CCI: Marvel's "Avengers Vs. X-Men" Panel

At Comic-Con International in San Diego 2012, Marvel Comics brought the battle of the year to the assembled fans in a crowded panel room. Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso, Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada, X-Men Editor Nick Lowe, Christos Gage, and Senior Vice President of creator and content development C.B. Cebulski assembled to bring the latest "AvX" news to fans concerning the Avengers, the X-Men, the Phoenix Five and Hope.

Moderator and Director of Communications Arune Singh began the panel by introducing the panelists to a packed room, taking a poll of whose side the audience was on. The majority cheered for the X-Men.

"We're on our sixth printing of the first issue, we're seeing great numbers on digital from retailers," said Singh. "You guys have been so hugely supportive and the best is yet to come."

Alonso spoke about his feelings on the success of the event. "I'm pretty sure I'm going to keep my job for starters," he joked, describing "AvX" as an "Epilogue to the stories we've been telling for the last eight years."

Lowe talked about working on the X-Books and coordinating with "Avengers" editor Tom Brevoort. "Working with him on 'AvX' has just built my respect for him," said Lowe of Brevoort. "As a fan, I'm such a fan of [moments like] when Cyclops blasts Captain America off the beach in issue one."

Christos Gage talked about his involvement on books in both the Avengers and X-Men side. "I have to say I'm not on a particular side," said Gage. "I have to be able to put myself in both sides' headspace." Gage, who writes both "X-Men Legacy" and "Avengers Academy," and both have completely different situations. "I'm on my own side, where I'm happy to get paid for writing books," he joked.

Cebulski said the intention of the project is to "shoot for the moon" and that the creative teams are bringing their a-game to every issue.

Singh reiterated some of the news that Avengers Alliance on Facebook will be doing an AvX event that involves four of the Phoenix Five with the player jumping in as the fifth. Also, New Era will be unveiling a new line of hats of AvX, including a Jim Cheung wraparound cap, and two with Avengers Vs. X-Men logos.

Cebulski spoke about the "A-Babies Vs. X-Babies" one-shot written by Skottie Young with art by Guruhiru. "The cover that Skottie did [for Midtown Comics] really blew us away," said Cebulski. "When it came to the art, he was busy drawing the 'Wonderful Wizard of Oz,' but he hand-picked the art team Guruhiru."

Alonso said the one-shot will be "in-continuity" and Quesada asked "Which baby dies? Too soon?"

Lowe spoke about "AvX: Consequences" -- a series following the core "AvX" series. "AvX has huge ramifications on the Marvel Universe," said Lowe, saying the "AvX: Consequences" would deal with just that -- consequences. Kieron Gillen will be writing, dealing with stuff on the X-Men side and the Avengers side. "It is pretty hardcore. If you like what Kieron's doing on 'Uncanny,' this book will blow your mind."

"'AvX' ends with a bang, it's going to be very controversial," added Alonso. "A lot of you will be very pissed at us, a lot of you will be clapping," he said, mentioning one team will deal with the question of new leadership.

Alonso also spoke about Marvel NOW!, the new line-wide initiative from the publisher following "AvX." "This is not a reboot. This all takes place in the Marvel Universe that you guys are invested in financially and emotionally," he said. "I'm super excited. In your career in comics, there are things you're excited about professionally and there are things you're excited about personally. ... We just had a retreat where all the writers revealed plans for their books and there wasn't a weak link."

Singh reiterated that the all the books in the Marvel NOW! Initiative will contain a digital code and will have augmented reality aspects through the Marvel AR. Quesada mentioned some of the new designs for the characters came in from some of the new artists and he had to unite them all into the one promo image.

"We got it done. I think the ink was still wet when we went to press with this thing," he said, mentioning readers will "find more about why characters look certain ways" as time goes on. The CCO also spoke about the retooling of the Marvel U. "There's nothing wrong with Marvel, the wheels are tight, but sometimes you have to retread it." A lot of the current publishing plan has to do with seeing where the format is going next, saying the AR was very important, as the new Marvel NOW! books will contain a recap page and an AR recap.

The new "Uncanny Avengers" book, written by Rick Remender and John Cassaday, which contains, according to the Marvel Editor-in-Chief, "that Alonso magic."

"It's a team, equally comprised of X-Men and Avengers who are assembled to deal with a very specific threat in issue one, but it's so much more than that," said Alonso, mentioning the "New Avengers" initiative, which added Spider-Man and Wolverine to Earth's Mightiest Heroes, was done in the same spirit as "Uncanny Avengers." "I think we've got a book that's going to be an essential read for both Avengers fans and X-Men fans."

The question and answer period began, with fans coming up to the microphone to address the panelists.

One fan got the answer "five months" to her request to see Monica Rambeau more in the Marvel Universe.

Another questioner asked about why "Prelude to Schism" was labeled as such, and got a frank answer from Alonso. "I want to come clean though, I think the labeling was a mistake," he said. "Perhaps we promised something more than what was delivered. These were much more character pieces, they were quieter. I don't think we're going to repeat that mistake and we'll be more prudent about how we label things in the future."

A fan was concerned about Wolverine, and Lowe did little to allay their fears. "This AvX thing is tearing him apart in a lot of ways," said Lowe. "Between this and 'Uncanny X-Force,' there are a lot of changes [for him.]"

The question of an "Avengers Vs. X-Men" movie, and Quesada reiterated that Avengers is owned by Marvel Studios while the X-Men is owned by Fox.

Alonso spoke briefly about death and resurrection in comics to a fan dressed as a Deadpool/Magneto hybrid. "I think resurrection is one of the most exciting thing about comic books and we should embrace it. It's about selling that moment. ... If you told me Jonathan Hickman and Steve Epting got the response to the death of the Human Torch that he did -- I'm not at all ashamed of death and resurrection and it's one of the things that makes us unique."

Many of the panelists loved the X-Men (and the New Mutants for Cebulski) -- except for Quesada ("West Coast Avengers") and the Canadian Singh ("Alpha Flight") -- and wanted to be on the team growing up, but the most poignant response was Lowe's. "The metaphor of being different and having that be a stigma on you," he said. "This is going to be a shocker but I wasn't a very popular kid in school. That was huge for me, seeing those mutants."

Both Deadpool and Domino will be seen in Marvel NOW! according to the panel. However, there are no plans for Kylun -- and as for Darwin, Lowe said "Peter David never forgets anything, so I don't think you've seen the last of him."

Editorial also spoke briefly on the length of putting together a comic after a young fan asked a question. "After a writer turns in a script, a penciler usually takes 6 weeks," said Lowe, "the inker takes a week after that, and then the colorist and letterer takes a few weeks after that," and wrapped up saying it took 8 to 10 weeks.

A fan asked about Colussus and his current status "Kieron Gillen has really been putting Colossus through his paces," said Lowe, also referencing his current predicament as the bearer of the Gem of Cyttorak and that there will be developments in "Uncanny" #19 and #20, which Lowe described as "the most chilling script I ever read."

One questioner asked which character the panelists would like to see dead. "Tom Brevoort," joked Lowe.

"I want to see a character change. I want to see Beast go back to being Beast. No more cat Beast," said Cebulski and the audience seemed to agree. However, Alonso said he wanted Namor dead, while Lowe finally settled on Thor.

Lowe also spoke about the fallout for the kids on the X-Men side in "Wolverine of the X-Men," which has some "brutal stuff" coming up, courtesy of writer Jason Aaron.

Cebulski said Olivier Coipel was somewhere in the audience and as the crowd applauded, Coipel was coaxed to take the stage.

Lowe teased something special for Storm and Black Panther fans in an upcoming issue of "AVX VS." "There's a lot going on with Storm and Black Panther for sure. You'll also get a special treat in 'AVX VS' #5 written by Jason Aaron with art by Tom Raney," he said.

Alonso teased a bit about the Marvel NOW! promotional image. "Every character you see in that image is there for a reason," said Alonso. "Spider-Man is there for a reason, Rocket Raccoon is in there for a reason." Alonso further said that each character in the teaser will play a big part in Marvel NOW!

The EiC also talked briefly about characterizing stories as events. "We give you guys what you want," Alonso said. "There's nothing indicating that you guys are tired of events. You vote with your feet and your dollars, as Joe said. ... We learn lessons. With AvX we tried to make it a focused event and we tried not to take out of the core titles and I think it worked for you guys."

To wrap everything up, a fan asked whether readers would see Jean Grey alive again.

"Yes. Alive," said Quesada.

Singh wrapped up by taking a poll between who was better for Cyclops: Jean Grey or Emma Frost. There was no clear winner.

With that, the panel dispersed. Stay tuned to CBR for more CCI 2012 coverage.

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