Welcome back to CBR’s X-POSITION, our weekly discourse on all things’ X-Men related! Since Jamie Madrox formed X-Factor Investigations, the team has gone through a number of changes. From Mutant Town to New York City, from present to distant future and through a number of roster changes and dramatic twists, X-Factor continues to persevere as a detective agency in a world that hates and fears mutants.
Continuing to chart the course for “X-Factor” is writer Peter David, who brought a plethora of answers to fan questions for this week’s back and forth, including queries on the current status of the main characters, Havok’s transition to “Uncanny Avengers,” Strong Guy’s lack of soul and the future of the team.
Justin kicks this week’s inquiries off with some specific questions about Lorna Dane and speedster Quicksilver.
I look forward to your origins story for Lorna in a little over a month. I do have two questions:
1. What interests you in Lorna as a character?
Honestly, Justin, one of the big reasons is that, due to multiple writers all having their own take on her, her character has been kind of all over the place for years now. I consider that kind of character to be a challenge: to look at all that’s been done and see if there’s a way to weave it all together so that the next developments with her seem organic and reasonable, rather than just deciding to zig where the previous writer zagged. We should be seeing character evolution, not a progression that seems like it was spawned by the Monty Python argument clinic (“She’s Magneto’s daughter!” “No, she’s not.” “Yes, she is! He said so!” “It was an android.” “Was not!”
2. Given the Avengers and the X-Men are now merging, will we see more Avengers characters like Quicksilver with prior links to X-Factor showing up?
It would certainly seem that an appearance by Pietro would be inevitable, but only if I can make it seem a natural development rather than, “We’ve got Quicksilver for an issue!”
Marcus has a few questions about “Avengers Vs. X-Men” and the girl who “knows stuff,” Layla Miller.
1. Even though some members of the team are involved in the event, where would you feel X-Factor’s loyalties lie in “Avengers Vs. X-Men?”
I actually think, Marcus, their loyalties would be to the Avengers at this point, because I think they’d all be skeeved by the Phoenix-influenced development of their friends, co-workers, and in at least one case, brother. They’ve been through the mill too many times not to be alert to the notion that power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
2. Given her partial role in all of this, how would Layla Miller see the events of “Avengers Vs. X-Men,” given she is partly responsible for some of it?
I think it’s a stretch to say she’s partly responsible. Yes, there are ties as a result of House of M, but I’ve already steered away from the Scarlet Witch connection because, honestly, I didn’t want to root her origins so thoroughly into a single event. I wanted her to exist as more of her person than as a manifestation of the Scarlet Witch (as some people saw her.) Layla didn’t summon the Phoenix Force, Layla didn’t push the X-Men to keep Hope from the Avengers. So I really don’t see it.
3. Do you have any upcoming work within the Marvel NOW! status quo?
Not at the moment.
Derek has a laundry list of questions about Polaris, Havok, creative process and the whole of X-Factor Investigations.
1) You’ve hinted that Polavok might split in the past. A pattern I’ve noticed with Havok is that outside of Polaris, all of his serious relationships have been with women that either had a child or took care of one (Madelyne Pryor, Annie and “Mutant X” Elektra). It seems the orphan in him is really seeking a ready made family. Is this want something you would feel is in alignment with a post-Genoshan Genocide Polaris?
That’s a great question, Derek. And after giving it a great deal of thought, I’ve decided my answer is…maybe.
2) You’ve mentioned that the “X-Factor” cast is going to be trimmed down. Was this an organic decision or were you responding to some criticism that the cast had gotten too big? How did you decide which ones to lose when you clearly care about every member of the cast so much?
I absolutely do not give a damn about that criticism because it’s unfounded and ridiculous. Utopia had nearly two hundred people populating it. Other X-titles easily have had just as many, if not more, characters. Why fans apparently zero in on X-Factor to complain about is, to me, less a valid criticism and more a case of that some fans just want something to complain about. As for which characters stayed and went, it was based entirely on how their particular storylines developed. At no time did I say, “Okay, I’m getting rid of this guy, this guy and this guy, and now I have to figure out why and how.”
3) I thought the Killcrop/Changeling was an interesting concept that you introduced. Is this something that might come up again? Maybe in an origin story for a certain green haired mutant?
Interesting you should ask, and I can only point you to Issue #243 for some answers.
4) At this point in your career you’ve written extensively for both of the major publishers notably with “Aquaman,” “Supergirl,” “Hulk” and “X-Factor” (twice). From the perspective of a writer, in what way do you think DC and Marvel’s creative approach internally differs from each other, if at all? Also, how has the creative approach of the X-Office differed for you the second time around?
Honestly, it’s been so long since I’ve worked for DC, I have no idea what their creative approach is right now. I know that at Marvel, to my perception, the approach is very writer driven. The editors are there to guide, to suggest, and, naturally, to protect the long-term interests of the characters. But there’s much less a sense of, “Okay, we’re going to put a gun to your head and make you get involved in a crossover.” Marvel editorial seems much more responsive to the individual needs of the writers.
5) Where you aware of the plans for Havok to go to Uncanny Avengers from the get-go?
From the get-go? No. I had the impression (correctly) that we wouldn’t have H&P for an indefinite period of time. So I wasn’t making any incredibly long-term plans with them. However once I knew what the status quo would be, I could nail down long-term angles.
6) You have a very established history with artist Leonard Kirk from “Supergirl.” What’s it been like working with after so long on your first team book together?
It’s been great. Leonard can draw just about anything I toss at him, which is a tremendously secure position to be in. He’s a thorough master of storytelling, and considering that I’ve worked with artists where I couldn’t tell what was going on in a page that I wrote, that’s a huge relief.
7) With X-Factor approaching nearly 100 issues as there been any issue that stands out to you as a highlight from the run?
Any issue that the fans love is a highlight for me.
Time_to_Zap has some queries about specific members of the cast — including the relationship between Layla and Monet and the current consequences of Guido’s lack of soul.
First off, I’d like to say how glad I am that Rahne has overcome her prejudice and struck up such a strong friendship with Rictor and Shatterstar. I thought it was an inspiring message that people can change and learn to understand, so thank you for that.
1) I liked the development a couple of issues back with Layla Miller telling Monet that they were destined to become best friends; it struck me that the moment shows how lonely Layla must feel sometimes, to reach out in that way. Do you think Layla is lonely, in the traditional sense of the word? Does she need or want friends?
I think she absolutely does, Zap. She wants friends, security, and love as much as anyone else. Which I think is impressive, because having knowledge of what will happen is a double edged sword: It brings peace because you know the good things that will happen, and despair because tragedy looms inevitably around the corner and she knows it’s coming.
2) I’m a little unclear on what Guido’s lack of a soul means for him, emotionally. He clearly has feelings for Monet, based on the date, but is he still capable of experiencing happiness, anger, etc.?
Sure. My feeling is that the lack of soul indicates a lack of a positive moral center. Guido has feeling for Monet. The question is, would he feel there are lines he cannot cross in order to pursue her? Would he start stalking her? Would he try to force himself on her? Would he display sociopathic behavior? The answer to all those questions may well be yes.
3) Your dialogue has always come across as very natural and realistic-sounding. Any suggestions for writers trying to work on that aspect of their craft?
Read your dialogue out loud. You’d be amazed how much bad dialogue that will weed out.
4) Why did you decide to take Rahne’s child out of the picture, via her rejection of him (at least for a few arcs; she is, of course, now going to find him)? Did you not want to have a child in X-Factor’s ranks?
Pretty much. But I had a built in aging factor for the character; I could bring him up to a more manageable age from a writing point of view pretty quickly.
5) Why is Havok staying on X-Factor? The need for him as a leader is gone, and the team hasn’t exactly been welcoming, seeming to much prefer Jamie. Does he not know where else to go?
I think it’s more along the lines of that he made a commitment and therefore doesn’t want to walk away from it. I think he also feels that he can really do a better job of leading than Madrox.
6) Any chance Hrimhari will show up?
Twitter user @AGonzalez112 wants to know a bit more about Strong Guy and his loss of soul.
1) Are we going to see the villains that came from Madrox’s reality-hopping adventure in our 616?
Yup. Next issue, in fact.
2) Your story for Strong Guy has been intriguing. How did you come up with the consequences of not having a soul?
I’ve known a few people in my life, AG, who I truly believe are devoid of compassion, caring and social graces. I pretty much based him on them.
.AÂ² has some pointed inquiries about the future of X-Factor investigations and the inter-connectedness of the team with other aspects of the X-Universe.
The October solicitation left me feeling sick to the stomach. I’m incredibly excited for Breaking Points, but the thought of anyone (besides Alex) leaving X-Factor is gut-wrenching. With Darwin appearing on the horizon, I’m sure he’ll be there to help make up the numbers, but is there a chance that any upcoming vacancies might be filled by other characters? New Mutants is coming to an end, might it be time for Rahne to rekindle some old friendships?
Well, A2, you’re assuming that Rahne will be part of the team’s final composition. If she does, then I think it’s safe to say that some of the old crew from New Mutants might swing by.
I’ve really enjoyed seeing X-Factor open up lines of communication between themselves and the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning. Any chance Jamie might develop some kind of internship program? Ernst would make a lovely file clerk.
No plans for that at this time, sorry.
Where do Pip’s loyalties lie? Hela seemed to think he was working as mole for Agamemnon, but with him dead, is he now a free Troll? Can he be trusted? Layla seemed not to think so.
Funny you should ask. A Pip-heavy issue will be coming up in #246. So give that a read.
Will we find out what exactly transpired between Layla and Shatterstar in Latveria, and will it upset Rictor?
I think we’ll find out eventually, but honestly, I doubt Rictor will get that upset. He knows what he’s gotten into with Shatterstar.
Damian Tryp claims both he and Jamie are changelings, born with their powers. Polaris was born with green hair, and the plane crash that killed her mother soon after left wreckage that was highly magnetised. Might there be some common ground here?
There might indeed. Again, I point you to X-Factor #243, surely to be a major point of debate among Lorna fans.
Finally, have we seen the last of Feral? Is she still watching over Rahne’s son? What will it take for her deal to be fulfilled?
We haven’t seen the last of Feral, but she won’t be factoring into Breaking Points, mostly because we had so much going on that we didn’t have room for her. And if you have Feral in an issue, you have to make room. She’s not real good at taking a back seat.
A very special thank you to Peter David for giving some stellar answers to this week’s questions!
Be sure to tune in next week when X-POSITION takes a whack at “Wolverine” writer Cullen Bunn. Got a question for Cullen about the ol’ Canucklehead? Send ’em my way with “X-POSITION” in the subject line or if you can ask your question in 140 characters or less, hit me up on Twitter!
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