At Midtown Comics' Times Square location in the heart of New York City, Marvel Comics brought the editors of their mega-event Avengers vs. X-Men to the store to celebrate the launch of the first issue, and sign some comics while chatting to fans. Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso, and one of the artists on the series, Adam Kubert, were also in attendance, showing off a new piece of art from one of Kubert's issues.
Fans lined up early, with the line capping off before the 8pm event, covering a good block of New York City sidewalk. A smattering of costumes could be seen in line, with fans dressing as their favorite X-Men or Avengers to support their team.Lowe and Brevoort We took to the more quiet upstairs of Midtown Comics for a candid chat with Executive Editor and SVP of Publishing Tom Brevoort (representing the Avengers group) and his editor-in-crime Nick Lowe (pulling for the X-Men) about what it was like developing this story, what to expect from the next six months, and why the time was right for this tale to finally be told.
Newsarama: All right, gentlemen, it's X-Men versus the Avengers...
Tom Brevoort: No, no, it's Avengers Vs. X-Men.
Nick Lowe: The man got it right the first time.
Brevoort: Have you read the cover? Did you look at the cover?
Lowe: I think it's a grammar thing. You understood. Everyone knows who's really top billing.
Nrama: So, secret origins of this book, it was you two in a bar, you were arm-wrestling, and decided the only way to decide this battle was to have Cyclops and Captain America duke it out?
Lowe: That's how we decided Avengers would be first on the cover. I beat him so bad in arm wrestling, I felt bad and let him go first.
Brevoort: (laughs hysterically)
Lowe: But the real genesis of this, it's something we've been talking about for years.House of M Brevoort: This goes back to, at least, House of M. It's something we talked about around the time of House of M, with the Scarlet Witch taking away the powers of about 99% of mutants. That kind of implies that there will be some sort of "fufura"…
Brevoort: …At some point in the future. Every year since then, every time we've sat down for one of our retreats, it's floated out there in the ether. "Eventually we'll get to Avengers vs. X-Men." Other things kept coming up, and we knew, when we were doing House of M, we had World War Hulk, the seeds of that were already started. Then Civil War, Axel and Nick to a lesser extent (laughs) were doing Messiah Complex and the other X-stuff, and every time we'd talk about it - we'll do the story we're telling now, then we'll get to it!
Lowe: We needed to make sure everything was properly in place. About a year and a half ago, it was Axel's first retreat as Editor-in-Chief, he put the flag in the ground and said "let's do this, in 2012, and do it right.
Nrama: How much of it was waiting for the timing of the Phoenix to be right?
Lowe: That one, we've had that in motion for awhile. We knew it was, something on the level was coming, so as far back as a few years ago when we started pulling it out of people that had elements of the Phoenix. Rachel Grey losing it when she was out in Shi'ar space, Korvus's Sword, the Cuckoos, so as far back as that. We started laying other elements in Uncanny X-Men, with Emma Frost having visions of the White Room. That was laying the seeds, putting them down there so that when the time came we would be ready.
But it was pretty concerted, once we knew when it was gonna happen, we really clicked it hard into place, making sure we had the cards on the table.
Nrama: This is probably leaning a little heavier on you, Tom…
Brevoort: (interrupts) Much like the rest of this event.
Lowe: (laughs)Nrama: Obviously the Phoenix is a cosmic force, but what made this a cosmic event, in wanting to focus on Nova in the first issue of this and the first issue of Infinite comics?
Brevoort: Well, the nature of the Phoenix is that she's space-born. So the stakes are beyond global, they're universal. Setting the stage, essentially having a herald, a messenger from the cosmos coming down, someone who is known to the Avengers who can convey the information that they need at that point. Which is: This thing is coming, the Phoenix is coming, bad things are happening and you need to get your act together and get ready to stop it. That kind of made sense, there were a limited number of characters that could be. Nova made sense to us because of his connection to Earth. Someone like Silver Surfer could have done the same kind of thing but it doesn't really have the same resonance with a character like that. He's not from Earth, he's a visitor.
And it was a nice place to put Nova back on the stage in a big way. People have been asking about him ever since War of Kings and so we hedged our bets, waited until this moment. We knew we were going to get here by the time we were doing War of Kings, so we put our stake in the ground and said okay, we'll put it back. And we whet the tastebuds with Point One of course.
Nrama: Right. Now we think Phoenix and we immediately think of some redheads. We've got Hope, we've got Rachel, but the redhead we're all really thinking about is Jean Grey.
Lowe: Ohhh, who is she again?
Brevoort: I think she used to be married to Spider-Man.
Lowe: Oh yeah, that's right.
Nrama: Jean Grey has now been dead longer than she was the first extended time around.
Lowe: That's true, that's true!Jean Grey Brevoort: As are most of the people that I know. So it's kind of consistent. Yeah, think about that.
Lowe: I'm really trying…
Nrama: So do Jean Grey fans have hope? (no pun intended)
Lowe: They are passionate.
Brevoort: Yeah, they are out there in force.
Lowe: Jean Grey fans are super passionate and we hear from them a lot. I'm one of them! I love Jean Grey. The wedding between her and Cyclops in X-Men #30 was the first big event I ever read. I've loved Jean Grey since I first started reading X-Men comics.
But she died. And death is final in the Marvel Universe
Brevoort: As we all know. Nick has volunteered to dye his hair red and wear the outfit though.
Lowe: And changing my name to Jean (pronounced as the French) Grey.
Brevoort: How long have you had that one in your back pocket?
Lowe: It was just right now! That's how quickly these gears turn, Tom. Look, in my ears! (laughs)
Nrama: I'm sure that's what everyone is most looking forward to now in the event. Nick Lowe in drag as Jean Grey.
Lowe: You heard it here first.
Nrama: Now guys, some are speculating - most times when superheroes clash it's because of someone else looming in the background. Can we have any hints to that?
Lowe: That is not the case. There is not a big villain that all of a sudden they'll say "Why are we fighting each other, let's all fight THAT thing!"
Brevoort: "Apocalypse was pulling the strings all the time!" No.
Lowe: There is nothing.
Brevoort: The only thing that there is is the Phoenix.Lowe: There is X-Men, there is Avengers, the Phoenix is the wild card kicking it off, but it's just fisticuffs. At no point are they going to go "why have we been fooling ourselves wasting all this time fighting each other?" It's all about these two teams fighting.
Nrama: All right, we have to talk about the talent on this gigantic series.
Lowe: If we must, we must.
Nrama: It's basically everyone at Marvel that if you want to be in an event comic…
Brevoort: And Nick. (laughs)
Nrama: They're all on this book all at once. How is that process, are you fall enough along now that there's a rhythm to it?
Brevoort: It's been surprisingly smooth! When Axel first pitched the idea of having five writers, the guys that we now call "The Architects" rather than a single writer, it was a little counterintuitive in a sense. Usually we talk about, a writer has a vision for a story and that's what we build out, and with five guys you have five different points of view, five different takes on every story point, and five different sets of preferences: what characters they like, they don't like, what stuff they're interested in. So you anticipate a clash of personalities. Not in a "we're gonna kill each other way" but in a tug of war on what the story is going to be about and so forth.
But really, from the very beginning, we all assembled at Brian [Bendis]'s house in Portland. It's been a good parlay, a good back and forth between those five guys and us, working out the story beats, figuring out what goes where, throwing out crazy ideas and passing the baton back and forth.Nrama: Good job working "assembled" into that, by the way, Tom. Nice work.
Lowe: The thing is, we've done a couple events like this in the X-Men world. We did Messiah Complex, we did Second Coming, and I was shocked and really surprised that Tom didn't bumble that whole thing, he's done a really good job on this. So it's been nice to see him really up his game on the Avengers side of things.
It has been very, very smooth. The guys have come together in such a great way and brought out the best in each other too.
Brevoort: It's also good that all three of the artists that we've got are top of the line guys, any one of whom could anchor a series like this. But as artists tend to do, I think they get a little competitive as I send the pages back and forth. "Here's an Adam [Kubert] page! Here's a page Olivier [Coipel] just turned in! Here's some Johnny [Romita, Jr.] pages!"
Lowe: Adam called today and said "Olivier is ridiculously good." It was intimidating him a little bit, but it made him step up.
Brevoort: Yeah, the fact they they all have someone to jockey against, none of them want to be the weak link in this, and they're just destroying it, just killing it.
And that's even before you get to the AvX: Vs book which is kind of all of the fighting spillover, that's a real artist showcase. So you stack that with a bevy of top guys.
Lowe: Adam did a story in the first one, also Stuart Immonen on the first one, who also did the Infinite Comics. We've got Steve McNiven, Salvador Larocca, Ed McGuiness, and this, we're just starting off. Terry Dodson, Brandon Peterson's doing one… I'm going to start forgetting people. But it's a veritable who's who of Marvel artists bringing the most no-holds-barred fights that you're ever going to see on comic pages. Just fight, fight, fight, no big story to worry about.
Brevoort: The kind of deep intellectual content you've come to expect from books with the Nick Lowe credit!
Lowe: It's true, it's true.Nrama: Okay, guys, Avengers Vs. X-Men; obviously you're trying to polarize fans, you're trying to get them to say they're for the Avengers or for the X-Men, so first…
Brevoort: (interrupts) You don't even need to ask the question, the answer is so obvious!
Nrama: (laughs) So first Tom, I'm sorry Nick…
Lowe: Age before beauty!
Brevoort: That's for sure!
Nrama: Tom, why are fans Team Avengers?
Brevoort: There's no other choice. There's just no other choice! That's all I've got.
Nrama: Nick, what do you have for Team X-Men?
Lowe: Team X-Men is because people can relate to the X-Men. You feel the X-Men, you feel like them. You are an X-Man. Everyone is an X-Man, that's why you obviously want to root for the X-Men over the dusty old Avengers.
Brevoort: You can root for the guys doing the right thing, or root for the guys doing the self-interested thing. That's the difference between the Avengers and the X-Men.
Lowe: Yup, the X-Men are very selfless, it's true, it's true.
Nrama: As a pair of guys who've worked on these books for a bit now, is there one character from each other's squads that if you could just nudge over to the other side you would?
Brevoort: Yeah, who do you want Nick, who do you want?
Lowe: I'm a Hawkeye nerd. I love me some Hawkeye, just that kind of rascally character has always been kind of fun.Brevoort: I tell you, it's an odd answer for me, but now coming out of Avengers: X-Sanction? I want Cable. I want Cable on the Avengers.
Nrama: Absolutely! All right guys, any last statements to the fans on why they should be reading Avengers Vs. X-Men?
Brevoort: We love the fact that everybody is so excited about this and so into it. We're very much into it as well, we're hoping to give you the best twelve issue thrill ride we possibly could. We know you'll tell us if we get it right, we know you'll tell us if we get it wrong. We hope to see you every two weeks on store shelves coast-to-coast and around the world.
Nrama: I think you need to pick this up because it moves so fast. There are so many twists, so many turns, you will not believe where it goes next. You're going to have the best time ever reading it!More from Newsarama on Avengers vs. X-Men:
- Review: AVENGERS VS. X-MEN #1 - Don't Make Me Regret This
- Will AVENGERS VS. X-MEN Match the Impact of Previous Events?
- 10 AVENGERS VS. X-MEN Match-Ups We Want to See
- 10 Possible AVENGERS VS. X-MEN Endings
- UPDATED: AVENGERS VS X-MEN #1 Preview, Tie-in Covers
- AvX Post-Game Report, Week 1: AVENGERS VS. X-MEN #0
- Prepping for War: AVENGERS VS. X-MEN, The Story So Far