Years ago, five lonely teenagers would meet at school and forge a friendship that would become legendary. Those five friends established one of the Marvel Universe's premier super teams, the X-Men, who to this day still fight for a world that fears and hates them. Beginning this September, in the pages of the eight issue Marvel Comics limited series "X-Men: First Class," writer Jeff Parker and artist Roger Cruz take readers back to the early days when Cyclops, Beast, Angel, Iceman, and Marvel Girl first used their Mutant gifts to explore the weird, wild, and wondrous Marvel Universe. CBR News spoke with Parker about the series.
The idea for "First Class" has changed a number of times since it's original pitch and Parker isn't exactly sure how the final premise for the series was decided. "We were originally talking about doing an 'Adventures' book with the original five X-Men, and then decided it was best to do something resembling the current roster when we reached that point," Parker told CBR News. "Then the executives later asked if we could still do the original five but in continuity, so we decided to take an 'Untold Tales' approach. So maybe it put the idea in their heads."
Unlike the cast members of many of the current X-Men titles, the protagonists of "First Class" won't have heads full of anxiety ridden thoughts. "There's been decades of angst and teeth-gnashing, so I wanted to take the rare chance to show the group actually have fun with their training and adventures," Parker explained. "That's not to say there aren't some darker and heavier moments, but I want the enthusiasm of their youth to shine through. And frankly I want to show that Scott Summers is not a dick."
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When "First Class" begins, the youthful team of X-Men have already been assembled. "They've already been working together for a while at this point," Parker explained. "The different uniforms they're wearing are just alternates that they use sometimes, and are mainly to help distinguish the untold stories and originals."
The untold stories of "First Class" take place around the time of the original X-Men's final days as students at Xavier's School. "Issue one happens before they graduate and not long after, when they were doing 'post graduate studies' as the originals said," Parker stated. "Bobby has just started being more icy than snowy. The series jumps around, so it's hard to say how much time is passing."
In the time that has passed before the series began, the original X-Men have become a tight, close knit group. "Each of them is very appreciative to be around others in the same boat. None of them knew other mutants before Xavier came for them, and they're starting to consider that maybe they're not freaks, maybe they're something special."
For "First Class," Parker plans on showing how special the original X-Men are in a variety of different stories that will take readers all over the globe. "It's a lot of individual stories that bring readers into the founding members that they actually may not know," Parker said. "It goes all over the world! They've got a helicopter and a jet, and they use them."
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While they are on their globe trotting adventures, the X-Men will run into a host of the Marvel Universe's most familiar faces. "We're revisiting some other favorites who would be around at the right time that later developments don't contradict," Parker explained. "In issue two they go looking for The Lizard and in issue four Dr. Strange figures in heavily."
With the exception of the guest stars and other characters the X-Men run into on their exploits, "First Class" will primarily focus on the original five team members and their teacher. "So Professor X doesn't have to teach every single class, we've given some more chores like that to Cerebro. I wanted to keep the focus on the five and the Professor, so no other characters figure in more prominently than one book."
Parker has seen the visuals his artistic collaborators have been turning out for the series and he was blown away. "Roger Cruz has been evolving into this new style that's very European, I think. It's not the way I saw the characters being depicted when I started writing the books, but I really like it and I think will read as very fresh," Parker said. "Val Staples' is doing different things with the colors to match, and it's really giving the series a stylistic stamp. They'll probably have some preview material soon, and I think readers will really like it. Marko Djudjevic is already taking the comics world by storm just with the covers, I'm starting to see those everywhere!"
Despite some online rumors speculating otherwise, Parker confirmed for CBR News that "X-Men: First Class" is only an eight issue mini-series but if the series does well he would love to chronicle more of the untold exploits of the X-Men from either or both of the team's eras (Original and "Post Giant Size X-Men" #1) "I think it would be fun," he said. "I like the originals, but maybe a mix of both somehow would be neat."