TALK TO THE HAT: Fans On "Schism" Origins, CrossGen & Crossovers

When it's time to make the big decisions on the nuts and bolts creation of Marvel Comics, people have to Talk to the Hat.

An outstanding industry vet and fashion forward editor, Marvel SVP of Publishing Tom Brevoort is back on CBR News for Marvel's TALK TO THE HAT. Our latest weekly look inside the minds at Marvel spotlights Tom along with his signature pork pie and loads of comics news, views and discussion. Anchored by regular question and answer rounds with the denizens of the CBR Message Boards, each week Brevoort will shake things up with special guest stars, exclusive art reveals and new interactive features.

This week, Tom carved out some time to talk directly to the readers with an all fan question column! Read on below as the editor calls on a wide range of Marvel staffers to discuss how "Schism" came together and what its narrative holds for the X-Men franchise, how the CrossGen titles have performed for the publisher, what became of a focus on female characters of the Marvel U, how art can stay consistent and much more. Read on!

Kiel Phegley: All right! We're back with another All-Fan Friday Q&A, and I wanted to start things with "Schism" as we've had a lot of queries of late for the big storyline from the CBR Boards' very vocal X-Fan contingent. In fact, a lot of people lately have been asking after two specific characters, with Whalers77 being the person who asked about both at once, "Really looking forward to Schism. I understand it is focused on Wolverine and Cyclops, but given their level of exposure amongst the X-Men already, can we expect to see some panel time for other popular characters like Gambit or Storm? It would be neat to see these two close friends (or others) discussing things outside of the Wolverine/Cyclops centerframe."

Tom Brevoort: Since a number of the questions this week refer to storylines and characters that exist outside of my direct sphere of influence, I'm going to be bringing in expert witnesses as the need arises. So to answer your question, Whalers, let's go to Senior X-Men Editor Nick Lowe:

Nick Lowe: I don't want to lie to Whalers77. You'll see Storm and Gambit in "Schism," but not in major roles. There just wasn't room for them to play big roles in the story. Storm and Gambit are very big parts of two of the books coming out of "Schism," though.

Continuing on, Mart asked, "Hi lads, I always enjoy the column, but here's something that's puzzling me. In an interview this week (iFanboy's Don't Miss) Jason Aaron says 'point blank' that the thing everyone's worrying about in Prelude to Schism, the thing that's coming, isn't actually anything to do with the Schism storyline. How does that happen? Schism and Prelude to Schism are from the same office, surely?

Brevoort: Nick again:

Lowe: This is something that I've talked about in every interview about "Prelude" that we did. "Prelude" was a thematic precursor to "Schism." It is not chapter one as far as the story goes. It was very important to us that the story of "Schism" start with #1, but there was a lot of ground to cover to frame the coming events of "Schism." "Prelude" is about leadership in general and specifically Cyclops' leadership. It was important to us to have something dealing with that in a small package so readers didn't have to read the last four years of books to get it all.

In other X-News, Prince Of Orphans has a query about the Merc With a Mouth's origins, saying, "Is Deadpool Canadian or not? Does anyone know? Does he even know? His history's been alluded to plenty of times, sometimes conflicting. Is there a 'right' one?"

Brevoort: Well, Prince, if there's somebody who ought to know, it's "Deadpool" editor Jordan White:

Jordan White: Now that Wolverine has his full memory, Deadpool takes his role as the only mysterious amnesiac badass of the Marvel Universe very seriously. If he knows, he's certainly not telling. In fact, I'd be willing to bet he's thrown a few downright misleading bits of intel out just to muddy the waters. From what I know of Our Boy Wade, we've never seen a reliable account of his birth or childhood, so his country of origin is still unknown. We know he was in Canada for the Weapon X Program, and he's certainly claimed to be Canadian before -- but he seems to spend most of his time in the US. Is he an illegal alien, or was our government foolish enough to grant him citizenship? Maybe he applied back when he looked like Tom Cruise. It happened, look it up!

The Prince continues with a questions perhaps prompted by the recent "Fear Itself" teasers, asking, "How did the process of choosing 'The Mighty' go? Were there any characters who just barely missed the cut? If so, who?"

Brevoort: I hate to have to punt, Prince, but given that we haven't actually revealed who any of the Mighty characters are yet, and they haven't appeared in "Fear Itself," it's a bit premature to get into the question of who might not have made the cut and why. But if you hit me back after the appropriate issues of "Fear Itself" have come out, I'll be happy to give you a better answer than this. Sorry!

I sense we'll come back to this one in a future column! On a more technological tip, Hotaru wondered, "What happened to motion comics? You guys have been silent about them for a long while now."

Brevoort: I think it may seem that way to you, Hotaru, but that's because the program has evolved from what was once motion comics into Marvel Knights Animation, the latest entry of which, "Thor/Loki Blood Brothers," based on the Rob Rodi/Esad Ribic graphic novel, is currently available for downloading through iTunes. With a little technological luck, there ought to be a trailer for it somewhere on this page. I suspect you'll agree that it looks phenomenal. There'll be some additional announcements concerning Marvel Knights Animation made at the San Diego convention at the Marvel Television Presents panel at 10:30 am on Saturday -- so if you're lucky enough to be in attendance, you can get the straight skinny directly from Marvel TV's head whodoo Jeph Loeb.

Randycat had a query about a topic we covered quite a bit in this column when Axel was a regular guest. "My question: Would you say the CrossGen line has been successful so far (sales-wise), and do you have any info about future plans/titles in the line? I'm especially hoping to hear news about either ongoing series or titles which stay true to the original versions (though I'll buy everything anyway). Thanks!"

Brevoort: We've been pretty happy with how our assorted new CrossGen titles have been coming together, Randy, so as long as we're able to maintain a certain success level with them, we'll continue to produce them. The next one up is "Mystic" #1, on sale in a few short weeks. I've read the first issue, and it's terrific, and incredibly welcoming for anybody who never read the series back in the day. We've got a couple more CrossGen launches still in the pipeline, but I don't think we're ready to reveal what they are just yet. And on a macro level, I don't think you're likely to see us simply picking up those titles or concepts from exactly where they were left off originally. I understand that there were a dedicated crop of CrossGen faithfuls who bought and enjoyed those series, but all of those original titles were tied in with a complex mythology and backstory that, quite frankly, was a bit off-putting to prospective readers looking to dive in and sample something different. Our approach to the CrossGen titles has been to try to maintain the essence of what was cool or interesting about the original stories while jettisoning anything that made them feel insular or overly complicated. Hopefully we're still tapping into those elements that you loved about these titles originally -- but if not, please let us know!

Speaking of recent promotions, it seems Elflore has been thinking of the Women of Marvel books, asking, "DC has just announced six female solo books, plus the latest iteration of their all-female team 'Birds of Prey.' Currently Marvel's only female-lead title is 'X-23.' My wife and I are both sitting here wondering - where are Marvel's superheroines? Weren't we just celebrating them last year?"

Brevoort: This seemed like the kind of question that required a specialist consult, so I turned to "Girl Comics" (and "Wolverine") editor Jeanine Schaefer:

Jeanine Schaefer: Hey, Elflore, that's a great question, and something near and dear to my heart, as well. You're not wrong that we don't have a lot of female solo books beyond X-23 and the new "Ghost Rider." I want more, too! It's something that we're very aware of, because we have a ton of amazing female characters. Many of them play important roles in our team books (Hope Summers is leading a new generation of mutants in "Generation Hope," Misty Knight is in charge of Heroes for Hire, and the X-Men are overflowing with kickass women like Storm, Rogue and Emma Frost) but a frequent discussion at our editorial meetings is how we can get more of them out in the forefront in their own books. The trick is to do is smart, so their books will take hold with fans and keep a strong readership -- the last thing we want is to launch a series for the sake of launching it, only to have it weaken the chances for the next one and the one after that.

I hope you'll check out our CrossGen line as well, because all three books so far have awesome female leads: "Sigil" stars Samantha Rey, a teenager lost in time; "Ruse" stars Emma Bishop, the smartest woman in the world; and "Mystic" revolves around two orphan girls, Giselle and Genevieve, who teach themselves magic to save the world.

And let us know how we're doing! Because honestly, and I hope this doesn't come off as passing the buck, if you guys don't buy these books when we put them out, whether they're in continuity or a new line like CrossGen, we don't have get much support to do more projects like them.

And on to a newer push, Hulk_Is asked "Marvel's 'Big Shots' initiatve is still in it's earliest stages for the readers, so we're still in the dark as to how certain things are going to take place. As a reader I am used to certain groups of characters crossing over into books featuring related (or sometimes unrelated) characters. How possible is it that there will be a 'Big Shots'-centric crossover featuring a meeting up between Punisher, Moon Knight, and Daredevil? And, would this 'event' take place in a one-shot or as a miniseries?

Brevoort: Hulk, while it's not impossible that at some point we might do a Daredevil/Punisher/Moon Knight crossover story of some kind (and even more likely that DD might turn up in "Punisher," or Punisher in "Moon Knight," etc.) we don't have any concrete plans for such a story at the moment, so it's impossible to tell you what form such a tale might take. Big Shots is meant more as an initiative than a line, it a number of titles with a similar worldview or sphere of influence that we've grouped together, rather than a line of books that share a common theme or identity. If that makes sense.

In a general Editorial direction, NielsVanEekelen had this to share: "What's your opinion on the importance of books having regular artists? On some books -- like 'Cap' during/after Steve Epting's run -- a lot of effort is taken to give to artistic consistency, but on others none at all -- for example, 'New Mutants,' the second collection of which showcases six very different artists (for six issues and a prelude story). And the book's current artist, Leandro Fernandez, was announced for Hit Girl before his first issue even shipped.

"In your experience or estimation, does that influence the reception of a book? What is your general strategy? And more specifically, can 'New Mutants' get a consistent visual style, pretty please?"

Brevoort: This is a complicated question, Niels, in that there's often a gap between the ideal and the reality. But to start from scratch, speaking simply for myself, I like to have a consistent art team on a title, and if that's not possible (which, given our release schedules these days, is often the case) at least a consistency of style. We worked very hard to try to maintain the look of "Captain America," as you pointed out. But in those efforts, we were aided by the fact that we had a small pool of artists, most notably Steve, Mike Perkins, Michael Lark and Butch Guice, who not only all had a similarity to their styles but who were also all quite friendly with one another, so it was very easy to coordinate our efforts. But that's really an ideal case. Sometimes, it really just boils down to getting the best person possible for the gig out of all the available talent. And sometimes, a better gig comes along, or a gig that an artist feels more of an attraction towards, and they move on. And sometimes, you go for variety purposely, for effect, as is the case on Warren Ellis's upcoming run on "Secret Avengers," each issue of which will feature a done-in-one story illustrated by a different artist, or "Schism," which similarly uses a different A-list artist on each issue.

In terms of "New Mutants" specifically, I asked the Nick Lowe since he was handy, and he said:

Lowe: We had planned for Leandro Fernandez to be the regular artist, but he got an opportunity he couldn't turn down so we had to make other plans. Like most regular series it's more of an artist rotation than a regular artist in the traditional sense. We've got David Lafuente coming up and we're hanging onto him for dear life because he's just so dreamy. But we do have another artist coming on after David's arc who is AWESOME and will be one of our regular rotating artists.

Brevoort: And Nick promises to let everybody know who this mysterious new artist is in the coming weeks, as we get closer to his or her issues debuting. But for now, let's preserve the mystery!

Finally, as regular readers who have followed our talks on the Marvel Vault specials know, I love hearing about random "lost" projects, so harvey7297's lengthy question was one I couldn't resist sharing: "Trying to solve a mystery and thought this might be the best place. If this question has been asked on this forum, my apologies. I didn't see anything in a search.

"Does anyone at Marvel have any information on 'The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones' #35? The series ran through issue #34, but issue #35 was solicited in 'Marvel Age' #35. Check out post #105 on this link:

"Also, this, from the letter column 'Readers of the Lost Ark,' Issue #32:

Dear Indy People, Back in issue #25, Marion left, and we haven't seen her since. Where did she go? Maggie Probert

"This is just what we've been wondering, Maggie, and we'll all find out together in issue #35. Don't miss it!

"Any chance this missing Indy story lies buried in the Marvel warehouse? If so, how about a special issue? A new Marvel Super Special or treasury sized edition would be fantastic."

Brevoort: It's not unlikely that there might have been additional stories in the pipeline when the plug was pulled on "The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones" back in the day, Harvey, but I'm afraid that's the best I can tell you a this point. Not only are any of the materials for any issues that were left uncompleted no longer in our possession, but we no longer have the license to produce Indiana Jones comics, so we couldn't release an unpublished story without reacquiring the rights, which is unlikely. Sorry I couldn't be of more help here.

Have some questions for Marvel's Talk To The Hat? Please visit the CUP O' Q&A thread in CBR's Marvel Universe forum. It's now the dedicated thread for all connections between Board Members and the Marvel Executive staff that CBR will pull questions for next week's installment of our weekly fan-generated question-and-answer column! Do it to it!

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