In the early 1990s, Peter David crafted a unique mutant team that worked for the government and was led by Alex Summers. Today, he also writes about a unique team of mutants for Marvel Comics, but this one is a detective agency led by Jamie Madrox. The two teams have a good amount in common; first and foremost, its name — X-Factor. Secondly, a good portion of its roster. A major difference, however, is its leadership and the way it ran/runs the team.
Alex Summers tried (as best he could) to have his group function as an organized strike team, and Jamie followed orders as a teammate. In the current incarnation of the X-Factor, well, Madrox is less “formal” than his former leader, who is nowhere on the team… until now.
After a long journey through space, Alex and his girlfriend Polaris (another former X-Factor teammate) will be joining Jamie’s team. What does this mean for Madrox? And how will Alex handle taking commands from Jamie — and will he? Peter David joins us for today’s X-POSITION to answer these questions and more. So buckle up and prepare yourself for a wild ride!
Roberto starts things off with a question that I’ve seen fairly frequently, but I’ll allow it as it’s a new year…
Peter, you’re one of my all time favorite writers. Through Hulk, X-Factor, Captain Marvel, She-Hulk — I love your work and I’m anxious to see the end of your current Madrox story and more about Alex and Lorna’s return! Here my questions:
1) It seems that you will be touching on the long-rumored Longshot/Shatterstar connection. Are they brothers? Or is Shatterstar still his son…but then what about that whole Benjamin Russell story in “X-Force?”
Well, Roberto, as Madrox himself noted, when the word “brother” was tossed around in “X-Factor” #229, it might well have been in the sense of “brother in arms.” It would be premature to say that Star is “still” Longshot’s son because that’s never been definitively established. At the moment, I’m in no hurry to make a final reveal about the relationship between the two, although rest assured there is one.
Will it involve Benjamin Russell? Honestly, I’m kind of waffling on that. On the one hand, I’ve got this really elegant solution that ties all three together. On the other hand, that was so long ago that I’d have to weigh the pluses of addressing it for the long-time readers against the negatives of having to explain to newer readers the whole Benjamin Russell thing all over again. I really haven’t decided one way or the other about that. All I’ll say at this point is that we teased Wolverine’s origin for decades and it didn’t seem to hurt him any.
2) Will we continue to see the no-soul Strong Guy around? And will Layla’s responsibility to this fact be addressed more in the future?
Oh, absolutely, the future being as close as issue #230. When we did the reveal to the crew in #228, they were dealing with a lot that was going on at that moment: newly dead Jamie, the assault by Bloodbath. Issue #230 has them back in HQ and addressing all the ramifications of the reveal about Guido and everything that’s going to happen next. It’s a very character-driven issue and probably one of my favorites.
3) I want to see more of Rahne’s son and the “almost-god” Darwin. Will they be around much in 2012?
They will be returning in 2012, yes.
4) My questions read more like a wish list, but I can’t help thinking about M, Marius, Claudette and Nicole. They appear to be the biggest dysfunctional family in the X-Universe. How do you think Monet deals with the stress from this?
I think she deals with it by endeavoring to lord it over X-Factor. This is a woman who, for an extended period of time, had no control over her very existence. I think she now compensates by lording it over everyone else so the others won’t see how damaged and afraid she is that it could somehow all happen again. And I think she wants to stay the hell away from her other family members because all they do is remind her of what she had to deal with before.
Monet’s attitude sounds like it matches many folks after the holidays.
William goes straight for the heart as he addresses the matter brought up in today’s introduction:
I’m so glad to see you writing for Alex and Lorna again! How are you planning to address the fact that Madrox once reported to Alex and is now leading the team? Also, are there any dangling plot threads from your original run that you might address in the present?
Well, William, let’s remember that we’re talking hypothetically; after all, at this moment in time, Alex hasn’t taken over the team, and Madrox is ricocheting between dimensions. So if Alex takes over and if Madrox makes it back, then there will be some definite head-butting. Ultimately one would hope that if that should happen, the two of them will realize the respective strengths that each of them brings to the team and will find a way to work together. If nothing else, I want to avoid the classic comic book answer of, “In this issue — Madrox and Havok battle for X-Factor!” Which would, now that I think about it, probably sell a lot of copies, but it’s not true to the nature of the book.
Derek wrote in with several inquiries about the team’s new members and he’s itching for answers. Do you have the balm he needs?
1) It’s been eight years since readers learned that Polaris’ mother died under suspicious circumstances. Now that’s she’s joining Marvel’s premier detective agency, will she start to investigate it? Fans have been crying out for her definitive origin story for years…
Yeah, that’s a tricky one, Derek. The real question is: was Magneto responsible for the death of her mother (and her mother’s husband)? That would be a fairly explosive revelation, because if he is, then she basically is going to go to war with her father. Polaris has always had a ticking time bomb element to her psyche, and such a reveal would detonate it big time. So the answer is: it depends on whether Marvel would be up for that, and if Lorna as a character could survive such a discovery. It’s something I’ve been kicking around, and I’m going to be making some decisions on that soon.
2) It was implied that Polaris retained her Pestilence powers in “X-Men: Kingbreaker.” Gambit also retained his abilities and has been shown to be still battling his Death persona. Is Polaris still battling her Pestilence persona or do you see that as a non-issue?
A non-issue. She’s got enough going on in her noggin without worrying about that.
3) It was great that Mike Carey laid some groundwork for Polaris’ and Magneto’s post-Decimation relationship, but with them on different sides of the Schism, will you be following this up?
Kinda depends on whether I pursue the storyline we were just discussing above.
4) On the cover of “X-Factor” #233, Layla, Wolfsbane, Rictor, and Darwin are noticeably absent. The remaining characters seem to fit the role of superheroes more than detectives. Is X-Factor transitioning from a detective agency into a more standard superhero team?
No, not at all. With the array of characters I now have to work with — and assuming that Madrox does return to the team — I’m now in a position where I can tell whatever types of stories I want. If I need to have them in a big superhero bash up, I’ve got some new serious heavy hitters on the team. On the other hand, if I want something more low key or noirish (and I should emphasize the book’s always been more “ish” than “noir”), then I have no trouble doing stories like that. The book has, at this point, unparalleled versatility.
5) I was surprised by how much Wanda worked with X-Factor in “Avengers: The Children’s Crusade.” Is there any chance she might become a fixture? She has a very undeveloped relationship with her sister Polaris, and her connection to Layla (whatever that might be) has never been cleared up.
There’s other things going on with Wanda elsewhere and I don’t want to start tripping over that. I could easily see, and have considered, bringing her in for a guest shot. But a fixture? Yeah, that’s what we need: more characters.
Ran has his crystal ball out and is peering into the future. It’s a bit cloudy though, can you clear things up for him?
“X-Factor” was by far my favorite title this year and I really like what you’re doing with the book. The characters you took and made a team out of were never my favorites, but I really like them now! Here’s some New Year-centric questions:
1) Which character do you think you might’ve neglected most this year? And do you see them playing a bigger role in 2012?
Well, Ran, obviously Darwin is the lead candidate for that; he’s been MIA for a while. And yes, he’ll be back in 2012.
2) Did you mange to get to all the stories you had planned for 2011? How far ahead to you plan? Do you just keep a list of story ideas sitting around?
I honestly don’t think in January-to-December cycles. By the time the stories are later collected in trade, who’s going to care what year they came out in? I generally plan about six months to a year ahead, although I have longer-term concepts that I’m constantly laying track-work for. For instance, I knew I wanted to do the Jamie-dimension-hopping story ever since I had the revelation of his and Layla’s wedding night years ago.
3) If the (supposed) end of the world occurs at the end of 2012, is there an X-Factor story that you really want to tell before the apocalypse? Something you might have been hesitant about?
If I find out definitively that the world really will end in 2012, I’ll probably do the reveal about Longshot and Shatterstar. It would kind of suck for the fans to all die without that one being resolved.
4) 2011 was a great year for “X-Factor” art. Can you say anything about the artists for 2012? Any chance for a one-shot on Layla drawn by someone like Robbi Rodriguez or Max Fiumara (just throwing out my wish). Thanks!
Honestly, Ran, X-Factor is kind of like Oz: people come and go so quickly here. I’m just thrilled to have had the top quality artists I’ve been working with so far, and hope they stay on board for as long as possible. As for various artists on your wish list, don’t worry — they’ll probably wind up drawing this book at some point.
Andre4000 went off-topic on me this week, but since I want to know the answers to these questions as well…here you go!
Peter, I’m a tremendous fan of all your writings and — while I love “X-Factor” — I have two non-X questions I hope you might answer:
1) I saw the “Young Justice” episode you wrote (“Secrets”) and it was fantastic! Did you come up with the idea to bring Secret from your run into the cartoon? The costumes in the dance scene were awesome too; was that in the script?
The notion for bringing back Secret and Harm came from Greg Weisman and Brandon Vietti, who run the show. Greg assigned me to write it because he felt I’d be a good fit for it — which, judging from your reaction, Andre, I apparently was. As for the costumes, yes, those were in the script, although the concept of the students coming dressed as superheroes — much to the annoyance of Superboy — was also from Greg and Brandon.
2) I really enjoyed the “Epic Mickey” Wii game, as well as the comic you wrote (of course!). Have you managed to make it to the end of the game yourself?
Oh yes. Just to give you an idea of the quality of my video game prowess, game creator Warren Spector has stated that the game takes an average of 24 to 26 hours to play through. I made it through with a tidy completion time of 45 hours. So I figure for the game to really average out to 24 hours of game play, there has to be someone out there who blew through it in about 37 minutes. Glad you liked the graphic novel adaptation, and I hope you also checked out “Tales of the Wasteland,” the digital comics you could purchase through the Epic Mickey app.
And now, it’s time for a quick get-to-know-you question that we like to call “Behind the X.” I’ve read a bit about your publishing adventures with Crazy 8 Press, but I’d love to hear more. For those readers who are unaware, could you tell them what it is and any plans for 2012?
I should emphasize that Crazy 8 Press isn’t actually a publishing company. What it is, basically, is the brainchild of writer and friend Mike Friedman who — seeing the changing terrain and the explosion of ebooks — suggested that a group of us start publishing our own novels directly through such venues as Amazon and Barnes & Noble. This way we keep the rights, we set the prices, etc.
Crazy 8 doesn’t actually exist as a business; we each put out own novels through our respective corporations. Instead what we’re doing is pooling our social media resources so we can let each other’s audience know when we have books coming out. The full list of titles currently available can be found at our website at www.crazy8press.com. We led off with a new title from me, “The Camelot Papers,” which is available for Kindle or Nook and also as a trade paperback, all of which can be ordered online. (You won’t find them in book stores. Hell, these days it’s hard enough to find book stores.) In addition to titles from me and Mike, you can also find work from Bob Greenberger, Aaron Rosenberg, Howard Weinstein and Glenn Hauman (of Comicmix).
Currently out is a new edition of the first installment of a fantasy trilogy of mine, “The Hidden Earth.” Book 1, “Darkness of the Light,” is currently available exclusively through B&N and will go wide later this month. Following almost immediately after that is Book 2 of the series, “Height of the Depths,” long-delayed (through no fault of mine, which is a whole ‘nother story.) We’ll also be publishing my end up of vampire stories, “Pulling Up Stakes,” later this year, as well as further installments of the adventures of Sir Apropos of Nothing. I should also mention that The “Hidden Earth” novels, as well as “The Camelot Papers,” feature wonderful covers by J.K. Woodward, my artist from “Fallen Angel.” They’re worth it for the covers alone.
That wraps up today’s X-fun, but we’ll be back in seven days to wreak some havoc with the writer of “Deadpool” — Daniel Way! So those who want to know what’s on Deadpool’s mind(s) should whip up some quality queries and shoot me an email ASAP. Throw an “X-Position” in the subject line, and I won’t Facebook that picture of you from New Year’s Eve (you know the one!). Now get to it — I’m waiting…