Marvel’s X-Men line of titles took the spotlight for an all-star C2E2 panel featuring nearly the entire Dawn of X writing squad, including Benjamin Percy, Gerry Duggan, Jonathan Hickman, Leah Williams, Tini Howard and Vita Ayala, along with Marvel EiC C.B. Cebulski and X-Editor Jordan D. White. The panel is already packed to the brim with mutant fans – especially given yesterday’s teaser image. We’ll chat about what that is later on (spoiler alert, I was wrong. Literally everyone else was right and it’s called X of Swords) But anyway!

White kicked off the hotly anticipated event to an excited audience, introducing the aforementioned X-Squad, minus writer Ed Brisson, who had some travel difficulties and was unable to attend. What follows is a rundown of what’s going on in the X-Line right now, along with a few teasers.

First of all, in X-Men #8, Hickman takes the reins, teasing Mahmud Asrars arrival to the title, whose work will be appearing in issues 8, 13, and 14. “This is you’re having a good day and the Brood show up, its an X-Men story,” he says, pointing to a few interiors, “Vulcan, Petra and Sway had a long night, maybe drinking too much.” Also notably, issue 8, for the first time in the run, will continue its story into 9, while 10 and 11 will tie into Empyre.

Then we move on to Giant-Size X-Men Nightcrawler #1, which Hickman plainly says is going great. White prods him into talking about the Giant-Size books in general so he chats about the intentional Marvel style across the line. All 5 of the one-shots are created organically, with the artist drawing what they want to and a writer taking the reins from there. Hickman teases that all 5 also, sort of, merge together into one. He jokes he can’t stop seeding things because it’s a story about plants, but he’s excited to work with X-royalty Alan Davis.

Then, White moves onto Giant Size X-Men #1, a tribute to Wein and Cockrum, with each page redrawn by a different Marvel artist. He pitches it as the same story, same text, but with a new take on the pages, with the first done by Alex Ross himself.

Then, we move on to Duggan and Marauders. Duggan teases problems in Madripoor, with Pyro and all sorts of other issues to deal with, both on boats and on islands. Artist Stefano Caselli, he mentions, is “blowing the doors of the joint.” He’ll deal with the submarine, the mutants learning what the human government is up to in Madripoor – and even the Cuckoo Sisters, as well as some other guests like Forge. White calls it an X-Men pirate book, for folks who aren’t reading, and Duggan adds that the Hellfire Trading Company is only going to grow.

Then, it’s Excalibur time. Howard calls it the only book that felt right for her to write. She originally pitched her take in an essay about mutants as explorers, doing the things they were never able to do. Now, though, with the safety of Krakoa, they can do stuff like… head into and explore Other World with Apocalypse. She wanted to dive into his theories and mutant magic, and that slowly formed into the realization that it would revitalize Excalibur. On the topic of Apocalypse, Howard has an answer for anyone wondering how to pronounce Apocalypse’s name in Krakoan: you don’t! It’s for mutants only! Anyway, now, Betsy wants to go to the Starlight Citadel, Jamie Braddock is a king, and Howard mentions Other World being slowly encroached upon by the mutants. We’ve also got an exclusive cover reveal of issue 12, featuring a very ominous Emma Frost.

X-Force is next on the list. Percy takes the mic, pitching the book as Krakoa’s CIA. He hopes to delve further into the myth of Terra Verde, plus some morally dubious choices made by the big, hairy, blue guy. The upcoming issue features some crazy setpieces – as well as the world’s greatest tiki bar from artist Matteo Lolli. He then teases a Where’s Waldo?-esque splash with some top-tier atmospheric storytelling that the whole panel was excited about. He even reached out to the mutant writing squad at large for details. “Get excited. Or else,” he threatened.

Issues #9 and #10 will feature more Terra Verde, while #11 features Colossus with a new storyline that he calls one of the series’ biggest – Krakoa’s security will be breached yet again, he teases.

New Mutants is next, though Brisson isn’t here so White makes a quick plug. Issue #9 begins a new arc with a new mutant and new powers. The squad goes out to help them, and Boom Boom is looking very excited (not). White shows covers that hint towards a very trippy arc, then we move to the never-before-seen cover of issue #12.

Back to Percy, we jump onto Wolverine. Percy teases a crime saga with the Flower Cartel, featuring Omega Red and the Vampire Nation, also taking the moment to emphasize that the tonal variety from issue #1 is to be expected throughout the entire series. Then, White shows off a few black and white pages of issue #4. Hickman mentions that this is Ben’s dream book; taking a turn and joking that that doesn’t always work. Then, he assures the audience that Percy’s making none of those mistakes. He handles the series with maturity and he’s at the top of his game. “So pay attention!”

Now, Duggan takes the mic with Cable, working again with Phil Noto. We’ve got a few interiors of Wolverine throwing down with Cable while Duggan talks about an interstellar threat from the Space Knights. He says he’s deliberately keeping a few details back, as is the Hickman way, though there are promises of dating trouble (and a big sword) ((wink?)).

Hellions time! Zeb Wells, though not present, sent in a pitch Hickman could only respond to with “why.” Empath, Havok, Mister Sinister, Nanny, Orphan-Maker, Psylocke, Scalphunter and Wild Child;  they’re all traditionally bad guys – but hey, they’re on Krakoa, so they’re treated like everybody else. White jokes that the series will answer the question of whether or not they can behave themselves – but assures fans the answer is no. We see some interiors from Stephen Segovia and White reminds the audience of the book’s March 25 release.

Ayala takes over next with their kids, otherwise known as The Children of the Atom, asking “do you like my children?” Although, they’re not even allowed to name any of these young guns, Ayala talks about a bit where the series comes from inspirationally. It all started when they were asked what would you do if you could be an X-Man? And this is the book that resulted. Ayala says we can look forward to some mouthy dialogue, Tik Tok accounts, Twitch streamers – all the kid things! They want to include modernization of the real world and see what it would be like if kids today could be X-Men.

Hickman gives his seal of approval, and it’s time for Williams and X-Factor. Williams says this team tracks down missing mutants and works closely with the Five (the group of mutants who work together to bring their kind back to life). She promises answers to many questions fans have not yet seen answered. Howard tags on, teasing some supposedly awesome Rachel stuff and with that, Williams talks about how she chose her team. She says she asked herself who of her babies are available, then thought about who had powers that would be helpful in investigation? Eyeboy, of course! He can see all types of light. After she talks about her approach to Lorna, and that she was the final addition to the team, Hickman can’t help but add on about how psyched he is for this one, too.

Moving on, White touches on the other Giant-Size books with Magneto, who Hickman says is cool, then Fantomex, who Hickman says he’s never heard of, and the final piece, Storm, who Hickman does know.

x of swords
Mark Brooks’ X of Swords promo art.

With one final announcement, White talks about July. “Remember a big x-story touching all books, with everyone working together? We’re doing that.” This summer’s event will be called X of Swords, (X pronounced Ten, naturally) with promo art by Mark Brooks. Hickman says one of the things he’s able to do with the line being established and a solid direction, is the ability to try new things. One of which, is he doesn’t think he’s ever read or done a comic with collaborative writing, like a TV’s writers room. He says taking that method with the X-line makes it homogeneous, makes it flow. He hopes to continue that format with X of Swords, which he spearheads with Howard. Although Hickman hints towards something else for December, he does get back on track. Apparently, X of Swords is meant to resemble chapters of a story rather than an old school crossover, though details there are unclear. He and Howard are handling the big setpiece issues of the event with the rest of X-Team on fills – and we get our first look on FCBD, which will be drawn by House of X’s Pepe Larraz.

x of swords
The newly announced X of Swords logo.

The formal portion of the panel ended with that, on a bit of a vague note – but those who stuck around definitely had a worthwhile time! A young Captain Britain cosplayer asked Howard about the fate of Brian Braddock and she answered, hinting that we’ll have more info this summer (probably in X of Swords).

Then, in the final few minutes, a Professor X cosplayer (who had a very good helmet) asked Hickman if there were plans to launch a Xavier-centric one-shot or solo title. Shockingly, Hickman more or less confirmed its development, saying that if fans are wondering why there isn’t a title featuring “Xavier or Moira” then the answer is because it simply hasn’t been announced yet. On that exciting note, C2E2 ’20 MARVEL COMICS: X-MEN panel is a wrap. Keep it here at The Beat for all your C2E2 news and updates.

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