X-POSITION: Kieron Gillen

On the road of life, one should expect to hit a few potholes. If you're a mutant in the Marvel Universe, however, your upcoming potholes may look like canyons. In the next few months, the X-Men (and their ilk) will be faced with numerous challenges thanks to the pending troubles brought on by "Fear Itself" and "Schism."

To the X-Men's credit, they've experienced difficulties of this magnitude throughout their existence. But what about the newest batch of mutants found in "Generation Hope?" How will they fare? Only time and writer Kieron Gillen can tell -- so let's see if we can get the scribe to spill some details! He joins us today to answer your queries on both "Uncanny X-Men" and "Generation Hope." Let's see what he has to say, shall we?

RoguefanAM gets right to the heart of the matter with the first email of the day, asking:

Is the "Schism" plot going to run through "Uncanny X-Men?" And if so, what characters will be the focus of this storyline?

"Uncanny X-Men" is crossing over with "Fear Itself" while Jason Aaron is putting the X-Men through "Schism." If you want the continuity for it, "Schism" happens after "X-Men: Fear Itself."

The issue of "Uncanny X-Men" after "Fear Itself" definitely deals with "Schism," as well as the emotional fall-out of "Fear Itself." And 'Uncanny' will be impacted in deeper ways than I can say here.

Translation: big things are going to happen. Keep reading!

Seresecros is next and also had a question about the focus of "Uncanny."

1) Now that you are the sole writer on "Uncanny X-Men," what will the focus of the book be? Under Matt Fraction, the book also featured a rotating cast. Is this -- and other plot points started by him -- going to continue?

OK, this is how I see it: if a character has anything other than a brief appearance, I want a meaningful experience in their lives to come from the story -- something that says something about their character and their hope and fears. If they're the core of the plot, I want a meaningful change to come from it. Which sounds really basic, I know, but I want a real core of emotions to drive the book. I want people to pick up an arc and know that if a character is prominent, it's going to twist them around its little finger.

However, we're also set on Utopia. There's dozens of mutants there. As such, I'm going to bring in cameos as and when the plot demands -- but they're clearly cameos, with them being used for what they logically should be used for, but not promising any more.

The "Fear Itself" arc will show what I'm thinking about. It's a very large scale plot. It involves pretty much everyone in Utopia. Many of them will be getting cameos. Many of them will be shown, in battle, performing a plan; however, the emotional core of the series hangs on a couple of love triangles. Oh, and the relationship between the civilian government of San Francisco and Utopia's high command.

The latter is a good example of the sort of story I'm picking up from Matt. As I've said before, I want to follow smoothly from what's gone before. The whole last five years of X-Men stories have been building logically from one another, and to head off in another direction now would be a heresy against the gods of narrative. So those sort of ones will still be in play -- Utopia, and what that means anyway. But where Matt was primarily writing a wartime Utopia, I'm writing a peacetime one. As such, the stories change in a way that I hope will be both logical and fresh.

It'll also be surprising. I think the next two years in the X-Men are going to be some of their most important of all time. It's going to change, which always suits the X-Men.

2) Will the plot point of new Lights popping up around the world be featured exclusively in "Generation Hope," or will other books stumble across them as well?

Possibly, though I don't think anyone has anything planned currently.

If a Light plot appears in another book, you have to assume that something's gone terribly wrong for that poor kid.

Generally speaking, the "Generation Hope" cast pop up logically as the plot demands. They're key in "Schism" -- and it's so much fun seeing Jason write them -- and they play into the one-shot issue #539. Which -- oh, I see someone's asking on this topic later. I'll save that. Onwards!

While we put a pin in that topic, Prodigy55 wrote in with a suggestion and concerns about a wardrobe malfunction:

1) Is Kenji going to change his looks to a different style anytime soon? Also, what is his codename? I suggest "Modern Art."

I like that one. Kenji, of all the Lights, has been the hardest to name. For someone as cynical as he is, he's not exactly the sort to play by the rules. Part of me wanted to call him the "Art Brute," but, yeah, exactly. He'd never do that and it's far too silly for someone who's a pretty dark character. I have learned to resist a bad pun.

Father! Now I am a man. (Still, it's better than Delightful Wife's suggestion of Mr. Stabby.)

Where was I? Right, the cast of "Generation Hope" all get their codenames in issue #8, after Hope shouts at them all for not having one. She is loud.

Kenji's style, well, that's touched on in #8 too. No, he won't be changing his style soon -- which is all kinds of sad.

2) Is Laurie supposed to be naked when she's using her powers? Why does she wear a dress and then take it off?

She flies better without the dress. Have you ever tried flying in a dress? It's tricky. Trust me. After my cross-dressing aerial accident of 2004, I swore to warn the world of these dangers, and Laurie is the vessel of my message.

Really, she flies better without the dress. I will deal with this explicitly -- no, not that explicitly, you mucky pups -- eventually. Maybe in issue #10 or 11, though I'm not 100% sure yet. It's a scene I've known since creating the character, but it's got to fit in naturally. For now though -- yes, she's naked, but no, she's not naked-naked.

So, it's kind of like how Donald Duck doesn't wear pants but is only considered naked when he takes off his shirt? Okay, I'll stop helping.

Phoenix Egg feels the need for things to be happy and lovey-dovey. What assurances can you provide?

1) Wolverine often acts as if he's not so fond of Hope. Does this mean he hasn't yet forgiven her for Nightcrawler's martyrdom?

That's one logical explanation, and it's the one which several of the cast think. While we see more of it between now and then, it's answered definitively in issue #539 of "Uncanny X-Men." Which is an odd issue to talk about, because when I describe it in a Previews-esque nugget -- "Hope gets kidnapped and Logan goes and rescues her" -- it sounds uninspiring. But it's actually one of my favorite issues, just because -- to go back to a previous theme -- it focuses right in on the emotions of the characters. It answers a question and then opens a whole other can of worms.

How can I make it sound more intriguing? Okay, how about this: last time, I think some people were asking whether there would be any depowered mutants taking an interest in Hope. Well, this is where that comes into play. A particularly desperate ex-mutant has kidnapped her.

2) When we see the Phoenix in Hope's pupils in "Generation Hope" #5, is that there just for us, the readers, or is Scott seeing it too?

Scott certainly saw something. So, yes, you can imagine what he's thinking. You'll see the first effects of that right in the opening of issue #6.

3) While the editors always make sure to let us know Jean Grey is dead, the actual printed story says she merged with the Phoenix Force. Now, which view is correct? Are Jean and the Phoenix one? Or is Jean gone all together? (Or is this question above your pay grade?)

Less above my pay grade and more the sort of thing I'd personally leave for the actual stories.

MarvelMaster616 wants to dig deeper into the subject of this "Jean Grey" person. What's her deal again?

1) It's pretty difficult to ignore Hope's similarities to Jean Grey, especially now that she has the Phoenix Force as was so eloquently reinforced in "Generation Hope" #5. So how do you make Hope appeal on her own merits when so much about her (whether intentionally or not) sparks connotations with Jean Grey?

Give me six issues and ask me again. On the painful side, there's something I'm really looking forward to writing in issue #11 of "Generation Hope" which breaks my heart even thinking about it. On the her-father-daughter's side, I'm actively proud of her in 'Uncanny' #539. My '90s-kid one-line description of "Generation Hope" has always been "'The Authority' Meets 'My So-Called Life.'" Following the latter part of that side through, Hope's very much our red-headed Angela. She's certainly not perfect, but I think she's interestingly imperfect. Or at least I hope.

By the way -- and apologies if I've got usernames confused -- last time I believe you asked me on a similar topic. I answered involving their personalities -- which I do think are different in a mass of profound ways. However, I think that the connotations of Jean are absolutely there, and the characters who know act with that in mind. To state the obvious from issue #5: Emma wouldn't stumble in conversation with most of her students.

2) How much longer is Kitty Pryde going to be stuck in that space suit? As you've written Lockheed before, will we get to see the reunion between the two in "Uncanny X-Men?"

Kitty gets out of the space suit all the time! Normally when it gets smashed off her. Joking aside, the whole Kitty intangibility situation is right at the heart of "Breaking Point."

Alas, I won't be writing the Lockheed/Kitty reunion. I actually did write a load of dialogue for the scene before realizing that there really wasn't room for it in "Breaking Point." I believe the first proper crossing of the paths will be over in Mr. Gage's "Astonishing X-Men."

3) Emma and Cyclops had a big moment in "The Confession" where they conceded that keeping secrets was bad. In "Quarantine," Emma basically fell back into old habits by keeping secrets about Shaw from both Cyclops and Namor. I assume this will come back to haunt her. Will Cyclops (or Namor, for that matter) be nearly as understanding this time?

Good question. But, yes, Emma hasn't been particularly good in keeping her end of the "Confession" conversation up.

Madroxdupe also has concerns about Emma. Can you please appease him?

1) Why (out of nowhere it seems) did Emma get nervous about Shaw? He's been in the X-Brig for quite some time, why now did it make her apprehensive? For that matter, why didn't Emma just mind-wipe Shaw while he was in the X-Brig? The backstory on this felt kind of forced as well...

I haven't ever actually talked to Matt about why he decided to do it this way around -- when I was co-writing it, I was deep in the caper. However, when I was writing Emma here, my understanding of her was basically:

  • She figured it couldn't last forever. She had fundamentally been lucky. It was only a temporary situation.
  • The reason she kept him there as long as it did was because she simply didn't know what she wanted to do.
  • Because really? The easiest thing to do for her would be to kill him.
  • But she really wouldn't want to do that sort of thing anymore.

So she decides to dump him as far from the sea as possible and wipe his brain. Why didn't she wipe his brain earlier? It's complicated.

She wasn't sure she was going to go through this plan. Maybe it would be just better to kill him. And if she did, she wouldn't want to kill a mind-swiped creature. She'd want to kill Shaw, if only to see that look in his eye. As Emma said, Shaw brings out the worst in her -- which is a different thing from saying that it was Shaw's influence that made her do all the things she did back in the Hellfire Club days. Even when they're not on the same side that's true.

The woman Shaw knew would have killed Shaw. And to show she's changed, she can't kill him. Which doesn't mean she didn't want to and...as you see, we're going in circles. That's why Emma strung it out. Because whatever she did, it wasn't easy for her.

2) In "Quarantine," why didn't they call upon Elixir? Is he still absent because of what he knows about Hope? Will we ever see him again?

Elixir is still currently MIA. Which is a shame, as Utopia could use a healer of his abilities.

Filthy Mutie has been thinking about Utopia too and is hoping you can provide some clarity:

Will Utopia's relationship with the United States of America and the U.N. be defined in a very clear, easy to understand way in the near future? It seems strange that all these dangers can be found in a place that has been claimed by mutants but is well within U.S. borders (propped up by Namor's kingdom), and everyone just leaves them alone. It doesn't feel like we know why this is, even though the rest of the Marvel Universe's political landscape is generally well-defined.

We touch on this in issue #536 in a couple of lines from Brand. In short, everyone's still deciding.

Well, while they're "deciding," let's have some fun with today's "Behind the X" question. As you wear a couple of different hats as the writer of both "Uncanny X-Men" and "Generation Hope," tell us about the most favorite hat (the kind you wear on your head) you've ever had.

Back in the days where I used to write about video games for a living, the office had a plastic Viking horned helmet. And when I had to write something with both speed and majesty (but without booze), I would don the helmet and attack the keyboard in a Norse-beserker-frenzy until my word count was annihilated. That was my favorite hat. It gave me power. It was a hat of power. I fear the day the Lord of Fear will let eight plastic Viking helmets fall to earth, for then would be a time of great turmoil.

In seven days, X-POSITION will have a royal experience as writer Stuart Moore joins us to answer questions about "Namor: The First Mutant." I'm expecting thought-provoking queries to gush from you like a geyser. At the very least, you could ask if iPod Earbuds work with Atlantean ears...

So jump on your keyboards, put together some interesting inquiries, and send them my way just as soon as you can. Put an "X-Position" in the subject line, and I'll see if we can find out what Namor is wearing to Prince William's wedding (let's hope his invite doesn't get lost -- Utopia's been having mail problems). Hurry and get me those emails. I'm waiting...

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