X-POSITION: Kieron Gillen on "Schism," the Scarlet Witch & More

Being a Mutant Messiah is a confusing prospect -- just ask Hope. On one hand, she bears the responsibility for empowering the next generation of Homo superiors. On the other, Hope needs to stay vigilant that she doesn't bring about the end of the mutant species (according to some). And on yet another hand, she may have just become superfluous in light of recent events in "Young Avengers: Children's Crusade."

That's a lot of hands.

The most important set of hands for Hope, however, are those of her writer, Kieron Gillen. As the scribe behind Marvel Comics' "Generation Hope" and "Uncanny X-Men," he bears a ton of responsibility for what occurs in the mutant corner of the Marvel Universe. Currently, Gillen is crafting both an end and a new beginning for "Uncanny X-Men" as a result of the upcoming "Schism" event. It's a daunting task, and yet he still finds the time to answer your emails for today's X-POSITION -- the man personifies the word "uncanny." Let's not keep him waiting!

MarvelMaster616 starts us off with a question that appears to be on the minds of several readers. It concerns a certain miniseries that ties together the Avengers, Young Avengers, and the X-Men in a profound way. Be warned, however, mild SPOILERS follow!

1) I recently read "Avengers: Children's Crusade" #6 and it was one of my favorite comics all year. How will these new developments with the Scarlet Witch have an impact on "Uncanny X-Men" and "Generation Hope?"

I want to say something like, "My plan is to entirely ignore what's happening in the 'Children's Crusade,'" but I suspect someone would take me seriously. M-Day's fallout is a big strand of the large-scale story of the X-books. There's clearly no way I won't be reflecting the result of the "Children's Crusade."

2) While on the subject of the Scarlet Witch, do the events of 'Children's Crusade' make Hope's presence somewhat tenuous if not unnecessary?

There's three more issues of "'Children's Crusade." I mean, seriously, don't count your mutant chickens. Rictor could explode next issue for all anyone knows.

3) It's been mentioned that "Schism" will affect not just the teams, but some of the relationships within the X-Men as well. I know you probably can't get into specifics, but could you hint about how these relationships might be affected?

I can hint, but it's not exactly much of a useful hint.

How are they affected? Generally badly.

Actually, thinking about it -- there's a couple of exceptions to that.

4) And how will "Schism" affect Cyclops's status and competence as a leader?

That the schism is between Wolverine and Cyclops is known. You can safely say that Logan and, by implication, Logan's followers have problems with Scott's choices in "Schism." So you could say it affects it negatively, at least for some people, for the length of "Schism." Of course, as I've already said, we haven't said for sure that Scott's even going to be around afterwards. We haven't said if anyone's around afterwards. I could hypothetically create scenarios which leave Scott's status and general competence as high as they are now after the schism, even ,em>with the events of the "Schism."

It's hypothetical here. I wouldn't want to talk about this stuff until we're heading towards "Regenesis," as it kind of spoils the fun.

Justin is also wondering about the upcoming split and hopes to pry some secrets out of you by starting with a few kind words:

I want to say I haven't enjoyed the X-Men this much since the 90's when Bastion was hunting them down! Keep it up, and here are my questions:

1) Can you give us any insight into the amount of communication there will be between the X-teams following "Schism?" Pretty please?

Passive-aggressive messages on Twitter, probably.

Really? There is bad blood between the teams. On a higher level, they simply disagree and aren't talking any more. However, there's always the personal individual connections. It's not that everyone on each side is a robot. They all have their own feelings towards the status quo. Their tweets would be less passive-aggressive, though retweeting a friend on the other side's message would probably lead to stern tutting from the high command.

2) Will Nate Grey be around post-"Schism?" I feel like interaction between him and Hope could be interesting due to their experience in apocalyptic timelines/futures...

Man, I loved those "New Mutant" preview pages which have been shown recently with Hope and Nate in them. I think Dan and Andy agree that the interaction would be interesting.

3) Kenji's observation about Hope's effect on people was interesting. Will we see some of the more "important" X-Men (Cyclops, Wolverine, Emma Frost) take notice of this?

Cyclops already has, and started acting on it. In issue #5, he explicitly told Kitty when putting her on the team that he believes she's showing some kind of control over them. It's one reason why he removed Rogue from the position of liaison. But, yes, more on this as we progress.

CharlesN2 also noted Kenji's thoughts on Hope and wants a few more details about the Mutant Messiah. First, he's lighting a candle at your altar, though.

First of all, I love how often "Uncanny X-Men" has been coming out lately, and I'm really looking forward to the showdown with the Juggernaut.

Thank you. Nick cracks the whip over our heads, and we submit meekly.

Of course, I have a few questions about your current titles:

1) Recently, Kenji and Laurie have each expressed some concern regarding Hope and the influence she is having on the "lights." Bishop has thus far been the only person to say for certain that Hope will be more of a problem for mutants than a savior. Being that Madrox and Layla Miller both spent time in the same future where Bishop grew up, don't they have similar feelings toward Hope?

I think there's been a few other people who've expressed reservations.

As much as Cyclops is Hope's true-believer #1, he still views elements of her as problematic and is intently watching them. Wolverine, in "Uncanny" #539, admitted that he's been avoiding her because he thinks he may end up having to kill her -- in which case, it'll be better off if they weren't close. And Emma has explicitly said that she thinks Hope is going to be the end of them all in "Generation Hope" #5. Kitty has been butting heads with her already. And the ever-expressive Dani Moonstar's first reaction to meeting her was kicking her.

I'm totally avoiding answering the questions, because Layla and Madrox's feelings are the sort of thing which should be expressed on panel. But it's an interesting line of thought to follow.

2) Are you going to expand Hope's team with any more newly activated mutants? Or will this be it for the near future?

I will say to expect cast changes in "Generation Hope." There's certainly cast changes in the issues I've written. I've written up to issue #12. Somewhere in there, then.

3) After "Schism," do you intend on bringing back any X-Men we haven't seen for a while? Possibly even Elixir, Havok, Rachel Summers, or Polaris?

While I'm not the one who's bringing them back, I'm looking forward to the return of some of the people from that list. I've enjoyed writing a couple of scenes with one of them.

Oh, man. I'm totally not telling you anything. I'm bad.

Well, don't be bad to Pete. He's wagering that you'll answer this next inquiry!

How do the other Young X-Men see Hope and her special crew? Will we see some interaction between them? I bet Rockslide has some deeply philosophical thoughts about them (but I may have a betting problem)...

You would win that bet. Rockslide shares some of his particularly pertinent insights in "Generation Hope" #12. He's investigating a key mystery which I know many readers have been wondering about.

Generally speaking, while there's been some crossover, perhaps not as much as you'd expect. Gabriel mentioned in issue #5 that he feels about the Cuckoos like he thinks all the other kids think about the lights -- as in a tight, clannish, stand-offish group who share their own secret language. I've been wanting to get some more interaction between the casts for a while, and you'll see a lot more of that from the "Schism" tie-ins onwards.

Chesapeake has some thoughts on Hope and her team's abilities. Or, as Keanu might say, "Whoa. Do they know kung-fu?"

In the previous story arc, it surprised me that Hope was captured with relative ease. Hope is an accomplished warrior who has been battle-tested for years. Is she going to train the five lights? It seems to me that they are jumping into missions without any kind of training and relying on pure luck...

Stun grenades are nothing to laugh at, and she's got no increased physical resilience. That she managed to identify the problem and fight back at all is to Hope's credit.

The Lights are being trained, both by Hope and the other X-Men, but there's only so much you can do in a month or two. They're in their learning curve at the moment, and they're certainly showing their relative personalities. Laurie's good socially and trains hard, but she's twice shown she panics ("Generation Hope" #2 and "Uncanny X-Men" #539). Idie is socially distant, but when stuff goes down, she's icy (pretty much any time she's been in combat, really). No pun intended.

I was reading about PTSD a while back, remembering that heavy PTSD can rewire people's instincts so they're terrible in normal situations, but are perfectly calm in extreme ones. In a real way, they're so messed up that "extreme" is their "normal." There's a fair chunk of that sort of thinking in Idie. The girl has been through hell.

Whether the lights are ready or not is certainly a theme of the book; as is why Hope thinks they are.

Marcus Martin rolled the dice with the following pair of Hope questions. Let's see if he comes up snake-eyes.

1) Given that Hope Summers has learned of the reasons why Wolverine doesn't like her, will that new information factor into your "Generation Hope" tie-ins to the "Schism" event?

I'll say that everything that Hope learns plays into her characterization, but I don't want to give the idea that's the key thing about "Schism." There is just an understanding between Hope and Logan now. Hope knows he thinks he may have to kill her and Hope is cool with that. And that that's enough to be a working understanding says a bunch about the pair of them.

2) Has anyone told Hope Summers about the Scarlet Witch and her part in M-day?

I'll give a straight answer to this: not significantly. She knows about M-day, but she doesn't know everything about Wanda.

And we'll end the reader emails today with MagnetoWasRight, who sent in a somewhat scientific hypothesis:

Kieron, I was wondering if you had seen the article found here. I don't know about you, but this made me curious about Magneto's influence on his followers and those around him. What are your thoughts?

No, I hadn't read that, but it's fascinating research. I suspect it's nothing that Magneto's ever done, or tried to do, simply because he didn't know about it.

Just look at all the amazing things you're learning by reading X-POSITION! Now it's time for something a bit more trivial (but fun) as I ask Mr. Gillen our "Behind the X" get-to-know-you question: Kieron, what was your favorite comic strip (e.g. "Peanuts," "Garfield") while you were growing up?

Ooh. Depends how young. Let's stretch it to the upper age band of growing up and say "Calvin & Hobbes." It's just a towering achievement. I can't gush about it enough.

We go earlier, and I was fascinating by the Scottish strips "Oor Wullie" and "The Broons," which I read on my first family holidays. It was basically "Trainspotting" for pre-teens, and absolutely alien portraits of a Scotland from decades previously. And mentioning "Garfield" reminds me that in the hand-made 'zines my brother and I made as pre-teens, we totally copied "Garfield" strips by hand in each one.

Thus, we bring our X-shenanigans to a close. But in seven days, things will be jumping as the San Diego Comic-Con International ramps up to begin on July 21. That means every single person in the comic book industry will have work up to their eyeballs; therefore, we won't be able to procure a guest. BUT...

We have been working hard here in the X-POSITION office, and if the stars align (and I'm praying they will), we will have an X-traordinary special for you X-fans that you won't want to miss -- trust me on this. So wash and press your best X-Men T-shirt and be back here in seven days for an unbelievable offering.

And on the slight chance that those pesky stars don't align, check CBR's X-forums if X-POSITION appears M.I.A. Heck, visit those forums anyway -- there's good people there! Everyone, keep your fingers crossed!

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