Beginning the Marvel X-Men Panel with the introduction of a pint-sized youngster dressed as everyone’s favorite WeaponX alumni, Wolverine (accompanied by his guardian, garbed in an X-23 costume no less), the panel of Steve Wacker (Senior Editor: “Amazing Spider-Man”, “Shadowland”), C.B. Cebulski (newly named Senior Vice President, Creator & Content Development of Marvel Entertainment), Leonard Kirk (Artist for “Captain Britain and MI:13”), Valentine DeLandro (Artist “X-Factor”), and led by Manager of Sales and Communications, Arune Singh, were in high spirits to the packed room of at Toronto’s Fan Expo Canada.
The panel dove into the X-books with discussion of the “Curse of the Mutants” arc, which began in the recently-launched “X-Men" #1. With a teaser of recently vampire’d Jubilee biting her longtime mentor Wolverine, there’s no doubt that the X-folks are in for a whole other kind of fight in the coming months.
Rick Remender (of “Franken-Castle” fame) will be taking the reigns on the latest amalgamation of the killing squad in “Uncanny X-Force.” Set to hit shelves in October, Wolverine and Archangel will be taking the team of Psylocke, Deadpool, and Fantomex on a top-secret mission to kill Apocalypse. Although it remains to be seen how the team intends to destroy the big blue meanie that just keeps coming back, Singh assures the crowd it will be a hell of a ride -- promising that the last frame of issue #1 will evoke literal jaw-drops.
Cebulski hinted to possibly seeing a return of Decibel—formerly Chamber of “Generation X”—in the hunt for Apocalypse as well.
For the upcoming “Wolverine Goes to Hell” arc in the relaunched "Wolverine" by Jason Aaron, readers will see the renaissance man of the Marvel Universe have his soul sent to hell, while his body runs rampant among the living. Singh states that the effects of “Wolverine Goes to Hell” will be felt throughout the pages of “X-23 #1” as well as “Daken: Dark Wolverine #1” too, which can’t be a good thing for any of the aforementioned.
“They are all interconnected, you don’t have to read all three to get the story but if you read all three you’re going to get the bigger picture,” said Singh.
Referring to these characters as the “Wolverine family” (Logan as the father-figure, X-23 as the sister, and Daken as the wayward son), there’s no doubt big plans are underway to see a relationship of sorts brew between the three razor-edged ruffians.
A teaser from the “X-Factor” series showing Longshot in Las Vegas as well as panelists' admonition to watch for the implications a pregnant Rahne will have on the team in the coming issues, ensured that the mutant detective agency is in for plenty of trouble.
Taking audience questions, the first aimed toward the panel was in reference to the “New X-Men” cast and where they’ll end up in a post-“Second Coming” world. Although Cebulski was bleak in his response, he did specify that there are “big things coming up” for the some members of team.
One burning question from an audience member was the status of Bishop -- currently marooned in a distant future. “Time travelers in the ‘X-Men’ universe seem to appear at the worst possible moment,” said Singh.
Magneto fans can find their favorite magnetic evangelist as a central character in both an upcoming “Uncanny X-Men” arc as well as the mini-series “Avengers: The Children’s Crusade,” the latter involving a race to find his daughter, the Scarlet Witch.
For those of a slightly more mature reading age, Singh spoke highly of current Domino and Wolverine mini-series, “X-Force: Sex and Violence”. “It is literally what the title suggests, and it is awesome,” Singh said.
When asked about Marvel’s plans for Chris Claremont’s ongoing series “X-Men Forever,” Cebulski simply said, “We are going to keep going, and going.”
Good news announced for adoring fans of X-Men’s resident diva Dazzler, as it sounds like the songstress will be making a comeback in the X-books. “If you’re a Dazzler fan, check out ‘Mutants vs. Vampires’.” said Cebulski.
One question of note, a fan asked when would be a good time to jump back into the X-Books. An issue of criticism the X-universe has received in the past was simply that the books aren’t very friendly to new readers hoping to dive in. Wacker recommended readers just go for it (“because they’re all confusing”) while Cebulski mentioned Matt Fraction’s “Heroic Age: X-Men” one-shot as a paramount issue for those hoping to get on board with the series.
“Anything in July [in terms of X-books] was a conscious effort to create a jumping on place across the board," Cebulski said.
Nearing the end of the panel, Cebulski asked the crowd what they thought about Gambit as a character and, more specifically, as an X-Man. Without giving away too much, Wacker hinted that he would like to use the character outside of the X-teams.
“It’d be interesting if he were the ‘Man without Fear, wouldn’t it?”