All-New X-Men (November)
Avengers and Ultimate Spider-Man writer Brian Michael Bendis will take lead on a new X-Men comic - titled All-New X-Men - which will be drawn by Stuart Immomen (Ultimate Spider-Man, New Avengers). The bold new story will see the original 1960s X-Men team - Cyclops, Iceman, Beast, Angel and Marvel Girl (Jean Grey) - transported through time into the modern Marvel Universe. The young chipper X-Men will have to face the harsh reality of their contemporary selves, and the darker, more complex world of the Marvel Universe.
Said Bendis (to EW):
I wanted to make sure I had a take that was unique...It was about the original X-Men. If they saw what the Marvel universe was now…well, it’s so much worse than the Days of Future Past that they’re always worried about. This would scare the crap out of them... No Danger Room, no imaginary story. This is actually happening... Here’s the big question that the original X-Men are gonna be faced with: We’re gonna grow up, and this is what we’re going to get? That is not acceptable.”
Though, with Jean Grey having been dead some eight years now in the comics, young Marvel Girl will have another head trip altogether to deal with:
“It’s the one thing X-Men fans have always asked for is: They want Jean Grey back. But they want Jean Grey. Not reincarnated Jean, or the ghost of Jean. Well, you’re getting Jean back. And Jean is gonna be looking at a world that rattles her.”
Having successfully made Spider-Man and The Avengers relevant and engaging superheroes for modern times, Bendis is no doubt about to work similar magic on the X-Men. The premise alone brings lots of intrigue - and lets face it, scaling the X-Men down to a more simple form like their original roster wouldn't be a bad thing. That garden has grown a lot of weeds...
Uncanny Avengers (October)
Uncanny X-Force has been one of my favorite (read: only) X-Men titles to read in the last few years, and the writing of Rick Remender has a lot to do with that. Remender will be taking on the MASSIVE challenge of trying to bring the worlds of the X-Men (mutant heroes feared and hated by society) and The Avengers (Heroes adored by society) into one book... Uncanny Avengers. Luckily, he will be aided by John Cassaday, the man whose illustrations helped turn Avengers director Joss Whedon's run on the Astonishing X-Men comic book into such a fantastic experience.
Basically, the gist of Uncanny Avengers is that Captain America realizes he's never done enough for mutant rights, and (presumably) tries to correct that error with a merged squad. Names being dropped include Cap, Thor and Wolverine, but Remender hinted at Cyclops' brother, Havok, being a second-tier player they're looking at moving to the forefront:
“Havok’s always been the black sheep rock-and-roller of the Summers family. He can’t do that anymore. You’re going to see Havok become one of the biggest players in the Marvel Universe.”
A similar tactic worked for DC Comics and Green Lantern when writer Geoff Johns took over the book in the early 2000s; in my personal geek opinion, Havok has been a underserved and undervalued character for a long time. Good to see him moving up.
In a further twist, the merging of the two teams will also mean new and different threats from old foes. Remender claims that Uncanny Avengers will start off by exploring what happens when Red Skull decides to go all Nazi on mutants everywhere:
“In 1943, Arnim Zola, who was this bio-fanatic engineer, recorded the Red Skull’s consciousness, and set it to wake up 70 years later. So the Red Skull [in Uncanny] is right out of 1943-44. Prime Nazi scumbag. In his mind, he’s taking that vitriol and hate and Nazi horror and methodology, and pointing it at the mutant species... I’m not just smashing the heroes together, I’m smashing the villains together. It becomes something unlike anything we’ve ever seen, with stakes that are so huge, it takes a team comprised of the best Avengers and the best X-Men to go take care of it.”
On paper this reads as one of those 'Duh!' moments - as in, why did it take so long for us all to realize this would be a potentially awesome move? The various team combinations (drawing from the extensive roster pools of both the X-Men and Avengers) are virtually limitless; the amount of new character dynamics and relationships will be refreshing, and it's just going to be awesome to see these teams fighting together.
Now, if only we could see it in a movie... (But since two separate movie studios own the respective teams, it remains, for now, wishful thinking.)