X-POSITION: Gage Leaves His "X-Men Legacy" Behind

It's been a long road since "Messiah CompleX," but with "Avengers Vs. X-Men" winding down to its conclusion, there are major changes in store for "X-Men Legacy" -- but it's not quite the end yet and series writer Christos Gage has plans to conclude the Marvel Comics series that focused squarely on everyone's favorite mutant power siphon, Rogue.

Gage joined X-POSITION this week to take on all questions about Rogue's journey, talks about wrapping up his run on the title, answers a few queries about "Avengers Academy" and teases his upcoming work in the Marvel U following the end of "X-Men Legacy."

Marcus has a few words of appreciation along with some questions about Gage's future in the Marvel NOW! status quo.

First off, before I begin, let me say I am sorry about the cancellation of "Avengers Academy" as I truly did believe that the title had some potential into being the Avengers version for the Jean Grey School of Higher Learning. I will miss the title.

Thanks, Marcus, that's very much appreciated. I can't tell you how grateful I am that Marvel, my amazing collaborators, and our incredibly loyal audience of retailers and readers supported us so strongly that a book about predominantly new characters lasted 40 issues. That's longer than recent series starring established characters like Nova, the Defenders, the Sub-Mariner, the Guardians of the Galaxy -- it's really amazing, especially in the tough market we have today. Between "[Avengers] Academy" and "Avengers: The Initiative," I've been writing an Avengers comic that also allowed me to play with new and obscure characters for around 70 issues. It's been a dream come true, and I can't say how much it means to me that so many of you gave us your support and love. And I hope you know it's reciprocated.

1) I was wondering about "Avengers Arena," which follows up on "Avengers Academy" and features various other teenage superheroes from Marvel. What is your take on the title and the controversy of its purpose?

I can understand fans of the characters being upset over a premise that has death as such an integral part of it. And if your favorite character is killed, I'd imagine you might be angry. Hell, if "Avengers Academy" characters get killed, I'll be upset. But I'm not worried that it's going to be exploitative or just for shock value. When something like this is done right, it's like watching a show such as "Deadwood" or "Lost" or, really, any ensemble show with a high mortality rate. Sure, you might lose a character you like, but it should never feel cheap or pointless, and should move the larger story forward. I trust Bill Rosemann, who has edited "Avengers Academy" since the start, and Dennis Hopeless, who seems like a talented guy with his heart and creative instincts in the right place. I've heard from readers who loved "Avengers Academy" and say that "Avengers Arena" just isn't their kind of thing. Fair enough. But if you're not sure, don't dismiss it out of hand, give it a chance. Did you think bringing Bucky back to life was a good idea? I sure didn't. But I'm pleased to say I gave the creators a chance to prove me wrong, because I enjoyed the heck out of that story.

Look, [artist] Mike McKone and I created these characters to be part of the Marvel Universe, so I love the idea of other creators using them, the way I got to use Sentinel and X-23. It's the circle of comic book life, my friends. I guess all that was a long-winded way of saying that a good book is a good book, and I trust the creative team behind "Avengers Arena."

2) After "Avengers Academy" and "X-Men Legacy," do you have any more work coming up as Marvel enters Marvel NOW!?

I'm assuming you mean at Marvel specifically? Nothing ongoing, but I'm doing a number of shorter-length things. Already announced are a three-issue run co-writing "Amazing Spider-Man" with my old pal Dan Slott -- a fanboy fun-fest involving the original Hobgoblin battling the new Hobgoblin that runs through issues #695 to #697 -- and the "Astonishing X-Men Annual," which disrupts poor Northstar and Kyle's honeymoon as Kyle realizes the hard way that marrying someone means marrying into their family -- and in this case that family includes the X-Men. I'm writing an adaptation of the movie "Iron Man 2" and a bridge/prelude comic leading into "Iron Man 3." There's more stuff I can't mention yet. The folks at Marvel have been great to me, I have a lot of friends there, and I'd imagine I'll keep doing stuff for them as long as they'll have me.

Having said that, now that my Marvel exclusive is up, I'm also excited to swim in the creator-owned side of the pool a bit more. I've got a second and third season of "Absolution" coming up at Avatar Press, and am talking with them about other stuff as well. My wife Ruth and I are once again working in earnest on "The Lion Of Rora" for Oni Press, a historical epic in graphic novel form that's in the vein of "Braveheart" and is the true story of her ancestors, the Waldensians.

Of course, I'm still writing "Angel & Faith" each month for Dark Horse, and I'm pleased to say all parties involved seem to want me to be a part of Season 10 of the Buffyverse as well, so I'll be doing that for the foreseeable future. I'm also talking to other publishers. IDW has a property that's pretty close to my heart. (No, Arune, not "Cobra.") So I've got a lot on my plate.

3) Will we see Rogue's reaction to Professor Xavier's death in "X-Men Legacy" given how Xavier helped her control her powers?

I don't want to speak for Rick Remender, but I would imagine that's something that would be dealt with in "Uncanny Avengers." The finale of "X-Men Legacy" is really about concluding the character arc for Rogue that Mike Carey started her on and setting her up to take the next step in her journey.

Nathan S. has a few questions about the plot structure of Gage's "X-Men Legacy" run and the function of the secondary cast members.

I noticed that there were a few plots in "Legacy" that never really went anywhere like the hints of a romance or love triangle between Rogue/Gambit/Frenzy. Were these not solved because of time constraints or did you lose interest in the plot?

When you first took over "Legacy," it was presented as more of a book with a few set cast members like Rogue, Iceman, Gambit and Frenzy, but after the first few issues, all of those characters disappeared into the background except for Rogue and it was more of a solo book. Was this to build her up before her role in "Uncanny Avengers?"

I think both these questions have the same answer. When I took over "Legacy," I knew I wanted to finish the character journey Mike Carey had started Rogue on, and I knew that would take me to Issue #275. At that point, if the book had continued as it was, I would have turned the focus to the rest of the ensemble, who we would have been checking in with all along. However, as things progressed and it became clear that "Legacy" after "AvX" would be essentially a new/relaunched book, I started to back off the supporting characters, rather than set up things I wouldn't be able to pay off, and focus primarily on the story I would get to tell, which was Rogue's. Not to say the other characters are ignored altogether -- we'll see more of Mimic in #275, for example, and we had the Frenzy spotlight issue in #268 -- but given where we were headed, it made the most sense to stick primarily with Rogue.

Fair enough, but Jor-rel is another fan of the secondary cast -- specifically Chamber and Mimic.

You've built up a great cast of secondary characters in "X-Men Legacy," with the likes of Chamber and Mimic, that was quickly becoming one of my favorite X-teams. Can you explain why the focus suddenly shifted back to solely Rogue for the last few months?

I think I answered that with the last question. Let me just say I loved writing Chamber and Mimic, and would have loved to do more with them, but I also didn't want to do it halfway, and without the space to do it right, it seemed best to back off a bit. Mimic especially was great to write; I see him as a perpetual "Flowers For Algernon" character who spends his life attaining fleeting moments of tasting other peoples' greatness, before that fades and he is left with just a haunting memory that he used to be something special. But I like to think he got to grow a bit during my run. I hope you agree.

cora reef wants to know about the challenges taking on new characters as opposed to those already established and looking back after wrapping "X-Men Legacy" and "Avengers Academy.

With your run on "X-Men Legacy" and "Avengers Academy" coming to a close, is there anything you would have liked to do on either book that you didn't get the opportunity to do?

Not really on "Avengers Academy." They gave me plenty of room to wrap up the storylines I wanted to wrap up, so any plotlines left unresolved are on purpose, for others to pick up if they choose. On "Legacy," as I said, I would have liked to work with the supporting characters more, but that's the way the ball bounces.

You got to work on brand new characters in "Avengers Academy," but worked on heavily established ones in "Legacy." What did you find to be the challenges in each?

With new characters, honestly, the challenge is getting people interested. Like I said, we had a wonderful, passionate, dedicated audience, but it's just the nature of the beast that there is going to be a sizable portion of the readership that feels new characters don't "matter," or they're only really invested in the characters they grew up on, or whatever. And I get that, honestly. I didn't read "Sentinel" when that book was coming out, but in going back and reading those issues to research the character, I loved them. So I'm as guilty of it as anyone. It is what it is. I think we did pretty well under the circumstances -- I'm constantly amazed at how many people out there care about these characters so much. I'm proud of what we did. It would have been nice to do it forever, but it also wouldn't have been realistic.

With existing characters, the biggest challenge is if they are appearing in other books. We kind of had Rogue to ourselves, which was great, but one of the reasons there wasn't much going on with the likes of Iceman and Husk was that they also are in "Wolverine and the X-Men" -- and I'm not complaining, Jason [Aaron] had them first, and he was always great about sharing them and answering questions about where they were headed and so forth. This is another one of those things that's just the nature of the beast -- the same way that nothing too major ever happened to Thor, Captain America and Iron Man in "Avengers," but rather in the pages of their own books, and it was always folks like the Vision or Wonder Man who had the most going on.

madroxdupe024 wants to discuss the overarching story structure of "Legacy" and the interconnectedness from issue-to-issue.

Christos, it seems like your run on "X-Men Legacy" was arc-to-arc with no over-arching themes or bleed through between stories. Was this your decision or editorially mandated?

I think some of that is due to what I discussed earlier, with most of the supporting characters' stories sort of falling by the wayside. But to me the over-arching theme was Rogue's character journey. She has grown tremendously. When she first appeared, she was a villain, her actions dictated by Mystique. She made the brave decision to join the X-Men. She's become a true hero, learned to control her powers, known love and loss (especially her half-brother, Nightcrawler). It seemed to me that she had been on a journey of becoming her own person -- as a hero, an X-Man and a woman -- and I think she has arrived there. Despite all the talk of Rogue/Magneto vs. Rogue/Gambit, to me, it was inevitable that she would make the decision to not be with either of them, or anyone. She was finally ready to stand on her own, something she had never really had the opportunity to do as a complete person while still being a hero and an X-Man.

I think this leads very nicely to her becoming involved with the Avengers, the heroes she started out attacking -- it's almost full circle. So, for me, what was important was seeing her grow and gain confidence in a variety of roles: hero, teacher, leader, person. I tried to have her take a step in each story. I realize I may not have always succeeded, or it may not have worked for everyone, but that's what I was trying to do. (And for the people who think I gave Gambit short shrift, I actually think he figured out what she needed before she did, in issue #248, I believe, when he told her they shouldn't be together until she was ready to commit -- he knew she needed to make this journey, so I saw no need to tread that ground again.)

mr_infinite wants to know what you learned about Rogue during your time with everyone's favorite mutant southern belle.

Rogue is one of the more interesting characters in the Marvel U and you definitely had a cool take on her. What did you learn about the character during your run that you didn't know before coming onto the book?

That her selflessness, her heroism and leaping into action and putting others first had a selfish element. She's used it as a distraction, to keep from having to make the really hard choices, to take that last step into taking total control of herself and her life. That, for me, was her most recent character arc: putting aside everything she's used as a crutch and owning her life, whether that means disobeying Wolverine's orders when she disagrees with them, or protecting the students or separating herself from the men in her life. Now she will succeed or fail completely on her own, which is both liberating and terrifying.

Starleafgirl is also a fan of Chamber and wants to know what happened to him...

Do you know what happened to Chamber a.k.a. "Professor Starsmore"...? Will we see him again soon? He seems to have disappeared from both "X-Men Legacy" and "Wolverine and the X-Men" at the same time, which is a shame!

I already explained why he didn't appear again in "Legacy," which I agree is a shame. As for where he is in the other X-books, I'm not sure -- but I hope he shows up, he's very cool!

Heartsib wraps things up with an inquiry into Christos' upcoming "Astonishing X-Men Annual" issue and the characters he would have enjoyed more time with.

Christos, first off, thanks for all the cool stories and awesome moments -- from Professor Starsmore teaching So Your Mutation's Ruined Your Life 101 to Frenzy's forward progression as a character to Rogue going mama bear on the Avengers when the hurt the JG kids, it's been a lot of fun. (And that's not even touching on "Avengers Academy!") Really sorry to see you leave, and I'll be keeping an eye out for whatever else you work on, Marvel or no.

Thank you!

For questions:

1) Was there anything you would have liked to do with the "Legacy" cast that there just wasn't room for? Any characters -- main cast or otherwise -- you'd have really liked to delve into more?

Definitely Chamber. Frenzy. The interesting thing to me about Frenzy is that, for her, joining the X-Men was only about becoming a hero to mutants. She still didn't like humans much. Her horizons may have been broadened a bit in "Legacy" #268, but I wanted to go further with that -- can you be a hero to only one specific group of people who are like you? Or does that make you a villain to those who aren't like you?

I also might have further explored the Gambit/Frenzy relationship, but once he got his own series, that was less likely -- he works better as a swingin' single. But I could see them making some really bad decisions together.

2) You've got the "Astonishing X-Men" annual coming out in a couple of months. Could you expand on the "Kyle learns the hard way that marrying Northstar also meant marrying his family" that we got in the solicitations?

Well, I don't want to spoil too much, but I can clarify that the "family" mentioned for Northstar is the X-Men. Kyle was already good friends with Aurora, Northstar's sister and only living blood relative, but this story is when it really hits home for Kyle that his new husband is also part of an extended family called the X-Men -- and that he himself is now a potential target for their enemies. Actually, in this Annual, there's no "potential" about it -- the Friends of Humanity are targeting the X-Men's loved ones, including Kyle. His and Northstar's romantic honeymoon is interrupted by the Astonishing X-Men, who promise to protect Kyle while Northstar uses his super-speed to secure various other innocents in danger. So imagine you marry someone, go on your honeymoon and suddenly your spouse takes off and leaves you with their crazy family. It's like that, but with adamantium claws and exploding playing cards.

Thanks to Christos Gage for providing some awesome and insightful answers to this weeks batch of questions!

Next week, get your questions in for the Merc With A Mouth, as "Deadpool" writer Daniel Way joins X-POSITION for a curtain call before the end of his run with the character. Got a hankering to ask a chimichanga-related query? Drop me a line with the subject "X-Position" or hit me up on Twitter to get your question into the rotation by Friday! Do it to it!

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