To go by the last few cycles of announcements from Marvel, you get the sense that they really want eyes back on the X-Men line of books, shaking up the creative teams and the lists of characters in the books, moving them around, opening new schools, and generally doing everything from tweaking to outright overhauling the status quo to get some kind of heat for the line. Case in point: Monday's "mystery project conference call with novelist and X-23/NYX writer Marjorie Liu, accompanied by artist Mike Perkins (X-Men: Endangered Species, The Stand) to announce that the duo will be taking over Astonishing X-Men in March with issue #48. The new team will be comprised of Wolverine, Gambit, Iceman, Northstar, Karma, Cecelia Reyes, and the new Shi'ar Warbird from Wolverine and the X-Men, following a series of Cyclops-led teams.
This is the latest change in creative teams for AXM which has gone through several lineups in recent years including a recent setup where Christos Gage and Daniel Way alternated story arc chapters between months. Since Joss Whedon's inaugural run on the book what seems like so many years ago, the intent with Astonishing has been to tell stories not as constrained by the continuity of the rest of the X-books, with superstar talent on board what was once one of Marvel's top books.
Here are some of the highlights from the call:
- According to Editor Nick Lowe, Liu was anxious to work on a team book as a fan of the X-Men since the 90's cartoon.
- Liu: "I initially wanted to keep the team very small, but as I brainstormed, more and more played off well each other, so it grew."
- Liu continues her crush on Gambit (I think of him as Green Lantern to her Geoff Johns), bringing the character from X-23 to this book.
- The opening of the book is thematically about moving: moving and moving on. Northstar and his boyfriend have moved to New York while Gambit and Cecelia are trying to get to a new place in their relationship.
- The new team will be facing off against the Marauders in the first issue. When was the last time we saw these guys? Endangered Species? According to Liu, they're going to hand the new team their first major beatdown.
- Continuing tradition, AXM will remain continuity-light. While it obviously draws from the repercussions during Schism, it'll still be in its own little corner.
- This will be the Wolverine team book in contrast to Wolverine and the X-Men which is the Wolverine school book.
- Interesting tidbit: this would have been something of a complete book of Liu-written characters with X-23 on the team, but in the wake of Wolverine's decision to not use kids on teams, this was nixed. So where is the character now?
- AXM will not be involved in the Avengers vs. X-Men event.
Liu and Perkins will begin their run on AXM starting in March.