Since the X-Men have traditionally been tasked with protecting a world that fears and hates them, why don't they go see the world and try to understand it better? It's a reasonable question to ask, especially since times for the Marvel's mutants are about to become tougher and more complex than ever, and several of the X-Men's younger mutants will try to answer that question this fall in an all-new volume of "All-New X-Men."
This November, writer Dennis Hopeless and artist Mark Bagley will set these young mutants out on a road trip to see the Marvel Universe that they're trying to protect. The series will find the time-displaced original teen X-Men Cyclops, Iceman, Angel, and Beast traveling the highways and byways of the Marvel Universe in a van along with fellow modern-day mutants Genesis (Evan Sabahnur), Oya (Idie Okonkwo) and Wolverine (a moniker now owned by X-23).
CBR News spoke with Hopeless about his inspiration for the X-Men's road trip, how the young mutants come together, his plans for the individual members of the team and working with veteran artist Bagley.
CBR News: Looking at the covers for "All-New X-Men," I'm reminded of some of your past work: "X-Men: Season One," where you wrote the adventures of the original X-Men, and "Avengers Undercover," which starred a group of young heroes dealing with trauma and setting out on their own. "All-New" looks somewhat like a combination of both of those books. Is that a fair description?
Dennis Hopeless: I suppose that's fair, yeah.
"Avengers Undercover" was much darker in tone than what we have planned for "All New X-Men." That book revolved around the emotional fallout of surviving a death match [in "Avengers Arena"]. That level of trauma is profound and "Undercover" was all about the long slow climb out of darkness. Our mutants will definitely be battling personal demons, and one X-Man In particular is in a dark place when we open, but in general I think the book is more "Season One" than "Undercover."
The eight-months-later 616 [after the end of "Secret Wars"] is a rough place for mutants. Things have gotten ugly and mutants are feeling the hate and fear -- but the All-New X-Men will be fighting hard against that darkness. They think the X-Men have tried so hard for so long to save the world for mutantkind, they've lost track of the original mission statement. They want to get back to being super heroes. Minds are changed by setting an example.
What's the status quo for your cast when you pick things up after the time-jump following "Secret Wars"? Are they already out on the road in "All-New X-Men" #1? Will we see the events that lead them there?
They're all in different places, literally and figuratively. Hank, Idie and Evan are driving across the country in Hank's new van, having a sort of nerd-cation. Wolverine and Angel are enjoying some alone time. Bobby and Scott are off being Bobby and Scott. The events of the first arc conspire to bring them back together -- and the new mission statement builds organically from there.
We wanted to show the different members out on their own to give readers an idea of the various headspaces they're all in. A lot has changed since we last saw the All-New X-Men and every member is dealing in their own way.
What inspired the road trip direction? Do your characters have an ultimate destination and do they have anything as formal as a leader?
My inspiration for the road trip was a group of German kids my wife and I met in Thailand a few years ago. They were six months out of college and just finishing up their post-school/pre-career holiday. I'm not sure if that's a common idea in Germany but it sounded amazing. What a great way to deal with that transition from student to grown-ass adult. It's the first place my mind went when I was asked to pitch "All New X-Men." And a road trip across the 616 seemed like the perfect Marvel Universe version.
At the start it is all very informal. They've been taking time off and lying low while trying to figure out who and what they want to be going forward. None of them have really settled on an answer yet when they're yanked back into action. Everything happens on the fly and builds from there.
What types of superhero stories are you interested in telling in "All-New X-Men?" And since they're traveling, will we see areas of the Marvel Universe we don't often see?
Well, this is an X-Men book and these are teenagers, so you can definitely expect the super heroics to revolve in and around relationships and character drama. But we also have them on the road in the 616. They can go anywhere and fight anyone. As long as the action serves the characters, the sky's the limit.
You mentioned relationships and drama, and I imagine that traveling together in an enclosed space will only facilitate relationships and drama. How big a role will that play in "All-New X-Men"?
Relationship drama is the cornerstone of the book. Of course it is, it's an X-Men book. It's why we're building the entire story on that foundation. Like you say, these are kids in a van. They will bicker. They will laugh. They will scream. They will do everything you'd expect and more.
Can you tease some of the relationships and dynamics we'll see explored in the book?
So let's see -- Scott and Angel. Wolverine and Idie. Wolverine and Angel. Hank and Bobby. Bobby and Idie. Scott and Evan. Idie and Evan and Hank. Yeah, pretty much everyone is involved in personal drama with pretty much everyone else. Now what exactly that will look like -- remains to be seen.
Both the interpersonal and super heroic scenes of "All-New X-Men" are bound to look fantastic because they're being depicted by Mark Bagley, a veteran -- and fast -- artist most recently known for his record-breaking run on "Ultimate Spider-Man." How does it feel to write for Mark?
It was definitely a little bit intimidating at first. I was reading Mark and Brian [Michael Bendis]'s "Ultimate Spider-Man" in college when I first decided I wanted to write comics. Now I'm taking over a Brian Bendis X-Men book -- and Mark Bagley's drawing the thing. Fortunately Mark has been amazing from the very start. We hopped on the phone early in the process to discuss what we each wanted to do with the book and we were very clearly on the same page. We both want a book that leans into the character struggles of these teenagers while also providing fun, old school X-Men action. Anyone who read his run on "Ultimate Spider-Man" knows Mark is great at both. The only challenge so far has been keeping up with him.
Finally, can you leave us with some thoughts on your cast? Whose perspective will we follow? What do you find most interesting about these characters and which aspects of their personality are you especially interested in exploring?
It's definitely a team book, so the characters will share the spotlight. That said, our first arc spends a lot of time on Scott. A lot happened in the eight-month gap and it left Scott in a strange place. He's very much trying to figure things out and find his feet.
I'm obviously very excited to continue Bobby's story. Because of the time jump, we're several months removed from Bobby coming out. He's in a different place than he was at the end of the previous run, but this is all still very new and complicated.
Idie and Evan have a ton of potential to explore. I have big plans for Angel and Wolverine that will take off more in arc two. And Hank -- well, you'll see. I don't want to say too much this early but I love all of these characters and can't wait to dig in.
I'll be able to talk in more detail after a few issues are out. Our premise is pretty simple. These are teenagers driving around in a van, exploring the Marvel Universe and trying to help people. There are awful scary things in the world and mutants are in a bad way (aren't they always?) but this team is determined to push through all that. This is classic X-Men stuff and I think X-fans are going to love what we have planned.
"All-New X-Men" #1 drives into stores in November.