whilce Portacio will be the new artist on "Uncanny X-Men" beginning in July, Singh announced. Leonard Kirk will be the new artist on "New Mutants," while Chris Claremont and Milo Manara's "X-Women" one shot will also ship in July and Claremont's "New Mutants Forever" begins in August.

"Mutants vs. Vampires" begins in a new "X-Men" #1 by Victor Gischler and Paco Medina.

"Wolverine: Weapon X" will be ending, with a new "Wolverine" #1 by Jason Aaron and Renato Guedes, with covers by Jae Lee shipping in September. In it, Wolverine goes to Hell. "His soul goes to hell, andwWe're going to see what happens when he's not around to be in control of his own body," Schaefer said.

"Dark Wolverine" will become "Daken: Dark Wolverine" in September, with Liu, Daniel Way, and Giuseppe Camuncoli returning. "The key words are intrigue, violence, exploitation, sex-more of the same."

An X-23 series begins in September, written by Liu with an artist to be named later. "She's basically on a journey of self discovery. It's going to be very dark, intense book, but hopefully along the way there will be a ray of light that she'll be able to find her place in the world," Liu said.

"X-Force" will end after Second Coming, to be relaunched in October with Rick Remender and Jerome Opeña. "When Wolverine is put in charge of X-Force, it's a totally different team than Cyclops would put together," Schaefer said. "They're going to be taking on Apocalypse."

David then spoke about "X-Factor." "People have been asking why we've taken X-Factor in the direction we have," David said. "The long-time Marvel fans will remember that any time anybody got into a cab in New York City, Mark Spector Moon Knight would be driving it." He's trying to restore that feel by making X-Factor the go-to detective agency of the Marvel U. "If you're a super-villain and you suspect your wife is cheating on you, you go to X-Factor--especially if you think she's cheating with another super-villain." X-Factor will take the case if you can pay the bill, David said.

"When 'X-Factor' #207 comes out, fans are going to go nuts," he continued. "The last page will get us as much attention, if not more, than since Madrox ate his baby."

Singh said that, following "Second Coming," the X-Men will be much more integrated into the Marvel Universe, which will explain why Spider-Man, She-Hulk and others are in the X-Men promotional images.

Singh then turned the floor over to questions. Throughout the session, though the panelists had to hedge answers because they might reveal the events of "Second Coming."

"X-Men Legacy" will continue with Mike Carey despite other changes to the line, Singh confirmed in response to the first question.

A fan asked whether the X-Men would return to being a metaphor for civil rights issues, with Schaefer saying that there would be a degree of this in Matt Fraction's "Uncanny," which she said already had this underlying tone.

"After M-Day, there were only 198 mutants, and that number has been slowly dwindling," Schaefer said. "Every time a mutant dies, that's like two million people."

David contended that the X-Men have not got away from the civil rights concept, with the mutants being threatened from within or without, noting that, "now they're essentially living in a ghetto." "We couldn't have done that when there were two million of them. Now we can explore the ghettoization of an entire culture."

Singh said there is something coming up in "Second Coming" that will "make you very happy."

The Wolverine in hell story will take place before the events of the new "X-Force," although their publishing schedules overlap. "It will all fit in," Singh said of the continuity.

The next question asked when Layla Miller would "get back to making out with Jamie Madrox." David said she would be re-joining the team with "Second Coming" and "sticking around for a while." The early dynamic of "everybody but Madrox saying, 'what is she doing here?'" will return, thanks to her year with Doctor Doom. "In the real world, when someone doesn't trust you, you do everything you can to earn their trust-Layla doesn't give a crap," David said. "As to whether she'll be making out with Jamie: yes."

"Second Coming" will address Hope's story and origins, Schaefer confirmed in response to a question.

"I can't tell you anything about 'X-Force' and I can't tell you anything about Nightcrawler, but I can tell you he has a huge role in 'Second Coming,'" Singh said when asked about the character's fate.

Asked about the hint that Madrox was not a mutant, David said that the line was actually "You have no idea what you are." David explained his thought was that there are a second evolutionary branch of mutants who don't follow the pattern of gaining powers at adolescence. David said he would touch on this at some point.

A fan said he was worried about the return of "shallow" '90s stories, given the character selection of the new X-books. Schaefer said that what's happening in the X-books is very organic, while David said that writers choose characters because they think there's a story to tell. "I brought Shatterstar back because I wanted to give Rictor something to do," David said, to applause and laughs.

The beginnings of a question about Daken's hook-ups and the romance between Rictor and Shatterstar was interrupted by David, who said, "No, Rictor will not be making out with Daken." "I wish Nick Lowe, editor on 'Uncanny' was here, because he totally wants more kissing," Schaeffer added.

A fan thanked David for the Rictor/Shatterstar love story. "I've got letters from people saying they literally broke down in tears of joy at seeing those characters together," David said. He noted that other writers have laid the subtext, but "it's the 21st century--it doesn't have to be subtext anymore." He added that, "Maybe I was being naive, but I really didn't think it was that big of a deal-it was panel 5 of a six-panel page."

He wound up by saying, "under my watch, I am never going to kill off Rictor or Shatterstar. Will it be a smooth road? Hell no!" David also said he would not say whether they would ultimately stay together. The fan was applauded for his comment, and David for his response.

Asked about the Juggernaut's status as a hero or villain, Singh said the character would play a huge role in "Thunderbolts," the Jeff Parker-written book that will feature Luke Cage reforming villains starting in May.

Regarding the visual differences between Logan and Daken, Cammo said, "Logan is raw; Daken is more seductive, which also affects how he fights."

"We trust Cammo; his instincts are superb," Liu said.

Liue said "Daken" was a series about "a man who wants to rule the world." "He has a big ego, which is part of why he thinks he deserves all this power. But a lot of it is also insecurity," she added.

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