In the Marvel Universe, saving the world usually involves super-powered heroes facing off against any number of malevolent figures or forces. Sometimes this involves foiling the grandiose schemes of a super villain, while other times it may come down to waging all-out war against seemingly unstoppable forces like the alien shape shifters of the Skrull Empire or the Serpent and his avatars, the Worthy.

What happens, then, when those who have traditionally fought to protect the planet instead turn inwards and the two biggest teams of super heroes wage war on each other?

Come April, readers will discover the answer to this question when the X-Men and the Avengers do battle over how to resolve the impending cosmic threat of the Phoenix. This conflict will be chronicled in the 12-issue "Avengers Vs. X-Men" series by an all-star team of Marvel creators.

Today, as we prepare for the coming event storyline, CBR News kicks off WHEN TWO TRIBES GO TO WAR, a multi-part look at some of the important elements in the coming "AvX" conflict. Joining us for our initial installment is Senior Vice President of Publishing and Executive Editor Tom Brevoort, whose office oversees all the Avengers titles, and Senior Editor Nick Lowe, who is in charge of the X-Office.

CBR News: Since we're talking about loyalties here, let's start with Captain America and the Avengers' loyalty to Cyclops' faction of X-Men and vice versa. Over the past couple of years, Cyclops has made an overt effort to be part of the super powered community. So what does it mean for Cap and the Avengers to be up against the X-Men? Is there anger involved? Will the Avengers be able to show a united front in their opposition against the X-Men? And by the same token, how do Cyclops and his organization feel about taking on the Avengers? What does the team mean to them?

Tom Brevoort: A number of the points you're touching on here -- the specific current relationship between the Avengers and the X-Men and more individually between Cyclops and Captain America -- get addressed head on in a major way in issue #1 of "AvX." There's always been a certain level of mutual respect between these two groups, but there are also instances that may be seen one way by one party and another way by the other.

It's definitely not a desirable outcome for anybody for the Avengers and the X-Men to be at odds, but the specific circumstances of "AvX" results in a situation in which, by-and-large, the Avengers believe one course of action is necessary to save the world, and the X-Men, by-and-large, believe that a different and contrary course of action is necessary. In both groups, there's inevitably going to be some uncertainty. There are definitely heroes among the Avengers who can relate to the specific struggles of the X-Men and the mutant race in particular and don't like the picture of Avengers fighting what amounts to a genetic minority. And there will be mutants among the X-Men who perhaps aren't completely on board with the leap of faith that their leadership is prepared to make, or who may feel it's not the most prudent thing to do to potentially jeopardize the planet -- who may see merit in the Avengers' point of view.

For the most part, nothing regarding this situation is comfortable for anybody. Certainly, Cap doesn't really want to fight Cyclops, and Cyke doesn't really want to fight Cap. But they're both compelled to do what they believe is the right thing, and that inexorably pulls the two teams into conflict.

Nick Lowe: Much like my relationship with Tom, Cyclops respects Cap and many of the Avengers, but he doesn't revere them. To Scott, they have turned a blind eye to all the terrible things that have always happened to mutants. And he isn't afraid of them. Especially not with his current roster. He has Emma Frost, Magneto, Namor, a super-charged Colossus and Storm and that's just the beginning. These are heavy hitters, several of which have had the Avengers on the ropes individually. Frankly, it's not looking good for "Earth's Mightiest Heroes."

Nick, Scott Summers is a great general, but he's not always the most talkative. Oftentimes, he relies upon the faith of the people who follow him. Will that be the case in the initial stages of "Avengers Vs. X-Men?" Or will those that align with Cyclops have more definitive reasons for doing so?

Lowe: I can't say too much about that here without giving too much away, but the battle lines are drawn very clearly early on in "AvX." Everyone will have their reasons for fighting, but they are going to have to decide quickly.

Does that include Wolverine's faction of X-Men who recently split with Cyclops' faction and formed their own school in New York City? Wolverine and another member of his team, Beast, are current Avengers and have long ties with the team. How difficult of a choice are they faced with? And can we expect the faculty of the Jean Grey School to fall in line with whatever choice their headmaster makes?

Lowe: Every X-Man and mutant is going to have to make a choice, and it is going to be divisive. But you will see a blurring of the lines. That's how extreme this is.

Brevoort: There's nothing that even says that characters -- especially characters like Wolverine, Beast and Storm, who just joined the Avengers -- will choose one side and remain on it consistently. This is an incredibly fluid, incredibly difficult situation for these characters. No matter which way they turn, they're going to wind up in conflict with friends and colleagues, and possibly putting permanent rifts in long-established relationships.

That all having been said, the X-Men are already divided among themselves in terms of their own beliefs and outlooks, and those divisions will be tested during "AvX." When push comes to shove, might Wolverine or some of his guys choose to stand united with their fellow mutants rather than the Avengers? Or will they see Cyclops' actions, and those of his followers, as an extension of the behavior that caused their split with him in the first place? Or might there be yet another third course of action that they might advocate for? Every character in the story is going to have to grapple with these issues to one extent or another, and thereafter will have to live with the consequences of those decisions.

Tom, you mentioned Storm, so let's focus on her a little bit since she's in a unique spot, having only been an Avenger for a short time and being married to one of their prominent former members T'Challa, the one-time Black Panther. What are some of the things on her mind when the time comes to choose sides? Will the fact that she's still new to the Avengers make things easier or more difficult for her? And will T'Challa's connection to the Avengers affect her decision at all?

Brevoort: I think the question for Storm, as well as most of the other characters -- I'm trying not to say too much that's too concrete this early ahead of the series coming out -- will have less to do with their tenure among the individual groups and speak more to what their beliefs about the situation are, who they trust the most and what they feel in their gut is the right thing to do. For all that they've often been allies over the years, there's simultaneously a lot of baggage that exists between some of the individual X-Men and Avengers.

In the case of Storm, I think she's a character that would absolutely follow her heart and what she thought was the correct course of action -- regardless of what T'Challa might think. She's got a purity of conviction that I'd imagine is one of the things that attracted T'Challa to her in the first place.

Another character with split loyalties is Namor, who has long-running ties with the Avengers -- Captain America in particular -- and has only been an X-Man for a short time, comparatively. What is he dealing with in this coming conflict? It seems like when it comes to choosing between Steve Rogers, a man who Namor respects greatly, and Cyclops, a man he doesn't seem to like at all, the choice would be easy. But is it?

Lowe: Namor will never rush into battle against his old friend Steve Rogers. Wait a second, who are we talking about?! Of course he'll rush into battle. But seriously, he has a decision to make, just like the rest.

"Avengers Vs. X-Men" is also a conflict that will divide families. Brian Braddock AKA Captain Britain recently joined the Secret Avengers and his sister, Elizabeth is better known as the X-Men member Psylocke. How do these two siblings feel about being on opposing teams in this conflict?

Lowe: Since the Secret Avengers are secret, Psylocke doesn't know that he's with them, but that doesn't mean she wants to run at Captain America with a sword.

Brevoort: And fortunately for Brian, at least at the outset, he'll be among the Avengers who head out into space to meet the Phoenix head on and who'll attempt to halt or divert it -- so he's going to have much more immediate questions of survival to deal with apart from his relationships with the X-Men and his sister. But the fact that there's that familial connection that potentially crosses team lines is definitely something that we'll see dealt with in the story. Brian was a long-time teammate of a bunch of the core X-Men, so he's got strong ties to them.

We've talked about a few individual X-Men and Avengers who have some tough choices to make with regard to who to follow in "Avengers Vs. X-Men." Are there any other characters in this situation that we may have missed and you want to call attention to?

Brevoort: It's obviously easiest to see how the X-Men among the Avengers' ranks might have divided loyalties. What may not be as apparent is how certain members of the Avengers might have greater sympathy with the X-Men's position, or greater confidence in what Cyclops believes. I tend to think of characters such as Hawkeye, Iron Fist and Luke Cage as guys who'll naturally root for the oppressed underdog against the majority or "the man," so there may well be some points where each or any of them need to spot-check what they're doing and why.

By the same token, the X-Men, as I mentioned earlier, are already fragmented, and this situation may cause them to fragment even further -- not everybody in either X-camp is so totally supportive of either Wolverine or Cyclops that they wouldn't exercise their own judgment and own sense of morals if it came down to it. Even among the Avengers, there may be characters who are taking a sidelong glance at the mutants standing right next to them as the situation gets real, wondering if their loyalties can be completely trusted.

Lowe: The X-Men who are with Cyclops, in particular, have followed him through a lot of rough waters. They are very loyal and it would take a lot to sway their loyalty. This event will definitely test them, but the X-Men stick together. The question is, how many Avengers will come to the X-Men's side!

Brevoort: We're trying to present the story and the situation in such a way in which legitimately different points of view stand at least the same odds of being correct, so that the conflict between the characters feels legitimate -- and can be something that the fans can argue about as much as the characters will.

But, of course, the Avengers are ultimately in the right.

Lowe: I think the strain of lifting the weight of your beard must be reducing blood flow to your brain, Tom. The X-Men are obviously right, here.

Check Back with CBR soon for our next installment of WHEN TWO TRIBES GO TO WAR, where we'll look at the generals in the "Avengers Vs. X-Men" conflict.

Garth Ennis Returns to Marvel for Two New Punisher Series

More in Comics