SDCC: The X-Men & Inhumans Prepare For "Death Of X"

Since the launch of "All-New, All-Different Marvel," X-Men fans have eagerly awaited the reveal of what exactly went down between Cyclops and the Inhumans during the eight-month gap following "Secret Wars." Now, all stands ready to be revealed. As part of the upcoming Marvel NOW! initiative, the publisher will launch "Death of X" -- a series designed to specifically address all the questions X-fans have been asking about the conflict between mutants and Inhumans.

To set up the series as well as run through what's in store for the X-Men and Inhuman lines, Marvel held a "Death of X" panel at San Diego's Comic-Con International. Moderated by Marvel talent scout Rickey Purdin, editor-in-chief Axel Alonso, writers Cullen Bunn ("Uncanny X-Men"), Tom Taylor ("All-New Wolverine"), and artist Scott Koblish ("X-Men '92") took the stage to discuss all things X and Inhuman.

"This is a huge story that's going to fill in the gap between 'Secret Wars' and where we are now in current continuity," said Alonso. "You're going to find out where Cyclops and Emma have been and that involves the X-Men and the Inhumans." Purdin then showed off some of Kuder's interior art, which featured Cyclops and a group of X-Men on a Blackbird jet, as well as a look at the Inhuman Royal Family.

The presentation turned to "Uncanny X-Men," and Bunn spoke about his book's new arc. "From the first issue we've been hinting at the Hellfire Club and what they've been up to. With issue #11, we're going to reveal a new version of the Hellfire Club and the way it's connected and opposed to Magneto's team of X-Men is real interesting and will change how you look at the team. Information about issue #13 was revealed, stating that the X-Men and Hellfire Club will have a begrudging team-up. "They're not pals or buddy buddy, but they are working together against a new threat," said Bunn. "It's a new threat but also has some deep connections to Magneto."

Bunn's other series, "Civil War II: X-Men," came up next. "The arrival of Ulysses in the Marvel Universe has set a lot of different factions at odds," said Bunn. "Magneto's interested in Ulysses and thinks it's the key to the ongoing survival of mutants. He's decided the only way to make sure Ulysses benefits mutantkind is to take him off the board and put him in Magneto's camp. Magneto's making moves to secure Ulysses." In issue #3, Magneto's team will go through changes with some "fan favorite" characters showing up in the series.

Tom Taylor spoke about "All-New Wolverine's" "Civil War II' arc and the positive responses to the book -- and Laura Kinney's pet wolverine Jonathan. "Basically we've had Laura meet Old Man Logan, her estranged non-father from another dimension," said Taylor. "The tension caused by that is interesting. Essentially because of 'Civil War,' there's a prediction about Logan that might put him at odds with the all-new Wolverine."

The next arc after "All-New Wolverine's" "Civil War II' tie-in is "Enemy of the State II." "I don't want to give too much away," said Taylor. "If you've read 'Enemy of the State,' I was pitching something early on and we realized it was the spiritual successor to 'Enemy of the State.' It's not going to be pretty. This is one of those instances. Laura's going to murder a bunch of people and that's going to put her at odds with the world and she will be unhappy, out to find whoever controlled her and forced her to do this thing. And people like Nick Fury will be coming after her."

Koblish, who is illustrating the upcoming "Deadpool Annual," talked about the special issue which is done in the style of "Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends." "It's 'Deadpool and his Insufferable Pals,'" said Koblish. "All the expectations you'd have about watching a 1983 cartoon, the villains have expectations about how they'd be treated but they aren't treated that way by Deadpool." The issue will be done as if it's a pilot of a failed '80s Deadpool Saturday morning cartoon. Koblish changed his art style to mimic accurately the animation style of early '80s cartoons. The Sinister Six will be the villains in the annual. "I thought I could draw it kind of straight, or I could draw it like a 1980's cartoon," said Koblish, noting that he didn't differentiate line weight when illustrating the issue and also drew things "wrong" and "clumsily."

"Deadpool" #19 will continue the running "Deadpool 2099" arc, which is also illustrated by Koblish. "It ties in heavily with the storyline going on now [in the modern-set 'Deadpool' issues]," said Koblish. "The great thing about Warda is that she's as unbalanced as Deadpool... When I did the design for the facemask, I did it like a broken heart and I wanted to show that not everything is great in [Deadpool's] family. I think about these things, I swear."

"Extraordinary X-Men" came up next, with Purdin catching up the audience on recent events in the Jeff Lemire-written series. Issue #14 will focus on the fall out from Colossus' involvement in "Apocalypse Wars," as he's still tainted with the villain's essence. Victor Ibanez will draw the arc following "Apocalypse Wars."

Wolverine and Angel will headline "All-New X-Men" #12. Issue #13 will follow Idie, Evan and Iceman as they encounter the terrigen mist for the first time in the series' run. And issue #14 will focus on Cyclops, especially following his fight with Toad that left him badly injured. Purdin said the issue will have a "Rear Window" feel to it.

The focus shifted to the Inhumans, with "Uncanny Inhumans" #12 appearing on the screen. That issue will show the Inhumans getting revenge on Iron Man following events in "Civil War II." The cover for "Uncanny Inhumans" #15 was shown, which is the first issue after "Civil War II" and shows Medusa shaving her head.

Alonso talked about "Mosaic" #1, saying that he's a character without a body that jumps from host to host. "He not only brings his own powers, but also the powers and memories of all the hosts," said Alonso. "He's able to see what it's like to walk in other people's shoes. He's a flawed character. He has more of a curse than a gift. He's a character to watch and he has a huge role in an upcoming storyline."

The floor opened up for questions, with the first one being about the key word in the title of the upcoming series "Death of X" -- "Death." Alonso said that Marvel has been dealing with rumors of the X-Men's demise for years, and maybe Marvel likes teasing with fans just a little bit. But joking aside, he urged the fan to check out "Death of X" and wait to see what it really is -- and also thanked the fan for his question. Alonso answered the next question about Cyclops, saying that the character is his favorite X-Man. Purdin pointed out that "Death of X" will reveal what happened with Cyclops in the eight month gap, as well.

Another fan asked about the other Summers brother, Havok, who's been missing for a while. Bunn answered, saying "his absence is purposeful. There's a reason you haven't seen him. But you will definitely be seeing some Alex Summers soon."

After prompting from a fan, Bunn revealed that he has written more than a few letters to his editors asking when Magneto will fight the Inhumans' leader Black Bolt. Alonso said he "wouldn't be surprised" if we saw that throw down at some point.

The panelists then talked about planning out their stories, with Alonso saying that they're usually planned out with the big picture for a year. "We've been building to 'Death of X' for some time," said Alonso. "It's an explanation point. When we were planning 'Secret Wars,' we knew there'd be an eight month gap and what it meant. We've known for at least 18 months to two years where Cyclops and Emma have been -- at least in the broad strokes. At least 16 to 18 months before, we know what the story is about."

Purdin then surprised Koblish with a question about the grossest thing he's drawn in "Deadpool"; Koblish said it was a guy he drew that had been cut in half, which he treated like "an anatomy lesson."

Alonso said he wants to see more of Iceman -- both of them -- especially in light of his recent coming out. "It's not something we did lightly," he said, reiterating that there are more stories they want to tell with both the young and adult Iceman. "We do have plans for both of them, obviously they're in different books right now. I wouldn't be surprised if you see him doing bigger and better things in the future."

A fan asked about Gambit's future, and Alonso said that there are more plans for the Ragin' Cajun. Bunn mentioned that Gambit's in "Civil War II: X-Men," but he doesn't know if there are any plans to have him on a team book right now.

Bunn brought up an idea he's tried to get greenlit for a while, which spins out of "Siege" when the Avengers Sentry ripped Ares in half. "I've long pitched a story where Deadpool teamed up with the left half of Ares."

A passionate X-Men fan then asked the panelists what they need fans to do to really support the book. "If you adapt the mentality that you're going to wait for trade, what you're doing is contributing to the cancellation of the series. Comics count on people being there once a month to pick them up," said Alonso. "It's important to support that small book. If we were to launch an 'Iceman' solo, support that book. Don't go, 'That first issue was great, I'll wait for the trade.'" Alonso continued, pointing out the criticism and hate that some creators and storylines get online. "The discourse on social media is also very shrill. If we only followed social media, people want us to tell them how the story ends. To the degree that you can help make that discourse more reasonable, please do. It's the people that type in caps that get heard the most."

Tom Taylor chimed in and said that he would like to hear people talk more about what they love. "We get on Twitter and we love seeing what fans love. We understand what you want to see less of because it's loud and all in caps, but tell us what you love." Bunn said that he wants people to talk about the books they love in their comic shops.

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