When it comes to writing characters he’s passionate about, Marc Guggenheim is willing to cross “party” lines. As an executive producer on The CW’s “Arrow” and a member of the braintrust behind the upcoming spinoff “Legends of Tomorrow,” Guggenheim has had a big influence on the live-action portrayals of DC’s heroes. On the printed page, however, Guggenheim’s name can be found on Mavel series like “X-Men” and “X-Tinction Agenda” — not to mention the upcoming “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” series. For the massive, line-wide crossover “Secret Wars,” Guggenheim got to travel back in time a bit to the early ’90s and revisit the classic X-Men story “X-Tinction Agenda.”
This week, “X-Tinction Agenda” writer Guggenheim returns to X-POSITION and answers your questions about everything from the future of the book’s headlining mutants to the return of Ink and his own dream team of X-Men.
CBR News: Welcome back to X-POSITION, Marc! Let’s kick things off with a few questions about the cast of “X-Tinction Agenda,” starting with this Q from Joe.
I love how “X-Tinction Agenda” gives leading, star-caliber roles to perennially underused X-Men like Havok and Wolfsbane. I also don’t want this to end. Are these characters going back to limbo after this is done, or is there any chance that this series could bring them back as featured players?
Thanks for the kind words and, more importantly, for reading. To be honest, I don’t know what Marvel’s plans for the X-Men are post-“Secret Wars.” There are at least two characters in “X-Tinction Agenda” who are designed to make return appearances and it’s my hope that they do. And, of course, if readers like yourself make their feelings known to Marvel, then the chances go up exponentially. (And if your last name is “Quesada,” well, then you can definitely make it happen.)
Along those lines, MiddlePegasus has a question about how you picked the cast of “X-Tinction Agenda.”
How did you choose the leads in this book, Wolfsbane and Rictor and Karma? Did you pick them because you have an affinity for the lesser-used X-Characters? Or are those guys personal faves of yours?
I constructed “X-Tinction Agenda” to be a proper “sequel” to the original. I wanted to bring back a lot of the key players as the “leads” of the series. Havok, Wolfsbane and Rictor definitely fit that bill, along with Boom-Boom (who I’ve renamed “Bombshell” for the series because, y’know, Boom-Boom). As for Karma, I’m a big fan of the character and her power set helped solve a lot of story problems.
All that being said, yes, I have a great affinity for the lesser-used X-characters. The X-Men have such a deep, deep bench and there are a lot of unpolished gems to be found there.
On the opposite end from the book’s heroes is its villain, Cameron Hodge. Nix Uotan wants to know a bit more about the cyborg creep.
What makes Cameron Hodge an interesting villain to you and what do you think distinguishes him from the X-Men’s other villains?
I find Cameron’s naked racism refreshing (I just can’t wait for the internet to take that out of context). He’s pure evil, purely against mutants. He doesn’t want to take over the world or get rich; he’s not acting out of vengeance or avarice — he’s just a dyed-in-the-wool hate monger. While I don’t condone racism of any stripe, that’s a fun character to write. There’s a certain joy that comes with writing a villain that has no moral ambiguity to him/her. As a writer, I can just delight in Hodge’s uncomplicated villainy. And that animus certainly distinguishes him from the X-Men’s other adversaries over the years. Even William Stryker’s racism can be “justified” — oh boy, is this question gonna get me in trouble — by a perverted reading of scripture. Hodge has no such excuse. He’s just an out-and-out racist.
Yep, that sounds like a supervillain to me! And considering that Hodge played a huge role in the original “X-Tinction Agenda,” he had to come back again. JulEstrange has a question about some of the things you maybe didn’t bring back.
What themes and moments from the original “X-Tinction Agenda” did you want to make sure got included in this “Secret Wars” series? Was there anything you didn’t have room to bring in?
Great questions. I started out wanting to create a straightforward sequel to the original “X-Tinction Agenda.” To my mind, a great sequel takes the shape of the original story, but does something new and different to it. If I had to distill down the original “X-Tinction Agenda” to a very reductive pitch, it would be this: The Genoshans attack the X-Men’s headquarters; kidnap some; and the remaining X-Men invade Genosha to get them back. I started with the way the original “X-Tinction Agenda” ended, with Havok, Wolfsbane and Rictor electing to stay behind to rebuild the country. Now, that was a tricky proposition because if I was going to adhere to the aforementioned “formula,” I needed to come up with a reason why these characters — who are noble and pure characters — would ever attack their friends and former teammates.
When I first started discussing the project with [editors] Mike Marts and Katie Kubert, there had been some desire expressed to do something with the Legacy Virus. That notion promptly went away, but I guess the idea of some kind of mutant/mutate-killing contagion remained in my head. And it got me thinking: what if the mutants and mutates in Genosha were dying due to an incurable plague? Furthermore, what if the X-Men were refusing to help? Back when I was breaking the story, Africa was in the throes of a major Ebola outbreak and I was taken by how many western countries were worried about their doctors traveling to Sierra Leone to treat the disease, for fear that they might bring the virus back to their borders. In this, I felt that I had the rationale I needed for the X-Men to refuse aid to Genosha, thus placing Wolfsbane and Havok in the unenviable position of having to abduct their former comrades in order to save their adopted country.
With those high stakes, somacula has a straightforward question about the book’s lead.
Do you think Havok has failed his city?
No, I think he’s done pretty right by it.
Straightforward answer! Next, Craig has a question about one of the characters you plucked out of obscurity for the book.
I’ve been totally loving your “X-Tinction Agenda” book. It’s been the highlight of “Secret Wars” for me. I was so excited to find out Ink was included in the book and had more than just a brief cameo moment. So that leads me to my question: what for you makes Ink such a great character that you keep returning to him and if you ever did another X-book, would you like to further his character now he’s out of that coma?
First, thank you so much for the kind words. I’m humbled. And thanks for reading the series. Ink remains an all-time favorite among the concepts I’ve invented for comics. He’s also a blast to write. So, yes, if I’m ever given the opportunity, I always try to bring him back…
Master of Sound has a similar question about another lesser-known mutant and one you created.
We know Ink is a favorite character of yours, same for me, so thanks for using him once more. But how about Wicked. What is the reason for you to dust off this long forgotten mutant and use her again?
Glad you like Ink. Thank you. It’s fun for me to see him again. As for Wicked, I was looking for a deep cut — an obscure X-Man — to round out Genosha’s new Press Gang. I wanted a woman and I was scanning a list of X-Men members and hit upon her name. And her connection with Genosha made her a very sensible choice.
You designed Bulletproof for this story. He is a character I do like. What can you tell us about him that we can’t find in this mini? You have a back-story about him?
Glad you like him. There’s a lot more going on with him than the first three issues of the series would suggest. His ultimate trajectory isn’t realized until issue #4. I don’t want to spoil anything, but very soon “Bulletproof” won’t be his codename any more…
And Master of Sound rounds out the questions with a fun hypothetical.If you could write an X-book with your dream team of X-characters, who would you pick?
Ooo. That’s tough. To be fair, I should probably limit myself to five, since I consider that the optimal number for a team. But who am I kidding? This is the X-Men and keeping it to six is a stretch: Wolverine, Kitty Pryde, Colossus, Hank McCoy, Psylocke, and, of course, Ink.
Thanks to Marc Guggenheim for taking on this week’s questions!
Next week, X-Editors Daniel Ketchum and Christina Harrington return to X-POSITION to answer all your “All-New, All-Different Marvel” X-questions! Have a question for Daniel and Christina? Go ahead and send ’em in via an e-mail with the subject line “X-Position” or if 140 character questions are more your speed, try Twitter. But get ’em in quickly, because the deadline’s Friday. Make it happen!
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