The heroes of the Marvel Universe can perform many frightening and awe inspiring feats such as cracking mountains, controlling the elements, and altering the fabric of reality itself. When they fight one another it’s truly a spectacle, but when they go to war against each other you get an epic conflict that can literally shake and change the world.
That’s exactly what will happen this April when an all-star team of Marvel creators presents the 12-issue “Avengers Vs. X-Men” maxi-series. In today’s edition of WHEN TWO TRIBES GO TO WAR, our look the important elements and characters of “AVX,” we look at some of the more powerful and prominent characters of the conflict. How dangerous are these characters? What’s motivating them? And what might happen if they lose control of their powers? Joining us to answer these questions and more are “Uncanny X-Men” writer, Kieron Gillen; “Avengers Academy and “X-Men: Legacy” writer, Christos Gage; “Hulk” writer, Jeff Parker; Senior Editor Nick Lowe who’s in charge of the X-Office; and Senior Vice President of Publishing and Executive Editor, Tom Brevoort, whose office oversees the Avengers titles.
If you’re just joining us feel free to get caught up by reading our first installment of the series where we discussed how various loyalties will come into play in “AVX,” and our second installment where we examined the four “generals” of the conflict. Don’t worry, our artillery strike won’t begin until you get back!
CYCLOPS’ UTOPIA-BASED FACTION OF X-MEN
CBR News: Kieron, Cyclops’ “Extinction Team” of Emma Frost, Colossus/Juggernaut, Magik, Hope, Storm, Danger, Magneto, and Namor are the biggest guns of his Utopia-based faction of X-Men. When “AvX” breaks out will these characters be sitting on the bench waiting to be called in? Or will the Extinction Team come out swinging when the opening bell rings?
Kieron Gillen: The point of the Extinction Team is that they’re a deterrent. Therefore you’d expect the Extinction Team to be there when X-Men first meet the Avengers. It’s Scott’s way of saying to them, “You don’t really want to do this.” If they force him to press the red button that is the Extinction Team, he will do it.
So we’re dealing with the implicit moral question of the Extinction Team. There was a chance they would be called upon to fight whoever attacked mutants and if they do they might destroy a city or something worse. That was always the ethical question behind the Extinction Team. It’s not whether or not Scott would send them into battle, but what would happen if he was forced to? So the worrying questions are what could the Extinction Team do and what will they do?
The most powerful and destructive member of the team is Colossus, who recently became the Juggernaut, the avatar of the powerful demonic being known as Cytorrak. Becoming the Juggernaut made Colossus impossibly strong but it’s also made him highly unstable. How will Cyclops feel about calling him into battle against the Avengers? Does he realize how hard Colossus is struggling to keep from raging out of control now that he’s the Juggernaut?
Gillen: Cyclops definitely does. There are a lot of pieces coming to a slow boil in the “Uncanny X-Men” issues leading up to “AVX.” His emotional turmoil will increase with each issue. The questions about Colossus’ control over his Juggernaut form will arise. We’ll also see how that affects his relationship with Magik, who Cyclops is also worried about.
In “Uncanny X-Men” #9 we reveal that she’s still in prison in between missions. She’s part of the Extinction Team, but she’s still wearing the bomb suit beneath her outfit. So Fundamentally she’s on a leash. That whole relationship is a powder keg.
And yes, Colossus is phenomenally powerful. He’s a man who can crack mountains. He was strong before, but now as the Juggernaut he’s incredibly dangerous. He’s one of Cyclops’ most powerful weapons.
You mentioned Magik, so let’s talk a little bit about Colossus’ sister. She’s a powerful teleporter with supernatural abilities that come from her own experience with demonic possession. How stable is she when “AvX” begins? What’s motivating her?
Gillen: As I said, Magik’s relationship with Colossus is a key part of the story I’m telling in the “AvX” tie-ins of “Uncanny X-Men.” She’s sort of his sponsor in demonic possessions anonymous and there’s a lot of territory that we can explore with her. For instance, Magik got most of her soul back. What exactly does that mean?
Cyclops believes Magik and Colossus are in danger of straying over to the dark side, but the Extinction Team’s ranks include two members who have done exactly that: the Master of Magnetism, Magneto, and the physically powerful ruler of Atlantis, Prince Namor. We imagine these two would have interesting perspectives on what it means to fight the Avengers.
Gillen: Ah yes! [Laughs] There was a line I cut from issue #11. It was a scene I did with Storm and Magneto. I cut it because of space, but Magneto comments on the situation they’re in with the Avengers. He says, “You know things could be worse. Fighting super heroes is something I have a lot of experience with.” So this isn’t the first time Magneto has been in a situation like this and Namor is the same way having attacked civilization god knows how many times.
It’s not like if Storm were to fight the Avengers. It’s weird for her. Whereas Magneto and Namor can go, “Yeah, I’ve done that.”
Is Storm in an especially difficult situation because of her membership in both the Avengers and the X-Men?
Gillen: Yes she’s extremely powerful, but she’s going to have to think long and hard about how to use her abilities. Making things even more difficult for her is the fact that she’s the ethical anchor of the Extinction Team. She’s supposed to pull them back if they go too far. That’s going to be very problematic for Storm.
Emma Frost suffered a pretty serious injury in your first arc of “Uncanny X-Men,” but we know she’ll have recovered and be back in action in time for “AVX.” How formidable will she be in the coming conflict and what’s on her mind when fighting breaks out?
Gillen: Emma’s thrown everything behind Scott and Utopia. The emotional side is obvious, but in pure financial terms too. She’s liquidated her commercial empire to pay for Utopia. She writes the checks. It’s arguable that she, more than anyone else, is the one with most to fight for. And with someone as icily cold as Emma, you don’t want to back her into a corner. Her diamond form is one thing — but as a psychic, that’s one area where the Avengers are seriously outgunned. Between Emma and Extinction-team-reserve Psylocke, that’s an awful lot of sheer mind-power coming your way.
Emma and her teammates each have their own unique perspective, but the robotic life form Danger must have an especially interesting point of view on the “AvX” conflict since it involves two groups of organic life forms in an escalating ideological conflict. Danger has many powerful abilities like shape changing, the ability to control machines, and the ability to generate powerful hard light holograms. Should the X-Men automatically assume Danger is going to be on their side in a conflict over how best to save the planet from the destructive cosmic entity known as the Phoenix?
Gillen: I would say Danger is someone you should watch very closely in this. The question of Danger’s loyalties are absolutely core to my “Uncanny” run and by “AvX” you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
We’ve talked about her teammates on the Extinction Team, but now I’d like to discuss Hope, who plays a unique role in the “AvX” conflict. Hope’s mutant ability to mimic other mutant powers and amplify them makes her a valuable ally in a fight. That said, given her connection to the Phoenix Force will Cyclops allow her to take part in fights?
Gillen: This is a tricky question to talk about without spoiling things, but Hope and Phoenix are right at the core of this story. And as such Hope will be protected, but that’s not something she responds to well. One of the problems between Hope and Scott is that they both agree she’s the Messiah. Since they both believe that she’s fundamentally important, that makes any disagreement they have really, really touchy.
If Scott decides Hope needs to be kept safe and he sticks her in a bunker he’s going to have a fight on his hands. Her take is that she’s a good soldier and has lots of things she could do. In “Generation Hope” I set up that believing she’s the mutant messiah is a weird thing for her, but she has to believe it because it’s one of the reasons her dad died. So she has to be the Messiah otherwise her dad died for nothing. So there’s an emotional powder keg there. Hope is being pulled in all sorts of directions and the question of the Phoenix only complicates things for her.
So Hope and her fellow members of the Extinction Team are all incredibly powerful characters, but during “AvX” they’re going to be plunged into situations where they’re powers can only complicate things?
Gillen: Yes, the Extinction Team is a powder keg. It was designed as one and I knew it would blow up. What happens afterwards, though, is the really interesting question because, as you point out, this is a group of really powerful people, and any one of them could make a mess of things.
The chance to answer those questions and be part of this event reminds you that Marvel has some of the best toys in comics. To be able to throw them at each other in a big story like this is a great joy. I’m writing one of the “AvX” fight books. I’m doing a Spider-Man versus Colossus story and there’s nothing that’s not fun about that. Writing a story featuring these big guns gives you scale and meaning, but it also has the fundamental joy of super hero comics. I’ve seen all the scripts to these stories [so] far, but every time I see pages it’s exciting.
WOLVERINE’S FACTION OF X-MEN WHO SERVE AS THE FACULTY FOR THE JEAN GREY SCHOOL OF HIGHER LEARNING
Wolverine’s camp has quite a few heavy hitters in it. Perhaps the biggest is Bobby Drake AKA Ice Man. Just how powerful is Bobby? If pushed to cut loose, what kind of damage could Bobby inflict on a team of Avengers?
Christos Gage: I think Bobby himself is still testing the limits of his power. He’s definitely someone who could take on a number of Avengers alone, and maybe pull out some moves no one’s seen before.
Nick Lowe: You’re going to see a lot of how far Bobby has come in “Wolverine and the X-Men” #7. It’s an “AvX” tie-in that pits him against one of the biggest and strongest Avengers there is. I can’t wait to see how people react!
Another powerful teacher at the Jean Grey School is Rogue. She’s fought the Avengers before and the nature of her powers suggests she could be more than a match for an entire team of Avengers. Given her role as a teacher, would Rogue be part of any offensive actions in “AvX”? Or would she view her role as staying behind and defending the kids?
Gage: You’ve hit on some of the central issues behind our first two crossover issues in “X-Men Legacy,” #266 and 267. You’re right — in her very first appearance, the classic “Avengers Annual” #10, Rogue did indeed take down nearly all the Avengers by herself, including Thor and Captain America. But that was also the start of a very dark period in her life, as she accidentally absorbed Ms. Marvel’s powers and persona when she held on too long, and had them for years, which nearly drove her insane. She’s changed a lot since then. Will she feel that fighting Avengers again might take her places she doesn’t want to go? Will she feel a duty to step in on the X-Men’s side regardless of her own misgivings? Or will she enthusiastically jump into a fight she knows she can win?
Lowe: Rogue’s role is very complex and really awesome! Christos has been awesome at playing with Rogue’s powers in “Legacy” and it only gets better in his “AvX” issues.
While we’re on the topic of kids, let’s touch upon them. The student body of the Jean Grey School has some kids that could qualify as heavy artillery like Kid Gladiator, Quentin Quire, and Genesis. I know the school was established to keep these kids out of harm’s way, but if these characters decide they wanted to fight could they be dissuaded? And how much damage could they do?
Gage:They could do plenty of damage, but I think you’re right that the adults of the Westchester school will not want them involved. As to whether they can enforce that rule, we’ll have to wait and see. An equally pressing question is what happens if trouble comes looking for them!
Lowe: Kid Gladiator DEFINITELY gets into the action, which shouldn’t be too surprising. What it will be is too amazing. Readers may lose control of bodily organs after reading.
Kid Gladiator is definitely a big gun style character, but we have to wonder about the status of another character, Rachel Summers. Could you clarify exactly what she can do with her powers and how effective she would be in a face off with a group like the Avengers?
Gage: Rachel is not as powerful as when she hosted a part of the Phoenix Force herself, but she is still one of the leading telepaths and telekinetics on Earth. We saw in “X-Men Legacy” #262 how she engaged Exodus in a battle for mental supremacy on multiple planes of reality at once, and managed to match him blow for figurative blow, which definitely makes her a heavy hitter. If I were the Avengers, I’d bring in some telepaths of my own.
Lowe: Do not mess with Rachel. She is a certified bad ass.
The Jean Gray School has some powerful teachers, but it’s also had some very powerful guest lecturers, namely Charles Xavier. He’s been off to the sidelines for awhile, so can we expect Professor X to return in a major way during “AvX?”
Lowe: You will definitely see him show up in “AvX” and play a really interesting and pivotal role.
Are they any other heavy artillery style characters at the Jean Grey school that I haven’t mentioned yet? And if so how powerful are they?
Gage: Gambit showed some creativity when he turned Exodus’ cape into a bomb recently. I could see him energizing Iron Man’s armor or Cap’s shield — that would be a big deal.
Lowe: You should watch Angel for sure.
Gage: And of course the Avengers have some pretty big guns of their own–it’s going to be a lot of fun. I’ve been a part of Marvel events since “Civil War,” and out of all of them, this one hits me right in the fanboy heart the most!
Lowe: The best thing about “AvX” are the twists along the way. Crazy stuff happens ALL THE TIME in it.
THE AVENGERS — THE RED HULK
Jeff, from what we’ve seen the Red Hulk will be one of Captain America’s key soldiers in the battle against Cyclops’ forces. Given his vast power, what kind of damage could the Red Hulk do to a small place like Utopia if left unchecked?
Jeff Parker: Wrecking an island is a classic afternoon activity for a Hulk. Especially one that would think in terms of knocking out defenses and power plants in order like a military campaign.
The Red Hulk is extremely powerful, but knowledge is power too, and it’s a power Cyclops wields incredibly well. How much does Cyclops know about the Red Hulk’s abilities? Does he have any clue how powerful the Red Hulk is?
Parker: They had a brief run-in back in “World War Hulks,” where Cyclops, Wolverine and Iceman were all hulked out, so they would understand the brute force coming at them. And surely Cyclops would realize the danger of Red Hulk being able to think clearly in addition to that.
General Ross’ physical power as the Red Hulk is a dangerous weapon, but so is his mind. In terms of military strategy and tactics how cunning is Ross? Have the X-Men ever faced a foe like him before that’s both physically powerful and tactically resourceful?
Parker: I would say Magneto probably kept them ready for that for years! But Ross also has that willingness to go all the way to win that a lot of people don’t have. I think that’s what makes him particularly dangerous. His self-preservation instinct is fairly low.
Power and cunning are good, but they’re especially dangerous wielded by a man who wants to go to war. Going into “AvX” how do you think Red Hulk would view Cyclops’ branch of the X-Men? Would he see them as dangerous outlaws? Or might he understand some of the persecution they feel?
Parker: Red Hulk isn’t big on sympathizing — his condition is exactly like Bruce Banner’s, and it doesn’t help him connect on that common ground.
Tom, at the time I’m writing this question, the Scarlet Witch is back and is one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel Universe. We also know she’ll have a role in “AvX.” Can you talk about how dangerous Wanda could be in the wake of “Avengers: The Children’s Crusade” #9? Given her power would she be someone that would be called upon right away or would Wanda be more of a reserve “nuclear option?”
Tom Brevoort: From the point of view of the X-Men, she’s the most dangerous player there is. Despite being powered down in “Crusade,” she still eliminated the mutant powers of the majority of their species — so even psychologically that’s got to be a daunting thing to face. And beyond that, there are still a lot of unresolved issues amongst the mutant community towards Wanda. I expect that there are any number of X-Men who’d love to beat her black and blue simply on principle. That said, as of the end of “Crusade,” she’s not an active Avenger, nor are her whereabouts necessarily known — so she’s more of a wild card in terms of where she’ll show up, and how. And let’s not forget that she’s a mutant as well, and that she would desperately like to be able to undo the effects of M-Day — so perhaps she’ll be fighting on the side of the X-Men!
Interesting! The Witch’s power is quite intimidating, but so is the power of another long time Avenger, Thor. Will we get a chance to see how devastating Thor is in action against the X-Men? Or will he be using all his power to confront something equally intimidating, the Phoenix Force? If so, what kind of battle will that be?
Brevoort: As we’ve already shown in the preview of “AvX” #1 we’ve been running, Thor’s going to be at the forefront of the Avengers away team tasked with preventing the Phoenix from ever reaching the Earth — so he’s going to be away from the team vs. team fighting at least at the outset. When facing something akin to the Phoenix Force, Thor is one of the very few Avengers capable of operating very comfortably on that level. But assuming he gets back to Earth and enters the combat with the X-Men, he’ll be a pretty unstoppable force. I wouldn’t bet on the Juggerlossus against him, for instance.
Thor’s power lies primarily in the supernatural world and so does the power of another Avenger, Doctor Strange. Doc isn’t the Sorcerer Supreme any more, but he’s still a master of the mystic arts. Just how dangerous is he?
Brevoort: Very dangerous in that his powers are such that there’s no easy and effective counter to them. That said, there are a number of X-Men whose abilities are derived either wholly or in part from magic. And as you say, Strange is no longer the Sorcerer Supreme. But he’s still the most learned and most experienced fighter there is in that arena.
We know from cover images that another character wielding mystical powers, Iron Fist, will play a role in “Avengers Vs. X-Men.” At first glance Danny Rand is a pretty powerful character, but could he go toe-to-toe with one of the X-Men’s big guns? And will Danny’s status as an Immortal Weapon of Agamotto affect his role or power level in this story?
Brevoort: Danny’s about as good a hand-to-hand combatant as it’s possible to be — he’s a master of the martial arts in all their forms, even apart from his ability to generate the Iron Fist. Additionally, there’s information buried deep within the archives of the histories of K’un Lun and the chronicles of the previous Iron Fists that’s going to prove to be a real game-changer as the battle goes on. So while he’s not the mightiest player in terms of lifting battleships and the like, Iron Fist is nonetheless a key participant. Expect to see a lot of him.
Sounds like knowledge is indeed power in this story, and two of the most knowledgeable characters in the Marvel Universe when it comes to science are Iron Man and Giant-Man of the Avengers. When “AvX” begins how valuable are the scientific and inventing skills of Hank Pym and Tony Stark? Do the X-Men have anybody who can match these guys in terms of brain power?
Brevoort: I think you’d have to count T’Challa in that same breath along with Tony and Hank. And while the X-Men do have their X-Club science team, none of its members loom quite so large in the field as these three do. I’d expect Tony in particular to be especially dangerous, as he’s among the more pragmatic Avengers, the one most likely to strike a decisive blow where others might hesitate.
The Avengers are comprised of a pretty huge roster. Are there any other extremely powerful “Heavy Artillery”-style Avengers you would like discuss? How powerful are these characters? And what makes them valuable assets in a conflict with the X-Men?
Brevoort: I think there are any number of other heavy hitters among the Avengers: The Vision (people forget how powerful he is, especially since he hasn’t been around a whole lot recently), War Machine, Captain Britain, Valkyrie, Ms Marvel, Red Hulk, the Thing. And those are just to name a few.
The power these characters wield is tempered by their commitment to their mission. Unless the objective is to wipe the X-Men out for some reason, they’re going to be fighting to incapacitate rather than kill or maim.