Death-of-Wolverine-1-McNiven-Cover-49c4cThough I didn’t plan it this way, my final panel of C2E2 was Marvel’s Wolverine: 3 Months to Die. And while I regret not being able to see a couple of the later panels, I can’t say that it was a bad note to go out on. Full of interesting questions and big announcements, it was definitely one of the most exciting panels of the weekend. And so with that in mind, I’ve decided to skip ahead and write about it early.

Before beginning, Mike Marts warned us that, “in true Marvel fashion you should stay till the end of the credits. And on that ominous note he introduced our panelists, Charles Soule, writer of nearly everything including The Death of Wolverine and Thunderbolts; Jason Latour, writer of Wolverine and the X-Men; Russell Dauterman, the artist on the upcoming Cyclops ongoing; Jordan White, the fantastically mustachioed editor of Deadpool and Thunderbolts; Mahmud Asrar, the artist on Wolverine and the X-Men; and Greg Pak, who might have seemed a strange addition to those who had not yet heard the rumors.

The panel started with Dauterman, who was unequivocal in his glee and honor at being invited to work on Cyclops alongside Greg Rucka. Dauterman attributed much of his love of the X-Men, Marvel, and comics to X-Men: The Animated Series. With an impish gleam in his eye, Jordan White immediately leaned forward and invited us to take part in a ukulele sing-along of the show’s classic theme song, despite its lacking any discernible words. Unfortunately the internet has thus far failed in its basic purpose by not providing a video of the event, though a quick search can probably turn up video of other instances. Regardless, take my word that it was extremely well received.

Marts then turned to Wolverine and the X-Men. He asked Mahmud Asrar who his favorite character to draw was. Asrar had trouble with the question, saying that they’re all growing on him, but settled upon Storm. Latour mentioned that the series has been juggling quite a bit but that we’re getting to the point in the opening arc where things start to fall.

Then Marts pulled up the covers for Wolverine 8-12, the titular “3 Months to Die” storyline, one at a time. I imagine the reaction was just about exactly what Marvel was hoping for but, of course, it’s hard to deny the striking power of the images.

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While the first of “3 Months to Die”’s five issues drops in June the title is entirely literal, as Charles Soule’s The Death of Wolverine will be released weekly in September. Soule described the miniseries as hitting fast and hard and explained that it would consider how Logan explores his own mortality after over a century of life and relative safety. He also revealed that each issue will look at a different time in Logan’s life and, by extension, another Wolverine.

That said, Soule was abundantly – some might even say excessively – clear that this would not be a quiet series. “I want to look at Logan and his fighting style in ways that haven’t been done before.” Soule told the crowd that he wouldn’t – couldn’t – mess this up and that the goal here was to make a mark on Wolverine’s canon that would never fade. “It’s not just a checklist [of past glories],” he reiterated, “Issue 2 has, like, four sweet fights.”

With that the slide shifted to a basic black background with bold white words: A WORLD WITHOUT WOLVERINE. Marts promised that the hirsute mutant’s passing would not be glossed over in other titles, nor would its impact fail to affect them in the time between now and September. Latour explained some of the effects that Wolverine’s troubles have had upon his school. The Jean Grey School was founded on the assumption that Logan would be “the baddest dude in the room” but that the loss of his healing factor has changed things significantly. He also mentioned that Storm would be stepping up as headmistress in the wake of Wolverine’s death, but that there would be unique troubles for her taking on that responsibility. “Storm is a storybook character to the kids,” he said. Latour also described the series’ second arc as being about Wolverine “putting his house in order.”

Storm-1-Ibanez-Cover-08e50But the headmistress wasn’t done yet. To thunderous applause and wild screams, Marts officially announced an ongoing Storm series from Greg Pak and Victor Ináñez. The character has always held a special place in Pak’s heart. As a half-Korean boy growing up near Dallas, “Storm taught me that we all belong right here.” He also shared part of a text from Ináñez describing his honor and his promise to bring fans “the beauty, the power and the bad-assery She deserves” with an explicit capital on “She”.

Pak was very well spoken, but honestly seemed a bit overwhelmed by his feelings about Ororo. He discussed the sheer range of experience that Ororo has had, from being an orphan thief on the streets of Cairo to being a Goddess in the Serengeti, to being a world-renowned superhero, to being queen of a mighty nation.

In one of the most fascinating parts of the panel, Pak said that these experiences allow Storm to notice things that other heroes don’t even recognize are happening. The series will examine the broad ranging elements of Ororo’s personality, her empathy, her power, and even her vulnerability, and how they sometimes contradict. For Storm, being a hero isn’t about rules or politics, she goes where she’s needed “especially if she’s told not to.”

As if that wasn’t enough, Marts then promised even more from World Without Wolverine, including work from Salvadore Larocca and stories from the likes of Kyle Higgins, James Tynion IV, Marguerite Bennett, and more. In some ways it’s not terribly unexpected that Marts would continue to have a strong relationship with some of his discoveries from the Batman office, but hearing the names of three Snyder School members at a Marvel panel was certainly a surprise.

tumblr_n4hpiqw0FI1qcrhtio1_500Jason Latour then spoke a little more about what’s coming for Wolverine and the X-Men. Showing a new cover, he revealed that the JGS would be facing off with a new Horseman of Death, promising that her placement over Wolverine was not accidental. He also said that Quentin Quire would be getting some of his first interaction with the O5 X-Men. It’s unclear if he was aware of Quire and Jean’s breif interaction in Wolverine and the X-Men #24, but I desperately hope that the young rebel’s obnoxious infatuation with the future Phoenix appears again.

Next Dauterman spoke a bit about Cyclops. He said that much of the series would be investigating the contrast between the famously straight-laced Scott and his freewheeling, Space Pirate father. Fans of Hepzibah were also told that they should be happy. A conversation between Marts and Dauterman revealed that the up and coming artist had been a Marvel intern in college, with Dauterman describing himself as a product of the Marvel portfolio review system.

Marts hyped the next couple of stories in Amazing X-Men. First Kathryn Immonen will reunite Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends in issue seven before the new creative team of Craig Kyle, Chris Yost, and Ed McGuinness start “World War Wendigo”, which will bring X-23 and Alpha Flight into things.

Then Jordan White gave us a glimpse into Peter David’s All-New X-Factor. White reminded us that the X-Factor brand has been purchased by Serval Industries, a company which is “totally above board. Their CEO says so.”

The second arc will focus on a rescue mission that begins when the daughter of two famous anti-mutant crusaders is discovered to have an X-gene of her own. Polaris’ entire team has finally come together just in time to save her, but there are some internal tensions that are going to have to be worked out. Notably Warlock has developed a bit of a crush on fellow technological life-form Danger, and attraction she does not at all return. In fact, she may have eyes for Gambit, though, White noted, this is hardly rare. The audience agreed.

The strange future of Deadpool was next on the agenda. White teased that the series’ “Original Sin” tie-in will examine what happens when some of Wade’s friends discover the horrible truth behind the disappearance of his parents. Simultaneously the newly married Merc with a Mouth will have to continue a war with the vampires and will try to enlist Dazzler to help fight them off, “Think about it.” Unfortunately Dazzler wants nothing to do with Wade, especially as she may likely be Mystique in disguise, so the unflappable Deadpool will turn to the original 1970’s Dazzler for help, leading to time-travel shenanigans. Readers who missed out on the introduction of Wade’s wife in the Deadpool: The Gauntlet infinite comic can look forward to a print release in the form of Deadpool: Dracula’s Gauntlet, a new version of the story that will reformat the story for the written page.

Deadpool-vs-X-Force-1-Interior-Preview-1-384abDeadpool fans will also see another installment in the Deadpool vs. series, Deadpool vs. X-Force. Bearing the original X-Force logo, the story will examine the first meeting of Deadpool, Cable, and his squad before New Mutants #98. With a coy smile, White wondered why it is that none of the participants seem to remember this encounter. The story is being written by Duane Swierczynski and the art is some more lovely work by Pepe Larraz.

Charles Soule quickly mentioned that Thunderbolts #26 would be his farewell to the series. His final arc would send the Thunderbolts on a quest for a powerful artifact. After that, the amazingly named Ben Acker and Ben Blacker will kick off “Punisher vs. Thunderbolts” when the team crosses a line too extreme for even Frank Castle. Carlo Barberi will draw the arc.

Finally Marts thanked fans for the reaction to Cullen Bunn’s Magneto, saying that the series is selling really well, a refreshingly simple statement from this sort of panel. He also showed us another gorgeous upcoming cover before the panel opened the floor for questions.

The first came from an X-Factor fan who asked if we’d see more of Madrox. Marts replied that he’s finally happy and that they’re eager to let him have a little time with Layla before he’s called back into the madness.

Inevitably there were many questions about Wolverine’s death and the worry of a swift resurrection for one of Marvel’s most profitable characters. One of the most notable came from a fan who tried to suss out if Marvel was playing some sort of word game, like killing Wolverine but not Logan or erasing his memories again. Soule was very clear on the matter, “Is it a metaphorical death or a little death? No. He dies.” Having closed off that escape route another fan asked if we were just going to see him revived. Soule noted that he couldn’t speak for the Marvel or the writers of the future but that as it stood this was the end. He spoke about Logan’s entire history with the X-Men and the way he’s been looking to atone and make sense of his long, long life. In what is, in my opinion, a very honest look at how the industry functions, Soule said that the best answer he could offer was that he was writing a story that he thinks Logan would read and say, “Yeah, that was a good way to go.” There were some further attempts to press the matter, but Soule stuck to that answer, seemingly failing to find words that could better explain it.

Soule also told the crowd that he’s trying very hard to find the essential truth of the character and has been reading and rereading the character’s greatest hits, including Old Man Logan. When someone asked what Logan thinks about the afterlife, Soule said that he really won’t have time consider it, saying once again that Death of Wolverine won’t be quiet and introspective. Despite it all, there was a quick mention of Logan’s understanding that he won’t be going to a good place.

A particularly interesting statement from Soule, who received a solid percentage of the questions, was that Wolverine’s had become too able to shrug off damage as the years went on, citing an example where he regenerated from a single drop of blood. In his eyes that means that Logan had become someone who could be counted on to take the hits for the X-Men and that, both in the case of the current, killable Wolverine and after his death, the team is going to have to get used to a new status quo. The panelists said that going forward was going to be a lot about finding who can begin to fill the void that Wolverine will leave. There was also a mention that, after “AvX”, the Avengers might not be terribly happy about a Jean Grey School without an Avenger on the inside.

In one final attempt to deal with the fear of a resurrection, one fan asked if, in Logan’s absece, we might see the return of Howlett, the alternate Wolverine from Greg Pak’s X-Treme X-Men. The suggestion got some pretty decent response, especially from Pak, who seemed positively thrilled.

Other questions included didn’t Corsair die – no, just injured – are there any plans for the modern Warpath – not currently – and even what happened to Wolverine’s healing factor “I’m too lazy to Wikipedia it”.

As the panel came to a close, Marts thanked us all for coming and rewarded the remaining fans with a mysterious image…

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Afterwards I hung around to talk with Russell Dauterman about his first Marvel panel and confirm an appointment for later. You can catch the resulting interview here.

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