Though Rogue began her super-powered career as an enemy of Marvel Comics’ X-Men, she later changed allegiances and sought the X-Men’s help controlling her mutant powers and memory absorption ability. After serving the team with distinction for several years, Rogue proved herself loyal and capable, and in 2006 was given her own team of X-Men to lead.
Writer Mike Carey chronicled the tumultuous adventures of Rogue’s X-Men team in issues #188-207 of the first volume of the adjectiveless “X-Men” title, but with issue #208 Carey’s “X-Men” morphed into “X-Men Legacy,” retaining the same numbering. The writer began “Legacy” by focusing on the exploits of Professor Charles Xavier, but Rogue played a major part in a storyline called “Salvage,” which finally saw her gain a greater degree of control over her mutant abilities. Shortly after “Salvage,” “Legacy” became a unique title that was both a team and solo book at the same time. Rogue was the star of the book, but it also featured a rotating cast drawn primarily from the ranks of the X-Men’s younger generation. In April of this year the focus of “X-Men: Legacy morphed again when Carey began the epic alternate reality mystery saga, “Age of X,” which ran through both “Legacy” and “New Mutants.”
In the aftermath of “Age of X,” Carey turned “Legacy” into a regular team book that focused on Rogue, Professor Xavier and several other characters he had written frequently or who recently popped up in the book including Gambit, Magneto, Legion and Frenzy. Carey recently announced his five-year run on “Legacy” would come to an end, but not before the ever changing focus on the book morphs into something different one last time. CBR News spoke with Carey about leaving the X-Books, his current plans for “X-Men Legacy” and what that series will become in the aftermath of the Jason Aaron written event, “X-Men: Schism.”
CBR News: Mike, let’s start with the big question. It was announced recently that your run on “X-Men Legacy” would be coming to an end. You started working on the book about five years back when it was still the original adjectiveless “X-Men” series. Why is now a good time to end your run? And are you able to reveal what issue number will be your last?
Mike Carey: I wind up with #260, which means that if you count in the two annuals I’ll have had a 75-issue run — the same length as my run on Lucifer, but that’s entirely a coincidence.
It’s only a good time in one respect, which is that the pressure of other, non-comics work has been building and building over the last two years, to the point where I need a sabbatical just to deal with the projects that are currently on my plate. I once said I’d stay on “X-Men” until the X-office editors locked me in a steamer trunk and threw me into the East River, and I meant it when I said it. I’m hoping that this is just a temporary hiatus for me in the Marvel Universe, where I’ve had a wonderful time over the past seven years.
Before you go, you still have plenty of story left to tell and your current “X-Men Legacy” arc, “Five Miles South of the Universe,” is a story set in outer space. The X-Men have a history of these space opera style adventures, but I think, and correct me if I’m wrong, this is your first X-Men story set in outer space. How does it feel to finally tell that type of X-Men tale?
It feels good, obviously. It’s no secret that I love the Marvel cosmic stuff, and there are parts of this arc that play off stuff that Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning set up in “War of Kings” and “Realm of Kings.” It’s great to be able to use settings like planet-sized orbital space stations and plot devices like rogue gravity generators and alien hive minds. What’s not to love? Also, of course, I love the huge scale of this type of story: it lets you cut loose, and encourages you to break out the biggest guns you’ve got, narratively speaking.
In “X-Men Legacy” #254 you kicked off “Five Miles South of the Universe,” a story about the search for the missing members of the Starjammers, the intergalactic freedom fighters whose ranks include X-Men members Havok, Polaris and Marvel Girl. You began the story by dropping four of your cast members into the middle of a complex situation on a decaying space station. In #254 the X-Men discover the crumbling space station is the site of war between the Shi’Ar and the Grad Nan Holt, a spider like race of aliens that appear to be rebelling against the Shi’Ar. Are things as simple as that though? Is the Shi’Ar-Grad Nan Holt struggle one of liberation or is there more of a moral grey are at work here?
Politically, the situation on Gul Damar is a mess, and there’s certainly a case for the Shi’Ar to answer. When they were top dogs, they used other races pretty much for slave labor, trusting to their military predominance to put down any concerted rebellions. Now that they’ve been forced to knuckle under to the Kree, there are a whole lot of disgruntled planetary populations out there with big scores to settle, and the air is thick with chickens coming home to roost, Except that there’s no air, because this is deep space, so I withdraw that metaphor.
But yeah, there’s a lot more going on here, and the Grad Nan Holt’s war of independence is not exactly what it seems on the surface. Also, there’s a reason, beyond the disinterested love of freedom, why the Starjammers seem to have thrown in on the Grad Nan Holt side. There are wheels within wheels, and interested parties who we haven’t met yet.
When the X-Men touched down on the space station they were separated, and Rogue suddenly found herself in the custody of a group of characters that you created and who we haven’t seen for a couple years, Sovel Redhand and his Shi’Ar salvage crew. What was it like returning to these guys? Is there anything readers not familiar with their last appearance in “Legacy” need to know about them?
Sovel is basically a Shi’ar pirate and small-time criminal entrepreneur. Mostly, he and his crew deal in scrap metal and scrap tech, which led them to try to steal Danger the first time we met them, but they’ll do anything that might yield a profit, basically. Sovel is the kind of guy who’s so crooked he can’t even pee in a straight line. That’s all the background you need, really.
I had a lot of fun writing these guys in the Rogue vs. Danger arc, and I always had a long-term goal of using them again. This arc seemed to offer the perfect opportunity. They’re essentially out of their depth in this station-wide war, and they offer us an outsider’s perspective on it. They’ve also got their own agenda (beyond just surviving) which unfolds gradually.
In my own head, although I never wrote this down anywhere, Sovel Redhand got his name not from any unusual ruthlessness and brutality but from the fact that that was how he was normally caught.
Magneto, Frenzy, and Gambit appeared in another part of the station and began looking for Rogue and the missing Starjammers. During their search Magneto asks a very telling question: “What brought my daughter and the rest here?” Not, “What brought the Starjammers here?” That indicates to us that coming face to face with Polaris is very much on Magneto’s mind. How does he feel about seeing Polaris again? How does Magneto perceive the current state of their relationship?
We’ve seen Magneto going through a lot of changes lately — very profound changes, both to his thinking and to his relationships with other mutants. I think as part of that, and maybe also as a delayed reaction to the events surrounding the “House of M” and the “Decimation,” he’s had to re-evaluate his relationships with his children. Even before that, we saw him declare to the people of Genosha that Polaris was his daughter and that he acknowledged her as an heir. My take on his current state of mind is that he’s very mindful of his responsibilities towards his children and wants — as an immediate priority — to get to know them better.
Speaking of Polaris, is there anything you can tell us about the physical and mental states of the Starjammers? These are a group of characters that have been fighting various conflicts for a long time. They warred against the tyrannical former Shi’Ar emperor Vulcan, participated in the “War of Kings,” and now they’re in the middle of the Shi’Ar-Grad Nan Holt conflict. Has that gotten to them at all? And what does their current conflict mean to them? How invested are they in it?
In some ways, that has to come out in the course of the story — and #256 provides a big part of the answer. You’re right that they’ve just gone from one war to another over the past couple of years. This war is one that they walked into completely by accident, on their way home to Earth, but they seem to have become very actively involved in it, nonetheless. The question of what’s at stake for them, and why they’re so partisan in this struggle, is a very pertinent one.
More generally? I think they’re pretty much burned out with alien politics and alien warfare and more than ready to return to Earth. Most of the objectives that took them into space in the first place have been met or else have become irrelevant. It’s time. It’s way past time, in fact: they’re coming home (although it’s not the home they left).
In terms of plot and themes what is the rest of “Five Miles South of the Universe” about? Is this a more of a space opera adventure or a hard edged war story?
It’s got aspects of a war story about it, but behind the big movements of armies and planet-busting weapons there’s a core plot that involves a handful of individuals and in particular one very powerful villain who we haven’t met yet. Ultimately the intrigues, the plotting and counter-plotting, are more important than the widescreen action, although there’s lots of both.
Only four of your “Legacy” cast members are currently in space. Will you take time to address what’s going on with Xavier and Legion during “Five Miles South of the Universe?” or will their fates be addressed elsewhere?
No, we don’t see them in this arc. Their story will be picked up shortly, but not during my run on “Legacy.”
While the X-Men are in space in your series, a huge event is taking place within their ranks in the pages of “X-Men: Schism.” When your cast returns to Earth will “Schism” already be over, or will they return in time for the end?
We’ve had to do a little bit of finagling with the timing, because of course Rogue and her team are actively involved in the events of “Schism.” So the space trip has to be assumed to take place after those core events. What the team, and the Starjammers, go back to is the upheaval that follows “Schism” — which forces all of them, in different ways, to a momentous choice.”
We’ve been given several teases about the state of the X-Men’s various teams post-“Schism.” It looks like the cast of “X-Men Legacy” will be associated with Wolverine’s team of X-Men and feature characters including Rogue, Gambit and Frenzy. I understand you can’t reveal much for fear of spoilers, but can you hint or tease about the post-“Schism” status of “Legacy?” What does it mean for the book that the cast has chosen to associate with Wolverine’s team?
I don’t think I can really talk to this question all that much, because I’d potentially be spoiling stuff that isn’t mine to spoil. What it means more than anything else is a complete change for the team, both in terms of their internal dynamic and in terms of what it is they do, where they do it, and who they do it for. In other words, pretty much everything is up for grabs.
Your X-Men work has focused primarily on Rogue and Professor X. As you come to the end of your run will we see more focus on the larger stories of these two characters? Or will you be ending things a bit differently?
The last two issues involve a lot of emotional beats and a lot of exploration of the fall-out for different characters from recent events. Prof. X isn’t in the mix, but Rogue, as you’d imagine, is very much in the thick of things, with the focus on her relationships and emotional life as much as on the hard choices she now has to make about her role in the X-Men. It’s a good note to end on, I think.
Any parting thoughts about your five years and 75 issues on “X-Men Legacy?”
Just that I’ve had more fun writing this book — and writing in the X-Verse — than I can say. I’ve used this analogy before, but it’s still the way I feel about it. I read and loved the X-Men as a kid, and again as a teen. To have written them makes me feel like I’ve added a few bricks to a massive and beautiful building that I used to stop and gawk at when I passed it on the street. It’s a very specific pleasure.
I’d also like to thank my editors, and my collaborators, in a loud and awkward and public way. I worked with the best on this book. [Editor] Daniel Ketchum was inspiring and hugely supportive, as was Nick Lowe before him. They do an incredible job of giving writers creative freedom within the complicated and ever-changing parameters of a big comics franchise. Art-wise, I started off my X-Men run by working with the legendary Chris Bachalo, and finished up with a stellar team that included Clay Mann, Steve Kurth and Khoi Pham. I couldn’t have asked for better, or been happier.
“X-Men Legacy” #255 by Mike Carey and Steve Kurth is on sale now.
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