It’s the end of an era for writer Kieron Gillen as last week’s “Uncanny X-Men” #20 marked both the end of the series and Gillen’s time with Marvel’s Merry Mutants. Following “Avengers Vs. X-Men,” Cyclops is in prison and his extinction team scattered to the four winds — but Gillen isn’t quite done with them yet. For the rest of the month, the writer explores the fallout of “AvX” in “AvX: Consequences” before he transitions into Marvel NOW! to chronicle the adventures of Tony Stark in “Iron Man” and assemble a new generation of heroes in “Young Avengers.”
In his final X-POSITION before moving on from the X-Universe to Marvel NOW!, Gillen answered a number of fan questions about his time with “Uncanny X-Men,” including his favorite single issue, the aftermath of “Avengers Vs. X-Men,” the exploration of the Marvel Universe in “Consequences,” characters he hopes to bring in for “Young Avengers” and his opinions on fan fiction.
Time_to_Zap kicks us off with a number of requests for a retrospective look back on your time with “Uncanny X-Men.”
I want to say to Mr. Kieron Gillen that I’ve loved his run on “UncannyÂ X-Men” so much, and hope to see moreÂ X-Men-related work from him again someday (but good luck with “Iron Man!”)â€¨
Kieron Gillen: Thank you!
â€¨1) It seems to me that Colossus is the only member of the Phoenix Five who truly regrets what the group did (Cyclops is unrepentant and Illyana doesn’t address it). Do you agree with this?â€¨
Well, Colossus does like having a big ol’ whine.
More seriously, I think you’re a little hard on the Phoenix Five. Colossus is most openly repentant, but just because Scott would do it all again doesn’t mean he doesn’t wish it went a different way. I’ve written him openly suicidal in “Consequences,” for example, and that’s not a man who is entirely at home with what he’s done. We’ve seen very little of Emma and absolutely nothing of Namor post-Phoenix Five. And even when we have seen them, they’re two incredibly proud individuals. Even if they did have regrets, who would they admit it to?
And Magik keeps her cards close to her chest. She kept the fact she was torturing her brother secret for 25 issues. Who knows what’s going on in the be-banged head of hers.
Go with me on the “Be-banged.”
â€¨2) Which arc (or, if you can narrow it down to a specific issue) are you most proud of out of your run on “Uncanny?”
I honestly dunno. I’m hypercritical of all my writing, so I have things I’m not particularly pleased with in all my arcs, some of which are on me and some of which are entirely beyond my control. Let’s say it’s a toss up between my “Fear Itself” arc and “This Strange Unpleasant Land.” Both had problems, but they hit most of what I wanted to do.
Narrowing it down to a specific issue actually makes it easier. I think my best work on “Uncanny” was the single issues. The .1, 544, 4, 14, 18, 19 and 20 are probably my best work on the book. Hell, the fact my single issues were so successful were one of the reasons why I went into a similarly pithy start to my “Iron Man” run.
If I had to choose one? Probably 14.â€¨â€¨3) There happens to be someÂ X-Men fanfiction on the CBR forums, which made me wonder, what’s your view on fanfiction? Some authors view it as a good way for amateur writers to develop their craft, while others feel offended that their characters are being used in a way that some might think resembles plagiarism.â€¨
It’s a legal minefield for a working writer. I literally can’t read any fanfic.
For everyone else? Honestly, you do what you’ve got to do. In a real way, it’s a relative waste of your time… but it’s your time to waste. All writing improves you, and while it would be better for you as a creative to build something of your own rather than an existing world as a prop, that’s a little like saying, “You should only eat bran breakfast cereal and you’re a fool if you want to nibble bacon.” If you’re loving it, you’re loving it. Enjoy yourself.
(I’d say this: I’d urge people to try and create their own setting which evokes what they love in other people’s settings. That’s a useful stepping stone. And, on a personal way, the only times I’ve ever written in someone else’s universe for kicks — which was normally linked to playing some manner of role-playing game set in there — I’ve only ever written my own characters in a setting.)
But honestly? That’s still Bran-flakes-style advice. If it feels good and hurts no one, do it.
And Jamie McKelvie and me always like to joke that we like to make our characters eminently suitable for a slash-ficcer’s attention.
The main joke being we’re not really joking.
4) Assuming they weren’t all on the run or imprisoned, what do you think the Extinction Team would be for Halloween?
â€¨They don’t need to wear costumes. They’re already feared enough already.
â€¨5) Do you have any advice to young/burgeoning writers out there, especially those who want to make a career of it in some form?
Well, I touched on some of it upthread. The simple advice is the one everyone says: just write. Don’t make excuses. Sit down and do it. Don’t be the guy in the pub talking about writing his novel. You’re only lying to yourself. Well… not just lying to yourself. Lying to other people in the pub with you, but you get the point.
I always find fear of death a great motivator. Of all the bits of advice I’ve heard, one which I think I got from Colleen Doran always seems to work. It’s primarily for artists, but works for writers too. In short: work out how much work you did in the last month. Multiply by 12. That’s how much you’ll do in a year. Multiply by 10. That’s how much you’ll do in ten years.
Most people who are aspiring creators and leaning towards the aspiring rather than the creator will lead to a tiny number. It’s a bit of a wake up call to realize in 10 years time you’ll have done just 60 pages. Or even none.
The excuse you make is, “It’s been a bad time.” This is, 99.9% of the time, an excuse.
If you do not fundamentally change your life to create space to create, you will never do it. I mean, having the fantasy of wanting to be a creative can be a wonderful succor, but that’s a world away from throwing big chunks of your social life on a pyre in worship of this strange and demanding god.
Oh — and in terms of being a professional writer? Or breaking into comics? Honestly, don’t worry about it. Worry about being good. If you’re good and get your work out there, breaking in generally solves itself. And if you’re not good enough, why on earth do you want to break in anyway?
â€¨6) What does Magneto believe in at this point in time? He originally joined theÂ X-Men because Scott united mutantkind, but now Scott’s arguably done great damage to it. Is Erik still loyal to him, and why? What’s his mental state at the moment?â€¨
You’ll see more of Magneto in “Consequences” shortly, but while he’s certainly hurt mutants’ reputation, he’s also brought them back. There will be a future mutant race. You have to suspect that Magneto will respect that.
â€¨Marcus has a hankering for some background on “Consequences” and the future of the X-Men post-“AvX.”â€¨â€¨Before I begin, let me just say that you are a very talented writer who brings in some great stories, especially within the “Thor” mythos.â€¨
â€¨1) Both Iron Man and Cyclops have recently beenÂ shown as heroesÂ who would do whatever it takes to win, even if it means becoming the very monsters that they fight against. Since you’re writing both of them in “Consequences,” will you show the different between the two heroes?â€¨
Tony’s part in “Consequences,” as well as foreshadowing some of the things I’m doing to him in my “Iron Man” run, is used for a different purpose than the straight compare/contrast. I agree with your point, but that’s not where I’m using them, mainly as Tony’s own ends-justify-the-means moment was a little back. I’m much more interested in the — ahem — consequences of “AvX.”
â€¨2) Could Deadpool be making a cameo appearance in “Consequences” given his ties to theÂ X-Men, Cable and even Hope?â€¨
I’ve just realized I’ve never written Deadpool. I totally should have written him in.
Â â€¨3) Cable was the one who warned Cyclops of the “war with the Avengers.” Now that the fighting is over and that Cable is awake and learned that Hope did her thing, will he be a bit upset over how things turned out for Cyclops and theÂ X-Men?â€¨Â
Good questions all. The mystery of what Cable is up to is one of the bigger subplots in “Consequences.” You’ll get some answers, though not everything. Cable is mysterious like that. I suspect you’ll want to look closely at what [“Cable and X-Force” writer] Dennis Hopeless is up to.
4. Why is Namor hiding out in the ocean in the pages of Consequences? Didn’t he realize the cost of his actions over his attack on Wakanda,Â even if heÂ was partly influenced by the Phoenix Force?â€¨
Assuming that Captain America is right about Namor’s location, they’re all good questions. You have to suspect that he’s all too aware of where the situation is now, and is laying low until he figures out what to do next.
I mean, I would.
â€¨Along with some burning questions about “Uncanny” and “AvX: Consequences,” Michael B. wants some teases about “Young Avengers.”â€¨â€¨Hi Kieron, My name’s Michael and I think your “Uncanny” run has been the best for a very long time.
You’re the best too, Michael, etc.â€¨â€¨1) Did you come up with the moment at the end of “Uncanny” #19 where Scott makes theÂ XÂ sign with his wrists? One of the all time iconicÂ X-Men moments for me.
I knew as soon as I came onto the book that, at the end, Scott went to jail saying he’d do it all again. But the X-symbol wasn’t actually mine. First I heard of it was Axel [Alonso] at a summit, talking about the end, and casually dropped it. Was it Axel’s? Was it someone else at a meeting I’d missed? Who knows? But I knew it was right, and when I saw that Jason [Aaron] hadn’t used it in “AvX” #12, I pretty much grabbed it and wrestled it to the ground.â€¨â€¨2) In “AvX Consequences,” will we see anyone challenge Captain America about his role in “AvX?” It seems he has gotten away without any reproach for his role in escalating the conflict.â€¨
In short: no. At least, not much more than he already has. Due to it happening at the same time as “Uncanny Avengers,” it meant that a lot of elements involving those characters were off over there, meaning it was kind of extraneous to repeat them.
I’d admit it’s a notch more X-Men than Avengers, but — in a real way — there’s more consequences for the X-Men the Avengers. It doesn’t matter how questionable you may find Cap. He won.
â€¨3) You’ve mentioned in interviews that “Young Avengers” will touch on various areas of the teen Marvel Universe. With that in mind is there any chance you could use some of the NewÂ X-Men? They have been rather neglected the last few years and some such as Anole, Surge, Dust and Hellion have a lot of character potential.â€¨
I mention this elsewhere, but — in short — I have my eye on a few of them. Really, it’s a case of complimenting the characters I have existing. To choose one from you listed that I’m not going to use in the short term: Hellion. When I’ve got several slightly temperamental characters on the team, Hellion sort of repeats a chunk of those character beats. Frankly, if I went for Hellion, I’d be stabbed by all the fans of Speed for not using him.
(I stress I’m not saying they’re exactly the same character. Just that in terms of rebellious team irritant, there’s a bit of crossover.)
Emerald_616 plays a game of “What If…?” with “Uncanny X-Men” and echoes the sentiments of adding more X-Teens to “Young Avengers.”â€¨â€¨I’m sorry to see you leave Mr. Gillen. Your work in theÂ X-Corner has been such a great read. I especially loved the Magnus-Storm-Betsy frenemy trio.â€¨
Thank you. I had lots of fun with them too.
â€¨1) In an interview, I read that there was supposed to be a “Third Act” to your Extinction Team story that was curtailed by Marvel NOW! What are some of the things you wanted to explore post-“AvX,” and which characters would they have focused more upon?â€¨
I always said the third act was kind of hypothetical, for the (now obvious) reason that there was always a chance that Marvel NOW! would solidify and I’d be off “Uncanny X-Men.” Really, there was a few ways to take it. One way was a hyper-idealistic team. The other was an extremely dark one. Oddly, that’s exactly what Brian [Michael Bendis] is doing — and, in fact, both routes at once.
And clearly I’d have pulled the pin on the floating hand grenade called UNIT.
â€¨2.) “Young Avengers” looks amazing! Is there any chance we’ll see any of the New/YoungÂ X-Men or GenHope-ers join the team?â€¨
I have firm plans for one character. I’d also like to use a second if I can find place. And maybe more, down the line.â€¨
Agent of X continues the “What If…?” question vibe with a query about character choice.â€¨â€¨What are someÂ X-Characters you wish you could have gotten to write? Any favoriteÂ X-Villains you’d like to write one day?â€¨â€¨I think I got most of them, actually. Off the top of my head: Spiral and Mystique. And Dazzler. Also, I never had a chance to write the Penny Newman story I wanted to drop.
If Nightcrawler wasn’t dead, Nightcrawler. Cable and Bishop, with regards to Hope. And I always had my eye on Prodigy, in terms of the younger team members who always had their eyes on bigger things.
But I was always more likely to make up new villains than have an old one return.
The next bit of questions come from Renaldo, who has a lot of love for “Consequences,” despite his lack of fandom over “AvX.”
Hi Mr. Gillen, 1) Loved “AvX: Consequences” but wasn’t a huge fan of “AvX.” So I ask, how did you view Scott Summers as you wrote this epilogue: a villain or an anti-hero? I ask this as I sensed a duality as Rogers and Logan spoke on how to chart forward for mutants!â€¨
I view Scott as the tragic hero of my run. He got everything he wanted at the expense of everything he once held dear. That’s a punch in the gut. He was a fantastic character to write.
2) Would you consider Cyclops possessed or do you write him as one who evolved into this cynical megalomaniac (as “Fear Itself” teased with Scott dressed as Magneto)?
I think Scott’s route to where he is now was taken a step at a time. I don’t think he’s Magneto, even now. I think there’s still a sliver of idealism in him — which is something I explore in “Consequences.”
You’re right to bring up the concept of possession though — how much is Scott to blame for it? I’ve said that Logan considers he really is, as he was of his right mind as he went along that road. But, once he’s started, he’s definitely being influenced. That Scott held himself together for as long as he did is no small thing.
I suppose the bigger question is what he does now.
â€¨3) With “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Nova” back, and seeing that you dabbled with the Phoenix, do you think that “S.W.O.R.D.” could resurface as a title?â€¨
You never know. I suspect not, however. I think they play better as supporting characters.
Oh — Abigail gets a few scenes in “Consequences.” Sydren too, for that matter.
â€¨4) Finally, with “Iron Man” on your table, plus “Young Avengers,” what’s it like to be with Jamie McKelvie again?â€¨
Oh, Renaldo. I spend so much time making jokes about how it’s Hell on Earth, I have trouble actually being sincere.
Honestly, it’s a lot of fun. It seems oddly over-due. Jamie and I have been partners in crime so long, it feels strange that only now do we get to rebuild a Marvel book from the ground up to represent our vision of how superhero books could be.
I think people will like it.
Taariq has a question about Scott Summers’ stance in “Avengers Vs. X-Men.”
â€¨Hi Kieron, I really enjoyed your run on “UncannyÂ X-Men” and it’s sad to see you leave.â€¨
You are also very kind.
â€¨Do you think Scott was wrong in his stance in “AvX?”â€¨
Scott was right in many ways. However it’s also worth stressing — and I suspect this is the thing which most pro-Scott advocates are skirting over — is that if we did everything like Scott said, the Earth would have been destroyed. Hope wasn’t ready. She was ready eventually but that required time.
(That said, there’s also the reading that Hope was always fine and could have dealt with it if she had too. I think that’s a bit of a reach — but we’ll never know.)
Scott’s position was always a fatalistic, providence-heavy one. The Avengers’ resistance was all part of the universal plan. Scott taking the Phoenix for as long as he did allowed Hope to be ready. It all worked out.
That’s the thing which makes Scott’s mono-vision more questionable, for me. By believing it all worked out in the end does mean you remove the possibility that it could have worked out in a better way.
Though I suppose when you’ve killed your mentor and father figure, that’s a question you may want to avoid for as long as possible.
Derek wraps up Kieron’s final X-Position with a look back at some of his favorite moments of “Uncanny X-Men.”â€¨â€¨
1) I was quite shocked by Wolverine’s comment to Cyclops in “AvX: Consequences” #1 about Scott being a murderer. Isn’t that a bit of hypocritical of Wolverine of all people? He must be responsible for more loss of human life on Earth 616 at this stage than syphilis (and he’s probably spread a lot of that too)! You’d think a guy known for his berserker rages of all people would be able to understand how Scott could lose control given the circumstances.â€¨
If you were cruel, you could say that Wolverine’s always been a hypocrite on the point of violence. He does it so other people don’t have to. So he’s disappointed in Scott that he’s acting like he is.
But you’ll have read Issue #2 by now. Logan’s point isn’t that he lost control — but that he took a route that Scott knows would ultimately lead to a loss of control. He did that when he was in control. If you decide to get drunk and get in a car, you’re responsible. For Logan, Scott put himself in a position where the equivalent of a berserker rage was inevitable.
However, as we go through “Consequences,” the relationship is more complicated than that. In some ways, it’s almost like “Schism II.” It’s a story that has the fencing between the two men right at its heart, for what it means to be a mutant going forward.
â€¨2) You mentioned you’re working Marvel Style in “Young Avengers.” You’ve talked at length about this method of working on your podcasts with other writers. I’m curious about what you personally see as the strengths and weakness of this method now that you’ve had the chance to put it into practice?â€¨
It’s based on trust with the artist. Which isn’t just knowing that they’re good — it’s also knowing they’re on the same wavelength as you. It’s something I’d advise people to work towards if they’re going to try it rather than diving straight in.
I mean, “Uncanny” #14 was full script. But Dustin Weaver was more than happy to add a bunch of panels to it. He used my script as a blueprint and elaborated wildly. It’s about attitude as much as the methodology for writing it.
â€¨3) Any chance you’d spoil the tone of what that voice that may or may not have been Jean’s in “UncannyÂ X-Men” #19? Accusatory or just some gentle mocking?â€¨
I don’t think I’d want to provide footnotes to an enigmatic, infinite cosmic force. You should wonder. Hell, Cyclops should too.
â€¨4) That scene with Magik and Colossus in “UncannyÂ X-Men” #18 was sooooooo satisfying. I felt she had gotten the least amount of attention of the main cast during your run. Had you been holding back on that nugget with her all along?â€¨
I knew what Magik was up to from the first scene I wrote her in. And I was aware that I got some criticism as we went along that Magik’s characterization was solely to prop up Colossus’ arc. It’s only at the final reveal that people realized that Colossus’ arc was Magik’s arc. It was about her as much as him. I’d suspect a whole bunch of those scenes read differently in retrospect.
I actually tried to alleviate Magik’s scant emotional beats by giving her some of the best visuals in the run. I had a lot of fun with all the multi-disc tactics. She was also, in action, one of the most competent of the team.
â€¨5) One of the gems of your series was the surprisingly amazing double act that was Magneto and Psylocke. I would never had put those character together. What was it about you those two together that interested you?â€¨
That grew out of the secret of Tabula Rasa in “X-Force.” Magneto was the only person to know about X-Force. So when they go into Tabula Rasa, it made a lot of sense to pair them together, and the rest of history.
As I’ve said before, Psylocke, Magneto and Storm really were the Greek chorus to the run. I was trying to get the three of them together in “Consequences” one last time, but it didn’t quite line up. But there is one last dance of Storm and Magneto, which ties it off in a way that makes me smile.
â€¨6) Any chance we might some Magneto/Polaris or Scott/Havok/Rachel before everyone goes on the run?
Though I do like that my last X-Position ends with someone asking whether one of their favorite characters will get some face-time soon. Never change, X-Position.
(I actually tried to get Havok a small part in “Consequences,” but that he’s doing so much in “Uncanny Avengers” kind of made it extraneous.)
Not quite the last question because we’ve still got our Behind the X query: With Halloween fast approaching, what candy is your favorite to hand out to trick-or-treaters?
“Candylion,” the lovely Gruff Rhys solo album.
Or “Candy Says” by the VU, I guess.
A very special thanks to Kieron Gillen for this and all other X-Positions during his time with the X-Men!
Next week, X-Position hosts the ever-interesting “X-Factor” scribe Peter David for all questions regarding Jamie Madrox and his rag-tag bunch of mutant investigators. If you’ve got a question, go ahead and drop me an email with the subject line “X-Position,” or if you can fit your question in 140 characters or less, feel free to use Twitter. Do it to it!