After an Onslaught-powered Red Skull, two Sentinels based designed by Iron Man himself, and a horde of mutant-hating villains, what could possibly come next in AXIS? A lot more, says Tom Brevoort, Marvel’s Senior Vice President of Publishing and the book’s chief editor.
When AXIS returns on November 5 with issue #5, the series’ focus will be “wider and broader” according to the long-time Marvel editor, and grow to encompass virtually every corner of the Marvel U on Earth. This fourth issue will mark the beginning of the second act of the series, dubbed “Inversion,” and by some means see heroes like Iron Man and villains like Carnage “inverted,” so to speak, into contrary alignments different from what you’d expect. And while the Red Skull is subdued and in custody, his appearance on the cover of the finale in AXIS #9 means that his story isn’t over yet either. Brevoort brought along an exclusive first look at the covers to AXIS #7 & 8, too.
Newsarama: We’re just a couple days out from Avengers & X-Men: AXIS #3, the end of this event’s first arc. There’s one off-week between that and the next issue, but how much time will pass story-wise?
Tom Brevoort: There’s a little bit of a break. We don’t come back right on the heels of AXIS #3, as there is some time that’s transpired. It’s not a ton of time, but things have happened.
Nrama: Would you say the time is to allow that ending of AXIS #3 to simmer?
Brevoort: #3 ended on a particular note, and #4 will carry that note forward. Certainly there’ll be simmering.
Nrama: At the end of this #3, the assembled heroes seem to have beaten the big bad of AXIS, the Red Onslaught – but there’re still six issues to go. Rick described each act as sort of its own event, but how would you frame things as we go from act 1 and into act 2?
Brevoort: I don’t know if it’s quite entirely three separate events; it’s a story with three acts, as stated right on the cover. The first act, “Red Supremacy,” was the first three issues. Act Two is “Inversion,” and with that there’s a change in trajectory. A bunch of new elements, problems and aspects are about to come up. That being said, it’s all one big story. You couldn’t have Act Two without Act One, and you couldn’t have Act Three without Act Two.
Nrama: And while Red Onslaught is defeated, Red Skull is still alive and has to be dealt with. Will the Red Skull rise again by the time this series concludes?
Brevoort: Without spoiling anything, the cover to the last issue, AXIS #9, shows Red Skull huge, front and center, so it’s a pretty safe bet we haven’t seen the last of him.
Nrama: Understood. Also in AXIS #3 we saw some of the schism between X-men faction healed somewhat – at least between Cyclops and Havok. Is this just a one-off thing, or will this change the mutant side of the equation going forward outside of AXIS?
Brevoort: I can’t tell you what’s going to happen at the end of AXIS, but I can say this is a big event which will have lasting consequences for a number of characters. The relationship of various X-Men is no more solid than the line-up of the Avengers, but certainly there’s the potential there for it to change.
Nrama: That being said, what do you think of this mending of fences between Alex and Scott Summers? They’ve been far apart on many things for the past few years.
Brevoort: I think it represents a certain degree of a turning point, but I don’t know if I’d send out parades just yet. [laughs]
There’s a great deal of difference between putting aside your vast philosophical differences when you’re fighting for the future of your people and species and when the battle has ended. Certainly the Red Skull / Red Onslaught wasn’t someone that the X-Men or Avengers could engage on their own, and so in the crucible of that battlefield they came together. But the fact they were on the same side does bring about the likelihood it might turn into something more, but the future is never certain.
Nrama: In all of this, we can’t forget one little boy named Evan who’s grown up to look just like another A-list Marvel villain, Apocalypse. Rick’s been telling Evan’s story for years now, going back to Uncanny X-Force – will Evan, now in his adult form be a major part of AXIS going forward?
Brevoort: As you said, this story of Evan and Apocalypse is one Rick has been telling for a very long time … through the pages of Uncanny X-Force, into Uncanny Avengers and even in stories not written by Rick such as in Wolverine & The X-Men. I don’t think Rick literally sat down five years ago before Uncanny X-Force and had it plotted out so much that he said, “and then Evan does this in AXIS #3.” It is along the trajectory of the large scale story Rick wanted to tell however. This is the latest event to occur in a story Rick’s been telling for a number of years now.
Nrama: What do you think of the way he’s handling this idea of the child of a super villain and the danger he’ll follow in his parent’s footsteps?
Brevoort: Evans’ certainly not the first child of a super villain dealing with that mantle, but that being said: Apocalypse is a big X-villain, and has been for decades now, but just hasn’t been seen in a major way for quite some time. The notion that Evan could graduate to being the new Apocalypse is scary, but also appealing if you’re putting out as many X-Men books as we are.
Nrama: On the cover to AXIS #4 there’s what looks to be Apocalypse present, but given the events of AXIS #3 – can you say if that’s Evan?
Brevoort: Yes, I can confirm that is Evan.
Nrama: Speaking of #4 then, what can readers expect in November with that issue?
Brevoort: As we begin the second act of AXIS, the focus is wider and broader. The first act, while at the very outset jumped around to one or two places, really focused entirely on Genosha and this one sprawling fight that lasted for the first three issues – a very concentrated battlefield. AXIS #4 and its subsequent issues will bounce all around the Marvel universe, as the characters we saw in the first three issues will go back about their lives and the events they experiences will impact their worlds and their outlooks. There’s not one centralized battlefield now, as there’ll be a little something going on everywhere.
Nrama: This second act is titled “Inversion,” and Marvel has previewed just enough for fans to speculation on what this inversion process does. Can you speak to that at all?
Brevoort: The entire second act is titled “Inversion,” so it’s certainly an important plot element of what’s to come. It represents a shift in a number of characters, but there’s not much I can tell you beyond what you read in AXIS #3 for now.
Nrama: Let’s talk about this unique cast Rick’s assembled. While we see Cap, Iron Man and Thor, it’s largely a different cast than what people expect from an event book. Havok and the Wasp front and center, Magneto being a major factor, and let’s not forget the idea of Deadpool and Iron Man together – that could give Original Sin’s Punisher and Doctor Strange team-up a run for its money. What’s it like having some characters that don’t get much screen time in events show up?
Brevoort: When doing event series, it sometimes gives you the opportunity to bring together characters who don’t usually rub elbows. Like you mention, Deadpool and Iron Man is something readers have seen for a great length of time; a fan might point out an old issue where one of them co-starred in another’s book, but it’s never happened in a big way like this. That goes for Magneto’s villains as well; we’re certainly not used to seeing these villains pop up and punch the nose of another villain. These villains have such a wide and disparate worldview, and the crew Magneto assembled in AXIS #3 were fun to bring in and rub shoulders with the others.
Nrama: That being said, there was almost more heroes and villains in the pages than could be counted. How’d you and Rick go about figuring out who would and wouldn’t show up - -and were there any you brought to the table?
Brevoort: Honestly, not specifically. Rick had plenty of characters in mind; we actually had to pare down the heroes and villains from the earliest list, just because there wasn’t enough room to service everybody. Not everyone was able to get a big, meaty emotional moment, and Rick had to pick and choose his shots.
Going back to your question, there wasn’t one I put in but there was one, in the earliest planning, that we had to take out. We had planned to use the Green Goblin, but his status quo in the Spider-Man books made it so we needed to swap him out with Hobgoblin. When we did that, Rick came up with using Jack O’Lantern as well, after he had become enamored with him from using him in Venom. So there you got two for the price of one.
Nrama: Before we let you get back to work, one last question – is there anything in AXIS #4 you can tell readers that they should be looking forward to? Is there any fan clubs for specific characters that need to be put on alert that he or she is coming?
Brevoort: I’ll tell you one thing, but it’s a strange answer. You mentioned particular fan clubs, and this kind of counts.
There’s a character returning in AXIS #4 that we haven’t seen in a great deal of time; it was surprising how long it’s been, with the exception of an OGN last year. In AXIS #4, we’ll feature the re-appearance of Edwin Jarvis in a big way – in a way you’ve never quite seem him before. For all the people waiting for Jarvis to return, here he is. [laughs]
Jarvis won’t be the only one showing up as there’ll be plenty others, as the AXIS cast gets wider, jumps around, and gets wider again.