Last week, Brian Michael Bendis started his debut X-POSITION by answering questions about the recently-released “Uncanny X-Men.” This week, he continues his responses to fan questions about his other X-Book, “All-New X-Men,” which features the original five X-Men transported through time to the present and trained by Kitty Pryde as they adjust to the shocking events of the last fifty years of continuity. So far, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Angel, Iceman and Beast have had to endure a vast amount of surprises including coming to terms with their own pasts and present — but there’s even more to come.
Bendis answered all manner of fan queries from old characters meeting new characters, the gloriousness of the X-Fandom, bringing in references to other “X-Men” continuities and working on two different versions of Kitty Pryde. Plus, stick around to the end to see Bendis tease a major new direction for the casts of both “Uncanny X-Men” and “All-New X-Men.”
Starting things off with our “All-New X-Men” questions, Jon wants to know more about Psylocke’s upcoming encounter with Teen Angel.
I saw in an interview that you eventually plan on having Psylocke come face-to-face with Teen Angel. It was said a few times during Rick Remender’s “Uncanny X-Force” run that Betsy and Warren at least discussed the possibility of leaving the X-Men and starting a family together. I’m interested in how you see Psylocke’s mental state pushing and pulling her when she has to bargain this new, hardened demeanor she’s had in Sam Humphries’ “Uncanny X-Force” and the obvious emotional toll it would take to see a young version of one’s deceased true love. Will this be an exchange that quickly comes and goes, or something that bears down on them both for a while?
Brian Michael Bendis: I will only say that there are some big surprises coming for Warren Worthington III. You’ve laid out a whole scenario there. This is a great question, but you’ve already written your own answer that’s fantastic and well thought-out. I’m going to show you something and see what you think of it.
Greg is up next asking about the history between Kitty Pryde and Jean Grey.
After I read the scene with Kitty and Jean in her bedroom in “All-New X-Men” #5 when Kitty helps Jean with her powers, it occurred to me that Kitty and adult Jean never had much of an on-panel relationship. It’s strange for two A-listers, but their tenures as part of the main X-Men team didn’t overlap very much. I’m not sure if they’ve even been on a mission together. What has been your approach to Kitty’s backstory with Jean? Do you have any plans to fill-in the details via flashback?
There’s no need to. I think this was brought up on some of the boards and even on my Tumblr. Someone posted the few times they had quite an intense, powerful interaction from when Kitty was younger. Jean was there for her. I’ll stand by that. One panel in particular was what I was thinking of when I was writing kind of the reverse version of the scene with Kitty and Jean today with Kitty full-on trying to get it back. Kitty had some rough times and Jean was there for her. It wasn’t the most elaborate 500 issue, every single issue they got together and had a moment thing, but they had some moments together.
This is the funniest thing, and I’ve said this in a couple of interviews — what I love about the X-Fans is that they come with visual aids when they hit me with a question on Tumblr or whatever, they bring panels with it. “Here’s my evidence that Emma is the worst person ever” or “Here’s my evidence that Emma’s the best person ever.” They bring you panels. Some of them are for things that I’ve written, so I know. [Laughs] I like that they become like a lawyer. “Exhibit A! This is where Emma was the worst girlfriend ever!”
The problem and the gloriousness of the X-Men franchise as it were is that there’s so many tentacles and different series and miniseries, writer’s perspective and artist’s perspective, there’s so much there that there’s no way there wouldn’t be contradictions along the way where you have one writer’s point of view where Wolverine and Cyclops hate each other. You have another writer where two people secretly love each other. Every reader grabs onto something that they really like or love. “That’s my Cyclops, that’s the one I like.” There’s going to be times where one reader will say, “Kitty and Jean didn’t even know each other” and they’ll show evidence that they really did, but that’s just the perspective of a different reader.
Some of it is going to be annoying, but it’s my job to pull out what I think is true about the characters and analyze it and take it forward. Every once in a while, I’m sure someone will read something and they’ll have a different perspective on where those characters know each other, or how they know each other and what they feel about each other. But the one thing that adds to it, that makes it even more complicated is that these are very deep characters with very complicated feelings about a lot of subjects and a lot of their teammates and what it feels like to be a mutant. They change their minds — Magneto has had wild changes on how he feels about things and what he thinks he needs to do about them. With that comes complicated story lines and complicated history.
Next is madroxdupe420 who starts off with a compliment followed by a question about family knowledge.
Brian, if not for you, I was going to give up on the X-Men after reading for 20-plus years. THANK YOU. In my opinion, you saved this franchise. Part of the reason I’m such a fan is because of your character relationships. I think this has been woefully ignored in the X-Men for years. Having said that, are we going to see Jean Interact with Rachel any time soon? It bothers me when characters that have a history together don’t interact. Rachel still hasn’t mentioned Cyclops or Cable. It just bugs me.
I completely hear you. Yes to the Rachel question, which I get all the time. For anyone who’s asked me the Rachel question, this is your answer: Yes! It will be ongoing. It’s very complicated, so you can’t have one conversation or one interaction that covers it.
As far as Cable and all that goes, you are completely right and I get your frustration, but there’s so much to do with the character of Jean Grey now that you’ve kind of got to do one at a time and not do it all at once or skim over stuff. Every one of these is poignant and some of it, even though her brain was unlocked to reveal the life that she leads, the many lives of Jean Grey — she’s sixteen. I don’t think she fully understood everything that happened. It’s like a tidal wave of craziness. All the time, more and more will unveil itself to her or she’ll begin to understand more and more of what her legacy means.
There was a whole lot shoved in her face at once. The human brain can only take so much. I felt the same way about when Wolverine got his memories back. There’s only so much you can remember all at once.
Marcus has a question about the upcoming interaction between the “All-New” cast and the Avengers.
Your next “All-New X-Men” issue features the Avengers. Shouldn’t they be a bit worried about the past X-Men coming to the present and how the present X-Men might handle the situation, especially after the events of “Avengers Vs. X-Men?”
I think that’s exactly what the issue is about! But hopefully, you’ll enjoy it. It was Nick Lowe’s favorite script of mine that I’ve handed in so far, so hopefully you’ll enjoy the interaction.
Taimur Dar wants to know about what seemed to be a throwback to the first “X-Men” movie in a recent issue of “All-New.”
I’m curious if any nods to the first “X-Men” film, like the motorcycle altercation between Cyclops and Wolverine, were indeed intentional or just happy coincidence.
[Laughs] Kind of both. I got there and the moment just jumped at me. It was a funny thing you could do. A lot of things like that come up, but you don’t want to do them to the determent of the story. It’s easy to do a joke like that just completely pulls you out of the story and you can’t get back into it. That one, I got there and I said, “That’s funny, you can do the flip on the motorcycle.” It’s also — that movie is thirteen years old. The scene has to work even if you don’t get the reference. Him taking Wolverine’s motorcycle has to be funny itself. It just happens to be a nod back to the movie.
You have to remember, as I’ve been witness to over and over again as a college teacher, a thirteen year-old movie to someone in college is a very old movie. You don’t want to be making references to stuff where they don’t even know what you’re talking about.
Believe me, I could make goofy movie references all day for a living, but the story has to come first.
Winding down, here’s Kai with a few questions about everyone’s favorite phasing professor, Kitty Pryde.
Is Kitty getting a costume change any time soon? She’s been wearing the current one for almost an entire decade.
Yeah, and hasn’t washed it!
Stuart Immonen is such an amazing designer (his “Spider-Girl” costume for Kitty from “Ultimate Spider-Man” is one of my all-time favorite designs), it would be a waste to not have him perform his magic on a new costume.
Yes. She will be getting a new costume. I do want to use one of those — remember Dave Cockrum (talk about old references) had her trying on new costumes for a while there. There was one that was blue and white with bees on it, it was terrible. I wanted her to start wearing that for no reason. Like, not even explain it. She’s going to get a costume that more reflects her identity with the team now that she’s Professor K.
Who is harder to write between regular Kitty and Ultimate Kitty?
I find neither of them hard to write probably because I’m Jewish and surrounded by Jewish women my entire life. It’s very easy for me to tap into my inner Kitty. This Kitty, 616 Kitty, I’m enjoying an awful lot just because of where she is. I find her to be the most successful of the X-Men as far as the journey is concerned. Her choices are outstanding. She went from awkward teenage girl to headmistress to literally replacing Professor X, and I can’t think of anyone more successful in their goals. That’s just what happens without me having anything to do with the character. Writing her now is very fun.
It’s fun to write her dating Bobby. I’m enjoying her dating Bobby, yet having to deal with the obnoxious, or more immature, young Bobby at the same time. As I said to my wife, “If you would have met me in high school, we would not be married right now.” [Laughs] Me and my wife adore each other, we just had an awesome Valentine’s Day. I looked at her and said, if you knew me at twelve, you would have been like, “Augh!”
We just had a son, a brand new baby and the baby looks like me to a startling degree — not just because I have a baby head. The baby looks exactly like me and she’s thrilled with little baby me and I’m like, “Yeah, you’re not going to like that in ten years.”
Finally, here’s our Behind the X question: “What is your favorite winter activity?”
I literally left Cleveland where there was snow six months out of the year to escape anything that resembled a winter activity, so I moved to Portland where it rains all winter. So, I’m going to say writing. I spend the entire winter just writing my little ass off. The one day in January in Portland where it snows for like a minute in a half, I watched my kids — three of which have never seen snow other than on television — run outside and go, “Oh my God!” and then it’s over because it melts right away. That’s it.
Can I end on a note, if I may? This is my first X-Position, hopefully of many. Right now, we’re not too far away from the launch of “Uncanny X-Men,” which went very well according to my Twitter feed (which is pretty honest to me when things don’t go well), I am just thrilled to bits on every conceivable level of working on the X-Books and the response to working on the X-Books. I did not know what people would think of any of this. You never really know, you just try your hardest and hope people will see it. But the response has been constant and overwhelming. Literally, sometimes every three minutes I get something someone hits me with about the X-Men and their love for it. X-Men fans love these characters so much and I love them so much as well. I just can’t say thank you enough for letting me do this.
We’re in our third printing of the first seven issues of “All-New X-Men.” Third printing! It didn’t start low, so I’m just over the moon happy. It could not have gone better.
Before we let you go, is there anything you can tease about what’s coming up next in “Uncanny X-Men” and “All-New X-Men?”
Here’s some hints of what we’ve got coming up that people don’t know about yet — some of the people have read the solicitations and know some of this is happening — the Avengers are coming to visit “All-New X-Men.” Then, Cyclops and the Uncanny X-Men are coming to visit the All-New X-Men, and that’s going to be the first time those two really touch each other. We’re going to see a scene from different points of view. Scott is going to offer the students of the Jean Grey School to come to the Xavier School — and some of them do. There’s going to be quite a big shift in who is where.
Very special thanks to Brian Bendis for his first Giant-Size X-Position! We hope to have him back again, soon!
Next week, we step back to look at the whole of the X-Universe by bringing on a special session with Marvel Senior Editor Nick Lowe and possibly some other special guests around the X-Editorial offices. Send over those questions via e-mail with the subject line “X-Position” or you can try the 140-character method via Twitter. Any way you ask your questions, just be sure to get them in by Friday!