Loeb and McGuinness on "Avengers: X-Sanction"

Following the release of a mysterious image yesterday that would seem to suggest the Avengers are in somebody's sights in December, Marvel held its latest "Next Big Thing" press conference call to reveal more details of this project, including who the creative team might be. CBR was on hand to bring you all the updates from the call.

Arune Singh, Marvel's Director of Communications, took on the role of moderator. SVP of Publishing Tom Brevoort, Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness were all on the call.

Loeb revealed the project is called "Avengers: X-Sanction," the official title of the previously-announced "Cable Reborn."

"'X-Sanction' is sort of the starting gun or the opening flare" for events coming up throughout the Marvel U, Brevoort said. Loeb added, "Ed and I were looking for, as we like to say, the next big thing, and I think a lot of folks who know my work know I have an enormous affection for Cable and not just his role in the X-Men universe but his role in the Marvel Universe proper." He also said he was "devastated" by Cable's death.

"I always saw Cable as the Captain America of the X-Men universe," Loeb said, a soldier out of his own time striving to help people.

He said McGuinness can convey "the Kirby power" inherent in Cable, noting that an important part of Cable's character is tempering power with heart. The heart of Cable's return will focus on the idea of "what do you do if you think something's going to happen to your daughter" -- Hope, of course, was raised by Cable, before Nathan Summers sacrificed himself.

As to how Cable's mission relates to the Avengers, Loeb said he "doesn't want to give away too much," but "how Cable survived 'Messiah Complex' and 'Second Coming' -- and I do consider those one big arc -- if there had been even a hint that the Avengers had something to do with Hope's future, he would... do something to them." Loeb was very cautious, but Brevoort was happy to be slightly more forthcoming with "X-Sanction" details.

Brevoort said the event puts Cable in conflict with characters readers aren't used to seeing him with. "The definition of Cable as a father out to protect his daughter by any means necessary gives the character a weight and heft you can relate to on a very human level." There are also "some larger situations going on" for both Nate and the Avengers.

McGuinness said he enjoys drawing these match-ups and team-ups that haven't been seen before.

Talking about his longtime collaboration with McGuinness, Loeb noted that their first project was the "Wolverine '96 Annual." "It's always dangerous to evoke someone who is a titan in our business as Jack Kirby is, but like Jack, with Ed McGuinness the pages are almost too small for the action he's putting down."

Loeb also noted aspects of "Commando" and "Terminator" in Cable's history, but praised McGuinness for being able to bring out the quiet moments, as well. McGuinness said working with Loeb is "like coming back home." "We're really symbiotic with some of the ideas," McGuinness added. "It's really fun to see some of the things I've suggested, he's taken and run with them and made them really cool."

The first press question was on accessibility. Loeb noted that, yes, every comic is some fan's first, but Cable also has a huge fanbase. "What you really want to know is that this man's daughter is in danger, and he will do anything to protect her -- that's all you need to know." He added, "It's the writer's responsibility to make it emotionally true," making "everything else fall together."

Asked if this would be action-oriented in the way Loeb and McGuinness' "Hulk" was, Loeb noted that Cable and Hulk are very different characters. "This is a story that has a beginning, middle and end, and a definite arc for who Cable is," Loeb said. But, "you are talking about a character who is very capable as a soldier, a strategist, and doesn't play by the same rules the other Marvel heroes do."

Cable is, Loeb confirmed, "a total badass."

Asked whether Hope's danger would come from "Schism," "Fear Itself," "Generation Hope" or someplace else, Loeb said, "yes," and her situation will play into big things happening in 2012. "We get to light the fuse," Loeb said, "but it's a long fuse to the big bang."

Asked about Cable's side in "Schism," Loeb said, "Cable's actions may create their own schism."

Regarding parallels with Bishop, the former hero who spent years hunting Cable and Hope because he believed his actions justified, Loeb said there are resonances but one difference is "we're seeing Cable up against characters we don't usually see him with." He added that, unlike "Messiah Complex" set in the X-Men universe, "this is set squarely in the middle of the Marvel universe," playing on a broader board.

"There are also real comparisons with Tony Stark, Iron Man. He sees himself as a futurist; what does that mean when he's up against someone from the future. Tony Stark knows what it's like to have his body betray him; Nathan Summers has spent his entire life with the Techno Organic Virus," Loeb said. As a result of such pairings, adversaries may understand each other better than they understand themselves.

In response to a question about Cable's appearance, Loeb clarified that Cable is not cybernetic, but the flesh in his body has metal properties, similar to the way that cancer changes cellular structure. Cable's severed arm "is back" and more powerful, and reflects the battles within his body since his earliest appearances.

"The sacrifice that Scott [Summers] made to give up Nathan in the beginning, because he knew the virus was going to kill him, has defined him. In a similar way, he took Hope into the future to protect her," Loeb said, adding that he enjoys the cyclical nature of some characters' stories that play out in different ways.

Asked if there's a gun too big for Cable, McGuinnes laughed, "We'll have to see as the series goes on. I don't think so." He noted the tone in "X-Sanction" is "a lot darker than what we did in 'Hulk.'"

"Cable knows he's going to do battle with the Avengers, so he comes loaded for bear," Brevoort said.

Loeb said that a previously-announced (and since scuttled) series "Avengers Three" did not evolve directly into "X-Sanction," but that some story beats have been incorporated into other Marvel U stories.

Asked about Deadpool, Loeb said, "this is definitely a solo mission," but the mission may "take him places he wasn't expecting."

"There are some characters from Cable's past and some current Avengers I think fans will be happy to see," Loeb concluded.

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