Today at the "Next Big Thing" panel, Marvel made a number of announcements about their publishing line that take effect in June. Of particular interest are three major announcements: first, that Brian Wood will be writing both X-Men and Ultimate Comics X-Men in June; secondly, that Jeff Parker and Declan Shalvey's Thunderbolts will become Dark Avengers as of #175; and finally, that Dale Eaglesham will be joining Parker on an arc in Hulk dealing with the Mayan apocalypse.Brian Wood will be cementing his role at Marvel by replacing current writer Nick Spencer on Ultimate Comics X-Men, following up on the recent replacement of Jonathan Hickman with Sam Humphries on Ultimate Comics Ultimates. Wood recently returned to Marvel with the miniseries Wolverine & The X-Men: Alpha & Omega following the conclusion of his DC exclusive, and seems to be following up by joining the regular X-universe in full as well, replacing Victor Gischler on the adjectiveless X-Men title.

This effectively gives Spencer and Gischler no Marvel work for the foreseeable future; it's unknown what the latter is doing (perhaps focusing on his prose career or launching a new title dealing with his vampire subplots from X-Men), while Spencer seems to be settling in to a creator-owned lifestyle at Image like Robert Kirkman and Brian K. Vaughan. Wood will be joined on X-Men by David Lopez (New Mutants) for a title featuring Storm, Psylocke, Colossus, Domino and Pixie. (Vampire Jubilee, who's been a large part of the book since it began, apparently will no longer be involved.) Artist Paco Medina will be staying on Ultimate Comics X-Men.

Meanwhile, on the Avengers side of the tracks, Jeff Parker, Declan Shalvey and Kev Walker's Thunderbolts will become Dark Avengers with issue #175 after the conclusion of the current time travel arc where today's Thunderbolts will be forced to face their initial Busiek/Bagley incarnation. Luke Cage will stay in the title, and while there's no mention of other characters from the book's previous incarnation sticking around, the book will be populated from the New Dark Avengers introduced in recent issues of Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato's New Avengers, such as the Thor cyborg clone Ragnarok, Hawkeye's brother Trickshot, Ai Apaec, the Dark Spider-Man and June Covington, Dark Scarlet Witch. The latter two were created by Portland resident Kelly Sue DeConnick and reused by Portland resident Brian Michael Bendis, so clearly some dark Northwestern pact has given them to other Portland resident Jeff Parker. Or maybe it's because something like 50% of the comics industry is in Portland, one of the two.

In other Parker news, Dale Eaglesham (recently of the eight-issue Alpha Flight miniseries with Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente) will be joining him on his other book, Hulk, featuring the exploits of Red Hulk "Thunderbolt" Ross. His arc will be dealing with the return of Mayan gods to herald the Mayan apocalypse, tapping into 2012 apocalyptic fever.

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