It was never easy being a member of Marvel Comics’ X-Men, but these days it’s a whole lot more difficult. Before all you had to worry about was protecting a world that hated and feared you. Now that “X-Men: Schism” has ended there are two X-Men teams with different ideologies about how the group should operate, and the mutants of the Marvel Universe must now choose whether to ally themselves with Cyclops’ team on the island of Utopia in San Francisco or Wolverine’s group, which recently relocated back to Westchester, New York to establish a new training school for mutants.
In “X-Men Legacy” #259-260, outgoing writer Mike Carey chronicles how and why his cast chooses the X-Men team they want to align themselves with, and in January’s #260.1 the book’s new creative team of writer Christos Gage and artist David Baldeon will deal with the repercussions of that decision. CBR News spoke with Gage about his run on the book, which was announced yesterday by Marvel at their “X-Men: Regenesis” panel at New York Comic Con.
CBR News: Christos, having completed a run on “Astonishing X-Men” and having worked on books such as “World War Hulk: X-Men” you’re no stranger to the world of mutants, but with “X-Men: Legacy” you’re taking over a book and a character, Rogue, that Mike Carey has been working on for the past several years. What’s it like following his lengthy run?
Christos Gage: It’s intimidating following someone who has made such a mark on a book as Mike Carey has with “Legacy,” but Mike has been nothing but wonderful to deal with in easing the transition, and I’m a huge fan of what he’s done. To me, “Legacy” feels like the X-Men books I grew up with in the height of the Chris Claremont era — there’s fantastic action, but character is what makes it all matter.
And how does your run begin? Does Mike wrap up his stories or does he set up a cliffhanger for you to pickup and run with?
Appropriately, the transition from Mike’s run to mine occurs as the characters are making a transition of their own: going to Westchester with Wolverine to open the Jean Grey School and carry on Professor Xavier’s dream. So Mike’s run has a definite ending, but also a clear passing of the baton to a new status quo. My first issue is a Point One standalone story, a perfect jumping on point for new readers — or a chance for longtime fans to see if they like what David Baldeon and I have to offer. I hope they will!
For the past several months “Legacy” has been a unique book in that it’s both a solo title focusing on Rogue and a team book starring other heroes. Will that continue under your run? And if so, what do you find most compelling about Rogue? Which aspects of her personality do you really want to explore?
The great thing about Rogue, and I think Mike handled this brilliantly, is that by the very nature of her powers — borrowing abilities and memories from others — she is a window into other characters, so while she is very much the headlining character, this can’t help but be an ensemble book. I think Rogue is one of the most fully developed characters in comics, having gone from a villain who can’t control her powers to a strong leader who can show others how to be their best. I want to explore what it’s like for her as she strives to figure out who she wants to be and what she wants to do with her life at a time of great transition — from Utopia to the Grey School, in terms of what is best for both her and mutantkind, and, of course, that juicy love triangle between her, Gambit and Magneto! So yes, the emphasis on Rogue will certainly continue.
Along with Rogue you’re handling the characters that Mike brought into the book — Gambit, Frenzy and Marvel Girl as well as three new additions: Cannonball, Iceman and Husk. What made you want to group these characters together? What kind of dynamic is initially created from this grouping?
Much in the way that Mike did, we’ll be using characters from all over the Grey School, but you’re right, those characters are the core of “Legacy.” I thought they provided the most potential for cool stories — it’s as simple as that. They represent the history of the X-Men from the very beginning to the recent past. And while they have all chosen the same path, they will not necessarily agree on how to walk it.
At this point we know the characters in “Legacy” will be affiliated with Wolverine’s branch of the X-Men. Can you talk at all about the mandate they’ll have as a group in this new era? What role will they play in Wolverine’s larger organization?
The X-Men in “Legacy” are all involved in Wolverine’s school in some way, and we’ll see them in that role, but we’ll also see them in their lives outside the school. And the question of what their mandate is looms large. Big picture, their job is to educate, protect and support the students so that they are able to make it to adulthood safely and decide what they want to do with their lives. But since they’re carrying on Professor X’s dream of human/mutant coexistence, they will also, from time to time, tackle threats to the public in general, just as a team of heroes like the FF or Avengers might.
What can you tell us about the initial adventures you have planned for your cast? Who are some of the characters they’ll come into conflict with?
First up, in #260.1, we have the N’Garai, the other-dimensional demons who have bedeviled the X-Men since “Uncanny X-Men” #96! A bit of classic X-history to start things off is, I think, a good thing.
Then our heroes must face off with one of the most powerful mutants ever: Exodus! When we last saw him, Professor Xavier had convinced him that mutantkind could not survive unless it was united, and he went on a pilgrimage to ponder his role in this new world. Now he’s back — only to find that mutantkind is far from united, and he’s not happy about that. Exodus is really going to make our characters examine and defend the choices they’ve made.
You’re working with David Baldeon, an artist primarily known for his depiction of teenagers in books like “Young Allies” and DC Comics’ “Blue Beetle.” What does he bring to the book as an artist?Given his knack for drawing super powered adolescents can we expect to see some of the younger generation of X-Men in prominent roles in this series?
You definitely will see David drawing students, but the teachers are the focus, and David brings an awesome approach to them as well. I was familiar with David’s work on the books you mention, but what really surprised me was how amazingly he drew edgier subject matter, like the N’Garai demons who attack in our first issue, #260.1! This guy can bring the scary when he wants to! I look forward to letting David show his chops on other kinds of stuff he isn’t necessarily known for — I think he’s got a lot more tricks up his sleeve!
As we mentioned at the beginning of this interview, “X-Men Legacy” has primarily been the vision of one man, Mike Carey. If fans respond to your work would you also like to have a long, multi-year run on this series?
Sure! Many of my most fondly remembered runs on comics were long ones: Chris Claremont on “X-Men,” Peter David on the “Hulk,” John Byrne on “The Fantastic Four,” John Ostrander on Suicide Squad. That said, I’m also a big believer that when you run out of stories to tell, it’s time for you to go. I don’t anticipate that happening soon, though, so if the readers like what I do I’d love to stick around!
Writing an ongoing X-Men title is a dream come true. I hope I can do justice to characters I’ve loved for years, and to the faith of editor Daniel Ketchum, who wanted me for the book based on my “Avengers Academy” work. I’m going to do my absolute best!
Christos Gage and David Baldeon take over “X-Men Legacy” with #260.1 in January.