Marvel’s spotlight on the X-Men began on Friday with writer Peter David using the slide show projector to make shadow puppets. Whether or not they were obscene depended on the audience member’s position in the room, but most people seemed amused. Joining David on stage were Marvel talents C.B. Cebulski, Christos Gage, Craig Kyle, Chris Yost, editor Andy Schmidt and marketing maestro Jim McCann.
The panel launched immediately into the traditional slide show of upcoming issues, most notably “X-Men” #200. The landmark issue will be double-sized and feature a quadruple gatefold cover by David Finch and Danny Mikki depicting every character to have ever been an official X-person. The cover will later be made available as a door-sized poster in both color and black & white. Of the issue, X-editor Andy Schmidt said, “Stuff happens.”
“Stuff” will also be happening in new issues of “Uncanny X-Men.” Besides “Morlock actiom,” the title will see the return of Storm as well as artist Salvador Larocca, who will draw a special five-issue arc. “New X-Men” will also feature the return of a very popular character in the upcoming “Quest for Magick” storyline, although writer Chris Yost wouldn’t reveal who. Running in “New X-Men” #38-41, the story will feature fourteen pages of painted art by “Pride of Baghdad” artist Niko Henrichon.
Writer Christos Gage touched briefly upon the events in “World War Hulk: X-Men,” which will find Professor X dealing with the Hulk, who believes Professor X to be culpable for the his exile in space. Also briefly mentioned but still met with applause was Chris Claremont’s impending run on “Exiles,” which promises to return the title to its “anything can happen” style.
Peter David discussed the premise of his upcoming “X-Factor” storyline, which involves the X-Cell mutant terrorist group and their belief that the government was behind the loss of mutant powers. “I remember when AIDS first started, there was a theory that it was a rampant disease that had gotten loose from a government laboratory and aimed to destroy gay people,” the writer said. “I thought, well, going along those thoughts, people in the Marvel Universe would be convinced the same thing happened. Especially when you take into account the registration act.” X-Cell will be trying to get the government to restore mutant powers, and X-Factor gets caught up in the struggle.
“X-Men: First Class” will be re-launched as an ongoing series, it was announced. Also announced was the seventeen-chapter “Endangered Species” storyline, which will play out in eight-page backup stories in “X-Men,” “New X-Men,” “Uncanny X-Men” and “X-Factor.”
“We were originally going to call it ’17′” joked Jim McCann. The storyline will begin in the “X-Men: Endangered Species” one-shot by Mike Carey and Scott Eaton, which will feature a cover by Marc Silvestri. Of Mike Carey’s script, editor Andy Schmidt proclaimed, “It’s his best script to date. The best.”
Following the slideshow, the panel gave the floor to audience members for questions, the first of which was, “Where the f*** is Ed Brubaker?” The crowd was delighted to discover the question was asked by Brubaker himself, who arrived late because he was signing a copy of “Captain America” #25 for “Veronica Mars” star Kristen Bell. He was then caught sending a text message from the panel, which turned out to be to his wife and regarding the Kristen Bell incident.
The first proper question asked was sadly inane. “If Scarlet Witch said ‘no more mutants,’ then why are there still 198?” The answer of course, is that they are an endangered species, hence the just-announced-minutes-earlier storyline, “Endangered Species.”
Another fan wanted to know the whereabouts of Mr. Sinister, who according to Andy Schmidt is presently “Out and about. There is a plan for him, so be on the lookout.”
Regarding Storm’s return to the X-books, one fan asked whether she’d actually be on the team. “She’s the new Wolverine,” McCann joked.
“Will ‘Wolverine: Origins” ever be good?” asked another audience member.
“No, now why do you have to be like that?” asked Jim McCann, before Andy Schmidt reminded fans that “Wolverine: Origins” is not edited out of their office.
One fan wanted to know if there’d been talk at Marvel about “X-Force.” “We definitely talk about ‘X-Force,'” admitted Schmidt. When the name Mike Allred was shouted out by another fan, Schmidt sighed, “Oh. That X-Force. You wound me, sir.”
“Will there by more creepy ass Quicksilver scenes?” asked one fan. “Quicksilver will feature very prominently in ‘X-Factor,'” said Peter David. “His ass will be so creepy.”
Regarding the Layla Miller character, David revealed that “X-Factor” will be a “holy crap” moment for fans of the character. “Layla Miller finds out something that she didn’t know. It’s going to be jaw-dropping enough that it has that degree of magnitude for Layla not to know it. It’s going to be a drop-dead ‘huh’ moment.”
“With ‘X-Factor,’ besides ‘Endangered Species,’ is there another crossover planned?” asked one fan.
“Um, no,” David answered.
“I believe I read in ‘Wizard,'” the fan continued, “that there is a crossover in ‘X-Factor’ with another book that doesn’t have an X in the title.” Many in the audience were confused by the question.
“I have absolutely no idea what that’s referring to,” David said. The writer then revealed that Callisto will be part of X-Cell, and that she will have two arms.
The panel announced that “good stuff’s coming” regarding the Books of Destiny, but that fans would have to read “Endangered Species” to find out what. After the boos died down, Jim McCann moaned, “You have to read the books! The death of Captain America gets spoiled on CNN and we get nothing but shit, and here we’re trying to keep something secret and everybody wants to hear it!”
Editor Andy Schmidt revealed his deep affection for the 1990s “Age of Apocalypse” storyline, and that he’s eager to bring it back. “I love that… I’m looking. I’m trying to find a way.” On a similar note, the panel announced that the complete “Onslaught” storyline will be collected in a format similar to that of the “Age of Apocalypse” reprints.
“Is Jean Grey actually dead or are you going to pull a ‘Colossus’ and bring her back?” asked a fan.
“Pull a ‘Colossus?'” responded Ed Brubaker. “I think it would be called pulling a ‘Jean Grey!'” The writer then revealed that Jean Grey is not coming back “right now,” and that there are plans to not bring her back as the Phoenix. Brubaker later declared that he won’t be leaving the X-books in the foreseeable future.
For more on Marvel’s future plans, check out our exclusive look at images and solicitation text for titles shipping in June.
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