Enter the Marauders: Carey Talks "X-Men"

Marvel Comics' "X-Men" series will reach its milestone 200 th issue on June 27 th , but writer Mike Carey isn't celebrating by throwing his cast of characters a party. Instead, he's pitting them against a reformed and revitalized line-up of the Marauders, one of the most fearsome teams of villains ever to lock horns with the disciples of Charles Xavier. CBR News spoke with Carey about his plans for "X-Men" #200.

The X-Men running up against the Marauders in issue #200 will be bruised and battered, but not just physically. The events of "Condition Critical," the previous storyline that wrapped with issue #199, have left the team at their lowest emotional point. "Even their victories turn into catastrophes," Carey told CBR News.

One such catastrophe was the damage done to team leader Rogue's psyche when her powers were significantly altered; making her one of the most dangerous mutants in the Marvel Universe.   Carey explained, "One touch from her is instant death, and she's hanging onto sanity by a very slender thread."

Another character who went through significant power changes in both "Condition Critical" and recent issues of "Cable & Deadpool" was Cable. A psychic union with an alien parasite called the Mummadrai restored Cable's lost telepathy and telekinesis powers, but when that union ended Cable indicated that he no longer had his telepathy, although it's unclear if the telekinetic abilities he's retained are mental or technology-based. "In the story there isn't a definitive answer," Carey said. "The Mummadrai has changed his nervous system and the way it works. Whether any of those changes turn out to be permanent is a question that hasn't been answered yet."

Cable was dealt a devastating blow in the "Condition Critical" and "Fractured" storylines. Providence, the island nation Cable created as part of his mission to build a better world, was almost completely destroyed and many of its citizens killed. The destruction of Providence will continue to affect Cable and the X-Men in both "X-Men" and "Cable & Deadpool." "It's a situation that continues to be significant," Carey stated. "You haven't seen the end of that yet.

"It was very poignant.   I love what Fabian [Nicieza] did with those character beats in 'Cable & Deadpool,'" Carey continued. "It is a tragedy for Cable. It's like by choosing to throw in his lot with the X-Men again he's had to sacrifice an awful lot of what has been his defining project."

While Cable and Rogue were experiencing power alterations and psychic and emotional devastation in "Condition Critical," another pair of X-Men were experiencing some significant emotions. Iceman AKA Bobby Drake kissed fellow teammate Mystique, raising many readers' eyebrows. As to what exactly Bobby sees in the often treacherous shape shifter, Mike Carey remarked, "Well I guess she is gorgeous in a strange, exotic way. Obviously he doesn't trust her because as he says, 'You would have to be insane to trust her.' In the heat of battle, yeah they exchange a kiss but in the heat of battle you do strange things. When your life is on the line things look different. Again that's a situation that's going to become central to the next couple of issues."

Mystique's feelings towards Bobby are similarly complicated. "We never know with Mystique. She's so fractured a personality," Carey explained. "We've been having this discussion on my blog site about how powers become personality. Mystique has spent so much of her life being other people that I don't think she is truly aware of the wellsprings of her own emotions and motivations anymore; or at least I don't think she's always aware of them. In the case of her feelings for Bobby or her plans for Bobby there is a payoff shortly."

The four-part story beginning in "X-Men" #200 is called "Blinded by the Light," a title which Carey assured is more than poetic circumlocution. "It's an actual description of something that is taking place within the story," Carey explained. "We have the Marauders making a move not just against the X-Men but against a number of targets, which long time readers will recognize. It's not clear why. It's not clear what the targets have in common. It's not clear what the Marauders' agenda is.

"The X-Men not only have to survive this battle, this ambush, but they also have to figure out what it is they're fighting for, what's at stake and what the Marauders are trying to do.   To a very large extent they're flailing around in the dark. There seems to be no logic or rationale for what the Marauders are doing. Then slowly the rationale appears but by then we're seeing Rogue's team starting to implode to some extent. There's a very big question as to whether or not they can coordinate any kind of response to what the Marauders are doing. That's the situation that plays out in this story."

Without revealing exactly what the Marauders' agenda is Carey indicated that to some readers the group's ultimate goal might not seem so sinister. "I think it depends very much on which side of the fence that you're standing on," Carey explained. "Certainly there are aspects of what Sinister and Exodus are trying to do that we might expect the X-Men to sympathize with but there's always a big gap between ends and means."

Readers who have seen the Humberto Ramos cover to "X-Men" #200 know the latest incarnation of the Marauders assembled by Sinister and Exodus includes many old school members of the team. "There's Harpoon, Riptide, Vertigo, Arclight, Scalphunter, Prism, Blockbuster, Scrambler; they're all there," Carey said. "There's only one Marauder who won't be showing and it will be obvious why in retrospect."

Additionally, those who've seen the Ramos cover of "X-Men" #200 may have been shocked to discover some (apparent) defections from Rogue's team. Based on the cover, it looks like Lady Mastermind and Sentinel are siding with the Marauders. "It does look like that doesn't it?" Carey laughed. "We will see the line-up of Rogue's team change spectacularly and that does mean shrinking."

The loyalties of Lady Mastermind and Sentinel are in question for now, but the Marauders definitely have at least one ex-X-Man in their ranks, and his name is Gambit. "He has moved on from where we saw him last," Carey explained. "You'll notice from the Ramos cover that his look has reverted. Physically he has reverted to what he used to look like before he was Death. What his state of mind is will be revealed gradually between #200-207."

The events surrounding Gambit will almost certainly have a powerful effect on the already fragile state of mind of his former flame, Rogue. "I've got some bad news for Rogue-Gambit fans," Carey warned. "They're not going to meet directly for quite some time. Gambit does come up against one member of the team but it's not Rogue. That meeting is going to be delayed and I hope it will be all the more powerful because of that delay. When it comes, it's going to be something pretty amazing."

Of curse, Gambit isn't the only mutant who's been a member both of the Marauders and of the X-Men. Sabretooth has also been a member of both teams, but will he have a role to play in "Blinded by the Light?" "His fate is going to be decided," Carey confirmed, adding, "there's not going to be any ambiguity about it but I'd rather not say any more than that at this stage. [Sabretooth] is in the most recent issue of 'Cable & Deadpool' but yes after that you're going to see a sort of resolution – in one of the X-books – to the whole Sabretooth character arc."

With Sinister's Marauders on the move, Rogue's team of X-Men are going to have their hands full. Fortunately, they may get some assistance from some of the other X-teams. "There will be some guest appearances from the 'New X-Men' and the 'Astonishing X-Men' team," Carey stated. "You won't see the 'Uncanny' team, 'X-Factor', or 'Excalibur.'" Additional X-Men may be on hand to help Rogue's team but their assistance will only be in a limited capacity. "The action in the #200-203 arc really is centered on the adjectiveless cast. It's our core cast that's most involved here. The other teams appear more in supporting roles. They are in the thick of what's going on but not to the same extent as Rogue's team."

"Blinded by the Light" will naturally depict events at the Academy, but the storyline will mostly see Rogue's team of X-men in a variety locales. "There will be some scenes on Providence," Carey said. "There will be some scenes in Caldecott County, Mississippi, which is as Rogue fans know where she spent her youth. There will also be some locations that are revealed along the way."

When "Blinded by the Light" wraps with issue #203, the cast of "X-Men" will be just a short step away from the big payoff of the recently announced "Messiah Complex." "Issue #204 will be a one off and that leads us directly into the fall cross-over," Carey said. "So much of what we've been doing over the past year has been a series of prologues or a series of overtures; setting up the plot points and emotional points of ['Messiah Complex'], which when it starts is going to be huge."

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