C2E2 2020: Marvel’s X-Men Draw The X Of Swords

by Noah Sharma

X-Men senior editor Jordan D. White welcomed a massive room of true believers to Marvel’s X-Men event. The panel consisted of Jonathan Hickman (X-Men and New Mutants), Gerry Duggan (Marauders), Tini Howard (Excalibur), Benjamin Percy (X-Force and Wolverine), Vita Ayala (Children of the Atom), Leah Williams (writer of X-Factor), and C.B. Cebulski (Marvel editor-in-chief). Unfortunately Ed Brisson could not attend, due to plane trouble, but there were plenty of creators on the dais.

The panel began by promising something “new” from X-Men #8 before turning things over to Hickman to talk about the series. Hickman praised Mamud Asrar, the artist on issues #8, 13, & 14. Hickman described X-Men #8 as “You’re having a nice day, everything’s great, and then the Brood show up.” It will be a first for the series, in that it will be an ongoing story that will extend beyond the end of the issue.

The Giant-Size X-Men books are a chance to work in the classic “Marvel style”. Hickman asked a bunch of his favorite artists what they wanted to draw on Krakoa and came up with five extra-sized issues. Hickman bases a loose outline off of the artists’ ideas and then turns it over to them to craft the stories that he then writes dialogue for. Cebulski compared these issues to the Art Adams’ New Mutants in Asgard issues.

In May, some of Marvel’s biggest artists will salute Len Wein and Dave Cockrum by completely redrawing the classic Giant-Size X-Men #1, one artist per page.

“Are you guys sad about Captain Kate?” The Marauders have their hands full as we head towards issue #9. Kate Pryde is dead, a submarine has been injected into Pyro, the human government in Madripoor is up to something, and the Stepford Cuckoos are going to show up too.

Excalibur #12 cover by Mahmud Asrar

Tini Howard described Excalibur as the book that looks at what Mutants could never do before Krakoa and the only X-Men that it felt right for her to write. As her ideas about what cultural developments could appear grew it became clear that the core of the series was magic and that made it certain that this would be Excalibur. Howard also interjected that she gets lots of questions about how to pronounce Apocalypse’s new name. You don’t. It’s not for humans. “Sorry, flatscans…” As Betsy is torn between her nations and torn between her families, she’s headed to the Starlight Citadel to talk to Captain Britain’s boss.

X-Force #9 will feature a Raiders of the Lost Ark style set piece that artist Joshua Cassara asked for. Percy is thrilled to see that through and also to introduce us to the world’s greatest tiki bar. Percy promised a double page spread that fans would be going over with a microscope there. Percy and Casara spoke to the entire X-stable to ensure that the detail was authentic and connected to the world of Krakoa. Then Colossus will come to the fore in issue #11.

X-Force #12 cover by Dustin Weaver

“War is coming” Percy intoned as the panel revealed the cover to issue #12.

New Mutants #9 will launch the second arc, which sees the team trying to help a new arrival on Krakoa deal with their strange and dangerous powers. The covers by Mike Del Mundo certainly sell the unease surrounding this mysterious mutant. Plus, Magik seems to be having trouble with the press in the just revealed cover to issue #12.

New Mutants #12 cover by Mike Del Mundo

Adam Kubert’s half of Wolverine will be a crime drama that sees Logan take on the Flower Cartel, while Victor Bogdanovic’s is more of a shadow soaked horror story about Omega Red and a vampire nation. “Wolverine is Ben’s dream book,” Hickman noted “and a lot of times when you have creators get their dream [project]… it doesn’t work.” There was a pause for laughter but Hickman explained. “Usually what happens is it’s a little bit too lovey, it’s a little bit too… this is what I liked when I was twelve, or whatever… But Ben has done a phenomenal job and this is the way it’s supposed to look like when you get an opportunity to do a book that you’ve always wanted to do.”

Duggan, is similarly excited to write Cable. Duggan says that he sets up Phil Noto and tries to get out of his way. “Phil’s back must hurt from carrying me,” Duggan joked. There is a space invasion coming up in the pages of Cable and it’s space ronin from Galador. We will be seeing Cable fighting space knights. There will also be more mundane challenges. “It’s a complicated dating life on Krakoa,” Duggan noted “and it’s my job to torture the characters.”

Hellions #4 cover by Stephan Segovia, the reveal of which prompted a serene “Good Job, Alex” from a fan seated near me.

Hellions arrives next month. Zeb Wells sent in a list of characters which left Hickman asking “why?” But the pitch sealed it. It’s a bunch of bad guys and…Havok. And of course, all the “bad guys” have been granted amnesty. “So let’s see if these guys can behave,” White mused, before quickly adding “and the answer is no,”.

“Do you like my children?”

Ayala promised that Children of the Atom would be a teen and a team book but couldn’t say what any of the character’s names were.

Interior art from Children of the Atom by Bernard Chang

What would you do if you could be an X-Man? That was the question posed to Vita Ayala. What would you have given to be an X-Man when you were a teenager. Vita calls these young fans the Ultimate X-Men. “One of them has a tik tok[…], one of them is a twitch streamer.” Ayala says she wanted to look at how modern fandom would affect how a hero’s story would look.

Williams’ X-Factor will see a new X-Factor Investigations searching for missing mutants. The team will be working closely with the Five and this will be the book that looks at resurrection care and troubleshooting the process. “X-Factor is the book that a lot of you have been waiting for in terms of questions that it answers”

Williams singled out Polaris as a character that she was intimidated to take on. She needed to talk to some friends who loved the character to realize the truth, “She belongs with us. She belongs with X-Factor.”

It also looks like we can expect to see Mojo…which was met with some mixed reactions from the crowd.

X-Factor #3 cover by Ivan Shavrin

Over the course of the panel, one fan was allowed to read an advance copy of Cable #1. Upon finishing he declared, “No spoilers, but it made me a believer in young Cable.”

Storm and, especially, Fantomex got huge responses from the audience when it was mentioned that they would be the last two mutants highlighted in the Giant-Size series, with Russel Dauterman and Rod Reis handling them, respectively.

July will see the first crossover of the Krakoan-era, complete with another teaser image by Mark Brooks. It will be called X of Swords (pronounced Ten of Swords). Hickman said that, while there is a lot of communication, he’s never fully experienced collaborative writing at Marvel…until now. The connections between the creators on these books are tight and X of Swords will make use of that mechanism to tell a story that will snake through the entire line and particularly grows out of things that Hickman and Howard have been working on. Howard was, unsurprisingly, noted to have named the event. “X of Swords” will begin on Free Comic Book Day with art by Pepe Larraz. Hickman also dropped that something else would follow in December.

Highlights from audience questions included:

What happened to the little child dressed as Havok in the original Mark Brooks teaser? The panelists confirmed that it was a great question but wouldn’t say more. Though White reminded us that adult Havok will be appearing in Hellions, he could not confirm or deny rumors of another Havok appearing somewhere else.

A fan asked which mutant would be the first to start a podcast on Krakoa. Duggan posited it would be a telepathic-only podcast, which led Williams to declare it would be Quentin Quire. This was swiftly accepted. Other ideas included Anole and Pixie hosting a podcast called KrakoWHAAAT; Doug Ramsey, who has a podcast but barely anyone listens; and the Summers brothers’ My Brother, My Brother, which a group sitting near me joked would have to keep adding brothers to the title.

Howard promised that we’d hear more about Brian Braddock’s relation to the role of Captain Britain this summer.

Finally Hickman ended the panel by saying that, while he can’t announce any more books, he promises that there are plans for many characters to be explored down the line, including Xavier and Moira, when the time is right.

 

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