Tom Brevoort: Bridging AvX Finale & Marvel NOW! [Spoilers]
***This article contains spoilers for Avengers vs. X-Men #12, released this week.***
Avengers vs. X-Men is done —12 issues (plus a #0 prelude chapter and multiple tie-ins) later, and nearly a year after the story was originally teased.
Now that Marvel's 2012 event is complete, we talked to Tom Brevoort, editor of the main series (and Marvel senior vice president of publishing) about some of the finer points to this week's climactic Avengers vs. X-Men #12. If you're curious about Cyclops' status, the restoration of the mutant race and what's next for Hope, read on.
Newsarama: Tom, now that it's all out in the world, how is Avengers vs. X-Men being viewed from within Marvel? Between the sales and the mostly positive reviews, the natural guess is would be that it's seen as an unqualified success.
Tom Brevoort: I don't think we really could be much happier, realistically, short of gold falling from the skies into our pockets, or divine intervention of some sort. We kinda knew from the jump that it was going to be something of a crowd-pleaser. The title alone, "Avengers vs. X-Men," meant that readers were going to get excited and cash registers were going to ring. But that will only carry you so far.
Nrama: One of the major outcomes of the story was the reversal of "no more mutants," which has been more or less the status quo at Marvel since 2005 — which for superhero comic books is certainly a significant amount of time. What motivated the decision? If Marvel NOW! is the start of something new, there's definitely some symmetry in bringing the current era of Marvel stories to a close with this.
I think that one of the reasons that we did M-Day at the end of House of M to begin with was just the feeling that mutants had become ubiquitous. Not only were there hundreds of them, there were thousands, there were millions; there was practically a mutant around every corner. They were the only minority on the planet who seemed like a majority. In trying to address that fact, we went to the extreme of House of M, and we winnowed the number of mutants down by an astronomical number.
Nrama: In reference to some of that fist-shaking reaction that's been going on, certainly a great deal of it seems to be about the portrayal of Cyclops…
Brevoort: Honestly, that's probably down to about No. 3. I think it varies depending on what conversations you're in, what message boards you happen to be in. I judge this from a very skewed perspective — what I get to see is people who will tweet me stuff, people who will send me questions on Formspring, people who will send me emails through the Marvel email address, and people who will just talk to me at conventions, or comic shops, or on the street. In those worlds — certainly Cyclops is there, but he is a solid No. 3, maybe.
Brevoort: No. 1 and No. 2 are both connected. No. 1, with a bullet, is angry Jean Grey fans — that Jean is either not back and we've soiled her legacy by giving Phoenix powers to other people (whether those other people are the Phoenix Five, or Hope, or whoever). Despite the fact that months ago, I came out and said straight up, "Jean is not in AvX" — and there was a lot of agate about that from people — these folks, some of them, legitimately believe that I had to just be pulling their leg and safeguarding the story, as I'm want to do. I'm not above doing something like that if it's in service of making sure that the story unfolds the way we want it to. But in fact, that was true, and now they're just as unhappy as they were when I said it the first time, because she was not actually in the comic.
Number two is kind of a cross between, "You awful people, how could you characterize the Phoenix Five as such bad guys when it's really all the Avengers' fault. If the Avengers had just not done anything, they would have made the world a paradise, and the deserts would bloom, and the ice caps would freeze." I think that's a reasonable point. Every reader comes out and supports their team, and the characters that they like the most. That's part of the game. It's right there in the title: "Avengers vs. X-Men." But also right there in the title — and I have some experience with this because I worked on JLA vs. Avengers years ago —is the promise that somebody is going to end up on the winning side, and somebody is going to end up not so much on the winning side, and the fans of the characters that are the latter are going to tend to be vocal about it. So none of this is a huge shock or a surprise. It's all par for the course whenever you do a story like this. There's no way we could have done one of these and made everybody happy.
Brevoort: It would be a very boring story, and nobody would be happy. If we did a bunch of fights that were just, "Cyclops and Captain America fight for 12 issues and are evenly matched, and then they shake hands and go, 'You're great!' 'No, you're great!'" everyone would have gone, "What a cop out." You clearly needed to have a definitive winner here.
But you had an actual Cyclops question that I relegated to #3. Let's do that one.
Nrama: Well, that was a very informative detour — and with Cyclops, there are people who, fair or not, think he's been cast as a villain, even if the Phoenix force was influencing him. Taking him in this direction, was it motivated out of seeing that kind of potential in where he's been going the past few years? Is labeling him, even at this point, as a "villain" still sort of missing the point?
At the end of the day, as he sort of says to Cap, he got as good an outcome as he could possibly have wanted. All he ever wanted to do was safeguard what remained of his people until the point came when this world-changing event happened, and the mutant race was reborn — and he did it. There were casualties along the way, and that's the tragedy, and that's the burden that he's going to carry going forward.
Your viewpoint on Cyclops really depends on where you stand on the choices he made. I think at the very least, if he's not a heroic figure, he's a sympathetic figure, and I wouldn't necessarily even rule out that he's a heroic figure. I think that's completely up to the individual readers to decide for themselves. He made what he thought were the right choices, and ultimately, for the most part, everything worked out pretty well, with one glaring exception.
Brevoort: Actually, most directly in AvX: Consequences. But you'll also see a little bit of him in Uncanny Avengers; you'll see him in All-New X-Men. He's not by any means a character that we're done with. There's a lot of Cyclops stuff coming in the weeks and months ahead. His story is in no way, shape or form over.
Nrama: It's sort of similar to the end of Civil War, where a lot of readers still saw Iron Man as a villain, and that notion seemed to dissipate pretty quickly.
Brevoort: Again, it all depends on your perspective. There are still people who view Iron Man, and Reed, and Hank, whoever else, as villains. Every once in a while I'll still get people who will ask about it. "Are they ever going to be brought to justice and pay for the awful things they did during Civil War?" That just means the story had a really strong effect on those readers.
This is the nature of serial fiction. Characters are going to do things, they are going to move to new, and hopefully interesting places, and then they're going to make new choices; their lives are going to go on, and that's the story. In the case of Scott Summers, [we're] not at all finished with him, and certainly his place in the world now, I think, is just as interesting, in a different way, as it was when we began.
Brevoort: You will see her in AvX: Consequences as well. Her story, too, is not quite done. She's in a very interesting place as well, in that pretty much from the moment that she was born, she lived under the specter of this great destiny that everybody said was coming for her. Now, that moment has passed. She's suddenly looking, very literally at the end of AvX #12, at pages that haven't been written. This thing that she has prepared for her entire life has come and gone, and it was done well and properly in the end, and now, infinite possibilities await her of one sort of another, and we'll see where that road begins to take her in Consequences, and then later on in other Marvel NOW! stuff that we will tell you about at some point.
Nrama: One more question of that exact same nature — Iron Fist had a bigger role than most expected in AvX, and he doesn't have a confirmed role yet in Marvel NOW!. Where will his story pick up next?
Nrama: One question I've seen a lot from readers is asking why Magneto is on the run with the rest of the Phoenix Five, since he ended up opposing them — though it does seem to stand to reason given that he's Magneto, after all, and no longer has Scott and Utopia to protect him.
Brevoort: He was one of the last people standing among the Phoenix Five, even to the end. In that last fight, he called Professor X in, he helped the Avengers get in, but before that he was really the right-hand man of Cyclops, and by extension the Phoenix Five, all through the course of AvX.
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