Every kid dreams about seeing the world, but the children of the Marvel Universe can imagine seeing hundreds of different worlds. In the opening arc of “All-New X-Men” the five teenage founding members of the X-Men saw the future of their world as they were transported to our present day and became stranded with no way back to past. Since then, the time-displaced mutant teens have journeyed around the world and to alien planets. In September’s “All-New X-Men” #31, writer Brian Michael Bendis welcomes Mahmud Asrar, one of Marvel’s All-New Young Guns, as the new series artist to kick off a storyline that finds them traversing realities to a dimension that mirrors the one they currently call home.
This strange, new world is, of course, the Ultimate Marvel Universe, which Bendis helped create, flesh out, and continues to develop in the monthly “Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man” series. CBR News spoke with Bendis about the arc that finds the team searching for a way back to the standard Marvel U and interacting with the many heroes and villains of the Ultimate Universe.
CBR News: Brian, before we get into the next major “All-New X-Men” storyline let’s talk about “All-New X-Men” #30, which features stories with a number different cast members including X-23 (AKA Laura Kinney) and Angel (AKA Warren Worthington III) who appear to have struck up a romantic relationship. What do you find most interesting about these characters individually and what do you find most interesting about them together?
Brian Michael Bendis: I like, and I’m using very broad generalizations here, when the gothiest girl in high school and the nicest guy on the football team find each other. I’ve personally seen this in real life; there is someone who’s literally dripping with miserableness and this guy who has the nice haircut and jacket finds himself completely attracted to that other kind of energy.
â€¨Angel, and I’m talking about the teen incarnation, is not all niceness and light but there is a lightness too him. He’s fresh-faced and young and has this light energy about him, and she does not. I like them finding each other attractive and I think that neither one of them necessarily want them to be what they are. There’s a sense of maybe you’ll help pull me out of my misery and maybe you’ll help me find my edge. Plus, sometimes you just can’t help who you’re attracted to. It’s like, “I never thought in a million years I’d be attracted to a woman who has claws shooting out of her foot, but I am.”
â€¨There were some people on Tumblr giving me sassy pants because they saw Laura dancing in a club in the preview pages and she had previously said very clearly that she does not dance. I think what you’re seeing with Laura was that she did not dance, and she was also miserable. She’s also come out of a wholly traumatic experience in “Avengers Arena” and is trying to find things to hold on to. It’s like, “I have not liked myself not dancing. I’m going to dance with the pretty boy. Maybe I won’t hate it.”
So you’re going to see some hard growth between the two of them. It won’t be right away. Laura won’t suddenly be happy. It’s not like, “Oh, I kissed a boy!” All of the X-Men are on a journey to find some inner happiness amongst this group dynamic of selfless sacrifice, and it’s very, very hard.
In issue #31 you kick off a tale that will have Miles Morales interacting with the “All-New X-Men.” What inspired this tale? And when does it take place in relation to Miles’ current adventures?
It takes place right now. It’s a modern story. I’d say it happens right after the story we’re currently telling, but everything with Miles goes on really quickly. The current adventure he’s having with Peter and Norman is like a really chaotic week and a half.
So with everything that’s going on with “The Last Will and Testament of Charles Xavier” in “Uncanny X-Men” the All-New X-Men are left alone to train themselves for awhile and they find a mutant situation that they think they can go and take care of. When they get there something happens that transports them to the Ultimate Universe.
I really like the idea of them not only being time displaced, but space displaced as well. I also like the idea of maybe they don’t all come back, or maybe they stay there. Maybe they can’t get back. They can’t get back to their time and now they’re stuck in the Ultimate Universe. That is exciting to me.
It’s a dangerous story. It’s the kind of story that makes some people at Marvel a little trembly. It’s like, “Are you going to put any of this back?” I’m like, “No.” I like when people get scared about what’s going to happen to these characters, and this is sure to be a rip roaring adventure.
One element of the story is influenced by one of my favorite X-Men stories, “The Asgardian Wars,” where the New Mutants found themselves suddenly in Asgard, but they were spread out. It didn’t look like there was any way they were going to find their way back to each other.
â€¨So when the X-Men come to the Ultimate Universe you can look forward to them being broken up. They’ll all be in a different spot in the Ultimate U that is equally dangerous, and they’ll have no idea where they are. So each character is going to have a big discovery. It takes a lot to even figure out, “Hey, this isn’t my Earth.”
There are people who read “All-New X-Men” and are dying for each of them to shine. In this there will be moments where Iceman shines, Angel shines, and it’s going to happen all over the place.
Plus they’ll get a sense of a mutant-human relations that is very different from the one going on in their world. A lot has happened to the mutants of the Ultimate Universe, and they’re going to get a sense of that.
Mutants aren’t even the next stage of evolution in the Ultimate Universe.
From what you’re telling me it sounds like Miles won’t be the only established Ultimate Universe character in this story?
That’s right, too! Miles is going to be a big character. He’ll be front and center, and the Ultimate X-Men are also going to appear. I don’t want to ruin any other surprises, but all corners will be touched.
What can you tell us about the antagonists of this story?
Some big name Ultimate villain characters are showing up. I don’t want to spoil that reveal. So pardon my vagueness.
It’s very exciting to me when you look at the cover to issue #32 you go, “I love books like that.” We dropped that cover on a Friday and then I left to go be with my family for three hours. I came back to the longest “WHHHHATT!” that I had ever gotten on the Internet. It was so cute.
Mahmud Asrar is drawing the story and it looks great.
Have you worked with Mahmud before?
A little bit. A few issues ago he shared some issues with Brent Anderson and Brandon Peterson. I really liked what we were doing and this is perfect for him. We’re trying to tap into the energy Mahmud brought to “Supergirl” for this, and so far so good.
Will the other young X-Men in training like Eva Bell and Goldballs be part of this story as well?
They’re all part of the book, but once the All-New X-Men find themselves in the Ultimate Universe we’re pretty much with them. For those looking for the kids though they are showing up everywhere. I’m writing them in almost everything.
â€¨Eva’s big moment to shine will be in December’s Annual, which I can now tell you exclusively has officially become two Annuals. They’re both by artist Andrea Sorrentino. As the pages started coming in, and you guys have seen some of them on this very website, the ideas for Eva’s adventure got bigger and bigger and what they mean to the Marvel Universe has gotten bigger and bigger.
So I asked, “Can I have another Annual?” and they were like, “Yes.” So I’m very happy to get twice the amount of Andrea Sorrentino awesomeness and twice the amount of Eva Bell and her kick-ass adventure that’s taking us all across the Marvel Universe.
Finally, as we talked about at the beginning, X-23 is part of “All-New X-Men” and a character she’s very connected to, Wolverine, is about to leave the world of the living. What kind of impact will that have on Laura and “All-New X-Men” in general?
A profound one, but I’m not sure what I’m allowed to say, so I’m just gonna leave it at that. Logan will be in one of my books for a while and then he suddenly will not be there. Then as the realization of what has happened becomes more public that will be felt in my books.
“All-New X-Men” #30 [on sale now] features art by Sara Pichelli. I’m very excited. This is her X-Men debut. She’s been asking to draw the X-Men since I’ve known her. She killed on the issue.
â€¨We talked about the Angel and X-23 parts of the issue, but there’s something else going on in that book that I think is going to be the thing that I get the most response to. It’s something that we teased a little bit that has to do with Jean. So I’m excited for that to reveal itself on Wednesday [This interview was conducted prior to the release of “All-New X-Men” #30]. Then the issue after that starts our Ultimate adventure.
I want to conclude by taking the time to say thanks to everyone for making the book such a hit. The book keeps going back to print and it’s just fantastic.
The Ultimate Adventure begins in “All-New X-Men” #31, on sale August 27.