Shove everything you know about “New X-Men” out the window — because this is “E is for Extinction.” While the “Secret Wars” series may borrow and pay homage to numerous elements from the original Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely series, this all-new tale set on the patchwork planet of Battleworld uses one “bad day” as a divergence point that sets into action a totally cataclysmic series of events. Psychic merging, possession, death, surprises, generational clashing — “E is for Extinction” offers endless energy for your eyeballs.
This week, the “E is for Extinction” creative team of co-writers Chris Burnham and Dennis Culver and artist Ramon Villalobos return to X-POSITION and answer your questions about everything from Quentin Quire’s surprising role in the series to the Six-in-One and beyond.
CBR News: Welcome to X-POSITION, “Extinction” team! We’ll start this week with a question about one of the cast members of your book from David.
What made you want to bring No-Girl back? In the 616 X-books she gets forgotten or confused with Martha Johansson. What did you like about her in the Morrison run?
Dennis Culver: We tried to hit all the beats of [Grant] Morrison’s run so we had to include her!
Chris Burnham: When I re-read the original run to prep for writing this thing (terrible idea, BTW), I really responded to the initial notion that she was kind of a sentient imaginary friend that only the special class could see.
Grant Morrison, a writer that Chris has worked with often, wrote that original run. Chief Jon has a question about that working relationship.
This one’s for Chris Burnham! Chris, you’ve worked with Grant Morrison extensively before. How did your past (and present) collaboration with the man behind the original “New X-Men” series and many of the characters and concepts you’re working with in “E is for Extinction” influence your work here? Did you consult with him at all as you developed this Battleworld title?
Burnham: I’ve been somewhat living inside Grant’s head for the last five years, and the thing I really picked up is cramming in as many ideas as fast possible, hitting the themes of the story from a bunch of different angles, and cutting out of a scene as soon as you can. I think in the “Batman Inc.” #0 issue I co-wrote with Grant, there were something like 15 scenes in 22 pages. I don’t think we went quite that extreme with “E is for Extinction,” but we came pretty close.
I got Grant’s blessing for working on the new series, but I didn’t take it any further than that.
Speaking of the original “New X-Men” run, ChuckConnection has a question about this series’ relationship with its predecessor.
Was it your call to make the series stand apart so far from Morrison’s original stories, or was that something Marvel asked for?
Burnham: Taking a page one divergence was the only way I could wrap my head around finding a way to not just do a cover version of the original run. (Special thanks to Sam Humphries for kicking me in the ass on that front.)
Culver: That one bad day really informs everything in this series.
Next up, Kuwagaton has a question about your use of humor in the book.
Hi guys! As a lifelong fan, I have to say Cyclops (and his group) in this story have been the most amusing thing in recent memory. How important is humor to superhero comics, and would any of you consider bringing this caliber of dry humor to future projects?
Burnham: People in tights running around shooting lasers out of their eyes are inherently a little goofy. I think you need a little levity injected or else the proceedings are going to start feeling a little self-important and run the risk of being unintentionally funny.
(If you said “they’re force blasts,” then congratulations, you win a no prize! And by “no prize,” I mean “atomic wedgie.”)
Ramon Villalobos: Nah, it’s only serious work from here on out.
Now we have a question from YachtRox about the series’ madcap ideas.
The series is full of big, weird, wonderful concepts and sequences. Were there any ideas you had where Marvel said, whoa — that’s a little *too* crazy?
Burnham: Well, we weren’t allowed to do any time travel, because Lord Doom doesn’t allow for that sort of thing. So we had to get creative when it came to the White Beast.
Culver: Yeah our only limits were the limits of Battleworld; otherwise we were given free reign to bonkers.
Villalobos: Yeah, it’s always shockingly creatively open at Marvel. It’s pretty cool to feel backed by editors as well — shout out to Katie [Kubert] and Christina [Harrington].
Pelham has a question about one student in particular: Quentin Quire.
You guys have really done something surprising with Quentin Quire in this book, with the reveal in #3 that Xavier has possessed him. Considering that he’s one of the most enduring favorites from the “New X-Men” era, how did you decide on this trajectory for his character?
Culver: Quentin Quire is one of my favorites from Morrison’s run and it wasn’t easy killing him off in issue #2, but it’s what ultimately made the most sense for our story. Also a Professor X-possessed Quire versus a Cassandra Nova-possessed Jean Grey is just plain cool.
Quire and Jean aside, there was another big action moment in issue #3 that Glossary has a question about.
The Six-In-One moment was great to see in #3, I always liked the connection between Emma and the Cuckoos. How did this moment come about? And what thought went into executing it visually?
Culver: That one came from me wanting to break the issue-long fight scene of #3 so we had another location to cut to in the issue and give things some nice rhythm. I had some specific visual references I sent Ramon and he took that to an even better place and then once [colorist] Ian [Herring] got hold of it, I made the image the lock screen on my phone.
Villalobos: It was my lock screen too after I hung out with Dennis and saw that it was his lock screen. Yeah, that page was a fun one to do; Dennis had some reference for it but I was pretty free to take the basic idea and do it in my own way. It’s a pretty well known comic cover but you wouldn’t know it by looking at mine. I had done something similar in my indie book, “LP,” so I wanted this to be six times as powerful as that and after I saw Ian’s colors over it, I felt pretty solid about it.
Speaking of Ian Herring’s colors, Ark Raider has a question about your collaboration.
Ian Herring’s colors have been so dope on this book! What direction do you guys give him, especially Ramon since he’s coloring your art, or is all this just Ian’s specific brand of mad genius?
Villalobos: Yeah, Ian’s colors on the book were rad. I usually color my own stuff when I can so I will always have color palettes and stuff in mind while I work, and when you work with a colorist it can be a bit shocking to see someone else’s vision for you. But once I got over that, Ian kind of just went in without much direction from me. From what I understand, he looked at my Tumblr stuff to see how I color my stuff usually and took ideas from that as well, but yeah, no specific direction was given. That’s mostly all his mad genius.
BeachComber has a hypothetical situation he wants to throw your way.
Marvel calls each of you up and says, you get to choose any one character from “E is for Extinction” to spin off into their own ongoing series. Who is it, and what’s your pitch?
Burnham: Mail me a check and I’ll tell you.
Culver: Professor Burnham is a jerk! (I won’t tell you my pitch but it’s totally Quentin Quire.)
Villalobos: I’m not nearly as professional as these two, so I’d definitely do a series with Beak and Angel on the run getting into stuff, maybe having to rescue their kids — like, a two-person mutant version of “Taken” would be dope. I could draw Angel with a lot of dope pairs of shoes.
Cora Reef has a couple workflow and process questions for y’all.
Chris and Dennis — you are both artists, yet you wrote this story together. How did the scripting process work on that?
Burnham: Strangely enough, it works just like the six-in-one’s mind meld. But since Dennis doesn’t have psychic powers like I do, he has to compensate with consciousness-altering amounts of Diet Coke.
Culver: Burnham and I share studio space and if you think his jokes are corny here, well, they’re even worse coming out of his mouth! (This! This is the process!)
And Ramon, in what ways did you contribute to the story?
Villalobos: I gave it its heart and soul, to be honest. Chris and Dennis basically were like, “Yeah, here’s this corpse of a comic — it’s lifeless, it’s got no life or style, etc. etc. etc.” I breathed life into it. I’m a life-giver. Just kidding, I didn’t do anything, just drew kneepads and shoelaces.
Thanks to Chris Burnham, Dennis Culver and Ramon Villalobos for taking on this week’s questions!
Next week, “X-Tinction Agenda” writer Marc Guggenheim returns to X-POSITION! Have a question for Marc? Go ahead and send ’em in via an e-mail with the subject line “X-Position” or head over to the X-POSITION question thread on the CBR forum. But get ’em in quickly, because the deadline’s Wednesday. Make it happen!
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