The New Faces of Brand X: Wood, Grant & Paquette

This week, X-Men fans finally got the news they'd been waiting for when Marvel Comics announced the creators who would be taking over the "second tier" X-Men books under the direction of Warren Ellis next March.

Marvel's Tuesday press release named the writers and artists who will be working with Ellis in his role as "plotmaster":

  • Brian ("Channel Zero") Wood will script "Generation X," with an

    artist to be named later.

  • Steven ("Punisher," "Stone Cold Steve Austin") Grant will script

    "X-Man," Ariel ("JLA: Paradise Lost," "The Kingdom") Olivetti on

    art. Mania (http://www.mania.com/) is reporting that Tim

    Bradstreet will be redesigning the character and doing covers for

    the book.

  • And Whilce ("Wetworks," "Uncanny X-Men") Portacio will be

    handling art on "X-Force," which will get scripting from writer Ian

    ("Aliens vs. Predator") Edgington.

But none of the writers will be doing traditional scripting work; Ellis will

be providing plots and much of the dialogue for the first four issues of

each series starting in March, with Wood, Grant and Edgington fleshing

out the rest of the story.

The arrangement isn't the only atypical thing about Marvel's shift of the

three X-books: None of the writers chosen by Ellis and Marvel are what

one might call the usual suspects for an X-book.

"It's a great chance to work with Warren, and to

work on a high-visibility project," Wood told the

Comic Wire on Tuesday. "I try not to get too

wrapped up in the politics of the thing. True, it's a

Marvel book, and an X-book, and I am sure lots of

my hardcore revolutionary-type fans are reeling at this

news, but all I want to do is tell good stories and have

people read them."

And while fans of his acclaimed subversive Image Comics series

"Channel Zero" might be reeling, so too might "Generation X" fans who

cling to the notion that Wood might secretly be a closet X-Men fan.

"Heh, not really," he said. "I pick them up from time to time, and 'Gen X'

is one of few that I have followed for some time, off and on."

Don't look for Wood to stop fighting the power, just because he's now

working with one of the majors.

"I am still continuing with my creator-owned books as planned, and am

currently working on a new 'Channel Zero' graphic novel."

Grant, on the other hand, has more of a background with Marvel's

superheroes, most notably Frank Castle, the Punisher.

"I've read the X-Men since I was a kid - I think the

first one I bought was the one that introduced The

Blob - but I don't know that I'd say I was a fan," he

told the Comic Wire on Wednesday. "But I like the

challenge of turning 'X-Man' into something. I like

writing loner outlaw heroes, and while he fits that

mold, he takes it in a new direction. I don't think my

fans will be disappointed at all. From what Warren's

concocted, I suspect most comics readers will go

wild for the book as well. It's completely logical, but I

don't think it has been done before."

So, what has Ellis come up with? You'll just have to wait until next spring

to find out, as far as Grant is concerned.

"Know all those nasty things that can be done to a human body that John

Constantine and Spider Jerusalem are always talking about? Warren will

cheerfully select one or more of those

things to do to me if I start giving away

plot details. But I can say the current

plan is for X-Man to become, as

Warren puts it, the 'spooky telepathic

shaman of the 21st century.' We both

want to do a character who can be

genuinely heroic, and both of us are

tired of whiny loners who squander

their time pining to be part of

something. So X-Man will be a loner who's very comfortable with it. He

has figured out what his role should be, and he's pursuing it avidly."

Rumors and reports about Marvel's shakeups of their X-Men franchise

had been circulating for months, and Tuesday, the company confirmed

many of the reports in one fell swoop.

The company confirmed that Steve Skroce will be taking over as writer

and artist of "Wolverine," novelist Robert Weinberg and artist Michael

("Contest of Champions II," "Heroes Reborn: Ashema") Ryan will take

over "Cable" and former "Wonder Woman" penciller Yanick Paquette

will join current writer Fabian Nicieza on "Gambit," starting this February.

"I've only done one issue so far ('Gambit' #15) and it was really exciting

to draw," Paquette told the Comic Wire on Tuesday. "I've done a lot of

mostly realistic and down-to-Earth stuff in the past and 'Gambit' is giving

me the opportunity to explore a different genre. Techno backgrounds and

cool action scenes are daily bread for the X-books. I've been reading the

X-Men since I was a kid and I'm proud to add my sweat to their

mythology (not only because the X-books are successful)," he joked,

"But cause I still feel close to these characters.

"Fabian is a great storyteller and seems very open to ideas. I'm not gonna

spoil any of the stuff coming up, sorry, but all sorts of major

developments are going on around Gambit. X-Men fans should pay

attention (and add 'Gambit' to their reserve if it's not already)."

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