"Avengers vs. X-Men" ends in a month, and Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso hit Fan Expo to discuss the series during a packed "AvX" panel. Marvel also revealed James Latour as the new writer and artist for "Winter Soldier," and Neil Edwards as the new artist for "Dark Avengers."
"AvX" is Marvel's bi-weekly, 12-issue summer event; an isolated crossover series that revels in the simplicity of its premise, where the Avengers fight the X-Men over the return of the Phoenix Force. Alonso was impressed by the series' reception, with high print and digital sales. He believes that it will act as a guide for future Marvel crossovers.
"We have people complaining there wasn't enough, which is usually a good sign ... We picked very selectively what titles would tie-in to 'AvX' from the core Avengers and X-Men titles, and we rolled the dice with that," Alonso said, responding to common crossover criticism that it costs too much to see all the critical moments. "I think it worked. I think it's a model for future events."
Editor Steve Wacker offered a more romantic view, describing the tense scene at the Marvel retreats. Editors Tom Brevoort and Alonso, an avid Cyclops fan, would argue across the table from writers like Ed Brubaker as to what their favorite characters would do in "AvX."
"It was extremely fun to watch," Wacker said, comparing it to debates between longtime Marvel fans. "It was messy, but at the end of the day it served the final story."
About mid-way, the panelists brought up "Marvel NOW!," the company's writer and artist shuffle on its various titles. They quickly ran through old announcements before revealing Jason Latour will write and pencil "Winter Soldier." Latour, previously an artist on "Wolverine" and the writer of "Loose Ends," will take over from current writer Ed Brubaker.
Latour's arc begins in January, and deals with the aftermath of Brubaker's run where Bucky, no longer part of the Avengers, is hunted by a man from his past.
The publisher also announced artist Neil Edwards will join writer Jeff Parker on "Dark Avengers." Edwards will mark the beginning of a new direction for the series, as the villains-turned-heroes will become humanity's last hope against a threat only evil can fight.
Although none of the "AvX" writers or artists were at the panel, senior editor Nick Lowe was there in their stead. Lowe is responsible for "AVX: VS," a companion series to "AvX" that focuses on individual bouts. With the last issue on its way, he described reading it like "taking crack cocaine."
He also explained that the September and October issues of "Uncanny X-Men" would play into "AvX" #11 and #12, and that they were "some of the most powerful comics (he had) ever read."
Lowe's excitable accounts timed into some of the Marvel panel's gaffes. The slideshow meant to display the credits for books like "Wolverine and the X-Men," "X-Men Legacy," and "Uncanny X-Men," had the wrong names for their creators. The repeat announcement for "AvX Babies" spelled the artists names wrong. The gaffes did not go unnoticed by the audience, who congratulated Marvel Director of Communications Arune Singh when three out of four artists turned out to be correct on "AvX: Consequences."
Marvel's upcoming video games were also on display, as they showed trailers for "Marvel Pinball: Avengers Chronicles," the Facebook game "Marvel: Avengers Alliance," and the motion-controlled "Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth." Singh explained "Avengers Alliance" will have a different fifth member of the Phoenix Five (the Phoenix god-possessed members of the X-Men) than the one in canon. The crowd gave tepid applause to most of the games.
Other reminders included the "AvX" hat line by New Era and Marvel AR, an iPhone app that spots DVD extras in comic book pages. The latter initiative is primarily for print comics, but Lowe said that the app is functional, if awkward, when used on a digital comic.
Once the Q&A session hit, one fan asked whether Marvel NOW! was planned to come after "AvX" from the start. Alonso explained that the process was a little more complicated than that.
"It wasn't something decided in a day or a week. It took weeks and months." Alonso said. "One of the key moments in [development] was when Brian Bendis expressed deep interest in the [Stan] Lee and [Jack] Kirby 'X-Men' -- we saw the first domino fall then, or at least I did."
He elaborated on "a healthy sense of competition in the air" as writers and artists picked which series they wanted to work on, and decided where they would take those characters.
"Runaways," the fan-favorite comic co-created by Brian K. Vaughn was brought up hastily by the Marvel editors right as the panel was supposed to end. C.B. Cebulski, Marvel Vice President in charge of creative content, said that though they wouldn't have their own series, they would be appearing in a number of Marvel comics in the future. Cebulski went on to say that fans should look forward to future announcements.
"Avengers vs. X-Men" #11 hits September 12, while Marvel NOW! begins in October.