Things have gotten pretty gnarly for the superhero team at the forefront of "X-Men '92," Marvel's digital-first "Secret Wars" tie-in that's powered by a supercharged nostalgia for '90s X-mania. The team, which a big chunk of readers will recognize from the iconic '90s animated series, has been taken hostage by Cassandra Nova -- a 21st Century villain that's been given a decade-appropriate makeover (hint: it involves clones!). Now there's a race to see who can stop Nova and rescue the X-Men first: will it be Jubilee and her band of forgotten mutants (AKA The Rej-X) or will it be the incredibly pointy, shooty and fighty heroes of X-Force?
This week, "X-Men '92" masterminds Chad Bowers and Chris Sims return to X-POSITION to answer your questions about everything from the series' future to working with artist Scott Koblish to Westchester's rogues gallery.
CBR News: Welcome back to X-POSITION, Chad and Chris! Let's kick things off with a question from Gotham Thrasher, who asks the question on everyone's mind.
Hey guys! "X-Men '92" has been amazing! Will some elements continue into the post-"Secret Wars" universe and/or are you guys doing anything in the "All-New, All-Different" Marvel Universe? Hopefully with X-Men?
Chris Sims: There's nothing we can say just yet about post-"Secret Wars" plans, but I will say that Chad and I have had an absolute blast working on this book with Scott Koblish, Matt Milla and Travis Lanham. We'd certainly love to do more, and we're really glad that people seem to be enjoying what we've done so far.
Chad Bowers: Yeah, this has been a dream come true for both of us, and we're just really thrilled to get the chance to tell the story we're telling right now. As far as what the future has in store, like Chris said, that's not something we can get into right now. But I will say, it's not just up to us. It's up to you guys -- keep spreading the word, and let people know how much you enjoy "'92," and keep picking it up. Who knows what might happen? Good things, hopefully!
Sims: As for what might carry over, I'm really hoping that Senator Kelly just rides around in a chariot pulled by Warwolves from now on.
Bowers: "All-New, All-Different, Robert Kelly," Spring 2016!
Like a number of our readers, Starleafgirl wanted to thank you guys for including some often overlooked mutants in "X-Men '92."
Thanks for including Chamber, Artie, and Leech in "X-Men '92"; I'd love to see Jubilee reunite with Penance and the rest of Generation X, too! To that end, has there been any discussion regarding spinning off "X-Men '92" into titles like "X-Force '92" or "Generation X '92" with a home base in New Salem Mall? And would you consider doing so, if the opportunity presented itself?
Sims: One of the things that we really wanted to get into with the book was the idea that there was just so much X-Men stuff going on in the '90s, and even though our focus is obviously on the core team, getting to throw in bits and pieces of stuff like Generation X was definitely part of that. X-Force, we wanted to do from day one.
Bowers: "Okay, but can we put Cable in it?" was literally my first question to [editor] Jordan D. White, our editor. I don't know about doing a spinoff title, but if there's a chance to put those guys back into the series again, I'd definitely use them, sure.
Sims: [X-Force is] such a fun team to write. They're all Wolverines! As for Generation X, the idea of the X-Men as a school is something that's a really huge part of the appeal for me, and that's something that was almost never brought up when I was reading those comics in the '90s. It's never in the cartoon, either; they're just this bunch of weird superheroes that don't seem to even like each other half the time. Getting to throw in Chamber, Artie and Leech with the Rej-X was part of a nod to the idea that the school comes back just as the '90s Extreme stuff is starting to wane, as well as doing something that would remind everyone of how important Jubilee was to that era. Having them fight mall crimes would be a hoot.
So far your X-Men have been backed into a corner by Cassandra Nova, but sbo wants to know if you have any other bad guys planned for the series.
I'm going to think positively and assume that this book will become an ongoing title since it has been so well received. What other villains might be showing up? Will we get to see Rogue go a few rounds with Juggernaut, Omega Red, or Gladiator? Or will you be coming up with some all new enemies for the team?
Bowers: I certainly have a soft spot for guys like Exodus and Bastion and all those super '90s specific villains, so if given the chance, I'd say there's a strong possibility you'd see them show up. Doing a story with Magneto seems like something we'd have to do, but he's dead in the world of "X-Men '92," so... I mean, we could never do that. Right?
Sims: We set out to give '90s X-Men fans something that they'd never seen before, so we tried to stay away from the established villains. But Omega Red and Gladiator definitely show up in there... sort of. I just couldn't resist throwing in some Carbonadium tentacles and a mutant death factor!
A lot of readers, like datugu, love what you guys have done with the villain you are featuring -- Cassandra Nova.
If this book doesn't become an ongoing, will this version of Cassandra appear in other X-comics after "Secret Wars"? Honestly she's my favorite villain in all "SW"!
Sims: She should probably worry about making it through this story before she shows up in anything else. Cable sure won't be happy to meet her, and he's not all that into taking prisoners.
Bowers: She's our favorite villain, too.
With your hyper-'90s version of X-Force now fully integrated into the storyline, Izanami wants to know more about what's in store for them.
I particularly enjoyed your iteration of X-Force, specifically Psylocke using the focused totality of her telepathic powers. Now that we have seen how exceptionally destructive this group is, is there a possibility that these characters will get a minor deconstruction considering how much they encompass certain comic book trends of the '90s? I'm sure Cassandra Nova has quite a lot to say to these incurably violent members of Westchester.
Sims: Oh, Nova haaaaaaates X-Force. That's one of the reasons she was so mad to see Betsy busting in on her "therapy session."
Bowers: Nova's only advice to X-Force is, "Go away, and die." There's no rehabilitating those guys.
Sims: As you'll see in upcoming issues, her plan to deal with them is completely different from her plan to deal with the X-Men. Wolverine, you can reason with. Cable and Deadpool, on the other hand...
Scott Koblish has had to draw a lot of very specific characters in this series, and MiddlePegasus wants to know a little bit more about how that process works.
Scott Koblish has had to draw a lot of different versions of a lot of different characters, particularly in the Wolverine sequence a few issues back. Do you guys just send him a ton of reference or does he just have that spy Wolverine figure nearby?
Bowers: I think we did send over a shot of that action figure, yeah. But look -- the great thing about Scott is that he probably knows more about the X-Men than we do. And there's a few instances where we've sent over reference, but that's pretty rare. Recently, there was an e-mail where some of the reference art I'd dropped into the doc didn't actually make it over to him, and by the time I realized the problem, he'd already started drawing the scene and only needed his memory. He's a dream to work with, and I don't think either Chris or I can say enough about that dude. Love. Him.
Sims: Working with Scott has been amazing, seriously. He's up for everything we've thrown at him, and we've had so many conversations where we've joked about things like, "Hey, I hope you're ready to draw the X-Babies" that have turned into things in the actual script because he's always so up for it. Because it's being done as an Infinite Comic, a lot of the pacing is left up to him, and we saw a page today that's coming up in #7 that has just the best comedic timing. We both knew what was coming and we still laughed.
Bowers: Yeah, he constantly surprises us. I can't wait until people see chapters #6 and #7.
Continuing on this trend of comic-craft talk, DavidBedlam has a question about the tone you guys use while writing.
Comic storytelling techniques have changed a lot since the early nineties. Back then stories were more high adrenaline, brash, dialogue-heavy and at times dumb as a sack of hammers (alien possessed Ghost Rider anyone?), whereas today comic storytelling is a more subtle, decompressed thing. Was it a challenge to write nineties style for a modern audience? How did you zero in on the awesome, while avoiding the naff?
Bowers: How do you not love Brood Ghost Rider? The challenge wasn't in writing it, but in getting readers to like it -- or at the very least, not roll their eyes at it. Having grown up on [Chris] Claremont's dialogue and narration, it came pretty easy to us but I'm not sure modern fans expected that from the series, which kind of surprised us. So when that first page of #1 just unloads with all the captions, and the X-Men talking about their powers, I know a lot of folks took a second to acclimate to it.
Sims: I think the thing that we all like about those comics when we look back on them is just how big they went, you know? Like, to use your example, it's not just the X-Men fighting the Brood, it's not just the X-Men teaming up with Ghost Rider, it's the X-Men fighting the Brood with Ghost Rider and Ghost Rider gets turned into an alien and oh, by the way, Gambit's wife is there too -- and y'all didn't even know he was married. That's part of the fun, just how those comics assault you with big ideas at every turn, and that's what we're really going for. We try to figure out what would be a big thing to throw at the X-Men and then try to make it bigger.
DavidBedlam has another question -- not about the craft of storytelling, but about something equally important.
Also, shouldn't the physical copies have come with a collectable trading card? And ten more variant covers?
Bowers: Don't think we didn't try.
Sims: No joke, I tried to get Jordan to push for a second printing of #1 with a gold foil logo. He didn't go for it. On the subject of variants, though -- and there sure were a lot of 'em -- I do want to talk about the ones we've been doing with David Nakayama. He's another guy who's been amazing to work with, and all of his variants are based on other ideas that we just don't have room to do in the series -- stuff like Dracula and Arcade, these weird '90s takes on X-Men stuff we grew up with. So if you're curious to see what else Chad and I would've done if we had more than this one story, have a look at those!
Back on the writing front, Bafflement wants to know about how you two split your workload.
When the two of you are working together to write an issue, do you have any sort of system for who does what and how you combine your efforts?
Bowers: Well, we start off by arguing a lot... but no, we've said before, if there's a "Chad and Chris" way of doing things, it's don't do it the same way twice. With this project, we divided up specific sections we knew we wanted to do. For me, it was Cyclops, Jean, Wolverine, and Storm, and Chris took point on Rogue and Gambit.
Sims: Chris neva say dis before... but Chris love writin' them accents, chere. And he do it bettah than Chad!
Bowers: Watch it, mister. But I really love plotting, so I do a lot of that, and in those plots, I'll drop in a good bit of guiding dialogue so Scott [Koblish] has an idea of what we want the characters to be saying to each other, or if there's a specific tone to the scene. And Chris works over that some, and we polish, and polish, until we're happy with it, and send that in. Chris will pick up the scripting reigns once the art comes back, and then I'll work over that some, and do the same thing we do on the plot. But again, that's just how this one's worked. Who knows how we ever managed to write a 140-plus page OGN together?
And we'll close out this "X-Men '92" X-POSITION with a comment from jawbreaker.â€¨
I love all the neglected '90s character cameos, especially Chamber. If the series is extended, I would love to see Chamber, Jubilee and other Gen Xers like Monet, Synch, and Penance spun off into a new relaunch of the Gen X team! I think you'd be the perfect writers for the book! And thank you for giving readers this book. There are many who miss this type of X-Men comics and it's nice to know Marvel can still think of classic fans of the X-Men. Now if they'd just make it an ongoing!
Sims: Hey, thanks! We're both really glad people are enjoying it and having a good time with the book. It means a lot to us that people are giving it a shot.
Bowers: Again, there's not much we can say yet about the future of the '92 team, but I don't think either one of us knew how much people missed this particular version of the X-Men. Thankfully, Jordan D. White did, and he deserves as much credit as anybody. We're all amazed by the reception the book's been getting, and really honored to be a part of it. I just hope you guys still like us after you read the finale...
Thanks to Chad Bowers and Chris Sims for taking on this week's questions!
Next week, "Years of Future Past" writer Marguerite Bennett returns to X-POSITION debut! Have a question for Marguerite? 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 Friday. Make it happen!