Marvel fans disheartened by the announced cancellation of X-23, the ongoing monthly starring Wolverine's teenage clone daughter, can take heart in the latest announcement from the publisher. Not only is that book's star not going anywhere -- she'll be joining the cast of Avengers Academy -- but X-23 writer Marjorie Liu isn't going far either. Liu will take the reigns of Astonishing X-Men with issue #48.Launched in 2004 by writer Joss Whedon and artist John Cassaday as the X-franchise's flagship title, Astonishing X-Men focused on a small, core group of mutant heroes. Whedon was followed by writer Warren Ellis, and Cassaday by a rotating line-up of story-specific artists. The book gradually drifted into a looser relationship with the month-to-month goings on of the rest of the X-Men line, and of late, Astonishing has been running two storylines by different creative teams, shipping in alternating issues.

As discussed in one of Marvel's "Next Big Thing" conference calls on Monday, Liu and Perkins will restore the book to a tighter connectivity with the rest of the X-Men titles, reflecting the changes of the recent "Schism" and "Regenesis" X-events that saw the many mutants choosing sides in a Wolverine vs. Cyclops conflict over how to run the X-Men. The new creators will also be introducing a mostly new line-up that will see Iceman, Gambit, Northstar, Warbird, Karma and Cecelia Reyes joining holdover Wolverine. Their initial adversaries will be The Marauders.

"They have a history of wreaking havoc in the Marvel Universe," Liu said of the bad guys, according to Comic Book Resources' coverage of the call. "From my point of view, this seemed like the perfect time to bring them on. Nothing is going to be exactly what it seems, but the Marauders are going to be a big part of it."

Despite the cancellation of her previous book, X-23, it looks like Liu will continue to be a big part of the Marvel Comics creative line-up going forward. The publisher still lacks a solo title headlined by a super-heroine (X-23 and Ghost Rider were the last ones standing), in contrast to DC Comics' five (Wonder Woman, Batwoman, Batgirl, Supergirl and Voodoo, if you're just counting ongoing series), but one of the relatively few Big Two female writers will still be writing a monthly book with an "X" in the title.

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