For Marvel Comics readers, the next major event is here. Announced this week, "Avengers Vs. X-Men" is the brand new 12-part series launching in April of next year will be written by the publisher's "Architects" Brian Bendis, Jason Aaron, Matt Fraction, Ed Brubaker and Jonathan Hickman. The bi-weekly series will be drawn by John Romita, Jr., Olivier Coipel and Adam Kubert.
The specifics of the story were covered today via a live streaming video event, and CBR was on hand for the full scoop as Senior Editor Nick Lowe of the X-Men line led a conversation with the five writers and Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso as well as SVP of Publishing Tom Brevoort.
"We've got a very interesting arc for the Avengers," Bendis said of how his franchise runs into the event. "What's been going on lately is that they've been tested...they're wondering what it means to be an Avenger...when the world is throwing one terrible disaster at them after another...it takes a toll on a society and the Avengers are left to take the blame for it, as it were. They're going to want answers from Captain America." Bendis mentioned that Avengers characters like Wolverine and Storm who are traditionally X-Men will play a big part in the story.
Jason Aaron spoke to the X-side of the equation next. "I think this is something the X-Men have been headed toward since before I got involved," he said. "There were millions of mutants and then one day that number dwindled down to a few hundred because of what Scarlet Witch did." Aaron explained that Hope Summers role as the "Mutant Messiah" has been the thread he's picked up on. "She is the mutant messiah. It's not conjecture as far as Cyclops is concerned...coming out of 'Schism,' Cyclops is becoming harder edged. He had a philosophical split with the guy who was his top adviser for so long in Wolverine."
The X-Men will be driven to protect Hope as their messiah as she struggles to find out who she is. On the other side, Wolverine will have to decide where his final allegiances lie. "He's on the outs with a lot of people who were his friends for years," Aaron explained.
Fraction expressed his interest in writing Captain America and Cyclops as the leaders of the two factions as well as getting back to writing Hope after his stint on "Uncanny X-Men" expanded her role. "And Scarlet Witch is back, who's been gone for a while...that's pretty exciting," he said, adding, "We get to see new armor on Iron Man made with a specific foe in mind. And Thor will be up to some cosmic colossal shenanigans...there's a plethora, if you will, of great, great fights to write."
Brubaker spoke to the generals of the battle as well, saying, "They're really similar characters in their own way, because they're both patriotic for their own people, and they're both willing to do anything," he said. "I think Cyclops is probably more willing to [push the limits] than Steve Rogers."
Lowe busted Hickman's chops saying, "Jonathan...you haven't written the Avengers or the X-Men. Why are you here?" Hickman explained that in his view, either team could come out on top in the battle, which is why the drama of the book will work.
Alonso stepped up next to explain the origins of the specific series. "The seeds for this event were planted many, many years ago in 'House of M' on into 'Messiah CompleX,'" he said, noting the ramifications of Hope's existence were well known for the X-Men. However, he went to Bendis and Brevoort with a plan to make the Avengers a big part of the finale of the years-long story.
"'Avengers Vs. X-Men' is structured completely differently from any event we've ever done," Tom Brevoort added, saying that the five-man team broke out the overall storyline over the course of multiple summits with Bendis and Aaron sitting down to hammer out the specific beats of the issues before each single installment was written by one writer. "It's really like running a relay race. Rather than having a single writer and a single voice, we've got a chorus of voices....when you read an Ed Brubaker issue, it'll read like one of Ed's comics, and when you read one of Matt's issues, it'll read like Matt's comics."
Fan questions opened up with a query on whether Loki would work with or against Magneto. Fraction said it was a relationship rife with interesting possibilities, but he didn't want to reveal how Kid Loki would factor into the series.
Aaron spoke to the big flaming threat headed towards earth and how he and his fellow X-Men scribes viewed the cosmic entity. "We're trying to write the Phoenix that honors everything that's been done with [the entity] before from the Claremont stuff to the Grant Morrison stuff...certainly, if you've read that stuff, there will be more layers, but you won't need to know it all to jump right in."
The battle over Hope's future starts even before the Phoenix strikes. Brevoort promised that the incoming "Avengers: X-Sanction" by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness will prove a key lead in as Cable returns from the future with a mission that has a bit of a time bomb on it, bringing him into conflict with the Avengers as the big event looms. Alonso added, "For anyone wondering who Hope is, what her destiny is and what if any connection to Jean Grey – and Wanda – she has, [you'll learn that here.]"
Bendis said the "Avengers Vs. X-Men" #0 prelude issue set to hit in advance of the main book will not simply be reprints of older stories or rehashings of "House of M" plot points, but a full new story that sets the final pieces of the story in place as drawn by Frank Cho.
Character in the series were discussed here and there, with Hawkeye and Ms. Marvel both mentioned as playing key roles, though Hickman said they wanted to make sure to not let the expansive cast overtake the core of the story. "Black Panther's allegiance is to the Avengers, while Storm is split right down the middle," Bendis said of the first couple of Wakanda. "Storm's choice will be felt very loudly."
One fan asked "Where are the villains?" to which Alonso replied "The villains are busy doing their bad stuff...certainly, if I was Doctor Doom and a comet was headed to raze the planet, I'd be concerned." Though, he said, while fans can expect some nods to the villain community, the major players will be the heroes of the two franchises.
As for the artists, they revealed that Romita will draw the first act while Coipel will come in for Act 2 and Kubert will cover Act 3. "The three artists are at the top of their game, and people won't be disappointed at all," Lowe said.
Brubaker explained that for now, Bucky Barnes AKA the Winter Soldier will be functioning more outside the confines of the event as his own solo series gets rolling.
Bendis explained that he and Brevoort had been discussing bringing Storm to the Avengers for years before the current "Avengers" arc made that very move, but just as soon as they'd locked the move in, "AvX" came along and added a new wrinkle to the relationship.
"Xavier can't just sit on the sidelines...he'll have to be involved in some way or another," Aaron said. Meanwhile, Brevoort promised that the kids of the newly founded Jean Grey School For Gifted Youngsters will also factor in rather than simply appear on panel, as the SVP promised plenty of cameos and roles for characters from across the Marvel U. "Everybody's going to get a little bit of screentime."
Brevoort wrapped the news portion of the conference by noting that the event would not cross over into every Marvel Universe title, but it would cross into all the Avengers and X-Men books with one exception. "The one book that's not going to be touched by this, and it's a very deliberate choice on our part, is the new 'Avengers Assembled' title," he said, noting how that series is being made specifically for fans from the movies to read without any other tie-ins. "If you're talking about 'Uncanny X-Men' or 'Secret Avengers' or 'New Avengers' or 'Wolverine & The X-Men'...it's going to be all 'AvX' all the time in the Avengers and X-Men books."
For more on "Avengers Vs. X-Men," stay tuned later today for CBR's exclusive first interview with Axel Alonso.