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X-Men Panel: Brian Wood Returns to Marvel, Age of Apocalypse, Deadpool’s Death [NYCC 2011]

Marvel Comics concluded its New York Comic Con presentations Sunday with the much anticipated and very well attended X-Men panel, spotlighting the franchise as it prepares to welcome new readers and invigorate existing fans with the boldest X-Men reconfiguration in years. On stage were writers Kieron Gillen, Jason Aaron, Brian Wood, Marjorie Liu, Peter David, Greg Pak, Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning and James Asmus, artist Mark Brooks, and editors Axel Alonso, Jeanine Schaefer and Daniel Ketchum. Announcement included Brian Wood’s Wolverine and the X-Men: Alpha & Omega, the apparent death of Deadpool by Daniel Way and Carlo Barberi; writer Christos Gage taking over X-Men: Legacy; and the return of the Age of Apocalypse characters.The panel began with a rundown of X-Men: Regenesis itself, the all-encompassing X-Men publishing initiative based on a bitter division between Wolverine and Cyclops in X-Men: Schism that has forced the X-Men to choose sides. On one side, Uncanny X-Men will relaunch with a new #1 issue by Kieron Gillen and Carlos Pacheco, and serve as the flagship title of what Singh informally referred to as Team Cyclops. Gillen explained that unlike previous approaches to the X-Men, his run will see Cyclops’ team try to position themselves as “the world’s premiere superhero team” and explore the notion of “superheroes as a nuclear deterrent.” Alonso characterized Cyclops’ association with characters once considered villains doesn’t make the X-Man a bad guy, but rather a man who has to make “hard choices to protect his family.” Alonso said that he finds himself sympathizing more with Cyclops’ outlook than Wolverine’s.

Also part of Team Cyclops is New Mutants by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning and David Lopez. This group of mutants will “clean up the loose ends” of Cyclops’ movement but also serve as a group “in between the two extremes” of Cyclops and Wolverine.

Writer Brian Wood will make his return to Marvel Comics after a ten-year absence, writing Wolverine and the X-Men: Alpha & Omega, a miniseries illustrated by Mark Brooks and Roland Boschi. Wood described the project as “Wolverine versus Quentin Quire,” aka Kid Omega, for dominance of the Jean Gry school. Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso made sure to point out that the miniseries would not be the last of Wood’s work at Marvel.

Rick Remender and Robbi Rodriguez’s Uncanny X-Force will be the launchpad for the return of the Age of Apocalypse to Marvel, an announcement that was met with tremendous applause from the New York crowd. That story will be written by David Lapham and spin out of X-Force’s “Dark Angel” saga, but the much discussed Point One special, on sale in November, begins the new Age of Apocalypse story in earnest.

X-Men will be written by Victor Gischler with artwork by Will Conrad, and will bechecking in with the vampires seen previously throughout the mutant franchise, as well as Jubilee. Astonishing X-Men will welcome Grek Pak and Mike McKone with issue #44. The writer told the New York crowd that the X-Men stories always brought a tear to his eye, and said he hopes to infuse his work on Astonishing with the relationships, romance and sacrifice of his favorite X-Men stories.

Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo’s Wolverine and the X-Men is the flagship of Team Wolverine, with Wolverine playing the role of Professor X at the Westchester campus he has renamed the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning. Aaron said that while there will be a Danger Room and classes, they will be different from what we’ve seen before. Wolverine and the X-Men will star a mix of characters from all throughout the franchise’s history, including the particularly memorable runs by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, Chris Claremont and John Byrne, and Grant Morrison and his many collaborators. Among them will be Toad, who Aaron said will be a janitor that everybody makes fun of, and X-Statix favorite Doop.

James Asmus confirmed that Sebastian Shaw will return in his and Ibraim Roberson’s Generation Hope. The heroes of that series have made it their mission to track new mutants as they “come online,” and that includes Shaw, who was mindwiped and thus appeared to the team as a newly activated mutant. Amus also said the series will feature lots of “hormones and kissing.”

Peter David’s X-Factor remains a fan-favorite and series minutiae dominated a Q&A session that followed the formal presentations. Coming up in the long-running series, Havok and Polaris return after a long absence. The team suffered a recent blow to morale that’s prepared them for the return of their former leaders, although not every member of X-Factor is happy about it. David explained that future issues will explore the schism between Wolverine and Cyclops in a unique way amongst the franchise, as X-Factor’s mission is to interact with humanity in a more direct way than any other mutants.

Wolverine #300 is coming up soon, and writer Jason Aaron said, “It’s the biggest Wolverine solo story I’ve ever done. Everything I’ve written has been building towards this.” The writer was not forthcoming with details but indicated some old villains will be returning to the series.

Things are about go from bad to worse for poor X-23, who gets a babysitting gig from the Fantastic Four that writer Marjorie Liu said “goes terribly wrong. A hundred times worse than Adventures in Babysitting.”

Deadpool will apparently die in issue #50, but nothing is ever what it seems in that Daniel Way-written series, and the Deadpool often trolls the Marvel Universe itself. Naturally, no details were revealed about this provocative premise.Fans hoping to learn more about the ominous Phoenix image released at the Cup ‘O Joe panel were instructed to read Point One in November.


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