FAN EXPO: The Marvel NOW! Panel

Major shake-ups will reverberate through the Marvel Universe in the wake of "Avengers vs. X-Men," and Friday night at Fan Expo Canada, Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso joined X-Men Editor Nick Lowe, "Deadpool" artist Tony Moore, Senior Editor Stephen Wacker and Director of Communications Arune Singh to reveal secrets about the launch of the new Marvel NOW! titles.

"This is something that has been a long time coming," Wacker said. "The last time there was an initiative this big was when Joe [Quesada] came on board 10 or 12 years ago. Marvel has always had a very simple philosophy for what we do: It's great characters, great creators, great comics. This just really goes back to that."

Singh highlighted how Marvel is reworking every aspect of its business, from the stories themselves to its digital comics initiative and more, including recent efforts to use augmented reality to add "DVD extras" to their titles.

"You hold up your smartphone with the AR app open to 'Avengers vs. X-Men,' any cover, and you'll get a quick re-cap video," Singh said. "There's one with an astrophysicist who comes up and explains why Cyclops can't see in space. Or go behind the scenes showing John Romita, Jr. drawing a different Hawkeye than he was supposed to." Singh said the entire initiative is designed to add value to every book fans buy.

The Marvel NOW! flagship title is "Uncanny Avengers" by Rick Remender and John Cassaday. The book will follow Captain America and Wolverine as they put together a new squad of Avengers and X-Men.

"The Marvel Universe is going to be transformed by the events of 'Avengers vs. X-Men,' and with the first mission, [the Uncanny Avengers] are going to find out there is so much more ahead," Alonso said. "I mean, we lured Cassaday out of semi-retirement. That says a lot about the quality of the series."

With the first issue of "Uncanny Avengers," it becomes very clear this is not a reboot, said X-Men editor Nick Lowe. "Nothing was broken; we didn't need to fix anything. We just wanted to shake up our direction and continuity. The stories you've been reading, you don't have to worry about those not mattering any more. It's the same story. It's not a reboot."

"The guys working on this, people forget, are some of the biggest fans of comic books out there," Wacker added. "We're just in the lucky position that we get to play the game everyone else plays online. You know, who would we love to see write this book."

Another notable issue coming in October will be the "Marvel NOW! Point-One" one-shot featuring talent like Brian Michael Bendis, Jeph Loeb, Matt Fraction, Nick Spencer and Michael Allred. In this book, readers will learn Nick Fury Jr's role in the Marvel Universe.

"There's some really cool preludes in there, and you won't even really know what's going on yet," said Lowe.

In addition to this, Marvel will be releasing "A+X," a new title coming out of the aftermath of AvX. "Because 'AvX Versus' did so well, and we enjoyed doing it so much and the fans embraced it so much, we wanted to keep that kind of thing going," said Lowe. "With 'Versus' there are two 10-page stories per issue. The top talent telling the story, with the best characters that Marvel has to offer. 'A+X' is going to follow up with that, and we're going to have an Avenger and an X-Man on each team."

Lowe said team-ups include Hulk and Wolverine, Captain America and Cable, Spider-Man and Beast and Kitty Pride and Iron Man.

Brian Bendis is moving on from his years in charge of Marvel's Avengers franchise to write "All-New X-Men." "The same guy who declared 'No More Mutants' and the same guy who put the Avengers through hell? The original five are coming back, does that mean Jean Grey is back?" Singh asked Lowe.

"She is. All five of the original X-Men -- Jean Grey, Hank McCoy, Scott Summers, Warren Worthington, Bobby Drake -- they are all coming to the present day," Lowe replied.

This, Lowe said, is the series' high concept.When it came up at a recent creative summit, all the creators in attendance gravitated toward the idea. "Brian jumped to tell that story, and it is so good."

"It's going to be very interesting for this characters to come to this world that has changed so much," Alonso added. "They see versions of themselves, and -- I mean, imagine you're young Jean Grey and you come to the present to find out you died and Wolverine is looking at you funny."

"It's not going that way, you guys," Lowe laughed.

"X-Men Legacy" is the next book up for relaunch, by creative team Simon Spurrier and Tan Eng Haut.

"This book is kind of a hostile takeover," Lowe said. "Rogue has been the center of the book for a long time, and Professor X before that. This is a big, 180-degree turn. This book is crazy. This is some of Spurrier's biggest ideas on the page."

At this point, Singh called upon Young Deadpool and Chubby Deadpool, creating a Deadpool harem, to help with the next segment of the panel which featured Tony Moore discussing his and writers Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan's upcoming series starring the Merc with a Mouth. With his artwork on the screen, and Moore at the ready, Chubby Deadpool and Young Deadpool took to the podium.

"This is preposterous," Wacker said with a chuckle. "Let them do the whole thing."

Chubby Deadpool kicked things off, asking Moore about Deadpool's new look. "There's a lot of fun stuff to Deadpool," Moore answered, saying his main goal was to streamline Deadpool a little bit. To this, Chubby Deadpool inquired whether Moore's Deadpool was in fact wearing X-Games boots and roller blading armbands.

"Those are ninja goggles, and he needs the bands with the tunnel blade," Moore responded laughing. "And yes, those are X-Games boots."

"Their mission for the book is to go big. The mission will get bigger, the roster is bigger," Singh said, taking control of the presentation back in order to discuss Jonathan Hickman's "Avengers." "It's a real, global story that Jonathan is telling."

"He solved the riddle of 'Fantastic Four' and found an incredible fan base for a key book. No matter what we had done with it, it never caught fire until Jonathan took it," Alonso added. It was this work that made Hickman the right choice for the next stage of the Avengers.

"The Avengers are going to have to ask some hard questions about themselves like who they are. It's going to be hard for them," Alonso said, teasing that one member of the team will have to go off on a very personal trek. "Jonathan's ideas are perfect for this moment in time and for the aftermath of the Avengers."

"The thing about Jonathan is, he has a plan for seven or eight years down the road," Wacker said.

Meanwhile, Matt Fraction and Mike Allred will take "FF" in a fun, family-like adventure through time. With the Fantastic Four taken out of the universe for four eternally long minutes, Fraction and Allred explore substitutes on Earth and some interesting characters are chosen for the team.

Wrapping the panel, Singh responded to audience queries regarding Canadian heroes in the Marvel NOW!, saying there will in fact be some very surprising line-ups, including some of the characters from "Runaways" as well as major storylines involving X-Men character Cable.

Stay tuned to CBR News for more info on all of the Marvel NOW! titles.

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