Marvel's final panel of the 2012 Kapow Comic Convention saw Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada, VP of Creative CB Cebulski and "Uncanny X-Men" writer Kieron Gillen discuss the publisher's current event storyline, "Avengers Vs. X-Men," debuting art from forthcoming issues and taking fan questions on a variety of related topics including spoilers from "The Avengers."
The event opened with the panel in good humor, as the panel asked the audience to choose the side of the Avengers or X-Men. A show of hands for each resulted in no outright winner, though when a fan asked the panel their favourites, both Cebulski and Gillen sided with the X-Men, while Quesada claimed he was simply "on Team Marvel" because "the more they fight, the more comics we sell!"
Discussing the progression of the story, Cebulski said "AvX" was "designed to showcase the Marvel Universe," hence the broad variety of locations in the opening issues. Art shown from future issues suggested a very different setting for the next act, with Quesada saying "AvX" #5 was the first issue with a truly big cliffhanger. Displaying the previously revealed "No More Avengers" teaser, Cebulski suggested fans remind themselves of "House of M" and said that "once again, three words will be spoken" -- with Quesada asking, "But by who?"
Gillen noted that both "Schism" and "AvX" always informed his plans for "Uncanny X-Men" as he knew in advance that the events were coming. His goal was to manuver Cyclops into a position where he would become "the type of person who would blast Captain America off the beach."
Addressing the topic of villains, he pointed out Sinister would be arriving shortly to "try and take over the crossover" as plans laid earlier in the series come to fruition in the middle of "AvX." As Gillen noted, Sinister was the first character to directly mention the Phoenix to Hope.
During the Q&A portion, a fan asked why so many writers were being used on the series, and Quesada said that it was Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso's idea and one he advised him against because having that many writers to co-ordinate "would be like wrangling cats!" Cebulski noted such a collaboration speaks to Marvel's creative process anyway, where many of its creators are friends who stay in touch socially.
The panelists teased art both from John Romita Jr.'s "AvX" #5 interiors and Olivier Coipel's "AvX" #6 interiors
Another questioner noted the parallels in Captain America's behavior in "AvX" and Iron Man's during "Civil War," and suggested that the "top cop" job in the Marvel Universe might necessarily compromise a character. Quesada agreed that this was a nice story point and the parallels were definitely there for readers who had seen both, but wouldn't necessarily be a plot beat.
Asked about the origins of "AvX," the panel explained that there are normally around 6-8 major Marvel storylines bouncing around at any given time and the decision of which to use comes out of summit retreats. In this case, it was something Alonso (himself the former editor of the X-books) wanted to do and the right time had finally arrived.
With teaser images showing Professor Xavier, the panel was asked why he didn't seem to play a more prominent role in the story. Quesada referred to the earlier images and confirmed that Xavier would play "a big part in Act 2" though maybe not in a role we'd expect.
Since both the Avengers and X-Men have their own "covert" team -- X-Force and the Secret Avengers -- someone asked why these books hadn't crossed over, given that they were written by the same writer. Cebulski said that it "seemed obvious" but maybe too much so, and that in any case, the timing for "Uncanny X-Force" wasn't really right for it to participate. Gillen, meanwhile, worked on the in-story logic that there was "no need to be covert" about this very public battle.
Several questions were asked about the plans for specific characters, and in the majority of cases, these were given no comment. Cebulski confirmed that there are "a lot of plans" for Hulkling, Wiccan and the rest of the Young Avengers. A questioner asking why Cable hadn't yet shown up in AvX was told "we share your enthusiasm" and told to wait for Act 2 of the story. Even the subject of a time-lost Bishop was broached, with Cebulski telling the audience that Marvel had "not forgotten" him. A Nova fan was assured the character would be back soon and that there were "big plans."
The biggest question -- whether readers would see Jean Grey again or not -- received the loudest response from the panel, with Quesada simply shouting "Next question!"
On the technical side, one fan asked what the plan was for Marvel AR content. Quesada said the publisher would be continuing with the program, while Cebulski noted that Nick Lowe had come up with a great idea for using AR content in a new way which he believed would be seen in "AvX: VS" #3 during the Black Widow/Magik fight. Regarding the first issue of "AvX: VS," Quesada revealed Jason Aaron had "gone back to Marvel Style" and his script, as submitted to artist Adam Kubert, was only a single paragraph long.
With the questions drifting into more general territory, the panel was asked whether "The Avengers" would alter the way Marvel approached the team. Quesada said "not for 'AvX'" and beyond that, "there's nothing dogmatic, but it will undoubtedly happen -- just look at Iron Man. Just before the movie came out he was being called the Marvel Universe's #1 villain!" Speaking from the perspective of writer, Gillen said that it was "all about inspiration -- seeing what's on screen and thinking I can push that further."
Addressing one direct inspiration, a fan questioned whether Agent Coulson's entry into the comics universe was timed to coincide with the character's death in the movie. Quesada said that it wasn't especially planned, although they did know the character would die. Actor Clark Gregg was reportedly "beaming" when he discovered his character would appear in the comics and Gillen joked that "now we'll have to kill him too." Fan speculation that Coulson might become the Vision in a future "Avengers" movie was also addressed, and Quesada explained that he'd only heard about it "yesterday" and that it was "strictly fan-speak" and that it "doesn't feel right."
To close the panel, a fan of Marvel's cosmic properties asked whether there would be another "Guardians of the Galaxy" series. Quesada said that editorial "loves the cosmic side of the Marvel universe" and that the company was "planning big stuff which will be announced soon."