Key members of the creative team behind the X-Men line of books took some time to speak with fans and make a big announcement on the last day of WonderCon 2009 in San Francisco during the Marvel: X-Men panel. The top dog regarding all things X, Axel Alonso and writer Matt Fraction (Uncanny X-Men, Invincible Iron Man) took center stage in the X-Men's new home turf.
Alonso made it clear from the onset that he intends to truly make San Francisco the X-Men's permanent home when he said, "One of my goals is to see Storm in a 49rs jersey.", much to the enjoyment of the large crowd that had gathered at the panel.
During the panel, the pair announced the summer 2009 Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men crossover. Describing the event, Alonso said, "it's a story so big, we haven’t come up with a title yet." Matt Fraction will be the sole writer for the series with Mike Deodato penciling the Dark Avengers issues and Terry Dodson doing the honors in Uncanny X-Men. To further tease the audience, Alonso displayed an image of the Iron Patriot hoisting a brutally beaten Cyclops above his head.
Getting down to the nitty-gritty, the pair presented a slideshow featuring the other mutant-based titles.
The first series to be showcased was Messiah War, the second in a trilogy of Messiah themed stories that tells the story of the first mutant birth after M-Day. This series cuts across both X-Force and Cable, telling the story of Bishop and Cable, "two guys operating from very different perspectives". A couple of covers from the title were shown including an image reminiscent of Bishop's first cover appearance.
Deadpool will be making an appearance in the upcoming months, crossing over to Thunderbolts to collect a debt from stormin' Norman Osborn himself.
As indicated by Alonso, Professor Xavier and Gambit will be traveling to the Australian Outback searching for Rogue, with someone else waiting for them when they arrive. Alonso let slip that there are changes on the way for a certain character in the series, but couldn't discuss specifics.
Continuing on, Alonso simply said that he couldn't say anything at all about what's coming up in X-Factor.
Alonso made it clear that fans could expect to see a lot of Wolverine this year, so many if fact that "you would almost think a Wolverine movie is coming out." Wolverine: Old Man Logan will be receiving the giant-sized treatment for the story's last issue while Wolverine: Weapon X will be kicking off with Logan taking on the Adamantium Men, a group of black-ops soldiers that got their hands on old Weapon X files.
A couple of X-Men books are coming to end soon, with X-Men: Kingbreaker leaving the Starjammers and the Shi'ar Royal Family changed forever and Young X-Men leading into new stories later down the line.
The New Mutants will return with the original team back in the saddle, including Magik. Alonso teased at the return of Legion by reminding the crowd, "Last time he started Age of Apocalypse and the stakes are just as high this time".
Fraction took the opportunity to hop in at this point to shed some light on what's coming up in Uncanny X-Men before the Dark Avengers crossover. The series will be moving into the Sisterhood arc, with some old favorites returning and current favorites "taking a dirt nap". In talking about the tone of the arc, Fraction said, "I wrote the biggest fight scene of my career." He also mentioned that issue #512 of Uncanny X-Men will be a standalone, 38-page story dealing with heading a long ways back in time to find a set of parents about to give birth to a mutant.
Moving on to fan questions, the pair confirmed that Brian Bendis would be returning to Dark Avengers for issue seven and eight after the big crossover, and was involved in the conceptualization of the project.
When queried about Astonishing X-Men, as it was not brought up during the main presentation, Alonso assured that the series is ongoing and there are plans for it to ship more regularly.
The panelists were asked whether oft-resurrected character Jean Grey would be returning any time soon or if she would be staying dead, to which the answer was given "There's a little girl with red hair and green eyes in the future that you should keep your eyes on." Jean Grey and Bucky were referenced, jokingly, as characters that stay dead in the Marvel Universe.
The matter of the age of the characters in the X-books came up, specifically that of Emma Frost. Fraction responded by saying, "I don't know, there's no answer, because time in monthly periodicals is weird. When you put too specific a marker down you're putting a marker down, and 30 years down the line you ask the same question although, Emma would probably never tell you her age."
The panelists were asked whether Maggot, a character that hasn't seen any action in a while, was planned to make an appearance any time soon, with them responding by explaining that in the upcoming Dark Avengers crossover, "a lot of people are going to show up, it's all hands on deck". The pair laughingly reveled that "many, many things in San Francisco" would be blown up during the event, to which many of the fans stepping up to the mic to quiz them responded by pleading with them not to blow their homes up.
Alonso assured fans that he did not want the X-books to become redundant and would be using X-Men: Legacy as a way to focus on the "nook and cranny stuff".
Fraction took a moment to give some insight on breaking into writing comics to an inquisitive fan by saying, "Don't just read comics, because you're only as good as what you read. Read a lot, write every day, absorb everything, and develop a voice." He also said, in jest, that a little bribery couldn’t hurt either.
"I have the biggest crush on Pixie", revealed Fraction when asked what his favorite characters to write are, although he explained that Cyclops, Nightcrawler, and Emma Frost were also some of his favorites. He said that it took him a while to figure Iceman out, but that he's got some "big stuff" coming up in upcoming stories.
A fan asked the panelists when to expect an appearance by the master of magnetism himself, Magneto, to which Fraction responded simply, "507", referring to Uncanny X-Men #507, much to the pleasure of the audience.
Without notice, Ed Brubaker made a quick appearance on stage to say hello to fans, but not before the crowd broke into boisterous applause over the acclaimed Marvel writer.
As the panel drew to a close, a fan asked the pair to bring back Psylocke's ninja costume, to which they responded "Was there another costume?"