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X-POSITION: “X-Men ’92” Writers Rap About Mutants & Mall Babes

by  in Comic News Comment
X-POSITION: “X-Men ’92” Writers Rap About Mutants & Mall Babes

Thanks to the universe-merging events of “Secret Wars,” many alternate realties and status quos are being revisited in dozens of newly launched Marvel Comics series. There’s one “Secret Wars” series that longtime X-Men fans will be particularly interested in — “X-Men ’92.” The series, written by Chad Bowers and Chris Sims with art by Scott Koblish, takes Marvel’s mutants back to their early ’90s heyday and features the roster, costumes and — fingers crossed — catch phrases that mutated a whole generation of fans into X-Men devotees.

Unlike the rest of Marvel’s “Secret Wars” offerings, “X-Men ’92” is an Infinite Comic — meaning that its reading experience has been uniquely crafted to best fit digital reading devices. Fans eager to check out this method of storytelling can pre-order the series now; print collections of the digital-first chapters will be released on a monthly schedule.

’90s Animated X-Men Return in Digital-First “X-Men ’92”

This week, “X-Men ’92” co-writers Chad Bowers and Chris Sims make their X-POSITION debut and answer your questions about everything from Jean Grey’s role in the new series to the likelihood of guest stars showing up (spoiler: it’s very likely).

CBR News: Hello Chad and Chris, and welcome to X-POSITION! Judging by the volume of questions we had this week, I think it’s safe to say people are looking forward to this series. Let’s not waste any more time and jump right in with a question from Anduinel about the series’ concept.

Is “X-Men ’92” intended to be a continuation of the ’90s cartoon, a redo of the ’90s X-Men comics, or a bit from both columns?

Chad Bowers: Chris and I looked at the entirety of X-Men in the ’90s, and really tried to distill all of it down into one big, gigantic story. So, naturally, it’s influenced by the cartoon and the comics — which are no doubt the two biggest voices of that era — but there’s also the toys, video games, the trading cards, and the list goes on and on. It’s all in there!

Chris Sims: If anything, it’s a direct sequel to those comics you could get at Pizza Hut.

Next, MiddlePegasus wants to properly prep for the comic’s release.

To get psyched for “X-Men ’92,” what episodes of the ’90s cartoon do you suggest people watch in order to get what you’re going for with this series?

Bowers: Hmmm, “Night of the Sentinels,” obviously. I mean, it’s where everything starts. It’s got that “wow” factor of the X-Men are on TV, which I guess we all probably take a little bit for granted these days. Outside that, I’d say also give the “Beyond Good and Evil” saga a try, because it’s hilariously awful.

Sims: When I went back and watched “Night of the Sentinels” a few years back, I was surprised at how much of my mental image of the X-Men came directly from watching that VHS tape (also picked up at Pizza Hut) over and over when I was a kid. I mean, it’s got everything you want out of the ’90s X-Men! Sentinels attack the mall! Wolverine punches Cyclops in the stomach and then hacks up his car! Two of the best Jubilee lines ever — “Does a mall babe eat chili fries?” and, after she blows up a video game and the guy at the arcade asks her if she knows how much it costs, “Yeah — a quarter!” It’s so great. I’m a pretty big fan of that one where the Wild Man of Borneo, uh, I mean Cable, shows up on Genosha, too. The way that show treats Master Mold, he is the least threatening villain of all-time. A big ol’ robot with the power of pregnancy.

Considering how much fun it is to joyfully riff on the animated series, Beezzi has a question about the Infinite Comic’s tone.

Some fans are worried that this book might be more of a “spoof” of the era and be played for laughs. What will the overall tone of the book be like? Is this a fair representation of our favorite characters?

Sims: I don’t think I’d go as far as calling it a parody. I mean, we’re definitely writing some jokes in there, and there are definitely funny bits, but that mostly comes from us just having a good time thinking about how much we loved (and love) those comics. I mean, you can’t see Cable in “X-Cutioner’s Song” growling about how he’s going to go face Stryfe “Man to man and — quite literally — face to face!” without thinking it’s kind of hilarious, right? That’s the attitude we’re going for.

Bowers: Y’know… because they have the same face [laughs]. But I’d say it’s more tribute than anything else. If you’ve read our other stuff, you know we like to have a good time and enjoy the more absurd side of comics. And really, what’s more absurd than this guy:

Sims: At the end of the day, we definitely hope we’ve got a good story at the core, but yeah, there’s comedy in there too. Come out to Westchester, have a few laughs.

Unlike the rest of the “Secret Wars” launches, this one’s hitting digital platforms first. Bafflement has a question about “X-Men ’92’s” format.

This book is distinct in that it’s getting a digital release long before physical publication. Do you have any idea why Marvel chose “X-Men ’92” for this experimental release plan? Did you have a say in the matter?

Bowers: Nope. Not really. If I had to guess, Marvel probably recognizes how many people, in and out of comics, recognize the X-Men as they were in the 90s — those suits, man — and with those front and center, and by making it something you don’t necessarily have to go to a comic store to get, they’re looking for maximum reach. In the same way the X-Men of the ’90s weren’t just in comics, y’know?

Sims: When Marvel came to us, they knew already that they wanted to do it as an Infinite Comic first, and it’s been a really interesting experience. It’s our first time writing “Marvel Style,” doing the plot first and then dialogue after; all the digital scene transitions and overlay stuff come from Scott Koblish, who’s amazing. I do not envy him for having to figure out how to make it work digitally and in print with the stuff we’re giving him, but he’s doing it. He’s been great to work with.

Next up, MallBabe wants to know if we’ll be seeing other characters in the “X-Men ’92” universe.

Are we going to get to see “X-Men ’92” versions of other characters that didn’t appear on the cartoon, like other Marvel heroes or post-’90s X-Men?

Sims: Oh yeah. X-Force shows up in Chapter 5 of the Infinite Comic, issue #3 of the print edition, and there’s a much bigger roster of characters showing up in the background than you might think. Plus there’s… well, I guess that’d be a spoiler if I said. You’ll know by the end of the first issue that we’re going for a villain that the ’90s X-Men never fought.

Speaking of that, Master of Sound has a question about this series’ villains.

Besides the ’92 X-Men and X-Force, can we expect some villains as well? I would love to see some typical ’90s villains like the Dark Riders or Acolytes. Will we be treated to one of those or other villains of that era?

Bowers: Son, they’re all in there. The Dark Riders, the Acolytes, the Imperial Guard, who else, Chris…?

Sims: The MLF shows up!

Bowers: And they probably wish they hadn’t. Ouch.

A lot of people are very psyched to see the ’92 version of X-Force show up. CraigTheCylon has a question about this team.

This is likely jumping the gun, but thanks to the August solicits we know you’re debuting a new X-Force team in #3. Without spoilers, how did you arrive at this particular (awesome) line-up for the team?

Bowers: I’m really enjoying people’s excitement over this new X-Force team. We’ve basically recreated X-Force in the image of the era. While I’m a huge fan of the original X-Force run, the New Mutant graduates always felt, to me, very ’80s despite their radical upgrades. I wanted our version to really look like something that someone would create with hindsight. So what’ve we got? Basically, it’s a team of Wolverines, y’know? It’s all the mutants with pretty cool powers going into it — with the exception of Angel… sorry — who’ve decided to use gigantic guns and swords instead.

Kuwagaton has a question regarding Chris Sims’ well known… opinion… regarding one particular X-Man.

Chris, at this point you’re as close to an expert on the cartoon as anyone knows, but it doesn’t seem like you came away from the series with any newfound appreciation for Cyclops. In regards to this series, what’s your take on the character?

Sims: The funny thing is that Cyclops is actually Chad’s favorite X-Man, so I think we’ve found a balance. The one thing we agreed on at the start, though, is that he is No Fun. For good or ill, he is all business, all the time — he’s never done anything but be an X-Man, so it’s really all he knows how to do. But that actually makes him really fun to write. You’ve got people flying around, cutting up robots with claws, blowing things up with explosive playing cards and shooting fireworks out of their hands, and then there’s this guy off to the side with his arms crossed insisting that none of this is cool or fun, it’s just The Job They Have To Do. He’s a hoot.

The Thunderbird has a question about another X-Man — Jean Grey.

What kind of role will Jean Grey play in the X-Men ’92 series? She is one of my favorite characters and it’s been so long since the adult version was last seen in main Marvel continuity. Also will she be more similar to how she was in the cartoon or the comics? Throughout the ’90s Jean was pretty useless in the cartoon for the most part while the comic version was more competent and powerful at the time.

Sims: Not gonna lie, Jean was probably the hardest one to write, for me at least. The ’90s are such a weird time for her. So much of what we think about her character is stuff from the ’80s, and in the ’90s, she felt like she was still trying to redefine her character without the Phoenix. She didn’t even have a codename! But then that kind of became the core of how we thought about her, and her struggle to get past this identity comes up pretty big in chapter 5.

Bowers: Yeah, we both really like Jean, too, but it’s sometimes hard to get around the fact that, in the 90s, she spends an awful lot of time just being Cyclops’ fiancee. The show did her no favors, either, and if I’m not wrong — correct me if I am, Chris — but she’s the only character who doesn’t get a solo episode, which really hangs a light on what they thought about her at the time. But she’s got the deepest connection to the X-Men, in some ways… being kind of the original outsider. So we kept that in mind, and make her quite the strategist, I think. I’m not going to say she’s badass, because you’d never believe me, but wait ’til you read chapters 5 and 6.

Sims: Outside of that wedding issue — “X-Men” #30, right? — I never really liked Jean and Scott’s relationship when I was a kid. I was much more into Rogue and Gambit. But then writing them, I realized that you have this guy who has this defined identity that he can never really get away from, being the X-Man, Charles’s most overachieving student, and this woman who has this identity that everyone’s putting on her because of some weird space thing that came down, dressed in her clothes, stole her memories, and then blew up a bunch of stuff. Jean’s in this weird position where maybe that power is still inside her, trying to get out and define her identity in a way she doesn’t want. That makes them an interesting pair when it comes to figuring out what they want.

Bowers: There’s a couple Jean-related missteps of that era we try and overcome in ’92, I think. And I don’t want to give too much away, obviously, but look — she needs a codename. And so I think we kind of bring that back into the picture, just like the comics did in the latter half of the ’90s.

Sims: That said, when we start off, she’s very much that ’90s Jean Grey that I think we’d all recognize — again, for good or ill.

Cyclops and Gambit aren’t the only ’90s X-Men that fans are asking about. Neko wants to know how you will write the X-Men’s Ragin’ Cajun, Gambit.

Looking forward to this book the most. Will Gambit be the mysterious guy he should be? And how much of a wild card type role do you have planned for Gambit?

Sims: Gambit will be a scumbag.

“Everyone can relax. Gambit… will be a scumbag.” Now that I’ve filled my “X-Men” Paraphrase Quota, we can move on to a question from FlawedCoil82 about the characters’ iconic looks.

Will all the team members be keeping their early ’90s uniforms (unlike the disgraceful “X-Men Forever” title which forcibly changed them) through this book’s entire run? I remember on the episode recaps where Chris said he hated Jean’s costume in particular, so that worried me.

Bowers: Costumes, mostly, are staying the same. I mean, really, that’s why we’re here, right — for those ’90 suits. But there’s a slight bit of updating that goes on for one character’s look, but I won’t say who.

Sims: Yeah, they’re definitely hanging onto that ’90s aesthetic. Basically, they’re gonna look like those Toy Biz action figures. Get ready for the return of Spy Wolverine!

As if people weren’t already on board for this series — ! Lastly, The S0//@7ic Si//[]Dl370n wants to know about the X-Men’s travel plans.

Are you guys going to explore more of the obscure parts of the cartoon universe that played key roles in the cartoon, such as the Mojoverse, the Savage Land, and other similar parts of said universe?

Sims: Our original pitch actually did have the X-Men going all over the world. We wanted to go to Madripoor, Genosha, Mojoverse, Japan, the Moon, the Savage Land, all those places. But, if you’ve been reading “Secret Wars,” you know that on Battleworld, those places don’t necessarily exist. So, you know. We sent ’em to the mall instead.

Special thanks to Chad Bowers and Chris Sims for taking on this week’s questions!

Next week, “Years of Future Past” writer Marguerite Bennett stops by for X-Position. Have a question for Marguerite? 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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