Marvel Comics revealed what's coming in Avengers & X-Men: AXIS Act 2 Monday afternoon, ahead of November 2014 solicitations. To bring the information, they held a conference call with writer Rick Remender and Exectuvie Editor Tom Brevoort, along with members of the comic book press.
Marvel PR Chris D'Lando introduced the people on the call. "What is inversion you ask? Call it the recalibration of the Marvel Universe's moral compass."
Remender started with the high concept of Act II. "The fun of something like this in my mind is to constantly subvert expectations and surprise people with exciting new things. We all have our attention spans destroyed by our cell phones so I don't want to linger on any one idea for more than about five pages (laughs).
"Moving to a new high concept each act keeps people on their toes, keeps things exciting."
Act I is about the Avengers and X-Men teaming up to stop the Red Skull, and that leads to Inversion.
"The way things go and how our heroes have to deal with Red Onslaught leads to a bit of a whammy. With the Inversion aspect, I put on my Dungeon Master's cap and start twisting alignments around."
"It's not so cut and dry for everyone as 'good guy becomes super bad guy.' I think there are a lot of character-defining moments, especially in the second act. It shows you the antithesis of what they normally are and getting into their character."
This all leads into the next act, which Remender says is "the biggest X-Men showdown I could think of, and really for everyone. Big things for the Spider-Man world, big things for the Avengers clan."
Inverting Tony Stark leads directly to Superior Iron Man, with the character "switching back to where he started out," which shows how far he's come as a character, the writer said. He praised where Tom Taylor is taking the character as well in the ongoing series.
Several of the characters will get new looks to go with their new outlooks, but not all of them. Deadpool, for example, is in a grey costume, Luke Cage is in a suit with sunglasses, and Tony debuts his new silver armor.
"Deadpool will be playing a really big role in AXIS in a couple of surprising ways," Remender said, "I'm really excited with what's happening with him in the book. There's huge changes coming for Scarlet Witch, Magneto, Doctor Doom, Loki, huge huge beat for Loki. Kid Apocalypse - basically it's all fireworks here, there's no lead-up."
The tie-ins for AXIS will often focus on the Inversion status. Carnage and Hobgoblin in particular use inverted versions of those characters for their tie-in mini-series. "It allows us to look at these characters in a new light," said Brevoort. "It's a morally upstanding Carnage and a Hobgoblin who's a good businessman."
Remender teased, "I don't think I'm spoiling anything saying that Carnage trying to be a good guy, on a redemption arc, still winds up having some bloodshed. I don't want to spoil what they're doing there, it's really cool."
Sam Wilson in his first major moments as Captain America had a "shifting role" in this series. "You will be seeing a pretty nice big fight between Sam Wilson Captain America and all of the X-Men, which doesn't go great for anybody, but was a lot of fun." He'll also have the shifted dynamic with Tony Stark, and Remender says it's a nice stage to give Sam his first go as Cap.
Marvel.com asked the first press question, wondering if Remender will be building off work he's done with the Apocalypse storyline for the last few years.
"Yeah, there's a beat in here. Apocalypse is back, and that's part of the big pyrotechnics show of #4." That does come from his runs on Uncanny X-Force and Uncanny Avengers. "At a certain point, this story - I didn't know it was going to be an event. As it built and the X-Men had a larger role, the Apocalypse beat grew into."
Us: You mentioned Loki who’s kind of a chaotic neutral, but let’s talk about Cyclops - he has been acting how some would describe as villainous lately, but always with the best intentions. So with him as an example, who would an inversion change his point of view and his approach to his mission?
"That's a really big part of what happens in issue 4 and will payout in issue 7. We'll see a reshuffling of things in the X-universe, and that even builds into the future books coming out of that office. In regards to Scott and Alex and the X-Men and Apocalypse - what the X-Men do in this event is not something the world can forget anytime soon. How they deal with Red Onslaught, and what Red Skull did in the first place - they have to deal with the world's endless quest to push them into the mud. So Scott's inversion will play a lot into that."
IGN asked about KLUH, the inverted Hulk - he's actually the Hulk's Hulk. "This new version of the ID, this blackest, darkest most evil thing - the thing born of the abused Bruce Banner as a child. He's a few times stronger and many many times more evil."
Comicvine asked about Scarlet Witch and Dr. Doom on the cover of #6. "I went back and read Children's Crusade and House of M again, i think continuity is important. They've both been inverted, and that leads to some really interesting concepts with one of them out for, I dunno, revenge."
WordBalloon wanted to know more about inverted Hobgoblin. "I think that anything about him kills the reveal of him during Inversion and his tie-in mini-series. Sorry, John, didn't mean to pick yours as the one with no answer."
Comicbook.com asked about characters like Magneto and Loki who have already flipped from villain to hero and back and any other possible spin-offs. "It's not out of the question," said Brevoort. "Maybe, but we're not there yet." "There is for one character," Remender said. "Look... yes, there is at least one villain who will come out of this and be given a bigger spotlight."
CBR asked about playing with new characters he's already fairly familiar with and which he was most excited about. "Hulk for one - the Hulk's Hulk is an idea that makes me run around the office like a lunatic and pat myself on the back. Deadpool is a lot of fun. Havok is a huge amount of fun, Apocalypse; the Summers brothers in general. Iron Man is a lot of fun to write as a megalomaniacal scumbag of the highest order. There's a huge Loki beat in issue 8. Those are the first ones that come to mind," said Remender.
Marvel.com asked about the time-jump in the Avengers titles, and how coordination was done to accomodate AXIS and those time jumps. "The short answer to that is I edit Avengers and New Avengers," said Brevoort. "I know what's going on in both books. We spent a lot of time talking about all of this stuff at our last two or three summits. There is stuff that will be teased, t-ed up or foreshadowed. While we'll be jumping forward 8 months, they'll still be telling their story. So it won't really be a travelogue of "look where all these guys are 8 months from now.""
Us: You said this isn’t just them being brainwashed or anything, and it seems like Tony Stark’s inversion will at least partially be carrying over into his ongoing series after all this - how much of these inversions will stick around or at least be dealt with by the characters afterwords?
"The promise of an event, of something as big as an X-Men and Avengers event, the promise has to be lasting ramifications, and things that carry through. The simplest shorthand was the Symbiote in Secret Wars. I think that's the biggest payoff things. AXIS will lead to a whole new book that I am writing with a number of characters that are very changed from this story. I don't want to give anything away, but the Inversion will not be completely wrapped up - there won't be a perfect bow on this after this story, and it will lead to a lot in many books."
IGN asked if Apocalypse is just the inversion of Genesis: "AXIS #4, on sale in November," said Brevoort.
This storyline is a climax of Remender's Apocalypse story, though. "Tom said hit your last beat then walk away for awhile. I think I have a bit of an obsession. This is the end of my Apocalypse bucket list. My Apocalist." (laughs)
Comicvine asked if any of the neutral characters were hard to write. "Not hard, it was just about spending hours on the phone with Jason Aaron and Al Ewing to get the depth of the status quot currently reflected for Loki. Al had a lot of input on him based on what he's been writing. Loki has a huge beat in this that gives the 12 year old kid in me goosebumps, I'm so excited to see it. The difficulties came more for me from characters like Magneto, who is somewhat justifiably homicidal, not that I'm condoning vigilante murder, let's make that clear. But when you're looking at him it's harder to invert him, what do you get from that? We get a big Magneto, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Dr. Doom story that runs as the B story throughout the second act."
Word Balloon asked about Luke Cage and his inversion. "I'm going to dance and then let Tom take it. Luke is part of - there's a team called Axis, they are the Axis of Evil, a new band of people who are up to no good, and being villainous, hence naming themselves the Axis of Evil. Luke Cage is part of that, as is Medusa, Cap, Odinson, KLUH. Luke's inversion plays a huge part in the second act, and gets a huge setup, then flows over into the crossovers. So does Nova. I highly recommend reading the crossovers because I've read those plans and they're really cool. But we do wind it down into the main series again.
"A bad Luke Cage who runs an Avengers squad? Maybe he's reverting to aspects of his character from the past. Maybe there's a way for Luke to make some money from something with not so many ethics."
Comicbook.com asked about Steve Rogers and his role in AXIS: Inversion. "Steve plays a huge role in the story. I don't want to say too much. If Steve and Sam were at odds, that would be an interesting story, I think."
CBR asked the final question, asking about how the Inversion, and the characters knowing they've changed is reflected. "An inverted character - if you're Sabretooth for example, in your moral compass, you'll no longer kill someone to achieve your goals, you're going to save somebody and take the hit. Who he is as a human, his character, is aligned in a different way. He's no longer capable of killing the way he used to. Imagine you're a serial killer who wakes up with the moral compass of a superhero, but everything else about you is the same.
"We spent a lot of time making lists of what the characters are defined by and then inverting them."