SPOILER ALERT: The following interview contains major spoilers for "Age of X" and "New Mutants" #24, in stores now.
We've all experienced dreams so vivid that it feels like we're living another life. When we wake up we breathe a sigh of relief if the dream is particularly nightmarish, and perhaps we feel a twinge of regret or sadness if the dream is particularly good. Right now Marvel Comics' X-Men characters are experiencing both emotions at the same time. That's because in the seven part "Age of X" crossover running through "X-Men:Legacy" and "New Mutants" the X-Men and the inhabitants of their island home, Utopia, were transported to an alternate reality where the X-Men had never formed because of the machinations of an all powerful ant-mutant coalition. The last remaining mutants of this reality were huddled together in a fortress trying to survive a daily assault by anti-mutant forces.
As the crossover progressed the X-Men discovered that the reality was a construct of one of the many multiple personalities of the mutant known as Legion. The personality could create and alter reality, and in order to make this new dimension feel more it real it used its abilities to mess with the X-Men's memories. In "New Mutants" #24, writer Mike Carey and artist Steve Kurth concluded the crossover and restored the proper reality, but memories of the dream reality will linger and haunt them for some time.
In today's installment of X-COMMUNICATED, our in-depth look at "Age of X," Mike Carey joins us one last time for inside info and commentary on "New Mutants" #24. If you're just joining us feel free to catch up with these links to our discussions about the crossover prologue, and parts one, two, three, four and five of the storyline. While we wait we'll try and ease the tension between your real world and alternate reality girlfriends...
CBR News: Mike, here the X-Men take on the high-tech forces of the human coalition and I noticed among their numbers are the villains Avalanche, and a bald guy I believe is Scalphunter.
Mike Carey: Yeah, that's right.
So in this reality these two characters have had a chance to be an active part of the resistance and experience what it feels like to be part of a heroic mutant team?
Yes. Everyone had their memories altered. They've all experienced these three years of subjective time and they've all been edited to fit the reality. So the fall-out, when it comes, will happen across a pretty wide front.
I imagine in upcoming issues of "X-Men: Legacy" you'll be examining how that experience affected various X-Men. Do you have any desire to look at how that fall-out will affect guys like Avalanche and Scalphunter?
I would love to at some point. In our two explicit epilogue issues of "X-Men Legacy," #248 and #249, I've concentrated mostly on characters that were at the forefront of the action and therefore were the most profoundly affected by it. So we look in on Cyclops and Frenzy. Legion, obviously. We see Namor and Storm, Pixie, Gambit and Magneto, Chamber and Helliom; people like that.
It would be nice, though, at some point to touch base with some of the other characters. We do see how the X-Men as a whole are dealing with the psychological trauma of "Age of X" and the decisions that Cyclops makes on the back of that. But with a cast that big, some of the reactions inevitably have to happen off-panel.
Here we have Moira, the Legion persona responsible for the "Age of X" reality saying, "Asked for this. Begged for it! Begged and Pleaded!" Who is she referring to?
I think she's referring to mutants as a whole, and possibly to Professor X and Magneto in particular, because they kicked against this reality that she created for them. From the way she's looking at things she's been kind and generous. She's created this sort of refuge for them and their response has been to rebel against it. So now she's going to take more extreme steps such as destroying the original universe so there's no going back. She's a very unstable personality, obviously -- or rather, a very unstable part of Legion's personality -- and what we're seeing here is a monologue of insane self-justification.
In this scene Cannonball gets mortally wounded by anti-mutant forces, but he manages to hold on though until Legion rights reality. What about Tempo though, the one mutant we actually saw die in this reality? What's her status when Legion rights things?
I'm thinking she's dead. It pains me to say this because I enjoyed writing her both as a characters and in terms of how her powers worked, but I think she's dead. It is possible, because this is a pocket reality and not a real universe, that maybe she's out there somewhere; maybe there's some remnant of the bubble where she still exists. I think she's dead, though.
Cyclops and Wolverine fighting side by side and actually enjoying it is kind of bittersweet since we know a huge rift is about to open up between them in "Schism."
[Laughs]Yeah. I very much liked what you said in our previous conversation about how Cyclops now knows what it's like to be Wolverine because he's experienced Wolverine's reality from the inside. So it's kind of cool getting to have them make this last stand together.
Was "Schism" on your mind when you were writing this storyline?
The planning for "Schism" had already begun when we started work on "Age of X," so I knew that there was going to be this painful breakdown the middle of the X-verse. It was in the back of my mind, yeah.
On this page Legion explains that he did away with Moira by "calling her home." When he does this she protests and says she wants to live. By calling her home is Legion ending her life permanently? Or just ending her life outside his subconscious?
The latter. He's taken that aspect of himself back into his personality and back under his conscious control. In the short term, what that means is that he's able to use those powers, which would suggest that Moira has ceased to exist as a separate sub-division of his personality. I imagine, though, that the potential for her still exists in his mind. He hasn't permanently erased her. What he's done is absorb her, which is not the same thing. She's still in there somewhere.
As you said, Legion is now able to use Moira's reality altering power and here he uses it to restore the X-Men's reality to its correct shape. Does having access to this power mean Legion's multiple personality disorder is cured?
There is still lots and lots of work to be done to cure Legion. What's happened is that Moira created a world where those separate personas were pulled out of him. They existed as separate individuals. We see them in the background of lots of shots. When the bubble collapses they're drawn back into the bedrock reality, and in that reality they don't have that freedom, that autonomy. So they cease to have a separate existence and they're drawn back inside Legion. His problems are not solved.
Looking forward, it's possible that he could be capable of doing what he did with Moira on a larger scale. So he might be able to integrate himself. What we definitely know now though, is Nemesis' approach is not going to work. You don't address the problem by treating the symptoms. When you go about taking out his sub-personas, the circumstances that produced that fragmentation are still there and even become exacerbated. So you've got to address that.
So Legion is a character still shrouded in mystery then?
In terms of how his powers work and what he's capable of? Oh yeah. In "Legacy" #248-249 we'll be looking into some of those conundrums. We'll see the Science team's next step in trying to deal with Legion's problem and what they're working on to try and bring it under some degree of control.
Speaking of mysteries, the first panel on this page features Chamber and the last time I remember seeing him, Apocalypse's followers in Akkaba Society had fixed his body and face. Here though, he's back to his original appearance with his blown off jaw and energy leaking out. Am I missing something?
You're not missing anything. It looks like Chamber has come out of the alternate reality bubble and retained some of the physical attributes he possessed in the "Age of X" reality. So the reconstructive work that Clan Akkaba did on him has been undone and the reasons why will eventually be explored.
Refresh my memory -- was Chamber on "Utopia" before the "Age of X" began? I don't recall really seeing him on the island.
We haven't seen him, but he was definitely there and that's why he was affected. The only character who has potentially come from the outside and who we still need to explain is Revenant.
She's also in the first panel on this page. When can we expect some answers about her?
You will get some answers in "X-Men: Legacy" #248 and #250.
In addition, this page showcases the love triangle between Cyclops, his real world girlfriend Emma Frost, and his wife in the "Age of X," Frenzy. What's running through Frenzy's mind as Cyclops walks away from her? It seems like sadness, but the look on her face seems to suggest some anger as well?
There certainly are some very intense emotions there of bereavement and anger. I think Steve did a fantastic job in that close up of her face. She seems almost paralyzed by the sheer intensity of what she's feeling. It's anybody's guess how she's going to react to that.
The first thing Frenzy does here when she sees Cyclops is kiss him: I think the love that she felt for him inside the bubble is still there, whereas he is immediately going back to his old status quo and a different relationship. So a lot of stuff is going to hit the fan there.
We're seeing things from Frenzy's point of view here. Will we see Scott's perspective on their relationship?
We'll get his side of things in #248. There's a scene between the two of them where he gets to state things from his perspective. Moving forward, since Frenzy is a member of the new team I'm more interested in her side of things.
So other X-book writers will have a chance to comment on the Cyclops-Frenzy-White Queen triangle?
I don't think this will be swept under the carpet. It certainly complicates his relationship with Emma, even if she is going to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Here we see another complicated romantic entanglement because of "Age of X," the relationship between Storm and Namor. I imagine the fall out of their romance in "Age of X" might have some interesting effects, especially since Storm's marriage has hit a bit of rocky point with her husband off on his own.
Yes, and three years of living as a another man's lover is not going to make that any easier. There is a brute force solution that's put forward to that problem in #248. Whether or not it will hold is anybody's guess.
In the bottom two panels the conversation between Cyclops and Professor X seems to suggest that Legion's ability to alter reality means the X-Men now have a big Scarlet Witch-sized problem to deal with?
Yes, I don't think that's overstating it. He's got this staggering, world-threatening power. He's definitely come into his Omega level potential. There is a huge amount of instability built in, though, and that is a problem the X-Men are going to have to address. The arc that begins in #250 gives us some inkling on how they might address it.
So Legion using his reality power to right reality wasn't a desperate Hail Mary type situation then? He can access and use it regularly?
If he's used it once he can use it again, but it's a weapon that has no application. It's like if somebody gave you an atomic bomb for your birthday. There are a limited number of situations where you could think about using it, because it's all or nothing. The ability to reshape the whole of reality and birth a new universe is not something you could use in a battle against a super villain.
It seems like there are two ways of interpreting this final page. You can look at it hopefully and say that Legion still had access to the "Age of X" reality but decided to make it disappear for good, or you can take a more pessimistic approach and decide that Legion has just filed the reality away to use at a later date.
We left it open like that so you could read it either way. How much control does Legion have over the Moira aspect of his personality? Is she still inside one of his brain cells and still crying out to be acknowledged and given her freedom? And is there any way in which that potential could be expressed again? We don't know yet.
Since we're taking our last look at the reality for at least awhile, I have to wonder about how Simon Spurrier and Khoi Pham's "Age of X: Universe" connects to everything. We now know that the mutants in Fortress X during "Age of X" were the mutants in Utopia, but in "Age of X: Universe" the story followed characters who were definitely not on Utopia when reality was altered. Moving forward, will we get answers about how "Age of X" and "Age of X: Universe" connect?
We do have some plans we're discussing, because "Universe" is kind of a story that exists nowhere, in no time. It's the pre-history of a place that never existed. There is another way of looking at it though, which is what we're talking about now. It's something we might capitalize on in a future story in a really cool way. I'm sorry to be so vague, but this is something that's still at the planning stage.
CAREY'S FINAL THOUGHTS ON "AGE OF X"
It feels good to have it finally all out there. I just had so much fun with this story. From the moment we began to brainstorm beyond my initial idea about the generational conflict, and it started to become "Age of X," it became a really wild and exhilarating process. When my run on X-Men and these characters is over, I think this will be the story that I look back on with the most pride and pleasure. We had an incredible team.
Daniel [Ketchum, the editor of "X-Men Legacy"] has been so inspirational, and he was vitally important in shaping the story and keeping control of the story. Clay Mann and Steve Kurth have been spectacular collaborators. Their character designs and their realizations of the setting were a huge part of why the story worked and why it struck a chord with readers. So it really was a symphony of all of us pitching in and striking sparks off each other. Sorry for the ridiculous mixed metaphor there. But yeah, it's been a blast.