While Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada's tenure has been made famous for its numerous shocking developments and changes, from the creation of Marvel's own rating system to a new recap page system, come October it seems that Marvel's merry mutants may once again steal the spotlight. As editor Andrew Lis explains, Marvel is replacing October with their own month- "Claremonth."
"It's a celebration of one of the most enduring writers in comics history," explains Lis. "Chris Claremont is still known by many fans as the premier X-Men writer, thanks to his several decades run on X-Men titles, and this is our way of celebrating. We're putting out a self-contained story in 'X-Treme X-Men #19,' as well as launching Chris's pet character: Kitty Pryde, in her own limited series. This is in addition to some snazzy reprints the same month."
The creative genesis behind this celebration of writer Chris Claremont is quite simple, according to Lis- it's about damn time. "We just looked at his output, what we had lined up, and decided, 'this is something we should do for Chris. He's here every month, and he deserves the extra push.' 'XXM #19' is self-contained, and it guests the 'New X-Men' characters. There should be something for every X-fan in that issue. Chris has such a fan following because he gives the audience exactly what they want: hard-hitting sci-fi epics. He's consistent, he's an idea machine, he's giving the fans something they demand, and he's been doing this for a long, long time."
While Grant Morrison's "New X-Men" has been the recipient of critical acclaim and extremely high sales, and "Uncanny X-Men" has undergone numerous high profile creative overhauls, it has sometimes seemed that "X-Treme X-Men" was the X-Men comic book that didn't serve a lot of purpose. But Lis is quick to dismiss any speculation that Marvel considers "X-Treme X-Men" extraneous and contends that "Claremonth" will hook a lot of new readers to the series. "'XXM' is the book that gives the X-fans what they can't get anywhere else. While it's not a nostalgia book, it IS the X-Men the way you knew them as a kid or teen or adult. If it's unclear about its niche, just look at the sales charts -- this is a book that is on par with the best sellers in the industry. I think of it as just a third X-Men book - 'Uncanny,' 'New' and 'X-treme.' Each gives readers a slightly altered view of the X-Men mythos and the role of mutants in society. If I sound vague, it's on purpose, though. The book addresses this question over the next few months, and I really can't give away too much more without spoiling the stories we've got planned."
"The plans are to just continue making the best X-Men comic we can. Chris has written, and loves, all of the major characters. With the core cast we have on 'XXM,' we can't help but have some overlap. For example, we did a story with Chris where Jean came to visit Storm. A big reason: they're long-standing best friends. There's no way they can just co-exist and not speak. So, from time-to-time, you'll see some overlap. Our plans for the immediate future include shorter arcs -- limiting the stories to a few issues to make for easier jumping-on points, and to switch things up a bit with the cast. We've got some a new guy coming in, but he's an existing character. That's all I can say now, again, because I don't want to step on Chris's stories."
As Lis mentioned, fan-favorite Marvel character Kitty Pryde will be getting her own mini-series entitled "MekaniX" come October. "It's the story of Kitty Pryde at school," explains Lis. "She's still a mutant teenager, and she's still got to deal with the same stuff African-American kids had to deal with in the sixties when schools were integrated. The title actually comes from dealing with that kind of stress -- by coming together, these kids become mechanics for their own shattered lives. Aside from the racial overtones, we throw in an overhanging specter of real, immediate danger, shown through the presence of some nasty, recognizable villains. Think of 'Buffy' crossed with the X-Men, and you've got 'MekaniX.'"
Unlike so many of Marvel's other mutant characters who have appeared in decades past, Kitty Pryde has been a consistently popular character and Lis attributes that to the symbolism inherent in the character. "For me, though, the heart of the character is wish-fulfillment and optimism. Even her power -- when things get bad, she can just phase away - reflects this. It's wish-fulfillment on a basic level. However, she's brave enough to play against this urge to get away and she does what we all try to do: the best we can. If you look back, almost everything she does is about finding the positive in negative situations, and living a dream."
The artists on "MekaniX" are Juan Bobillo and Marcelo Sosa, whose distinct art style has been shining through in the preview pages made available thus far and whom Lis believes will draw in a lot of readers. "Their work is fantastic! These guys are a joy to work with, have a great feel for modern life, including current fashion, and are approaching this entire project with optimism and enthusiasm. They're going to be very good for us, I think, as they force the entire team to approach this with a fresh face and the same excitement."
One rumor that has been circulating is that is if sales on "MekaniX" are high enough, the mini-series may become an ongoing, but Lis isn't about to confirm that. "Just look for that 'Origin' ongoing series next year. OK, that's a bad example of a strong-selling LS becoming a monthly title. As long as sales warrant, and we have a great story, we'd love to do more 'MekaniX.' Let's get the first one out, first, though, or Chris won't finish up #5 and #6 and will just write the sequel!"
Though Claremont is hard at work on "X-Treme X-Men," "MekaniX" and "Gen13" for rival DC Comics, he does convey a message for his fans through Lis. "I know Chris loves the fans. He visibly lights up around his audience. He's like a kid at Christmas! So buy 'MekaniX' and 'X-Treme X-Men' or you'll all get coal!"