X-POSITION: David Investigates "X-Factor," Relationships, & "AvX"

All good writers put a piece of themselves in their work, and Peter David (PAD to his followers) is definitely no exception. As a matter of fact, you can learn about his life's current events right on the first page of every "X-Factor" issue from Marvel Comics. This makes sense, as X-Factor's existence as a comic book is indelibly tied to the scribe. His run on the title during the '90s is a high point for many mutant fans, and if PAD had never attempted a "Madrox" miniseries in 2004, there might not be an "X-Factor" ongoing series on the stands today.

So let's raise all raise a glass to Mr. David as we crack open our virtual mailbag of X-POSITION fun! We have questions ranging from Havok and Polaris' wardrobe to the fallout from "Avengers vs. X-Men." PAD has something to say on all these matters, so let's not keep him waiting...

Derek starts off our day and he sent in a lengthy scroll of queries. His first concerns matters of the heart:

1) As far as couples go, Havok and Polaris' relationship seems extremely unhealthy and co-dependent. Do you think what they have at this stage is actually love? Or are they just afraid that, if they split up, they might be giving up the only semi-constant presence in their lives?

I think that Polavok (the only acceptable portmanteau for the couple, I should point out; the best such names are three syllables max) have been together for so long, that to some degree they've forgotten why they got together in the first place. I think they still feel affection, even love for each other, but they've also lost a sense of who they are as individuals. That's something that they're going to have to give serious consideration to, because they've more or less been sedentary in terms of their relationship for some time now. There needs to be some sort of progress, and whether it's progress together or separately is going to be addressed within the next year.

2) I'm excited for this "Thelma and Louise"-esque road trip. It seems like the major thing all the girls have in common is that they have a complicated relationship with their biological fathers and no knowledge of their biological mothers. Will this be a talking point?

No, actually. The road trip actually has a specific purpose to it, a particular mission to be accomplished, and their own backgrounds -- although there is some commonality -- isn't really going to factor into it.

3) These days everyone is talking about making stories "new reader-friendly." As a young "old reader," I'm a bit put off by those titles. What I love about "X-Factor" is that it's almost become the last bastion for "old readers" who appreciate continuity. Is that something that worries you, considering how the industry seems to have the idea that "old reader-friendly" is kind of anathema at the moment?

I don't interpret the notion of "new reader friendly" as being the negative that you seem to, Derek. As far as I'm concerned, the fundamental concept for good comics has never changed: one must write every issue with an eye towards the notion that it could well be someone's first issue, or maybe even their first comic. Those are the "new readers" that we'd like to see come aboard, and everyone at Marvel has been laboring relentlessly to accommodate them. I don't see how that's a bad thing, though.

Look at the results: the recap pages, which are incredibly handy, not to mention (in "X-Factor," at least) a chance to drop some fun news items or updates; the "Point 1" issues -- which were solid stories in and of themselves -- served to give readers both new and old a sense of where the storyline was going and a breather after recent, rather calamitous events. As far as I'm concerned, there's no reason for there to be a "versus" of Old Reader and New Reader. If we do it right, everyone benefits.

4) I loved the Pip line about Monet's assets, but I noticed that in the following issue she covered up. Is her ego actually far more fragile than she lets on?

I think everyone's ego is more fragile than they let on. I think Pip just made her a little self-conscious. She'd never admit to that, of course, but that's just part of her charm.

5) Your work seems to deal with the topic of religion a lot, with "Supergirl," "Fallen Angel," and even "X-Factor" being examples of this. What would you attribute this to?

I think religion is an endlessly fascinating topic. Matters of faith, belief -- matters of the heart, the soul -- these are subjects that have informed fiction for centuries. Look at the earliest hero of all: Gilgamesh, two-thirds god and one-third man. Deities, and how they impact on our lives, have been part of myth since there was myth. Think of all the things that have been done, for good or ill, in the history of mankind in the name of God (or gods) and religion. I don't think the question is, "Why do I find it an intriguing topic for exploration?" The question is, "Why wouldn't I?"

6) I'm delighted to hear that you're thinking of working on an origin for Polaris (as she's been crying out for one since 1968). On one hand, you seem to have a blank canvas given that her childhood, adoptive parents, and biological mother are virtually total unknowns. However, there's also the issue as to where Magneto (and possibly even Zaladane) fit in. Can we hope to read this story anytime soon?

Yes, you can hope.

7) Have we seen the last of the Madrox priest dupe?

Nope. Look for John to make a return quite soon. And no, I'm not killing him off, in case anyone's worried.

8) I really liked your response to a reader in the book's letters page regarding Shatterstar and his "representation" of bisexuals. One thing that I have been confused by though is why you made Shatterstar bi- and Rictor gay instead of vice-versa (considering the latter's previous sexual relationship with Rahne). What was your thinking behind this?

I was thinking that, first of all, there are plenty of gay guys who tried hetero relationships and it didn't work out. Indeed, the fact that they were gay was what caused them not to work out. And I decided that that's how we'd play Rictor. And then playing Shatterstar as omnisexual would provide an interesting contrast, because Rictor's finally decided to come to terms with what makes him happy while Shatterstar is still eager to explore anything that's good looking and has a pulse, with Rictor to be his main lover and guide. If I gave them the exact same worldview, what fun is that?

As mentioned in today's intro, readers of "X-Factor" have the distinct privilege of getting to know bits about you on a personal level. Reader Jonathan enjoys this and wants to know the origins behind this choice:

Peter, I wanted to ask you about your recap page on "X-Factor." I personally love it when you put your little blurb at the end about something personal that's happened in your life. It's just something unique that reminds me that writers have real lives like the rest of us. I just wanted to ask -- what made you decide to do this?

Jonathan, you'll find that all reasons that we do things in life boils down to exactly one explanation: it seemed like a good idea at the time. Pretty much that's the reasoning here. It was the notion of, "Here's what happened before!" and adding, "And here's what's going on now!" seemed a natural follow-up. But since, issue-wise, I couldn't tell you what was happening because, y'know, that's the whole purpose of you reading the comic, I decided to just start talking about stuff that was happening with me. And people seemed to like it, so I kept doing it.

Nevah likes many of the things you do in "X-Factor" and hopes you'll tackle this pair of inquiries:

I would like to preface this message by saying I was a big fan of this volume of "X-Factor" during its first two years and have thought this past year has gone on to be some of your best work to date! The friendships are organic and memorable, and the characters' voices are the most distinct of any book I currently read! Here are my questions:

1) Are there any plans to dig into the slow-burning drama of Penance and Emplate's horrifying return to Monet's life? I always thought Emplate could be an A-list X-Men villain. Are there any plans to have him bring hell to the merry mutants?

No immediate plans to do so, Nevah. But the torment of what Monet was put through is never far from her mind. At the moment, I think it's more effective to keep her with a sense of constant dread instead of having her actually having to face it.

2) Is Monet "on call" for any incoming X-Factor missions? Or are there other reasons she wasn't invited to the All-Girls Road Trip?

Oh, she was invited. So was Layla. We're actually going to show specifically why they didn't come along.

Are they going shopping? If so, Joshua knows two people in need of a makeover...

1) Are Havok and Polaris going to change their costumes to a more "detective type"-style? I mean, if they're supposed to be leading a team based in a detective agency, they should look the part, right?

That's something we're strongly considering right now. If new ensembles do show up, it would likely be right around issue #241, so keep an eye out.

2) The Monet/Strong Guy relationship has oddly been growing on me since you surprised us with that. Will there be any positive development for this "Beauty and The Beast" pairing soon?

Issue #239 and #240 are going to be major issues for the oddest couple in the Marvel Mutant-verse. At the risk of giving away some stuff, Guido is actually going to go to extraordinary lengths to get Monet to go out with him -- and will succeed! And issue #240 will show the outcome of the date, contrasted against one of the single most important days in the life of Layla Miller.

That's going to be a major issue: a send-up of one of my favorite films about causality, choices and fate (which is what Layla is all about). In essence, Layla Miller is going to have twenty-two minutes to get cross town on foot during a blackout in order to save the life of a young girl. The name? "Run, Layla, Run." It's going to be the issue everyone talks about this year.

I'll rewatch the movie in preparation! Marcus Martin gives us our last email of the day and asks about that little event going on in the Marvel U at the moment:

1) While your "X-Factor" is not tying into the "Avengers vs. X-Men" event, will the after-effects mean anything for your team?

Sadly I'm going to have to be coy about that, because answering it would give away stuff about how "AvX" ends. But yes, there will be repercussions that X-Factor feels.

2) What is your opinion on the whole Red Hulk and Red She-Hulk situation, especially given the real identities of the characters?

Considering I wrote a "What If?" that explored "What if General Ross Became the Hulk," all I'll say is that I found it interesting.

And now, it's time for our quick get-to-know-you question that we call "Behind the X." Let's see how this sounds to you: what is the best music concert you ever attended?

Best concert ever. Hmmm. Well, any Weird Al concert is great. The best? I'm a Harry Chapin fan from way back. Being a writer, I suppose it's natural I'd gravitate toward story songs. And after Harry died in an auto accident, they put together a memorial concert for him, and it had all these top performers singing his tunes, ranging from Sheena Easton performing "Shooting Star" to the Smothers Brothers performing "Six String Orchestra." I'm figuring a goodly portion of X-POSITION readers have no freaking clue who Harry Chapin was. Go get his albums and find out for yourself. I'd recommend "Verities and Balderdash" or any of his live albums.

No man can listen to "Cat's in the Cradle" without tearing up a little. Thanks Peter!

Next week, we have an X-POSITION newbie: writer Cullen Bunn! His name has been appearing all over Marvel's solicitation page as of late, writing everything from "Fear Itself: The Fearless" to the new "Captain America and Hawkeye," and -- as of this month -- he's the new scribe for "Wolverine." (Oh, and if you haven't read his "Sixth Gun" series from Oni, you're missing out!)

He's filling the big shoes (and even bigger beard) left by Jason Aaron, but if his other works are any indication, I'm confident he's up to the task. I'm sure you're wondering what the future holds in store for Logan, so type up all those queries in your noggin and send them my way ASAP. Toss an "X-Position" in the subject line, and I'll share some Easter candy with you that I picked up at the drug store (I hope you like strawberry crème eggs). Get to it!

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