He shot Professor X in the head, plotted ecological disaster, and tried to kill a mutant baby named Hope -- but don't call him a monster! His name is Lucas Bishop, and he's done these terrible things because he wants to save us all.
Marvel Comics readers will get their chance to see what makes the temporally challenged Bishop tick in "X-Men: The Times and Life of Lucas Bishop," a three-issue miniseries from "Cable" writer Duane Swierczynski and artist Larry Stroman. CBR News spoke with Swierczynski about the series, issue #1 of which is in stores this week.
"The Times and Lifeof Lucas Bishop" came about simply because Swierczynski enjoys writing Bishop's appearances in "Cable," and he wanted to explore the character in greater detail. "I've always said I don't think he's a bad guy. He's a man on a mission and the hardest thing in the world is to know you're right when the rest of the world thinks you're wrong," Swierczynski told CBR News. "That's what I find compelling about Bishop. I think he's a really tragic hero because in his mind he's out to save countless lives, but pretty much every one else in existence thinks he's nuts. So I'm drawn to him for that reason."
Swierczynski figured the best way for readers to understand Bishop's point of view was to take them back to the character's beginnings, where they can see firsthand the experiences that shaped him into the man he is today. "Honestly, I think fans have been crying out to learn more about Bishop's reasoning for things since he appeared to turn on the X-Men by trying to kill the mutant baby in 'Messiah CompleX,'" the writer said. "We could have told Bishop's story over in 'Cable,' but I was worried about slowing things down because that book has a pretty straightforward trajectory. The best idea was always to tell Bishop's story in a separate series. And it's a lot of story, three issues' worth. We've seen Bishop's adventures over the years and a lot of bits and pieces of his biography, but never all in one place."
In "Times and Life," readers will be getting the raw details about Bishop's formative years and experiences with the X-Men, from his perspective. "Bishop is telling his story and it actually springs out of a moment in one of the recent 'Cable' issues," Swierczynski revealed. "Careful readers of 'Cable' will see where 'Times and Life' fits into that series."
Previous details about Bishop's past were fragmented and typically presented in a style that switched back and forth throughout his life. As such, when it came to write "The Times and Life of Lucas Bishop," Swierczynski wanted to start at the beginning and tell Bishop's story in chronological order. "The first issue starts a few months before Bishop was even born. You'll meet his parents," he said. "Then the next issue takes pieces of his life from childhood to his teenage years and beyond. We go right up until the present day."
Bishop has played a number of roles throughout his life. He's a mutant, a cop, and a hero. As "The Times and Life" unfolds, readers will see how Bishop came to assume those various roles and what they meant to him. "He wouldn't call himself this, but I think the one role that's most important to Bishop is hero," Swierczynski remarked. "He's really trying to save the world despite what people think. He's not doing what he does for selfish reasons. He's doing what he believes to be the right thing to do and as he sees it, he's the only person for the job. He was born a mutant so that's very important to him, but so is being a cop. You'll see the moment it happens, and it's a very big deal to him."
"The Times and Life of Lucas Bishop" will also reveal more about the people that challenged and encouraged Bishop during his formative years. "Shard, his sister, is an important character and so is his grandmother. His parents were certainly a big influence, but he was also influenced by the nightmare future world he experienced," Swierczynski explained. "It's almost like the world has been his adversary. The deck stacked very heavily against him."
In the portion of "Times and Life" that covers Bishop's time with the X-Men, readers can expect to see how some of the important events from team's history looked from his unique perspective. "That will be quite revealing, and what's especially fun is Bishop's point of view is being depicted by Larry Stroman, who's done an incredible job rendering these things," Swierczynski said. "He's shown some key moments in X-Men history in literally a whole new way."
Of course, it's quite possible that Bishop first met several members of the team while growing up in the nightmarish future world he once called home. "A long running part of Bishop's back-story was that he had encountered elderly mutants in the future who may have been or may have knew the X-Men," Swierczynski explained. "It's kind of like 40 years from now, when you run into a scraggly looking guy with a guitar, you'll wonder, 'Could that be Keith Richards? Or does that guy just **know** Keith Richards? What's the deal there?' That sort of moment has been played with throughout Bishop's life story and we're doing it in this series as well."
Compiling Bishop's biography into one miniseries proved a little grueling for Swierczynski, because it meant an extensive amount of research. "I wanted to make sure that we didn't step on anything that was said about him before," the writer said. "But the fun thing was that there were a lot of happy accidents too. We're telling his life story through the prism of what happened in 'Messiah CompleX,' with the mutant baby being central to what he's about now. And it felt like there were a lot of clues that were dropped previously that just fit in with what we're doing. A lot of the unexpected things in his life will now make a little more sense."
March sees the beginning of "Messiah War," a crossover between "Cable" and "X-Force" that promises to have a huge impact on the entire line of X-books. Swierczynski recommends that readers who want to experience the full tapestry of that story pick up "X-Men: The Times and Life of Lucas Bishop," because his hero does have a sizable role to play in "Messiah War." "It's funny, it wasn't necessarily planned this way, but in the months before 'Messiah War' we're sort of taking a time out in 'Cable' and showing you the developing relationship between Cable and Hope, the mutant messiah. And now you're getting Bishop's life story," the writer said. "So I think readers who pick up both books will be launched into 'Messiah War' with a much better idea of who some of these characters are and what's at stake for them."
"X-Men: The Times and Life of Lucas Bishop" #1 is on sale now from Marvel Comics."