X-POSITION: Bennett Crafts A War-Torn Coming of Age Story in "Years Of Future Past"

The domains of Battleworld, the patchwork planet home to Marvel's massive "Secret Wars" event, range from scenic (as seen in "A-Force") to nightmarish (like the hell-covered Manhattan of "Inferno"). The reality depicted in "Years of Future Past" lies closer towards the latter end of the spectrum, with its rubble, ruins and patrols of mutant-hunting Sentinels. The series, written by Marguerite Bennett and drawn by Mike Norton, plays in the world previously established in the classic "Uncanny X-Men" story "Days of Future Past." Many of the X-Men are dead and mutantkind's only hope for survival lies with a ragtag group of survivors -- as well as one new protagonist who will make her debut in "Years of Future Past."

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This week, "Years of Future Past" writer Marguerite Bennett makes her X-POSITION debut and answers your questions about everything from Chrissie Pryde to the rules of Battleworld and the hierarchy of the Sentinels. And yes: there's even some pug talk.

CBR News: Welcome to X-POSITION, Marguerite! To get started this week, blanchett has a question about the mechanics of Battleworld.

I have questions about Battleworld society. How aware are of the other zones in Battleworld are the citizens of the ["Years of Future Past"] zone? I am really curious to find out what someone like Kate Pryde would think of the fact that she also exists in other zones. Do the people of Battleworld find this an odd occurrence? Do they find it odd that there are so many New Yorks in Battleworld? I am not trying to be nitpicky, really enjoying "Secret Wars" and its tie-ins so far. This seems like something that the people of that world would know about and that they'd have opinions about.

Hiya! Far as I understand, no one in Battleworld knows there are other versions of themselves -- they know other countries exist, but not what is in them, and crossing the borders is hugely forbidden. Doing so gets you sent to The Shield, which is a massive wall where lawbreakers and defenders are sent to stand as the front lines against those territories Doom does not entirely control (and which you can read about in Kieron Gillen's "Siege" book, because Kieron is lovely).

Slattery has a question about your "Years of Future Past" collaborator, "Battlepug" artist Mike Norton.

What's it been like working with Mike Norton on this book, and what vibe are you to going for in your collaboration? Also, most importantly, are you at all tempted to write awesome X-Men pugs into the script?

Mike is a dreeeeeam. He's so talented and the darlingest giant grizzly bear I could ask to work with. I give him so much crazy, complicated stuff that I'm sure raises his eyebrows, but he kills just everything. I have given him so much rubble to draw, Lord. Out of cityscapes and dragons and Sentinels and cathedrals, the only thing he was ever vexed to draw was a spiral staircase -- Mike is phenomenal.

As far as vibe, it's a coming of age story in the ruins of the world. It's about growing up, being overwhelmed by the responsibilities adults are thrusting at you -- all their dreams, all their fears, all their ambitions and expectations -- and being terrified and making mistakes as you try to learn what it is to do and be good. Shorthand, it's two kids coming of age in the post-industrial military complex.

And I absolutely put pugs in this story.

After this, people can call him Mike "Rubble & Pugs" Norton. Next, we have a question from MCBT asking about influences.

What other influences did you look at besides the obvious when conceiving "Years of Future Past"?

Weirdly, the biggest influence was being 13 years-old during 9/11. You watched your expectations for what growing up was going to be -- such an adventure! -- turn into a struggle. You watched adults you loved and respected become bitter, fearful, hateful, bigoted. You were young enough to watch Saturday morning cartoons and old enough to read "1984." You knew you could grow up to fix the world...but you didn't know quite how. I didn't realize it right away, but it's very much channeling the vibe of being so young and so protected and becoming aware of the horror of the world -- and worrying, when you're called upon, that you're not the savior that was intended.

The mutant-hunting Sentinels are going to play a big role in this story, and not just because they're giant robots. Nix Uotan wants to know more about these purple menaces.

With all this talk of X-Men, I feel the X-Villains are getting sidelined. So, with that in mind, what can you tell us about the Sentinels of said Sentinel Territories? Where do they fit in the Battleworld hierarchy? Are they simple killer robots hunting mutants or will there be more to them?

There are two models of Sentinels -- older models, which function as robots and things, and newer models, Doom Sentinels, which can feel pain and process thought -- and, despite being machines, have more rights than the mutants that they hunt. Chrissie, Kitty and Colossus' daughter, feels enormously conflicted about the use of Sentinels.

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"Years of Future Past" features a new protagonist, Chrissie Pryde. MiddlePegasus wants to know more about the daughter of Shadowcat and Colossus.

Hi Marguerite! I'm very excited about this book, specifically getting to meet Kitty's daughter Chrissie. What can you tell us about Chrissie Pryde?

Thank you so much! I love writing Chrissie -- she's the best of both of her parents' hopes for her, but has also been protected and sheltered so much that she lacks their experiences and traumas, which make her more rather than less vulnerable. She is the last mutant ever born before the widespread sterilization of the mutant population, which has made her iconic to their people -- a status that scares her, but to which she is willing to rise to live up to her loved ones' expectations.

Side note, which we were never able to work into the dialogue of the comic: when starting to world-build, I tried to reckon what the stages of discrimination and violence would be to lead from classic "X-Men" to "Days of Future Past." Somewhere in the timeline I scratched out, I realized that mutant marriage would eventually be banned -- hence why Chrissie's surname is "Pryde" rather than "Rasputin."

Chrissie isn't the only member of the extended Pryde family to show up in "Years of Future Past," as Derek Metaltron was excited to learn.

Marguerite, first thanks for putting Lockheed in such a prominent -- and going by the #3 cover very big -- position! As a huge fan of the character and seeing how he's often relegated to the background in the comics, it means a lot to see him in both "Master of Kung Fu" and here. I was wondering how differently humans, mutants and any surviving metas get treated in the Sentinel Territories.

Hiya! I love Lockheed too -- he was meant to be a huge reveal, but we realized that by keeping him out of the covers and previews, we were kind of hiding our light under a bushel. And the mutants and abnormal humans are treated roughly as they were in the original "Days of Future Past" story (down to the fact that not all mutants are eradicated -- some are kept by the government, which uses their intellect or abilities for their own ends, often through force).

A lot of characters made their debut during the '80s "DOFP" story, and Marc has a question about one of them in particular.

Destiny played a large role in the original ["Days of Future Past"] storyline -- how much will she feature in this story?

Destiny appears a bit later in our story, for a clashing perspective to our heroes. With a cast this large, I was concerned about the story becoming diluted, so many characters embody a beat that represents something larger in the "DOFP" society -- the role of religion, the role of media, the role of prisoners, and so on.

RLAAMJR wants to know if there will be any time for romance in-between Sentinel attacks.

Can we expect any Wolverine and Storm romantic moments in your book?

I admit there's not too much by way of romance in the book, but Wolverine shows affection to precious few people, and none more than to Storm.

Lastly, Master of Sound wants to know who else we'll be seeing in this epic series.

What can you tell us about unexpected allies or villains in this series, which were not in the original ["Days of Future Past"] tale? Can you spoil us a bit on if there will be some and, if so, who?

I can say that everyone on that first Art Adams teaser appears, in one incarnation or another -- the largest spoiler being, of course, that the girl in the center is not Kitty Pryde, but her daughter Chrissie. I'm a stickler about covers being accurate to their content -- sometimes I win, sometimes I lose -- but this gives you nearly the full cast. Thanks for asking!

And thanks to Marguerite Bennett for taking on this week's questions!

Next week, the X-Men comic book editors will join us here at X-POSITION. Have a question about any of the "Secret Wars" titles? Go ahead and send 'em in via an e-mail with the subject line "X-Position" or if 140 character questions are more your speed, try Twitter. But get 'em in quickly, because the deadline's Wednesday this week! Make it happen!

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