X-POSITION: Abnett & Lanning on New Mutants & X-Man

Many of us have had jobs where we've had to step in and "clean up" the work our predecessors have left us. New Mutants received a similar assignment from Cyclops in the last issue of their self-titled series: tie up the loose ends that the X-Men (and other X-teams) have left lying around. It's appropriate, then, that this mission parallels the challenges the new writers on this book are facing.

The writing duo of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning have just taken over the "New Mutants" title from Zeb Wells, the writer who brought about this team's highest profile since their 1982 debut. Wells is leaving the book on a high note, with the New Mutants having just dealt with a huge crisis involving Limbo and the betrayal of a team member, plus they're recovering from the fallout left by the Mike Carey scripted "Age of X" crossover.

As you can see, the two scribes have their work cut out for them. After all, they appear to be tasked with both looking back and moving forward at the same time. Where will they start? Why, by answering questions here at X-POSITION! Using their special telepathic abilities, the writers have merged to become the one-minded entity known as DnA and will answer your emails thusly. Let's see what they have to say!

Arachne wrote in with a cheery message (and some queries) to greet you to our little X-clique!

Welcome to the New Mutants, Dan and Andy! I was a big fan of your "Legion" run, so I'm glad to see you guys on my other favorite super-team. Here are a couple of my many questions:

1) How does the team feel about Magneto being on Utopia? They've seen more of the noble side of him than just about anyone because of his time as their headmaster. Do they still care about him, or do they see his latter actions as a betrayal?

That's definitely something we intend to explore. They would have more sympathy towards him than most, but perhaps a greater sense of betrayal as a result. Keep reading...

2) Will the kiss between Sam and Dani develop into a romance? I really hope not. They seem more like siblings than lovers to me...

The course of their relationship is never going to run smoothly or easily, but there is no denying they are very much connected at the most basic emotional level.

JediGandy7 wants to hear more about the state of Mr. Guthrie and how his feelings will be on display during your run...

1) What are your views of Cannonball's character? Do you see him as a mature, confident leader (as Fabian Nicieza portrayed him as during his "X-Force" days)? Sometimes in stories, it feels like he's "dumbed down" to fit a character mold he has outgrown...

We really feel he's a little burned out right now. He was -- and is still -- capable of being that great leader, but doing it took its toll. As Sam says, maybe he was the great leader they needed while they matured as a team. Now, they need a different one. What becomes of him, then?

2) What are your thoughts on Moonstar getting re-powered? Should she be a mutant or Valkyrie...or both!

Either would be great; both would be awesome -- but isn't it also great that she's one of the few characters in comics who's just as cool without any powers at all?

Hm, food for thought. Ciel had concerns about yet another character and feels as though this person isn't giving 110% to their team:

In my opinion, Sunspot seems like he's been the same "playboy with a heart of gold who has to keep explaining that he's strong but not invulnerable" for too long. There was even an in-joke about it during "Second Coming." As former Lord Imperial of the Hellfire Club, he should have business connections and resources that would benefit the X-Men on Utopia even more than the help he provides on the battlefield. That's my take anyway, but I'd like to hear what you think about the character...

We have plans for him that make sense of who he is without forgetting what he's always been. His business connections are a really interesting take. Could he do more good from behind a desk? You're right -- people tend to forget that there's so much more to him than the loveable joker thing.

Metal Woman has unresolved issues she wants you to, um, resolve.

DnA, I wanted to say that I loved your work on the "Legion of Super Heroes," and I appreciated that you handled so many unresolved issues in "New Mutants" #25. With that said, here are some questions for your hopefully long run...

1) Will there be any more fallout from "Age of X" besides its effect on Cannonball? As a huge Cypher and Warlock fan, I especially wonder if being merged into a single being for a week had any effect on them?

Yes, there will. We can't say what yet.

2) While I know the best laid plans of mice and comic book writers rarely work out, what "loose ends" do you hope the New Mutants clean up in future arcs?

Goodness! The X-book continuity has more loose ends than most. Can we say Blink? I think we can. Can we say...no, we definitely can't say that yet!

Don't tease. That said, Anubis00 wrote in about a topic that has been teased since the series' first year.

Back in "New Mutants" #10, Cyclops said he was searching for the next leader of the X-Men to take his place. Cannonball was a potential candidate, but after "Second Coming" and "Fall of the New Mutants," Cannonball's resolve as leader has noticeably crumbled. I know Nate Grey is set to come back soon; is it premature to assume that X-Man could be the next leader Cyclops is looking for?

It's not premature to speculate. There's Nate. There's Hope. Sam's still in the frame. And there's always Dani...

Argh, more teasing! In retaliation, Renaldo will barrage you with questions from his six-shooter!

1) As a huge fan of the Marvel Universe cosmic work you've done, I just wanted to know what interested you to take on the New Mutants? It must also be tricky to come in after Mike Carey's brilliant "Age of X" event. Any plans for lineup changes to the unit as well?

That is a tough act to follow. We've got what we think are some great stories to tell, and were just now framing up the biggest and most awesome of them to make sure it will actually fly. As for lineup changes -- be careful what you wish for!

2) What inspired you to use Nate Grey, as I felt his return in Osborn's "Dark Reign" was underplayed and not the big event it should have been?

Um, because his return in "Dark Reign" was underplayed and not the big event it should have been? No, seriously! "Dark Reign" was great, but there was definitely more that needed to be done with the character and the situation...

3) Is Nate going to be a future roster member or is he just there for a certain mission? How would you see his role as a member of the team?

Waaaayy too many spoilers to be able to talk about that right now!

4) How are the plans shaping up for the "Fear Itself" tie-ins, as the team boasts Dani who has links to Hela and Asgard? Will her Valkyrie factor weigh in here along with Brunnhilde, or will Dani and the New Mutants play their own isolated roles in combating the Serpent during this event?

Our "Fear Itself" story is looking amazing, thanks to the astonishing design work that artist David Lafuente is producing. It really is a story that plays with the New Mutants special relationship with Asgard. This story could only happen to them!

5) "Annihilators" issue #3 featured a killer final page with some well-known, but not surprising, favorites. What inspired that choice given Marvel's "Secret Invasion" big event? Were they not already highlighted in an event as a species with an aim that failed?

That's why. It was a little more "Unfinished Business" -- a last ditch attempt to set things right.

6) Finally, it was interesting to rope in Spider-Man in "Heroes for Hire" #6 and to see what lies ahead for the folks under Control. It seems that Paladin may be not passing on Misty, but is this potentially illicit romance something that will lead to revelations of who controlled Control? Are there hints you can drop as to who tricked control and what's the endgame?

Keep reading. The Spider-Man arc and the "Fear Itself" story will answer many of those key questions, we promise!

We've reached the end of our reader emails, but before you go, I get my turn with a get-to-know-you, "Behind the X" question! I'm going to need you to separate from your DnA one-mind persona though, as I'd like each of you to answer the following: considering all the work you two do together, what subjects do you discuss most besides comics?

Dan Abnett: I think we spend an inordinate amount of time talking about the music of Ben Folds and Rush -- and giggling a lot at "Jokes That Do Not Seem Funny To Other People."

Andy Lanning: We do like to have a good old kvetch about the week's latest comics haul. Dan tends to have a pile of new issues which he'll share with me (his local comics shop is closer than mine, so I rely on him for up-to-date stuff). And we like to recommend new books and TV shows that the other may not have seen.

That concludes our little X-gathering for today. Next week, our guest is a scribe whose current roster of writing is as long as my arm -- Christos Gage ("Avengers Academy," "Fear Itself: The Home Front," "Amazing Spider-Man"). He will be joining us to answer queries about his upcoming run on "Astonishing X-Men" (although I'm sure he'd be willing to respond to an inquiry or two on his other books as well).

As per usual, I'm eagerly awaiting those well-worded missives, so hop to your keyboard and send them my way as soon as you can. Putting an "X-Position" in the subject line will win you the love and respect of your peers (albeit in an alternate universe). See you in seven!

Incoming: Marvel Reveals New Covers for 2019's Final, Massive One-Shot

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