Brian Wood Blows Minds with "Wolverine & the X-Men: Alpha and Omega"

Two months after "Schism" divided the X-Men into two factions, Wolverine is finding that running a school for gifted youngsters is more difficult than he ever imagined--particularly when the new, prepubescent Hellfire Club is out for blood and possesses the ruthless genius to carry out its plans. In January, though, Logan must contend with a threat from within, as "DMZ" creator Brian Wood pens the five issue "Wolverine and the X-Men: Alpha and Omega," in which rebellious (and psychic) student Quentin Quire decides to settle some scores.

Marvel held its latest "Next Big Thing" press conference call Friday afternoon to discuss the series, with Wood joined by editor Jeanine Schafer and Junior Sales Administrator James Viscardi, who is moderating.

Asked about teaming up with Marvel once again, Wood said, "I feel like so much time has passed, that I feel like it's new all over again." He added, "I really feel like I was ready to jump in with both feet into a superhero universe." Wood also said he finds himself most drawn to the X-Men.

"Alpha and Omega" is about how Quentin Quire, aka Kid Omega, sees himself, particularly in relation to the new school. He immediately picks a fight with Logan, but "it's not the sort of fight you're used to seeing in a superhero book" and would very much see "Quentin on the offense, Logan on the defensive."

Wood said he enjoys playing in Quentin's head. "I poked around online a little before this began, to see how people viewed him--most people see him as kind of a brat." Schafer added that she predicted Brian could give a new perspective on what makes Quire tick.

"He is kind of awesome in that he has these powers and abilities, but he's not emotionally equipped to deal with them," Wood said. Schafer said the series would serve as a primer both to Quentin Quire and to the recently-formed Jean Grey School for Gifted Youngsters, which debuted in Jason Aaron's "Wolverine and the X-Men" #1 and is being fleshed out there.

Schafer said, "If you were an X-Man and got to go to Westchester, wouldn't that be the coolest shit ever? For Quentin, it's not." She added that Quire sees himself as "already past that."

Wood noted that Armor and Rachel Grey would be featured in the series, and "I'm really trying to include all the students." "One fun scene has Quentin trying to hit on Bling, who doesn't swing that way," Wood laughed.

Asked about working with the two artists on the series, Mark Brooks and Roland Boschi, Wood said that it is very useful as a writer to know who your artists are going to be. Wood described Brooks as "a dapper guy" and praised his detailed art, while he said he had never personally met Boschi but he came highly recommended.

On the subject of Armor, who is caught in the crossfire between Wolverine and Quentin, Wood said he enjoys the character and "I wanted a younger character to play off of Logan," and that he wanted to explore some of her back story, including deaths in her family. Viscardi joked that "Wolverine has become the grumpy old man of the X-Men."

Quentin's telepathic powers will give him an advantage against Wolverine, Wood said when asked about Logan's challenges, but didn't want to give too much away. "I don't even think Logan knows he's in a fight for the first part of the book," Wood said.

Schafer described the conflict as a "battle of wits," laughing that there are other, cruder words she could use but "I've been reprimanded for my salty language."

Wood said that "anyone who acts like [Quentin] is trying to cover something up," and with the story being told largely from his point of view readers would gain new insight into what's really behind the arrogance.

On Wolverine, Wood said, "I find him very intimidating to write, just because everyone on the planet has written Wolverine." He added, "I think I've fallen into the same vein as Jason [Aaron] has, where he's kind of a weary old man." Wood said, though, that his "would not be the buttoned-down headmaster Logan seen in Jason's book."

Asked about writing his signature character-driven work but applying it to people with super powers, Wood joked, "I write a script, and Janine tells me how to make it with superheroes." He added that Schafer also helps him navigate the massive continuity involved.

Schafer said, though, that "there's a scene-spoiler alert-where Wolverine pops his claws; it's the scene everybody wants in a Wolverine series, and he absolutely nailed that scene."

The next question dealt with why Logan would bring Quire, who poses an obvious and major threat, into his new school. "I think he sees Quentin kind of how I do," Wood said, and sees a lot of potential in the purple-haired telepath. "I don't think he's the kind of guy who's about to give up on him."

Asked about the Quire's potential connection to the Phoenix Force, Wood said the focus of the miniseries is "narrower" and won't be getting into that.

Wood cited early issues of "Generation X" as some his favorite X-Men stories. "That's when I first started thinking I wanted to work in comics," he said. "Everybody knows that stuff's the best, that's the coolest." He also said he mainly reads work by friends, including "Astonishing X-Men" by Joss Whedon and Warren Ellis, and the work of Jason Aaron and Kieron Gillen.

"I do like writing this new school," Wood said. "It's new, it's different. I went into it thinking of the Xavier school, but it's entirely different." He added, though, that "I was kind of bummed I couldn't write a wood-paneled library-it had to be a futuristic one."

Wood said he didn't really know how his series would affect "Uncanny." "It's not up to me," he said, "but I can't imagine it not affecting their relationship in that book and anywhere else they appear." Schafer added that she couldn't say much without giving too much away, but "Wolverine and his relationship [with Quire] is very changed" and the fallout will play out in the ongoings.

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