Rick Remender Sheds Light on AVENGERS & X-MEN: AXIS

Avengers & X-Men: Axis #1 cover by Jim Cheung & Steve McNiven
Credit: Marvel Entertainment
Credit: Marvel Comics

Original Sin isn't even halfway complete yet, but Marvel is already beating the war drum for their next major event: Avengers & X-Men: Axis. Last week we learned of a group of tie-ins preceding the event's formal launch in October, and today Newsarama learns first-hand from series writer Rick Remender and Marvel Senior Vice-President of Publishing Tom Brevoort new details about the maniacal plot for Red Skull to wage full-scale war against mutantkind. Marvel is hostied a press call to promote Avengers & X-Men: Axis, and Newsarama was to ask questions, get answers and provide context to this major publishing initiative.

The call begins with Marvel PR maven Chris D'Lando welcoming the press to this "Next Big Thing" call to discuss the series. D'Lando summarized Red Skull's recent actions in Uncanny Avengers. He then asked Rick Remender about the formulation of Red Skull's plans in Uncanny Avengers.

"I'm itching for people to see what we've been building to," Remender said. "Tom first brought up the idea of using Onslaught, and at first I was kind of hesistant but once I sat on it I realized the possibilities with Red Skull having those powers. We originally built it as a b-story that would percolate, and fast-forward to now we've excited about how it's developed."

Avengers & X-Men: Axis will launch in October, with three issues each month and ending in December. At Special Edition: NYC it was announced that the artists of the series would be Adam Kubert, Leinil Yu, Terry Dodson and Jim Cheung. During the press call, Brevoort was asked which artist will draw which issues, and he says while it's still to be determined, Kubert will start the series, followed by Yu, then Dodson and culminate with Cheung.

D'Lando then turned to ask about the heroes in this, bringing up the fact that Avengers Vs. X-Men was just two years ago and now they have to settle any remaining issues to defeat Red Skull and his S-Men.

Avengers & X-Men: Axis #1 cover by Jim Cheung & Steve McNiven
Avengers & X-Men: Axis #1 cover by Jim Cheung & Steve McNiven
Credit: Marvel Entertainment

"The one thing that was important to me coming out of AvX is that the Unity Squad wouldn't automatically solve all the rifts," Remender said. "Without spoiling the 'Apocalypse Twins' arc of Uncanny Avengers, the team will come out the other side of it united like they've never been in recent memory. They are bonded at first, and working together -- unified. How that plays out with the threat of Red Skull is going to be fun to see."

D'Lando says the first act of Axis is called 'Red Supremacy," and will be built to with the 'March to Axis' tie-in issues and various clues dropped in Uncanny Avengers, Captain America and other books.

"The build-up has been slow; we've kept it in the background bubbling, and it was necessary for Red Skull to develop what he wanted to do for this next stage," Remender reveals. "During this time, Red Skull has developed re-education camps at Genosha to brainwash some people to act out his plans."

D'Lando then referred to the Jim Cheung promo piece showing two united fronts, of heroes and villains, and asked who the main players will be in the series.

"There's going to be a big cast," Brevoort says. "Extraordinary large cast, particularly as Axis gets under way. Most of the characters that you nkow and recognize will play a role in what is to come."

Remender specifically mentions the large roles Havok and Scarlet Witch will play in the series, and confirms that this is the first time he's written Tony Stark "in any real way," and he enjoys writing him as well as Deadpool.

"This is an event we're trying to be secretive about, but there will be some very huge changes for many uhge characters," Remender said. "One of those in particular is Iron Man, who will undergo some big changes as a result of things going on the background between him and the Red Skull."

Remender said one of the "exciting things" about the event is that "every act is, in a way, it's own event."

"We don't want to give away too too much, but you'll see a lot of characters doing what they do," Brevoort said. "You'll see the invasion of Genosha, and the Red Skull powered as he's never been before. Even just the ordinary run of the mill Red Skull is a pretty real threat, but the reality is that he cannot go toe-to-toe with most Marvel heroes. He's confounded Cap before, but physically he's limited -- but that's no longer the case."

As seen in Uncanny Avengers, Red Skull acquired the brain of the deceased Professor X and implanted it into his own head to obtain the X-Men founder's expansive psionic powers.

Credit: Marvel Comics

"There's no one more down deep awful than the Red Skull," Brevoort says. "We've given him all the power he'll ever need to make the world over in his own image as he sees fit. That is the threat, which will unite more than anything the Avengers and the X-Men. While they might have conflict, concerns and history, all that pales with threat of Red Skull and the S-Men shocktroops and what they have planned."

Talk then turns to "March of Axis," the lead-up tie-in stories in Uncanny Avengers, Captain America, Magneto and Loki.

"The important thing in doing this was finding natural and important ways to include the other villains in this, and Loki and Magneto were two of the big ones. They both have a large role in this story," Remender says. "Magneto finds himself with in the re-education camps of Genosha along with several members of Uncanny Avengers."

Remender says that while the action is "big, bombastic comic book fun," it's all a result of character's choices and will feel "true to who they are."

When asked about the structure of this event series compared to others, Brevoort says that once Axis itself begins there will be "a fleet of tie-ins" around the same level as Original Sin.

"It was importnat for me that the tie-ins weren't mandatory and the event was self-contained, but the tie-ins were great stories," Remender adds. "Something which is a side story in Axis will spin off into Wolverine & the X-Men to become it's own thing, for example. It's interesting things to connect it to the event, with stories bleeding into the tie-ins and then circling back to the main event. It's a big game of coordination, but I think it'll pay out and be a rich experience."

Credit: Marvel Comics

In writing Red Skull, Remender says he's "pure evil" and its the first time he's written someone like that.

"There is no love inside the Red Skull; there's no grey area for him. So the challenge is creating the motive of what he wants to do," Remender says.

Tom Brevoort confirms that Red Skull's primary nemesis over the years, Captain America, will be a major part of Axis.

"There's no way Rick would write a event series and not include one of his characters from the books he writes," Brevoort says with a laugh.

Remender says there will be a memorial clash between Magneto and Red Skull given their shared past on opposite sides of World War II and Skull's new actions, as well as other pairings -- both fights and friendships -- that'll be surprising.

"In this event, I had a really wonderful opportunity to do some pairings with the main heroes, the 'b-list,' as well as the villains," Remender says. "You'll be seeing alot of interaction you haven't seen before."

A member of the press asks about the specific use of Genosha by Red Skull in this event.

"Genosha is symbolic; taking what was once a mutant nation and turning it into these re-education camps," Remender says. "Also, it's rubble; it's an entire island that's completely demolished and he can do what he wants here."

Brevoort describes Genosha as a "crap hole," saying no good has ever happened here. Although there was a brief time where it was a mutant haven, it ended up very bad for the mutantkind.

"It's the best place on Earth," Brevoort explains," The piece of land that  most reflects, in its history, what Red Skull's psyche is like."

The next question was about the coloring change from Green Goblin to Hobgoblin in Jim Cheung's promo image, and Brevoort confirms this was due to internal shifting in terms of the story of Green Goblin elsewhere.

"Spider-Man's big role in this doesn't really take off until the second act, but it's a big one," Remender explains. "He is going to have a large responsibility and a big role to play. When we were putting together his threats, you'll see how Hobgoblin fits well here."

Credit: Marvel Comics

When asked about the blacked-out figure on the cover to Axis #1, Remender says they did this to "save the integrity" of the book in light of the ongoing events of Original Sin. When asked about having two major MArvel events so close to one another, Brevoort says "it's just kind of how it came out."

"Original Sin was always planned as our big summer 2014 event, and Axis is happening after Uncanny Avengers #25 as intended," Brevoort explains. "That being said, the two events are very different -- Original Sin is a very inward-looking sotry, while Axis is a very extroverted series about blowing things up and punching people, with character and heart, but in a different way."

As Rick's first line-spanning event, he's getting the opportunity to write many Marvel characters for the first time. After touching upon Tony Stark earlier, Newsarama asked what other heroes he's excited about writing.

"I've done some Magneto, but not alot," Remender says. "Magneto is defintiely high on the list, as is Nightcrawler and Cyclops. I went back and read what Gerry Duggan is doing with Nova, and what he and Jeph Loeb have done on that character. I actually built a bigger role for Nova after reading that."

Remender says that Axis has been in the works for "at least two years," and has talked with virtually all of Marvel writers in person and over the phone about his plans leading into, and through, Axis. He said this allows him to use things going on in various characters' individual series in Axis and also let the individual titles' writers be privvy to what Rick's plans are in Axis.

"We're reasonably good at [coordinating the tie-ins and the event], but not obsessive about it. I know some fans would like us to be, "Brevoort adds. "We tell our story, and a good story beats everything. One that connects to everything and might work perfectly but is a dull story, is a dull story."

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