SDCC '08 - Marvel's X-Men Panel

Marvel Comics started off their San Diego Comic-Con International programming this year with their perennially popular X-Men line, bringing along editor Nick Lowe, writers Jason Aaron, Daniel Way, Matt Fraction, Craig Kyle, NYX writer Marjorie Liu, and the newly beareded C.B. Cebulski. Marvel marketing’s Jim McCann introduced the panel, and noted that X-Men group editor Axel Alonso was still “stuck in New York.”

Turning to the panel one-by-one, Liu briefly talked about her upcoming run on NYX and filling the shoes of former NYX writer (and Marvel editor-in-chief) Joe Quesada.

Lowe talked about the upcoming "Manifest Destiny" storyline, and said that the move to San Francisco is the big thing in the X-Men world currently.

Kyle talked about X-Force, first noting the absence of his co-writer Chris Yost, and said they're going to "fatten up the team," and the next arc will focus more on Warpath, with some other characters being forced to the side for the time being.

Fraction mentioned Uncanny X-Men #500, which came out this week, and said they're starting out with the "Hellfire Cult," and that there will be a "Sisterhood of Evil Mutants."

Lowe interjected that both of the Uncanny artists, Terry Dodson and Greg Land, "draw women pretty well." Fraction added "instead of putting them in a mansion shaped like a giant 'X,' so you know where to aim the missiles, they're moving to a whole city." He said there will be a core of characters, but it'll be a large, rotating cast, with several characters popping in and out.

Way mentioned his projects, Wolverine: Origins and the upcoming new Deadpool comic, saying of the latter, "It's probably the most fun I've ever had writing a story, and I can't wait to get it out."

Aaron let the crowd know it was his first X-Men panel, and discussed Wolverine: Manifest Destiny. He said Wolverine will run in to a vengeful ex-girlfriend in Chinatown San Francisco, and that it's his "love letter to Hong Kong kung-fu movies."

McCann then asked Cebulski to announce the new big X-Men event, "X Infernus," or as McCann called it, "Inferno 2."

Cebulski said he pitched the story as an annual, but the higher-ups decided it was "too big" of a story, so it'll be a mini-series, with David Finch doing covers. Cebulski noted it was too early to announce the artist, but said it'll feature the character of Magik (actually, he didn't directly say that, but hinted extremely heavily).

Following that, the panel opened up to questions for the audience.

The first concerned the character of Iceman. Lowe answered that Iceman's going to be heavily involved in the Manifest Destiny mini-series starting in September.

Any plans for Mojo? Fraction said "How about Spiral? We'll get there."

After complimenting Aaron for his work on Scalped and Fraction on Casanova and Last of the Independents movie deals, a fan asked about the status of Apocalypse. After a little bit of non-answering, McCann said "," implying that they may indeed have plans for the villain in the future (or they were just messing with the fan's head).

Any chance of a Jean Grey return? Fraction said "That's a huge question. And you'll get your answer sooner than later." McCann said it's something that gets batted around the office a lot. "She's going to comeback as a teenage boy," joked Lowe. "G-e-n-e," added Fraction.

A fan lamented that the X-Men comics haven't gotten the same amount of media attention as other recent Marvel projects, despite the current strength of the books. This led to a discussion of the "Manifest Destiny" storyline, with Fraction saying that "Messiah Complex" was about who the X-Men are, while "Manifest Destiny" is about where the X-Men are going.

A female fan dressed as Gambit asked about the character, with Lowe saying that he's going to be a "big part of X-Men Legacy" (the character recently appeared in the book). Lowe added that they won't touch too much on Gambit's time with Apocalypse or Mr. Sinister, saying that a big reason that Gambit was with the Marauders was to help Rogue.

A fan asked about Dr. Cecilia Reyes, Slipstream and Lifeguard, with McCann saying that you'll see the latter two character sometime in 2009, and Lowe saying there's still a question on whether or not Reyes is alive or dead, and that there's no immediate plans.

Any chance of Deadpool joining the X-Men? Way said that Cyclops has been making some extreme decisions lately, but Deadpool is "so volatile" he doesn't necessarily see it happening, even though you will see Deadpool "rubbing elbows" with the X-Men in the immediate future.

"Any plans to address the loss of Kitty Pryde?" Fraction: Uncanny #504.

Will the X-Men interact more with the rest of the Marvel Universe? McCann: "Yes, and that's all we can say." Lowe: "We always kind of play on the outskirts of the Marvel Universe, the X-Men have their own kind of thing. You'll see one major X-Men character..." and then Fraction interjected saying, "On the venn diagram of the Marvel Universe, there's one very big overlap."

Even though they're all dead, any chance of doing anything with the X-Statix characters, especially Doop? Fraction said that's "such a Peter Milligan character," that it would seem disrespectful to use it. "I don't think anyone wants to be the guy or the girl to ruin that." "No immediate plans," said Lowe.

Cebulski then acknowledged Peter David, who is in San Diego but couldn't make the panel, and his comic X-Factor, which got good applause.

A fan asked about the apparent disparity between Warren Worthington III having feather wings in Uncanny X-Men, and returning to the metal wings in X-Force, asking if that means one of them might be a Skrull. "We are aware, and we'll resolve that," said Kyle.

A fan asked about Daken, and Way said the character will soon be appearing all over the X-Men universe.

Marvel Online's John Dokes then joined the panel.

Bringing back Sabretooth anytime soon? "Sabretooth isn't coming back, he's dead," said Lowe.

A fan who loved The Dark Knight asked why the X-Men movies in his opinion (and not a popular one, in this room) "all sucked." McCann said Marvel Studios doesn't have the rights to the X-Men movies, but they are doing 'Wolverine and the X-Men' cartoon, starting in the spring on the Nicktoons network (and screening Saturday night at Comic-Con). "It's really for you guys," said Kyle, saying it'll adapt stories by Chris Claremont and Joss Whedon, among others.

A fan that wasn't up to date on recent developments in all things Magneto asked about the character, and Fraction pointed to Uncanny #500, saying they have plans for sure with the X-Men's most famous villain.

Anything with Juggernaut? "That's in the Manifest Destiny mini-series I was talking about," said Lowe.

Before asking a question about Wolverine, an audience member reinforced the long-held male comic book fan stereotypes regarding their awkwardness around women by saying to Marjorie Liu "thank you for being so hot." He then asked about Wolverine's healing factor levels, and McCann pointed to the "Death of Wolverine" arc, which dealt with the issue.

Status of Cypher, a.k.a. Doug Ramsey? Lowe said to check out Young X-Men #5.

Plans for Chamber? Lowe pointed out that he's in New Warriors, with McCann joking that the guy that asked the question must not be that big of a Chamber fan if he didn't know.

A Cable fan asked if he's going to keep his own book through Manifest Destiny. "It is ongoing," said Lowe, "and is going to lead to a huge X-Men event down the road."

Since Warlock is alive, will he be showing up in the X-books? Lowe: "Most likely."

 The last question concerned the division of labor between Ed Brubaker and Fraction on Uncanny X-Men. "He does the nouns, I do the verbs," joked Fraction. Answering the question more seriously, he said that they came up with a big road map ("plan may be overstating it," he said), and that the rotate and trade off ideas from there.

With that, the panel ended, with McCann reminded the fans about the Mondo Marvel panel later in the afternoon.

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