The standing room only crowd from the just wrapped "Amazing Spider-Man" panel stood, switched seats and ultimately stayed for Marvel's "Avengers Vs. X-Men" panel Saturday afternoon at the 2012 Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (AKA C2E2), and a lineup of Marvel staffers including Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso, CCO Joe Quesada, writer Jason Aaron and writer Rick Remender all took the stage as Director Of Communications, Publishing & Digital Media Arune Singh played the role of MC.
As is now tradition on these panels, Singh stared out by polling the audience on which side of the "AvX" battle they stand on. The room seemed slightly in favor of Marvel's mutants, leading to a Quesada saying, "For those of you who voted for the X-Men, you're not allowed into the 'Avengers' movie."
Talent Manager C.B. Cebulski joined the crew as they discussed the prelude #0 issue. "One of the things we were excited about all the time from when we started 'AvX' [was the relationship between Scarlet Witch and Hope,]" Aaron said. Alonso added, "If you're asking why we picked these two...years ago, Wanda said 'No more mutants' and decimated the mutant population. A few years later, a little girl named Hope showed up and said 'Hell yeah, mutants!'"
Singh noted that issue #3 of the series is a wall-to-wall battle between Captain America and Wolverine. Shortly after, Alonso explained that despite discussing the idea of an "Avengers Vs. X-Men" story for years, they never found the best way to make it work until recently. "It's really important that you don't have a good guy and a bad guy," he noted, saying that for the story to happen each side needs a defensible position. Ultimately, in an "Avengers" movie year where the X-Men are already a major franchise known by the public, it made sense to find the way to make the high concept sing. "This event required the brain power of more than one writer," the E-i-C added, calling out the five-man team handling the heavy lifting of the event's scripting.
Singh teased that as part of the major rollout for the series, Marvel had gotten placement for the comic on a very popular ABC primetime TV series as well as another show that "probably everyone in this audience watches."
Speaking of the long terms plans for the story hitting in issue #7, Aaron said that it's "the heart of Act 2" of the story, and that "It's going to go some placed you won't expect from a summer popcorn, punch 'em up event." Alonso noted that each act of the event serves as a kind of mini event unto itself.
The "AvX: Versus" all-fight series was described at turns as "pure event comics heroin" and "comic book porn" as the series runs low on plot and high on action. Alonso said the creators are always looking for the place to fit in more fights, so why not just make a series to hold those pages?
"This is another one of those stories that expands upon the bigger story," Remender said, noting the book focuses on "a suicide team tasked to take on the Phoenix Force in space" though he promised the story would have an impact on the team's heroes beyond this event. The story also heavily involves Mar-Vel and the Kree Homeworld as Remender said the book was perfect for you "If you like science fiction and me molesting all the great work Jim Starlin did" adding more seriously that he went deep on old school cosmic Marvel ideas and tried to be as reverential to it as possible.
An incoming cover for "Wolverine & The X-Men" – issue #14 – was shown featuring a character pixelated out so fans couldn't tell who it is. Writer Aaron joked that it was Videoman from "Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends" before noting that the first "classified version of the cover only pixelated the face of the character, so everyone could still see who it was "which was pointless." He went on to say that the arc of the series tying in to the event will focus on "Logan's long, dark night of the soul" where he battles with himself over what side to fall on. "Logan makes his choice, but just because he goes that way, it doesn't mean that everyone else at his school will make the same choice." He noted that characters like Iceman and Rogue will play a major role as well. The book will also feature Gladiator who will cross with his son Kid Gladiator in issue #13.
Marvel's new "Infinite Comics" platform was discussed in relation to the event as Alonso said the stories made exclusively for digital would remain comics more than in name as the goal is to make pacing and interaction be always in the readers hands. Quesada again spoke to his inspiration by French digital comics creator Balak two years ago, and he promised that if you're a comics reader, you'll be able to pick up these stories and intuitively "It's hard to explain it, but once you see it, you'll go 'Oh yeah, that's how it works,'" he said.
Artist Frank Cho arrived and spoke to his work on "AvX" #0. "It was fun!" he said simply to laughter and applause before adding, "It was actually intimidating. After Axel and Nick Lowe told me all about the event and all it would do, it was very intimidating. Once I got the script...I was happy because it was just awesome. It was a story full of action and fun, and I'm thrilled to be a part of it."
Fan questions started up next, and the first came from a fan wondering if the Infinite Comics will ever make it to print. Quesada said yes, but the goal with the first story was to do something that worked in print first and possibly only. Artist Stuart Immonen planned the story to work both ways, however, and Alonso noted that you'll likely see those stories printed in trades down the line.
The death of Nightcrawler in "Second Coming" was referenced in regards to whether that plot thread would be picked back up. Alonso said that while fans shouldn't look for a resurrection per se, Wolverine's view of Hope – considering that the fuzzy X-Man sacrificed himself to save her – would be impacted in a huge way by the "Second Coming" story.
Dr. Strange will play a big role in the second issue of "AvX" which Aaron described as "the big battle for Utopia."
A readers asked if fans would see Wanda Maximoff's children as a part of the story considering the end of "Avengers: The Children's Crusade." Alonso declined to give a spoiler, but said that the Scarlet Witch had to appear in this story to atone for what she did with the decimating "No More Mutants" spell. Cebulski pointed the fan towards "Avengers" #24.1 which comes from the Vision's point of view in regards to many of the major issues with Wanda.
Asked whether Cable will appear in "AvX," Alonso again shied away from spoilers, but he said, "We LOOOOOOOOVE Cable. Cable has a big role to play in the Marvel Universe moving forward."
A new tablet owner who wanted to get the Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited program on an iPad asked when the two would merge. Singh said they've been trying to figure out how to bring the Flash-based service to phones and tablets for a while, and that they would eventually do it, but only when it could be done right.
Someone asked whether Marvel had looked at how "Civil War" had presented one side as good and one side as bad when the story ended to see how to avoid similar problems in this story. Aaron said, "'AvX' definitely has winners and losers by the end of it, but I don't think that means you have to alienate fans from one side or the other."
Remender said that he was very excited to write the original Captain Marvel Vs. Thor in his "Secret Avengers" tie-in issues, nothing that Mar-Vell will be back from the dead for this story due to the impact of the Phoenix Force. He teased that Marvel has some plans overall for Marvel Boy as well, and Brian Michael Bendis would be working with that character's long term fate.