X-Men MMXI: Nick Lowe Unveils A "Schism"

Marvel Comics wrapped its week of X-Men MMXI press calls today with a call featuring senior editor Nick Lowe covering everything X-Men from this week's previous announcements on through ongoing series like "Astonishing X-Men" and the announcement of the "Schism" event. CBR News was on hand with full coverage of the call.

Lowe started off by talking about his personal favorite era of "X-Men" comics. "My sentimental favorite will always be 'X-Ecutioenrs Song,'" he said. "That's what got me hooked on X-Men...I haven't gone back to it recently because I want to save my young vision of what it was." The artists were a major factor of his appreciation (particularly Greg Capullo on "X-Force"), and the story of Cable and Stryfe carried him through as an X-Reader for years to where he got very into Grant Morrison's "New X-Men."

The adjective-less "X-Men" title became a topic of talk. "There's a different big bad that's going to be involved soon," he said, praising Victor Gischler's work while noting that an upcoming arc will be written by Chris Yost who will be introducing a new X-Villain along with artist Paco Medina. "After that Victor's going to be returning, and that arc will be equally exciting."

Daniel Way and Jason Pearson will kick off new issues of "Astonishing X-Men" soon. "One thing we want to focus on is that this is taking place in current X-Men continuity," he explained, speaking of the second arc which will trade off teams both in the X-Men and with the creators. "What hits the X-Men [while one team is gone to Japan] and Beast can be summed up in one word: Brood." The characters involved with the Brood arc will include Beast, Storm and Kitty Pryde as created by Chris Gage and Juan Bobillo.

In "X-Factor," Peter David will continue to grow his cast with new characters, and Lowe noted that Wolfsbane's pregnancy will play a central role very, very soon. "There's heavy, heavy stuff coming up for Strong Guy," the editor added when asked what characters would be worth keeping an eye on. The list also included Archangel, Idie of "Generation Hope" who will play a central role in the next X-event and X-Man who will not be going away during the months after his return in "New Mutants."

"One cool thing Axel did was [make] the importance level of the books equal," he said, noting that after "Messiah CompleX" the books "each beacme important in their own way...I love where the X-books are right now and where we're heading, and that's Axel's doing. If one thing changes from me taking the wheel, I'm a bit more in love with the X-Characters than Axel was. I'm a huge fan of long story arcs and characters getting involved with soap opera plots."

Lowe noted that he's been reading a lot of prose fiction of late including George RR Martin's Song of Fire and Ice and "The Hunger Games" which track characters and their changes over years, and he hopes to inject some of that plotting style back into the X-Men books.

The editors explained that to him, the core of the X-Franchise is "people who are born different."

Speaking again on villains as a central focus of the next year, Lowe said his favorite kinds of villains are like Magneto - characters who come to stories with a purpose and a goal. "To me, the key is understanding what characters want," he said. "We've got one villain I've never been able to crack in 'New Mutants,' and I think we've finally got a handle on the character...the thing I love is when you can draw similarities between yourself and the villain. That's what makes them truly scary."

Unsurprisingly, Lowe pointed readers interested in walking into the line to start with "Uncanny X-Men" 534.1 which ships soon.

Classic villains return soon in the pages of "X-Men" as well as other places, and to keep fans interested, the editor said "Hellfire" will be a major key in 2011. Asked as a follow up what was in store for the X-Event of 2011, Lowe said that info would be revealed at the end of the call.

The idea of having long-running plot threads and the danger of making them work without becoming overwhelming as with past stories surrounding the Legacy Virus came up. "It's definitely a tough balance to reach," he said. "We've tried to keep from introducing too many overarching mysteries...one we've had is 'What's up with Hope and the Phoenix?' But we know how that ends and generally where that ends. In the next couple of years it'll happen. On the other side, there's the dark side of Gambit, and Mike knows where that's going.

"I depend on the team in a very big way, not only my writers but my editorial group," he added, noting how Marvel's editors have now taken specific parts of the X-line including Wolverine titles, Deadpool titles and more under specific umbrellas to keep coordination tight.

Personal relationships on the books will be a particular focus as the editor and his staff look to complicate the romantic triangle between Cyclops, Emma Frost and Namor, however the "X-Men: First Class" movie plot of Xavier Vs. Magneto won't play too strong a role, though both characters will interact in "X-Men Legacy."

Asked about some fan favorite characters, Lowe said Hellion continues to appear in "Age of X" and "X-Men Legacy" after that while "Sage won't be showing up in X-Men for a while. She's still dancing out in the multiverse. I do like Sage, but we have no current plans for her." Domino is in "Age of X" in a minor role, but not too many plans lie ahead for her in the future. Elixir is still out in Genosha/Necrosha, and "He won't be returning to Utopia in the future."

Finally, the editor revealed "Dr. Nemesis is our main science character...he'll be popping up in all of our X-Books," laughed Lowe, saying he hopes to get that character into his own mini series some day.

As for the incoming "X-Men Prelude" series, writer Paul Jenkins will bring his own voice to the lead in to the next X-event. "When we started talking with Paul about doing something, it wasn't what you're about to see," said Lowe. "Paul pulled something out of the air that tied in with what we were planning...what Paul is doing is for the fans. He's digging into the four main X-Dudes: Xavier, Magneto, Cyclops and Wolverine and each of their point of views. It really focuses on Cyclops and how everyone sees him.

"Paul comes at these stories from such interesting angles, so it was one of those nice miracles," he said, adding that the books will dig into why Cyclops is the leader of mutants while also revealing new details about the past of each of the other characters. "It definitely deals with the characters and where they are now."

Asked about more fan favorite characters, Lockheed will play a large role in the Storm/Kitty/Beast thread of "Astonishing X-Men" while Pixie will remain in the X-books but not in a major way for the next six months. Mystique continues her core role in Jason Aaron's "Wolverine" series, and Prodigy has nothing major coming up, but he will appear in the "Uncanny X-Men" Annual.

The title of "X-Men Legacy" came up in terms of how the word Legacy really connected with the title. Lowe said that the book would deal with what it means to be an X-Man and take part in the history of the X-Men for the current team. The book will also focus on longtime members of the team, particularly Rogue.

To wrap the call, Lowe revealed that "X-Men Prelude" will have the full title "X-Men: Prelude to Schism" - news that came with a new teaser by Greg Land. It appears likely that "Schism" is the title of the incoming event.

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