By Kiel Phegley
This summer, Matt Fraction will write a crossover between his own UNCANNY X-MEN series and Brian Michael Bendis' DARK AVENGERS. Bookended on each side with one-shots drawn by superstar Marc Silvestri, the brunt of the series will take place within the pages of DARK AVENGERS and UNCANNY X-MEN as drawn by series regular artists Mike Deodato and Terry Dodson.
"I think this is the kind of crossover that's been missing for a while," explains Bendis, who helped in the planning of the story. "It's like Avengers/Defenders when you go, 'Hey, look! They're all in each other's books!' I personally wanted to see the X-Men more involved in the Marvel Universe proper. Sometimes the X-Men can be off in their own little world—which is fine, and I love them—but I wanted to see the Avengers and X-Men smashing heads. HOUSE OF M originally was pitched as an ASTONISHING X-MEN/NEW AVENGERS crossover. There were going to be some months where Joss [Whedon] didn't have an issue of ASTONISHING out, and that's what HOUSE OF M was going to be: something that took it's place while it skipped. And then it just kind of grew. Even though it was still in some ways the X-Men/Avengers crossover it was supposed to be, it became this larger Marvel Universe crossover."
The genesis for the story came during a Dark Reign retreat where the pair of writers stuck upon a character vital to the direction of both their ongoing series.
"We were in a retreat going over who [Norman Osborn's] Cabal was," Bendis says. "I was trying to lock them down, and originally Magneto was going to be one of the members, but then Magneto wasn't available, and so the conversation became 'Well, what about Emma?' Then Emma became the most interesting person on that Cabal. I literally rewrote the whole thing to refocus from her point of view because her point of view was most fascinating. From there, Matt's right next to me, I'm writing AVENGERS and we're on XBox every night—it was inevitable that there would be some kind of crossover."
While Bendis admits that "Matt's the headliner on this one," he also noted he'll be throwing in an idea or two mostly as an excuse to play more video games.
"We have a lot of similar thoughts and feelings about things but handle them differently. Best of all, [this] justifies any amount of XBox time we use because we're working. We're in a story conference. I don't know what [writer] Ivan Brandon is doing there, but we're working."
The focus of the story centers on the inevitable conflict between the Marvel Universe's new super hero general and its most misfit band of powered peoples.
"It's Norman versus the X-Men Universe. What we're seeing here is Norman, as he promised in the first issue of DARK AVENGERS, making a list of things he needs to take care of. And the X-Men and the mutants are always a problem. That's what starts this story," Bendis lays out, adding that a major draw in the series would be "Wolverine is on the Avengers and the X-Men, and that gets to be discussed and played with in new ways."
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