C2E2: Victor Gischler Talks "X-Men"

When Professor Charles Xavier first assembled the X-Men, the Marvel Universe's premier mutant superhero team, it was in order to protect the world -- even if the average citizen did fear and hate mutants. Indeed, the X-Men have a thankless job, and the past several years have been especially rough on them since mutants found themselves an endangered species. The X-Men are now more concerned with protecting themselves and their fellow mutants from threats like the mutant hate group known as the Purifiers or Norman Osborn, who recently sought to corrupt the team's legacy.

In the current "Second Coming" crossover, the X-Men are working to protect a young mutant named Hope who just might save the mutant race from extinction. In addition to that, a new Heroic Age is about to dawn in the Marvel Universe, and it's currently unclear if the world will fear and hate the X-Men once summer starts. But whatever the case may be, come July, the X-Men will be back in the business of superheroics when a new ongoing series titled simply "X-Men" debuts from writer Victor Gischler and artist Paco Medina. CBR News spoke with Gischler about the book, which was announced Sunday at Marvel's X-Men panel at the Chicago Comics & Entertainment Expo.

CBR News: It seems like these days the X-Office really wants to make sure that each book in the X-Men line is very unique and distinct. So what separates this new series from other books in the line like "Uncanny X-Men?"

Victor Gischler: Well there is going to be some overlap in the sense that the characters that I'll be using are characters from other X-Men books. We're not inventing a whole bunch of new mutants, but the storyline is something that is a very different from the other books in the line. It's the right kind of X-Men team doing the right kind of thing for this new era that the Marvel Universe is entering.

From the information we've received, it sounds like the kind of things this group of X-Men will be doing, at least initially, is fighting vampires. So how would you describe the mandate of the team in "X-Men?" Are they strictly concerned with the supernatural?

This new monthly is not a supernatural-flavored X-Men title - it's a title that will firmly integrate the X-Men in the Marvel Universe, boasting new team-members from across the Marvel Universe as the X-Men contend with a host of threats -- including some of Marvel's most popular super-villains. That said, the first arc will pit mutants against another society of super-powered outcasts: vampires. The X-Men have some history with Dracula. It's about to come back and haunt them when San Francisco is invaded by a horde of vampires led by a... let's just say, a very enigmatic leader with a diabolical plan. What do these vampires want? Read and find out.

"X-Men" will feature an all-mutant cast, but it will be similar in feel to a book like "Avengers" because it stars a team concerned first and foremost with saving the world?

That's definitely one way you could describe the book. I hate to sound so vague, but I don't want to spoil things like "Second Coming" or what comes after it, but I can say this series will be big and I'm psyched about it.

Marvel recently revealed some teaser images featuring possible cast members for "X-Men." Can we talk about the characters you'll be using? Will "X-Men" feature big name characters? Lesser known fan favorites? Or both?

My desire is that the cast of characters will be a combination of both big name and lesser known characters. I think we'll see a wider cast of characters for the first arc, while we're getting situated. Then the following arcs will kind of narrow things down to a core cast. I don't want to say that we're holding auditions for the first arc, but it almost is like that. We've got the whole team and everybody is available for that first arc. Then in following stories we kind of whittle things down to the people we see every issue.

Plus, since the book is a part of the X-Men line, there's a good chance that we'll see characters rotate in and out from story to story. So new faces might come and go, but that will be along side the core cast that we see every month.

We know in your inaugural X-Men story you're pitting your team against the undead, but what kinds of obstacles and adversaries can we expect in the book moving forward? Which villains are you interested in using in this series?

I think it's all up for grabs. This X-Men team is going to be the sort of team that reacts to whatever is out there. There's been a lot of talk about what kinds of villains they'll engage, but there's also the practicality of who is available. So we're figuring out how that will all work. I'm just getting comfortable with this first arc. I just started scripting. So it's hard to look beyond the first six issues.

As a comics writer you're probably best known for your work on two of Marvel's more humorous titles: "Deadpool: Merc With a Mouth" and "The Deadpool Corps." What can you tell us about the tone of the "X-Men" series? Will things be humorous? Serious? Or sort of a balance between the two?

It's a serious book. It's not like "Merc With a Mouth." There is comic relief here and there, as we've seen in other X-Men titles, but the main thrust is not comedy. It's not meant to be over the top, and right now I feel that things are coming along pretty well.

What can readers expect from the art work of your "X-Men" collaborator, Paco Medina?

Paco Medina and I worked together on "Prelude to the Deadpool Corps" #4. He did a great job on that, so I'm confident he'll do a great job on this. He also drew the X-Men in one of Daniel Way's recent "Deadpool" stories and they looked fantastic. So I think he's a slam dunk.

"X-Men" is your biggest comics assignment to date. Now that the project has been officially announced and is set to debut in just a few months, how do you feel?

I feel both great and a little nervous. There are a lot of X-Men devotees out there and I'm respectful of the fact that they expect a certain level of quality. So I'm focusing on doing the best job that I can for those readers.

Again, I hate to be so vague. If we were to talk a couple of months from now I think I'd have a lot more to say, but I'm just sort of getting into the groove right now and I want to get a couple issues under my belt and get more comfortable with things. Plus I don't want to spoil any surprises.

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