If you’re in Anaheim, you’re about to get all the skinny on the second act of Avengers Academy’s Avengers vs. X-Men arc at the WonderCon Avengers vs. X-Men Panel… But if not, you’re in luck, because we’ve got all the dirt for you right here, right now from series writer Christos Gage!
The conflict continues in issues #31 and #32 of the series, with Generation Hope’s Sebastian Shaw taking center stage in the former, and a focus on Academy student Sentinel in the latter. That’s right: Avengers Academy will be double shipping in June, with the second issue coming out just two short weeks after the first! We talked in advance of the panel with Gage on these issues, got a tease on some of the big throwdowns, and his opinion on which Academy student would be most likely to host the Phoenix Force:
MTV Geek: It’s a bit tough to talk about this without spoiling AvX, or the first two issues of the tie-in with Avengers Academy, but let’s start out talking about what we DO know… #29 and #30 focus on X-23, the bridge character for the X-Men and Avengers. Is that going to continue, or are things switching around a bit in #31 and #32?
Christos Gage: Issues #29-31, drawn by our regular artist, the mighty Tom Grummett, focus on the mutant kids from Utopia being “guests” of Avengers Academy, quite against their will. In #32 and 33, featuring a guest artist I’ve wanted to work with since his awesome ANNIHILATION: STAR-LORD work, Tim Green II, the X-Men come gunning for Juston Seyfert’s Sentinel, to destroy it once and for all. X-23 will be a major part of both storylines. It’s not just because she’s caught between the two sides…the issues and themes we’re tackling tied in naturally with the character journey she’s been on, most recently courtesy of the talented Marjorie Liu. Laura won’t be the only character getting attention, by any means, but it’s finally her turn to step into the spotlight.
Geek: We also know that the Academy is rounding up the mutant kids from Utopia, and “housing” them at the WCA complex. Given the X-Men’s recent Schism on this very issue, plus the fact that the Academy was recently invaded by former students disagreeing with Pym and company’s methods, I imagine there’s going to be no problems whatsoever with this move, he said sarcastically?
CG: I foresee a circle of happy kids singing “Kumbaya.” No, I foresee major friction. And X-23 confronted by some of her former New X-Men classmates, like Dust and Surge. And, of course, naked Hercules. Well, that’s not a problem…it’s a solution to all problems.
Geek: Are we going to see Veil, Jeremy Briggs and the rest get involved in this? Or are they sitting to the side, snarkily commenting on how this is all "superhero business as usual?"
CG: I know what you’re doing. You’re trying to give Tom Brevoort apoplexy. Every since the cast of AVENGERS THE INITIATIVE grew to astronomical proportions, Tom has been cautioning me NOT to let that happen with AVENGERS ACADEMY! And you want me to put the Avengers Academy students, all the X-Men kids from Utopia, AND Veil and her crew in a single story? You, sir, are a cruel and heartless man.
Geek: Let’s talk about Sebastian Shaw, who gets highlighted in #31 – what’s it been like writing him, and what does he bring to the mix?
CG: Shaw is actually in #29 through 31. It’s been interesting writing him because this is not the same Sebastian Shaw who had such a long and evil reign as leader of the Hellfire Club. Emma Frost wiped his mind, and, as an amnesiac, he joined up with the kids of GENERATION HOPE. But in the final issue of that title, Hope gave Shaw the X-Men’s file on him, so now he knows the truth about who he was. Does that make him a villain again? That’s what he brings to the mix. He’s a wild card…and a potential massive threat in the middle of a bunch of kids. I love writing characters who are total loose cannons, and Shaw is most definitely that.
Geek: With Hazmat all about releasing energy, and Shaw basically a sponge for energy, are we going to get to see any interesting interactions there?
CG: That seems like kind of a natural confrontation, doesn’t it?
Geek: Then in #32, we’re moving the spotlight to Sentinel. This is such a quirky cult character, what’s been fun about bringing him back? And what’s coming up with the robot and Justin as they get embroiled in a full scale war?
CG: You know, I never meant for Juston Seyfert and his Sentinel to have such a presence in this book, but there’s something so primal and appealing about a kid with his own pet giant robot, and Sean McKeever brought them to life so vividly in the two series he wrote them in, that I can’t resist. Regular readers will remember that the X-Men finally became aware there was a teenager running around with a robot designed to kill them in AVENGERS ACADEMY #22. Now that the two teams are at war, the X-Men decide it’s time to remove that particular threat from the board, and come to destroy the Sentinel. Which to them is a genocidal killing machine…but to Juston is his best friend. I wanted to explore the question of whether something created and groomed to be violent and harmful deserves the chance to rise above that, or whether the threat posed to others is the more important consideration. Longtime readers of AVENGERS ACADEMY, by the way, will know that the description I just gave applies to a lot more campus residents than the Sentinel.
Geek: Speaking of which, with Fear Itself, Avengers Academy very much dealt with the realities of kids getting involved in a war – are we going to return to those themes here? Or is this a different look at conflict?
CG: It’s a similar premise but in a different way. Last time around, with Fear Itself, we looked at kids being put on the front lines of a shooting war. This time, we’re examining what happens to kids when they face the consequences of their elders making decisions that affect them tremendously, but that they have no say in. And what happens when they start making decisions for themselves.
Geek: I’m guessing this probably won’t happen, which is why I feel comfortable asking it: if you could give one Avengers Academy student the Phoenix Force, who would it be? And why?
CG: Butterball. Because he’s so laid back. I mean, really, can you imagine “Dark Butterball?” Well, actually, that sounds like a pretty tasty Ben & Jerry’s flavor, now that I think about it…butter pecan, chocolate…now I want some.
Geek: Lastly, what – if anything – can you tease about what’s going to come out of these issues? In Fear Itself, they had their school destroyed; are they going to have to pack up and move… Again?
CG: Ha. That would be a cakewalk compared to what’s coming up for these kids.
Avengers Academy #31 and #32 both hit comic book stands in June from Marvel Comics! You can check out the full size covers to both below: