INTERVIEW: School's in Session for Generation X's New Class

This April, Marvel Comics launches its ResurrXion line of books, which will find most of the X-Men going back to the dream their founder, Charles Xavier, had for them. However, there are some mutants whose powers and personalities disqualify them from being ambassadors between mutantkind and humanity. These misfit mutants -- Quentin Quire, Eye-Boy, Benjamin Deeds, Bling, Nature Girl and new character named Nathanial Carver -- take center stage in May’s “Generation X,” by writer Christina Strain and artist Amilcar Pinna.

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In addition to following the adventures of these new and fan favorite teenage mutants, “Generation X” will also feature a connection to the original volume of the series from the ‘90s in the form of former mutant, current vampire and single mom Jubilee, who will serve as a mentor to the Xavier Institute’s special class. We spoke with Strain about how her cast will relate to the Xavier Institute’s other classes, the types of adventures they’ll have, and the role Jubilee's former Gen-X teammate Chamber will play in the series.

CBR: One of the most interesting things I about your cast is that it's sort of the misfit class of the new Xavier Institute. Is this series sort of an underdog tale? What kind of relationship will your characters have with the students on the tracks to become the next generation of X-Men or next generation of mutant ambassadors?

Christina Strain: I dunno if it's so much of an underdog tale as... an ensemble identity tale? It's way more “The Breakfast Club” than it is “Bad News Bears.” And my emotional touchstone for this book has been that feeling you get in college, after you've switched majors one or two times, when you suddenly realize that adulthood isn't just looming, it's all up in your face. As for rivalries, this division is new for everyone, so it's not like there's already some pre-established nerd/jock pecking order within the classes -- and I don't plan on developing one. I'm just not interested in it. I'd rather explore what this development means for our characters and how they feel about it rather than spend too much time on what's going on with tertiary characters.

EXCLUSIVE: A look at "Generation X" #1 by artist Amilcar Pinna

Jubilee is your team leader/mentor figure. Can you talk a little more about what that means, what her duties are, and how she views them? Is she the team's sole instructor?

Jubilee's not their sole instructor, but she's their primary, so she feels entirely responsible for them. She's moved past being the plucky sidekick to become a mom, a teacher, a therapist and a guidance counselor. She's basically got a baby and six teens she's responsible for -- that's seven human beings she's gotta keep alive and well. Seven. All with their own agendas that don't always align with hers. It's a lot to handle.

What's your team's overall dynamic? And what's it like bouncing your various cast members off of each other and Jubilee? Are there any character interactions that are proving to be especially fun to write?

Most of them know each other (some better than others), but they're far from a tight knit crew. As you'd expect, they'll start bonding over time. And honestly, they're all fun to write, so I don't really have a clear-cut favorite yet. Off the top of my head, three friendships that I've really enjoyed exploring are Quentin Quire and Benjamin Deeds, Lin (Nature Girl) and Trevor (Eye-Boy), and Jubilee and Jono (Chamber).

Quentin's so garbage at expressing himself that it's been super entertaining coming up with "nice" things for Quentin to do for his roomie, "Benji." It's like watching a feral cat trying to strike up a friendship with a confused alpaca. And then with Trevor and Lin, she's the only person he can't see through and he's the only human who's ever tried this hard to understand her, so they have this fascination with each other that's interesting. And Jubilee and Chamber just have this familiarity with each other that no other relationship has because they've been through so much together. They don't have to try to understand each other, they just do.

EXCLUSIVE: A look at "Generation X" #1 by artist Amilcar Pinna

What's it like juggling your cast of characters? Who are some cast members that will step into the spotlight in your initial issues?

Oh, it's been a pleasure juggling this batch of weirdos. They're all so different that I just have a really good time bouncing them off of each other. Some of the relationships sing, and others are walking disasters. I love it.

Initially, as I'm sure most people can guess, Jubilee and Quentin get a lot of panel time. The first two issues focus on them but after that, we sort of round robin through the rest of the group. Issue 4 has a nice Roxy (Bling) storyline that I like and issue 5 has a bit of focus on Trevor. Basically, everyone's gonna get their moment to sparkle.

What else can you tell us about the tone, scope, scale, and sort of genres of your cast's initial adventures?

Oh man. I have such a hard time with these sorts of questions... Tonally, I mean, the easiest book for me to compare it to is “Runaways.” But I'm not half the writer Brian [K. Vaughan] is, so... let's not compare them too closely? Basically, it's a misfit teen book with a bit of heart, a lot of weird, and a tongue-and-cheek sense of humor.

What kind of antagonists will "Generation X" initially be up against? Is this a series where supervillains will play a regular and significant role?

It's going to vary. Right off the bat you'll see some Purifiers and then -- that's all I'm going to say, because I reeeeeallly don't want to spoil too much. Some villains will be more significant than others, and you will see some recognizable faces. There may even be some problems erupting internally. You'll just have to wait and see.

Fair enough. What can you tell us about the settings you'll play with in "Generation X?"

EXCLUSIVE: A look at "Generation X" #1 by artist Amilcar Pinna

We're doing a lot on school grounds, in Central Park, and NYC. As of right now, I don't really see them straying too far from the school because they don't need to go too far for things to go pear-shaped, but we'll see. Some of of their locations are going to be dictated by story and we're still in early days. I do have one arc planned that'll definitely take Jubilee and Chamber away from the school, but that's all I'm going to say about that for now.

I first became aware of Amilcar Pinna via his work on "All-New Ultimates," and I really enjoy the expressiveness of his characters, his design work, and his ability to convey a tone. What's it like working with Amilcar? What do you enjoy most about his style?

Amilcar's a dream. He's nice and so enthusiastic about the book and it really comes through in the pages. Seriously, issue one looks so good. He makes me want to be a better writer. And beyond Amilcar's expressive and dynamic style, he's easy to work with. He's receptive and eager for notes and I could seriously just hug him to bits.

The weirdest part about writing comics for me has been giving notes to pencilers. As a former colorist, of course I have thoughts on what does and doesn't make the storytelling on a page successful -- but it was never my place to give those notes before now. So when Amilcar turns in these amazing thumbs and I have notes, I always wonder if I'm being weirdly nit picky, but he's so open to hearing them that he calms me right down. I love him.

Finally, the Xavier Institute gives you the opportunity to have a number of X-Men make guest and cameo appearances in "Generation X." But what about the rest of the Marvel Universe? Any interest in or plans for guest star appearances by other Marvel characters?

The school will be populated, you will get weird little snippets of what's going on in other student's lives, and there will be cameos/guest appearances by other mutants. Especially the younger mutants and previous Gen Xers. In the first issue alone, you'll see Chamber, (who honestly might as well be the honorary eighth member of Gen X) Broo, Pixie, Glob Herman, Genesis, Graymalkin, Anole, and several others running around. As as for what's going on in the rest of the Marvel Universe, I really want it to be a book newer readers could pick up and enjoy so I'd like to keep “Generation X” as self contained as possible. But who knows? I haven't written the whole thing yet!

EXCLUSIVE: A look at "Generation X" #1 by artist Amilcar Pinna
EXCLUSIVE: A look at "Generation X" #1 by artist Amilcar Pinna
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