Marvel Comics X-Men line is known for growing and expanding as much as the ever evolving mutant race, and Sunday afternoon at the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (AKA C2E2), the creators and editors behind the comics oversaw some new expansions to the line at Marvel's X-Men panel.
Marvel Director of Communications Arune Singh led the roundtable talk with "X-Men" writer Brian Wood, "Wolverine" writer Paul Cornell, Editors Jordan White and Tom Brevoort, "Wolverine & The X-Men" artist Ramon Perez, "Venom" artist Declan Shalvey, colorist Jordie Bellaire and "Uncanny Avengers" writer Rick Remender.
The panel started talking about "Uncanny Avengers" upcoming arc focusing on "Four Deaths" in the form of resurrected characters like Banshee, Sentry, Grim Reaper and Daken. The Apocalypse twins born of Archangel and Pestilance who were raised in the future by Kang raise the four for their own purposes. "What the Apocalypse twins have done is create the Four Horsemen of Death...this sounds like I'm sitting in my house playing D&D by myself," he joked. "Each one of them have context with our cast. You're going to see a big Sentry/Thor knockdown fight."
White teased incoming strife in "All-New X-Men" as Mystique and Lady Mastermind work behind the scenes to build a group against the time-dispalced original X-Men. Meanwhile in "Uncanny X-Men," young Warren Worthington has joined Cyclops' team, but the real question moving forward is can Magneto be trusted with the team?
"Wolverine & The X-Men" will flash to the future in May's issue #29. Perez announced that he'll be leaving the book after the issue. "I got to draw the school about 50 years in the future with a million and one characters," he said. "Wolverine looks kind of cool with a beard...you get to see what kids make it and what kids don't make it in the future. It is an alternate future, though," he said leaving the story possibilities open. The artist said he'll probably stick with the X-Men line in his future work before he and White noted that issue #29 will see a character defect to the Hellfire Club.
As for Wood's "X-Men," the writer said, "Who's tired of waiting for this book?" to applause. He then announced that a seventh, as of yet unseen cast member on the book will join the book on the very last page of issue #1.
The panel then announced that for September's 50th Anniversary of the franchise, Marvel will publish a new crossover event called "X-Men: Battle of The Atom" which has been put together by Brian Michael Bendis, Jason Aaron and Brian Wood as all of their books will play a part in the ten-part story. It will launch with a "Battle of the Aton" #1 issue drawn by Frank Cho before running in "Uncanny X-Men" #12-13, "All-New X-Men" #16-17, "Wolverine & The X-Men" #36-37, "X-Men" # 5-6 and then wrapping in "X-Men: Battle of The Atom" #2.
The story adds some new players to the Cyclops/Wolverine divide when a group of X-Men from the future land in the present including Kate Pryde, Molly Hayes, Deadpool, Lady Xorn, a futuristically mutated Beast and something called "Ice-Thing" – all designed by Arthur Adams.
The next announcement on the slate was a new story called "Killable" starting in "Wolverine" #7 in August by continuing team of Cornell and Alan Davis. The story will reveal how Wolverine can be killed, and when Sabertooth learns the secret, he gathers a cabal of killers to come after Logan. "It's a dirty, great revenge story with Sabertooth and a number of the great X-Men villains who decide that because of something that's about to happen, Wolverine is about to become killable...leading to a kind of Western-style revenge story," the writer said. "We're leading him to the shadow of the valley of death with Kitty Pryde by his side."
The panel promised that by the end of the story, Wolverine would be fundamentally changed – a story beat Singh said would be all over the national media. There were a number of jokes on the panel about that alongside the idea that fans should shower Cornell with love now as they're going to hate him when "Killable" wraps.
"Deadpool" kicks a new story called "The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly" in issue #15 by Gerry Duggan, Brian Posehn and Shalvey as new interior artist. The story digs into Deadpool's past where Wade teams with former "Weapon Plus" comrades Captain America and Wolverine. "I'll be honest, I'm a really, really big Wolverine fan," Shalvey said of the gig. "It's a slightly darker story...which really pulled me in." Bellaire added that she hated Deadpool for years after a Deadpool cosplayer was rude to her at a show years before, but working on this book has brought her back around to the character.
The panel then announced that "X-Factor's" September issue will be its last. The move is writer Peter David's choice as he found a natural endpoint of his story. "Right now they're in the middle of the 'Hell On Earth War' arc which really wraps up a lot of the supernatural stories that have been running through the arc," White explained saying that the very final issues will focus on the character relationships in the book including Polaris' relationship with Quicksilver after she accepts that she is, in fact, Magneto's daughter. They then showed a brief video David recorded on the end of the series which has to be seen to get the full effect of the humor, but the writer did say he had another Marvel project in the works.
White then took out his ukulele and led the audience in a "sing along" of the theme from the '90s "X-Men" animated series.
The panel opened up to fan questions, starting with a question as to whether Marvel had any say in how the new "X-Men: Days of Future Past" movie was turning out. Brevoort explained that some higher ups at Marvel were in the loop and could give some notes, but unlike Marvel Studios films, the X-Men franchise is really solely in the control of the team at 20th Century Fox. Similarly, a fan asked after the possibility of more X-Men Legos to which the panel said there may be more sets coming in September.
Wood told a fan that his "X-Men" book would start as a self-contained story and then jump write into the big "Battle of the Atom" event. After that, he'll find a better mix of his own concerns and story beats that play off the events in some of the other X-books.
A fan scoping images online as the panel went asked after another cast member of the "Battle of the Atom" event wondering if Wolverine and Mystique would have a daughter in the future. The question got a "No comment."
Sentry's choice as a Horseman of Death came up, and Remender said the Apocalypse twins have been picking team members based on what they've seen in the future, and what they've seen necessitates certain characters. "We played with Ares as an option, and after going back and forth on it, I went with the Sentry because there was...not untapped potential, but I had some ideas for him," the writer said, adding that it also worked thematically for the idea of a mix of X-Men and Avengers concerns in the book and specifically to lead to the Thor/Sentry rematch. Brevoort said he argued for Ares, but he ceded to Remender's choice in the end.
A fan asked after resurrections of characters might happen in "Battle of the Atom" – particularly Nightcrawler and Jean Grey. The panel took the temperature on the room for either return before declining to comment in any specific fashion.
Wood said that other female characters from the X-Franchise like Pixie could possibly show up in the long term plans for his "X-Men" title, but at the start he wants to get the core cast established strongly.