The crowd was into the Marvel Comics’ X-Men panel before it even got underway.
“Bring back Jean Grey!” a girl shouted from the rear while the Marvel crew tried to get the sound system up and running.
“That trick never works,” said Chris Claremont. Claremont, along with Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada, John Dokes, X-Office editors Nick Lowe and Sean Ryan, and writer Tom Bedard, was there to field questions about the future of the X-Men line after Marvel’s “House of M” event.
In true Marvel form, they started off with a PowerPoint presentation set to heavy metal and, at one point, ballet music, showing some of the key events coming up for the world’s mightiest mutants.
Alan Davis is moving to “Fantastic Four: The End.”
Former “Generation X” and “Death: The High Cost of Living” artist Chris Bachalo is returning to take over the art duties on “Uncanny X-Men,” with Chris Claremont again on board as the writer.
Fresh off his resurrection in “Astonishing X-Men,” Colossus is getting his own miniseries in “Colossus: Bloodline,” by David Hine and Jorge Lucas, a storyline said to have a major impact on the entire X-Men universe.
Akira Yoshida and Paul Smith are taking Kitty Pryde to Japan where, Quesada assured the crowd (or: in a moment we’ve all been waiting for), Lockheed will finally get some.
Tom Bedard and Paul Pelletier will take the “Exiles” on a world tour of Marvel’s greatest alternate realities, like The New Universe, the 2099 universe, the Hulk’s Future Imperfect, and Squadron Supreme’s universe before wrapping up in the world of Heroes Reborn, although apparently without the help of Rob Liefeld.
Wolverine will become the “House of M”‘s version of Nick Fury in “Wolverine” #33-35, while the rest of SHIELD gets the mutant treatment in the “New X-Men” segment of the mega-crossover.
Neal Adams and Joss Whedon will team up for an 11-page story in “Giant Size X-Men” #3. The book, which is a reprint of the original “Giant Size X-Men,” also has a cover by “Astonishing X-Men” artist John Casaday.
“Excalibur” will follow in the footsteps of the Avengers and become “The New Excalibur.” Written by Chris Claremont, “The New Excalibur” will return the team to its British roots, as Captain Britain, Juggernaut, Nocturne, the long-absent Pete Wisdom, Sage and, by popular demand, Dazzler, form a England-based team to try and clean up some of the mess left by Magneto after “The House of M.”
After the presentation, the avuncular but evasive Marvel crew fielded questions from the audience, many of which were answered with a sly “stay tuned.”
Responding to a question about the mysterious third Summers sibling, Claremont said that the answer would be revealed in “X-Men: The End” Volume Three #5.
Quesada confirmed that the “Astonishing X-Men” team of Joss Whedon and John Casaday would return to the title next for another 12-issue run.
When asked why they kept killing Jean Grey, Quesada said “Because she’s like the Kenny of the X-Men.” This time, she’s going to stay dead. At least for today.
Decompression and — as an audience member put it — “the glacial pace” of modern comics was discussed when the panel was asked if that was an editorial mandate at Marvel. Quesada answered the question with a no. The ‘glacial pace’ was simply a result of changing styles and aesthetics. The only instance Quesada could recall where it was mandate was then publisher Bill Jemas had the idea of taking several issues to tell Spider-Man’s origin in “Ultimate Spider-Man.” This was a creative decision rather than a financial ploy; they now had time to flesh out an origin Stan Lee had to tell in 11 pages.
Quesada was questioned on his “dead is dead policy,” and why he changed it. His answer was a simple: He didn’t. The policy always had the rider that if you want to bring a character back, you had better have a good reason for it. The resurrection had to be as significant as the death. Colossus’s resurrection after five years hit a lot of good story points, and was meaningful. The intent was to try and force writers to consider why they wanted to kill a character in the first place. The death should be significant because the resurrection needs to have meaning. This was and is the policy, according to Quesada.
Claremont expanded on that, citing the recent return of Psylocke in his book. Her death had been largely unnoticed and unmentioned by fandom, so her death had little meaning. By bringing her back, Claremont could explore the notion of resurrection from the point of view of the person experiencing it, the fear of the unknown, of not knowing why you’re here or how long it will last. This was a significant reason, enough to go beyond “dead is dead.”
Quizzed about the “new” spreading across the Marvel Universe with multiple books now sporting the adjective, Quesada blamed it on Grant Morrison.
“He started it with New X-Men.” It’s a marketing tool, a way to show a book is going in a different direction, as in “The New Excalibur,” which features a different cast, tone and setting than the old. It’s no different than Uncanny or Amazing.
“House of M” came up, with an audience question on the lasting effects of the event and whether it was just another alternate reality. The effects of “House of M,” according to the panel, will be widespread and long-lasting. The story is self-contained within the “House of M” miniseries, but the various tie-ins will add a level depth to the tale, as well as causing changes in the titles themselves. After “House of M,” any and all characters may be up for grabs.
The final question was about the long, long, long-delayed Kevin Smith books: “Black Cat” and “Daredevil: The Target.”
The answer: Don’t ask. Just don’t ask.
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