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X-POSITION: “X-Men ’92’s” Bowers & Sims Cut Loose in the Fast-Paced ’92niverse

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X-POSITION: “X-Men ’92’s” Bowers & Sims Cut Loose in the Fast-Paced ’92niverse

They’ve survived the vampiric threat of Alpha Red and being turned into an army of undead bloodsuckers, and now the X-Men of 1992 can take a breather. NOT! The rollercoaster ride of “X-Men ’92” continues, well past the original limits set by the series’ “Secret Wars” predecessor. In addition to checking up on retired X-Men Cyclops and Jean Grey, “X-Men ’92” has a trip to Lilapalooza planned as well as throwdowns and clashes with a number of fan favorite characters from decades past.

This week in X-POSITION, “X-Men ’92” writers Chad Bowers and Chris Sims answer your questions about everything from Excalibur ’92 and the Upstarts’ master plan to — Boyz II Men and Joey Lawrence?!

CBR News: Welcome back to X-POSITION, Chad and Chris! Let’s start things off this week with question about this book’s origin from Michael.

I think Chris once said on [the podcast] War Rocket Ajax that the original name for “X-Men ’92” was “X is for X-Treme”, but the [Chris] Burnham/[Ramon] Villalobos book [“E is for Extinction”] made you change the title. Were there any other major changes? Was there any character you wanted to use in “X-Men ’92” that you weren’t allowed to, or any story beat Marvel wouldn’t let you do?

Chris Sims: Oh, nobody made us change the title, we just didn’t want anyone getting confused. But yeah, we knew from the start that we wanted to do the first big 21st-century X-Men story filtered through the lens of the ’90s, so when it came to picking characters, Cassandra Nova was at the top of the list — albeit a version of Cassandra Nova who’s a clone of Professor X possessed by the Shadow King. As for story beats, believe it or not, Marvel — and our editors, Jordan D. White and Heather Antos — let us do everything we wanted to do. The only thing they told us no about was in our very first pitch, before we knew quite what Battleworld was all about, when we were talking about wanting to do a big world-traveling story where the X-Men went to Transylvania, Genosha, Madripoor, Canada and all these other places, and the only reason we didn’t get to do that was because, as you know if you’ve read “Secret Wars,” those places didn’t exist in that story. Fortunately, we got to spread out a little in the ongoing series!

Chad Bowers: Thanks for the question, Michael. Yeah, Jordan and Heather have been incredibly cool about never asking us to change things or hit specific beats. From the jump, “’92’s” been ours to do with as we choose, and for a couple Marvel first-timers like us, that’s been pretty amazing.

And honestly, there’s so much stuff that didn’t make it into the miniseries, we could take up this entire X-POSITION just talking about that. But such is the case with every story, y’know, and at the end of the day, Chris and I are both so incredibly happy and proud with how things turned out, it’s not worth dwelling on what we didn’t get to do.

Except Weapon Plus’ The (Murder)World. We’re totally going to use that somewhere!  

Sims: You know, I almost forgot about that! That first pitch we had tried to put everything into four issues, so maybe it’s a good thing that we only had Cassandra Nova, the Shadow King, President Kelly, the RejeX, X-Force and the X-Men themselves to deal with!

Next up, Emily has a question about how the Xavier School operates.

I’ve been having a lot of fun with the series and am already looking forward to future arcs. Will there be any more classroom scenes? Is Beast solely in charge of the students’ education or will the other X-Men pitch in and teach classes?

Sims: Our basic idea for the school is that Professor X and Beast are the ones primarily responsible for the teaching, while Storm is in charge of the actual superhero team. As we’ve shown a little bit, though, the other X-Men do rotate through as teachers. I think the only one we’ve shown primarily so far is Gambit, though, largely because there’s not much that’s funnier to us than putting Gambit in charge of a bunch of children.

Bowers: Somewhere around here there’s a notebook with a breakdown of how the school’s organized, and who does what, but I can’t put my hands on it right now. But Beast’s definitely the point guy on all things educational, with the still injured Professor X doing some focused teaching behind the scenes — Charles takes a very specific interest in the school’s more psionically inclined students in the second arc. And I think we had Bishop teaching a time-travel class, and Psylocke in charge of international studies, but who’s got time to teach when all the students have been turned into vampires?

Captain Wessex wants to know if you guys have any plans for some very obscure — at least in the United States — Marvel characters.

You’re bringing Death’s Head to “X-Men ’92” (woohoo, yes?) but is there any chance of any more Marvel UK characters getting “92”-ised (is that what we’re calling it?), like Dark Angel, Black Axe or perhaps most importantly, Psylocke’s brother Captain Britain?

Bowers: Hey, Wessex! We definitely have plans for Excalibur ’92, and as you might expect, our version of the team ends up looking a bit different from the one you’re used to. I love Excalibur, and was a big fan of the ’90s Marvel UK books, so yeah, melding those two together is kind of a no-brainer. Excalibur is to the X-Men as the Defenders are to the Avengers — they’re related as much as they’re apart, and with that in mind, we’ve taken that concept to the Nth degree in ’92, and I can’t wait for you to see what we do!   

FlawedCoil82 has a question that you may — or may not — be able to answer.

Since “X-Men ’92” seems to borrow most heavily from the Animated Series, will we ever get to see hints of how Professor X returned from Lilandra’s care after he nearly died at the end of the episode “Graduation Day” or is this series supposed to read as if this episode never happened?

Sims: “Animated Series,” huh? Sounds like something we’re similar to but legally distinct from to me.

And now poneley wants to know more about the series’ villains.

I’m enjoying how you guys have incorporated newer characters and concepts with the early ’90s setting. I like the return of the Upstarts; will they remain the primary villains of the title?

Bowers: Yes, and no. They’re here for the long haul, but the role they play changes in our next arc. The original Upstarts story, as you might remember, went on forever. And while it had a lot of promise — a group of gorgeous, young, privileged mutants, out to make their mark on the world by killing X-Men — by the time it resolved, I think a lot of folks had moved on. I know I had, at least. So we don’t want to rehash something that’s already had a solution, and instead we’ve chosen to cut the game short when something even more interesting catches their attention!

Sims: As you already saw in the first arc, the Upstarts are part of a much larger plan. The big question is, who’s the “benefactor” pulling the Gamesmaster’s strings and handing out all of these points? Things move fast in the ’92niverse, but don’t worry — the Upstarts are going to be a big part of it!

With a new arc just around the corner, L3GOHead has a few questions about the cameos it contains.

We have guest appearances from the Flaming Lips and Toadies coming up. How hard was it to get them involved? Did you have to get likenesses cleared?

Sims: You would not believe how easy it was. Chad came up with Lilapalooza way back when we were pitching the ongoing, and when it came time to start fleshing out, we were joking about how fun it would be to do a celebrity guest appearance. Fifteen minutes later, I kid you not, Jordan emails us back with “I think I can get the Toadies and the Flaming Lips.”

Bowers: And yeah, there’s some likeness stuff, but Marvel handles all that. Well, Marvel and Alti Firmansyah, who’s knocking the looks of those guys out of the park!

And can we expect more ’90s celebrities to appear in the book? Or are there other ’90s celebrities that you’re dying to get into “X-Men ’92”?

Sims: I think we’re saving Boyz II Men for #50.

Bowers: “Blossom” era Joey Lawrence is a must.

Now that Psylocke and Bishop have joined the X-Men, MarvelMaster616 is curious about the rest of X-Force.

Bishop and Psylocke seem to be adjusting to the X-Men’s way of doing things, but what about the rest of X-Force? What role will they play in future stories?

Sims: Keep reading. If you know me and Chad, you know we can’t stay away from Cable for long.

And MarvelMaster616 also wonders how Scott and Jean will fit into the book.

Storm seems to be adjusting to her new role as leader of the X-Men and she definitely made progress in her first arc. As she takes on this role, what sort of role will Cyclops and Jean Grey have?

Sims: You’re going to see a lot of that come up in the next issue, #5, a one-shot about Scott and Jean with art from the amazing Cory Hamscher!

Bowers: Storm’s the leader of the X-Men. Pure and simple. For those waiting for Scott to come back and reclaim that role, that’s not going to happen. He passed the torch, and won’t be showing back up to undermine her authority. One of the coolest things about ’92 is getting to see things play out differently than they did in the core X-Men continuity. We don’t really have a status quo to return to, and for Cyclops and Jean, that means they finally have a chance at a truly happy ending.

But a chance isn’t a guarantee. This is still the X-Men, after all.

Speaking of differences in the ’92niverse, SchismOfMadroces has a big worldbuilding question.

What did you find to be the most surprising bit of world-building that came out of transitioning from the fairly confined Barony of Westchester of Battleworld to the potentially boundless ’92niverse?

Sims: Great question! Back when we were plotting out the miniseries for “Secret Wars,” we had a lot of conversations about how the world worked, and what the history of “our” X-Men would be. The thing that we came up with was the Westchester Wars, a term for this five-year conflict that involved, well, basically every X-Men story from the ’90s that you remember reading. That allowed us to springboard off of our memories of the era and do something that could connect with readers without being too bogged down by specifics. When we shifted back over to the ongoing, we decided to keep that in play, and while we both have ideas of the specifics, the main thing to keep in mind is that Apocalypse and Magneto are both dead in the cataclysmic event that ended the conflict and turned the X-Men into international celebrities.

And now Anduinel has another question — this one more hypothetical.

Which X-Team/concept do you think would be the most difficult to give the “’92” treatment? Which Marvel property overall?

Bowers: I don’t think there’s anything difficult about adapting any of the X-family to the ’90s. But as far as other concepts go, I’d say probably the Fantastic Four. Outside Heroes Reborn — which is all about giving the FF the ’92 treatment — there wasn’t really a whole lot that defined or redefine them in the ’90s outside Sue’s (somewhat revealing) costume change, and that helmet worn by the Thing. Which I’m pretty sure nobody wants to see return. Of course there was the new Fantastic Four — Wolverine, Ghost Rider, Spider-Man and the Hulk — but I always associate that with more of a late ’80s spillover aesthetic than anything else. But the FF work best, I think, when they’re timeless, so they’re a hard one to fit into that extreme era. And I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing!  

And we close out this week’s X-PO with a big question from Doctor Diagonal.

Remember the Marvel tradition of having crossover stories run through four annuals? If your fairy godmother or editor granted you the possibility to write such a story, which three Marvel titles — real or imaginary — from the 90’s or otherwise, would you use along with “X-Men ’92”?

Sims: No joke, Doc, we honestly thought of our first arc as being a crossover between the X-Men and the Midnight Sons that you’re only seeing half of.

Bowers: I love crossover annuals so much! My favorite X-Men-related stories being “Shattershot” and “Kings of Pain.” Loved those so much, and oh, my poor parents… I ran them all across the state looking for those books. Given the chance, I’d probably do something with Darkhawk, Thunderstrike and War Machine — all titles that are ’90s-hype to the core! War Machine’s tasked with bringing in the mutant Portal, and gets some kind of Sentinel-tech upgrade to his armor which leads to an inevitable confrontation with the X-Men and Darkhawk, which eventually lands them all in the Black Galaxy where Thunderstrike is trying to free Stellaris from her possessed armor which naturally takes over War Machine, and WHOA, this thing practically writes itself!

Special thanks to Chad Bowers and Chris Sims for taking part in this week’s X-POSITION!

Check back with CBR for information on the guest for the next installment of X-POSITION!

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