Whether it’s the original five X-Men in our present, or Cyclops’ band of revolutionaries, Brian Michael Bendis has a clear vision for the X-Men side of the Marvel Universe. As the driving force behind the X-Men since the launch of Marvel NOW! in 2012, Bendis has brought a number of new ideas — and new mutants — to the table.
In “Uncanny X-Men,” Bendis is currently exploring “The Last Will and Testament of Charles Xavier” and has a whole host of characters to handle. Whether it’s old favorites like Cyclops, Magik and Emma Frost; or newcomers like Triage, Tempus and Goldballs, there’s quite a bit of story going on in “Uncanny” — and there’s still plenty more to come.
Making his triumphant return in the first of a two-part X-POSITION, Brian Bendis spoke with CBR News over donuts to discuss his work on “Uncanny X-Men,” things to come for the new generation of mutants at the Xavier Academy and much more — including the current advances in ruby quartz optic blast technology.
Kicking off our Giant-Size X-Position is Mahes, who wants to know more about the fate of the students of the Xavier Academy.
Last issue of Uncanny had a discussion between the students about the nature of the revolution and if they were the “good guys”. Will we get to see this dialogue continued and answered by Cyclops?
Brian Michael Bendis: Never.
Of course, of course! [Laughs] A lot’s going to happen — here’s a big answer that’s going to answer a lot of questions that are coming up. It’s going to be a big year for the X-Men. We’re building on both fronts something very big in the middle of next summer. It has to do with the revolution, it has to do with all the X-Men being where they shouldn’t be — all of this is coming to a big head. So, anything I’m seeding — flat out, it’s not even subtle — they’re looking at each other going, “Are we doing the right thing?” Something’s coming out of that, including the annuals that we just solicited. There’s a lot going on in there where people a year from now will be going, “Ohhhh!”
It’s what I do. I did it on “[Ultimate] Spider-Man,” I did it on “Avengers” — it takes some time, I grant you, and I know some people want answers right now. But some things deserve a slow burn, some things are more interesting as a slow burn. There will be stuff happening every issue, but there are bigger things in play and the only way to land those things — especially when you have a cast of hundreds — is to take the time to make sure we’re getting to see where everyone’s at.
We’ve seen focus issues on Fabio, Benjamin and coming up in the annuals, Eva. Will we see a focus issue on Christopher?
Yes. The biggest hint is that during the siege of the Xavier School when the future X-Men came and tossed the place around, it looks like he may have resurrected himself. That’s big news and it has not been dealt with, so that will be dealt with.
Trevor is hoping for some more insight into Cyclops.
What moment or era would you say was the catalyst for Scott Summers current characterization? For you, what put Scott Summers on the path that led to his fall from grace? (This can be from either an editorial standpoint or in-story or both)
I think going back to the Paul Smith issues, you can start seeing a characterization there — particularly [Chris] Claremont trying to dig deeper than just vanilla guy, you know what I mean? That’s where I remember as a fan reading and going, “Hm. I wonder what’s cooking with this guy.” I think Jean’s death started him on a path, if I may. I think it started to manifest itself during the Paul Smith [issues] slowly, slowly, slowly and I think Jason [Aaron] and [Kieron] Gillen did really interesting work with it, and it’s certainly worth pursuing as far as we can pursue it.
Of all the characters, he does seem to be the one where if he went full bad guy, people wouldn’t be surprised. If he went full good guy, people wouldn’t be surprised. That’s what makes him the most interesting character in the X-Men Universe if not the Marvel Universe.
By the way, when we all argue with each other about the X-Men at the retreats, some people want a full-on bad guy, some people want [a full-on good guy]. It’s a great conversation.
Here’s doctormo with a query about Dazzler.
What role do you see Dazzler taking on at the New Xavier School? Is she a student, a teacher, or both? Scott, Emma, and Illyana all seem to be playing both roles.
Yes! All the teachers are in dire need of teachers. She will fit that bill. They’re going to help each other, they’re going to help themselves, they’re going to find their footing. She needs to find her footing — she’s in shock. Probably until Mystique is confronted, it’s always going to be there, and that’s going to happen sooner than later.
One thing that folks wrote in about quite a bit was what actually happened to Exodus in the previous issue of “Uncanny X-Men.”
Oh, he died. Yeah, he’s dead.
A few were even asking about how someone like Exodus would join up with S.H.I.E.L.D. in the first place.
He was recruited, flat-out recruited. I wrote the scene, but we didn’t have room for it — it was, “We’ll give you this if you give us this.” One of those. I didn’t have the room and I looked at it and said, “There are ten people that care about why.” … I definitely saw it as a, “We’ll give you this if you do that” sort of thing.
harashkupo wants to know more about the limitations of Cyclops’ revolutionaries and their diminished powers.
In a previous X-Po, Mr. [Cullen] Bunn gave us some insight with the way he writes Magneto’s powers, limitations and whatnot. It would be nice to hear what type of specific boundaries you’ve set for yourself when it comes to how you define broken powers.
It came out of conversations about other characters; there are certain characters that are too powerful, or certain writers write them where there’s no danger, [like] bad Superman stories — like the movies where he can turn the Earth backwards. Magneto getting his powers out of whack seemed like a test of character and it also would bring to the foreground things that I like about [him]. Everything we’re looking at is metal, but I think it’s more interesting if he has to make a bullet out of something and aim it. A more precise Magneto is a more interesting Magneto.
What about Cyclops, Emma and Magik — how do you approach their limitations?
I think you pay a price — and we’ve done this with Doctor Strange in the past — if your power is abused, you pay a price, and Emma’s paying a price. Once you start paying a price, it’s hard not to look at it as a test of character, as you’re not only paying it for this thing you did that broke your powers, but a life that led to this.
With Emma in particular — I know people are worried about Emma being in the background a little bit the last couple months — but what’s going to happen with Emma is going to be a self awareness that wasn’t there before, which will be interesting. It doesn’t mean she won’t be a full-on bitch when she needs to, but it’s going to be more precise.
Scott is going to unlock something about his powers that will be interesting and fun to work with, so that’s coming soon, too. We’re coming to another chapter in the evolution of their powers, which will be an evolution of character.
Fokken has a question about Illyana and possible future focus on the character.
I love what you’ve done with Illyana. Might there be any focused issues/arcs in her near future?
Yes. #1, I’m a big enough of a whore that I’m going to make the Kitty/Illyana monster hunter pinup in “All-New X-Men” #25 a reality. Everybody who saw it went, “You should do that!” I should do that! So yes, and there will be a reunion with Colossus, even though admitting that Colossus is coming to the book on any level is breaking my rule on Tumblr. There’s a lot going on with her. Her powers and her training with Doctor Strange, which I’m a big fan of. A lot’s going to happen. Her perspective on some of the things that Scott Summers is going to do may make her have a change of heart about where she is and why she’s doing what she’s doing.
Lastly — and this one is more just a compliment– I cannot believe you got me to care about Goldballs. I tip my hat to you on that, and the creation of ALL the new students. Adding new characters can be risky and self indulgent at times, but you’re crushing it.
You know this, but we had some Goldballs cosplay and we got a lot of emails from Hispanic people who live in that area that could not be happier with that character, so I love that he has connected. And there will be no other name than Goldballs! It has stuck, it is locked.
You addressed this a bit already, but there were so many questions about Emma this week — any more that you can add about what she’s up to?
I didn’t see all the questions, but I saw a lot of Emma questions, and some were frustrated Emma questions. It didn’t surprise me at all — she is kind of observing what’s happening and not as proactive as she’s been in the past. That has a lot to do with where she is and what’s going on and her making pointed choices. I will tell you that after this Ultimates storyline in “All-New X-Men,” we’re getting a Jean Grey/Emma Frost “Karate Kid,” Mr. Miyagi issue of them on an adventure together drawn by Sara Pichelli. I can’t get to that fast enough! It’s literally my next issue.
Wrapping up reader questions, Bjorn hopes to find out how Cyclops’ visor actually works.
How exactly does Cyclops new visor work, and is it a helmet or skin tight mask?
It is a filament on top of the mask — a ruby quartz filament. I don’t know if people read “Wired” magazine, but there has been massive developments in the optic blast ruby quartz technology since 1964. Like I said, a lot of people cosplay our Cyclops, which is nice, and it looks good to me! Sometimes you see the cosplay and it makes you rethink anything.
Before wrapping up on “Uncanny,” “AXIS” is coming down the line — will it be affecting the work you’ve been doing on the X-Men?
Well, I said online that there’s not going to be any [effect]. But there will be fallout that affects “Uncanny” particularly. At the time I was asked, the ending wasn’t locked and I didn’t want to commit because at the time, I didn’t see anything that I could grab that was — I’ve done events and a lot of the fallout, I wanted to do that. It’s the best part! I didn’t want to be grabby. This is Rick [Remender]’s baby, but he wasn’t directly using any of the characters I use, so I was like, “All right. I have so much to do!” But when he locked his ending, there was a couple of things that were offered to me if I wanted them. There was one thing in particular that I said, “That sounds great. I’ll do it in a second.” The fallout will be visible.
Tune in next week for Part Two of Giant-Size X-Position with Brian Bendis, focusing on “All-New X-Men.”
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