Last week, Brian Michael Bendis dropped by X-POSITION to talk about the time-traveling teens of “All-New X-Men.” Bendis returns this week to speak about “All-New’s” sister series, “Uncanny X-Men,” a conversation so big we had to split it into two parts. With “Uncanny,” Bendis kept the mission of the X-Men alive by introducing a whole new generation of mutant heroes. Characters like Tempus, Goldballs, Hijack, Triage and Benjamin Deeds have been added to the ranks while X-stalwarts like Cyclops and Emma Frost have undergone enormous personal growth — all while fighting demons, Sentinels and anti-mutant prejudice, of course.
With his landmark run on “Uncanny X-Men” coming to a close, Bendis stopped by X-POSITION once again to answer your questions about everything from his legacy, Magik’s development and the characters he wished he could have used. Remember to check back tomorrow for the conclusion to this GIANT-SIZE X-POSITION.
CBR News: Welcome back once again to X-POSITION, Brian! First up this week, we have a question from ExodusCloak about “Uncanny X-Men’s” core quartet.
What changes do you see in your main characters (Emma Frost, Magik, Magneto, Cyclops) coming out of “AvX” to now? Have they grown or have they regressed?
What I attempted to do with Emma, and I think Emma is fiercely intelligent character, who would look around at a low point and see it for what it is. Losing her psychic connection made her a stronger human being. Maybe it was a bit of a crutch for her old sassy self. Here, she was forced to connect with people on a more human level and at the same time maybe realize that the glorious bitch-fest that she was capable of stirring may have not been the answer to everything. Some of that was my reaction to sometimes seeing her written as a type. It would annoy me. I know some people would argue with me, I’m sure they will right here, but that it seems very one-note to me. Just in general, when Emma would show up it would be like, “Oh, it’s sassy Emma with her boobs sticking out and she’s gonna make everybody feel bad!” [Laughs] I wondered what else was there for her, and maybe it was time to knock her down a peg or two and see what’s there. “AvX” certainly put the characters where I like to put them most, which is down on their hands trying to figure out what they’re made of and what they’re doing. Her connection with Cyclops was irrevocably damaged and I wanted to explore all of that. That was Emma. I know we took away some of her sassiness, which people really like about her, and I know that was frustrating to people because I was, like, not writing the part of her that they liked, but I thought we’d seen enough of that, let’s look at the other parts of her. That’s not all she’s about. That was my feeling there.
As far as Cyclops — as I describe in the last issue that shipped but there’s more coming with Cyclops, this entire run may have been a nervous breakdown of his. He’s standing over the body of his mentor and one of his fathers that he may or may not have had some culpability in killing and the school that he grew up in was taken away from him and his chance at fixing the world blew up in his face because of the Phoenix again. Fucking Phoenix! Cyclops, being a mentor and teacher, did not have a moment to allow himself to grieve and may have been dealing with a prolonged nervous breakdown. That was my main thrust with him.
As far as Magik goes, she is a pretty interesting character and it’s pretty funny because people are so eager to see her in a relationship or with somebody and I was always very perturbed by that because to me, I always focus on the fact that she’s — on some level — a little girl in an adult body, with no childhood and I kinda looked at this part of her life as her adolescence. I think she achieved a great deal in it, from the very first issues with [artist] Frazer Irving, we had her face a lot of stuff, and then her trying to live up to this thing that she says she wants to be. People looking for more with her, I think that issue is shipping tomorrow. Issue #600 has another chapter with her and her reuniting with Colossus, which will, I think, put a little of a cherry on top of my feelings about her, where she’s been and what she’s been doing.
My goal with Magneto was to set him up for a launch that I thought was — and everybody thought — was worthy of its own series. That was in my initial notes, like, “You know how we all loved that bit in ‘X-Men: First Class’ where Magneto is hunting Nazis and being a badass?” That stuff that was perfect in “First Class” was born out of little things here and there that we see in the comics, and it just reminds you that that’s the Magneto we like. Why don’t we do that? With Magneto’s powers powered down and him having to, instead of throwing a tank at you, having the power to through a bullet or a knife but having to do it very precisely and leaning on his precision instead of power makes him a much more interesting character. I think everybody involved with that character has done a wonderful job, and then he gets to come back into our book every once in a while and go, “Scott Summers, what are you doing?”
Sardorim has a question about one X-Man you didn’t get to spend that much time with during your run.
I’ve heard that you don’t particularly like writing Rachel [Grey]. Is this the case? I ask because the few times you did use Rachel in “Uncanny,” you did a pretty good job with her. A lot of writers struggle with getting her voice right or handling her power so I feel that those, like yourself, that do make Rachel work deserve praise.
Well thank you! Then I will let the work speak for itself and show you that of course not. I really can’t think of an X-character that I just go, “Ugh.” Other than Jason Aaron’s Snot. I didn’t get that at all. I just have issues with mucus-based heroes to start with, it’s not due to Jason. I like these characters but just because they’re not starring in the book doesn’t mean I don’t like them. It just means that there are literally so many people you can put in the book, and also some of these characters were already called for other books. It’s the same thing with Colossus, too.
Sardorim asked a very nice question; there’s another way to ask that question that sounds very paranoid. They don’t ask, they just tell you: “You don’t like Colossus. You hate Colossus.” They tell you you hate Colossus. And I go “No, who says that?” Then you realize it’s because Colossus doesn’t star in my book, I hate him. He’s not in my book because he’s starring in another book. I very well may have made a joke about Rachel Grey in my Tumblr when someone asked this question in a rude way or bizarre way, not like how normal people talk to each other. I may have just leaned into it because it’s so ridiculous. I would have liked to have done more with Rachel, but she was called and I know some perceive me as lording over everything and touching what I want to touch, but that is absolutely not the case. If someone’s got plans for a character, I never try to grab it away from them — ever.
Even if there are other X-Men characters that I really like, like when I heard Nightcrawler was coming back I was like, “You guys doing anything with him?” They said yes, and I was quiet. I didn’t want to start a fight. I literally have, between the new “Uncanny” characters and the “All-New X-Men” team, I have like 40-50 characters that I called — I have to call all of them? I’m just explaining the mindset that even though I like a character, like Rogue, I can name so many, they were just not mine to have in the time I was there. Also if I may, I was two psychic characters too many anyhow. How many do you need before it just becomes all thought balloons instead of dialogue.
You dropped a big bombshell when you revealed that Xavier had married Mystique before his death. Spidey616 wants a status update on this revelation.
Some readers assumed the change in Xavier’s will caused by Eva Bell’s time traveling meant that not only was his marriage to Mystique erased, but also the child they had together. Was this really the case? If not, do you have a long-term plan for the young son of Xavier and Mystique or did you finish the story you wanted to tell with him?
Well yeah, it is, and I wanted to kinda leave it there for discussion, which is a discussion that I enjoyed. Let’s say — and I’m not going to answer the question — there is a version of this that you can think about where you say to yourself, “Did Xavier really clear his mind of all the things that he was shown? Because something changed that created him not marrying Mystique. And if that, why that? Or did it just happen of its own like in “Sliding Doors,” some little minutiae thing — a butterfly effect — of what Eva did just created the fact that their marriage didn’t happen.” I know some people were requesting that the book turn into Charles Xavier and Raven sitcom marriage book, “That’s So Raven” or something. I do like when you put stuff out there and let people argue about it, so that’s my answer. It did make certain things go away that we clearly show we happening, but the question is did he do it on purpose or did it just happen?
Triniking1234 has a question about the other Summers brother.
Are there any future plans for Alex Summers?
I’m sure there are! I’m absolutely sure there are!
Was this another case where a character was called for another book and you just grabbed him when you got the chance?
Oh yeah, that’s a perfect example. There’s a version of “Uncanny X-Men” where Alex and Scott were in the bunker together the whole time, right? But Alex was called by Rick [Remender] I think before I even had the X-Men, to be honest with you. He had such great plans for him. We had him come visit and I thought Alex meeting younger Scott was more interesting than meeting older Scott at the time. I made that happen in “All-New.” Stay out of other writers’ way, let them do their thing, let it play out, and then after “AXIS” it came down the pike to me that he was available — do I want him? I only had a few issues left and I had this great time to have Alex come in just as Cyclops was coming to terms with what might be his nervous breakdown/revolution. What a perfect time! We’ve not seen the last of the two of them, stay tuned for #600.
Check back tomorrow for the second part of our GIANT-SIZE X-POSITION focused on the end of writer Brian Michael Bendis’ X-Men run.
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