X-POSITION: Marc Guggenheim

“Messiah CompleX” was really about one thing -- the future of mutantkind. This future is still largely in question, though, thanks to Cable hopping around in time with the first mutant baby born since the race was declared an endangered species. So where does that leave Marvel's youngest generation of mutants in the present? Apparently, it leaves them in a book called “Young X-Men,” written by Marc Guggenheim (“Wolverine,” “Eli Stone”).

The series picks up on the lives of several of the characters from the popular “New X-Men,” which was cancelled at the conclusion of “Messiah CompleX.” Fans of “NXM” had various reactions to the series they enjoyed being “relaunched” with a new title and new creative team, and not all of them positive. On top of this, they of course had questions.

The first issue of “Young X-Men” arrived in stores last week; it’s time for answers, and there’s no better place for that than here at X-POSITION. Today, we’re serving you up a main course of Marc Guggenheim with a side of witty banter.

Additionally, we're serving exclusively on CBR new pages from X-Men: Divided We Stand Book 1, on sale April 16, and Young X-Men #2, on sale May 7! Bon appétit!

Our first group of questions comes courtesy of iceman06, who was hoping for some information about the characters populating this new book.

1) Will there be major changes in the cast?

I think it's fair to say so -- yes.

And if so, will those changes make “New Mutants” and “New X-Men” fans happy?

Well, that implies that such a thing is possible. Truth be told, there's no way to please everybody and keep the cast at a manageable size. That's actually one of the initial decisions I've made which, if the internet is any indication, rubbed some fans the wrong way.

I knew from the outset that I didn't want as large a cast as they had in “New X-Men.” This was primarily for two reasons. First -- and I'll elaborate more on this point later -- I don't want the book to be a mere continuation of “New X-Men,” as great as that book was. “Young X-Men” is a different series and, as such, deserves its own identity.

Second, this being my first team book, I thought it wise to keep the cast relatively manageable. The unfortunate side-effect, however, is that the smaller the cast, the fewer chances I have to include everyone's favorite characters. It's just the downside of that particular tradeoff.

Plus, the slots that are open can't just go to the most popular characters, because you still want a balance between powers, genders, ethnicities, etc. Bottom line, it's tricky. All that having been said, and to directly answer your question, there will be some cast changes -- at least one dies, remember? -- and I'll predict that a good chunk of the readers will be pleased.

2) Isn't Wolf Cub, like, 14 years old?

I swear, he looked 18! (Kidding!) Yes, I believe he is.

And is he just trying to act hard like Wolverine to cope with his current situation, or has he really changed?

I'm tempted to just say keep reading, but I'll elaborate and point out that times have been tough for mutants lately, and everyone has a different coping mechanism. It seems logical to me that someone like Wolf Cub would look at people like Wolverine and Rahne and see behavior that he, being a young, impressionable guy, would think to emulate.

3) Is there any chance Greymalkin is an old X-character in disguise?

He's an old X-character. However, he's not in disguise. Hmm…what could that mean?

When does he (or she) join the team?

Oh, he's a he. And to answer your question: sometime between issue #1 and the events of Blindfold's prophecy. (Yes, I'm annoying, I know.)

4) Why wasn't Karma shown with the other former New Mutants? Will she use her telepathy in new ways or just stick to mind control?

Y'know, I'm gonna be straight up with you here, Iceman: the original plan was to include Karma, but we moved away from that in subsequent issues and changed the art in issue #1 to reflect that. I could come up with some B.S. to throw at you, but that's the honest truth.

You heard it here first -- X-POSITION is a b.s.-free zone!

Next up, Was wrote in and is a bit worried about the victim in Blindfold’s vision of “death.” Can you say anything to lessen their anxiety?

I hope Dust isn’t the one “axed.” As a Muslim, I am very proud to have a character portray us -- and in a good way too. I want to know if she will find love again?

Well, I love her -- that should count for something. But, in all seriousness, I can't answer that question without revealing whether Dust is the one to get, as you say, axed. I will say that Magma rocks her world in issue #3, however...

That’s punny! Daniel Silva sent us a veritable shopping list of questions. Let’s see if Marc can deliver a few blue-light specials…

1) It's cool that you are bringing out some of the background characters, such as Blindfold and Wolf Cub. Are we going to see any of the other New X-Men (background or otherwise) in this new title?

You should definitely expect to see Anole down the road. Beyond that, I'll just say that I'm looking for places to bring the other “New X-Men” cast members in wherever possible.

2) Is Blindfold pretty tricky to 'give voice' to?

Yes! But then I hit upon something that gave me a trick for how to write her. But, yes. That Joss Whedon's a tough act to follow...

How do you go about writing her?

Ah, but that would entail revealing the trick. The best I can say at this stage is that I write her dialogue normally and then Blindfold it up.

And, out of curiosity, does Blindfold know of everything that took place in the “House of M”…

Y'know, I'm not sure it's my place to say, to be honest.

…or just what was relevant to Illyana's return?

I think what's cool about Blindfold is that you never know how crazy she is, or how prescient her visions are, or the limits of her powers. That mystery is one of the reasons so many readers find her compelling, I think.

I'm operating with my own set of parameters for her and her powers, but were I to reveal what those parameters are, I think I'd end up watering down some of the mystery that makes her cool. That having been said, in future issues, we will gain some new insight into what's been going on in her head.

3) I understand the last authors will be taking up the story with Wither. But have you any intention of taking up other plots they left open? Such as Elixir's potential for taking the path of evil with his powers, or the break-up relationship between Surge and Prodigy (please fix this!)?

To be honest, I don't have any current plans for picking up those plot threads, but I am looking for a short 1-2 issue story arc idea, so you never know...

4) Also, can we expect a little 'Magik' coming up in one of your arcs?

Not at present, but I grew up with Illyana and Magik -- say, when is that miniseries gonna get collected? Marvel? Hello? -- and I'd love to do something with her down the line.

One of our regulars, msierra185, sent in this trio of intriguing queries…

1) Why didn't you use the same roster that Chris Yost and Craig Kyle used from New X-Men?

See above, msierra.

Did you have any say in the team members, or were they just given to you?

Well, that depends. If you like the roster, it was all mine. If you don't like it, the man you want to complain to is Editor Nick Lowe. Oh, and I suppose I should also mention that some characters were off-limits because other writers had plans for them. But again, if you don't like the roster, Mr. Lowe's the man to talk to. E-mail me and I'll give you his home number...

2) Why make Blindfold an active member of the Young X-Men team? I mean, she was the type of character who doesn't fight, but instead helps the X-Men by giving predictions wrapped in riddles. It feels out of character to make her a fighter.

I wanted to use her in a new and different way -- without violating who the character is, of course. You'll note that Cyclops did not want her to be on the team, but she's there at Rockslide's insistence. We'll see the consequences of this pay off in a future issue.

3) I know that the original New Mutants (minus Woflsbane, since she's in X-Force) are playing a major role in the first arc, but where does Dani Moonstar fit in? After all, she's now de-powered and was previously training the Initiative trainee Trauma.

Yeah, but not having powers doesn't take you out of the game completely. Storm spent several active years without powers. So did Banshee. You can't count a good mutant out. Even a mutant who's no longer good...

Morgan Piersanti was hoping one of his favorite mutants could make an appearance, so he’s sending this special request your way with a little pleading and a lot of love.

Any chance Mimic will return in “Young X-Men”?

Very clever, Nick…but I know it's you! Seriously though, Morgan, meet YXM editor, Nick Lowe. Nick, meet Morgan.

Morgan, to answer your question, the answer is, Not as long as Nick Lowe is editing the book.

Tomorrow’s CBR headline: “Nick Lowe Assaulted by Mimic Fan Club.”

Our last two questions come from Andre4000, who was curious about things behind-the-scenes -- both in comics and TV!

1) Are Ink and Greymalkin brand new characters that you created? Were you given certain details about them from Marvel editorial, or did you create them from scratch?

Again, I'm tempted to claim credit if you like 'em, but blame Nick if you don't. (Who says editors aren't good for something?) But I'll be honest and take the entire fall -- or credit -- for them. And to answer your question, they're created 100% from scratch -- i.e. no parameters from Marvel.

But if you don't mind, I'd like to hijack your question to speak to a related point that I've been reading a lot about online: Hey, Guggenheim, I thought there were only 198 mutants left after M-Day. How can you create new ones?

Well, my hypothetical friend, allow me to educate you to the fact that there are, in fact, 300 mutants left after M-Day. However, only 198 of them have been catalogued by the U.S. Government. (I'm not making this up to save my ass, folks. This is canon.) Besides, who said that Ink and Greymalkin are mutants, anyway?

2) I’m a big fan of “Eli Stone.”

Thank you! Thanks for watching.

Do you ever get tempted to slide in comic book references in the show?

All the time. And I often do.

And have you done any in the past that fans may have missed?

Well, I've tried, but a lot of them get changed for legal reasons. For example, deceased baseball coach Joe Quesada became John Quesada. Likewise, Steve Wacker became Somebodyelsewhosenameicantremember Wacker.

That having been said, a couple have gotten through. The first season of Eli contains references to Tom Brevoort, the Wolverine SUV, Chaykin Industrial, and my personal favorite -- a line of dialogue lifted directly from Superman: The Movie (in episode 12, airing Sunday, April 13).

There might even be others that have slipped my mind. But it goes the other way, too. I've put references to “Brothers & Sisters” [another TV show Guggenheim writes and produces] in “The Flash” and “Amazing Spider-Man.” And if you look carefully, you'll see a reference to Eli attorney Matt Dowd, in one of my Spidey issues.

Okay everyone, set your TiVo’s for that April 13th episode (and see if you can find Matt Dowd in “Amazing Spider-Man”!). Thanks for the homework, Marc!

That wraps up this week’s youthful indiscretions, but don’t you fret…we’re back again in seven days! Next week, we’re going to bring some “class” here to X-POSITION -- more specifically, Fred Van Lente of “Wolverine: First Class” and Jeff Parker of “X-Men: First Class.”

Two books, two writers -- twice the fun!

So type up those questions that keep you awake at night, be sure to put “X-Position” in the subject line, and shoot that email our way by noon this Friday.

Now discuss this story in CBR's X-Men forum.

Tags: marvel comics, marc guggenheim, x-men, new x-men, young x-men

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