By Eric Drumm
The X-Men panel
Things are blowing up for the X-camp these days, and Wizard World Chicago provides the perfect meeting place for an X-Men pow wow. Marvel EIC Joe Quesada, along with talent/writing guru C.B. Cebulski and X-Universe artist Skottie Young lead the X-Men panel in front of a packed room of die-hard mutant fans.
Firing up the PowerPoint, Quesada and Cebulski projected images on the big screen of all upcoming X-projects. Starting off with the future of ASTONISHING X-MEN, Chi-town fans were happy to learn that following Joss Whedon and John Cassaday's legendary run will be none other than Warren Ellis (THUNDERBOLTS) and superstar artist Simone Bianchi (WOLVERINE).
On the heels of this oh-so-awesome announcement, Cebulski runs through the other X-books as he clicks through slides. Next he comes to the big X-Men event, "Messiah CompleX," kicking off in November. Likening it to classic X-crossovers such as "Executioner's Song," Cebulski warns that exciting times are indeed ahead. The crowd is enthralled as they are privy to breathtaking art from icons David Finch, Billy Tan and Marc Silvestri. Moving on, Cebulski declares more creative teams that will take over in the coming months. Proudly proclaiming Chris Yost and Skottie Young on VULCAN: EMPOROR and the BLADE team of Marc Guggenheim and Howard Chaykin taking over WOLVERINE, he blows the audience away with sneak peaks at art and covers.
Now completely hopped up on the X-juice, Quesada takes the panel into the Q and A portion.
A fan asks the panel about the inner turmoil surrounding the X-Men, and how their limited numbers has taken its toll on them as team and a community. Cebulski fires back, saying that by the end of "Messiah CompleX," we will think of the X-Men as less of a family and more of an army. Following up on that notion, a fan asks why they don't train every
mutant at Xavier's school to be an X-person. Cebulski and Young explained that not every mutant has powers suitable for battle, and that a school means that there are children, who shouldn't be in a fight anyway. This leaves the fighting to older, more experienced mutants.
Branching out further into X-territory, the question is asked whether the Excalibur team would be seeing a line-up change. Cebulski assures the fan that "Messiah CompleX" will change a lot of things, Excalibur being one of them.
Next, a fan asks about the future of the Ragin' Cajun himself, Gambit. Asking if any big changes are in store for him, Quesada quips, "Yes, he will now be throwing business cards instead." While on the topic of mutant heartbreakers, a fan asks the panel what they think of the Emma Frost/Cyclops relationship. Quesada answers that he loves it personally, because it represents a change, and change, afterall, is what makes the comics world go 'round.
Moving back to "Messiah CompleX," a fan asks the panel what we should be on the lookout for, to which Quesada mysteriously answers "Cable is on the rise," inciting whispers from the crowd. "Wait, isn't he dead?" the crowd asks themselves. Very sly, Joe, very sly.
Staying on beloved characters, a fan next inquires about the status of X-Man Nightcrawler, asking if he will ever do anything cool again. Cebulski chimes in, saying that they have plans in the works to return Nightcrawler back to his happy-go-lucky swashbuckling attitude, and less of the brooding religious zealot. Hello, pirate hats!
Recalling the recent Skrull scandal currently happening in the Avengers books, a fan asks if this will spill into the world of the X-Men. Pondering, Quesada finally answers with a simple "No effin' idea." The next question is one that strikes a particular chord with Quesada. A fan asks what the difference is between the marriage of Peter Parker and Mary Jane and the union of X-Man Storm and the Black Panther. A hot-button topic for Quesada, he replies that unlike the Spidey marriage, he feels that Storm and T'Challa's marriage actually strengthens the characters, and when he asks himself, "Does this add dimension?" he can answer yes, it does.
Expanding beyond whats on the plate for the immediate future, a fan asks what will be the X-status after "Messiah CompleX" is all over. Quesada smiles wide and simply answers "It's gonna get old-school."
The final question was that of fanboy dreams. A fan asks the panel what their dream X-bout would be. Quesada says that he would like to see Emma Frost versus Kitty Pryde as Cebuski would like a Sunspot/Cannonball match-up. Young has a different approach, saying that he would like nothing better than to see a repowered Chamber kill Wolverine dead.
Some very exciting things are happening to the X-Men in the coming months, so stay tuned for their world to be shaken up something fierce.