When Marvel Comics' "Avengers Vs. X-Men" concludes, the mental and emotional damage resonating with the heroes involved is explored by writer Kieron Gillen in the five issue miniseries, "Avengers Vs. X-Men: Consequences," coming weekly in October 2012. The war may have ended, but friendships and trusts have been betrayed, and it's Gillen's job, along with an all-star team of artists including Tom Raney, Mark Brooks, Steve Kurth and Dale Eaglesham, to examine the aftermath of the cataclysmic event.
CBR News spoke with Gillen about "Consequences," which takes place a week after the conclusion to "AvX," and how he plans to convey the emotional conflict between the major players left on the board when the battle dust has settled.
"'AvX' is a complete story told over 12 issues and you get closure, but because it's the Marvel Universe there's always a lot of other stuff you want to explore," Gillen told CBR News, "However, you don't want to do it in the new #1 issues of Marvel NOW! because that makes them anti-climatic and too reliant on what went before, which is the opposite of what a #1 should accomplish. Marvel asked me if I fancied doing that.
"I thought about it a bit and decided it was a chance to do some interesting character work. Plus, while it's not an epilogue to my 'Uncanny X-Men' run, it was an interesting chance to say goodbye to those characters in a more leisurely format than usual, as opposed to with the Extinction Team shouting at each other on a battlefield."
In the past, Gillen has penned several Marvel event tie-ins, but they have been stories where the circumstances of the event were used to propel his ongoing narratives. With "Consequences," the writer was afforded a chance to tell a different kind of event tie-in.
"My long term plans as I was shaping my 'Uncanny' run was to dovetail it with 'AvX.' 'Consequences' was something which came after I knew how my run was ending, and was tying up various knots. So this has kind of become its own thing, and while it's an epilogue to 'AvX,' it's also very much its own story," Gillen explained, adding, "The status quo at the end of 'AvX' leaves things interesting and leaves some characters particularly interesting. Exploring that gives me more than enough space for a meaningful narrative.
"For some characters the events of this story will be especially important. This will give us a chance to go around and check in on those characters," Gillen continued. "We'll check in with them as we explore the consequences of 'AvX' across the Marvel Universe. For example, in 'AvX' #8 Namor attacks Wakanda. In our series we'll look in on the devastation there and how people are coping. So we see Wakanda being smashed by the King of Atlantis? That's something we have to check on."
For now, Gillen has to keep the identities of the core cast of "Consequences" a secret, but the writer was able to reveal his cast would be relatively small in comparison to "Avengers Vs. X-Men."
"There are quite a bit of cameos, but I've kept things tight. This is a story about the people who 'AvX' has had the most personal impact on," Gillen confirmed. "Some of the characters at the end of 'AvX' will walk away and there won't be a whole lot of personal impact for them, but there are other characters with much more at stake on the table. Those are the characters I will concentrate on."
Gillen has written some Avengers characters in the past, but he's often penned them through the perspective of other characters like the X-Men. So with "Consequences," he's enjoying the chance to take a longer and different look at some of Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
"There are some characters I'm writing here that I've written quite a lot -- for example, any of the surviving X-Men characters. So while there will be some important X-Men stuff in 'Consequences,' there are also some important Avengers in there whom I haven't spent a significant amount of time with," Gillen said. "I think I've written a little bit of everybody by now, but this story definitely features some characters I've previously not dealt with an enormous amount."
Gillen continued with a laugh, "I'm sorry for how vague I have to be here. It's almost like I'm saying, 'There will be characters. They will do something. I guarantee there will be panels on pages!'"
The action in "Avengers Vs. X-Men: Consequences" will follow characters as they deal with the physical, emotional, social and environmental changes of the main event. It won't revolve around a group of characters teaming up to foil a villain's scheme.
"This isn't an 'Avengers Prime' [Which loosely followed up on the aftermath of the "Siege" event] style story where everyone finds a common goal and renews their friendships. In 'Consequences' some problems are solved and some get worse," Gillen explained. "The villains of the Marvel Universe don't really play a significant role in this story. This is a story about the internal shake down. The question of what a villain is was the heart of my 'Uncanny' run, and kind of the second half of 'AvX' as a whole, really. 'Consequences' is very hero centric. It's similar to books like 'X-Men: Schism' which was about the emotions of Scott and Wolverine. I'm hoping to achieve a similar intensity here."
"Consequences" also mirrors "Schism" in that it too will feature art by five different artists in Raney, Brooks, Kurth and Eaglesham -- the final artist has yet to be announced by Marvel. Gillen is working hard to make sure each issue has a unique timbre that plays to the strengths of the artist working on it, but many of the scenes in the mini feature a somber tone.
"As a writer, I tend to lean towards the downbeat; a lot of people walking away from the poker table with very little money. And as you may guess, this book is quite downbeat. 'AvX' has been a grind for the heroes. Parts of this story are about characters questioning their existence and deciding what they're going to do now. It's like this is the morning after. You've woken up covered in vomit," Gillen joked, continuing, "You've got a strange girl on your arm. And you're left wondering, 'What on Earth did I do? Why did I do that? And what am I going to do now?' That's the tone. So it's a deeply questioning book. These are characters in a dark, emotional place and this is about them trying to work their way through it. Or not."
He briefly touched on the implied death at "AvX's" conclusion. "There's a chalk outline of a body on the first cover, so there is a death overshadowing things as well as everything else that happened at the end of 'AvX.' I don't actually touch on the funeral itself, but rest assured we'll have lots of different places where characters are looking sad. And angry. And often incredibly cutting to one another."
The emotions and situations the characters of "Consequences" deal with set up future stories and lay the groundwork for several titles in the Marvel NOW! initiative. "When I was offered the book I made sure it was a story that had both meaning and importance," Gillen said. "I'm not interested in just moving a bunch of pieces into position. That happens along the way, but what attracted me to 'Consequences' was the chance to explore some dramatic moments which occur on the morning after this enormous disaster. It's a story set the week after 'AvX' -- that's the easiest way to describe it and it only really works in that time period. Doing stories specifically in that space is what attracted me to it, but yeah, some of the stuff touches on what Rick Remender is doing in 'Uncanny Avengers,' and Some of it touches on what Brian Bendis is doing in 'All-New X-Men.'"
The aftermath of big world changing events like "AvX" is often used to set up new status quos and ideas in the Marvel Universe, but the human perspective sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. Gillen's ultimate goal in "Avengers Vs. X-Men: Consequences" is to make sure the human element gets the spotlight in the process of building the new direction, and to present the circumstances and viewpoints of characters who've had their world shattered and turned upside down by the war between two of Marvel's premier super teams.
"Events are these enormous things which throw around a lot of energy. This is the chance to see how some of that energy affects a handful of characters," Gillen said. "'Consequences' focuses on the mental states of all these people after something immense as 'AvX.' It's a very character driven book."
"Avengers Vs. X-Men: Consequences" debuts weekly beginning October 2012.