Marvel Comics kicked off the New Year in style with their first Next Big Thing press conference call where the publisher pulled back the curtain on the first "Avengers vs. X-Men" tie-in book. Titled simply "Versus," each issue of the 12-part miniseries with a rotating cast of creative teams focuses on a battle between a different X-Man and Avenger. Moderator and Junior Sales Administrator James Viscardi was joined by Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso, Marvel Senior Editor Nick Lowe and Executive Editor Tom Brevoort, who were on hand to answer questions and shed some light on the upcoming series.
"In a nutshell, as we've said in the past, in 'Avengers vs. X-Men,' we're only doing tie-ins in our core Avengers and X-Men titles," said Brevoort. "'AvX: Versus' is the least essential read of 'AvX,' but it will probably be the most bestselling. It is literally the fight book." Brevoort said the series would expand the battles seen in the main pages of "AvX" and would have heavy action.
Viscardi mentioned there are two creative teams on each issue with two stories in each book. "It is the ultimate book for the quintessential Marvel fan," said Brevoort. "There's going to be plenty of fighting in the main 'AvX' title, but given the casts are so large and given that there are so many potential conflicts -- if you go to any message board right now where people are talking about 'AvX' and they want to see every character who's ever appeared in the Avengers fight every character that's ever appeared in the X-Men, there's not going to be enough space to do justice to all those conflicts in the main book."
"We're already seeing people on the message boards aligning themselves with either the X-Men or the Avengers and pondering the big question of 'Who would win in a fight?'" said Alonso. "We want to give that some space here. We want to give some eye candy by rotating our A-list teams. We're bringing out our big guns. If you were ever going to publish a book that was oversized, it would be this one."
The first bout is Magneto versus Iron Man by Jason Aaron and Adam Kubert, while the second will feature Namor versus Thing by Katherine and Stuart Immonen, which Lowe described as "two huge knockdown, dragout battles that play with the characters' powers in amazing ways." Both will be contained in Issue #1. "It's going to be a big hoo-hah fun of a title," said Brevoort.
"One of the coolest things about AvX is that there are a ton of twists and turns where each team gets a leg up and I'm looking forward to seeing all these characters in depth," said Lowe. "I'm looking forward to getting a Storm fight in here, a Jessica Jones fight in here."
During the event, Brevoort confirmed there will be moments of shifting and breaking of ranks on both sides. "There are moments where Avengers may break ranks, they may shift over to the X-Men point of view and vice versa," said Brevoort.
The editors described "AvX: Versus" as the "anti-'Front Line.'" "We just wanted more fights," said Lowe.
In terms of interconnectivity to the main title, it is possible to read the main title and not "Versus" to still get the whole story, but for diehard fans, the tie-in would be very rewarding. "In the course of 'AvX' #2, there are about forty characters fighting in the very first skirmish and we aren't going to be able to spend more than a page or two on it," said Brevoort. "They're going to be pretty exciting pages, but there's a lot more you can do with any of these conflicts. All of these things will work in lockstep. You won't see bouts in 'Versus' that aren't in some way reflected in the main book, but you will see them in much greater depth." Brevoort referenced a Stan Lee and Jack Kirby moment where Thor fought the Hulk.
Alonso referenced the one of his favorite events that "Versus" reminds him of. "One of the things that I like about 'Versus' is that it reminds me a little bit of my favorite crossover, 'The Avengers/Defenders War' back in the '70s," said Alonso. "A lot of those fights were split into bite-sized chunks of two fights in the issue."
"We've jokingly said about it internally that the tag on it is 'No Story, No Subtext,'" said Brevoort. "It's not 100% accurate, but it's maybe 99% accurate."
The editors said they wouldn't be "shying away" from fan favorite fights including Squirrel Girl vs. Pixie or Rogue vs. Ms. Marvel. "The goal is to bring this to where some fans will walk away happy and some will walk away unhappy."
Most of the fights will be one-on-one, though the editors did say they were open to others joining in. "The main thing is to keep it one-on-one, but we don't want to tie our creators down if they have an awesome idea that involves more than that," said Lowe.
"Primarily, you're talking about one-on-one bouts," said Brevoort.
In terms of fight venues, Brevoort referenced fighting games where players can choose their characters and the stage. "We will have plenty of arenas from around the world to draw from," he said.
Brevoort also clarified why there wouldn't be a "Front Line" style book for this event. "This is the uncut heroine of this event," said Brevoort. "Doing a ground level, normal people view didn't seem as appealing of our characters grinding each other into the dirt."
The editors closed out the call by discussing some of their favorite bouts including Thor vs Storm and the potential of Magneto's powers on whichever arena he fought. The first issue of "AvX: Versus" hits in April.