[SPOILER WARNING: THIS INTERVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR "X-MEN: BATTLE OF THE ATOM" #1 AND "ALL-NEW X-MEN" #16, AVAILABLE NOW]
The aftermath of Marvel Comics' "Avengers Vs X-Men" event gave the X-Men a reason to come together in that for the first time in several years as large numbers of new mutants began appearing in the Marvel Universe. However, Charles Xavier's death in that series at the hands of a Dark Phoenix-possessed Cyclops only served to exacerbate the existing ideological schism between Wolverine and Cyclops' branches of the X-Men. In the pages of Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen's "All-New X-Men" #1 the Beast resorted to desperate measures in order to convince Cyclops to abandon the mutant revolutionary path he had embarked upon.
Beast's plan brought the teenage versions of himself and the other four founding X-Men into the present, but it blew up in his face when the original five X-Men remained in the present day and one of their number, Angel, even joined Cyclops' "Uncanny X-Men" splinter team. It remains to be seen if Beast tampering with the X-Men's past has destroyed the team's future? That's one of the questions at the center of the "X-Men: Battle of the Atom" crossover running through "All-New X-Men," "Uncanny X-Men," "X-Men," and "Wolverine & the X-Men" that celebrates the 50th anniversary of the X-Men's creation.
In "X-Men: Battle of the Atom" #1 by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Frank Cho the original five X-Men went into action and almost ended up drastically altering history. Then in the second part of the crossover, "All-New X-Men" #16, by Bendis and Immonen, Wolverine's team of X-Men met and clashed with a group claiming to be the X-Men of the future. Comic Book Resources spoke with Senior Editor Nick Lowe about the events of these first two issues and what's still to come in "Battle of the Atom."
CBR News: Nick, we're two issues into "Battle of the Atom" and one of the biggest things to happen is the introduction of the mysterious X-Men from the future. Based on what we've seen and what we were told this appears to be a team of X-Men from a dystopian Sentinel overrun future created in part by the Original Five X-Men never returning to the present day. Is that correct? Can we as readers take what the future X-Men are saying at face value? Or should we be suspicious of them like the teenage Jean Grey?
Nick Lowe: You're correct. These are the Future X-Men from a really awful future. Now, are they all boy scouts? The X-Men rarely are, even today. They aren't exactly like the X-Men of today, I'll tell you that much. They've been forced to make a ton of difficult decisions in a rough, rough place.
One of the big reveals at the end of "All-New X-Men" #16 is that Jean Grey is part of this X-Men team from the future. That to me suggests that "Battle of the Atom" is as much a Jean Grey story as it is an X-Men story Is that correct? How important was it to you that Jean's past, present and future be represented in this 50th Anniversary story? What do you think she meant to the X-Men?
Not only is Jean is one of the most important X-Characters of all time, but she's also been the center of "All-New X-Men" since it launched. She's also got the most to lose if she and her friends get sent back in time, so she's definitely at the core of "Battle of the Atom."
In addition to Jean, the X-Men of the future have another telepath in their ranks in the form of a man claiming to be the grandson of Charles Xavier. He's a character who's hard to get sense of so I wanted to see what more you could tell us about him based on what we've seen so far. How similar and how different is he from his grandfather? He looks like his grandfather and appears to have his powers, but he seems to lack some of Charles' warmth. Is this simply because of the time he hails from?
He's very much a product of his environment, but, yes, this is Charles Xavier's grandson. You have to remember, Charles wasn't always a warm and fluffy guy. He could be very hardcore at times.
The appearance of the X-Men of the future led to some interesting twists in the love triangle between the teen versions of Jean Grey, Cyclops and the Beast. It appears that Jean only picked teen Scott to flee from the future X-Men with her after teen Hank refused. Can you talk about why she chose Hank first? And does Scott have any inklings about Jean's feelings for Hank?
Jean and both versions of Hank McCoy shared some really big moments in "All-New X-Men" #15 leading up to Jean and young Hank's kiss. That new deepened connection along with Jean's new perspective on Scott, having seen what he grows up to be, caused Jean to choose Hank first. Scott may not know her feelings about Hank yet, but he will soon!
Jean fled the school because she was fearful the X-Men would send her back to her past and her eventual death. Plus the future X-Men talk about how the originals have to go back to their time in order to avert a disastrous future time line. This seems to indicate that one of the themes of "Battle of the Atom" is predestination versus free will. How big a theme is that conflict in the overall story that is "Battle of the Atom?"
That's definitely one of the dominant themes in "Battle of the Atom." The other one is the logic vs. emotion argument centered around the out-of-time kids. Logic shows the All-New X-Men should go home, but emotion seems to beg to let them stay. Both of these arguments are huge to the story.
Let's talk a little bit about how that conflict has the staff of the Jean Grey School feeling at the end of "All-New X-Men" #16. Are Logan and his teammates united in their feelings over what must be done with the original five X-Men? Or is there some division there?
Please, this is the X-Men! They never all agree on anything! [Laughs] You'll see this picked up in "X-Men" #5 in a big way!
Cyclops' team of X-Men are bound to have some mixed feelings about this as well. In "Battle of the Atom" #1 the older Cyclops almost disappeared from history when his younger self was critically injured. How is older Scott feeling about that at the end of "All-New X-Men" #16? And have some of his teammates like, say, Magneto been thinking about how the original five X-men should be handled as well?
I can't say anything that doesn't cover the ground we're headed toward in the story, except for that this situation divides all the X-Men in big and surprising ways!
Let's take a moment to talk about the art in these first two chapters by Frank Cho and Stuart Immonen. What do you feel these guys brought to these first two chapters of "Battle of the Atom?" And what can we expect from the visuals in the other chapters moving forward?
Frank and Stuart are two of the best artists in the business. In fact, when Stuart stepped in on the last four pages of Ch. 1, he and Frank had an absolute love fest over e-mail. It was really fascinating to watch these two amazing artists talk about each other's' work. And I can't talk about these two without talking about their collaborators. First, Marte Gracia colored both issues over both artists and just killed it. And then there's Wade von Grawbadger who inks Stuart's pencils so damn well. His work is so smooth and delicate yet strong!
Anyway, just wait until you see what we have coming. Next up is David Lopez (with Cam Smith's stunning inks and Laura Martin's magnificent colors) kicking butt with writer Brian Wood on "X-Men" #5. Then it's Chris Bachalo (with the aforementionedly amazing Marte Gracia on colors) with Bendis on "Uncanny X-Men" #12. And finishing out the first month is the triumphant return to X-books of Giuseppe Camuncoli (with finishes by "Ultimates" inker Andrew Currie and colors by X-Alum Matt Milla!). We are truly blessed with the art on this crossover.
Finally, can you offer up any hints or teases for "X-Men" #5, the third chapter of "Battle of the Atom?"
Oh yeah! Jean and Scott on the road! The X-Men (of future and present) in pursuit! Intrigue! Dissent!