In just six issues, the ongoing "X-Men '92" series has covered a lot of ground. The team's seen new members like Psylocke and Bishop join, taken in a whole student body of heroes in training, fought villains ranging from Dracula to Alpha Red -- and served as security for the rock festival Lilapalooza. But even with so many big moments in the rearview mirror, there are curves and warning signs ahead -- because there's one big, blue ancient mutant angling for a comeback.
This week in X-POSITION, "X-Men '92" writers Chad Bowers and Chris Sims answer your questions about everything from Apocalypse's arrival to the X-Men of 2099 and more.
CBR News: Welcome back to X-POSITION, Chad and Chris! We'll start this week with a Q from Pedro.
Hi guys, got a question about the X-Men 2099 (maybe 2092) that we saw in the Scott/Jean issue. Are they the original X-Men 2099 or an alternate version? And when are we going to go back to them? I recently read the old "X-Men 2099" series, so seeing them in your book was pretty exciting.
Chris Sims: Well, the complicated answer is that they’re from the 2099 of the ‘92niverse, but I think that’s probably close enough that you can consider them the same bunch that you read about in those comics. As for seeing them again, we’ll definitely be catching up with them at some point, and you won’t even have to wait another 83 years for it!
Chad Bowers: Glad you enjoyed their appearance, Pedro. I can honestly say, we were both shocked with the enormous fan reaction to seeing the 2099 X-Men again (I’m looking at you, Brett). As a kid, I always enjoyed the 2099 line, but those books don’t get talked about a lot or tapped creatively, so it was a great surprise to find out we weren’t the only ones missing those guys.
Okay, yep, their cameo in "X-Men '92" #5 led me to write a whole big thing about them and their history. And also reread the series. I could keep going, but I'll throw to a few questions from Emily instead!
I know it's going to be a good month when there's a new "X-Men '92" to look forward to! I have a question regarding your guest stars. Did the Flaming Lips and/or the Toadies have any input on how they are portrayed in the comics? Did they give you guys any requests or restrictions, or were you both given free rein?
Sims: I’m pretty sure our only instruction came from the Lips’ manager, Scott Booker, who said he also wanted to make an appearance, which is coming soon in #7. Other than that, we were pretty much allowed to do whatever we wanted, which was a really cool experience!
Also will Dazzler be featured? We got to see her fan club, so will she be part of Lilapalooza?
Sims: She’s on the bill, but unfortunately, the rest of the concert got canceled before she could go on. That’s what happens when your headliner disappears in the middle of a show!
Now here are a couple questions from MarvelMaster616.
Can you tell us a bit more about this secret cabal of mutants who have been conspiring against the X-Men since Alpha Red? When will we learn about their full agenda?
Bowers: The Upstarts. They’re a ruthless group of rich and powerful young mutants brought together by the mysterious Gamesmaster who’s challenged them to destroy the X-Men. Their membership consists of Fabian Cortez, Shinobi Shaw, Trevor Fitzroy, and the Fenris Twins, Andrea and Andreas Von Strucker. They’re each utterly despicable in their own way -- the antithesis of what it means to be an X-Man -- and they’re hungry to find out who the Gamesmaster’s working for, and win the ultimate prize… despite not really knowing what the prize is. The sad truth is, they’d all probably be trying to kill the X-Men anyway. All the Gamesmaster’s done is just turn it into a competition.
You can also read more about the Upstarts and their debut back in 1991 in our big ol' Hellfire Club history lesson. Back to MarvelMaster616's questions...
In the old cartoon, Jubilee's role was limited due to her age and inexperience. Now that Jubilee has a lot of other mutants her own age at the mansion, what will her role be moving forward?
Sims: Jubilee is in a really interesting position in our book. The two things that we did at the end of the miniseries were to have the X-Men re-open the school -- something that allowed us to bring in the Generation X and X-Statix characters -- but also we made sure to include that they were promoting Jubilee to full X-Man status. The thing is, she’s still young, so with the new teenage characters showing up -- like Chamber, Monet, and even Dead Girl -- those are the people that she’s connecting with and forming friendships with. That makes her the sort of bridge between the two casts, connecting everything to a whole. You’re not going to see her in any of the classes because she’s already earned her spot on the team, but you’re definitely going to see her hanging out with the other teenagers -- and maybe getting involved in a love triangle or two.
Speaking of all the new cast members, Rachel has a question about your take on the X-Men.
Since you're writing versions of the characters that are sent in the '92niverse, is there potential for them to grow and change in unexpected ways? Are there any X-Men right now that you're writing that you feel growing in a different direction than their 616 counterpart?
Bowers: Mixing in the Gen X kids with the pre-X-Statix cast opens a lot of doors for us to explore some different outcomes, sure. Dead Girl and Chamber seem to be hitting it off, and I can’t recall them ever having a scene together prior to "‘92." And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Doop’s hair.
But all kidding aside, there’s some things coming up that we can only do in "‘92" and with the cast we’ve put together. Already, our team is a team that never existed in the core universe, and that’s just naturally changed the dynamic quite a bit. Bishop and Psylocke are maybe our two most changed X-Men, as their histories already differ quite a bit coming out of the mini-series. Neither have ever been an X-Man before, so we not only get to see them figuring things out in a way we never have before, but they also share an interpersonal connection we’ve never seen them have before, and that’s going to continue to grow over the course of the next couple issues.
Sims: We’ve gotten a lot of questions about Cable, too, after we revealed his all-new (or at least all-’92) origin story in #5. That one was really fun for us to put together, just throwing in all the weird future stuff that we could think of in the far off year of 3992. Clearly, “our” Cable -- the guy who shows up in the miniseries leading X-Force and may just be coming back pretty soon - is a little bit different than the main-universe version. But don’t worry, he still has a metal arm, a glowing eye, and a truly gigantic laser gun.
Those are all of Cable's key ingredients, to be sure. Next up is a question from NewMutant about one super '90s mutant: Morph.
Morph is a defining element of '90s and the animated series. As the book is heavily rooted in that series, and obviously that era, will we see a comic version of Morph hit "X-Men '92"?
Sims: Morph, huh? Doesn’t ring a bell… You sure you’re not thinking of Mystique?
Bowers: Must be what they meant. Probably just a typo.
It is easy to confuse shape-shifters -- that's what their powers are for. Anyway, here's a question from Jeanpaul123.
Will the deal that Dead Girl made with the Darkhold Dwarf be relevant in the future?
Sims: Oh yeah.
Bowers: It’s important to think of reality as one big cosmic game of Jenga. Removing the wrong piece can bring the whole thing down.
Next up, MiddlePegasus wants to know if you'll explore a specific '90s trope.
One of the things I loved most about the '90s X-comics were the quiet issues, the ones where you just saw the team talk to each other and spend time together. So far the series has been packed with awesome action, but I wonder if there are there any plans to unwind for an issue like in the good old days?
Bowers: Y’know, this is a great question. I loved those issues myself, and really would love to do something along the lines of a Gambit and Rogue date night story, or kind of “A Day in the Life of Professor Henry McCoy” issue, but here’s the thing… Fabian Nicieza and Scott Lobdell already did those stories in the 90s, and as good as me and Chris are, our version of those stories will never top what you read back in the day.
"X-Men ‘92" is such a strange animal, in that it’s main cast is already so well defined that it’s difficult to work in something new or around what’s already in place. The whole point of and the charm of our book is that our X-Men are kind of the idealized and most fondly remembered versions of the X-Men (and before you dive into the comments, I realize that’s not the case for everyone, but it’s the conceit of our book, so work with us here…), and so often the purpose of those issues was to allow us a glimpse at a side of the X-Men we don’t typically get to see. But Chris and I want you guys to see everything in our book, so we’ve chosen to try our best and work in those little character moments with these huge, over-the-top Saturday morning cartoon-inspired narratives that, as you might have noticed, don’t leave a whole lot of time for the X-Men to even breath -- let alone take in a movie or celebrate a holiday! Hopefully we get a little bit of what you’re looking for in some of the upcoming issues.
Sims: Chad mentioned doing a “Date Night” issue, and I think we’d both really love to do that with all the romantic pairings that we’ve been setting up in the story. I mean, we’ve seen Jubilee and Chamber’s first date already, but that didn’t really go so well. But at the same time, we want this book to be action first and foremost, and to keep things moving as fast as we can. If you look at that first arc, you can see how we were trying to keep things moving from Omega Red to Alpha Red to Dracula and then into the Darkhold in the span of a single story. As much as we’d like to do something quiet -- and we really would, because Monet and Jubilee hanging out together has been the most fun thing to write -- we really want to make sure we get all that adventure and excitement out there first.
So I assume fans need to petition Marvel for a "Jubilee & M" limited series from you guys? That's what I'm picking up. Next, Garry wants to know about how you balance the book's tone.
I love how this book balances humor and action, and also some serious moments too. As the book goes on, do you see it moving in one tone direction over another? Or are you striving to maintain a humor/drama balance?
Bowers: When we got the greenlight for the ongoing series, we certainly had a long talk about what we wanted for the project and where we saw it going, but tone was never a big topic of conversation. I know writers say this all the time, but we honestly just write the kind of book we’d like to read, and hope it works. And in the end, let’s face it -- the other X-books do such a good job of telling stories with a slightly darker and more contemporary tone, if we’d done the same kind of stories, just with different costumes, it would’ve been real easy to get lost in the mix. When we were first hired for this book, it was little more than a name, and we’ve been extremely lucky in that we’ve been allowed by Marvel to essentially do whatever want to do with a comic that could’ve very easily just been a one-note rehash of a bunch of X-Men/Magneto fights. But instead, we chose to make it a celebration of everything we love about that era of X-Men comics! A 20-page X-Men party every month!
Sims: I think our primary goal when we’re writing is to make a book that’s fun to read -- fun for us, fun for you, and fun for Alti [Firmansyah] (and Cory [Hamscher]!) to draw. Every time we send in a script and hear that she can’t wait to draw a certain scene, or that the editors can’t wait to see what it looks like when it’s done, it really feels like we’re on track with something that readers are going to respond to.
The comedy, I think, is a big part of it -- especially because those books from the ‘90s that inspired the series are quippy as heck. You can’t go two pages without Jubilee cracking a joke about Wolverine’s attitude or Beast making some needlessly highbrow reference, even when they’re fighting the Brood with Ghost Rider standing there. So for us, all that comes naturally, and a lot of humor comes from doing the unexpected. If we’re surprising people, and if they’re coming away from it with a smile, I think we’re doing our job. Plus, Alti’s so good at drawing expressive faces and body language that we’d be fools if we didn’t want to take advantage of it. A ton of the humor in the book comes purely from the way she nails everyone’s reactions.
And we'll close out this week with a question from jawbreaker about what's coming up.
My question is, with Apocalypse coming to the book soon, will we see a '92 version of Clan Akkaba? Also will Chamber and Blink have any distant relation to Apocalypse like they do in the regular continuity (which unfortunately has done very little/almost nothing with that plot point)?
Sims: I don’t know if we’re getting into all of that, but I can tell you that when Apocalypse comes back, it’s going to be in way that I don’t think we’ve ever seen before. The hints of what he’s been doing that you’ve seen at the end of the miniseries, or even that we mentioned through the Askani in #5, are all going to come together in a way that’s hopefully going to be a surprising new take on him that still rings true with what people expect from the all-out action of the ‘90s.
Bowers: Exactly. I wouldn’t be too surprised if we see a lot of “Apocalypse Was Right” t-shirts next year.
Special thanks to Chad Bowers and Chris Sims for taking part in this week's X-POSITION!
Keep checking CBR for more information on the next installment of X-POSITION!