X-POSITION: Abnett & Lanning Move Forward With "New Mutants"

Since the X-Men's big Schism, the New Mutants have fulfilled a very interesting role in the X-Universe: they are the team of "unfinished business" -- and the X-Men are lucky to have them! Think about it: most comic book adventures end with the villain mysteriously disappearing or some other form of "To Be Continued..." Wouldn't it be handy (and smart) for every super-team to have a group that could follow up on potential problems?

Obviously, the solution sleuths behind the "New Mutants" book agree. That's why writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (affectionately known as DnA) have been hard at work crafting layered stories that will knock your socks off (and I know they're succeeding at this because I received lots of email this week from barefoot fans). So let's see what other kinds of fun I have for the pair in ye old X-POSITION mail bag...

Our first email comes from Dennys (the person, not the restaurant):

I love the work you guys been doing! The last arc with Blink was quite fun and I'm looking forward to what you have in store for us. On to my questions...

1) Sunspot is my current favorite New Mutant since Cannonball's departure (yes, I died a little when he left). Anyway, Bobby has a complicated power-set. It appears that writers think he only has super-strength at times. I am wondering if we can see him get a consistent showing of his awesome powers. Besides his super-strength, he can fly, has thermokinesis (which allows him to fluctuate temperatures), photokinesis, and his dark solar plasma blasts which I thought we saw him use on Sugar Man. Can we finally see Bobby reach his potential and use his awesome powers?

"New Mutants" #38 hits stores February 22.

Dan Abnett: First off, Cannonball's not gone, just resting. We're exploring some aspects of Sunspot's powers (as you'll see a little in the next arc), and I agree there are lots of dimensions of it to examine. That applies to all the characters, actually; Amara, for example. There are some very interesting things there. So, yes, as we get to it.

Andy Lanning: Absolutely, as much as possible we're trying to showcase the individual members of the team during the stories, which involves highlighting and developing their powers in interesting ways. One we were pleased with recently was Blink teleporting the Blackbird as it crashed. David Lopez made that look awesome, something we've not seen her do up till now. If we can do that for each of the team members, then we're doing the job right.

2) Will Dani ever get her powers back? I know she kicks butt as is, but Rictor got his back in "X-Factor," so I'm wondering when we can see Dani receive her due?

Abnett: Anything's possible, but Dani is so cool without them. She is so capable. I think it makes her an absolutely stand-out female character in the Marvel Universe - leading an X-team with no powers.

Lanning: Dani is a really interesting challenge as a writer; we're having fun making her an assertive leader. Even with a lack of powers, it has really brought her to the fore and is a great dynamic in a team so full of exotic powers to have a "regular" human calling the shots and holding their own (kind of like when Cap leads the Avengers).

3) Will the New Mutants play a role in "Avengers vs. X-Men?" If so, in what capacity and can we expect other Marvel Universe heroes and villains to appear in "New Mutants?"

Abnett: We can't really talk about that yet, I'm afraid.

Lanning: What Dan said, or didn't say.

(NOTE: DnA answered these questions before the Marvel Press Conference Call which took place on Monday, February 13. We now know some of these plans and it seems the New Mutants are going to be "Exiled." It looks like we'll have more to talk about in future X-POSITIONS!)

Moving on, Andre4000 has a few queries that reach to infinity and beyond...

1) The Phoenix force is cosmic in nature, and as you guys are the cosmic experts, do you know how that will play into the events that are going to unfold in AvX?

Abnett: Again - sorry! No comment.

Lanning: We can neither confirm nor deny anything to do with that!

2) What would you say is the biggest challenge facing the New Mutants? Their focus feels a little scattered as of late...

Abnett: Does it? Really? Their remit seems very tight to us: closing up the unfinished business left behind by the X-Men, while finding their place in the real world as real people. Is that scattered?

Lanning: Not sure I can agree with you there, Andre, they've been given a very clear remit by Cyclops and have even struck out on their own, moving out of Utopia and setting up home in San Francisco, we think this makes the New Mutant book have its own unique feel in the X-Men family of titles.

3) Can we see the New Mutants interact with X-Factor sometime soon? Between Rictor and Rahne, it seems they have a lot of crossover potential. Plus, I think Darwin would get along with them well.

Abnett: I agree that would be cool to see.

Lanning: It's the blessing and curse of the X-Books - so many potential storylines, so little time!

Renaldo wrote in with some other ideas and inquiries about AvX adventures:

1) With "Avengers vs. X-Men" coming up, will your team feature prominently given that they are basically Scott's clean-up team and a more PR-friendly version of Logan's X-Force?

Abnett: First (and again), no comment just yet. I would take issue a little with that summary, though. They're more "PR-friendly" in that they seek the best resolution rather than the violent one. And "clean-up" is too simple. I think that, taking their lead from Scott's original brief, they are devoting themselves to long-term solutions and strategies to protect the X-Men, mutantkind and the world -- proper solutions, not temporary ones. They're not janitors.

Lanning: I'm with Dan here, 'natch. We're trying to give the "New Mutants" book its own flavor whilst still very much playing in the X-Men "sandbox." One of the great things about the X-titles is the variety from one book to another, and we think "New Mutants" has carved its own little corner amongst the big guns like "Astonishing" or "Uncanny," where sometimes it's fun and frivolous and sometimes it's dark and deadly!

2) If the New Mutants get to face an Avengers team in the upcoming event, would it be a "New" battle, where we'd see New Avengers vs. New Mutants?

Abnett: That would make glorious sense.

Lanning: Yup, good call.

3) Dani Moonstar has moved to the front and center as a leader of the team. Now that Sam has left, will she vilify Scott's stance or will she ponder whether Sam was right to abandon Utopia?

Abnett: Neither, really. She admires Scott a lot, even when he makes unpopular decisions. And Sam went to Westchester to recuperate because the facilities suited that. That's rather different to "abandoning" Utopia.

Lanning: Dani and the New Mutants are part of "Team Cyclops," even though they've decided to move out of Utopia to gain an little more independence for themselves. Dani is a firm believer in what Scot t is doing, but is not afraid to question his decisions or make hard choices herself. In that way, she and Scott are very much alike.

4) Nate Grey is one of the most potent forces in all comics. Do you think he will be seen as a powerhouse mutant much in the way the Avengers utilized Sentry?

Abnett: Of course, except he's barely got any powers at the moment and may never get them back.

Lanning: Nate's slowly recovering his powers after the trauma he suffered at the hands of the Sugar Man. We wanted to power him down for a while as it helped us focus on his character and forced us to use him in more interesting ways, rather than just having him level every threat with a massive TK blast or such. It very much makes him more of a team player and, hopefully, gives readers a chance to watch him grow and develop as a character.

5) With Cable in "X-Sanction" making amends to save Hope's future, will his path cross X-Man's? Was this ever discussed, as I'm reading both titles and Cable seems to know nothing about Nate's return...

Abnett: Wait and see. The X-office does not let such congruencies pass unmarked.

Lanning: In Nick (Lowe) we trust. He's all-knowing!

6) Lastly...cosmic! Hickman has brought back Black Bolt and is doing his Johnny Storm-led cosmic battle featuring the Kree, Inhumans, etc. Did Hickman ever consult with you guys on threads you left open? Are there things that you're still eager to get back to?

Abnett: He didn't, but he certainly seems to have respected our continuity in bringing Black Bolt back. They're not 'our' characters, after all. There are things we would have done differently, and we've certainly got ideas and the desire to do more in the cosmic arena for Marvel. Marvel knows where we are.

Lanning: I think it's well-documented that we love all things cosmic and had a really brilliant time doing "Annihilation," "Nova" and the "Guardians." We'd jump at the chance to do more.

And we'd love to see you jump! But I keep going back to Question Five - "Nick Lowe knows." I've got a new tongue-twister!

Okay, back to the emails with our pal Xman4life:

First, I want to compliment you both on the hard work you did with your "Nova" and "Guardians of the Galaxy" series. You two sparked an interest in the cosmic side of Marvel that I never had before. You made Nova the best that character I've read in years! I was really sorry to see those two titles get cancelled, but I am glad you ended up on "New Mutants!" I have a few questions though:

(Abnett: Thanks!)

(Lanning: Ta much!)

1) Do you plan on adding to the cast? How about Skids, Boom-Boom, or Pixie? I also think Cloak and Dagger would be a great fit, since the New Mutant squad isn't living on Utopia and are in a city now (which should ease Cloak & Dagger's concerns). I just hate that they were X-Men for such a brief time...

Abnett: We have thought about expanding, but we spent a while honing the cats and now we're exploring the characters we've got because there's plenty of material there to have fun with. One thing -- they're still X-Men!

Lanning: We made a deliberate choice to prune down the cast to enable us to focus and explore the characters we have, but that's not to say there isn't room to make additions down the line. There are a lot of X-characters to choose from!

2) Is there any chance of Dani getting her Valkyrie powers back? It's been fun reading the de-powered Moonstar, but to me she was way more interesting when she had her Valkyrie powers.

Abnett: As I said, maybe. But I do like her as she is now.

Lanning: To echo Dan, we are having fun with her at the moment but will not rule anything out - she's got strong connections with the Valkyries which we're not done exploring just yet!

3) And I know this isn't New Mutant-related, but is there any chance you two will bring back "Nova" or "Guardians of the Galaxy" any time soon? Will you please write some cosmic books soon? Or are you trying to "recharge your batteries" in that genre?

Abnett: We're ready whenever Marvel is.

Lanning: Always room for more cosmic goodness!

Yes, there is! And now, it's time for a quick get-to-know-you question that we like to call "Behind the X." Let's try something a little goofy - who is your favorite Disney character and why?

Abnett: Bagheera from the Jungle Book. "Hey, Baggy, get with the beat!"

Lanning: It has to be Goofy, though I'm still not sure what he is: Dog? Man? Werewolf? I love the "How to..." cartoons they did with him and, of course, he's the punchline to the rudest Disney joke I know!

And before all you fans email me asking for the joke, Lanning wouldn't say. You better start Googling!

So that brings our time to a close, but X-POSITION will be back in seven days with "X-Men" writer Victor Gischler. Questions are needed, but I'm out next week, so send those lovely emails to the sensational Steve Sunu. Be sure to put an "X-Position" in the subject line too - we wouldn't want him to think you're responding to his personals ad. Hurry with those quality queries!

Tags: marvel comics, dan abnett, new mutants, leandro fernandez, avx, andy lanning, exiled

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