X-POSITION: Asmus Delivers "Generation Hope"

Hope is a powerful thing -- it can give you the strength to overcome armies and move mountains. Of course, in the X-Universe, the power of Hope is a much more literal thing, as Hope is a girl who is supposedly destined to be the savior of mutantkind. She leads a group of mutants known as the Lights, and their adventures are chronicled in the monthly "Generation Hope" comic book from Marvel Comics.

It has been assumed (by some) that Hope is somehow tied to another power -- one with the strength to destroy planets -- the Phoenix Force. This question has been looming in the background since Hope's arrival, and some answers appear to be on the horizon in the upcoming event "Avengers vs. X-Men." What does this mean for Hope and her team, and what will be left of them by the end of this conflict? Let's see what James Asmus (writer of "Generation Hope") has to say in today's X-POSITION!

James, there was a recurring question I received from several folks that I thought I'd address before we get to the reader emails: there's no solicitation for "Generation Hope" in April. Does this confirm our worst fears?

Asmus revealed "Generation Hope" ends with #17 in March

Yes, the book is ending with issue #17.  I will say (as I did a month ago) that these were the five issues I planned from the beginning.  You can read all the old interviews where I promised to get to the betrayal, and I knew I had to do it before "Avengers vs. X-Men."  The book was already under 20K copies when I took over, so while I figured there was a chance to tie into "AvX," the way the market and the event developed, a "Generation Hope" tie-in doesn't make sense.

That said, I have a ton of notes on stories I'd love to do with these kids in the future.  So hopefully I'll get that chance.  If you're interested, start that letter-writing campaign!

Be sure to hold onto those notes, James! It seems you just started "Generation Hope" and now it's ending.  I assume "AvX" has been planned for a while, so did you come onto the book knowing you'd be bringing it "into the home stretch?"  Or is the ending of the book the combo-result of low sales as well as an opportune time for a conclusion?

When Marvel first asked me to hop on the book last summer, I was told that they wanted me to take the book up to "AvX".  Sales were already below the 20K copy mark, so there was the expectation that unless a market-miracle happened, the book probably wouldn't keep going after the first five issues.  Personally, I just take it as a huge compliment that I didn't lose all of Kieron Gillen's fans.

Will the end bring about a definite conclusion for the Five Lights?  Or will their end merely segue into a new adventure elsewhere for them?

Well... I think the answer is something in between. The Lights who are still standing after all this have no one but each other -- so they won't be scattering to the winds.  But I tried to create an ending that really caps off "Generation Hope," while still raising personal questions that give the characters a purpose or place to grow in future stories.

Do you want to say anything else to the fans about this news?

I can't thank you all enough for the support and enthusiasm for the first few issues!  And if you've read "Generation Hope" from the first arc to my issues, there's a lot for you in the last two issues.  (Including a little parallel structure in issue #17 that mirrors a bit of what Kieron did in #1.)

Oh! And I hope that you'll keep an eye out for my comics in the future!

Will do! And now it's time for our readers to pepper you with queries. Renaldo is first up, and he starts us off with an inquiry about Hope rubbing salt in an old wound...

1) James, we've seen Emma shudder at Hope's powers, yet in issue #15, Emma didn't hesitate to lash out at Hope (due to her comments regarding Emma's sexual past). This makes me wonder... how does Emma really feel about Hope? Does she fear her? Or does she think of her as one of Scott's underlings?

I definitely don't think she'd lump Hope in with the general Utopia crowd.  The way I see it, Emma is more disturbed by what Hope might be underneath, or what she might become.  But unless Hope reveals herself to be Jean Grey/The Phoenix/Something Equally Threatening -- Emma is not about quietly suffering insults.  It might be dangerous in the long-run, but it's just her nature.

2) What sparked the usage of the Dragoness, Bliss, Litterbug, Random and Erg as they haven't really been seen since Utopia's Nimrod attacks? Also, they were in Toad's crew on Utopia, so was it your choice to have them stay rather than jump ship with Logan's group?

I've loved the idea of a Utopia gang-style team of villains since [Chris] Yost tossed them into his Iceman short in "Nation X."  Frankly, I don't think they would have had any interest in hanging out at a school.  Toad had to be the janitor (and get his body invaded by shrunken students) just to get room and board! I think Dragoness and company are mostly on Utopia for the amnesty.

But in building the story, I knew I wanted a small skirmish to go down when Hope wasn't around so that Laurie would have to try and lead the team and put her own ideals to the test.  Those characters just seemed like the perfect fit (and they provided the perfect opportunity to have someone accost the team with the very complaints that sour message board kids seem to have with them here in the real world).

3) How pivotal is your book in the upcoming "AvX" row as Hope is seen as a major and influential player? Do you have to write Hope knowing that there's a predetermined endpoint for her already set in stage due to these events?

I think the question sounds like you were assuming "Generation Hope" would be running a tie-in with "AvX".  What I can say is that I was under no obligation to do anything particular with her (other than to make sure she survived into the event).  So I took the opportunity to build a path toward Hope reaping all that she sowed with her team -- good and bad.

4) With Hope's unit sure to cross swords with Avengers Academy, did you ever lobby for X-23 to be in your book, as she seems the perfect young fit for your title? Also, are you coordinating with Gage for this potential smackdown?

Good news! I have been talking to Christos Gage! And I'm particularly excited because I'm a big fan of what he's been doing in "Avengers Academy" and "X-Men: Legacy." I've been passing my scripts over to him the last few months, and "Generation Hope" fans may be very interested to see what Christos has planned during "AvX."

And seriously -- if you like "Generation Hope," you should already be checking out "Avengers Academy!" It plays wonderfully with a lot of similar concepts, and it's been one of my favorite Marvel books for a while now.

5) There are numerous story elements in play at the moment, including Kenji sewing threads of betrayal, Martha's new "body," and Velocidad's "aging" issue. Will these tie into "AvX?" Or will you try to wrap these up beforehand so we get a fresh start post-"AvX?"

The Kenji betrayal was the number one thing I wanted to pay off on my run with "Generation Hope."  So issues #16 & 17 will finally explode that story -- and the Kenji/Martha/Laurie triangle ramps up right along with it!  I also push Sebastian Shaw's story forward with a complication that will have an impact as soon as "AvX."

On a less fiery note -- there are developments for the personal stories of every character still left standing after our final issue.  My hope is that by defining the desires and dissatisfactions of each of the kids, I can inspire more stories for them in the future.

Next, Sean wrote in with a few ideas that might provide inspiration for future tales as well:

1) Is the link between Zero and No-Girl more than just a one-sided body share? Might we see Martha's effect on Kenji?

Well, it's been established that psychics can't get at Zero's thoughts unless he wants them to.  So, I suppose the question is -- how much does he want to be changed?  And that will be answered for you in the last issue!  But I don't want to spoil it!  (Also, there is a very interesting conversation on the CBR message boards about their relationship, if you want to weigh in.)

2) How much will Velocidad be affected by his own powers? Will he actively seek a way of reversing or stopping the effects, rather than just let it happen? Will he be hitting on older mutants (older than Pixie) in a few issues?

Those are both things I have hoped to explore if I get another chance to write him in the future!  I would especially like to see what happens to a romantic relationship when it's not being experienced in the same timeframes.  So start a letter-writing campaign to Marvel to get me writing all the young Utopians in "Generation X-Men!"

3) Hope doesn't seem to have much influence over her group. Is this bond weaker because one has fled the nest?

There is a reason all the subtle (and not-so-subtle) rebellions have been happening over the last several issues.  And you'll find out why in our final two issues!  (HINT: It's not about Idie.)

4) How do you view Hope's role within the mutant race, within the X-Men, and within the Summers/Grey clan?

Well, I sadly don't have a say in where she fits in the Summers/Grey family.  But I do think her relationship with Cyclops as an adoptive grandfather she never wanted is a wonderfully bizarre and complex one.

In fact, I think most of her relationships are complex.  I think all the writers have done a good job of not pretending like Hope is one thing to all mutants.  Some love her, some hate her.  Some believe she's destined to bring back the mutant race, and others don't trust her at all.  If there's any dominant opinion, I'd say it's that people are nervous about her -- but that they ultimately hope she really can deliver them into a better era.

But they won't have to wonder long!

Well, while we're waiting for the answer to reveal itself, Grey has questions -- and he's feeling a bit nervous!

As of "Generation Hope" #15, I'm afraid of Hope. So I'm wondering...

1) Can Hope control all mutants she mimics or just the Lights?

It's my belief/understanding that Hope can exert a lesser influence over all mutants (I believe that's why Cyclops brought Kitty in to monitor the kids instead of Rogue early in "Generation Hope," because he thought Rogue was already under Hope's "sway").  And I've been writing with that as my understanding (Phoebe Cuckoo siding with Hope rather than her sisters in issue #13.)

2) As clever as she is, why hasn't Hope noticed her similarities to Jean/Phoenix?

It was set up for a while that people were keeping the story of Phoenix away from her. As for similarities to Jean -- I don't think Hope would see much similarity beyond hair and eye color (different powers, different personalities, she is not attracted to Cyclops, etc.).  In general, I think most people think of themselves as being unique, and Hope in particular feels disconnected from almost everyone.

3) Will we see Hope interact with Rachel or Nate Grey at all?

Sadly, I didn't get the chance to write that.  I don't know all the scene-by-scene stuff for "AvX," so it might be in there somewhere.  I do love Rachel, though, as a result of my "Excalibur" (Vol. 1) passion.

4) Has Hope or Cyclops considered the morality of making Velocidad use his powers?

I honestly don't think Cyclops has.  But in truth, he has hardly ever been the person giving Velocidad orders.  (He did in the first few issues, but they didn't know he was moving through time yet.)

Hope has considered it, but she expects risk and sacrifice to be a daily part of what they do.  The question is -- can she come to understand his hesitance to burn through his life? I think Gabriel could communicate himself better.  And Hope could have more compassion.  Let's see what happens!

5) Given Hope's recent actions, do you think Kenji's plans are more Judas- or Spartacus-like?

I sincerely don't believe there is a right answer here.  I think Kenji is the hero of his own story, and Hope is the heroine of hers.  Both people ultimately make less-than-heroic choices at times.  But I would be disappointed to see either one reduced to being a villain.  I feel for Kenji.  But I don't think he's handling his emotions well.  (Which is kind of my theme with these characters, I guess.)

Sometimes, themes can be expressed with music. Therefore, Mick wrote in with a suggestion:

Are you going to have a dance sequence sometime in the book set to Kanye's "All of the Lights?" Please?

Man, I wish I'd have gotten this sooner!  Issue #17 is already penciled!  This is where it would be great if comic books had closing credits sequences...

Readers, feel free to put on this song while you read the next issue!

And now, it's time for a quick get-to-know-you question that we like to call "Behind the X." Here's an entertaining one -- if they were going to make a movie about your life, what actor would play you and who would direct it?

I would campaign hard to get the role myself.  I took acting classes from second grade all the way through college after all, and I'm hardly using them these days!  But if it has to be a celebrity, I'd like to go with Joel McHale ("Community," "The Soup") since everyone I know says he reminds them of me.  As for directors, I would kill to get Edgar Wright.  Based on his movies, I think he understands the inside of my brain.

And let me just say -- thank you CBR X-fans!  I am incredibly grateful for your enthusiasm these last few months, and I hope I can be back to throw weirdness and heart and kissing your way again soon!

Weirdness and kisses are staples here at X-POSITION, so we hope to hear from you again soon!

Next week, expect another informative gathering as the X-Editors are making themselves available for all your emails. I expect a bounty of intriguing inquiries on a variety of topics, so don't let me down! Just type them out on your keyboards and shoot them to me as quickly as you can. If you put an "X-Position" in the subject line, my spam filter will give you a hug. Now get to it -- I'm waiting...

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Tags: marvel comics, x-position, james asmus, avx, generation hope

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