Gabriel Summers is not one of the most dangerous men in the Marvel Universe because of his ability to manipulate all forms of energy. That certainly makes him deadly, but what makes the young mutant truly dangerous is the fact he’s a vengeance obsessed psychopath in charge of the Shi’ar Imperium, one of the most formidable galactic empires in the Marvel U. In the recent “Uncanny X-Menâ€ storyline “The Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar Empire,â€ the X-men tried and failed to stop the young mutant from seizing the Shi’ar imperial throne. In the resulting melee, Vulcan killed his father Christopher Summers AKA Corsair, the leader of a team of space pirates known as the Starjammers.
Not all of the X-Men returned to Earth after Vulcan became emperor. Marvel Girl, Polaris, and Vulcan’s brother Havok AKA Alex Summers stayed behind. They joined forces with the Starjammers and Havok swore to avenge the murder of his father. He almost got his chance in the recent “X-Men: Emperor Vulcanâ€ mini-series, but once again Vulcan used treachery to prevail. Announced Friday at Fan Expo in Toronto, this December, Vulcan’s story continues in the four issue “X-Men: Kingbreakerâ€ mini-series by writer Christopher Yost (writer of “Emperor Vulcanâ€) with an as-yet unannounced artist. CBR News spoke with Yost about the series, which sets the stage for Vulcan’s confrontation with Black Bolt in the upcoming “War of Kingsâ€ event story.
At the end of “Emperor Vulcan,â€ the title character had emerged victorious in a civil war against the forces of former Shi’ar Empress Lilandra Neramani. Vulcan also obliterated the invading forces of a race known as the Scy’ar Tal. These two victories solidified his total control of the Shi’ar Empire. “Kingbreakerâ€ picks up a few months later and finds Vulcan using his authority to pursue an agenda of conquest. “The Shi’ar Empire is aggressively, violently expanding,â€ Yost told CBR News. “And while Vulcan is leading the charge, it’s still his brother Havok that’s on his mind.â€
“Emperor Vulcanâ€ also ended with Havok and three of his comrades in the “X-Jammersâ€ captured by Vulcan. Instead of doing the strategic thing and executing them, Vulcan imprisoned his brother and his comrades and has been subjecting them to tortures. “Vulcan is an emotional wreck,â€ Yost explained. “His twisted life has messed him up pretty bad, and him not killing Havok and the X-Jammers is the question on the Shi’ars minds for sure. Does he enjoy torturing them? At first, maybe. But he wants something more. He just doesn’t know how else to get it.â€
Vulcan’s months of torture have been difficult for Havok and his team mates, but it’s also made them harder. “Havok allowed himself a moment of doubt and weakness as seen in ‘Divided We Stand’ #2. And now, he’s focused on one thing — killing Vulcan,â€ Yost said. “Polaris, Ch’od and Raza are in there, too, and each of them is holding up as best they can. But the thing is, killing Vulcan was Havok’s goal before. The others were supporting him. Now, they all want him dead. Vulcan really, really should have just killed them.â€
Havok’s team mates Marvel Girl AKA Rachel Summers and Korvus did not end up in Vulcan’s custody but life has not been any easier for them. They’ve been living on the run with Lilandra Neramani. “They’ve been on the run, hunted by Imperial Guardsmen and Death Commandos alike. They’re intent on finding the rest of their team, and liberating them from Vulcan’s grasp,â€ Yost said. “The group dynamic is rocky to say the least. Lilandra was dethroned, betrayed, and now is working with two people that aren’t particularly fond of her. Marvel Girl is mess after choosing Korvus’ life over that of a whole species [In “Emperor Vulcanâ€ she chose to save Korvus instead of the Scy’ar Tal]. And Korvus is taking stock of his life. Rachel was the only thing that was keeping him with the X-Men, and now she’s putting distance between them. He’s can’t help but love her, but at the same time, he’s been a prisoner most of his life. His heart may not be in this crusade.â€
The title “Kingbreakerâ€ refers to Vulcan’s push to expand the borders of the Shi’ar Imperium and much of the series plot will revolve around his move to absorb neighboring planets into the Empire. “But at the same time, we have his focus split. He’s obsessed with breaking havok and capturing Rachel. And X-Men don’t just lie down and die. Even captured, tortured and on the run, X-Men are dangerous.
“Vulcan is waging war on the galaxy and beyond. The X-Jammers are few, the Imperial Guard is many. And Vulcan is unhinged and radically powerful,â€ Yost continued. “But events occur that cause things to shift. Vulcan is running out of patience. He’s making decisions that will cost him. And the X-Jammers are going to take advantage of that.â€
The tone of “Kingbreakerâ€ will be both similar to and different than “Emperor Vulcan.â€ “It’s got a lot of intergalactic drama, but it’s got a bit of ‘Escape from Alcatraz’ to it as well. It is different than ‘Emperor Vulcan,’ because it’s getting so very personal between the two brothers. The tension is growing and growing.â€
Plotting out epic, large scale cosmic battles is fun for Yost, but what makes series like “Emperor Vulcanâ€ and “Kingbreakerâ€ especially compelling to him are the characters, both major and supporting. “It’s two brothers at war over the murder of their father — it’s meaty stuff,â€ Yost remarked. “It’s a great cast of soldiers, pirates, X-Men, alien ambassadors, and raving lunatics. You’ve got characters like Ch’od and Raza, whom I’ve come to love, and Imperial Guardsmen like Gladiator, who’s a fascinating character. All that power, but loyal to a throne — regardless of what scum sits on it. Deathbird is so very deadly, and Lilandra seems like just the opposite–but she had that side to her, too. It’s a great cast, something the X-Universe has never lacked.â€
While the official title of his series is “X-men: Kingbreaker,â€ Yost is aware that the announcement of “War Kingsâ€ will have many new fans, some who aren’t necessarily X-Men readers, curious about the series as well. “Kingbreaker is part of a larger saga, continuing the story of Vulcan. But for people just coming in now, this book is hopefully a good introduction to Vulcan, who will be featured prominently in ‘War of Kings.’ And while there’s not a specific cliffhanger that leads into ‘WoK,’ a lot of threads introduced in ‘Kingbreaker’ will carry over into the event,â€ Yost said. “This is the series that brings Vulcan and the space X-Men into the larger cosmic landscape. If you’re a fan of the ‘Annihilation’ stories, you will want to be on board for this. If you’re a fan of Havok, Marvel Girl and Polaris, you will want to be on board for this. This is just the beginning.â€