For the past few years, X-POSITION has been the place for fans to directly interact with the creative teams behind Marvel’s X-books. It’s generous of these busy folks to take the time to answer your questions and give you a peek behind the scenes of the X-office. Every week, I go through email from all of you (which is always an adventure). Some weeks I get deluged with email, while other weeks I get a dribble. One pair of writers who always seem to generate tons of interest though are the team behind “X-Force,” “Necrosha” and “Second Coming,” Craig Kyle and Chris Yost.
The excitement over this pair is understandable, because they’re not just writers of the X-books, they’re also fans – and they have the forum stats to prove it! In addition to their work in comics, they also are busy writing “The Avengers” cartoon for TV (Yost) and producing the live-action “Thor” film (Kyle). Hence, they need to step away from the X-universe for awhile, but before they go, they’re joining us for one last go-round. So before the hugs and tears start, let’s get to your emails.
Andrew starts things off with some love and a philosophical query.
I just wanted to let you know that I think you’re the awesome-est X-writers ever, and that whatever you do in the future, you must continue writing X-books. Here are my questions:
1) You’ve said before that Cyclops was convinced that creating X-Force was the right thing to do, and that he’d be hauled away in handcuffs smiling if called out on this. That may be Cyclops’ opinion (and now Wolverine’s), but what about your opinions? Do you both think that X-Force was morally the right move for the X-Men? Did you try to convey that belief in the tone of “X-Force?”
Chris Yost: I don’t think he made the right decision. Morally, I think that if you’re going to be a super hero and hang out with Captain America and whatnot, you probably shouldn’t order your men to go slaughter people – even if they are going to attack you first. But, if the situation was so desperate for them, like he really didn’t see any other way. I mean, it’s a tough spot. But I believe there are going to be repercussions for this.
Craig Kyle: As for me, I’m on Cyclops’ side. I think, looking over the history of what the X-Men and mutants have faced – and knowing who they were going after – I say eff ’em. I think that these guys earned it, and it’s about time that they got to see what it’s like to be on the other side of that kind of mentality. As far as trying to convey the belief that I agree with him, I don’t think so.
I think ideally we want to show the most compelling argument for both sides, otherwise there’s no real fun for the audience. There should be a debate between the two, and they both have to be right on some level. So while my personal belief is “Yeah, Cyclops did the right thing,” I hope readers were torn and some people felt he was wrong and others felt he was right, because that’s the mark of a good story.
Yost: Let it be said that if I were in that position – if I were leading the X-Men – I would absolutely do that. If I thought someone was coming to kill me, then absolutely I would kill them. But I think that, as super heroes, they need to be held to a higher standard. Honestly, this question made for a more exciting project to work on, because it was so against what you’d think that a super hero would do. And it showed just how desperate the situation was.
2) During your run, you hinted multiple times that one day the Avengers might come calling to have Cyclops and Co. answer for what they’ve done. Now that Cyke has given X-Force up and Wolverine has taken the mantle, do you still think that will happen? Especially as Wolverine is a member of the Avengers?
Kyle: I think that’s tough to say. Chris and I feel pretty good about the amount of things we were able to resolve and wanted to resolve. As always, we leave as much as we can behind for the next writer without cheating the fans. Selfishly, Chris and I would love to tell that story, but I’d be just as excited to read it if it was done by the right person. I would like to think that story will happen because I think someone’s got to find out what’s going on.
Yost: I think it would be an amazing story. I think that all secrets come to light, and that when somebody finally puts all the pieces together, there’s going to be some interesting conversations being had.
Kyle: Mutants and the X-Men are in the same boat as Wolverine, and even though the Avengers are on his team, they don’t have the same reasons to protect Wolverine or look after mutantkind. So it would be great to have someone like the Avengers find out.
Nathan is up next, and while he enjoyed your recent miniseries, he was hoping for some Cajun spice:
I found it odd that Gambit didn’t appear in “X-Force: Sex and Violence” considering it’s about the Thieves Guild and Belladonna. At any point in the planning stages, was Gambit due to appear?
Kyle: No. We pulled a lot of people from various places, and even though we could have stuck him in, it just felt like it would have been one character too many for the story we wanted to tell. Plus, for this job, (artist) Gabe wanted to do specific things in this story, so we really wrote it to help him do his best work, and one of those is just watching the character count. And we did that gladly, because we were very happy with the way the story did turn out.
Yost: Yeah, and while Gambit is involved with Belladonna, but she’s Assassins Guild and he’s Thieves Guild and they aren’t always hand-in-hand.
Chickrockguitar also loved this recent story and asks for more, more, more…
“X-Force: Sex and Violence” was awesome – awesome story and awesome artwork. We had to wait awhile, but it was worth it. Any plans for a sequel?
Kyle: Chris and I already have a story in mind, but we don’t have anything on the books. We haven’t even talked to editorial about doing it right now because we’re in the midst of some other projects that are just breathing down our necks right now. We’re gladly taking care of those, but there’s just no room for us to develop that sequel yet.
Yost: We would definitely love to do it; we’re just looking for the right time.
Kyle: And we need Gabe too!
Andre4000 sent in his usual laundry list of questions, including a fun game of “What if?”
1) I liked Sex and Violence, but considering the title and the promise of a European artist, I expected the book to be a bit more graphic. Was that under discussion at any point? It feels like things were played “safe.”
Yost: I’m assuming that he means sexually “safe.” The violence definitely happened.
Kyle: I think that’s the only thing we’ve heard – people wish there had been more, I guess, sex “onscreen” and…I don’t know. We could’ve gone MAX with the title, but I think there’s a tasteful way to make things sensual, sexual and still be really gratifying. I don’t know if we really needed to have full frontal nudity and graphic sex depicted to hit the mark on that one.
For me personally, I feel like we delivered on the promise for people who wanted us to do more. I don’t think we ever had that kind of a book in mind. I think to satisfy some of those people, we would have had to drive most of the fans of our book out, and that was never our intention. We wanted our fans of “X-Force” and our other works to enjoy this story, and we weren’t trying to break into a new audience with this title.
Yost: All that being said, in issue #2, that was the most sex Marvel’s shown in a long time.
Kyle: With Domino and Wolverine in the bed?
Yost: I mean, you actually see a page of two people having sex, which is not something you usually see in a comic book. I understand that people want more, but at the same time, we’re not in that business specifically…yet.
Kyle: [Laughs] Let’s hope we’re never in that business.
2) With a new X-23 book currently out, can you please ask Marvel to reprint your X-23 trade paperbacks? I found the first mini for an “okay” price, but I can’t find a reasonable priced copy of “X-23: Target” anywhere.
Kyle: I actually would prefer if they released a hardcover of the two of them together. We’ve talked to them about it before, but you know, they have a system of the way they put books out – both in soft and in hardcover, but we’ll ask them again to see what the plan is. We were really hoping they’d put a collected edition of all twelve, so you were totally armed with the backstory for the new series.
3) Marvel has a new teaser “All New. All Different” that shows a lot of the dead coming back. Um, didn’t you guys do that with “Necrosha?” Do you know anything about this?
Yost: There’s an event going on in the Marvel Universe right now that it’s linked to, but it isn’t a “full-on” X-Men event. I believe more information will be coming in the next few weeks.
4) Recently Tom Brevoort asked readers what they thought about event comics, and it stirred up a bit of a hornet’s nest online. As writers who worked on two events recently (“Necrosha” and “Second Coming”), what are your opinions on the state of things? Do writers feel burned out too?
Yost: Yeah, we did “Messiah War,” “Necrosha” and “Second Coming” kind of back-to-back-to-back. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a big event, but at the same time, having three in a row like that was a little rough.
Kyle: What happens is that you have an event that’s set on a specific timetable and all the books kind of have to navigate their schedules now to work within this timetable. So it can be difficult when you’ve got X amount of issues you feel you need to tell your story correctly. But the other side is, we’ve been on books like “New X-Men” that could use the boost. So when we were tied to a big event, it boosted our sales. The intent is always to bring in new readers, so for that I was grateful.
And I’d say the flipside is, when we did it for books that needed help, it was nice to be able to pump some interest towards those titles that deserved it. I think they’re a necessary part of the process and fans largely enjoy them, so if you’re working with talented guys like we have, it’s always fun but they can be difficult when you’re trying to focus on the story that you worked very hard on telling in the series. It’s a mixed bag, but more often than not, they’re a good thing.
Yost: I totally agree. For instance, “New X-Men” – when “Messiah CompleX” hit, it nearly doubled our sales. I mean, that’s hard to argue with.
Kyle: The nice thing too was, we needed a big out for our storyline in “X-Force,” and “Second Coming” became that out. So we actually needed those other books to be tied in so it could be more of a satisfying conclusion to what was like the convergence of many different groups and people coming down on one team.
5) In an ideal world (for me at least) where you two got the chance to write “Uncanny X-Men,” who would you put on the team and what artist would you love to have drawing the book?
Kyle: I’d say my answer, with no time to think, is Arthur Adams. I don’t think that there’s an artist that I love more. You know, there’s Jim Lee, there’s other greats that I grew up with and have got to meet along the way, but no one trumps Arthur Adams for me, because he was someone that I loved as a kid and am dying to see do a drawing of X-23. I’m just a huge, huge fangirl for that guy. If it wasn’t him, then I’d say Olivier Coipel, who is someone else I just really admire as a talent. There are so many great people and we’ve had a chance to work with so many greats, we’re very fortunate, but if you put a gun to my head right now and asked “Who’s it going to be?” I’d say with a big smile on my face, “Arthur Adams,” but that’s me.
Yost: I just – how can I possibly pick someone?
Kyle: You love Jae Lee.
Yost: Ohmigod, you’re right. I do. I would pick Jae Lee. Every piece of art he’s done, I’m just a huge fan of. His “Inhuman” series is just so phenomenal. Yeah, in a heartbeat. Obviously, that’s going to be a very specific kind of story that you’re going to put Jae Lee on a book for, but he’s the one I’d go for. Who the team would be though – I don’t know. Craig, who would be your top three X-Men?
Kyle: Wow, that’s tough. Colossus is my favorite, he always has been. Nightcrawler, even though we had to kill him…
Yost: Ooh! Nightcrawler, Cable and Mammomax.
Kyle: [Laughs] All right, let me just say that I don’t like Cable. I’ve never liked Cable and I was glad he died. Heh. Okay, Nightcrawler, Colossus, and – you know who I’ve grown to love? Emma, although you can’t really put her as a classic X-Man. I don’t know. I might have to leave that third slot open because that’s a big debate.
Yost: Well, I’d put on Cyclops and Jean Grey.
Kyle: Ugh, you softie. I mean, Cyclops is the classic. It feels like he does need to go in a spot. I’m not the lover of Jean Grey that Chris is.
Yost: I think our team is Colossus, Nightcrawler, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Emma and…somebody else.
Kyle: You know, Wolverine is obviously the other part of it, but then we could be very ridiculous and put X-23 on the team. I would only do that to further her pedigree, but I also think it’s good that we’ve stepped away from the character. Oh! There’s also Domino, who we love. She’s amazing.
Yost: Honestly, I wouldn’t hesitate to put some of those New X-Men on there. But if you’re limited to five or something, there’s some classics you just can’t say you’ll not put in.
Kyle: Yeah. I’m a firm believer that if you don’t have a certain number of the classic X-Men, it’s not an X-Men team. You can say it is and you can put the name on the book, but it’s not. You gotta have a few of those guys to anchor the team, and then you can spread the wealth a little bit and bring in some of the up-and-comers or fringe mutants. That’s my take, though.
[Laughs] You know what, Chris? We could just keep killing mutants until they give us the book.
Yost: You’re right! We’ll just narrow them down to the five people we listed.
But you already killed Nightcrawler…
Kyle: Looks like we’re on our way then.
Iceman better watch his back. Ramelito closes out today’s fun with an assortment on inquiries on topics both X-related and non-X:
1) Chris, what is your new miniseries (“To Serve and Protect”) about? Is it from a fresh pitch by you? Or was it something they came to you to write? It sounds a bit unspecific…
Kyle: It’s something that I pitched to the X-office around a year and a half ago, but the timing wasn’t right then because of some of the things they were planning. It’s two characters that I love going out and saving the day, being big-time mutant super heroes. There’s a little bit of mystery as to who they are, but it’s really just part of the Heroic Age – the X-Men going out there and doing good.
Each issue is an anthology, but my story will be in each of the four issues. So it’s an ongoing story in the anthology, but it’s broken up along the four chapters. It’s thirty-two pages over four issues. It’s my first step back into X-universe after “Second Coming,” and at some point in the near future, I should be making New X-Men fans happy.
2) I also loved Yost’s “Killer of Demons” and I thought I heard rumor about a follow-up. Is that still happening? Why don’t the two of you do more creator-owned works?
Yost: There is an idea for a second and a third story, but it’s not going to happen anytime soon. Life is just getting in the way, but it was always intended to be more.
Kyle: As for us doing something by ourselves, I’ll be releasing Chris’ second story for “Killer of Demons” on the internet tonight, so look for that. [Laughs] No, look, we’re not doing X-books together right now, but who knows what the future will hold?
Yost: It’ll happen one day. We’ll be eighty years old…
3) Craig, I know you can’t say much about the “Thor” movie, but I’m just curious if you can tell me anything about the coordination between the Marvel films. Between the Infinity Gauntlet and Cosmic Cube appearing in “Thor” and “Captain America” (respectively), it seems you’re planting seeds for something bigger down the line. Is there a “brain trust” behind all the films asking you to plant X, Y, and Z so that they’ll get picked up in the “Avengers” film? And who specifically are the people making these decisions?
Kyle: I think it’s safe to say that Kevin Feige was the one who broke the idea of really kind of doing a cinematic universe like we have in the comic books. Fans love visiting all the corners of the Marvel U in different books, and Kevin knows that. Now there’s many creative people involved in the process and lots of great people helping give us feedback as we develop each level of the films. At a certain point, Joe Quesada comes in, Dan Buckley, Brian Michael Bendis, Alan Fine. Then we have the other folks who are working on each individual movie coming in – Jeremy Latcham, Stephen Broussard. These are all guys that oversee the various films, and Louis (D’Esposito) who runs Marvel Studios with Kevin.
So you’ve got a lot of talented, passionate people that are working to make great individual films, while Kevin is kind of keeping an eye on the larger story for the Marvel cinematic universe. You kind of need that one person guiding us, otherwise it gets to be a bit of a clusterfuck. He’s also the first to remind us that we have to make a great movie on its own, otherwise the little pieces we’ve seeded for other films aren’t going to matter because they’re never going to make them. That’s kind of the long and short answer.
4) Have you seen or do you know anything about Remender’s upcoming “Uncanny X-Force” that you can share?
Kyle: I know absolutely nothing.
Yost: I’ve been seeing a lot of advance reviews for the first issue, and pretty much everybody’s really enjoyed it. I’ve heard the art is nothing short of fantastic.
But you haven’t seen the issue yet?
Kyle: No. When we stepped away, we wanted to set up the potential for a new team and a new storyline and that’s where our involvement ended, and that’s where it should’ve. We’re excited though. It’s always nice when you get to go from being a creator on a book to a fan. There’s something to be said about not knowing what’s going to happen on the next page. Obviously, we wish (Remender) luck and we hope it’s great and we’re sure it is.
Well, feel free to email me some questions as Rick Remender will be our next guest on X-POSITION! Maybe you can even get him to spill a secret or two.
Now before you go, it’s time for our last round of “Behind the X” fun. As you two are both Hollywood-ites, I have a crazy little query for you: name a movie that lots of people find hilarious, but you just don’t understand the appeal.
Kyle: This is going to kill a lot of people who enjoy me right now, but, “The Big Lebowski.”
Yost: Ohmigod! Are you serious?
Kyle: I don’t fucking get it.
Yost: Wow. There’s a quote from that movie I use pretty much every day of my life: “That’s, like, your opinion, man.”
Kyle: One more reason not to like it. Because you’re a funny guy, and that’s not funny. Your turn.
Yost: Ugh. Mine might get me in trouble. I know the guy that produced it.
Kyle: You know what? Live free. Go for it, buddy.
Yost: I could not watch “Napoleon Dynamite,” and people love that movie.
Kyle: Yeah? I enjoyed that movie.
Yost: Really? I honestly could not get through it. Then I saw the “Napoleon Dynamite” bobblehead and notepad and the shirts and all the other stuff, and I thought, “Obviously, I’m out of touch. I am out of touch with America.”
Kyle: Well, there’s a convention for “The Big Lebowski,” so, yeah. But I’ve heard of people who hate “Caddyshack,” and it’s like, “What? How could you hate ‘Caddyshack?'”
Yost: Yeah, now that’s crazy.
As mentioned above, it’s out with the old, in with the uncanny as Rick Remender – new writer of “Uncanny X-Force” – joins us next week for some Q&A fun. Be sure to think up some deeply inquisitive gems, type them out, and email them my way ASAP. Put an “X-Position” in the subject line, and I’ll even let you have my vote for “Dancing with the Stars.” Wednesday, October 6th is also “Uncanny X-Force Day,” so be sure force some X on someone you love!
Um, that didn’t sound right at all. Just be ready for the fun and celebration, okay?