EXCLUSIVE: Duggan Hits the Road with Captain America & Cyclops in "A+X"

In the Marvel Universe the allegiances of powerful characters like Thor and Magneto don't come easy. It takes a special breed of hero to command these proud and formidable characters. Cyclops (AKA Scott Summers) the leader of the Uncanny X-Men and Captain America (AKA Steve Rogers) the leader of the Avengers are two such heroes. Both have been fighting for causes bigger than themselves for many years and both have an abundance of courage to back up their convictions.

That doesn't mean these heroes see eye to eye though. In fact the two leaders are currently at odds. Captain America would like nothing more than to see Cyclops stand trial for the murder of his mentor and founder of the X-Men, Professor Charles Xavier, a crime he committed while possessed by the cosmic entity known as the Dark Phoenix. Cyclops on the other hand doesn't believe Captain America or his fellow heroes are doing enough to protect his fellow mutants and has vowed to take all necessary measures to keep his people safe.

So what could possibly get past those strong ideological differences and cause the two of the greatest leaders in the Marvel Universe to work together? Writer Gerry Duggan and artist David Yardin will answer that question and more starting in October's "A+X" #13, the kick-off to a six-part storyline that will run in the first half of the anthology series. Comic Book Resources spoke with Duggan about the story and the book's slight format shift.

CBR News: Gerry one of the appeals of this story must be the chance to play with the front men of Marvel's biggest super teams, Captain America and Cyclops. In your mind how are these characters similar? And in what ways are they different?

Gerry Duggan: They're both heroes with strong beliefs, but they have this serious disagreement at the moment. Cap, in a very cut and dried way, would like to see Scott put on trial for his role in the death of Professor X during "Avengers Vs. X-Men." If he's found innocent, that's great. If he's found guilty he needs to pay for his crime.

Cyclops was obviously not in his right mind when did this. He had the Phoenix Force flowing through him, but there's the rule of law and Captain America is standing up for that. That's what's so fun about writing the two of them at the moment. Plus, I can't name many names, but there are plenty of guest stars from throughout the Marvel Universe to back them up in this story.

Even before they're current almost adversarial dynamic Captain America and Cyclops weren't quite friends. Why do you think that is? What did these two men represent to each other before "AvX?"

First and foremost there's a generational difference between them. Then beyond that, I think their styles are a little different. Obviously Scott Summers has embraced his role as revolutionary. This country was built on that and given enough time I think Captain America could certainly see the good in Summers again, but if you'd ask him his feeling right now he'd say something like, "Cyclops has gone off the reservation on this."

Scott's entire X-Men team is on the lam, and Captain America turned himself in when he was a wanted man. That's another indication of the differences in their personalities. Cap would want to confront this thing head on and Summers is taking the path of least resistance.

As you mentioned, Cap's biggest problem with Cyclops right now is his role in the murder of Professor X during "AvX," but how much of that is actual anger at Scott? Is it possible that he could be feeling some sort of guilt over how out of control "AvX" got and that's intensifying his feelings of resentment towards Cyclops?

I think with any conflict that gets out of control like that there are more than enough sins on both sides, but Charles was killed, and Captain America is standing for the rule of law. Rogers wants a court to decide possible criminal culpability for Xavier's death. It's inappropriate and inadequate for Cyclops to just shrug and say "I was possessed." For what it's worth, I believe both men are correct. Captain America is right that Xavier deserves a trial, and Cyclops is right -- he was possessed. I'm enjoying the conflict. It's starts as a physical confrontation, and becomes a heated argument.

Is the animosity Cap feels towards Cyclops one-sided? Does Cyclops have an equally harsh view of him?

I think they both have very strong points of view and I think Cyclops would be very critical of Cap. Brian Bendis rightly touched on this during their interactions in a recent "Uncanny X-Men" issue. Cyclops feels that Captain America is not doing enough for every American. He feels that he wouldn't have to be doing what he's doing if Captain America was doing his job like he should, and It's a very valid view point.

What can you tell us about the plot and themes of your "A+X" story? What's the inciting incident that brings Cap and Cyclops together?

It's literally an alien abduction. [Laughs] They're both doing their own things and a Skrull comes to Earth with a message and a little bit of a mystery. Having lived off world, the Skrull is obviously a little out of touch. He thought to take two friends from two powerful teams together in order to accomplish a task. So they're thrown together to help solve this mystery.

So that also answers the question then of why they don't enlist the aid of their respective teams?

Yes, at least at the top that's exactly right. Once the Skrulls are involved you're not exactly sure of anyone. As the story goes on though, they will reach out and roll the dice on enlisting some help.

Obviously it will have fun and some Marvel style action, and I looked at it as a chance to tell a road story with some guys that don't necessarily want to be together. So my inspiration was actually a Robert Deniro-Charles Grodin film called "Midnight Run."

I love that movie and I hope the sparks that fly in this story will be entertaining. Each of the main characters gets a few zingers in, but they're also heroes. They're obviously capable of setting aside their differences for the greater good and that's really what this arc will represent.

Where does the action take place in this tale? And how important is setting to the story that you're telling?

It's a globetrotting adventure that goes all over the place, but it's more about the characters. Cap though is able to get some help from S.H.I.E.L.D. and later the Avengers, and Cyclops is able to get some help from some trusted folks on his side of the fence.

Can you hint, tease, or talk about the adversaries your heroes are up against in this story? Cap and Cyclops are two of the top tactical minds in the Marvel U, so I imagine we'll see some enemies with an abundance of cunning and intelligence?

Yeah, they're going to up against a criminal element that trades in super hero artifacts, and a Skrull prisoner of war type figure who's a little like one of those Japanese soldiers that came out of an island 50 years after the end of World War II. We'll also visit Latveria, Nick Fury's favorite S.H.I.E.L.D. safe-house, the American southwest, and a few other exciting locations.

We're also dealing with the idea that there might be a Skrull plot that needs to be investigated. I don't want to spoil what they find, but the Skrulls have no home world now. They're nomads. So it's something that would be of great concern to the powers that be if any were discovered living here.

That puts Captain America especially in an interesting position because this is post war. After we've fought wars we reconstruct countries and eventually allow immigration, but are we prepared to do that with Skrulls? A few of the story threads we're pulling on go back a long way. Much longer than the Secret Invasion.

We've talked about story let's move into art. What do you feel David Yardin brings to this tale as an artist?

He's tremendous. I was really excited to get a chance to work with him, wait until you see the art -- it's so lovely.

The nice thing about David is he's obviously so wonderful at putting the action up on the page, and when I need a moment of Cap and Cyclops jawing at each other the characters' features are really wonderful and expressive. He's really the perfect guy for this.

Finally, your Captain America and Cyclops story is a six-part tale that runs through the first half of "A+X" #13-18. Can you offer up a grand overview of the tone, scope and scale of the story?

This is a mystery and an action comedy that will dust off some toys in the Marvel toy box. They're [Chris] Claremont characters that me and other Marvel writers will hopefully get to revisit again later. I can leave you with one hint as to who they are; they're a group of aliens that might be more than a little upset to come face to face with the man who killed Charles Xavier. It should be fun.

I'm thrilled that my editors Jordan D. White and Nick Lowe asked me to do this story. I kicked around a couple of ideas and this was the one that lent itself most to what I wanted to do. So even if you don't love Cap and Cyclops ribbing each other it's a Marvel story that I think they would be proud to publish whether the word comedy was in the title or not. So they're more effective in their job than the guys in the movie "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" were, but this story will have a similar tone. I'm a big fan of Shane Black, the writer/director of that film.

When I sit down to write the rule in front of my mind is "What would be fun to read?" If I'm going to pay money to pick up a book I'd like big action, some surprises, and a few laughs. That's my personal guarantee over the course of the 60 pages of this story. Thanks for checking it out.

"A+X" #13 goes on sale October 16.

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