Comic-Con: X-Men enter ‘Battle of the Atom’; Nightcrawler returns

July 21, 2013 | 7:38 p.m.
amazingxmen 1 cover Comic Con: X Men enter Battle of the Atom; Nightcrawler returns

The cover for "Amazing X-Men" No. 1 shows Azazel, left, and Nightcrawler, with Beast, Iceman, Storm, Firestar, Northstar and Wolverine below. (Marvel)

xmenbota002cov Comic Con: X Men enter Battle of the Atom; Nightcrawler returns

Cover art for "X-Men: Battle of the Atom" No. 2, the 10-part saga's final chapter, which is due in October. (Marvel)

Marvel Comics announced the launch of “Amazing X-Men,” which begins with the quest for the dearly departed Nightcrawler, and “Longshot Saves the Marvel Universe” during its X-Men panel Sunday afternoon at Comic-Con International in San Diego.

“Amazing X-Men,” from writer Jason Aaron (“Wolverine and the X-Men”)  and artist Ed McGuinness, marks the return of the teleporting blue mutant who died heroically in the 2010 story line “Second Coming.” The title’s team showcases Firestar as a major character for the first time, editor Nick Lowe said, and also includes Wolverine, Iceman, Beast, Storm and Northstar.

It’s been secretly in the works since around the time Aaron started “Wolverine and the X-Men” and will solve the mystery of the little blue Bamfs that infest the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning in that series. Lowe also suggested a connection between red Bamfs and Nightcrawler’s father, the fiery-colored, demonic Azazel. The Bamfs, Lowe said, presumably referring to the blue ones, have been trying to help the late Nightcrawler stop his bad dad from stealing something important. (Not that they could have told anyone; all they say is “Bamf!”)

Aaron, after attempts to get him on the phone through spotty reception in a grocery store, sent a text telling the audience that he’d been waiting years to write this Nightcrawler story and asking whether anyone knew what a shallot looks like. (A number did and called out descriptions.)

FULL COVERAGE: San Diego Comic-Con 2013

Chris Hastings will write “Longshot Saves the Marvel Universe,” and acknowledged the title is “crazy.” The acrobatic, psychometric, luck-dependent character will “have to get very, very lucky” to do that, the writer said.

But before those projects, there’s “Battle of the Atom,” the 10-part event unfolding across “All-New X-Men,” “Uncanny X-Men,” “X-Men,” “Wolverine and the X-Men” and two issues bearing the story line’s title in September and October — the presentation’s top-billed attraction.

A look at "X-Men: Battle of the Atom." (Marvel Comics)

A look at “X-Men: Battle of the Atom.” (Marvel Comics)

The story line originated, writer Brian Michael Bendis (“All-New,” “Uncanny”) said, as the team thought about creating a “legacy-driven” story to mark the franchise’s 50th anniversary. Aaron came up with the “funky, cool” idea to have the X-Men of the future come to the present to tell the original X-Men, recently transported through time from their early days, to go back. But, as readers of “All-New” have seen, the teenage Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman, Angel and Beast, having seen what tragedies befall their lives and dreams for mutant-human peace, don’t want to return to their time without fixing things.

“Chaos ensues,” Bendis said, and who the future X-Men are, what they’ve been through, and what’s awaiting all the X-Men are important to the story. Further, he promised, it’s “100% a story that matters,” and all the X-titles will undergo changes at the end of it.

“Battle of the Atom” will spill off the page, with a mobile game tied to it coming later this year.

Everyone’s favorite surly, adamantium-clawed mutant loses his healing factor in Paul Cornell’s “Wolverine” story “Killable,” as seen in the already released No. 6, and the next issue, “Mortal,” sees Logan “getting used to the idea that he’s going to grow old, that he’s vulnerable,” writer Paul Cornell said. The power loss will be seen in all the titles Wolverine appears in. When word gets out, a slew of his rogues gallery comes after him, he said, with a major change coming in No. 13. (The hero is seen in a very different costume in the convention special issue of Entertainment Weekly, and the crowd was told there’s a good reason.)

Asked what’s next in “Deadpool,” co-writer and comedian Brian Posehn said to laughs, “We kill Wolverine. Spoiler.” No. 18, with art by Declan Shalvey, guest-stars Wolverine and Captain America for a story titled “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” After that, artist Mike Hawthorne returns, co-writer Gerry Duggan said, “and we’re super-excited – to kill Wolverine.”

Over in “Uncanny X-Force,” No. 12 is a solo story about Spiral, writer Sam Humphries said, with “cosmic ninjas with swords and six arms.” It’s drawn by Adrian Alphona. Eisner-winning artist Ramon Perez is drawing 10, 11, 13, 14 and 15.

Nightcrawler’s wasn’t the only welcome return the audience cheered: Longtime popular writer Peter David got enthusiastic applause when an audience member said he was glad to see him fully recovered from the stroke he suffered in December. The writer said he was delighted with the “sneak peek” at what people will say about him when he dies. He noted that among those praying for him were Buddhist monks at a temple where the leader is a fan of his work on “Hulk.” “Not to go all Sally Field,” he said gratefully, “but you guys seem to like me.”

David is ending “X-Factor” with No. 262 after close to 10 years on the current run. He said he hears from fans that they’re impressed he can “take these B- and C-level characters and make people care about them” and that’s what the book has been about. He will continue to write at Marvel, but just what has not yet been announced. (X-Factor characters will show up in other books.)

The crowd was shown cover art for “Uncanny Avengers” No. 14, which showed the Scarlet Witch’s headpiece shattered. That will be written by Rick Remender with art by Steve McNiven.

Several audience members asked about possible appearances for favorite characters in X-titles. As Lowe said that female Wolverine clone X-23 would pop up but that he didn’t want to give away where, Bendis enthusiastically pointed at himself. Shi’ar teen Kid Gladiator, who’s no longer at the Jean Grey School in “Wolverine and the X-Men,” will be in the “Wolverine and the X-Men Annual” tie-in to “Infinity” in November, shooting his mouth off at the Avengers in space, Lowe said. Cable will appear in “Deadpool.” “They might be in trench coats and might have tommy guns and be from a different time,” Posehn said.

Drew Robbins, who works at a comics store in Provo, Utah, asked whether the panel members could say anything about future appearances of female X-Men characters including Hepzibah, Ariel, Lifeguard, Aurora and Blink, mentioning when several were last seen.

“No, but you’re hired as my official researcher,” Humphries cracked to laughs.

“I do work on the Wikipedia page a lot,” Robbins said.

“Then thank you very much because I use it all the time,” Humphries said. “I’d like to shake your hand. I’m a big fan of your work.”

Bendis then told Robbins – noting that Lowe might punch him for saying it – to look for something called “The Utopians” that’s coming down the line.

– Blake Hennon | @BlakeHennon

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