X-POSITION: Lapham Rules the "Age of Apocalypse"

Among the various incarnations of the X-Men throughout the years, the Age of Apocalypse iteration remains a favorite with X-fans. Is it due to nostalgia, as the original series came out in 1995? Or is it a result of the changes made to the AoA Universe made by writer Rick Remender in his "Uncanny X-Force" ongoing series. Of course, it could just be due to the fact that the characters of AoA kick a lot of arse!

Writer David Lapham is the man in charge of this Apocalyptian brouhaha, and he's rolled up his sleeves to join me as I dive into our X-POSITION e-mail bag today. We're up to our elbows in alternative universe questions, so let's get to them before someone's query creates a dimensional rift...

Our first letter of the day is by far the longest... but it also contains the most interesting inquiries. Ah, what the heck -- I'm going sit back and let X-fan Derek do all the heavy lifting:

"AoA" #5 cover by Humberto Ramos & Edgar Delgado

1) It's been mentioned by Rick Remender that it's important for the character implanted with the death seed to have a biological heir. With Jean depowered, will we see Weapon X attempt to find a new mate?

That's very interesting.  I don't think the relationship between Jean and Weapon Omega is quite over yet.  However, you'll see something to the effect of what you're talking about in issue #6...

2) There's been a lot of mention of low-level mutants, or dregs. Are these people former inmates of Sinister's pens? And if so, why is Weapon Omega allowing them so much freedom compared to his predecessor? Was it the lack of Alphas?

Dregs aren't necessarily the inmates of the pens, though they're part of it.  The point here is that the mutants have "won."  It's their planet.  The world can hold billions of people/mutants.  Everyone can't be in a pen. Within the mutants there are certain people with potential for great power.  These are the Alphas.  Then there are people who are genetic mutants but their powers are minor. I can make my hand go on fire.  I can levitate six inches off the ground.  I have claw hands.  Etc. Truthfully, this comprises the majority of the population. Now two dregs may have a child with great power.

In Weapon X's mind, the mutants are now entering a phase of taking hold of the earth and letting Darwin take its course.  For evolution to continue to evolve forward, you need millions breeding, living, and... evolving.  If they die by their own squabbles, wars, and struggles, fine.  But that's all part of a process that Weapon Omega has been charged with.  Advancing mutant evolution. Presumably there are levels between Alphas and the dregs, but I definitely want to establish the haves and have nots off the bat because the hope of humanity may lie with the support of the mutant masses.

3) It could be my imagination, but Fiend seems to have an optimism not shared by her teammates? Is that a fair assessment? And why is this the case?

Yes.  Fiend is a bad-ass but she's the most liberal of all the group.  Part of this is her relationship -- or lack thereof -- with her father Bolivar Trask (who has an affair with her mother and was largely absent until the war brought them back together).  So much of her reaction is the opposite of what she believes he is and he stands for.  She's rebelling against him.  I only touched on this briefly here and there at this point, but more will come out on this in the future.

4) Monet St. Croix is a great character but one that was absent from the original crossover. What made you decide to use her in such a (presumably) pivotal role as Lady Penance? And in issue four, was she wearing an original X-costume?

Until I started doing a bunch of research I wasn't that familiar with her, but as soon as I started reading I knew she was the character that fit into my plans for the book. Basically, she's the epitome of what Weapon Omega is trying to achieve -- mutant perfection.  If she can survive, she has the chance to be a major power player in the world.  Hopefully that's good for Prophet and the humans.  I guess there was some debate as to whether she was represented by the Know-It-All character, but it was enough of a grey area that I felt I could bring her in the way I saw her, and yes, I think she is in an X-costume.  

5) I thought it was interesting that Jean and Sabretooth were the two that got depowered. Both seem to be describing their "loss" in a way that someone who lost their sight or hearing would. Is that an accurate analogy?

Absolutely.  That's the same with any mutant.  Their powers are a part of them, not an add-on.  Jean and Sabretooth fit in perfectly because they both have strong ties to what's going on -- Jean being the wife of Weapon Omega and Sabretooth being the father of Horror Show, who's the X-Terminated's most unstable team member.  So they work in nicely.

6) How fleshed out is the backstory from the fall of Apocalypse to the rise of Weapon Omega? Will we ever get to read a play-by-play of it?

We'll see flashes.  Remender set up some stuff in "Uncanny X-Force."  In issue #5, I develop a little more.  But overall, I have so much I want to do in the here and now.  I think the book would have to be so popular that we went on for a very long time before I gave a blow-by-blow of the past.  That said, I try at all times to give the reader not only what's going on in the here and now, but also by conversations and interaction between characters, I try an paint a picture where we can infer a lot of what has come before.

Art from "AoA" #5 by Davide Gianfelice & Lee Loughridge

7) Graydon Creed made a quip about Jean being considered royalty in the Age of Apocalypse. Given that she rather publically rose from the dead, is she (or was she) considered a pseudo-religious figure in this world?

I think she was considered by many to be the great hope of humanity and even the dregs. The Phoenix Force made her the equal of Weapon Omega and his Apocalypse powers. Maybe because she was so conflicted going against her husband or maybe she feared what would happen if she let her powers completely loose -- but for whatever reason, she never closed the deal and "saved the world."  I don't know if her status rose to the level of a religious figure, but there's a reason Prophet and Trask think she's so important.

8) I've found it surprising that Weapon Omega has held so many altered humans in his employ. Did you do this out of necessity, as so many well-known mutants had been killed in the previous series?

Yes.  That's part of the reason he agreed to resurrect (or attempt to) so many of the dead Alphas, even though bringing back the dead goes against "survival of the fittest."  He needs trusted powers to be his Lieutenants. As far as the powered humans, it was established in the original that certain humans -- if they were powerful enough -- could make a place for themselves.  Will that continue?  I don't know.  Didn't go too well for the Thing...

9) Were Magneto and Rogue among the cadavers that Dark Beast was experimenting with?

I suggest that there were scores of mutants.  Too many to show, so there's no basis for me to say they weren't there.  However, in my mind, they were not.  Omega wanted mostly the guys on his side or some who were on the edge that Sugarman could tip to the dark side. Bringing Rogue or Magneto back is flirting with disaster and would border on stupidity on Omega's part.

10) Had the humans considered co-opting the resurrection technology themselves? Surely sixty programmed alphas on their side could have been useful...

Not in my mind.  How would they get it out of there?  How could they possibly know the mutants they brought back would be on their side.  Prophet brought back one and it may or may not prove to be a huge mistake.  Plus, they would have to put the life seed energy in the hands of their own Dr. Moreau which, in itself, is risky.  The humans are looking to take control.  They're use allies, they'll make deals, but they're not looking for messiahs and saviors.  It's time to step up and take control of their own survival.

Okay Derek, I'm stopping you at ten questions. Let's give Emerald_616 a turn to ask something:

Will "Age of Apocalypse" meet back up with Earth-616 at any point in the future? Characters like Sugar-Man and Dark Beast were last seen fleeing with the Final Horsemen before appearing back in their home reality, but X-Force is aware of the danger they represent...

If we continue then, yes, definitely.  I've talked with Remender about it and we've cooked up some stuff pending editorial approval that I think will really jazz fans of both universes.  In this first year especially, I think it's important to establish the human characters and how they're able to stand on their own.

Now, Mundungus will bring today's X-POSITION home with three things that were taking up space in his mind:

1) Is there a point where these characters, either the X-Men or the humans, simply give up on saving a world that can't be saved and jump ship? They have traveled between worlds before...

I think that it's possible a character could jump worlds, but who says the world can't be saved?  It depends how you define saved.  No the world is never going to be billions of humans and thousands of mutants.  For the humans, the world being "saved" would be a world where they were allowed to live and exist openly without being marked for death.  This is not the original AoA, which is a large-scale good guys vs. bad guys scenario.  One of my goals with this series is to show a more complex world after the wars.  In this "post-humanity" environment there are many more goals for the mutants than just kill humans, and not all mutants have the same goals.

Art from "AoA" #5 by Davide Gianfelice & Lee Loughridge

2) I am sure it is a long way off, but what about having characters like Jean or Sabretooth permanently relocate to the main Marvel U? They could try to rediscover normalcy while living in a world where they're either dead or a sociopath. Or maybe you could have some of the X-Terminated see their legacies in the main MU?

I have a great idea for one of the X-Terminated if relocated to the main Marvel-U, where their sense of normal is the extreme of the AoA world and how that causes massive problems in a world that's not nearly as extreme.  However, currently that would probably mean no one bought "AoA" and we got cancelled, and that would be awful!

As time goes on though, we'll see some characters flip over into the Marvel U.  It's something I've talked about with Remender and with [editor] Nick Lowe.  We have to be careful, though, not to undermine what AoA is -- humanity fighting overwhelming odds for survival.  Again, I don't want messiahs just falling out of the sky from the 616.

3) Unfortunately I am not overly familiar with your previous works, but I have been loving "Age of Apocalypse!" Which books of yours should I be checking out at present?

My most known work is an independent series I did for years called "Stray Bullets."  Unfortunately, it's out of print right now.  Hopefully that will change in the near future.  I did a series for Vertigo that I wrote and drew called "Young Liars," which I also recommend as being very "me."  Right now, another project I'm doing is writing the adaptations for Guillermo del Toro's series of "Strain" books for Dark Horse.  It's a vicious vampire book that's quite the opposite of the current vampire trend.

I recently completed an eighteen-issue run on "Deadpool MAX." I also do several projects for Avatar Press ("Ferals," "Crossed," "Caligula").  Those are of a clear R-rated nature and fall mostly in the category of extreme horror.  Fun stuff and good stuff but not for the faint of heart, although one book that just started called "Dan the Unharmable" is one of my own invention and is a slightly bawdy, slightly unorthodox, very funny take on the traditional noir detective.

Excellent suggestions! And now, it's my turn for a little get-to-know-you fun with a segment that we like to call "Behind the X." If you wouldn't mind, please share your idea of the perfect date...

My wife and I have been married for twenty-one years.  We have four kids we love to death.  The perfect date would be any date that involves a babysitter.

And with that sweet sentiment, our X-get-together is at an end. However, in seven days we'll be back with one of the scribes dealing with "AvX" fever -- "Uncanny X-Men" writer Kieron Gillen! He's ready to answer all your questions -- even the ones that don't involve fiery birds -- so type them up and send them my way posthaste. Throw an "X-Position" in the subject line, and you'll help me start the summer off right (well, that and a mojito). Come on folks, I'm waiting...

Tags: marvel comics, x-position, humberto ramos, age of apocalypse, lee loughridge, david lapham, davide gianfelice

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