Last week, Marvel Comics’ relaunched “Uncanny X-Men” written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Chris Bachalo introduced readers to Cyclops’ team of Emma Frost, Magneto, Magik and new mutants Tempus and Christopher Muse. The issue also revealed a traitor on the team, one who has teamed with S.H.I.E.L.D. to get Scott Summers to self-destruct in a very public way.
CBR News is pleased to welcome writer Brian Bendis to his first ever X-POSITION, which is so Giant-Sized it’s broken into two separate parts — one for his work on “Uncanny X-Men” and the other for the critically acclaimed “All-New X-Men.” In his debut X-Position, Bendis fielded questions about Scott Summers in a social media-driven world, Emma Frost’s motives for sticking around post-“AvX,” the many costume changes of the book’s cast and the plethora of Magik headed readers’ way.
Marcus kicks the “Uncanny” section off with a question about Emma Frost’s motives for staying with Cyclops’ crew.
Why doesn’t Emma Frost leave Cyclops and company, especially since all she wanted to do was to be a teacher to mutants again?
Brian Michael Bendis: Very good question, and it is actually answered at length in issue #2 of “Uncanny X-Men” where Scott and Emma have a heart-to-heart and get a sense of where they’re at. It’s a great conversation between the two of them because it’s their first conversation where she can’t read his mind. So they actually have to talk, like people! Again, their relationship and her relationship to the world is an ongoing concern.
I adore her and I’ve given a lot of thought to this broken queen. She had it all and now she’s rebuilt herself from scratch, which includes her new look and she really has to think about what it is that she wants and what she has to offer the world in the state she’s in. Remember, they did some terrible stuff to each other during “Avengers Vs. X-Men” — and in my opinion, they weren’t the best couple in the world to start with. [Laughs] They said and did some terrible stuff, but there’s a lot of affection and true respect they have for each other. We’ll see where they stand and where they end up.
With the 50th anniversary of the X-Men coming up very shortly this September, there’s going to be a lot of big moves, a lot of people not where they are right now.
With that tease, we move on to Darkxmen, who has a question about your choice of resurrection.
If you had a choice of bringing back a dead X-Men character, who would it be and why?
Hmmm! [Pause] Thunderbird, to see how many panels it would take for him to die again. Notice I didn’t say issues, I said panels. I say three.
Hilariously, I got more than once a direct e-mail asking this very specific question, “Of the brand new X-Men you are introducing, can you tell me now which one is Thunderbird so I can stop caring about him?”
[Laughs] Moving on, Gary has a question about the perception of Cyclops in a post-“AvX” world.
This question may be a bit biased since the X-Men are my favorite group and Cyclops is my favorite among them, but why does Captain America always get to be right? The Phoenix Five were doing great things for the world until they were provoked by the Avengers. In “Uncanny,” will we see anyone beyond the main cast sympathetic to Scott’s cause and actions, or will he be doomed to always be the man who killed Professor X?
Gary, you’ve got to work on your screen name. We go from “Darkxmen” to Gary.
I think it’s already been solicited, but the Avengers are showing up in issue #3 of “Uncanny X-Men” and they’re showing up on the front lawn of the Jean Grey School next issue of “All-New X-Men.” We’re going to find out exactly how everyone feels about each other post-“AvX” and I think a lot more people agree with you, Gary, than don’t.
Joe is up next with a question about Cyclops’ team and their relationships with one another.
Does Cyclops actually care about these kids as people, or are they just a means to an end for him?
Well, we’re going to find that out. I think he does care. I think both things, to be honest, but it’s that balance that’s going to decide what kind of leader he truly is. If you follow any story of any great leader, there’s always that line where they go too far or they get too compassionate. That’s their downfall. It’s that balance that makes a true leader in business or in war. We’ll see if Scott is able to rise to that challenge in his new life.
Do any of the main four (Cyclops, Magik, Magneto and Emma) actually consider each other as “friends?” The main team of X-Men traditionally has a very “dysfunctional family/bunch of friends” vibe, but these four seem quite hostile and goal-oriented.
I hate to keep answering, “We’re getting to that,” but we’re actually getting to that. How much do they trust each other? I think they respect each other a great deal. That goes without saying, and that’s probably the primary thing that’s keeping them together. They are goal-oriented and their goal is a similar goal, which keeps them together. But yes, their respect and also with three of them having come out of the Phoenix Force haze, if you will, they’ve seen each other at each other’s worst. With that comes, “Well, I guess I’ll just hang out with you guys because you’ve seen me with my pants down,” but at the same time, it’s kind of embarrassing. That has a lot to do with it, too. I think there’s respect first and dysfunctional family second. Liking depends on who you’re talking to. I think some of them like the others a great deal, and other ones have issues.
John has a question about the mechanics behind the Phoenix Force bringing new mutants into the world at the end of “Avengers Vs. X-Men.”
When the Phoenix restarted the mutant race at the end of “AvX,” did it simply reactivate the mutant genes of people who would have been born with them if the Scarlet Witch had never said, “No More Mutants,” or were new mutants created more or less at random? If it’s the latter, will anyone consider the philosophical considerations of the X-Men saving the mutant race by forcing traumatic biological changes on a whole bunch of humans?
You are asking very good questions. Again, a lot of this is going to be dealt with in upcoming issues, including who is a pure mutant and who is a non-pure mutant. There’s going to be some racism among the mutants as to who is a pure mutant. There’s a lot going on with that very question. I don’t want to spoil too much, but it’s a very complicated question that we’re going to be analyzing from many different angles. It falls right into some of Claremont’s best ideas about what mutants mean as an allegory for race in this country and this world. It certainly gives us an opportunity to look at that from a couple different angles.
This next question comes from Cliff, who wants to know more about the current physical location of Utopia.
The old Utopia (Asteroid M) was last seen sinking into the ocean in “Uncanny X-Men” #20. What is the status of the new Utopia created by the Phoenix Five post-AvX? The last image I recall seeing was the island fenced up with “Property of S.H.I.E.L.D.” signs all over. Any chance you’ll touch on this matter in “All-New X-Men” or “Uncanny X-Men?”
It’s a timeshare condo now. They’re having a hard time renting it. It’s there, you can find it on craigslist.
Derek’s up next with a series of questions, starting with one about the mutant revolution in the age of social media.
Something that was mentioned in the first issue of “Uncanny” was the power of social media in modern society. Will we be seeing Scott utilize the power of the Internet to further his agenda? If so, will we see a tech guy get drafted in, or will Emma or Magneto dust off that largely-forgotten skill set? I got a Steve Jobs vibe from how Scott is viewed by the media. Is that something you were going for?
You’ve got to remember this: the events of “AvX,” particularly the death of Charles Xavier, was not witnessed by the world. It was witnessed by the Avengers and X-Men, and even among the people who saw it, they have a different point of view on what they actually saw. Some people saw that Scott murdered, and other people saw Xavier getting in the way, and some people saw Scott not being in control of himself. Even at the Marvel publishing retreat, many of us argued about this for a good hour. The Scott Summers that the media sees is the Scott Summers that was trying his damnedest to feed the hungry and clean the water and all of a sudden, it was stopped. The conspiracy theorists lay into that with, “He was stopped by the Avengers” or “He was stopped by someone.” Scott’s public persona is very different from the one he has in the superhero community. Scott lifts his head out of all the craziness he’s gone through and he sees that he’s this image, this poster-child for something he actually wants to be the poster child for.
It’s not that he’s going to have a tech guy or a publicist or media coordinator, but everywhere Cyclops goes in this world, somebody is going to be filming him — much like any of our big celebrities. We’ll see in the very first issues of “Uncanny X-Men,” if he leaves the school, somebody has a phone or iPad on him. They’re filming him and he uses that to great benefit.
Magik has never had a love life. Do you have any plans to develop that area of her life? Her actual sexuality has never really been confirmed. Is she gay, straight, completely asexual? Inquiring minds want to know!
It’s funny with her and I’m spending a great deal of time with her. If you’re a Magik fan, you’re going to get a whole lot going on with her starting with “Uncanny X-Men” #5. She’s still, on some level, a little girl who lost her childhood. There’s a great deal missing from her life, not unlike a child star where you feel clearly they’ve missed out on something. That’s going to play into who she is now as an adult woman. With all of the new students, there’s certainly an opportunity for clean relationships with her. She’s got a lot to deal with beyond her sexuality first before she can even get to any kind of normalcy.
I’ll tell you, she’s had some good friends, some truly good friends over the years that she’s just not friends with anymore. I look at that as kind of sad. Her and Kitty were really good friends and now they can’t be. We’re going to be looking into that as well.
In terms of costumes I thought it was clever that Magneto was given a different color scheme than Emma, Magik and Scott. Even before the first issue, I thought he was going to be in an oppositional/rebellious role that he wasn’t in prior to “AvX.” Now we’ve seen that he shaved his head presumably has a visual way of commemorating Xavier. If I noticed these visual cues, wouldn’t the other characters would have too, like Magneto’s teammates or Maria Hill? Maybe that was the point.
Well, you’re looking at it as a reader. You’re looking at the story from the outside looking in. You’re almost looking at it like a security camera. Your point of view is very different than someone standing right in front of you. Just like Cyclops changed his outfit to represent something, there’s nothing that says they don’t look at Magneto’s change as being about that as opposed to these other things that you’re seeing. I’m very excited about the costume changes and by more or less the approval of them by the audience. I know there’s always going to be people who don’t approve of the change, but particularly Magneto and Emma were desperately in need of a change that represented their new status quo. As far as Magneto goes and the reveal at the end of the first issue, there’s so much more story to tell about this. I tweeted a quote from Stephen King: “Good books don’t give up their secrets all at once.” There’s so much more to say about these characters than what happens in the very first issue, that by issue #10 you might be rattled by how much it’s changed.
Going back to the initial question, I think the costume reflects that even more. You don’t even know what kind of person Magneto is right now. Maybe he doesn’t even know. I know.
silversand has a quick question about Namor and whether he might come back to the X-books.
Mr. Bendis, do you have any plans for Namor in your X-books? Can you give us any hints about what the side effects of Namor’s possession of the Phoenix Force are?
I happen to know that Mr. Jonathan Hickman has his hands full with Namor right now in the pages of “New Avengers.” A lot of that will be dealt with right away. I do have some plans for Namor, but they’re going to have to wait until Jonathan has had his way. I took Xavier out of the Illuminati and he’s still kind of mad at me for it. So, I will bow graciously to Jonathan in his plans for the character, which are pretty intense. I think people will get a sense in “New Avengers” right away that there’s a lot going on with Namor.
Our final “Uncanny X-Men” question comes from Icemanjeff79, who has a question about Wolverine and public speaking.
With Cyclops’ team as fugitives from the law and Wolverine, Beast and Rogue active Avengers, why doesn’t Wolverine simply hold a press conference with the Avengers basically spelling out, “Look, Cyclops is no longer affiliated with the X-Men. If you see him and his team, they are to be considered terrorists,” or something of that nature?
I don’t see Logan as a press conference kind of dude. [Laughs] I don’t seem him saying, “Thanks for getting together, guys, I just have a statement I’d like to read.” I don’t see that happening.
To this day, I think Logan has mixed feelings at best about the whole thing. A lot of that is going to be dealt with right away in the pages of “All-New” and “Uncanny” and “Wolverine and the X-Men.” Things will be coming to a head for our 50th anniversary plans.
But yeah, has Wolverine ever held a press conference? I don’t think so. He’s in every book and he has yet to hold a press conference, so I don’t think that’s his way. I don’t think he wants to answer a lot of questions. “Exactly how many people have you murdered?” “Uh, no more questions!” Walk away.
Tune in for the second part of GIANT-SIZE X-POSITION with Brian Michael Bendis next week, where the writer discusses “All-New X-Men!”