Last week, Brian Michael Bendis took on your questions about “Uncanny X-Men” and this week, through the magic of one-way time travel, X-Position is back with the second part of its special Giant-Size edition with a focus on “All-New X-Men.” There’s certainly a lot of ground to cover when it comes to the Original Five in the present day — especially considering they’re currently reality-hopping out in the Ultimate Universe.
Continuing last week’s donut-fueled X-Position, Bendis discussed a number of fan-submitted topics including Warren Worthington facing himself in the present, the compelling nature of X-23, the motivations behind taking Cyclops into space and much more.
nx01a kicks off the second part of this oversized X-Po with a question about the Original Five’s families.
We’ve seen Jean learn about her family’s extermination and Scott find his family. Do you have any plans for the rest of the O5 to visit their parents and relatives?
Warren is the one that’s hanging over the book. I’ll be frank: I’ve used the excuse of Warren being a little more prone to flakiness as an excuse not to pursue. We showed in issue #9 that he knows something bad happened and I don’t think he wants to go down this road. Eventually, he’s going to have to go down this road, but I’m using it as an excuse because the road is so complicated — more than Jean and more than Cyclops. In fact, it’s more complicated than them put together. That’s the complexity of Warren’s up and down and all around. It’s very seductive, particularly in X-Men, to write comics about other comics. I’m trying to find a way to do a Warren story about that without it just being a comic about other comics. When I get it figured out, I’ll get there, but thankfully, Warren is the kind of character that doesn’t want to get there right now — so we’re good. [Laughs]
Meanwhile, I do like him living in the now. I think him pursuing Laura and the things that he’s going to do is him going, “I don’t know what happened over there, but I’m going to try and do better here, try to have a substantial relationship.”
Next up, healed1337 wants to know a little more about the aftermath of an event and the effect on “All-New.”
With the death of Wolverine coming up and Charles Soule saying that X-23 will be heavily involved in the aftermath, will she still be hanging with the “All-New X-Men”? If so, what kind of non-spoilerific details can you tell us of your plans for her?
See, that’s the tough part of a question like this, because you’re specifically asking me a question that — no matter what I say — will spoil someone else’s book. It’s not even like it’s my own book where I can choose whether I want to tell you Emma and Jean are going to have a thing, but it’s completely inappropriate for me to say anything about what Charles is doing. That’s Charles’ call.
But I do know what’s happening. I do know the fate of Laura. I raised my hand to include her in this when the subject was brought up a couple retreats ago about the legacy of Wolverine. Certain characters popped to the foreground as, “Well, that’s interesting.” Laura was one of the ones that became very interesting to people as soon as her name was said.
Laura is a funny character. Fans of hers are holding on to a couple of panels of things that she did, like ten years ago, as that is her character and that is the only thing she could do. A perfect example is there was an issue where someone said, “Hey Laura, can you dance?” and she goes, “I don’t dance.” Then, I showed her trying to dance.
It was only a couple of people, but the anger was just — “Oh my God!” — wouldn’t you want her to try to dance? That doesn’t ruin her character to me at all! She’s been through hell — she came out of hell and then went through hell — and she’s on the other side with people who are genuinely being nice to her. It’s not like she was having fun before! That’s where I’m at with her. “Avengers Arena” and all that she went through was heart wrenching, and you’ve got to look at it as — either you can be a victim or you can pick yourself up and go, “All right, I’m going to try to live my life differently.” For some people, happiness is a true challenge, because they’re depressed or they’re wired that way, but it’s hard to smile.
One of my kids, she did something wrong and I go, “Why did you–? Be good, and you’ll get so much fun stuff!” She says, “It’s so hard!” I point out that it’s easier to be good — but I do see that for her it’s hard. There are people where doing the right this in a hard thing, or doing what will make them happy is a hard thing. This is a hard thing for [Laura], let’s see what she can do with it.
Emerald616 hopes for some insight into your early years with the X-Men and possible ramifications of Xavier’s Last Will and Testament.
What was the first X-Men issue or storyline you ever read?
Probably John Byrne issues, around “Death of Phoenix.” I remember reading “The Death of Phoenix” and having to backtrack. I was surprised at how long the storyline went on. I’m sure there were earlier issues for me, but that whole Hellfire Club saga is where I jumped in full feet. Some of the people reading will know this, but if you weren’t reading X-Men back then, you weren’t reading comics. It rocked my world, it did. First time I saw S&M!
Can you give, without spoilers of course, a brief hint about what to expect for the X-Line after the reading of Xavier’s will?
“The Last Will and Testament” is big and what’s happening the Ultimate Universe is big — because they’re going to discover things about the Ultimate Universe, about themselves and they’re going to come out of it and they’re going to make some choices. Also, maybe not everybody comes home. We’ve shown that with Cyclops. Some people might say, “I want to stay here. I get a do-over if I stay here.” What I like about “All-New X-Men” is we finally have a situation where you literally do not know what these characters are going to do because they’ve already done something you’d never think they would do.
This is a big moment for Jean. When people see next issue, they all have an adventure, but Jean and Miles’ adventure is quite something. Laura and Warren are going to discover the truth about mutants over there — it’s eye-opening. There’s a lot to explore there.
Next up, Kitty Pryde enthusiast Kai is back to ask about the character’s possibly changing costume.
In your first X-Position some time ago I asked if Kitty would get a new costume any time soon. You confirmed that she would get a new one, but so far we haven’t seen anything yet.
We have not seen one. There hasn’t been time for it — not that it won’t happen. But let’s say, I’m going to make a promise here to myself and to you, that whatever happens in the Kitty/Illyana adventures, she’ll come out of it with a new identity.
Tazpocalypse is next in line with a question about the motivations behind Beast bringing the O5 to the present.
I believe it was before the “Messiah CompleX” that Beast got a hold of the Diary of Destiny, when he was looking for away to restore mutant powers after House of M. He sent out a conference call stating he would share what was in the dairies with those that would help him figure out how to counter the No More Mutants spell or whatever it was. … Did Beast read something in the dairies that may have influenced some things he has done since then, such as bringing the O5 forward in time?
That’s interesting, and I’m of a belief that a character — even when handled by different creators — all of it is responsible for big choices. That wasn’t the full-force thing that made me take the character where we’ve taken him, but I like when you look at that and say, “Well, that certainly didn’t help.” So, good observation!
Trevor has a question comparing one Marvel character to another.
Do you feel like Jean Grey has become the Gwen Stacy of the X-Men? Both seem to be hindered by the fact that their deaths “matter” to the lead characters (in that they are motivating forces for the others), basically leaving the characters in a place where only alternate versions can be used in the place of the “regular” versions.
No. It’s not the alternate version. It’s her. It’s her, clean and simple with the extra added thing of looking at it, her legacy, from an outside perspective and looking at the things that happened to her, and ways she could have done things differently.
I don’t agree with the Gwen Stacy part of the question either. It’s funny, it shows you how people put stuff on certain characters that I just flat out don’t agree with or other characters don’t agree with. I hope that my writing could persuade that person to look at characters differently, and that perspective’s coming from way before I got to X-Men. Clearly, I don’t agree and I’m writing it a certain way. Hopefully, the work will show itself.
Some readers have made up their minds about characters based on things that happened years ago; some people have decided they like a certain character or don’t like a certain character for a certain thing; and I think it should be open to different interpretations, open to arcs, pendulum swings of certain characters. I don’t believe in that philosophy of Jean Grey — that’s why we’re telling this story, so we can explore who she is as a character without all the baggage that’s thrust upon her. Not from the original Phoenix story which I think is a masterpiece, but the subsequent ones that got to the convoluted area.
It’s funny because that’s the other thing: when I don’t reference the entirety of the convolution, certain people get angry. And I’m like, “It’s just terrible storytelling!” If I can’t convince you that Jean Grey is on a quest without re-working the entirety of the “End of Grey” storyline, I’m failing completely.
Now, we get to do the X-Men legacy from a unique perspective, and that’s the hook of it.
Justin is hoping for some insight into the powers of the original five.
Are we going to see any power changes for the rest of the “ANXM” cast along the lines of Jean Grey?
They’re all going to switch powers for no reason. We’re not going to explain it.
MarvelMaster616 wants to know more about Iceman’s current attitude toward Scott Summers and the recent conversation between present-day Cyclops and young Jean.
Some X-Men in the Jean Grey Institute seem willing to forgive Cyclops for what he did to Xavier. Others, namely Iceman, are still willing to hate him. Why is it that there’s such a divide between these characters? How will it change as Cyclops continues with his revolution?
Well that’s the thing. I’m going to jump ahead to what other people ask — and they ask on my Tumblr, too — “Why is Iceman being such a pill when he himself–?” I think there’s an element when they’re responding to Cyclops, and I’m talking about real world stuff too, when you see people responding strongly, they’re really talking about themselves. They’re mad at Cyclops, but really they’re mad at themselves. Iceman is mad at himself for other things. Cyclops is going to take the hit. You see people do this all the time; projecting their blame and guilt onto other people. Some of it is that.
Other things — this goes back to “Civil War” — we like when you can place a question in the minds of the reader and you guys can have fun on the message board and yell at each other about it. I love it! That was the best part of “Civil War” — Jeph Loeb saying, “Whose side are you on?” Oh my God! People are still yelling about it ten years later!
It’s the same thing with this. When Cyclops is talked about amongst creators, a version of the argument people have online or a version of the argument the X-Men have goes on. That’s just good drama. I like when you have the good guy and a bad guy stories and we don’t even know if he’s a good guy or a bad guy. There’s a Walter White element here that’s fun to explore . There is throughout literature, a history of characters where you don’t know if you’re supposed to be rooting for them or not, or if you’re supposed to feel dirty for rooting for them. When it’s there, you’re a fool not to explore it to its full potential.
After The Trial of Jean Grey, Jean had a pretty emotional conversation with adult Cyclops. She said he became the man she hoped to be. Yet earlier in the series, she was horrified when she read his mind and confirmed that he killed Charles Xavier. Could you explain this change in perspective? Have events like Battle of the Atom reshaped her understanding of the man Cyclops became?
Yes. When you first get there you hear — I’ll tell you a story: that guy murdered another guy. You go, “Oh my God! That guy murdered another guy?” and then you find out all the details of it, like a murder trial. You start seeing things in context and you start understanding things more. There’s also an element of — she’s very young. People forget that. You’re not fully formed in what you want out of people. They’re both children and you grow up to see, “Wow, you became this powerful leader,” it’s enticing. There are things about Cyclops that are very captivating, and she already liked him. So how would she not like that as well?
I wanted to talk about that. There was a lot of talk amongst us about the weird psycho-sexuality about there being the 16-year-old version of the love of his life out there. I was just so uncomfortable with all of it, and I liked the idea that Jean wouldn’t have a problem expressing some feeling like that because she’s young and doesn’t know any better. There are no consequences for her, but I thought Scott’s “Absolutely not.” answer to her was heroic and the right thing to do, and shows us that Scott is still there. I also think Kitty observing this was on purpose, too. “I’m mad at Cyclops, but he’s not a bad guy.”
There were some people asking, “Will they or won’t they” between young Jean and Old Scott. No! They’re not! But there are some people who ask that and I just wanted to — I don’t want that to be a part of the conversation. I’m not interested in it, at all, on any level. So, I put an end to it. The young, dumb kid said something stupid and the adult said, “Absolutely not.”
Also, people would say to me, “Isn’t he just completely head over heels in love with young Jean Grey? Look at her and say, ‘It’s everything I’ve ever wanted, she’s so young and pure.'” I was like, “Wow, no.” In fact, I think older Scott Summers wouldn’t be that interested in her at all. He’s a completely different person than he was back then. That’s my opinion and I just wanted to put it there. He’s not interested in her like that.
It comes up a lot, and it’s more or less people projecting their weirdness and their failed high school relationships on Scott Summers, but it was funny when for years they’d come up to me and say, “You know, if you want to be really ballsy, you should have them do it.” I was like, “Wow, that’s the opposite of ballsy to me.” It’s the dumbest, most salacious thing you could do and it says nothing. It means nothing. Sure, the Internet would be in my face for an hour, but I could do that any day. That is not the story I want to tell at all.
Shifting to young Cyclops, I think everybody’s very aware that he’s away from the rest of the original five right now. Talk about the homecoming that we might possible get at some point when (and if) he comes back to Earth.
Well, we’re not there yet. But if it ever happens, Greg [Rucka] and I — more than John [Layman] and I — Greg is a friend and we get together for dinner once a week. Just so you can understand the mindset of where it came from, we were thinking about the fallout of “The Trial of Jean Grey,” and once we came up with Cyclops being reunited with his dad, he just goes with his dad and that — as interesting as “All-New X-Men” is, being reunited with your dad who you thought was dead is more interesting. And you get to go space pirating? Come on!
Greg and his son were over at my house, and Greg’s son is a teenager. I’ve known him since he was a baby. I’m looking at the two of them and — I like when there are obvious things about a creator’s life, things they’re not actually writing about that they could easily tap into to do their thing. Particularly, I know a lot of creators that are parents that have a lot of neuroses and a lot of feelings that you don’t know how to put into your work without embarrassing your kid, but you could put it in here and it won’t embarrass them. You’re writing about Cyclops.
So, Greg and I talked a lot about what he would do out there, and if he came back, how different he would be — like, physically different, jacked up — when the time comes, I’m ready for it. He’s not going to come back the same person, but that’s cool.
Wrapping up reader questions, txgohan has a question about the possible ramifications of the original X-Men heading back to their own time.
I’m loving the “All-New X-Men” series but I cannot help but think about the ramifications of the All-new crew going back to the past. Will this create a splinter timeline once they return? Maybe an “All-New X-Men” title that reflects how the modern X-Men world would look like if they retained their memories of present time? My mind is blown by the possibilities that could result from them going back home.
[Laughs] Yes, and I’ll further the mind-blowing with the following — I know that some people have just decided, flat-out, no matter what we say, that this is a splinter timeline or this is a separate timeline. They are not. They are from issue #8 of “Uncanny X-Men,” the end. Not from a different line of X-Men, not from a separate universe. There was no splintering. This is the Marvel Universe, they’ve traveled to the future in linear fashion, but time is not linear.
Most people get their time travel logic from “Back to the Future.” That is good. That is great, I love that. But there are other philosophies of time travel that we are hinting at from “Age of Ultron” all the way through that are worth exploring, that bring us much more interesting storytelling; scarier storytelling. Some of it will be revealed in the “All-New X-Men” and “Uncanny X-Men” Annuals with Eva, who — as you see from the solicitations — will be traveling through the Marvel Universe, both past and future. She will see things and find things out about time travel, about herself, about the Marvel Universe that will affect her personally and reveal things about the nature of the world that will frustrate the hell out of or excite many readers.
Back in 2008, when you were doing Secret Invasion, I remember an interview where you said killing Captain America played into all your plans. Are there similar things in play right now?
Yeah. We’re having a lot of fun with it — but I will say that I’m completely and wholeheartedly sympathetic to the people who read this and they want spoilers in the answers to the questions — we want you to experience the story. If I just tell you the story or the Cliff’s Notes of the story, it defeats the whole purpose. Here, I like answering questions that are about the philosophy of why we make the choices we’re making or what we think of the character. That I love, and some of the deeper philosophical stuff. Some people need confirmation or clarification, but I don’t think this is the place to spoil stuff. But if I can, I’ll point you to an issue and say, “If that’s your question, then you’ll like this issue.” I just wanted to say that, because I see it a lot on Tumblr. “How does this story end?” I literally get that question every two hours! “I saw the solicitation for Venom in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy.’ How does that story end?” I’m putting it out there — I’m not ignoring your question, I’m just not answering!
I hear them and I’m flattered by them because that means you care. I wanted to you to care! But don’t think we’re ignoring them. It’s not nice. There are some people who don’t want spoilers and will be annoyed if you spoil it! I wanted to say that because I do see that. With the ongoing persecution complex that some people have, I just wanted to alleviate this from the list of things.
Before we completely close the book on this Giant-Size X-Po, is there anything else you’d like to add?
Just so we say it on the record — it’s coming from my mouth to the pages of Comic Book Resources — the X-Men line is not cancelled. It is not near cancelled, no book that I’m writing is cancelled. We are planning, in fact, the day before New York Comic Con, I am going into Marvel — just myself — to sit and lock down all the things we have planned. That includes four or five big questions we’re just going to lock down. That’s going to happen.
The following Saturday, there’s an X-Men panel! It is focused on “Death of Wolverine” because that is the X-Men event, and we do — even when I was on “Avengers,” we had a “Secret Invasion” panel, not an Avengers panel. It doesn’t mean that Marvel hates the Avengers, it’s the subject that will get people in. We will be covering and showing stuff, but Wolverine is an X-Man and it’s an X-Men panel!
I feel bad that some people online are making other people online nervous or feel bad with half-truths or just misreading, “Oh my God! There’s no X-Men on the cover of this book, Marvel hates the X-Men!” There are characters that Disney has an investment in their future. But the X-Men are a very vital part of publishing and are treated so all the way through. There’s no one working on this book that isn’t an A-List talent. The art is amazing top to bottom. The best artist that was working on DC that wasn’t working at Marvel was Andrea Sorrentino. The minute they became available, I was offered him. To me, that says everything! They didn’t say put him on “Guardians,” which is obviously the book. They said, “How about him and you doing an X-Men project?” and I said, “I know which one to do where he can do everything that he does!”
You go online, and I just think, “You’re wrong! You’re looking at a cover and I’m telling you look at who they’re putting on the books.” I just wanted to reiterate that, and it kind of hurts my feelings a little bit. I literally write X-Men every day and then people go, “You guys don’t care about it.” Sometimes I have tears in my eyes while I’m writing this stuff. I care so much! I’ve never been on a book where people were so sure there was a conspiracy and were so wrong.
Special thanks to Brian Michael Bendis for taking on questions on both “Uncanny X-Men” and “All-New X-Men!”
This week is New York Comic Con, so X-Position will be taking a week off — but be sure to check back next week to see who the next X-Guest is!
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