Combine X-Men from different realities trying to save the world, add a dash of Dazzler, place it all in the hands of writer Greg Pak and what do you get? The answer would be X-Men in the extreme -- or, more accurately, "X-Treme X-Men!" As alternate realities mean anything can happen, Mr. Pak is joining us to answer your e-mails in today's X-POSITION. Buckle up and prepare for a wild ride...
Our first set of questions comes from Flinkman who, like many, is pleased that you've chosen to bedazzle your title:
Cover by Kalman Andrasofszky
I should start by saying that Dazzler is my favorite comic book character of all time, and I sincerely thank you for brilliantly highlighting so many things in your first issue that have endeared her to me -- things like using the "Dragzler" to give a nod to her established gay fanbase (Glitterati Assemble!), having a go at her previously-only-implied drug problem as a wink to "Dazzler: The Movie," and referencing that she did indeed date Angel. Clearly you've done your research! Now for my questions:
1) Will you be exploring Dazzler's powers any? Sound absorption, photon blasts and diva-sparkles are great, but she's capable of so much more!
Absolutely. Look for a surprising new demonstration of her powers in a saloon in issue #4.
2) Do you have any interest in touching on the resurrection powers Ali displayed during her time in New Excalibur?
We'll see. I need to refresh myself on those issues -- and then think seriously about the repercussions of exploring those kinds of powers. Here's a dirty secret: sometimes we writers are well aware of certain aspects of a character's history, but we don't talk about it or bring it to the forefront until it really works with a given story/character arc. All in good time...
3) Is Dazzler be getting a permanent new costume or, like any good pop star, will she continue changing outfits every issue?
So far, she dons a new costume in every single issue, which has been a ton of fun. But I have indeed been thinking about eventually introducing a new standard superhero costume for her. Stay tuned!
4) An alternate Johnny Ito already? Hm, I get the feeling that he will somehow be important to this title, beyond just giving Dazzler a much-needed new love interest. What purpose will this character serve and will we learn his "real" name?
All will be revealed in the fullness of time!
Renaldo also has a query about the Dazzler Express (as well as several others about her companions). All aboard!
1) What made you decide to use Dazzler as the focal point of your story? Also, Johnny Ito has proven to be somewhat relevant as well, so where did the idea to use him come from?
I knew from the beginning that a reality-hopping book like this needed a character from the mainstream Marvel Universe. And as I talked with the X-Editors, Dazzler's name kept coming up. I loved the idea because Alison's down-to-earth character would bring a great, light vibe to the book -- and because she's been due for a real hero's journey. She's hugely powerful and a genuine hero, and "X-Treme" gives us the chance to put her front and center and throw enormous, world-altering challenges at her.
2) What inspired you in issue #2 to use these olden gods as the antagonists of the story?
I wrote "Incredible Hercules" for four or five years with Fred Van Lente, so I've thought a lot about the parallels between the classic pantheons of the gods and modern superhero pantheons. This just seemed to be a perfect match, particularly with Storm as the All-Mother. In the mainstream Marvel Universe, she grew up literally worshipped as a goddess; this was a chance to go all the way and see what she'd be like as a real goddess.
EXCLUSIVE: Art from #4 by Paco Diaz
3) How did you go about crafting your cast of X-Men, particularly Emmeline, Howlett and Kurt? Did you get to choose all the members?
I created Howlett and Kid Kurt while working on the "Astonishing X-Men: Exalted" arc a while back. Yes, I got to choose the members, but I worked closely with X-Men editor Nick Lowe, bouncing ideas off him and getting feedback. Kid Kurt just made sense to me -- a way to go whole-hog with the lighthearted aspects of "our" Kurt's character. But as I worked on him, other elements in his backstory began to come forward -- a tragic past that we've hinted at a few times and that we'll explore in depth in issues #6 and #7 of "X-Treme X-Men."
Emmeline came from one of Warren Ellis' awesome "Ghost Box" stories [in "Astonishing X-Men"]. I loved her as a character who was even more Emma-y than our Emma. She has a big, shocking, status-quo-altering moment at the end of "X-Treme X-Men" #3 -- don'tcha dare miss it!
I'm not sure where the idea of Howlett came from. I think I just had this image of an older Wolverine with a full mustache and a slouch hat in my head -- a kind of gentleman-adventurer-Teddy-Roosevelt figure. He's less tortured in many ways than "our" Logan -- considerably more comfortable with being a leader, for example. He was the Governor General in his world's version of Canada, after all. But he has some surprising hidden depths as well -- which get a spotlight in issue #3.
4) Is there any chance of encounters with Sentinels, magic, or vampires in any of the missions, as these have plagued the 616 X-Men in the past?
Anything's possible! A certain kind of Sentinel is probably going to come up first. And while I don't exactly have magic or vampires on the docket just yet, one of the glories of the book is the chance to play with a huge variety of fun genres. X-Treme editor Jeanine Schaefer and I are cooking up some wild stuff -- keep on reading!
5) Will you be tossing in any alternate Avengers in the multiverse trips?
Yes. Don't miss issue #3!
6) What inspired Storm during Dazzler's song to make it rain...and yet decide to kill the visitors? I ask because it seemed rash and bipolar of her...
She was unexpectedly touched by Dazzler's song -- I think of bringing the rain as an almost subconscious reaction to being emotionally moved. But she's a fierce god who doesn't like feeling these kinds of human emotions, so she reacted to her own reaction with anger. Rash? You bet! That's the gods for ya!
7) Lastly, why did you go for a kid-inspired Nightcrawler?
As noted above, I just think a kid Kurt lets us go whole-hog with "our" Kurt's fun-loving nature. And I liked the idea of having a range of ages within the team. Howlett's older -- he looks about 50 or so. Dazzler's in her 20s. Kid Kurt's a kid. Variety's always great -- it raises the stakes and provides nice contrast with the voices and perspective of the characters.
And it should come as no surprise that reader Emerald_616 has questions about Earth 616:
I just wanted to state in writing that I will buy every issue of this book in physical and digital format, as well as the collected hardcovers or TPBs if Sage from Earth-616 does indeed return! If not, I shall at least buy one copy of every issue because I love it so much anyway! Here are my questions...
1) Will there be a span of time to allow Dazzler to participate in AvX after this book "curls back around" to Earth 616?
We'll see. But by the time we're ready to tackle our 616 storylines, things will have moved pretty far past AvX, so I don't know that we'll feel the need to go there story-wise.
2) How trustworthy is the Xavier head? It seems the team just has to take his word about the other evil Xaviers...
EXCLUSIVE: Art from #4 by Paco Diaz
Yeah, that's an ongoing question/dilemma for the team and we're definitely building to something with all of this.
3) Are the gods in issue #2 really gods or just mutants who think themselves as such? Also, are they polyamorous with each other?
I'm going to hold my tongue because I don't want to spoil issue #3, which comes out very shortly. But there are some amorous hints/undertakings in issue #3 that you might not want to miss.
4) Will the roster of the team grow (or shrink) at any point in the near future?
That's it from our readers, but now it's my turn for our quick get-to-know-you question that we call "Behind the X." I'm curious... if they ever made an "X-Treme X-Men" movie, who would you cast for the main roles?
Whoa, big question!
Russell Crowe would make a great Howlett. That Jackman guy ain't bad, either.
Charlize Theron would be great as Emmeline.
For Dazzler... this is tough. You need an actress who's believable as a pop star but who's also smart and funny and can be convincing as an action hero. What about Mandy Moore? She'd definitely get (and have a sense of humor about) the pop star aspect. And her "I am filled with Christ's love!" moment in that "Saved!" trailer still cracks me up.
Or Mary Elizabeth Winstead, just 'cause she's awesome...
Kid Kurt -- CGI. Andy Serkis does the physical performance. Voice by Eli Marienthal, the guy who did Hogarth in "Iron Giant."
In seven days' time, you will have the opportunity to ask about all things "X" as we have the X-Editors joining us for X-POSITION. That's right, we will attempt to get any question about any X-book answered right here for you! Just send a well-worded e-mail to me, I'll pass it along to the powers that be, and in one week, we'll be partying it up right here once again! And be sure to put an "X-Position" in the subject line, or we'll take Sharpies to your face after you pass out. You've been warned...